The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 25, 2022

PiRate Picks for August 27, 2022

It’s football time in America! Yes, as of this writing on Thursday morning, August 25, football that actually counts in the standings is just 48 hours away.

Every year on Thursdays, the PiRate Ratings submit our selections in a just for fun environment. We never wager real money on our selections, and we encourage you not to do so either. That said, from past experience, we know that at least three dozen of you do monitor our selections and unfortunately risk your mortgage money on what you see here. In the case of two syndicates, there are systems where our weekly ratings are used to help figure which games to play. Last year, we discovered that one of these syndicates includes a very famous person. We don’t have permission to divulge this person’s name, and we are not even 100% sure this person knows that we now know, but a mutual friend in Nevada let the news slip.

It was our hope to feature some guest handicappers this year, but apparently that isn’t working out. When we last tried this feature, a smart and successful female handicapper totally dusted everybody else with a big profit, and we believe she chased away a lot of the guys that didn’t want to be shown up by “a girl.”

The opening week of the college football season only gives us seven games between two FBS teams. There are additional games between FBS and FCS teams, but unless something totally jumps out at us, we will not include FCS teams in this weekly feature.

Something else is new here this year. In the past two years, we have received a lot of comments from you stating that it was impossible for an average Joe to replicate our selections, because we searched all the sports books for the best odds. Most of you that do wager have accounts with one or at most two books. So, we are only going to use one book this year. Because it is the largest and legal in the most states, we will use the odds from Fanduel. Let us make this clear: we have zero relationship with Fanduel and do not receive any financial benefit from them. We only chose to use them because they are now legal in 17 states with another soon to join.

This year, we also plan to deviate from our normal plan of attack that we have used in year’s past. In recent years, we almost exclusively played Money Line parlays where the odds were +120 or more. With an average odds of about +145 odds, winning just three parlays out of seven returned a profit, albeit a small one of 3.5%.

This season, we plan to issue more straight sides and totals selections. We will most likely play no teasers, even though in the past, we did quite well with them. But, that required playing multiple books. One other thing we will not do this year, even though it has probably been our most reliable method in the 20+ year history of this site, is to play both sides or middling. This is an arbitrage gamble that requires playing one side immediately upon the publication of the opening line with belief that the line will move enough to allow you to take the exact opposite side with another selection. Say that the line between State and Tech opens at State by 9.5. Then, by Thursday morning the line has moved to State by 11.5. If you wagered on Sunday night taking State and giving the 9.5 points and then on Thursday, you took Tech and the 11.5 points, you would be guaranteed to win at least one of those selections. But if the final outcome of the game found State winning by 10 or 11 points, something that happens in about 1/6 of all college football games, you win both wagers. Winning both wagers just 1 out of every 19 attempts returns a profit. Doing so requires us to release two of these features a week–one late Sunday night, and then another on Thursday. We did this when we charged a nominal fee for the picks, but this is 100% free and open to the public, and please believe us, it is worth exactly what you are paying for it.

That said, let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about the opening selections for the 2022-23 College Football Season. As we mentioned, there are only seven games on the slate, and our belief in college football odds is that the margins are really accurate to start the season. The line originators and Sharp bettors have months to study the opening week, and they receive beneficial information to alter the spreads. We believe the value to start the season is on the totals, namely because the non-sharps bet a lot of money and frequently alter the number just enough to make it in the favor of the contrarian view.

Thus, we have isolated on three games where we believe we have the advantage playing the totals, and here they are:

#1: Connecticut and Utah State — UNDER 59 1/2

Jim Mora, Jr., takes over at UConn in what is a total rebuild from scratch. The Huskies were once strong enough to make the Fiesta Bowl, but now they have fallen to the point where they had to rally to beat Yale last year. We expect Mora to play a more conservative style of ball this year, trying to shorten games to hide the Huskies’ severe lack of depth. We also believe UConn’s defense will benefit from having to defend more plays, and there will be improvement in the defensive numbers.

Utah State is coming off a stellar year, but we expect the Aggies to be a tad weaker in 2022, at least at the beginning of the season until some young but talented players get some seasoning. The Aggies are favored by 28 1/2 points, and that almost entices one to risk it just on the number alone, but we don’t like playing either side on a spread this large. What we expects is that the game will be lower scoring than expected, something like 38-10 in favor of Utah State. That’s more than 10 points lower than the total for this game.

#2 New Mexico State and Nevada UNDER 49.5

What do you get when a team loses its head coach, its superstar quarterback, and a boatload of players in the Transfer Portal? Obviously, you get a much weaker team. What do you get when a program that has struggled to remain in FBS football brings in a quality head coach with an excellent staff? Well, in year one, it could be even worse than before for a month or two, but what happens when the new coach still believes you succeed in football by running the ball over and over until you can surprise the defense with a pass?

Nevada is basically starting over from scratch after former head coach Jay Norvell made what looks like a lateral move from Reno to Fort Collins. Superstar QB Carson Strong now plays (or sits) for the Philadelphia Eagles, and a lot of key players left Nevada when Norvell left. New coach Ken Wilson has never been a head coach before, and he brings in a staff that have more of a conservative, defense-first pedigree. The Air Raid offense gives way to a more pro-style with an emphasis on using tight ends rather than going 4 wide.

Former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill might still be in The Cities directing a Gophers’ program that might be the equal of rival Wisconsin in the West Division of the Big Ten. Epilepsy caused him to eventually give up the job, and after a couple years as an assistant, Kill resumes head coaching duties in Las Cruces. Kill hired longtime Division 2 head coach Tim Beck as his offensive coordinator. Beck’s offensive philosophy includes some of the “let your offense be your best defense” tendencies. He used to be a defensive assistant. Add to this that Kill likes to control the clock and keep defenses off the field, and the Aggies figure to give up less points in 2022 than they did in 2021.

There is a lot of smart money on New Mexico State’s side, and the margin has come down to 8 1/2 points. If it was 10 1/2, we might have wagered on the Aggies, but we believe that the inexperience on Nevada’s side in game one combined with the concentration on New Mexico State’s playing a more ball-controlled game, will lead to a final score in the neighborhood of Nevada 24 New Mexico State 16.

#3 Hawaii and Vanderbilt OVER 53 1/2

Here we go the other way with a total, and 53 1/2 is a high total to wager on the Over. Hawaii suffered more personnel losses by defections than Nevada, as former coach Todd Graham was accused of abusing his players. Graham was fired, and former superstar and local hero quarterback Timmy Chang was hired without any past head coaching experience. To make matters worse, Hawaii is having to play in a makeshift stadium for the second consecutive season after Aloha Stadium was condemned and deemed not repairable. The Rainbows are playing on their campus soccer stadium with temporary bleachers, and no more than 9,300 fans can attend games. There is minimal home field advantage, even though opponents have to make two, three, four, and even five-hour time zone changes to play in Manoa.

This year’s Hawaii team will most likely return to the Run and Shoot offense used by the school when Chang played and used by new offensive coordinator Ian Shoemaker at Eastern Washington. Hawaii will have very little running success against even the weakest SEC defense, so expect the home team to pass the ball more than 50 times in this game. What it means is that total scrimmage plays might exceed 160 in this game.

Second year Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea is a defensive-minded coach after being the DC at Notre Dame, but he quickly discovered last year that Vanderbilt plays Matador Defense. Except, when the Commodores saw red, it was the opponent that charged through the 11 black and gold capes. Georgia scored 35 first quarter points in Nashville. By the end of the season, Lea had changed quarterbacks from strict and immobile dropback passer Ken Seals to dual threat Mike Wright. Wright was able to dodge a lot of the pass rush from the worst offensive line in the SEC in the last 10 seasons, and Vandy actually had some decent offensive games in November. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if true freshman A.J. Swann doesn’t see action in this game as well, and although Swann is a pro-style QB, he is much more mobile than former starter Seals.

The Commodores have no big stars in their receiver corps, but they have eight or nine decent receivers, including two tight ends that can force safeties to stay between the hashes, leaving cornerbacks on an island against the wideouts. Because the linebackers will have to prevent Wright from running on the numerous RPOs. Even though the VU offensive line is still the worst in the SEC, against the weak UH defensive line, Wright should have a field day, and Vandy should easily top 35 points in this game, possibly 40.

As weak as the Vandy offensive line is, the entire defense is not much better. The Commodores gave up 36 points per game last year, including giving up 21 to a Colorado State team that averaged just 23.7 points per game and 28 points to a 1-11 UConn team that averaged just 12 points per game against the rest of their FBS schedule and only scored 21 against Yale.

Combine a game that is likely to have 160 scrimmage plays with two weak defenses, and two underrated offenses, and the final score starts to look like 42-38 with either team capable of winning. Vanderbilt is favored by 8 1/2 points, and almost all of the notable computer ratings favor Hawaii by 3-10 points (our PiRate Ratings favor Vandy by about the same as the spread). Thus, we think 53 1/2 points could be passed in the 3rd quarter of this game.

August 21, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Football for August 27, 2022

This Week’s Spreads

Florida AtlanticCharlotte4.95.85.9
Nebraska (n)Northwestern10.49.311.3
New Mexico St.Nevada-9.7-9.5-10.3
Utah St.Connecticut20.919.825.1
UTEPNorth Texas0.81.2-0.3

FBS vs. FCS Games

Western KentuckyAustin Peay24.6
UNLVIdaho St.18.5
Florida St.Duquesne34.2
North CarolinaFlorida A&M29.8

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

3Ohio St.128.3
7NC State118.1
8Michigan St.117.7
10Oklahoma St.117.5
11Notre Dame116.8
18Miami (Fla.)114.7
19Penn St.114.6
20Texas A&M114.3
21Mississippi St.113.9
25L S U112.5
26Ole Miss112.2
30Florida St.111.3
33Kansas St.110.3
37U C L A109.1
38South Carolina109.1
39Iowa St.108.7
40North Carolina108.0
41T C U107.8
42Oregon St.107.2
43Texas Tech106.7
45Boise St.106.0
46U S C105.9
48Wake Forest105.4
51Arizona St.104.5
55Fresno St.103.5
56West Virginia103.3
60Washington St.101.5
61Air Force101.4
62Boston College101.2
64Georgia St.100.1
66East Carolina99.8
67Virginia Tech99.7
71N. Illinois98.2
73U A B98.1
74Appal. St.97.8
75San Diego St.97.7
78W. Kentucky97.2
82U T S A96.5
83Utah St.96.0
86Georgia Tech95.0
87Central Mich.95.0
90Coastal Car.94.0
91Miami (Ohio)93.5
92Western Mich.93.1
97J. Madison89.5
98Old Dominion89.4
99Colorado St.89.2
100North Texas88.9
101Eastern Mich.88.5
102Kent St.88.4
104U N L V87.6
105San Jose St.87.4
106Bowling Green87.1
107U T E P86.9
108Ga. Southern86.6
109Middle Tennessee86.5
110Florida Atlantic86.1
112South Alabama85.8
113Southern Miss.85.3
115Ball St.85.1
121Texas St.81.0
122Arkansas St.80.8
124Louisiana Tech80.4
125New Mexico80.2
129New Mexico St.75.4
131Florida Int’l.67.6

PiRate Ratings By Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Carolina99.699.2100.599.8


Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division
NC State118.4117.4118.6118.1
Florida St.111.8111.1111.0111.3
Wake Forest105.9105.2105.2105.4
Boston College100.6102.6100.3101.2

Coastal Division
Miami (Fla.)115.2113.8115.0114.7
North Carolina108.1108.3107.6108.0
Virginia Tech100.4100.897.999.7
Georgia Tech95.795.693.795.0


Big 12 Conference
Oklahoma St.118.3116.4117.7117.5
Kansas St.111.2109.8110.0110.3
Iowa St.108.7108.6108.9108.7
T C U108.9107.3107.3107.8
Texas Tech107.1105.6107.5106.7
West Virginia103.8103.6102.5103.3

Big 12110.2108.9109.2109.5

Big Ten Conference
East Division
Ohio St.128.7126.7129.6128.3
Michigan St.119.0117.4116.8117.7
Penn St.115.1114.6114.1114.6

West Division

Big Ten112.7112.0111.4112.0

Conference USA
U A B97.497.699.298.1
W. Kentucky96.596.199.197.2
U T S A97.295.496.796.5
North Texas88.787.990.088.9
U T E P87.086.587.286.9
Middle Tennessee85.786.886.986.5
Florida Atlantic85.487.385.786.1
Louisiana Tech80.382.078.880.4
Florida Int’l.


FBS Independents
Notre Dame117.5115.5117.4116.8
New Mexico St.74.977.274.175.4


Mid-American Conference
East Division
Miami (Ohio)91.694.694.493.5
Kent St.87.490.287.788.4
Bowling Green87.886.586.987.1

West Division
N. Illinois97.998.398.498.2
Central Mich.93.195.496.495.0
Western Mich.92.293.593.693.1
Eastern Mich.88.489.088.188.5
Ball St.84.786.084.885.1


Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
Boise St.106.1105.0107.0106.0
Air Force101.0100.9102.4101.4
Utah St.95.595.996.796.0
Colorado St.88.689.989.189.2
New Mexico80.481.179.180.2

West Division
Fresno St.103.3102.6104.6103.5
San Diego St.97.597.597.997.7
U N L V88.586.088.187.6
San Jose St.86.987.388.087.4


Pac-12 Conference
U C L A108.6108.5110.2109.1
Oregon St.107.2106.6107.8107.2
U S C105.4106.2106.2105.9
Arizona St.104.1104.1105.4104.5
Washington St.101.0101.6101.8101.5


Southeastern Conference
East Division
South Carolina109.5108.8108.9109.1

West Division
Texas A&M113.4114.8114.8114.3
Mississippi St.115.2113.1113.5113.9
L S U113.0112.2112.2112.5
Ole Miss113.4111.4111.8112.2


Sunbelt Conference
East Division
Georgia St.99.398.5102.6100.1
Appal. St.
Coastal Car.92.894.295.094.0
J. Madison87.
Old Dominion89.489.489.589.4
Ga. Southern86.686.087.186.6

West Division
South Alabama85.385.686.585.8
Southern Miss.85.185.685.285.3
Texas St.80.481.381.481.0
Arkansas St.80.181.780.680.8

Sun Belt88.889.490.289.5

Conference Ratings

2Big Ten112.0
3Big 12109.5
4Atlantic Coast106.6
6American Athletic98.4
8Mountain West91.8
9Sun Belt89.5
11Conference USA86.5

August 23, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Football For August 28

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 3:00 am

Monday, August 23, 2021

This Week’s PiRate Ratings
Date:August 28, 2021
New Mexico St.UTEP-4.5-4.7-5.3
Fresno St.Connecticut20.221.126.5


San Jose St.Southern Utah23.8

It’s called Week 0. Four FBS college football games will kick off the 2021 season. Included in the quartet of games is a Big Ten conference game with an old Big Ten coach returning to a new Big Ten school to face another coach that is sitting on a very hot seat.

