MWC Bowl Projections: Aztecs Surge, Spartans Shaky

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

The weekend in Mountain West action was more competitive than expected and saw and one significant upset, but how does it affect the bowl picture in the eyes of the prognosticators?

Week 12 of conference play featured only one true blowout with Boise State's victory over Wyoming, while other teams did just enough to take steps toward bowl eligibility. San Diego State rallied to beat a scrappy Hawaii squad and joined the six-win club. Colorado State traded blows with New Mexico until pulling away in the fourth quarter for their critical sixth win.

And then there was San Jose State, where the security of a bid looks much more tenuous than it did 24 hours ago.

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. UCLA

Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State vs. Bowling Green

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

Kirk must not have any concerns about SJSU's ability to beat Navy next weekend because he still forecasts Fresno in a BCS bowl and the Spartans in Hawaii. In fact, the MWC slots remain the same, with only a couple of very interesting opponents for the Broncos and Aggies.

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. UCLA

Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State vs. Arizona

Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: San Jose State vs. Oregon State

Hawaii Bowl: Colorado State vs. Rice

Idaho Potato Bowl: UNLV vs. Buffalo

Edwards

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. Arizona State

Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State vs. Bowling Green

Armed Forces Bowl: Colorado State 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. Buffalo

Not many changes other than Arizona sinking like a stone. Edwards seems to like the Rams a lot, since he slots them higher than everyone else, but he continues to doubt both UNLV and Fresno. I am curious as to what prompted Schlabach to reverse course and send Fresno back to Glendale, though.

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

Fiesta Bowl: Fresno State vs. Baylor

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. USC

Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State vs. Buffalo

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

I don't know what made Palm change his mind, but now the Broncos are finally in demand by Vegas with this latest forecast. The Trojans would make for a very attractive game, while the Bulls would be a worthy foe for USU.

My predictions are as follows:

Fiesta Bowl: Fresno State vs. Baylor

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. USC

Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State vs. Buffalo

Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: San Jose State vs. Oregon State

Hawaii Bowl: Colorado State vs. North Texas

Idaho Potato Bowl: UNLV vs. Bowling Green

I did not see much need to shuffle any of the conference slots, but rearranged the opponents based on this past week's MACtion. That MAC #3 spot is going to either the Falcons or Bulls, so one is going to Boise and the other is sure to fill an at-large spot somewhere.

I have confidence that San Jose will rebound to earn eligibility, because if they don't it will depend on beating Fresno after Thanksgiving, a tall order for any team. Air Force will have the opportunity to play spoiler in the next couple weeks, so there's still lots of intrigue to be found as the regular season winds down.

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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