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Who’s Going Bowling?

Let’s look at each team’s chances of making a bowl game.

NCAA Football: Hawaii Bowl-Fresno State vs Houston Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

Zach has taken up the mantle of doing bowl projections each week and some of our team has been faithfully participating. Most are projecting 6 Mountain West teams, but one has 7 teams going bowling. This post will serve as a snap-shot companion post to the week in, week out projections. As the weekly projections more or less plug deserving teams into the existing bowl structure, this one will look at every team in its own right and see what their chances are to go to a bowl game this season.

I’ll categorize each team’s chances (as told by me, so you know, it’s flawed) of making a bowl game this year with a rating system that may be familiar to some of you or may be something you’ve never heard of. If you are an avid TV watcher (like me), you may be familiar with the site and their annual renewal/cancel scorecard.

Anyway, all 12 MWC teams will be rated from using the following: Officially clinched, A sure thing, A safe bet, Could go either way, A long-shot, Essentially eliminated, and Officially eliminated. The first and last in this list can’t happen yet this early in the season, so don’t expect to see those. Each will be followed by a short explanation.

Air Force: A long shot

A few early losses don’t inspire much confidence in the Falcon’s bowl chances. They could make it, but that would mean they ended up pulling off more than their fair share of upset wins. Playing in the Mountain division may be hard to earn some wins, at least if the Utah State game was any indication. Also, Army looks pretty tough this year. Just hard to see it happening at this point.

Boise State: A sure thing

The Broncos make bowl games, it’s kind of their thing. The question always seems to be which bowl game will they end up in. Some things would have to go majorly wrong for them to not be in a bowl. They are getting the team that used to be Colorado State, SDSU without its starting QB and RB, and Wyoming still in search of its offense. That bodes well for them.

Colorado State: A long, long shot

Going into the season, they were a sure thing. But someone wise person somewhere once said “there’s no such thing as a sure thing.” That person must have had the 2018 Rams in mind. It’s not just that they are losing, as 2-3 was what I thought they’d be and they’re only one off from that at 1-4. It’s how they are losing, as the offense is lacking their usual firepower and the defense may be worse than last year. Part of me wanted to list them as “essentially eliminated” but part of me still believes they are better than this, so I created a new category for them.

Fresno State: A sure thing

It still remains to be seen how good the Bulldogs are, but we know they are bowl game good. And it’s safe to assume they are much much better than a 6-win team. It’s very difficult to imagine a scenario where they don’t make the MWC championship at this point, let alone a bowl game. Again, just a matter of where they end up.

Hawaii: A safe bet

Hawaii got off to a hot start and despite a small hiccup, it’s easy to trace how they make a bowl. Easy to see them getting wins with SJSU and at least one of UNLV and Wyoming. The Nevada game could top 100 points as there won’t be much defense, but may be a coin flip game. Their schedule gets a bit more challenging in the back half, but they still should have no issue making a bowl.

Nevada: A long shot

Originally, it looked like the winner of the Cannon game got the bowl spot, and that probably still holds true. Nevada’s offense is great, but don’t think they can always overcome their defense at this point. They should take care of Air Force, but could also see where they don’t get the ball enough because their defense can’t stop the option. They a murder’s row slate with Fresno State, Boise State, Hawaii and SDSU where they probably need a win from somewhere. Then they get Colorado State and SJSU to get some momentum before the showdown with UNLV. The road is there, but it’s a rough one.

New Mexico: Too early to tell

I didn’t put this category up here, but it is in tvline. It’s hard to really judge because they’ve either beat up on weak teams or got trounced by Wisconsin. The last eight games will really test where the Lobos are at. Winnable/competitive games with Colorado State, Wyoming, UNLV and the battle of the options (or former option) teams with Air Force. A bowl birth is far from a guarantee but hard to write them off just yet.

San Diego State: A safe bet

Like BSU above, the Aztecs have made bowl games forever under Rocky Long. The injury bug has attacked them early and often this year, which does cast some doubt on their bowl streak. But it’s also hard not to see them get to six wins, so they still remain as good of a bet as any to make a bowl. They just may end up clinching a bowl game later in the season than usual.

San Jose State: Essentially eliminated

They began the year losing the most winnable game on their schedule. They most winnable conference game on paper, Hawaii at home, doesn’t look at attainable with the Rainbow Warriors becoming a nice surprise. It’s really just better luck next year as far as being a bowl hopeful goes.

UNLV: Could go either way

I was doubting them most of the summer, but the Rebels are growing on me a bit. Don’t call me a believer, but I like what I see so far. The close loss to Arkansas State was a game that really would’ve helped, but hope is not yet lost. It’s still easy to see their map to a bowl game. Air Force, SJSU, and New Mexico are pretty much must wins. Then they need to steal a game against either Hawaii or Utah State, both of which are doable. Depending on SDSU’s health, that game could be quite winnable. It’s still likely it all comes down to a winner take all in Nevada though.

Utah State: A safe bet

Quite a few people around these parts predicted the Aggies to be good this year, although I wasn’t one of them. Though we still haven’t seen them play a team that’s is at the same level of talent as them to know how good they really are, we don’t need to in order to say they are probably on their way to a bowl game.

Wyoming: Could go either way

Easily could’ve gone long-shot for them, but I didn’t. I’m looking at the Cowboys season in thirds. This first third it was superior or inferior competition, and they didn’t put up much of a fight against the superior competition. This upcoming third will be tough with 4 likely bowl teams in a row. They will need to sneak an upset in there somewhere to stay alive. Then the road gets more manageable, ending with Colorado State, SJSU, Air Force and New Mexico. Those will likely all be must-win games. Their defense could certainly get them there, but the offense will have to develop, and soon.

Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear it in the comment section.