On the West Coast, Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins host Hawaii, and a good showing with no injuries could set the Bruins up for a potential upset of LSU next week.

If you have followed our site so far this year, you have now seen the preseason ratings and predictions for all 130 FBS teams. Here are those ratings in full.

The PiRate Ratings for August 23

4Iowa St.124.8
6Ohio St.121.9
7U S C119.4
9Texas A&M118.1
10North Carolina117.7
11Miami (Fla.)116.9
14T C U116.0
18Ole Miss113.3
19Arizona St.113.1
20Oklahoma St.113.1
21Penn St.113.1
24West Virginia112.3
25L S U112.1
28U C L A110.5
29Notre Dame110.2
30Mississippi St.110.1
34Coastal Carolina108.4
35Wake Forest107.7
38Oregon St.106.9
41NC State106.1
45Virginia Tech105.3
46Boston College105.2
49Kansas St.104.4
51Boise St.103.9
53Florida St.103.5
55Michigan St.103.0
59Washington St.102.5
61Texas Tech101.9
62Appalachian St.101.0
63South Carolina100.8
65San Jose St.100.3
67San Diego St.100.2
70Miami (Ohio)99.7
71Central Michigan99.7
76Georgia Tech98.2
78Ball St.97.4
80Air Force96.5
81Georgia St.96.5
83Fresno St.95.3
84East Carolina95.3
85U A B95.2
90U T S A93.9
96Kent St.91.7
97Georgia Southern91.6
98Eastern Michigan91.4
99South Alabama91.2
100Western Michigan91.0
104Arkansas St.89.9
106Colorado St.89.0
107Texas St.87.8
108Florida Atlantic87.7
109Northern Illinois87.5
111Louisiana Tech86.5
112Utah St.85.8
113New Mexico85.7
115U N L V84.9
116Southern Miss.84.4
117Middle Tennessee83.7
118Western Kentucky82.7
119North Texas81.7
123Florida Int’l.79.0
125U T E P76.0
128Old Dominion71.4
129Bowling Green70.8
130New Mexico St.69.7

American Athletic Conference
East Carolina95.394.396.295.3
AAC Averages96.796.297.696.8

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division
Wake Forest108.0106.7108.3107.7
NC State106.5105.8105.9106.1
Boston College104.7105.3105.7105.2
Florida St.103.4103.6103.5103.5
Coastal Division
North Carolina116.4116.7119.9117.7
Miami (Fla.)117.1116.1117.7116.9
Virginia Tech106.4104.9104.7105.3
Georgia Tech98.098.398.398.2
ACC Averages104.9105.0105.3105.0

Big 12 Conference
Iowa St.125.3123.5125.6124.8
T C U116.6115.1116.3116.0
Oklahoma St.113.5113.2112.5113.1
West Virginia113.8112.0111.1112.3
Kansas St.104.9104.7103.5104.4
Texas Tech102.0102.8100.8101.9
Big 12 Averages111.5110.3110.0110.6

Big Ten Conference
East Division
Ohio St.121.1121.3123.2121.9
Penn St.111.7112.8114.6113.1
Michigan St.103.5103.0102.5103.0
West Division
Big Ten Averages107.0107.3108.0107.5

Conference USA
East Division
Florida Atlantic86.788.687.887.7
Middle Tennessee83.483.184.783.7
Western Kentucky81.783.682.882.7
Florida Int’l.77.978.980.179.0
Old Dominion71.271.971.271.4
West Division
U A B95.495.294.995.2
U T S A94.094.593.493.9
Louisiana Tech86.987.485.286.5
Southern Miss.83.385.284.584.4
North Texas82.181.781.481.7
U T E P76.377.274.476.0
CUSA Averages84.184.884.484.4

FBS Independents
Notre Dame108.8110.6111.2110.2
New Mexico St.70.371.167.669.7
Indep. Averages92.192.691.592.1

Mid-American Conference
East Division
Miami (Ohio)101.999.298.199.7
Kent St.91.393.490.591.7
Bowling Green71.672.168.870.8
West Division
Central Michigan100.599.199.599.7
Ball St.98.498.395.597.4
Eastern Michigan93.191.289.891.4
Western Michigan91.291.690.191.0
Northern Illinois89.387.086.187.5
MAC Averages92.391.790.491.4

Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
Boise St.103.9103.3104.3103.9
Air Force96.496.396.996.5
Colorado St.88.888.889.389.0
Utah St.85.686.685.285.8
New Mexico85.886.285.285.7
West Division
San Jose St.100.8101.199.0100.3
San Diego St.100.699.9100.2100.2
Fresno St.93.795.796.795.3
U N L V85.884.384.684.9
MWC Averages94.494.594.594.5

Pac-12 Conference
North Division
Oregon St.106.7106.7107.3106.9
Washington St.102.3103.2102.1102.5
South Division
U S C118.8118.4120.9119.4
Arizona St.112.4113.5113.6113.1
U C L A110.5110.5110.6110.5
Pac-12 Averages107.0107.8107.8107.5

Southeastern Conference
East Division
South Carolina101.1101.0100.4100.8
West Division
Texas A&M117.4118.3118.6118.1
Ole Miss113.3113.3113.2113.3
L S U111.0112.4112.8112.1
Mississippi St.110.2110.4109.7110.1
SEC Averages111.4111.6111.6111.5

Sunbelt Conference
Coastal Carolina109.2106.4109.6108.4
Appalachian St.100.5100.0102.5101.0
Georgia St.
Georgia Southern91.792.191.291.6
South Alabama91.691.590.691.2
Arkansas St.89.891.088.889.9
Texas St.89.486.787.287.8
Sun Averages94.894.194.494.5

Conference Ratings
2Big 12110.6
4Big Ten107.5
5Atlantic Coast105.0
6American Athletic96.8
7Sun Belt94.5
8Mountain West94.5
11Conference USA84.4

August 16, 2021

Mountain West Coast Conference Preview

Like every other conference in 2020, the Mountain West Conference was forced to make some eleventh hour changes, delaying the start of the season to late October.  One team, Colorado State, played just four games.  Several teams made it to six games.  A couple played seven times, and no team played double digit games.

Divisional play was cancelled last year, with the top two finishers facing off in the MWC Championship Game.  San Jose State finished first with a 6-0 league record, while Boise State finished a half-game back at 5-0.  In the MWC Championship Game, the Spartans bested the Broncos by two touchdowns.

Normalcy returns in 2021, as the teams return to divisional play.  At the preseason meetings the MWC Media voted their predicted order of finish for the season.  Here is how it turned out:

Mountain West Conference Preseason Media Poll
Mountain Division1st PlOverall
Boise St.23148
Air Force104
Colorado St.72
Utah St.47
New Mexico39
West Division1st PlOverall
San Jose St.5121
San Diego St.96
Fresno St.185

Here is the PiRate Ratings Preview for the MWC

Boise State breaks in a new head coach, after Bryan Harsin left for Auburn.  The Broncos return 16 starters including their starting quarterback and two excellent receivers.  New coach Andy Avalos needs to get more consistency out of the Boise State offense.  The defense is good enough to win games for the Broncos as long as the offense tops 30 points.

One of these years, Wyoming is going to put it all together and take the Mountain Division flag.  Coach Craig Bohl has what looks like his best team since he arrived in Laramie, and this could be the year the Cowboys challenge for the division title.  The Wyoming defense should challenge for the league lead in points allowed and total yards allowed.

AIr Force led the MWC in scoring defense last year, while the option offense was off and on.  When an option style team has a veteran quarterback, they usually perform a little better than the previous season.  However, even though quarterback Haaziq Daniels returns to start, he will play behind an offensive line that must replace all five starters.  The Falcon defense is going to need to come out with a lot of stalled opponent drives if AFA is going to compete for the division flag.

Colorado State has had a lot of turnover the last couple of seasons with three different head coaches.  Current coach and former Boston College head man Steve Addazio didn’t get much of a chance to coach in Fort Collins in his first year, going just 1-3.  He has an experienced squad returning, but the Rams have a tough schedule.  Competing for a winning record may be two seasons away at the least.

Utah State won just one time last year, a 14-point victory over New Mexico.  Once considered an offensive firepower, the Aggies are anything but that these days.  USU must break in a new quarterback, three new pass catchers, and a new running back, and the offense is going to struggle at times after averaging just 15.5 points per game last year.  The defense was mediocre in 2020, and it could be weaker this year, so the Aggies are not likely to enjoy a winning season.

New Mexico lost their first five games but was competitive in four of those games last year.  The Lobos ended the season with wins over Wyoming and Fresno State, and they return 14 starters.  They are a good quarterback away from contending for a bowl game this year.

In the West Division, the Nevada Wolf Pack clearly begins the season as the team to beat for the championship.  The Wolf Pack have the far and away best quarterback in the league and one of the top five in the nation in Carson Strong.  Give Strong a highly competent receiving corps, and Nevada should ride their version of the Air Raid offense to more than 35 points per game this year.  The good news for the Pack is their defense should be somewhat improved this year after surrendering just 23 points per game last year.  Keep an eye on this team; they have two road games against Power Five conference opponents, and they play Boise State on the road.  It would not be a shock if Nevada pulled off upsets in any or all of these games, assuming they count as upsets.

Nevada will have to compete with San Jose State and San Diego State for the West Division title, as both the Spartans and Aztecs are quite talented.  San Jose State went undefeated in the regular season and topped Boise State in the MWC title game, but they fell to a hot Ball State team in the Arizona Bowl.  The Spartans return their entire starting defense, while the offense returns the second best quarterback in the league in Nick Starkel, playing behind an offensive line that returns all five regulars.  Other than a game at USC in September, the Spartans have a chance to win the rest.  The November 6 game at Nevada might decide the division title.

San Diego State began to play defense in 2020 like the Aztecs were known for a decade ago, giving up 17.8 points per game and finishing third nationally in yards allowed at 283.5 per game.  SDSU doesn’t have the experienced quarterback like the other two contenders, but the Aztec defense should be even stronger in 2021.  

Fresno State had an off year at 3-3, and the Bulldogs concluded 2020 with a 49-39 loss to New Mexico.  Things weren’t as bad as they appeared to be for this team.  They suffered the most logistical nightmare of any team thanks to Covid.  The program totally shut down for more than six months, and after beating Utah State on November 14, they prepared to play for three weeks only to find out late each week that their game had been cancelled.  Additionally, after October’s home game win over Colorado State, they had to play their final four games on the road. Second year coach Kalen DeBoer welcomes back an experienced roster.  DeBoer went 67-3 in his previous stint as a head coach at NAIA power Sioux Falls.  Expect the Bulldogs to begin a trek back toward regular contention for the MWC championship.  Having to play at Oregon and at UCLA in September and then making a trip to Hawaii in early October could task the roster a tad too much, but FSU could easily sneak into contention .

Hawaii cannot be discounted as a dark horse in the West Division race.  Todd Graham guided the Rainbow Warriors to a 5-4 record that included a New Mexico Bowl win over Houston last year.  The UH offense was consistent, but the defense was not.  Expect a better defensive performance this year, and the offense should be strong once again.  UH will be handicapped a bit this year having to play seven road games, while their home games will be played in a retrofitted practice field on campus, while waiting for Aloha Stadium to be rebuilt.  The practice field will serve as the home field for the next three years.

UNLV wore the collar in 2020, going 0-6 in Coach Marcus Arroyo’s first season.  The Rebels will be interesting to watch this year, even if the total level of talent isn’t ready to compete in the MWC.  While 10 starters return to the weakest defense in the league, and a couple of  players that missed 2020 will be back to make the defense stronger, the focus will be on the offense, namely at quarterback.  

Tate Martell was the Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.  Martell took a circuitous route home after committing to multiple colleges and playing for both Ohio State and Miami of Florida.  He has one year to show NFL scouts that he is worthy of being drafted.  If he can live up to expectations, Martell could challenge Starkel as second best passer in the league.  If not, UNLV could struggle to win a conference game this year.

Here are the preseason PiRate Ratings for the MWC

Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
Boise St.103.9103.3104.3103.9
Air Force96.496.396.996.5
Colorado St.88.888.889.389.0
Utah St.85.686.685.285.8
New Mexico85.886.285.285.7
West Division
San Jose St.100.8101.199.0100.3
San Diego St.100.699.9100.2100.2
Fresno St.93.795.796.795.3
U N L V85.884.384.684.9
MWC Averages94.494.594.594.5

The PiRate Ratings are designed only to predict the next game for each team and not to look forward past that game, but just for fun, here are our predictions for 2021.

MWC MountainConf.Overall
Boise St.7-18-5
Air Force4-47-5
New Mexico3-56-6
Colorado St.2-64-8
Utah St.1-73-9
MWC WestConf.Overall
San Jose St.6-210-3*
San Diego St.5-38-4
Fresno St.3-55-7
* San Jose St. wins MWC Championship Game

August 22, 2019

PiRate Ratings Picks For August 24, 2019

Filed under: PiRate Picks_College & Pro — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:35 am

Welcome to the debut of the 2019 PiRate Ratings Picks.  During the football season, we will issue our pretend financial advice for you to read as entertainment purposes only and not to wager real money on games.

We pretend to make $100 wagers on whatever it is we select.  In the past, we have done this with money line parlays, teasers, straight wagers, and regular spread parlays.  Through the years, we have discovered our most successful style of wagering has been playing money line parlays.  At one time, we were successful teasing the totals lines.  13-point, 4-game parlays of teaser totals gave us an incredible hot streak one season when the standard deviation of scores was much lower than normal.

In this decade, there has been higher standard deviation in NFL scores, because the new rule moving extra points back 15 yards has created instability in game scores.

Many years ago, we had a rather impressive result playing the middle in games, but that was when we had permission to release the “outlaw” line before the official opening line.  Without the ability to see the Outlaw line and then the opening line, it was impossible to try to guess which games would see a large enough swing to go with both sides.

Since there are only two games this week, both college games, there is no real play that can be issued with our strategy.  If you take both favorites this week, Florida over Miami and Arizona over Hawaii, the best money line parlay odds you can get today is .6941, which means you would win $169.41 if you bet $100 and the two favorites won.  That means you would get your $100 investment back with $69.41 in profits.  Our philosophy is to only play parlays with odds of +120 or better, meaning you would receive $220  or more on a $100 wager.

In order to play a parlay with better than +120 odds this week, we would have to pick Hawaii or Miami to win outright.  If we selected Florida to beat Miami and Hawaii to upset Arizona, the parlay odds would be around +500 at this very moment.  That means, we would win $600 on a $100 wager if Florida and Hawaii won.

Alas, we are only confident this week of one outcome, that Florida will indeed beat Miami.  The actual point spread is right where we believe it should be, so playing the line is out of the question.

The best Money Line spread available to us at midday Thursday is -290, which means if we wager $100 on this game, if Florida won, we’d get a tiny $34.48 profit.  The reward is too small for the risk.

The totals for these two games do not give us a chance to come up with a playable parlay either, so for Week 0, we are not issuing any official picks.  We prefer to pick our spots and play only games that we are confident in occasionally winning.  If we play Money Line parlays with odds of +120 or better, we can win a smaller percentage of games and still turn a profit.

Let’s say we play 50 games this year with an average parlay odd of +180  Let’s say we get lucky and win 20.  Here’s how that would affect our imaginary bank account.

50 wagers of $100 each = $5,000 investment

20 Wins at +180 = $3,600 in winnings

30 Losses at +180 = $3,000 in losses

$600 profit at the end of the 50 wagers

12% Return on Investment

This 12% would take place in roughly 4 months, so the annualized Return on Investment would be 36%.  Not many investments return 36% in one year.

Ah, but here’s the rub: how likely is it that we can win 40% of our Money Line wagers at +180 odds?  The answer at the present time is one year in four, or to re-phrase it, four years ago.  The only solace is that the most recent three years brought imaginary profits as well, just nothing close to an annualized return of 36%.  Our 2018 season profit was so small it is not worth mentioning.  It was better in 2017 and much better in 2016, so the four year trend has been going in the wrong direction.

Ah, but here’s the other rub: We invested imaginary funds in all the years we have issued our selections.  Being 100% accurate and being 0% accurate brings the same outcome on zero real dollars invested.

Last year, we welcomed five of our long time friends to participate in a contest selecting winners against the spread.  It was a close contest all year, and as a group the five turned a small profit.  This year, we are going to have a guest computer program try to pick winners.  We decided to call this program “Davey 19.”  Davey is named for a former quarterback at TCU and for a short time with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Davey was only 5 foot 7 inches tall, but he had the heart of a giant and the fundamentals of a robot, so that’s why we are calling our guest computer program Davey 19 this year.

We will give Davey an identical rule–to make investments in imaginary $100 wagers.  Davey can make any type of selection in college and the NFL.  Davey does have one selection this week.


PiRate Picks For August 24, 2019

None   (not enough games for a playable parlay)


Davey 19 Selection For August 24, 2019

Hawaii +11 vs. Arizona


We do feel like Florida has a better than 60% chance to beat Miami, but the Money Line odd is too low to make enough profit to limit risk.

August 11, 2019

2019 Mountain West Conference Football Preview

In the first decade of the 21st Century, the Mountain West Conference was without a doubt the best of the non power leagues.  Slowly, some of the best programs left the league.  Utah went to the Pac-12; TCU left for the Big 12; Brigham Young copied the Notre Dame formula and went independent in football, while joining the West Coast Conference in other sports.  Boise State joined when BYU left, but the Broncos’ best teams were in the old Western Athletic Conference.

You can see this league beginning to reload.  Boise State has begun to recruit like they did in Chris Peterson’s era at the Field of Blue.  Under former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, Fresno State has returned to prominence.  Utah State, Wyoming, San Diego State, Hawaii, and Nevada have gotten a bit stronger in recent years.  Air Force has been down in the last couple of years, but the Falcons have the experience to rebound this year.

With the new strength in so many locations, the unfortunate reality is that it is highly unlikely that any one team will dominate the others and make a run for the New Year’s Six Bowl that goes to the top-rated Group of Five Conference team.

Both divisions should see competitive races this year, and when November comes,  at least five teams should still have a legitimate chance to make the conference championship game.


Here is how the Mountain West Conference media voted in the preseason poll

Mountain West Conference Media Poll
Mountain Division
Pos. Team 1st Place Votes Overall Votes
1 Boise St. 15 120
2 Utah St. 6 108
3 Air Force 0 73
4 Wyoming 0 66
5 Colorado St. 0 52
6 New Mexico 0 22


West Division
Pos. Team 1st Place Votes Overall Votes
1 Fresno St. 17 122
2 San Diego St. 3 106
3 Nevada 0 74
4 Hawaii 1 67
5 UNLV 0 51
6 San Jose St. 0 21


Championship Game Winner
None Chosen

The PiRate Ratings offer a little bit of a variation from the Media Poll.

Preseason PiRate Ratings–Mountain West
Mountain Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Utah St. 105.4 104.3 106.8 105.5
Boise St. 105.0 104.3 105.3 104.9
Air Force 96.5 98.0 97.3 97.3
Wyoming 94.4 96.6 95.2 95.4
New Mexico 83.0 86.3 82.4 83.9
Colorado St. 79.2 84.2 79.3 80.9


West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Fresno St. 99.8 100.2 100.6 100.2
Hawaii 95.5 97.7 94.8 96.0
San Diego St. 94.4 96.2 94.1 94.9
Nevada 92.9 93.9 92.5 93.1
U N L V 85.8 88.9 85.9 86.9
San Jose St. 83.6 86.0 82.7 84.1


MWC Averages 93.0 94.7 93.1 93.6


Note:  These preseason ratings are accurate as of August 1, 2019, and subject to change before the first week of the season due to personnel changes prior to the first week of the season.


Predicted Won-Loss Records

The PiRate Ratings were not created to forecast won-loss records like other ratings might attempt.  Our ratings are valid for just the next game on the teams’ schedules, and we have pre-set adjustments built into our ratings on many teams.  For instance, if a team has exceptional starting talent but little depth, their rating has a pre-set reduction per week of the season, so that even if they win or lose a game by the exact expected margin, they will lose some of their power rating due to their depth issues.

If a team has exceptional, but inexperienced talent, their rating will have a pre-set addition per week of the season, and even if their performance may be exactly what was expected, their power rating will rise.

What you see in these predicted won-loss records are our opinion and not calculated from the ratings.  These are the estimated records based on a vote, with the Captain having 50% of the vote and the crew having the other 50%.  The Captain then rounded up or down those teams picked to have an average wins that were not whole numbers.


PiRate Members Predicted Won-Loss
Mountain Division
Pos Team Conference Overall
1 Utah St. 7-1 10-3*
2 Boise St. 7-1 9-3
3 Air Force 5-3 7-5
4 Wyoming 4-4 6-6
5 New Mexico 1-7 3-9
6 Colorado St. 0-8 1-11


West Division
Pos Team Conference Overall
1 Hawaii 6-2 9-5
2 Fresno St. 6-2 8-4
3 San Diego St. 5-3 7-5
4 Nevada 4-4 6-6
5 UNLV 2-6 3-9
6 San Jose St. 1-7 2-10



Utah State picked to win MWC Championship Game


Bowl Predictions
Las Vegas Utah St.
Arizona Fresno St.
Armed Forces Boise St.
Idaho Potato Air Force
New Mexico San Diego St.


Alternate Bowl
Cheez-it Hawaii


Also Bowl Eligible


Coaches That Could Move to Power 5 Conferences

Bryan Harsin, Boise St.

Craig Bohl, Wyoming

Nick Rolovich, Hawaii

Jay Norvell, Nevada


Coaches On The Hot Seat

Mike Bobo, Colorado St.

Bob Davie, New Mexico

Brent Brennan, San Jose St.

Tony Sanchez, UNLV


Top Quarterbacks

Jordan Love, Utah St.

Cole McDonald, Hawaii

Armani Rogers, UNLV


Best Offense

Utah St.

Boise St.



Best Defense

Utah St.

Boise St.

Fresno St.


Coming Tomorrow: The FBS Independents, including Notre Dame and BYU.





August 24, 2016

College Football Preview–August 26, 2016

The College Football season kicks off a week earlier than normal this year thanks to the California Golden Bears playing the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia.  The chosen venue is the former site of the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, but in our opinion, this game would have been better placed in the Sydney Cricket Grounds, where the current Australian Football League Sydney Swans play.  48,000 seats are more than enough for these two teams, and ANZ Stadium holds around 80K.  Past games in Australia have drawn fewer than 20,000 fans.


Here are the initial PiRate Retrodictive Rankings For 2016.  Retrodictive refers to how teams have done so far to date, trying to rate the teams in order of who they have beaten and who has beaten them; they are not able to be used to predict the future, like our regular Predictive Ratings, which follow below.  Obviously, with no games played to date, these rankings are not yet Retrodictive.  Rather than re-list last year’s final Retrodictive Rankings, we have applied the updates to the 128 teams’ regular ratings to last year’s final rankings.

PiRate Retrodictive
# Team
1 Oklahoma
3 Florida St.
4 Alabama
5 Tennessee
6 Clemson
7 Ohio St.
8 Michigan
10 Oklahoma St.
11 Ole Miss
12 Stanford
13 Louisville
14 Washington
15 TCU
16 Oregon
17 Georgia
18 Notre Dame
19 North Carolina
20 Florida
21 Arkansas
22 Auburn
23 Pittsburgh
24 Iowa
25 Miami (Fla)
27 Texas
28 Texas A&M
29 Michigan St.
30 Mississippi St.
31 Washington St.
32 Wisconsin
33 Baylor
34 West Virginia
35 Nebraska
36 Utah
37 Penn St.
38 Virginia Tech
39 Arizona St.
40 Houston
41 BYU
42 North Carolina St.
43 Arizona
44 Georgia Tech
45 Boise St.
46 Northwestern
47 South Florida
48 Kansas St.
49 San Diego St.
50 Boston College
51 Texas Tech
52 Cincinnati
53 Minnesota
54 Virginia
55 Missouri
56 Indiana
57 Western Michigan
58 Temple
59 Vanderbilt
60 Syracuse
61 Kentucky
62 Air Force
63 Navy
64 California
65 Colorado
66 Toledo
67 Wake Forest
68 South Carolina
69 Appalachian St.
70 Illinois
71 Iowa St.
72 Central Michigan
73 Memphis
74 Western Kentucky
75 Duke
76 Northern Illinois
77 Connecticut
78 Georgia Southern
79 Purdue
80 Maryland
81 Utah St.
82 Tulsa
83 Rutgers
84 Marshall
85 Bowling Green
86 Oregon St.
87 Arkansas St.
89 Nevada
90 Southern Miss.
91 Louisiana Tech
92 East Carolina
93 Ohio
94 San Jose St.
95 SMU
96 Colorado St.
97 New Mexico
98 Army
99 Rice
100 Akron
101 Kansas
102 UNLV
103 Central Florida
104 Troy
105 Florida Atlantic
106 Florida Int’l.
107 Buffalo
108 Fresno St.
109 Ball St.
110 Old Dominion
111 Georgia St.
112 Tulane
113 Kent St.
114 UL-Lafayette
115 Wyoming
116 Miami (O)
117 Idaho
118 South Alabama
119 Massachusetts
120 UTEP
121 Hawaii
122 UTSA
123 Eastern Michigan
124 Charlotte
125 New Mexico St.
126 North Texas
127 UL-Monroe
128 Texas St.

Here are the regular PiRate Ratings for the opening week of the season.  In some cases, these ratings differ slightly from the ratings given during the conference previews of the last 10 days, the reason being that players have quit, been injured, or transferred since the data was first compiled.

