The team at Mountain West Connection will be predicting bowls from the Mountain West and some other important bowl games around college football. We will be providing our score predictions and why we think each team will come away with the victory. The games are listed in the order they occur.
New Mexico Bowl (Utah State vs. North Texas)
Zach: Utah State deserved a P5 opponent. However, teams with outgoing coaches tend to struggle in bowl games. North Texas is a solid G5 program, but they don’t have the firepower to hang with the Aggies. Utah State 42-North Texas 28
Mike: Agree with the fact that a 10 win good football team shouldn’t be regulated to the New Mexico Bowl. But here we are. Things could stay closer than they should with the potential let down of the Wells change, and most of the coaching staff following him out the door. Utah State 31, North Texas 27
Garrett: One could argue Utah State probably deserved a P5 opponent, but North Texas is a solid matchup. Utah State will be without Matt Wells at the helm, but their offense is still explosive. North Texas has a decent defense only giving up 21.8 points per game, however, I see Jordan Love carrying this high-powered offense to a win
Utah State 42, North Texas 31
FatDuckUW: This is a great matchup and should make for a good game. The Aggies have the 11th ranked total offense while the Mean Green are ranked 15th. Both teams have respectable defenses. For total defense, North Texas ranks 42nd while Utah State ranks 57th. Utah State is dealing with a coaching change. Due to that potential distraction, I think North Texas has the edge. Utah State 31, North Texas 34.
Tyler: Despite the upheaval in Logan, the Aggies have a solid team, both offensively and defensively. If they can focus on fundamentals and stick to their game, they should have no problem outpacing the Mean Green. Utah State 45, North Texas 35.
Alex: Read my preview coming out soon to see what I think of this matchup!
Las Vegas Bowl (Fresno State vs. Arizona State)
Zach: The Bulldogs have a huge coaching advantage. If Arizona State can beat SDSU, I’m inclined to think the Bulldogs will run away with this one. Fresno State 31-Arizona State 14
Mike: The Bulldogs are riding high. I see a similar outcome of last year, when BSU turned momentum from the MWC Championship into a big showing in the Vegas Bowl. They are a great team and they play like it against the Sun Devils. Fresno State 38, Arizona State 17.
Alex: Really? This is what the conference champion gets rewarded with? A middling P5 foe? And from the PAC-12, the weakest P5 conference? Fresno deserves better. They’ll prove it too. Their defense is legit and ASU, aside from RB Eno Benjamin, hasn’t got much to show for on offense. (WR N’Keal Harry is skipping the bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft). This should not be close. Fresno State 32, Arizona State 18
Garrett: Fresno State is coming off a conference championship and will surely be ready for more. Arizona State has a good offense, but the Bulldogs have only given up more than 20 points once all season. Fresno State’s defense frustrates Manny Wilkins on their way to a Las Vegas bowl win.
Fresno State 31, Arizona State 20
FatDuckUW: Fresno State plays really good defense. The Bulldogs have the 17th ranked total defense in the country. Meanwhile, Arizona State is ranked 71st. Offensively, the teams are fairly even. For total offense, Arizona State is ranked 45th while Fresno State is ranked 49th. Defense wins this game for the Bulldogs. Fresno State 27, Arizona State 13.
Tyler: For some reason, I believe that this Herm Edwards team is going to show up to play. Both teams have sturdy defenses, both teams are 5-1 in the last half of their season. The Arizona State Sun Devils come out on fire and shut down the Bulldogs. Arizona State 20, Fresno State 10.
Frisco Bowl (San Diego State vs. Ohio)
Zach: Mountain West teams should not lose to MAC teams, ever. But I am a little worried about the Aztecs in this one. They got progressively worse as the season went on. Ohio 17-San Diego State 14
Mike: San Diego State didn’t have the best second half in the MWC. In fact, they are fortunate in many ways to be in a bowl game. However, the talent is still there and they should win this game in a close one. Although don’t be surprised if they end up a repeat of their previous year selves and lose. San Diego State 17, Ohio 14.
Alex: The Aztecs are circling the drain as of late, and Ohio is one of the consistently good MAC teams. I don’t see the slide for the Aztecs ceasing anytime soon. It’ll be close until the end, but give it to the MAC. Ohio 21, San Diego State 13
Garrett: San Diego State is limping into this one. It will be a matchup of one of the best rushing attacks in the country against one of the best rushing defenses. The Aztecs play close games, I expect this one to be close. I think SDSU bounces back and edges out Ohio in a tight one.
