Bowl Projections: Aggies, Rams in Good Shape

Ethan Miller

The weekend in Mountain West action had plenty of action among the teams in the middle of the pack, but what did they accomplish in the eyes of the prognosticators?

Week 11 saw a couple of hotly contested games between teams looking to strengthen their bowl credentials.  It turned out that only one team entered the ranks of bowl eligibility, and congratulations are in order for Utah State.  As for everyone else, there's still a lot of jockeying to be done in the next few weeks.

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:

Fiesta Bowl: Fresno State vs. Baylor

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Arizona

Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State vs. Texas State

Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: UNLV vs. Oregon State

Hawaii Bowl: San Jose State vs. Rice

Idaho Potato Bowl: Colorado State vs. Buffalo

Now that the conference haves and have-nots are more clearly defined, Kirk is more optimistic about the Mountain West meeting its bowl obligations than he has been in past weeks.  Somewhat surprisingly, he forecasts UNLV as being more attractive to the folks in Albuquerque than David Fales and San Jose State, though things might have looked different had the Spartans been able to put San Diego State away on Saturday.

What do ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards have to say?

Schlabach

Sugar Bowl: Fresno State vs. Auburn

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Oregon State

Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State vs. Notre Dame

Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State vs. Arizona

Hawaii Bowl: San Jose State vs. East Carolina

Idaho Potato Bowl: UNLV vs. Buffalo

Edwards

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. USC

Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State vs. Bowling Green

Armed Forces Bowl: UNLV vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: San Jose State vs. Oregon State

Hawaii Bowl: Utah State vs. Middle Tennessee State

Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State vs. Buffalo

Despite the seismic changes at the top of the BCS rankings, the two continue to have very different outlooks.  After weeks of forecasting the Bulldogs in Glendale, Schlabach changes course and slots them in New Orleans against at-large Auburn. Utah State gets a very interesting draw in the Fighting Irish, which would be fun to watch. San Diego State is his clear winner from the weekend, as they improve their lot from bowling in Boise to an intriguing matchup with the Midshipmen in Fort Worth.

Edwards continues to doubt the Bulldogs and his forecast is essentially the same as last week, aside from swapping the Ohio Bobcats for the Falcons in San Diego.  Rams fans can also direct their consternation toward Edwards.

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

Fiesta Bowl: Fresno State vs. Baylor

Las Vegas Bowl: Utah State vs. Arizona

Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State vs. Toledo

Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: San Jose State vs. Oregon State

Hawaii Bowl: Colorado State vs. Middle Tennessee State

Palm didn't see much need to shuffle any deck chairs, as each MWC team is stuck in place while a couple of opponents are swapped out.  Last week, his forecast called for Oklahoma State to be the Big 12's representative in the Fiesta Bowl, but after the Bears' dominating win against Oklahoma, it's hard to blame him for jumping on the bandwagon.  Syracuse is swapped out for Toledo in the Poinsettia, though the Broncos possess enough talent to present a major challenge for both.

My predictions are as follows:

Fiesta Bowl: Fresno State vs. Baylor

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. USC

Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State vs. Bowling Green

Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: San Jose State vs. Washington

Hawaii Bowl: Colorado State vs. North Texas

Idaho Potato Bowl: UNLV vs. Buffalo

Call me a flip-flopper if you will, but the weekend's developments worked out in Fresno State's favor. Two teams ahead of the Bulldogs lost and Fresno had a big win against a fading Wyoming team. That should put a healthy amount of distance between the 'Dogs and NIU, who were idle but have their big game against Ball State this week.

The Rams did themselves a big favor with a win against Nevada, since they figure to be favored against New Mexico and Air Force. I'm projecting Marshall to win C-USA, and since North Texas currently has the inside track in their division, they're the draw. Fresno's good fortune also affects the Rebels, who could've used a win on Saturday but still have AFA in their sights for that elusive sixth win.

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

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