2013 Bowl Projections: Fresno on BCS Fence, Aztecs Back in the Mix

William Mancebo

Now that we're about halfway through the college football season, where do the prognosticators think our Mountain West squads will end up?

Conference action is in full swing and the Mountain West title chase seems to be wide open outside of Fresno, but the experts at SB Nation, CBS and ESPN still don't seem to have a clear idea of where the Bulldogs will end up. What may be more surprising, though, is that seven different teams are considered to be bowl-bound come December. If you're a Nevada fan... well, prepare to be disappointed.

For a quick refresher, here is the list of bowls with which the Mountain West is affiliated, along with the slated opponent. The bowls have an order in which they are allowed to select teams, and the Las Vegas Bowl picks first.

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - December 21

MWC #1 vs. Pac-12 #5

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl - December 26

MWC #2 vs. Army (if eligible) or at-large team

Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl - December 30

MWC #3 vs. Conference USA #3 or Navy (if eligible)

Gildan New Mexico Bowl - December 21

MWC #4 vs. Pac-12 #7

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl - December 24

MWC #5 or Hawaii (if eligible) vs. Conference USA #2

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - December 21

MWC #6 vs. MAC #3

***

The first set of predictions comes courtesy of SB Nation's Jason Kirk:

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. Utah

Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State vs. Middle Tennessee State

Armed Forces Bowl: Wyoming vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: Utah State vs. Oregon State

Hawaii Bowl: San Diego State vs. East Carolina

It's a little surprising that Kirk is so pessimistic about the MWC rising up to meet all of its bowl commitments, unless the forecast is based on the kind of attrition that has engulfed conference play thus far.  Four teams are within one game of .500 at the moment, and those that are above it are still vulnerable.  Kirk also forecasts another BCS bid for Northern Illinois, which will certainly rankle many Fresno supporters.  Aztec fans can be encouraged by the team's recent surge, but the picture is still much too muddy to say that anything is certain.

This is one man's opinion, of course, so what do ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards have to say?

Schlabach

Fiesta Bowl: Fresno State vs. Baylor

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Arizona State

Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State vs. Army

Armed Forces Bowl: Utah State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: Wyoming vs. Utah

Hawaii Bowl: UNLV vs. East Carolina

Edwards

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. Arizona State

Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State vs. Ohio

Armed Forces Bowl: Wyoming vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: San Jose State vs. Arizona

Hawaii Bowl: Utah State vs. Middle Tennessee State

Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State vs. Bowling Green

Schlabach leans the same direction as Kirk, forecasting a Pac-12 team to fill the MWC gap in Boise, but he also sees a reason for the Rebels and Bulldogs to rejoice.  The Spartans are invited in Edwards' mind, but the Wolf Pack are left at home in both scenarios.  I suspect the rough second halves against UCLA and Florida are lingering in their minds, so Cody Fajardo and company have some work to do to win hearts and minds.

Lastly, CBS Sports' Jerry Palm gave out his two cents:

Fiesta Bowl: Fresno State vs. Oklahoma State

Las Vegas Bowl: Utah State vs. Arizona

Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State vs. Army

Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: San Jose State vs. USC

Hawaii Bowl: Wyoming vs. Middle Tennessee State

Palm and Schlabach seem to buy into the idea that the SDSU that has won three straight is the team they expected to see all along.  He's also cool on the Pokes, but I suspect some Wyoming fans wouldn't mind escaping Laramie for a few days on the islands.  Fresno is BCS bound, though it's hard to imagine anything but a shootout against OSU.

All of the analysts also seem to believe that Utah State will survive the devastating injury to Chuckie Keeton and earn a bowl berth.  It is worth noting, however, that Palm may have slotted the Aggies in Vegas before their loss to Boise State (the article is dated October 12, though no specific post time is listed).

My predictions are as follows:

Fiesta Bowl: Fresno State vs. Texas Tech

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Oregon State

Poinsettia Bowl: Wyoming vs. Buffalo

Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: San Jose State vs. Utah

Hawaii Bowl: Utah State vs. East Carolina

Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada vs. Bowling Green

I am not an expert, but this past weekend was kind to the Bulldogs and the chances are good that at least one or two more weekends will feature upsets that will knock down teams higher in the polls.  Boise is the clear front-runner for the Mountain division title at this point, and there's plenty of challengers that make the rest of the forecast very perilous.

If you have your own thoughts on these bowl predictions, make sure to leave them in the comments!

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