San Diego State 27, Ohio 24
FatDuckUW: This game offers an interesting matchup. Ohio has the 8th ranked rushing offense in the country. San Diego State has the 4th ranked rushing defense. One of the main reasons that San Diego State disappointed this season was their offense. The Aztecs rank 109th in total offense. Ohio ranks 66th in total defense. I think San Diego State can win this game. However, the Aztecs finished the season poorly, and I don’t know that the Aztec offense will do enough. The Bobcats win a close one. San Diego State 17, Ohio 20.
Tyler: The Ohio Bobcats have a hot offense. They have won 5 of their last 6 games. Everything on paper says that Ohio should win this game handily. But San Diego State loves to play spoiler, and they are a solid football team fundamentally. Fundamentals in the post season usually come at a premium, and I believe that fundamentals -- on defense particularly -- will win the day for the Aztecs. San Diego State 27, Ohio 24.
Potato Bowl (BYU vs. Western Michigan)
Zach: BYU is going to have a huge home field advantage in this one. The LDS population in the area is huge, and it is a fairly short trip for Cougar fans. BYU wins this with ease. BYU 31-Western Michigan 10
Mike: I can hear you in the comments section already “Why are you picking scores on a non-MWC game?” It’s still a MWC bowl and we will likely have someone in attendance anyway. BYU will basically have home-field advantage in this one and that Zach Wilson kid is pretty darn good. BYU 34, Western Michigan 14.
Alex: This one’s up there as one of the more random bowl matchups. BYU has a nice geographical advantage here, yet Western Michigan has shown signs of competency on the defensive side of the ball. This one’s going to be closer than many would think. BYU 27, Western Michigan 23
Garrett: This game is between two teams with a combined 11 losses on the year. This isn’t one of BYU’s best years but they will have the home field advantage and are playing a team that gives up more points on average than they score.
BYU 35, Western Michigan 17
FatDuckUW: BYU has a good defense. They are ranked 18th in total defense. However, BYU has a bad offense. They are ranked 108th in total offense. Western Michigan is more balanced. Western Michigan is ranked 30th in total offense and 51st in total defense. Western Michigan really struggled at the end of the season before beating Northern Illinois in their last game. I don’t trust the Broncos to win this game, but I think it will be close. BYU 23, Western Michigan 17.
Tyler: As a CSU fan, I’m having flashbacks of the frozen blue field from a few years ago. The team that won that game had the better defense. Whether there will be another snow/ice storm doesn’t really matter, this game will go down to the defense. BYU has a solid defense, and should be able to capitalize on that against Western Michigan. Western Michigan is a pretty balanced team, but if they can’t move the ball against the Cougars, they will struggle. I don’t see the Cougars allowing more than 200 yards rushing. BYU 14, Western Michigan 13.
Hawaii Bowl (Hawaii vs. Louisiana Tech)
Zach: For one team, this is a business trip, for the other it is a vacation. Hawaii finished the year strong and are going to ride that momentum to the bowl game. Hawaii 38-Louisiana Tech 35
Mike: The Hawaii Bowl has a way of being an equalizer to teams. However, when one of them is the home Rainbow Warriors, they suddenly have a huge advantage. I see Rolo & Co capping off their surprise season in style. Hawaii 42, Louisiana Tech 31.
Alex: Hawaii’s not the same team it was in the first half of the season, and LT is a solid team but had an inexplicable loss to Western Kentucky to end the year. They’re on a cold streak now and I’m not sure they’re going to break the ice in Hawai’i against a team playing in their home stadium.
Hawai’i 38, Louisiana Tech 21
Garrett: Hawaii has had a good season and is playing on the island while Louisiana Tech has their longest travel of the season. That said, Hawaii did not finish strong and needed overtime and some SDSU miscues in order to avoid being 1-5 in their last 6 games. I’m taking LA Tech in a tight one.
LA Tech 31, Hawaii 28
FatDuckUW: Another good matchup. This will probably come down to the passing game. Neither team relies much on the rushing game. Louisiana Tech is 111th in rushing offense while Hawaii is 120th. Hawaii is 9th in passing offense while Louisiana Tech is 53rd. That said, Louisiana Tech is 28th in passing defense while Hawaii is 67th. Should be some fun battles, but I’m going with Hawaii at home. Hawaii 31, Louisiana Tech 27.