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Tennessee 127.7 121.8 128.4 126.0
2 LSU 127.6 121.1 126.8 125.2
3 Oklahoma 125.6 122.1 125.6 124.4
4 Alabama 126.5 119.0 125.0 123.5
5 Clemson 126.8 116.4 125.7 123.0
6 Florida St. 122.9 115.4 121.9 120.1
7 Michigan 120.0 118.0 120.4 119.5
8 Mississippi St. 120.1 115.9 119.7 118.6
9 Stanford 121.3 112.8 120.4 118.2
10 Oklahoma St. 117.5 118.8 117.5 117.9
11 USC 119.7 114.3 118.0 117.3
12 Washington 119.4 110.4 119.1 116.3
13 Louisville 118.6 111.8 118.0 116.1
14 Texas 114.4 118.0 114.4 115.6
15 Pittsburgh 117.1 111.7 116.4 115.1
16 North Carolina 117.4 109.2 117.1 114.6
17 Auburn 114.5 113.8 113.9 114.1
18 TCU 113.3 115.6 113.2 114.0
19 Notre Dame 116.2 111.0 114.8 114.0
20 Florida 113.5 116.8 111.1 113.8
21 Arkansas 116.4 110.3 114.2 113.7
22 Miami 116.6 108.0 115.9 113.5
23 Ohio St. 113.3 113.5 113.5 113.4
24 Iowa 114.6 110.9 114.2 113.2
25 Georgia 112.5 114.0 112.1 112.9
26 Michigan St. 113.1 112.4 111.1 112.2
27 Oregon 112.8 111.8 111.7 112.1
28 Texas A&M 112.1 111.4 112.0 111.8
29 Virginia Tech 111.0 110.8 111.5 111.1
30 Ole Miss 113.6 107.4 112.1 111.0
31 Washington St. 112.3 107.6 112.0 110.7
32 UCLA 110.9 110.2 110.3 110.5
33 Houston 110.1 108.3 111.9 110.1
34 Baylor 109.4 109.7 110.6 109.9
35 Penn St. 109.5 111.3 108.0 109.6
36 Nebraska 110.4 105.9 110.5 108.9
37 Arizona St. 108.7 109.2 107.7 108.6
38 Utah 111.4 105.3 108.9 108.5
39 Wisconsin 109.1 105.9 109.5 108.2
40 BYU 110.6 102.9 110.3 107.9
41 South Florida 108.3 105.7 109.5 107.8
42 Northwestern 109.7 103.5 108.1 107.1
43 North Carolina St. 108.0 104.7 107.6 106.8
44 Georgia Tech 108.1 104.2 107.4 106.6
45 West Virginia 106.6 106.1 106.0 106.2
46 Arizona 107.2 105.2 106.1 106.2
47 Boise St. 104.4 105.7 106.3 105.5
48 Colorado 107.0 102.1 107.0 105.4
49 San Diego St. 104.9 102.2 108.2 105.1
50 Boston College 105.1 103.6 104.9 104.5
51 Kansas St. 103.1 107.5 102.5 104.4
52 Vanderbilt 106.9 100.7 105.1 104.3
53 Minnesota 104.8 102.8 104.7 104.1
54 Texas Tech 104.9 102.3 102.7 103.3
55 Virginia 104.4 101.2 103.8 103.1
56 Syracuse 105.2 101.0 103.1 103.1
57 Indiana 101.5 106.0 100.9 102.8
58 Missouri 103.0 101.8 102.5 102.5
59 Western Michigan 102.0 100.9 103.9 102.3
60 Cincinnati 101.5 102.7 102.5 102.3
61 Temple 102.2 101.2 103.1 102.2
62 Maryland 100.9 104.2 98.1 101.1
63 Wake Forest 102.3 99.2 101.5 101.0
64 Tulsa 99.7 102.2 100.4 100.8
65 Kentucky 100.4 102.3 99.2 100.6
66 Toledo 101.0 98.9 101.8 100.6
67 Memphis 102.7 97.8 100.8 100.5
68 Central Michigan 98.9 101.9 99.9 100.2
69 Air Force 99.9 100.2 100.1 100.1
70 California 104.7 93.3 101.0 99.7
71 Duke 99.4 100.7 98.0 99.4
72 Iowa St. 99.8 99.2 98.7 99.2
73 Illinois 100.6 97.2 99.8 99.2
74 Navy 99.2 99.0 98.6 99.0
75 South Carolina 99.0 99.3 98.1 98.8
76 Northern Illinois 97.3 98.9 98.4 98.2
77 Purdue 99.4 96.6 98.3 98.1
78 Connecticut 98.3 96.1 98.6 97.7
79 Western Kentucky 99.3 93.3 100.0 97.5
80 Rutgers 99.0 96.2 97.3 97.5
81 Bowling Green 96.7 94.7 97.3 96.2
82 Appalachian St. 95.5 95.7 97.1 96.1
83 New Mexico 94.3 97.6 95.6 95.9
84 Oregon St. 97.8 93.0 95.0 95.3
85 Marshall 92.5 96.9 94.3 94.6
86 Utah St. 93.2 97.1 93.0 94.4
87 Nevada 92.3 95.6 93.6 93.9
88 Arkansas St. 91.9 94.2 94.4 93.5
89 Georgia Southern 93.0 91.7 95.5 93.4
90 SMU 93.7 92.1 93.2 93.0
91 Southern Mississippi 92.7 92.1 93.8 92.9
92 East Carolina 91.6 94.6 91.7 92.6
93 Middle Tennessee 91.2 93.8 92.3 92.4
94 Ohio 88.7 98.2 90.1 92.4
95 San Jose St. 91.0 91.0 91.9 91.3
96 UNLV 89.0 93.6 89.1 90.6
97 Kansas 88.3 96.1 85.9 90.1
98 Colorado St. 88.2 90.6 89.0 89.3
99 Army 84.2 93.2 86.6 88.0
100 Rice 84.7 94.1 85.1 88.0
101 Akron 84.8 92.6 86.5 88.0
102 Old Dominion 85.8 89.2 86.4 87.1
103 Central Florida 85.9 88.6 85.9 86.8
104 Florida Atlantic 84.9 88.6 86.8 86.8
105 Louisiana Tech 85.4 88.6 86.0 86.7
106 Troy 83.6 90.2 85.2 86.4
107 Florida International 82.4 89.6 84.3 85.4
108 Buffalo 80.8 90.1 82.2 84.4
109 Ball St. 83.6 85.6 83.8 84.3
110 Georgia St. 81.7 87.1 83.9 84.2
111 Fresno St. 82.1 87.1 81.9 83.7
112 Tulane 82.2 86.1 82.0 83.4
113 Miami (O) 82.2 84.0 82.9 83.0
114 Kent St. 82.3 84.5 82.2 83.0
115 Wyoming 82.5 82.5 82.6 82.6
116 UTSA 78.4 87.1 80.9 82.2
117 Idaho 78.1 85.2 79.7 81.0
118 UL-Lafayette 76.3 86.8 78.7 80.6
119 Eastern Michigan 78.1 83.6 79.5 80.4
120 South Alabama 75.3 85.2 76.2 78.9
121 Massachusetts 75.0 84.5 76.2 78.6
122 UTEP 74.5 79.5 75.8 76.6
123 Hawaii 77.0 76.5 75.7 76.4
124 Charlotte 73.0 81.1 74.6 76.2
125 New Mexico St. 73.7 76.5 74.9 75.0
126 North Texas 74.0 76.6 73.7 74.8
127 UL-Monroe 67.9 73.3 68.3 69.8
128 Texas St. 68.8 69.5 69.5 69.3


PiRate Ratings By Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
South Florida 108.3 105.7 109.5 107.8
Cincinnati 101.5 102.7 102.5 102.3
Temple 102.2 101.2 103.1 102.2
Connecticut 98.3 96.1 98.6 97.7
East Carolina 91.6 94.6 91.7 92.6
Central Florida 85.9 88.6 85.9 86.8
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Houston 110.1 108.3 111.9 110.1
Tulsa 99.7 102.2 100.4 100.8
Memphis 102.7 97.8 100.8 100.5
Navy 99.2 99.0 98.6 99.0
SMU 93.7 92.1 93.2 93.0
Tulane 82.2 86.1 82.0 83.4
AAC Averages 98.0 97.9 98.2 98.0
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 126.8 116.4 125.7 123.0
Florida St. 122.9 115.4 121.9 120.1
Louisville 118.6 111.8 118.0 116.1
North Carolina St. 108.0 104.7 107.6 106.8
Boston College 105.1 103.6 104.9 104.5
Syracuse 105.2 101.0 103.1 103.1
Wake Forest 102.3 99.2 101.5 101.0
Coastal Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Pittsburgh 117.1 111.7 116.4 115.1
North Carolina 117.4 109.2 117.1 114.6
Miami 116.6 108.0 115.9 113.5
Virginia Tech 111.0 110.8 111.5 111.1
Georgia Tech 108.1 104.2 107.4 106.6
Virginia 104.4 101.2 103.8 103.1
Duke 99.4 100.7 98.0 99.4
ACC Averages 111.6 107.0 110.9 109.9
Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 125.6 122.1 125.6 124.4
Oklahoma St. 117.5 118.8 117.5 117.9
Texas 114.4 118.0 114.4 115.6
TCU 113.3 115.6 113.2 114.0
Baylor 109.4 109.7 110.6 109.9
West Virginia 106.6 106.1 106.0 106.2
Kansas St. 103.1 107.5 102.5 104.4
Texas Tech 104.9 102.3 102.7 103.3
Iowa St. 99.8 99.2 98.7 99.2
Kansas 88.3 96.1 85.9 90.1
Big 12 Averages 108.3 109.6 107.7 108.5
Big Ten Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Michigan 120.0 118.0 120.4 119.5
Ohio St. 113.3 113.5 113.5 113.4
Michigan St. 113.1 112.4 111.1 112.2
Penn St. 109.5 111.3 108.0 109.6
Indiana 101.5 106.0 100.9 102.8
Maryland 100.9 104.2 98.1 101.1
Rutgers 99.0 96.2 97.3 97.5
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Iowa 114.6 110.9 114.2 113.2
Nebraska 110.4 105.9 110.5 108.9
Wisconsin 109.1 105.9 109.5 108.2
Northwestern 109.7 103.5 108.1 107.1
Minnesota 104.8 102.8 104.7 104.1
Illinois 100.6 97.2 99.8 99.2
Purdue 99.4 96.6 98.3 98.1
Big Ten Averages 107.6 106.0 106.7 106.8
Conference USA
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Kentucky 99.3 93.3 100.0 97.5
Marshall 92.5 96.9 94.3 94.6
Middle Tennessee 91.2 93.8 92.3 92.4
Old Dominion 85.8 89.2 86.4 87.1
Florida Atlantic 84.9 88.6 86.8 86.8
Florida International 82.4 89.6 84.3 85.4
Charlotte 73.0 81.1 74.6 76.2
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Southern Mississippi 92.7 92.1 93.8 92.9
Rice 84.7 94.1 85.1 88.0
Louisiana Tech 85.4 88.6 86.0 86.7
UTSA 78.4 87.1 80.9 82.2
UTEP 74.5 79.5 75.8 76.6
North Texas 74.0 76.6 73.7 74.8
CUSA Averages 84.5 88.5 85.7 86.2
FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 116.2 111.0 114.8 114.0
BYU 110.6 102.9 110.3 107.9
Army 84.2 93.2 86.6 88.0
Massachusetts 75.0 84.5 76.2 78.6
Independents Averages 96.5 97.9 97.0 97.1
Mid-American Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Bowling Green 96.7 94.7 97.3 96.2
Ohio 88.7 98.2 90.1 92.4
Akron 84.8 92.6 86.5 88.0
Buffalo 80.8 90.1 82.2 84.4
Miami (O) 82.2 84.0 82.9 83.0
Kent St. 82.3 84.5 82.2 83.0
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Michigan 102.0 100.9 103.9 102.3
Toledo 101.0 98.9 101.8 100.6
Central Michigan 98.9 101.9 99.9 100.2
Northern Illinois 97.3 98.9 98.4 98.2
Ball St. 83.6 85.6 83.8 84.3
Eastern Michigan 78.1 83.6 79.5 80.4
MAC Averages 89.7 92.8 90.7 91.1
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 104.4 105.7 106.3 105.5
Air Force 99.9 100.2 100.1 100.1
New Mexico 94.3 97.6 95.6 95.9
Utah St. 93.2 97.1 93.0 94.4
Colorado St. 88.2 90.6 89.0 89.3
Wyoming 82.5 82.5 82.6 82.6
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 104.9 102.2 108.2 105.1
Nevada 92.3 95.6 93.6 93.9
San Jose St. 91.0 91.0 91.9 91.3
UNLV 89.0 93.6 89.1 90.6
Fresno St. 82.1 87.1 81.9 83.7
Hawaii 77.0 76.5 75.7 76.4
MWC Averages 91.6 93.4 92.3 92.4
Pac-12 Conference
North Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Stanford 121.3 112.8 120.4 118.2
Washington 119.4 110.4 119.1 116.3
Oregon 112.8 111.8 111.7 112.1
Washington St. 112.3 107.6 112.0 110.7
California 104.7 93.3 101.0 99.7
Oregon St. 97.8 93.0 95.0 95.3
South Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
USC 119.7 114.3 118.0 117.3
UCLA 110.9 110.2 110.3 110.5
Arizona St. 108.7 109.2 107.7 108.6
Utah 111.4 105.3 108.9 108.5
Arizona 107.2 105.2 106.1 106.2
Colorado 107.0 102.1 107.0 105.4
Pac-12 Averages 111.1 106.3 109.8 109.1
Southeastern Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Tennessee 127.7 121.8 128.4 126.0
Florida 113.5 116.8 111.1 113.8
Georgia 112.5 114.0 112.1 112.9
Vanderbilt 106.9 100.7 105.1 104.3
Missouri 103.0 101.8 102.5 102.5
Kentucky 100.4 102.3 99.2 100.6
South Carolina 99.0 99.3 98.1 98.8
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
LSU 127.6 121.1 126.8 125.2
Alabama 126.5 119.0 125.0 123.5
Mississippi St. 120.1 115.9 119.7 118.6
Auburn 114.5 113.8 113.9 114.1
Arkansas 116.4 110.3 114.2 113.7
Texas A&M 112.1 111.4 112.0 111.8
Ole Miss 113.6 107.4 112.1 111.0
SEC Averages 113.9 111.1 112.9 112.6
Sunbelt Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Appalachian St. 95.5 95.7 97.1 96.1
Arkansas St. 91.9 94.2 94.4 93.5
Georgia Southern 93.0 91.7 95.5 93.4
Troy 83.6 90.2 85.2 86.4
Georgia St. 81.7 87.1 83.9 84.2
Idaho 78.1 85.2 79.7 81.0
UL-Lafayette 76.3 86.8 78.7 80.6
South Alabama 75.3 85.2 76.2 78.9
New Mexico St. 73.7 76.5 74.9 75.0
UL-Monroe 67.9 73.3 68.3 69.8
Texas St. 68.8 69.5 69.5 69.3
Sun Belt Averages 80.5 85.1 82.1 82.6



PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Southeastern 113.9 111.1 112.9 112.6
2 Atlantic Coast 111.6 107.0 110.9 109.9
3 Pac-12 111.1 106.3 109.8 109.1
4 Big 12 108.3 109.6 107.7 108.5
5 Big Ten 107.6 106.1 106.7 106.8
6 American 98.0 97.9 98.2 98.0
7 Independents 96.5 97.9 97.0 97.1
8 Mountain West 91.6 93.4 92.3 92.4
9 Mid-American 89.7 92.9 90.7 91.1
10 Conference USA 84.5 88.5 85.7 86.3
11 Sunbelt 80.5 85.1 82.1 82.6


PiRate Ratings Spreads For August 26, 2016

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Hawaii California -27.6 -16.8 -25.2

Bowl Projections

We erred when issuing bowl projections in our conference previews, completely forgetting that the current Rose Bowl tie-in calls for the Pac-12 and Big Ten to supply the highest rated teams not in the playoffs, rather than using the old BCS formula rules.


Therefore, we have moved Ohio State into the Rose Bowl in lieu of Alabama, which in turn caused us to rearrange several other bowls once Alabama was moved to an SEC only bowl.


We are sorry for the error.  Here are the updated Bowl Projections.

