Though November is here, bowl projections at this point in the football season are tricky, with so many games still to be played.
Some general themes, however, are beginning to take hold when it comes to forecasting the postseason destinations of Mountain West teams.
Most national observers believe Fresno State will make the Fiesta Bowl, which then likely will cause the Mountain West to fall one short of fulfilling its six bowl tie-ins. Also, most believe UNLV will make the postseason for the first time since 2000, but in which bowl is anyone’s guess.
Only CBSSports.com, among the most noted national sites, doesn’t project UNLV to make a bowl, which would happen if the Rebels finish with four consecutive losses after a 5-3 start. That’s possible with one loss already in the bag to San Jose State. Also, the Rebels are 14-point underdogs Saturday to Utah State, have a possible toss-up game at Air Force and a season finale against an improving San Diego State team.
And the longer the Rebels have to wait to qualify, possibly the tighter they become, though coach Bobby Hauck downplayed such a scenario.
“The film we’re looking at, the discussion we’re having, the meetings we’re having are all about Utah State,” Hauck said. “So, no, I don’t worry about that. If we’re good enough, we’ll win enough.”
Should UNLV win at least one game this month and become bowl eligible, SI.com and USA Today put the Rebels in the New Mexico Bowl against Oregon State. Last week, ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach placed the Rebels there against Washington; the newest ESPN projections are not out. Another ESPN.com writer, Brad Edwards, placed the Rebels in the Armed Forces Bowl against Navy, and this week Phil Steele has UNLV going to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to face Toledo.
As for the Las Vegas Bowl, this week’s projections are Boise State against Southern California (SI.com, Phil Steele) and Utah State versus Arizona (CBSSports.com, USA Today). Last week, Schlabach projected Boise State to play Arizona, and Edwards forecast a Fresno State-USC matchup.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick, who has stepped in for injured starter Joe Southwick, has rushed for six touchdowns, the most for a Broncos quarterback since Jared Zabransky rushed for that many in 2006. … Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson set a school record for total offense in a game with 445 yards Saturday against Boise State. The previous mark was 416 yards by Bradlee Van Pelt in 2003 against Colorado. … Hawaii flew to Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday and stayed overnight in Southern California. The Rainbow Warriors’ flight on Friday out of LAX was delayed until 10 p.m. because of that morning’s airport shooting that resulted in the death of a Transportation Security Administration agent. Hawaii arrived in Logan, Utah, less than 12 hours before its kickoff against Utah State. The Aggies won 47-10.
1. No. 17 Fresno State (8-0, 5-0 MW). Last game: Defeated UNR 41-23. Next game: at Wyoming, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 42-14 in 2012.
2. Boise State (6-3, 4-1). Last game: Defeated Colorado State 42-30. Next game: vs. Wyoming, Nov. 16. Won 45-14 in 2012.
3. Utah State (5-4, 4-1). Last game: Defeated Hawaii 47-10. Next game: at UNLV, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 35-13 in 2012.
4. San Jose State (5-3, 4-1). Last game: Defeated UNLV 34-24. Next game: vs. San Diego State, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 38-34 in 2012.
5. Colorado State (4-5, 2-2). Last game: Lost to Boise State 42-30. Next game: vs. UNR, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 51-6 in 2010.
6. San Diego State (4-4, 3-1). Last game: Defeated New Mexico 35-30. Next game: at San Jose State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 38-34 in 2012.
7. UNLV (5-4, 3-2). Last game: Lost to San Jose State 34-24. Next game: vs. Utah State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 35-13 in 2012.
8. Wyoming (4-4, 2-2). Last game: Lost to San Jose State 51-44. Next game: vs. Fresno State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 42-14 in 2012.
9. UNR (3-6, 2-4). Last game: Lost to Fresno State 41-23. Next game: at Colorado State, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 51-6 in 2010.
10. New Mexico (2-6, 0-4). Last game: Lost to San Diego State 35-30. Next game: vs. Air Force, Friday. Last meeting: Lost 28-23 in 2012.
11. Air Force (2-7, 0-5). Last game: Defeated Army 42-28. Next game: at New Mexico, Friday. Last meeting: Won 28-23 in 2012.
12. Hawaii (0-8, 0-6). Last game: Lost to Utah State 47-10. Next game: at Navy, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 24-17 in 2009.
GAME OF THE WEEK
San Diego State (4-4, 3-1 MW) at San Jose State (5-3, 4-1). San Diego State has won four of five games after a slow start. This key West Division matchup will show whether the Aztecs are for real.
MARK ANDERSON/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL