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Bowl Grades for the Mountain West

How did the 6 MWC teams in bowls fare this year?

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State v Arizona State Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

With the National Championship game in the books, that means that the college football season is officially over. The Mountain West bowl games all ended before the start of the new year, with the last one being played on the 29th. As promised, we are handing out grades for each of the teams based on their showing in their respective bowl games. We’ve done bowl games as separate grades partially due to the games being a bit different nature from the regular season (especially for a situation like Utah State) and partly just because it’s going to be a long off-season, so might as well spread the content out as much as possible.

This year, the MWC finished 3-2-0-1 (the one being a no contest) in bowl games. Here’s how it went down:

MWC Bowl Results:

  • New Mexico Bowl: Utah State 52, North Texas 13 (W)
  • Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State 31, Arizona State 20 (W)
  • Frisco Bowl: Ohio 27, San Diego State 0 (L)
  • First Responders Bowl Bowl: Boise State, Boston College (No Contest)
  • Hawaii Bowl: Louisiana 31, Hawaii 14 (L)
  • Arizona Bowl: Nevada 16, Arkansas State 13 (W)

Any showing above .500 is a good showing. In fact, if you look at the conference summary provided by “America’s Own” Brett McMurphy, the Mountain West has the third best winning percentage out of all the conferences.

Now the level of competition, players sitting out or not sitting out, and other factors come into play when looking at conference records. However, a .600 winning percentage is still a .600 winning percentage. Also, as we wrote last year, it can be debated whether bowl games matter or not. However, the results of the games matter for a few different and important reasons.

Anyway, take a look at the grades we handed out for each of the six Mountain West Conference teams who participated in bowl games this season.

Utah State

Bowl Grade: A+

The Aggies have everything stacked against them going into the game. Matt Wells left for other pastures. Then there was the weird he won’t coach, but he’ll be on the sidelines, then he won’t be on the sidelines but will be at the game. He ended up not being at the game, and neither was the majority of the coaching staff. Led by mainly GAs, off the field coaches, and a passionate effort from the players, Utah State not only won but they dominated from start to finish. The Aggies broke many New Mexico Bowl records and got the ending they deserved from their great season.

Fresno State

Bowl Grade: A

The Bulldogs came, they played, they conquered. Fresno State capped off their big season with a win over a PAC-12 team, which is always a good feeling for a Mountain West team. It was a bit back and forth to start the game, but the Bulldogs showed they were the better team as the game went on. The pick-six in the first half was a statement-making highlight, and Fresno State ended up hoisting their second trophy in a month.

San Diego State

Bowl Grade: F

This one was pretty clear. Think of it this way: if the Aztecs didn’t even show up, they still would’ve scored the same amount of points. Or this: the Aztecs scored the same amount of points in their bowl game as Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, SJSU, UNLV, and Wyoming did while not playing in bowl games. Overall, they looked like they didn’t want to be there at all.


Bowl Grade: D+

The Rainbow Warriors were not able to put the finishing touches on their solid season as they had a disappointing loss to Louisiana Tech. Their high-powered offense was neutralized and the defense that struggled for big chunks of the year was on display, giving up 31 points. They played two quarterbacks, but neither could get things going and proved to be ineffective. They started flat and ended flat, with occasional bouts of not looking flat.

Boise State

Bowl Grade: Incomplete (B-)

This grade was the clearly the easiest one to give out. In case you were living under a rock, the Broncos and Boston College weren’t able to play due to an intense thunderstorm that lasted for the better part of the day. They did play for ten or fifteen minutes, and so I suppose we can grade them for that. Outside of a fantastic catch by CT Thomas, the offense wasn’t able to do much of anything. The defense game up the first drive touchdown, but made adjustments and looked great after that. So slightly above average in their tiny sample size.


Bowl Grade: C+

It was a successful season for the Wolf Pack, but they finished with a bit of a dull game in the “Wolf Bowl”. At least until the end. It was a back and forth game with little action, as the two teams trades punts more often than not. Nevada’s offense struggled to find a rhythm and clearly missed their most explosive player from the regular season, McLane Mannix. Then, near the end of the 4th quarter, everything changed. The offense began making big plays, and they were able to tie the score and force overtime and eventually win the game. It wasn’t the best showing, but they pulled it off at the end, and that’s what matters.

Alright, let’s hear it. Which grades did you agree with? Which ones would you change and to what? Talk about it in the comments section.