Bowl Projection: Broncos, Spartans Make Statements

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

The Mountain West didn't see any shocking upsets on Saturday, but how much did teams do to curry favor among the bowl prognosticators?

Week 10 saw some Mountain West teams rise to the occasion and take critical steps toward bowl eligibility. Boise State became the second MWC team to reach six wins.  San Jose State gave its record a boost with a win over a revitalized Las Vegas. Utah State, San Diego State and Fresno State simply took care of business against inferior opponents.  However, the outlook did not change all that much among the expert's projections.

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. Oregon State

Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State vs. Ohio

Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: San Jose State vs. Arizona

Colorado State's loss to Boise damaged their bowl hopes, but the big win entrenched the Broncos as the second-best team in the conference. UNLV's absence is somewhat surprising, given that the elusive sixth win looks to be a couple weeks away. Kirk has teams from the Sun Belt and MAC filling MWC spots in the Hawaii and Potato Bowls, a situation that looks more likely as the middle of the conference continues to battle one another.

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

Poinsettia Bowl: San Jose State vs. Utah

Armed Forces Bowl: Colorado State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: UNLV vs. Washington

Hawaii Bowl: Utah State vs. Rice

Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State vs. Buffalo

Edwards

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. USC

Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State vs. Ohio

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

Edwards continues to doubt the Bulldogs' BCS chances, but a rematch of the 1992 Freedom Bowl and 2005's epic upset bid would make for an interesting follow up. Oregon State does not look as dangerous as it did two weeks ago, but a David Fales/Sean Mannion offensive bonanza would be must-see television. Schlabach also includes CSU despite the long(er) odds of a bid.

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. Syracuse

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

It's still curious that Palm continues to place the Aggies ahead of the Broncos, unless there's some kind of Vegas/Boise fatigue. I think that they would rather play the Orange in that case, anyway.

My predictions are as follows:

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. Arizona State

Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State vs. Ohio

Armed Forces Bowl: Utah State vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: San Jose State vs. Washington

Hawaii Bowl: UNLV vs. Rice

Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State vs. Buffalo

The longer that Fresno allows inferior opponents to hang around, the more tenuous a BCS bowl looks.  My pessimism is based on the fact that a Northern Illinois win against Ball State will look more impressive than any wins left on the Bulldogs schedule, and that Louisville could work their way back into the top 16 with convincing wins against Houston and Cincinnati in the coming weeks.  Fresno will need more than just wins going forward, they need big wins.

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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