Bowl Conferences Team vs. Team
New Mexico MWC CUSA New Mexico vs. Rice
Las Vegas Pac-12 MWC Arizona St. vs. Boise St.
Cure AAC SBC [Army] vs. Troy
Camellia MAC SBC North. Illinois vs. Ga. Southern
New Orleans CUSA SBC W. Kentucky vs. Arkansas St.
Miami Beach AAC MAC Tulsa vs. West. Michigan
Boca Raton AAC CUSA [Cent. Michigan] vs. Southern Miss.
Poinsettia MWC BYU San Diego St. vs. BYU
Idaho Potato MAC MWC Bowling Green vs. UNLV
Bahamas AAC/CUSA MAC/CUSA Memphis vs. Toledo
Armed Forces Navy Big 12 Navy vs. [Arizona]
Dollar General MAC SBC Ohio U vs. Appalachian St.
Hawaii CUSA MWC Marshall vs. Air Force
St. Petersburg AAC ACC/ND Houston vs. [Colorado]
Quick Lane ACC/ND Big Ten Boston College vs. Wisconsin
Independence SEC ACC/ND [UL-Lafayette] vs. Georgia Tech
Heart of Dallas Big Ten CUSA Indiana vs. Middle Tenn.
Military ACC/ND AAC N. Carolina St. vs. Temple
Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 Penn St. vs. Oregon
Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 [Maryland] vs. Utah
Pinstripe ACC/ND Big Ten Virginia Tech vs. Northwestern
Russell Athletic ACC/ND Big 12 Louisville vs. TCU
Foster Farms Big Ten Pac-12 Minnesota vs. Washington St.
Texas Big 12 SEC Baylor vs. Mississippi St.
Birmingham AAC SEC Cincinnati vs. Texas A&M
Belk ACC/ND SEC Miami (Fla) vs. Florida
Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 Oklahoma St. vs. USC
Liberty Big 12 SEC West Virginia vs. Ole Miss
Sun ACC/ND Pac-12 Pittsburgh vs. UCLA
Arizona CUSA/SBC MWC/SBC Louisiana Tech vs. Utah St.
Music City ACC/ND/B10 SEC Nebraska vs. Auburn
Orange ACC/ND B10/SEC Florida St. vs. Notre Dame
Citrus ACC/ND/B10 SEC Iowa vs. Alabama
TaxSlayer ACC/ND/B10 SEC North Carolina vs. Arkansas
Peach Semifinal Semifinal Tennessee vs. Stanford
Fiesta Semifinal Semifinal Michigan vs. Oklahoma
Outback Big Ten SEC Michigan St. vs. Georgia
Cotton At-Large At-Large Clemson vs. South Florida
Rose Big Ten Pac-12 Washington vs. Ohio St.
Sugar Big 12 SEC Texas vs. LSU
Nat’l Championship Semifinal Winners Tennessee vs. Michigan

Teams in [Brackets] are at-large selections because the contracted conference will not have a bowl eligible team able to fill the slot.







August 18, 2011

2011 Western Athletic Conference Preview

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 11:46 am

2011 Western Athletic Conference Preview


The WAC as we know it has been victimized by the Mountain West Conference.  In a move akin to the American League East losing the New York Yankees, the MWC stole Boise State.  Next year, Nevada, Hawaii, and Fresno State will join the Broncos in the Mountain West, leaving this conference a mere shell of itself.  The future of this league is in serious jeopardy, and the addition of two new teams to FBS football in 2012 (Texas State and Texas-San Antonio, may not be enough to save this league.


Without Boise State, the WAC race will be more open this season.  Four teams have the talent to contend for the conference championship, while a fifth has the capability of finishing over .500.


Nevada finished in a three-way tie for first with Boise State and Hawaii, and the Wolf Pack finished #11 in the final poll.  Gone from the school’s best ever team are stellar quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the WAC’s leading rusher Vai Taua, receiver Virgil Green, 1st Team All-WAC tackle Jose Acuna and four of the top tacklers.


All is not gloomy in the biggest little town in America.  Coach Chris Ault will simply reload rather than rebuild, and with the absence of a blue turf in league play, Nevada will contend for a second consecutive WAC title.  


Tyler Lantrip is not the runner Kaepernick was, but he has a better arm.  Lantrip should pass for more yards this year than Kaepernick did last year (3,022).  He will get a Baptism under fire when the Wolf Pack play their first four games away from Reno.


Mike Ball is the new tailback in the Pistol Offense. Ball has speed and quickness to excel in this offense.  He averaged 6.8 yards per carry last year in limited action.  Lampford Mark will get his shares of touches and could challenge for a starting bid.


The top receiver in the WAC this year will be Rishard Matthews.  He may not lead in catches or yards, because those stats belong to Hawaii receivers, but Matthews is the best at his position.  The former Oregon recruit led Nevada with 56 receptions and averaged 15.7 yards per catch.  The unexpected loss of Brandon Wimberly, who was shot in the off-season, will force Matthews to face more double teams and combo defenses.


The offense will click because the blocking corps is the best in the league.  Junior Chris Barker is the best guard in the league, while center Jeff Meads is one of three really good snappers in the WAC.


Nevada averaged 41 points and 519 yards per game last year.  Those numbers will decline a little this year.  The Wolf Pack will not be able to move up and down the field at will, but in the new WAC, they can win the title with a 35 point and 450 yard performance.


Nevada’s defense was just as responsible for last year’s title run as the offense.  It surrendered just 21 points per game in a league where 28 points was average.  Seven starters return, including three with all-star accolades in 2010.


Up front, tackle Brett Roy is poised to contend for 1st Team All-WAC honors.  He introduced enemy QBs to the turf eight times last year.  The loss of 3rd round draft pick Dontay Moch will hurt.


Middle linebacker James-Michael Johnson should repeat as a 1st Team All-WAC defender.  He led the Pack with 88 tackles last year.  In the back line of defense, Isaiah Frey is one of the best cover corners in the league.  He batted away 14 passes and picked off another last year.


The non-conference schedule is tough this year.  Nevada opens at Oregon and plays at Texas Tech and at Boise State, all in the first four games.  The schedule gets easier from there with home games against rival UNLV and helpless New Mexico.  In WAC play, Nevada hosts the other three contenders, and this should help the Wolf Pack claim another conference championship.


Hawaii recovered from a subpar 2009 with a 10-win season last year.  Once again, it was an aerial circus on the island, as the Warriors averaged 394 yards through the air to lead the nation.  The Run ‘n’ Shoot offense took a major hit with the loss of eight starters, but we would be surprised if Hawaii did not average more than 300 passing yards again this season.


One of those trio of returnees is quarterback Bryant Moniz.  Moniz topped 5,000 passing yards last year and threw 39 touchdown passes.  He tends to hold onto the ball a little longer than an average run ‘n’ shoot passer, and he went down 40 times last year, seven against Boise State in the lone game that UH failed to score in double digits.


Moniz lost his top two receivers, and they combined for 207 receptions and almost 3,200 yards.  Royce Pollard will be the new 100+-reception receiver for the Warriors.  There are questions at the other receiver positions, as two players figured to be starters are ailing and missing practice.


As pass happy as Hawaii is, they still run the ball with authority.  Alex Green rushed for almost 1,200 yards last year, but he must be replaced.  Sterling Jackson will be the new starter, but he lacks the speed and quickness of Green.  He will be more of a between the tackles pounder.


The offensive line was above average but not great last year, and four starters have used up their eligibility, including the two best blockers.  It will take a few weeks for the newly rebuilt line to come together, so Moniz may be facing a lot more pressure than last year.


The Warriors never get much credit for their defensive play.  They gave up a respectable 25.5 yards per game last year, only 20 in league play.  Coach Greg McMackin believes in aggressive attacking defenses, and he has the players to cause a lot of disruption to enemy offenses.


The front seven is the best in the WAC by far, and Hawaii should lead the conference in sacks and in lowest rushing average allowed.  Up front, tackles Vaughn Meatoga and Kaniela Tuipulotu are the best tandem in the conference.  Few teams will find success running line plunges up the gut against Hawaii.


The Warriors make hay at the linebacker position with multi-tool players.  Corey Paredes is a WAC Player of the Year candidate.  He led the conference with 151 stops, and he picked off four enemy passes last year while knocking away five others.  Aaron Brown is another linebacker who is strong against both the run and pass.


The back line of defense is the vulnerable unit on this side of the ball.  The two starters lost combined for 12 interceptions and 27 total passes defended.  Safety Richard Torres will need to step up and break out with a big year.


As usual, Hawaii plays a 13-game schedule, which means they will play six non-conference games this year.  The Warriors should beat UNLV, UC-Davis, and Tulane.  The opener against Colorado is a toss-up, but we believe Hawaii will have several intangible factors in their favor in this one.  Games with Washington and BYU should be losses.  The Warriors will only need to go 3-4 in the league to get back to the Hawaii Bowl.  They could double that amount.


Louisiana Tech is not far away from being a serious title contender.  Second year head coach Sonny Dykes has not been able to fully implement his version of Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense.  He believes the Bulldogs are ready to start making the offense click.


If the offense is going to start putting up numbers similar to Texas Tech in the Leach years. New quarterback Colby Cameron is going to have to improve by a great amount.  Last year, in limited action, Cameron could not complete longer passes, unless you count the high percentage of passes completed to the wrong colored jersey.  He ended up with five picks in just 91 attempts.


The Bulldogs took a hit with the dismissal of projected starting receiver Ahmad Paige and Tim Molton.  The Bulldogs still have their two leading receivers from last year; Taulib Ikharo and Richie Casey combined for 92 receptions and 962 yards.


Lennon Creer is another pass catching threat coming out of the backfield.  He caught 25 passes last year, but his running acumen is what made him a 2nd Team All-WAC performer.  He gained 1,181 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.


The offensive line is not the best in the league, but it is not far from it.  The Bulldogs will be nearly lethal inside with excellent guards Kevin Saia and Oscar Johnson (Saia is nursing an injury) and center Stephen Warner.


Will this be the year LT breaks out with scary offensive numbers?  Probably not, but their numbers will head north.  Call it 270 passing yards and 425+ total yards with a scoring average of 30-32 points per game.


If the Bulldogs are to make an unexpected run for the conference title and earn a bowl bid for the first time in four seasons, their defense must improve.  Tech gave up 31 points and 460+ yards per game in 2010.


One area where there will be improvement is up front in the trenches.  The Bulldogs have an excellent pair of ends in Matt Broha and IK Enemkpali.  Broha has developed into a great pass rusher and led LT with nine sacks last year. 


Two starters return to the second line of defense.  Linebackers Jay Dudley and Adrien Cole combined for 174 tackles but only 6 ½ for minus yardage.  This number needs to go up, for it will not help improve the defense if too many of those tackles come at the end of five yard gains.


The secondary is loaded with depth, and this should be the unit that shows the greatest improvement in 2011.  Look for more interceptions and passes defended this season. 


Louisiana Tech hosts Hawaii, so the Bulldogs will play a 12-game schedule.  Four of their five non-conference games will be tough to win, so the Bulldogs will need five conference wins at the least to become bowl eligible.  They are capable of achieving that feat this year.  


Fresno State has been so good for so long, it is hard to believe the Bulldogs have never won the WAC.  You have to go back to the days of the old Big West Conference to find FSU’s last title, when the Bulldogs finished 11-1-0 and clobbered Ball State in the old California Bowl.


The WAC is down, so Fresno State will benefit, because this will not be Coach Pat Hill’s best Bulldog team.  Too many good players are missing from both sides of the ball.  One of those is quarterback Ryan Colburn, who completed better than 63% of his passes with a 23/9 TD/Int ratio last year.  The new QB has a familiar name on campus.  Derek Carr is the younger brother of former FSU great David.  Carr has five games of experience from 2009, but he missed all of last season.  Look for Carr to struggle early but begin to live up to his family name as the season progresses.


Running back Robbie Rouse returns after enjoying a big season in 2010.  He rushed for 1,129 yards and eight scores.  Former UCLA Bruin Milton Knox should see some action as well.


Jalen Saunders is the best FSU has at the receiver position, but he is not a threat to crack the 1st or 2nd team all-conference roster.  Saunders caught 30 passes and scored three times.


The offensive line is not a team strength.  It could actually be the weakest in the league.  Two starters return, and the three that departed were all-league players.  Expect a considerable retreat in sacks allowed and rushing yards per carry this year.


The defense gave up 30 points per game last year, but the Bulldogs allowed just 367 total yards per game.  Their 37 sacks topped the league charts, as Bulldog players finished one-two in the league.  One of those players returns this season.  Tackle Logan Harrell is back after recording 10 ½ sacks and 14 total tackles for loss.    Three new starters will line up in the trenches, so Harrell will see more double team blocks this year.


Travis Brown and Kyle Knox are back to wreak havoc from their linebacker positions.  The two teamed up for 153 tackles last year.


There are some concerns in the secondary, and if the pass rush is not as good as last year, it will be exploited.  Free safety Phillip Thomas is the star of this unit.  He intercepted three passes and knocked away nine others.


Fresno State has a 13-game schedule since they play at Hawaii.  It will be difficult to match last year’s eight wins, but the Bulldogs have a chance to compete in the weaker WAC.  We still see this team becoming bowl eligible.


San Jose State has fallen on hard times in the last two seasons, finishing 2-10 and 1-12.  Second year coach Mike MacIntyre has a lot of experience returning from a team that took its lumps early but became much more competitive in the second half of the season.  With 18 starters returning, we see the Spartans could win more games in 2011 than they won in 2009 and 2010 combined.


The big bugaboo is at the most important position on the team.  As of this writing in mid-August, MacIntyre has yet to choose a starter, or even a leader of the pack, from among three candidates.  Senior Matt Faulkner has limited experience, but that limited experience is the most on the squad.  Contending with Faulkner are sophomore Dasmen Stewart and redshirt freshman Blake Jurich.  Too bad former Michigan starter Tate Forcier will not be eligible until 2012.


SJSU has a nice stable of receivers, and if a quarterback can emerge and at least be decent, this unit could shine in 2011.  Noel Grigsby is a breakaway threat.  He can get open deep and has good hands.  The sophomore could emerge as a 1st Team All-WAC player.


The running game has been nonexistent for four years, as the Spartans have averaged 84, 87, 77, and 79 yards per game and less than three yards per carry.  Starter Brandon Rutley had one big run as a freshman when he broke free for a long touchdown against Boise State.  He has yet to show any flashes since then.  Actually, Rutley has been a better pass receiver than runner.  He did break off a long breakaway with a reception last year.  


The offensive line will be improved this season, but it will still be an overall liability.  Tackle Andres Vargas is the best of the quintet.


SJSU averaged just 16 points per game last year, but in four of their final five games, they averaged better than 30 points per game.  We see the Spartans scoring about 23-25 points per game this year.


