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Mountain West bowl projections: Can the Broncos survive, advance to New Year's Day?

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The weekend in Mountain West action saw the division-leading Broncos rallying late to win for the second week in a row. Do the experts think Boise is solid enough to hang on for a few more weeks?

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How good is Boise State?

Depending on when you started watching Saturday night's epic comeback against San Diego State, the answer might differ.  There's no doubt that the Broncos have one of the most talented rosters in the Mountain West, but rarely in 2014 have we seen that talent put together a complete sixty minutes.

In spite of all of the turnovers and large deficits, Boise State is still in control of its own destiny and, in weeks past, has garnered a fair amount of momentum to represent the Group of Five in a New Year's bowl.  After the latest scare, though, are the experts hedging their projections?

For a quick refresher, here is the list of bowls with which the Mountain West is affiliated, along with the potential opponent.  The bowls have an order in which they are allowed to pick teams, and the Las Vegas Bowl picks first.  The Hawaii, New Mexico and New Orleans will share picks three, four and five, while the Potato Bowl picks sixth.  Also note that the conference has secondary ties with the Armed Forces Bowl and Cactus Bowl.

  1. Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - December 20, 2014 - MWC #1 vs. Pac-12 #6
  2. San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl - December 23, 2014 - MWC #2 vs. Navy (if eliglble, or at-large)
  3. Sheraton Hawaii Bowl - December 24, 2014 - Hawaii (if eligible) or MWC #3-5 vs. C-USA #2-5
  4. Gildan New Mexico Bowl - December 20, 2014 - MWC #3-5 vs. C-USA
  5. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - December 20, 2014 - MWC #3-5 vs. Sun Belt #1
  6. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - December 20, 2014 - MWC #6 vs. MAC #2
As usual, we begin in-house with SB Nation's Jason Kirk, whose picks were released Sunday morning:

Bowl MWC Team Opponent
Cotton Bowl Boise State Baylor
Las Vegas Bowl Colorado State Washington
Poinsettia Bowl San Diego State Navy
New Mexico Bowl Utah State UTEP
New Orleans Bowl Air Force Louisiana-Lafayette
Potato Bowl Nevada Bowling Green

With Arizona State having been victimized late Saturday night, the Broncos instead face a Bears team that would surely be motivated to prove they belonged in the playoff.  The Rams would also face a different opponent, but otherwise this picture is mostly the same as it was last week.

Next up is Jerry Palm of CBS Sports:

Bowl MWC Team Opponent
Las Vegas Bowl Boise State Utah
Poinsettia Bowl Colorado State Navy
Hawaii Bowl Nevada UTEP
New Mexico Bowl Utah State Rice
New Orleans Bowl San Diego State Arkansas State
Potato Bowl Air Force Bowling Green

You can swap out mediocre C-USA foes all you want, Jerry Palm, but your slate of games is still very depressing.  Nearly everything here is similar, as well, except for the Broncos' new opponent in Vegas.  A matchup between old MWC foes will always have a certain appeal, so even though Marshall continues to get the nod for the New Year's bowl, having the opportunity to take the Utes down a peg would surely be a nice consolation prize.

Next up, Brant Parsons of the Orlando Sentinel.

Bowl MWC Team Opponent
Las Vegas Bowl Boise State Stanford
Poinsettia Bowl Colorado State Navy
Hawaii Bowl Air Force Louisiana Tech
New Mexico Bowl San Diego State UTEP
New Orleans Bowl Nevada Arkansas State
Potato Bowl Utah State Central Michigan

Something seems to be clear at this point:  People think that Boise State will be able to take care of business, one way or another.  However, it could be that their resume took a hit when Nevada lost yesterday because the West division is officially wide open again.  As of right now, Fresno State controls its own destiny!  Beating either the Bulldogs or the Wolf Pack twice with a win in the conference championship may not be enough in the committee's eyes to push Boise past Marshall.

Oh, and there's still the possibility that Hawaii could win the division, too.  Broncos fans may want to brace themselves in the next couple of weeks, because anything is possible.

Next, we'll take a look at what ESPN's Brett McMurphy and Mark Schlabach have to say:

McMurphy

Bowl MWC Team Opponent
Fiesta Bowl Boise State UCLA
Las Vegas Bowl Colorado State Washington
Poinsettia Bowl Utah State Navy
New Mexico Bowl San Diego State UTEP
Potato Bowl Nevada Central Michigan
Cactus Bowl Air Force California

Schlabach

Bowl MWC Team Opponent
Peach Bowl Boise State UCLA
Las Vegas Bowl Colorado State Stanford
Poinsettia Bowl Utah State Navy
Hawaii Bowl Nevada Middle Tennessee State
New Mexico Bowl Air Force UTEP
Potato Bowl San Diego State Ohio

The boys from the four-letter network haven't mirrored each other this much all season.  Rams fans might be lamenting their bad luck, but a victory against the Huskies or the Cardinal in Vegas would be a worthy feather in the cap for what would be a very good campaign.

Last, but not least, are my own bowl picks.

Bowl MWC Team Opponent
Fiesta Bowl Colorado State Texas Christian
Las Vegas Bowl Boise State Arizona
Poinsettia Bowl Utah State Navy
Hawaii Bowl Air Force Louisiana Tech
New Mexico Bowl San Diego State Louisiana-Lafayette
Potato Bowl Nevada Northern Illinois

Let's do this, Rams fans, you've got me in your corner.  I've seen enough of Boise in the last month to believe that, despite their talent, they can't keep making up ground against inferior opponents forever.  The Broncos will lose one of the last two games, Colorado State will win out, and everyone gets the bowl picture that they want.

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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