The Roundtable continues on for another week. The New Year’s 6 bid is the coveted bowl game for the top teams in the Group of 5. Boise State of the Mountain West grabbed the spot the first possible season, but no MWC team has been able to since. Due to this, the question is: will a Mountain West team break through that barrier and land in a New Year’s 6 bowl game this season? If so, who will it be? If not, which teams have the best shot?
Jacob: We won’t have to wait long to find out. Boise State travels to Florida State for the first game of the season, and a win for the Broncos will set them on a path towards a New Year’s Six game. The other potential candidates from the MWC Mountain Division all have a tough row to hoe for an undefeated season (the past three G5 representatives have been undefeated). Sorry Utah State (although an undefeated season for the Aggies would be the most impressive of any in the conference).
The most exciting possibility is if Fresno State and San Diego State can both make it to their mid-November matchup undefeated. For SDSU, this will mean beating UCLA in the Rose Bowl. For Fresno, they will have to beat USC on the road in Week One, and follow that up with a win at home against Minnesota. All three of those non-con opponents are somewhat hard to pin down, but if Fresno and SDSU meet with a combined zero losses, the winner will likely catapult into the Top 10-15 and have a shot. Combine that with an exceptional Boise State season, and the MWC Championship Game could feature two Top 15 teams and perhaps a de facto play-in game for a New Year’s Six appearance.
Of course, now that I’ve mentioned this possibility we will see SDSU lose to Weber State and Fresno will drop a game on the road to a less-talented opponent. C’est la vie!
Zach: As Jacob stated, we will not have to wait long to find out. Boise State plays Florida State to open the season. Fresno State has USC on their schedule and Utah State has LSU. If one of those teams can win their signature game, it will put them in the discussion. However, the signature programs of the Mountain West have plenty of questions they need to answer.
Boise State and Fresno State both have to replace great quarterbacks, while Utah State replaces its entire offensive line and most of their skilled position players. For that reason, I think it is unlikely that a Mountain West squad gets the nod.
Mike: Short answer - no.
Long answer - Fresno State, Utah State, and Boise State were all great last year and all look to take a step back this year in certain ways. While one of them being better than the other two actually would help there bid, it’s just hard to see it happening.
As mentioned above, the Bulldogs, Aggies, and Broncos all have a good game they likely won’t win. Conversely, Central Florida probably won’t be as good either and they are bound to lose to either Stanford or Pitt, right? It wouldn’t be surprising if this is a year that a one or even two loss team gets the top group of 5 spot this year. But it is far from a lock that one of the Mountain West teams ends up there. It could happen but my guess is going to be a no on this one.
Bruce- No as for now, but maybe I could be wrong at the end of the season around December.
But there are three teams who can surprise the college football world this coming season: Fresno State, San Diego State, and Boise State
But if they want to be in the top six, they would have to shock a lot of people and some good teams.
With Fresno State going to USC to kick off their season, that will be their big test if they can at least be a contender for the New Year six bowl this coming season. Another big test if they want to be in the New Year’s campaign will be a trip to San Diego State in mid-November. Last season showed some good signs that the Bulldogs can be a top 10 team in the country like stunning the Bruins at their house by a 38-14 win at Pasadena. Also, they beat a good Arizona State team in the Las Vegas Bowl.
For San Diego State, they have an afternoon date with UCLA in Pasadena in their second game of the season. If they can somehow beat Chip Kelly’s Bruins and the rest of their opponents, they can be somewhere in the high rankings in the top 10. Last season, the Aztecs finished a 7-6 record, and went to the Frisco Bowl. Sadly, they would get shutout by Ohio 27-0. SDSU can show signs of improvement from last season, but it’s going to take a while.
As for Boise State, they are coming off a heartbreaking loss in last year’s conference game against Fresno State in overtime. Everyone in the nation is telling themselves last season that “Boise State is back”. To put it another way, the whole country is getting scared of the boys in the blue turf thinking that their going to be back to a top 5 team like they were back in the late 2000s. To kick off their 2019 season, they would have to travel across the country to Jacksonville to start their season against Florida State. This will be their big test to see where they are if they want to get back to the conference championship game, and possibly a bowl game in late December.