The good news is that more than 11 (several saw more than 6 starts) defensive starters return in 2011; the bad news is that those starters were not all that good last year, as SJSU surrendered 464 yards per game (502 in league play) and nearly 35 points per game.


All joking aside, this defense will be much better this season.  In fact, the Spartans could easily shave 100 yards off what they allowed in WAC games.  It isn’t impossible that they could go from last to first in yards allowed!


Start in the secondary, where the four holdovers just might make up the best unit in the league.  The name “Peyton” is an important name in football, and SJSU has one of their own.  Peyton Thompson is the top cover corner in the league.  In 2010, he recorded 12 passes defended, and quarterbacks tended to throw away from him.  Safety Duke Ihenacho missed all of last year, but he should regain his starting job after earning 1st Team All-WAC honors in 2009.


The secondary will benefit from an improved pass rush this year.  End Travis Johnson led the Spartans with 7 ½ sacks as well as four QB hurries.  He leads a two-deep of experienced players in the trenches.


The second line of defense features the reigning WAC Freshman of the Year.  Keith Smith earned that award after leading the Spartans with 116 tackles and 14 tackles for loss.  


San Jose State starts off the season with three tough games, and the Spartans will begin in an 0-3 hole after facing Stanford, UCLA, and Nevada.  Road games with Colorado State and BYU will leave SJSU at no better than 1-5, so 2011 will not be the year the Spartans get back to the plus side of .500.  They can win three or four games though.


Utah State has endured losing season after losing season with false expectations of an end to that skein.  Last year looked like ‘the year” when the Aggies upset BYU to open the season 3-2.  A 1-6 finish doomed them to yet another sub-.500 year, as the offense failed to ignite.


Coach Gary Andersen will choose between Adam Kennedy and Chuckie Keeton as his starting quarterback.  Thus far, neither has emerged as a primetime player.  The Aggies had poor play at this position last year, so it will not take much to surpass the production of 2010.


The rest of the skilled positions are in good shape.  Former all-conference running back Robert Turbin missed last season with an ACL injury, but he appears to be ready to pound his way through defenses.  He rushed for almost 1,300 yards two years ago.


Seven of the top eight pass catchers are back for more this year, but it’s the return of two 2009 starters that missed last season that will make this unit much better this season.  Stanley Morrison could top 1,000 receiving yards.


The offensive line returns four starters and will be the best this unit has been under Andersen.  Center Tyler Larsen and guards Fuanki Asisi and Philip Gapelu will contend for some all-conference recognition.  Larsen made the 2nd Team Freshman All-American Team last year.


Utah State should improve its offensive number back to where they were prior to all the 2010 injuries.  We believe the Aggies could top 27 points and 380 yards per game.


Unfortunately, the outlook on the other side of the ball is a bit gloomy.  USU is a little suspect in the front line and only average in the secondary.  One area that will be a team strength is the linebacker position.  Bobby Wagner and Kyle Gallagher are studs.  Wagner is on NFL scouts’ radar.  He led USU with 135 tackles including eight for losses.


The secondary took a major graduation hit, but it returns its top player in safety Walter McClenton.  McClenton made 62 tackles, but Andersen would like to see him make less this year; too many of those tackles came about because opposing teams had already defeated the other 10 defenders on the field.


Up front, The Aggies were abysmal in 2010.  They recorded just 13 sacks and allowed opposing backs to gain five yards per carry.  Ends Quinn Garner and Levi Koshan are the lone holdovers from the two-deep, and Andersen is switching to a 3-4 defense to try to disguise this weakness.


USU surrendered 34 points and 430 yards per game last year.  We do not see much improvement if any this year.  To make matters worse, the Aggies lose both their punter and place kicker from last year.


The schedule includes non-league tilts against defending champ Auburn, BYU, and Wyoming.  Unfortunately, the easiest conference opponents, Idaho and New Mexico State, must be faced on the road.  It looks like another long year in Logan.


Idaho took a step back last year after earning and winning the most exciting bowl game of 2009.  The Vandals could be looking at a major rebuilding project on the attack side of the ball with the departure of quarterback Nathan Enderle and three of the top four receivers.  However, there is cautious optimism that the newcomers are as talented as those they will replace.


The new signal caller is senior Brian Reader.  Reader looked sharp in limited action last year and appears to be primed to equal Enderle’s production.


Reader’s passing targets are not the most talented players in the league, but there are a lot of options.  Preston Davis figures to be much improved now that he is fully recovered from an ACL injury in 2010.  Walk-on junior college transfer Mike Scott could emerge as a key contributor.


The running game did not show much in 2010, and it will be a liability again this year.  Four backs should split time at this spot, led by former Arizona State Sun Devil Ryan Bass and Kama Bailey.


The offensive line is strongest at the terminals, where Matt Cleveland and Tyrone Novikoff are big and strong.  Cleveland should contend for 1st Team All-WAC honors.


Idaho averaged 27 points last year, and we expect the Vandals to replicate that number this season. 


Even though the Vandals fell from 8-5 to 6-7 last year, the defense showed great improvement, shaving almost eight points off their average allowed.  Some of that had to do with an improved turnover margin.  The news is not all that good on this side of the ball.  UI was going to be strong at linebacker, but their top player, Robert Siavii suffered a season-ending knee injury in Spring practice.


The Vandals will rally around middle linebacker TreShawn Robinson, who recorded 10 total tackles for loss last year.  Homer Mauga returns to start at the other linebacker spot.


Up front, Idaho had a strong pass rush last year, but the chief instigator of mayhem is gone.  Aaron Lavarias departs after leading the team with 10 sacks.  Tackle Michael Cosgrove is the best of the holdovers.


The secondary returns three 2010 starters, but none of the trio figures to make 1st Team All-WAC accolades this year.  If the pass rush is weaker, this group will be exposed and give up more than 250 passing yards per game.


Idaho has a fair schedule.  Non-league games with Texas A&M, Virginia, and BYU figure to be automatic losses.  North Dakota figures to be an easy victory.  The season opener with Bowling Green is a rematch of that great 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, and we consider this game a must-win affair for the Vandals.  If they win, and Reader proves to be as capable as Enderler, this team could make this prediction look silly.  If they lose, then Coach Robb Akey could become achy over his future.


New Mexico State has been one of the five weakest teams in FBS football in recent years, but luckily for them, the worst team has been in-state rival New Mexico.  Third year coach DeWayne Walker must show some form of improvement this year, or he could be headed away from the Land of Enchantment.


The offense scored 14 or fewer points five times last year and averaged less than 16 for the season.  Former Kent State coach Doug Martin takes over as the new offensive Coordinator.  Martin hopes quarterback Andrew Manley can solve the problem at quarterback.  Manley completed just 52% of his passes with a 1/6 TD/Int ratio last year as a true freshman.  Former starter Matt Christian completed just 48% of his passes but had a much better 8/2 TD/Int ratio.  There is only one way to go for this position.


The big problem with the passing game is the receiving corps.  Not only are the top two pass catchers from last year missing, those that are returning do not offer much in the area of quickness or mobility.  Taveon Rogers is the closest thing to a star, and he only caught 18 balls last year.  Juco Transfer Kemonte Bateman could emerge as the leader here.


Robert Clay figures to start at running back with 2010 leading rusher Kenny Turner at H-back.  The tandem rushed for just 687 yards and two touchdowns.


The one bright spot on the offense is an experienced and improving offensive line.  Sioeli Fakalata can play center or guard, and he is the best man in the front line.


The Aggies should see improved numbers all around this season.  Look for about 21 points and 325 yards.  However, that will not be enough to move them out of the WAC basement.


The defense figures to take another step backwards after giving up 40 points and 450+ yards per game last year.  It doesn’t help when two of your top players are declared academically ineligible.  Those two, tackle Augafa Vaaulu and end Donte Savage figured to be the stars of the front four.  Now, the Aggies are hurting in the trenches.


The linebackers are more of a liability than an asset, even though two starters return from last season.  B. J. Adolpho was a 3rd Team All-WAC player last year, but he cannot make plays for the other six players in the front seven.


Any hope for defensive improvement must come from the secondary.  We fear that with little or no pass rush, the back four will eventually break down and give up too many big plays.  The Aggies may have the best tandem at cornerback with Donyae Coleman and Jonte Green.  Last year, the pair teamed for 166 tackles, many times being the last hope to prevent breakaway plays.


Things do not look hopeful for Walker and his Aggies.  At least they have a game with New Mexico, but that is not a given win.  Even though NMSU’s offense is much improved, they will not be able to outscore the other teams in the WAC.  It will be another long year in Las Cruces.


2011 WAC Preseason Media Poll


1st Place Votes





Fresno State






Lousiana Tech



Utah State






San Jose State



New Mexico State





2011 WAC PiRate Ratings


PiRate #








Louisiana Tech



Fresno State



San Jose State



Utah State






New Mexico State




Next: A look at the four independents, Friday, August 19


December 16, 2010

PiRate Ratings College Football Bowl Preview, Part One

We will be posting three bowl previews this year.  We will give you the current odds for each game, the PiRate, Mean, and Bias spreads for each game, and our 100 times computer simulation for each game.

Today, we cover the bowls before Christmas Day.  Next week, we will preview the bowls from December 26 through New Year’s Day. Finally, we will preview the bowls after January 1.  Three bowls kick off Saturday, and four more will be played next week.  

Saturday, December 18

New Mexico Bowl

Albuquerque, NM


Brigham Young Cougars 6-6  vs.  Texas-El Paso Miners 6-6

Vegas: BYU by 11 ½

Totals: 50 ½

PiRate: BYU by 18.8

Mean: BYU by 12.3

Bias: BYU by 14.8

100 Sims: BYU 89  UTEP 11

Avg. Sim Score: BYU 33.7  UTEP 20.2

Outlier A: BYU 45  UTEP 17

Outlier B: UTEP 29  BYU 23


Humanitarian Bowl

Boise, ID

4:30 PM EST on ESPN

Fresno State Bulldogs 8-4  vs.  Northern Illinois Huskies 10-3

Vegas: Northern Illinois by 1

Totals: 59

PiRate: Northern Illinois by 4.4

Mean: Northern Illinois by 4.1

Bias: Northern Illinois by 9.6

100 Sims: Northern Illinois 58  Fresno State 42

Avg. Sim Score: Northern Illinois 34.6  Fresno State 30.1

Outlier A: Northern Illinois 42  Fresno State 23

Outlier B: Fresno State 37  Northern Illinois 27


New Orleans Bowl

New Orleans, LA

8:00 PM EST on ESPN

Troy Trojans 7-5  vs. Ohio U Bobcats 8-4

Vegas: Troy by 2 ½

Totals: 58

PiRate: Ohio U by 3.6

Mean: Ohio U by 2.1

Bias: Ohio U by 16.2

100 Sims: Ohio U 61  Troy 39

Avg. Sim Score: Ohio U 35.1  Troy 29.8

Outlier A: Ohio U 41  Troy 17

Outlier B: Troy 38  Ohio U 27


Tuesday, December 21

Beef O’Brady Bowl

St. Petersburg, FL

7:00 PM EST on ESPN

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 8-4  vs. Louisville Cardinals 6-6

Vegas: Louisville by 3

Totals: 57

PiRate: Louisville by 5.7

Mean: Louisville by 1.2

Bias: Louisville by 10.5

100 Sims: Louisville 60  Southern Miss 40

Avg. Sim Score: Louisville 31.1  Southern Miss 27.9

Outlier A: Louisville 35  Southern Miss 13

Outlier B: Southern Miss 40  Louisville 21


Wednesday, December 22

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl

Las Vegas, NV

7:00 PM EST on ESPN

Utah Utes 10-2  vs. Boise State Broncos 11-1

Vegas: Boise State by 17

Totals: 61

PiRate: Boise State by 17.7

Mean: Boise State by 14.0

Bias: Boise State by 16.6

100 Sims: Boise State 76  Utah 24

Avg. Sim Score: Boise State 40.3  Utah 24.1

Outlier A: Boise State 51  Utah 20

Outlier B: Utah 38  Boise State 31 (two different results gave Utah a 7-point win)


Thursday, December 23

Poinsettia Bowl

San Diego, CA

7:00 PM EST on ESPN

San Diego State Aztecs 8-4  vs. Navy Midshipmen 9-3

Vegas: San Diego State by 4 ½

Totals: 60

PiRate: San Diego State by 5.6

Mean: San Diego State by 0.8

Bias: San Diego State by 4.3

100 Sims: San Diego State 55  Navy 45

Avg. Sim Score: San Diego State 32.8  Navy 30.7

Outlier A: San Diego State 44  Navy 24

Outlier B: Navy 38  San Diego State 26


Friday, December 24

Hawaii Bowl

Honolulu, HI

7:00 PM EST on ESPN

Hawaii Warriors 10-3  vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane 9-3

Vegas: Hawaii by 10

Totals: 73 ½

PiRate: Hawaii by 14.6

Mean: Hawaii by 6.2

Bias: Hawaii by 9.9

100 Sims: Hawaii 58  Tulsa 42

Avg. Sim Score: Hawaii 46.4  Tulsa 40.2

Outlier A: Hawaii 59  Tulsa 35

Outlier B: Tulsa 47  Hawaii 38

August 14, 2010

2010 Western Athletic Conference Preview

Go to where we beat the spread 60.4% in 2009!


2010 Western Athletic Conference Preview


No team has dominated a conference for an entire decade the way Boise State has dominated the WAC since Alabama toyed with the SEC for 10 years after Bear Bryant went to the wishbone.  The Broncos last eight years in conference play have produced a league mark of 62-2!  Things will change next year, when BSU moves to the Mountain West.  It appears impossible for the Broncos to top last year’s 14-0 record, but this year’s team might be considerably stronger.

Nevada is the clear-cut second best team, and Fresno State is the clear-cut third best team.  After those two, there are three teams that are equally mediocre and three teams that will be fodder for the top six.  With Boise primed to make a run for a National Championship, there is a legitimate possibility that there will not be enough bowl eligible teams for the allotted bowl spots.

Note: The PiRate Ratings are not meant to be used to predict the outcome of future games.  They are usable only as a basis for the current week’s games.  We do not use these ratings to make our selections.  They are only a starting point.  The predictions given below, as for every college conference and NFL division, are not taken from the ratings themselves.


