Take these standings in for a moment. Let it sink in.
|San Diego State||3-3||5-5|
|San Jose State||2-4||3-7|
I suspect we have looked at other divisions within the FBS ranks all season and chuckled. We've all heard the jokes about the ACC Coastal. No one seems to want to win the Pac-12 South, either. Aside from Marshall, the Eastern side of Conference USA has been a pool of mediocrity. The Mid-American East also has just one team, Bowling Green, above .500.
We should probably stop laughing, though. Mediocrity has been with us in the West the whole time.
Saturday's results left us wondering just which team will end up getting hammered by Boise State or Colorado State in the conference title game. As of right now, four teams in the West are still alive and here's what their paths looks like.
Fresno State Bulldogs
Owns tiebreaker: San Diego State
Remaining schedule: at Nevada, vs. Hawaii
How the Bulldogs win the West: Win vs. Nevada, win vs. Hawaii
As unlikely as it seems, the 'Dogs can seize control of the West division if they win on the road in Reno next Saturday. They can wrap it up at home against the Warriors in two weeks. This is easier said than done, though, since Fresno State is just 2-3 in their last five visits to Mackay Stadium.
Nevada Wolf Pack
Owns tiebreaker: Hawaii, San Diego State
Remaining schedule: vs. Fresno State, at UNLV
How the Wolf Pack win the West: Win vs. Fresno State
Nevada is the other team in the division that controls their own destiny, but they absolutely have to have the win against Fresno State for the head-to-head tiebreaker. With victories over the Aztecs and Warriors under their belt already, the battle for the Fremont Cannon won't carry championship implications one way or the other. Win next Saturday or it will be a long offseason.
San Diego State Aztecs
Owns tiebreaker: Hawaii
Remaining schedule: vs. Air Force, vs. San Jose State
How the Aztecs win the West: 1. Win vs. Air Force, win vs. SJSU, Nevada loss vs. Fresno State, Fresno State loss vs. Hawaii OR 2. Win vs. Air Force, win vs. SJSU, Fresno State loss vs. Nevada, Nevada loss vs. UNLV
The key for the Aztecs is getting to five conference wins and hoping for an upset in the season's final week. San Diego State has lost to both Nevada and Fresno already, so the winner of next week's Bulldogs/Wolf Pack clash won't matter as long as the victor falls flat in their finale.
Owns tiebreaker: none
Remaining schedule: vs. UNLV, at Fresno State
How the Warriors win the West: Win vs. UNLV, win vs. Fresno State, Nevada loss vs. Fresno State, Nevada loss vs. UNLV, SDSU loss vs. Air Force, SDSU loss vs. SJSU
This might be better known as the "Everything's coming up Rainbows" scenario. Hawaii has lost every tiebreaker so far and can only go 4-4 in conference play, at best, which means they've got to hope for upsets galore. Nevada and SDSU will collapse to 3-5 down the stretch in this picture, while Fresno also finishes 4-4 but will have lost the season finale. I'm fairly certain Norm Chow signs an extension in this scenario, as well.