Adam: I’m gonna be bold here and say yes. Fresno State is my pick to win the MWC this season, and I think they will be the representative of the Group of Five this season.
They do have two tough games right out the gates, with USC and a sneaky Minnesota team, as well as a late season visit to San Diego. However, looking at the other Group of Five teams and schedules, I’d say Fresno State’s chances are as good as anyone’s. UCF has an easy out of conference schedule, but they do play Stanford, and then Cincinnati in conference. Speaking of the Bearcats, they have UCLA and Ohio State, not to mention a very tough final three games of the year. The only other Group of Five team I can see making a run is UAB, but they have to visit Tennessee late in the season. That coupled with a very weak schedule leaves it very possible that the Blazers won’t be taken seriously.
So, all in all I like Fresno State’s chances, and am going to say yes to the question.
Matt: Spins Wheel of Destiny----- Well, we know it’s probably going to come down to the MWC or AAC for the NY6 representative. So our conference leaves us with Boise, USU, SDSU, and Fresno as the most likely candidates. I’m going to say SDSU would have the easiest path to undefeated, followed by Fresno, then Boise, then USU with the toughest path. If I had to choose one of these teams to go to the NY6, it’s Boise, as much as it hurts me. Especially if the MWC Championship Game is a ranked on ranked matchup again. Especially if they get past FSU, and the Seminoles get back to form.
Although, college football is funky, so it’ll probably be Tulsa going undefeated and getting the spot.
Alex: The NY6 G5 spot is the AAC’s to lose this year. They’ve got multiple teams with the potential to get there (UCF, Memphis, Cincinnati, Houston) and the Mountain West really only has one (Boise).
Boise has to replace a lot, including one of their all time best QBs. They have talent and they have the coaching, so I’m in no way doubting that they can get to the NY6. It just doesn’t seem likely.
I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Cincinnati for the G5 spot. They have the perfect schedule to prove their worth: season opener hosting UCLA, a mid-tier P5 team as of right now. They then travel to Ohio State and, while they don’t have to win that game, they can do a lot of good things for themselves by keeping it close and looking good. Their other non-con games are vs Miami (OH) and at Marshall. No FCS teams, and no basement dwellers. As far as conference goes go, they get the other three AAC NY6 hopefuls I mentioned earlier, two of which are on the road. If you can prove yourself against your stiffest competition, especially in the road, you give yourself a nice case to make it to the NY6.
An 11-1 record, maybe even 10-2, could get Cincy to the NY6.
Alex Wright: While I believe the two best Group of 5 conferences are the Mountain West and the American Athletic, the AAC has a slight hand above the MWC. It isn’t impossible for a Mountain West team to be playing a New Year’s Six bowl. Boise State, year in and year out, likely has one of the best chances among Mountain West teams. They play the best out of conference game (Florida State on opening week in Jacksonville), which can enhance their resume.
The other team to keep an eye out for is San Diego State. Their schedule is not too challenging, they play a road game against UCLA, and get Fresno State, Utah State, and BYU at home. Prior to last season, the Aztecs had three consecutive years of 10 or more wins. Expect them to be closer to 10 wins than their 7-6 record last season. However, at the end of the day, I see an AAC team (probably Cincinnati or UCF) playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Alex Valle: I do not believe that any team in the MWC will land a NY6 bowl game this season. Two teams that have the best shot at making this goal a reality are Boise State and San Diego State. If Boise is able to shock Florida State with a win at the beginning of the season, then the Broncos could very well be on their way to secure a NY6 bowl game. San Diego State also has tough early season match ups against Weber State and UCLA that will be an early sign if the Aztecs can be successful all season. It would be a huge surprise for any team from the MWC to get a NY6 bowl game this year and will most likely not happen.