Tyler: This game should be a pretty solid victory for the Rainbow Warriors. They are a talented team, but they are a little streaky. It comes down to which team comes to play for the ‘Bows in this bowl game. Will we see the team that took Colorado State behind the woodshed, and beat a tough San Diego State on the road? Or will we see 4-game losing skid Hawaii? I think the former will prevail. Hawaii 45, Louisiana Tech 31.
First Responder Bowl (Boise State vs. Boston College)
Zach: Sorry guys, I’m saving this for my preview. Be sure to check it out!
Mike: This should be one of the better bowl games in December. The key here is how many of the Broncos injured players can be back playing in the game. Shakir and Hightower give their offense another level and their defense has played well even though they seem to lose a guy each game. I think Rypien will lead them to a victory, but in typical 2018 Boise State fashion, it comes down to a stop on defense. Boise State 38, Boston College 35.
Garrett: Boise had a rough game in ugly weather conditions in the MW title game I predict a bounce back performance for them. Both teams average over 30 points a game, I’m taking Boise in a shootout.
Boise State 41, BC 35
FatDuckUW: Boston College ended the season by losing their last three games. The Eagles lost their offensive coordinator as Scot Loeffler is now the head coach at Bowling Green. In terms of total defense, Boise State ranks 39th while Boston College ranks 72nd. In terms of total offense, Boise State ranks 23rd while Boston College ranks 64th. Though, the matchup that really has me liking the Broncos is in the passing game. Boston College has the 96th ranked passing defense while the Boise State passing offense ranks 17th in the country. Boise State 34, Boston College 24.
Alex: Boston College is coming into this one cold, but they are always a threat to win a game based on one player: AJ Dillon. When Dillon balls out, usually so do the Eagles. Boise is, and has been, one of the most consistently talented teams in all of college football, let alone the G5 or Mountain West, and this squad wants another chance to prove they can play with the big kids by beating up a mid-tier P5 school. Rypien gets it going early and often against a weak Boston College passing D. Boise State 38, Boston College 23
Tyler: This is going to be an awesome game to watch. Boise State always puts a good product on the football field, and usually they seem to find another level during bowl season. Boston College is a solid Power 5 team. They don’t have any spectacular wins, and they are on a pretty tough losing streak. But they still held #2 Clemson (the only team not named Alabama that has a shot to win the National Championship, in my opinion), to 27 points. I think Boise State wins, but Boston College should give them some serious problems. Boise State 38, Boston College 32.
Arizona Bowl (Nevada vs. Arkansas State)
Zach: No McLane Mannix, lots of inconsistencies. I have a bad feeling the Wolf Pack are going to have a let down here. Arkansas State 31-Nevada 24
Mike: Echoing above, this just doesn’t seem like good things for happen for Nevada. They are down a starter on each side of the ball due to transfers and Arkansas State seems to be a bad match up. I’ll take Arkansas State 35, Nevada 21.
Garrett: Nevada has lost key players to transfers days after the regular season ended. To make things worse they blew a huge lead and lost the Fremont Cannon to a 4-win UNLV team. Nothing good going for Nevada leads to a loss.
Arkansas State 24, Nevada 13
FatDuckUW: I like Nevada here. Nevada could’ve won five games in a row to end the season if not for blowing a 23 point lead to UNLV to end the season. On paper, this should be a close game though. In terms of total offense, Nevada ranks 34th while Arkansas State ranks 21st. In terms of total defense, Nevada ranks 52nd while Arkansas State ranks 49th. So while the numbers are close (slightly favoring Arkansas State), I like Nevada to come out motivated to get a bowl win and redeem themselves after blowing their last game to their main rival, UNLV. Nevada 34, Arkansas State 27.
Alex: Ah yes … this is a game. Two not awful/not great G5 teams looking for a nice ending to okay seasons. In ASU’s case, they considered themselves Sun Belt favorites coming into the year but couldn’t get that done. They’ll carry that disappointment into the bowl game. I also think Nevada’s ability to protect the QB really well is an important factor in this one. Give me the Pack by a field goal. Nevada 20, Arkansas State 17
Tyler: I think that Nevada has a serious chance to win this game. But I believe that since slaughtering Colorado State, they have lost a little steam. Arkansas State is probably about even in terms of talent. They have not allowed more than 17 points in the last 4 games. I think that Arkansas State comes out of the game hot and doesn’t look back. Arkansas State 30, Nevada 24.
Stay tuned, as next week we will have our picks for playoff and NY6 games.