Pos Team WAC Overall
1 Boise State 8-0 12-0
2 Nevada 7-1 10-3
3 Fresno State 6-2 9-3
4 Utah State 4-4 5-7
5 Hawaii 4-4 6-7
6 Louisiana Tech 4-4 5-7
7 Idaho 2-6 3-10
8 New Mexico State 1-7 2-10
9 San Jose State 0-8 2-11


BCS Bowl: Boise State (possible National Championship Game)

Humanitarian Bowl: Fresno State

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Nevada

Hawaii Bowl: Will need an at-large team

New Mexico Bowl: Will need and at-large team


Hawaii is guaranteed a spot in the Hawaii Bowl if they have seven or more wins.  If not, this bowl gets the third choice after the Humanitarian and Kraft Bowls select.


Team By Team Breakdown


Team Boise State Broncos
Head Coach Chris Petersen
Colors Blue and Orange
City Boise, ID
2009 Record              
Conference 8-0
Overall 14-0
PiRate Rating 121.7
National Rating 8
2010 Prediction              
Conference 8-0
Overall 12-0


Offense: Better?  You betcha.  The Broncos return 10 starters on this side of the ball as well as every player that ran the ball and every receiver that caught a pass!

Let’s start with the nation’s number two quarterback in passing efficiency in 2009, trailing only some guy named Tebow.  Kellen Moore made 3rd Team All-American last year, and he could move up two spots if his team runs the table this year.  We expect him to be making a trip to the Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan in December.  Moore completed 64.3% of his passes for 3,536 yards.  His TD/Int ration was an astonishing 39/3.  He was a down-the-field passer, so those stats were not inflated by having some speedster frequently turning a two-yard pass into a 65-yard touchdown.

Moore’s only problem may be trying to decide which open receiver to throw the ball.  His top two options are 2009 1st Team All-WAC Austin Pettus and Titus Young.  Those two combined for 142 receptions and 24 touchdowns.  Tyler Shoemaker is the bruiser of this group, and he can go across the middle and make the tough catch in a sea of defenders.

When Boise runs the ball, they will have a trio of special backs toting the pigskin.  Jeremy Avery ran for more than 1,150 yards, and Doug Martin added 765.  Martin led the ground contingent with 15 touchdowns.  Third back D. J. Harper accounted for just 285 yards, but he is the best breakaway threat of the three.  He averaged 6.5 yards per rush a year ago.

The offensive line returns four starters a year after allowing just five QB sacks, only three after the first game.  The entire second team has some starting experience, so Coach Chris Petersen can feel confident relieving his starters for a series.

Boise State averaged 42.2 points and 450 total yards last year, and those numbers should be eclipsed by this veteran squad.  Look for 45-50 points and 450-475 yards per game this season.

Defense: Now the bad news: Uh, the only bad news is for the rest of the league, because Boise State will be more improved on this side of the ball than on offense!

The Broncos gave up 17 points and 300 yards per game last year, and 10 starters also return on this side of the ball.  Almost the entire second team returns as well, and it would not surprise us to see BSU finish in the top five in both total offense and total defense.  We’re talking 1997 Nebraska-type dominance if that happens.

If there is a liability of any kind with this defense, it is at linebacker.  Boise uses a 4-2-5 defense, and the two linebackers get lost among all the stars on the stop side.  Aaron Tevis and Daron Mackey combined for just 90 stops a year ago, and they were merely above-average players in the WAC.

In the trenches, the Broncos can rely on four experienced upperclassmen, including a sure future NFL (assuming the NFL plays in 2011 or 2012) end.  Ryan Winterswyk made 17 tackles on the other team’s side of the line—nine sacks and eight tackles of runners.  Tackle Billy Wynn is just as potent at causing teams to lose yardage.

The secondary is even stronger this year.  Nickel back Winston Venable is a monster against both the run and the pass, and when he is on the field, opposing teams may think there is more than one #17 running around.  Cornerback Brandyn Thompson and strong safety Jeron Johnson should both make 1st Team All-WAC after teaming for 10 interceptions last year.

Schedule: It all comes down to the first game of the season.  Boise travels over 2,000 miles across two time zones to face Virginia Tech at the Washington Redskins’ stadium on Monday night, September 6.  The Broncos proved they could beat a BCS conference champion last year when they completely shut down Oregon in the opener.  That game was at home.  If the Broncos beat the Hokies, we don’t see anybody else threatening them.  A home game with Oregon State and a road game against Nevada might be the only other games where they cannot win by three touchdowns or more.  It will be either 1-0 on the way to 12-0 or 0-1 on the way to maybe 10-2.  At 12-0, they would be riding a 26-game winning streak and deserve to go to Glendale, Arizona, on January 10.

Team Fresno State Bulldogs
Head Coach Pat Hill
Colors Cardinal and White
City Fresno, CA
2009 Record              
Conference 6-2
Overall 8-5
PiRate Rating 99.6
National Rating 60
2010 Prediction              
Conference 6-2
Overall 9-3


Offense: Fresno State has always fielded exciting, well-balanced offenses under Coach Pat Hill.  This year will be no different.  The Bulldogs may have lost their top player on this side of the ball, but they return eight starters and should have another successful season moving the ball.

It will be hard to replace running back Ryan Mathews after he led the league with more than 1,800 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns.  We expect Robbie Rouse to step in and rush for 1,000+ yards in his first year as a starter.  He showed flashes of brilliance last year in a backup role.

In a league of outstanding quarterbacks, Ryan Colburn rarely gets a mention in the press outside of Fresno.  Colburn is a capable, but not flashy passer.  He completed 61% of his tosses for 2,459 yards last year, but he needs to cut down on his 3.7% interception rate.

The Bulldogs lost three of their top four receivers, but there is good talent left.  Jamel Hamler and Devon Wylie can turn a short pass into a long gain.

The offensive line welcomes back all five starters.  This unit could be a little better than Boise State’s interior line.  Best among this quintet are center Joe Bernardi and tackle Kenny Wiggins, two seniors that should have a chance to play professionally (maybe in Canada).

Fresno State may take a small step backward on this side of the ball, but the Bulldogs will still be an offensive threat in every game.  Look for about 28 points and 400 yards per game.

Defense: FSU surrendered 214 rushing and 200 passing yards last year, and we see that problem continuing in 2010.  The Bulldogs return the majority of their contributors from 2009, but we see only three really good players on this side of the ball.

One of those three is end Chris Carter.  The 1st Team All-WAC performer accounted for almost half of the team’s sacks (5 out of FSU’s poor 11) and added eight other tackles for loss.  He’s the only star player in the trenches, and he will see double teams on most plays this year.  The Bulldogs gave up a profane six yards per rush last year, so teams will run the ball at them until they can prove they can slow it down.

The second line of defense is much better than the first and considerably better than the unit behind them.  Linebacker Ben Jacobs led FSU with 106 tackles last year, but too many were five or more yards down the field.  Neither he, nor outside linebacker Kyle Knox recorded a sack.

The secondary is pedestrian, but it was hard to cover the WAC’s receivers when there was no pass rush.  Strong safety Lorne Bell earned 2nd Team All-WAC honors, but he is better in run support than in pass coverage.

Fresno State will give up a lot of points again this season, and it will prevent the Bulldogs from contending with the big two in the league.  Look for 26-30 points and 400-425 yards allowed—about the same as last year.

Schedule: Outside of the WAC, Fresno plays its usual contingent of BCS schools.  This year, they host Cincinnati and Illinois and visit Ole Miss.  They get a breather with FCS member Cal Poly.  Boise State is a road game, and they have no chance in that one.  They get Nevada at home and could sneak up on the Wolf Pack.  6-2 in the league is a strong possibility, and we believe the Bulldogs can upend two of the three BCS conference teams they play.  Call it nine wins and a bowl in 2010.

Team Hawaii Warriors
Head Coach Greg McMackin
Colors Green, Black, and White
City Honolulu, HI
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 6-7
PiRate Rating 85.0
National Rating 97
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-4
Overall 6-7


Offense: Hawaii has once again become a great vacation trip for BCS schools.  Since June Jones left for SMU three years ago, the Warriors have fallen on hard times.  The UH offense went from a 40+ per game juggernaut to a 20-point per game patsy.

Don’t look for any improvement on this side of the ball in 2010.  Coach Greg McMackin has too many holes to fill to expect a better showing.  In fact, things could get worse.  Only five starters return, but only one of them is from the offensive line.  Tackles Austin Hansen and Laupepa Letuli give the Warrior a good couple of anchors.

Quarterback Brian Moniz returns to pilot the attack after starting eight times last year.  He is a good runner as well as passer, but he won’t be confused with Colin Kaepernick.

Moniz will benefit from the return of receivers Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares.  The two combined for 172 receptions and 2,280 yards.  Speedy Rodney Bradley gives Moniz a third good option.

The running game has not been much of a factor in recent years.  As long as the back in the game can block for the quarterback, run a good safety valve route and cut on a draw play, he has done his job.  Alex Green should fit the bill nicely, and he should catch 25-30 passes this year.

With the troubles up front, we just cannot see Hawaii topping 24 points per game this season.  Look for 21-24 points and 375-400 yards.  The Warriors turned the ball over a lot last year, and that trend may continue in 2010. 

Defense: There should be improvement on this side of the ball, but it may not show up that much in the stats.  If the offense gives up the ball quickly due to incompetence, the defense will stay on the field longer.

Seven starters return on this side of the ball, but the top two tacklers from a year ago are gone.  One area that should not be a problem is the secondary.  All four starters return after giving up just 203 passing yards per game (low for this league).  All four (corners Jeramy Bryant and Lametrius Davis and safeties Mana Silva and Spencer Smith) proved to be excellent pass defenders, combining for 10 interceptions and 24 passes batted away.

The front seven is more of a problem.  Hawaii did a poor job against the run last year, and it could continue this season.  Two starters must be replaced up front, and two starters must be replaced at linebacker.  None of this year’s front seven will contend for even honorable mention all-conference.

Hawaii will give up 30-35 points and 400-425 yards per game.  

Schedule: The opener should draw a lot of national attention.  UH entertains bad boy Lane Kiffin and his Southern Cal Trojans on Thursday night, September 2.  They follow it up with a trips to West Point to face Army on 9/11 and to Boulder to take on the Colorado Buffaloes on 9/18.  It could actually be snowing in the Front Range on that date.  The Warriors return home to face Charleston Southern, which should be their first win.  UH concludes the season with UNLV.  The Rebels could possibly be playing for bowl eligibility in that game.  In league play, UH has road games with Fresno State and Boise State and will come home with their tails beneath their legs. 

We believe the Warriors will break even in league play, but they will fall one game short of bowl eligibility again.

Team Idaho Vandals
Head Coach Robb Akey
Colors Black and Gold
City Moscow, ID
2009 Record              
Conference 4-4
Overall 8-5
PiRate Rating 90.3
National Rating 88
2010 Prediction              
Conference 2-6
Overall 3-10


Offense: 2009 was one of those years when the stars aligned just right for Coach Robb Akey’s Vandals.  Idaho won five close games, including a 43-42 Humanitarian Bowl thriller over Bowling Green, on its way to its first winning season of the century.  With the graduation of most of their offensive line, their top running back, and their top receiver, it looks like the one year recovery will be an anomaly. 

The one bright spot on this side of the ball is the return of quarterback Nathan Enderle.  After the big two, he may be the third best QB in the WAC.  Last year, he passed for 2,906 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Enderle’s top target has graduated, and Max Komar was vital to this team’s success.  Maurice Shaw returns after averaging more than 20 yards on his 32 receptions.  He should form a solid trio with Preston Davis and tight end Daniel Hardy, but Komar will be sorely missed.

Idaho used a platoon at tailback, and two of the three principle members of that platoon return.  Princeton McCarty and Deonte Jackson combined for 1,108 yards, so the Vandals’ running game is in good hands this year.

Because the rebuilding blocking wall will be a liability this year, expect both the rushing and passing yardage to fall back in 2010.  Call it about 23-26 points and 380-420 yards per game.  

Defense: Idaho didn’t win because of great defensive play in 2009.  They gave up 36 points and 433 yards per game!  With 10 starters returning, there should be some improvement, but we don’t see enough improvement to justify picking Idaho to return to a bowl.

The entire front seven returns intact.  They were not particularly strong against the run or the pass.  While the Vandals gave up just a tad over 150 rushing yards per game, opponents averaged 4.7 yards per rush.  They were too busy picking the secondary to shreds to run the ball much more than 30 times per game.

The strength of the front seven is on the outside where end Aaron Lavarais and outside linebacker Jo Jo Dickson will contend for all-conference honors.

The secondary will not fare much better than their dismal performance last year after giving up 278 passing yards per game and allowing better than 66% completions.  Without a much better pass rush, look for the Vandals to maybe give up 300 yards per game through the air.

Idaho will once again give up 30+ points per game, but maybe it will be less than last year’s 36.  Let’s go with 32-35 points and 425-450 yards allowed.

Schedule: The Vandals should start off the season on a winning note when they open with North Dakota at home.  Then, they must play at Nebraska, where they could lose by six touchdowns.  A home game with UNLV should tell the fans whether they have any reason to remain optimistic, and we believe the Rebels will leave Moscow with a win.  A trip to Colorado State the following week will either put the nail in the coffin for the 2010 season or give the Vandal hope.  The Rams will treat that game as a must-win contest.  A final non-conference game at Western Michigan won’t give them a win.  Idaho hosts both Nevada and Boise State, which should be considered a curse this year.  They cannot compete with either, and it would be better for the Vandals to have two other home games.  At least, UI gets New Mexico State and San Jose State at home—those are their two conference wins for 2010.

Team Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Head Coach Sonny Dykes
Colors Red and Blue
City Ruston, LA
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 4-8
PiRate Rating 96.5
National Rating 66
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-4
Overall 5-7


Offense: After half of the coaches in FBS football turned down the Tennessee job last year, Tech coach Derek Dooley took the job.  Welcome new coach Sonny Dykes.  Dykes turned around the Arizona Wildcats’ offense after learning the “Air Raid” Spread offense at Texas Tech under Mike Leach.  Expect a complete overhaul of the offense this year, as the Bulldogs return to a wide open offense like teams of yesteryear in Ruston.

Unfortunately, Tech won’t have Tim Rattay, Luke McCown, or Terry Bradshaw lining up at quarterback.  Actually, neither Dooley nor offensive coordinator Tony Franklin know who will be lining up at quarterback in the opener.  As August practices began, it was a four-way race between incumbent Ross Jenkins, Auburn transfer Steven Ensminger, last year’s backup Colby Cameron, and junior college transfer Tarik Hakim.  Whoever wins the battle will be throwing the ball anywhere from 40 to 60 times a game.

Tech has a fine stable of pass receivers thanks to the school that stole their prior coach.  Tennessee transfer Ahmad Paige left Orangeville last year to escape the tornado known as Lane Kiffin.  Paige will join holdovers Cruz Williams and Phillip Livas to form a solid first team.  In this offense, expect at least five other receivers to catch more than 25 passes. 

Another escapee from the Kiffin asylum is tailback Lennon Creer.  We expect Creer to step in and start from day one, but the Bulldogs backs will not match the production of graduated star Daniel Porter.

The offensive line returns four starters, but there could be some rough times in the transition from a predominantly running attack to an offense that will pass the ball at least 60% of the time and as much as 80-85% of the time.

LT averaged 29 points per game last year, and we think the Bulldogs will shatter that mark this season.  Look for 31-35 points and 400-425 yards per game in year one of the “air raid.”

Defense: This is the reason Dykes won’t turn things around in year one.  Tech gave up 26 points per game last year, and the defense is noticeably weaker this season.

The problems start up front where only one starter returns to the four-man trench.  Included in the graduation losses was two-time All-WAC star D’Anthony Smith.

The three-man linebacking corps returns two starters, including 2009 1st Team All-WAC Mike linebacker Adrien Cole.  Cole led the Techsters with 93 tackles last year.

The secondary is better than average and returns three starters, but they may have trouble matching last year’s numbers due to the weaker pass rush. 

We expect LT to give up more than 28 points and maybe as much as 33 points per game to go along with 375-400 yards per game.

Schedule: Finally it will happen!  Louisiana Tech will play Grambling for the first time ever to kick off the 2010 season.  The schools are within walking distance, but they have been separated by mountains of Southern philosophical opinion for years.  It should be an interesting game, but any chance for Grambling to pull off the upset disappeared when they weren’t able to gain approval for a medical hardship redshirt for their starting quarterback.  Tech will be 1-0 when they venture to Aggieland to take on Texas A&M, and that game should be a shootout.  Ditto the following two weeks’ games with Navy and Southern Miss.  When Tech enters WAC play, they may be just 1-3, but they could be averaging 40 points per game.  We see them splitting their league games, coming up one win short of bowl eligibility.

Team Nevada Wolf Pack
Head Coach Chris Ault
Colors Blue and Silver
City Reno, NV
2009 Record              
Conference 7-1
Overall 8-5
PiRate Rating 102.6
National Rating 51
2010 Prediction              
Conference 7-1
Overall 10-3


Offense: Coaltown, Alydar, Sham, the 1961 Detroit Tigers, the 1962 Detroit Lions—what do these have in common?  Coaltown, Alydar, and Sham were great horses that might have won the Triple Crown in their three-year old campaigns, but they happened to race against Citation, Affirmed, and Secretariat.  The 1961 Tigers won more than 100 games and was probably better than the 1968 World Champions.  The 1962 Lions were probably the best ever in the Motor City.  Those Tigers played second fiddle to the Maris and Mantle Yankees.  Those Lions played second fiddle to the greatest NFL team in history—the 1962 Green Bay Packers.

Nevada is this year’s Coaltown.  The Wolf Pack is clearly the second best team in the WAC and one of the best teams in WAC history (in the current alignment) not wearing an orange and blue uniform.

Coach Chris Ault’s team ran the pistol offense to near perfection a year ago.  Nevada outpaced Georgia Tech and the three service academies that run triple option and averaged a nation’s best 345 yards rushing per game.  They had three players top 1,000 rushing yards.  Not even the great Oklahoma teams of the 1970’s that rushed for more than 400 yards a game had such a trio.

Two of those three stars return this season.  One is quarterback Colin Kaepernick.  He rushed for almost 1,200 yards (actually well over 1,300 when you factor out sacks) and 16 touchdowns.  He tossed another 20 touchdown passes on his way to 2,052 yards passing.

Joining Kaepernick in the pistol backfield will be Vai Taua, the other 1,000 yard back.  He totaled 1,345 yards with 10 touchdowns.  Backup Mike Ball will take over as the number two running back.  He averaged almost 10 yards per try in limited action last year, so he could replace Luke Lippincott as the third 1,000-yard rusher this year.

The receiving corps isn’t exactly chopped liver.  The four main receivers return after combining for 130 receptions and 14 touchdowns.  Brandon Wimberly was the WAC Freshman of the Year after grabbing 53 passes for 733 yards.

The offensive line lost two All-WAC performer, but we think this unit will be close to last year’s unit in blocking ability. 

Unless one of the option teams has an incredible season, there is no reason not to believe that Nevada will top the rushing charts again this season.  Look for another 325-350 effort on the ground with an additional 175-200 yards through the air.  The Wolf Pack should top 40 points per game after threatening that mark the last two seasons.

Defense: This side of the ball is missing just enough to prevent Nevada from competing with Boise State for the title.  As it is, the Wolf Pack is still the second best team by far.  Three of the top four tacklers must be replaced, so it is likely that Nevada will have to outscore opponents this season.

Up front, one of the returning starters is end Dontay Moch, who earned WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.  Moch registered 20 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including  6 ½ sacks.  At 6-1, he may be on the small side to be a star at the next level.

Brandon Marshall gives Nevada an outstanding strong-side linebacker.  Marshall dumped defenders for loss 9 ½ times in 2009, and he batted away four passes as well.

It is the secondary where Nevada cannot stop Boise State and thus cannot win the WAC this year.  The ‘Pack surrendered almost 300 yards through the air and 61.5% completions in 2009, and no starter had more than one interception.  Former Utah quarterback Corbin Louks has been brought to Reno to anchor the secondary at free safety. 

Nevada will once again give up more than four touchdowns per game.  Look for about 30 points and 425 yards allowed per contest.

Schedule: Nevada gets two breathers to open the season.  They host Eastern Washington and Colorado State.  A third consecutive home game against California could give the Wolf Pack a good chance to pull off the minor upset and crack the polls.  The following week finds them venturing to BYU for a potentially great shootout.  A week later, Nevada plays at UNLV.  They could be 5-0 when WAC play starts, and they will be no worse than 3-2.  They should be 4-0 in conference play when they go to Fresno State on November 13.  After a breather with New Mexico State, they host Boise State on Friday, November 26.  It isn’t impossible, but highly improbable they will win this game unless Boise State falls apart with numerous injuries.  Still, this should be Ault’s best team in Reno since he returned for the third time in 2004.  Call if a double-digit winning year.

Team New Mexico State Aggies
Head Coach DeWayne Walker
Colors Crimson and White
City Las Cruces, NM
2009 Record              
Conference 1-7
Overall 3-10
PiRate Rating 78.4
National Rating 109
2010 Prediction              
Conference 1-7
Overall 2-10


Offense: One word can best sum up the Aggies’ offense—offensive.  NMSU scored just 11.5 points per game and tallied just 229 total yards per game.  That looks like stats you would see from a college team in the days when players went both ways.  The Aggies had no passing game whatsoever, and they were not an option team.  They averaged just 88 yards per game and completed less than half of their passes.

Quarterback Jeff Fleming might do better if he could throw to himself.  He just doesn’t have much talent in which to throw the ball.

Things are much better with the running game.  Seth Smith ran for more than 1,000 yards even though defenses placed an extra defender and sometimes two extra defenders up close to stop the run.

The offensive line returns three starters, but the Aggies pick up a plum in former Texas Longhorn tackle Aundre McGaskey.

With stats like last year, there is only one way to go for Coach DeWayne Walker’s offense, but we don’t expect State to fool many defenses this year.  Look for a slight improvement to 14-17 points and 250-275 yards per game. 

Defense: When your offense cannot sustain many drives and convert first downs, your defense will be on the field much longer than average.  Opponents ran an average of eight more plays per game against the Aggies last year, and more of the same will happen this season.

One unit that will be better is the back line.  All four starters return to the secondary.  This quartet of Stephon Hatchett, Alphonso House, Jonte Green, and Davon House teamed up for 32 batted passes and five picks.

The defensive line will be a little better this year, and that will make the secondary that much better.  Ends Pierre Fils and Donte Savage teamed up to make 13 QB sacks.

It’s at linebacker where there will be difficulties this year.  The Aggies must break in three new starters, only one of whom saw any real action last year.

The Aggies will give up 28-32 points and 400-425 yards again this season.  They are still a long way from competing for bowl eligibility.

Schedule: The one plus for New Mexico State is that as weak as they are, their in-state rival is weaker.  The Aggies should beat New Mexico.  They won’t be so lucky with San Diego State, UTEP, or Kansas.  NMSU gets upstart San Jose State at home, so we believe they will win twice this season.  That is one less than last year.

Team San Jose State Spartans
Head Coach Mike MacIntyre
Colors Dark Blue and Gold
City San Jose, CA
2009 Record              
Conference 1-7
Overall 2-10
PiRate Rating 82.7
National Rating 101
2010 Prediction              
Conference 0-8
Overall 2-11


Offense: New Spartan head coach Mike MacIntyre takes over at San Jose after earning the national Assistant Coach of the Year award as the defensive coordinator at Duke.  Too bad he won’t get to defend against his own offense.  The Spartans scored just 13.8 points and produced 284 yards of total offense in 2009. 

Quarterback Jordan La Secla returns after passing for 1,926 yards at a 60% completion rate.  He tossed more interceptions than touchdown passes.

La Secla will have to make do without the top two receivers from last year.  Kevin Jurovich graduated, while Marquis Avery was declared academically ineligible.  Throw in the sudden departure of offensive coordinator Hugh Freeze to Arkansas State, and it looks like another long season on this side of the ball.

The running game was abysmal last year; don’t expect much improvement, after the Spartans averaged a meager 77 yards per game.

The offensive line is probably the strongest component of the offense, but it is still below average in the WAC. 

If MacIntyre can squeeze 17 points and 300 yards out of this offense, it will be a huge success.

Defense: San Jose State must replace four of their front seven defenders, so there won’t be much improvement on this side of the ball.  The Spartans didn’t fare much better on defense than offense last year. 

SJSU surrendered 259 rushing yards (6.1 yds./rush) last year, and with three of the front four having to be replaced against a slate of teams that can pound the ball down the field, the Spartans might actually fare worse this year.

All four starters return to the secondary.  Unfortunately, this quartet had to stop a lot of running plays last year and didn’t face many passing plays, as opponents ran the ball almost 65% of the time.

After giving up 35 points and 443 yards per game last year, the numbers could actually head south this year.  Look for maybe 36-40 points and 450-475 yards allowed.

Schedule:  By the time San Jose State faces a team they can beat, their players will be demoralized after beginning the season on the road with Alabama and Wisconsin. The Spartans will be 0-2, nursing a lot of bumps and bruises, and facing a scoring deficit of about 90-10!  They should find a way to beat Southern Utah in game three.  The following week finds them heading to Utah, where the Utes will remember the scare this team gave them last year.  Look for another blowout loss.  Then, SJSU faces UC Davis.  They should get a nice win in that one, but that will be their last of the season.  We see them losing all eight league games.

Team Utah State Aggies
Head Coach Gary Andersen
Colors Navy and White
City Logan, UT
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 4-8
PiRate Rating 95.3
National Rating 72
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-4
Overall 5-7


Offense: Coach Gary Andersen was a defensive genius as Utah’s defensive coordinator.  In his first year in Logan, he looked more like Urban Meyer.  If it wasn’t for a couple of key injuries, Utah State might have been looking at a winning season and bowl bid this year for the first time since 1997.

Running back Robert Turpin tore his ACL earlier this year and appears to be out for the season.  He led the Aggies with close to 1,300 rushing yards.  In his place, Michael Smith will carry the load.  Don’t expect 1,300 yards, but Smith has breakaway speed and can turn a small hole into a big gain.

Quarterback Diondre Borel ranks with Nathan Enderle as one of the WAC’s two best passers not named Moore or Kaepernick.  Borel had a splendid junior season in 2009 passing for 2,885 yards with 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions. 

The Aggies had a lot of options in the passing game, but they have been henpecked with injuries.  Turpin was a great receiver out of the backfield.  2009’s top receiver, Stanley Morrison, caught 33 passed and averaged 19 yards per catch.  He is gone for the season with a broken foot.  Then, just before practice began, wide out Eric Moats dropped a refrigerator on his foot.  He needed stitches, and as of this writing, he has yet to practice.  Junior college star Matt Austin was supposed to be a starter last year, but he missed the entire season.  He returns and will have to live up to his potential immediately.

The offensive line returns four starters, so if Borel has any talent running routes, he will have time to find them. 

Even with all the injuries, we believe USU will move the ball and score points this year, just not enough to move from middle of the pack to within shouting distance of Fresno State.  Look for 25-30 points and 400-425 yards per game.

Defense: Defense was a major problem last year, as USU gave up 34 points and 455 yards per game.  They could not stop the run or the pass.  With eight starters returning, expect some form of improvement.

The three linebackers are as good as any other WAC unit short of Boise State.  Bobby Wagner, Kyle Gallagher, and Junior Keiaho should team for more than 200 tackles.  Hopefully, not too many will be more than five yards downfield.

The defensive line returns three starters, but there is nothing special up front.  Actually, new starter Levi Koskan recorded more three more sacks than the three returning starters, who recorded ZERO SACKS!

The secondary had no chance last year with no pass rush.  Two starters return, and the two new starters saw considerable action last year.

If the Aggies can trim a touchdown off their defensive scoring average, they have a shot to emerge as the fourth bowl eligible WAC team.  Look for the defense to yield 26-31 points and 425-450 yards.

Schedule: The Aggies start the season at Oklahoma.  Assuming they have any depth left after that game, they should slaughter Idaho State.  If they are relatively healthy, game three could determine whether or not they can get over the hump and become the Idaho of 2009.  The Fresno State game in Logan is a make or break game.

Following that game, USU plays at San Diego State and then hosts BYU on Friday, October 1.  They should go 1-3 out of league play, so they will need five WAC wins to become bowl eligible.  They will have to beat either Fresno State or Louisiana Tech plus Hawaii to get there.  We believe they will come up one win short.


Coming Tomorrow: The Mountain West Conference—Can anybody beat TCU?  Are there six bowl eligible teams?

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at