It all comes down to two teams, the perennial contender Boise State, or the feel-good story of the season in undefeated San Jose State. The MWCConnection team shares their thoughts and predictions below.
Mike: This matchup finally gets to happen. We were robbed of the first round in the regular season but now will get to see who will prevail in the battle of the two teams who were undefeated in the MWC this year. For Boise State, they will need to establish the run and generate a pass rush. For San Jose State, they will need to keep the pocket clean, be unpredictable on offense, and on defense, figure out how to neutralize one or two of the Bronco’s playmakers. It figures to be a great game, and it would not be surprising to see either team win. Boise State 24, San Jose State 17.
Graham: This was the expected matchup when week 15 began, the big question was where this game was going to take place. San Jose State has had an incredible turnaround in Mountain West play and is coming off a 30-20 win over Nevada. Boise State is also undefeated in conference play but does have a bad loss to BYU. The Broncos are coming off of a 17-9 victory against Wyoming in a snow blizzard. Boise State looks to be back at full strength for the first time in a while while San Jose State looks to have continued success. In order for Boise State to have success they need to establish a running game, which may be made easier with the return of George Holani. San Jose State needs to be able to consistently move the ball against the Broncos defense just as they have done against other teams they have played. Coach Bryan Harsin acknowledged that both teams will be playing with a chip on their shoulder and the topic of the mindset of playing in a championship was also brought up. Boise State has played in four straight conference championships and has won three of those games in addition to another conference championship game in 2014. San Jose State has never been to a championship game and this may make a difference late. It is important to remember that at one point, Nevada had a large lead over San Jose State before the Spartans made a comeback. This is going to be a close game to the finish but ultimately Boise State may have an edge late due to their experience playing in big games like this one. Boise State 31, San Jose State 24
Zach: I wish I could wait until an hour before kickoff to make this prediction. If Boise State is without John Bates, Tyreque Jones, Jack Sears, and George Holani, it is going to be tough. If they can get the majority of those guys back, I like their chances. Boise State has struggled to generate turnovers all season and you know San Jose State is going to kick away from Avery Williams. But ultimately, I think the depth of the Broncos and their experience in big games will be too much for San Jose State. Boise State 38, San Jose State 27
NittanyFalcon: Everyone knows I look at everything through the prism of an Air Force fan. When the Falcons play Boise, most of the time the game is pretty tight through at least the first half. And then it seems Boise comes up with some play, whether it’s a kick return, a turnover, a stop on a run, or a big play by someone like Khalil Shakir that ignites the Broncos and puts them on the path to a win. They have too many ways to beat you, even when you run for 415 yards against them. The Spartans have the emotional edge of a magical year and very good playmakers, but I just don’t see them getting by the Broncos. Boise State 31, San Jose State 28.
Matt R: I really wish we had gotten this matchup during the regular season. Having the conference championship game be a rematch has been an interesting twist that we usually get between Fresno State and Boise State. History would suggest that Boise would have an easy time with this one, since they’re perfect against San Jose State, but this Spartans team is not the SJSU we’re all used to over the last 30-odd years. Their offense with Nick Starkel has been electric, and they’re defense has been one of the hardest-hitting in the conference. It looks like Boise might be without George Holani, which would be a big deal for the Broncos, although they sure still have a lot of weapons including MW Special Teams Player of the Year in Avery Williams. On the other side of the ball though, SJSU has the DPOY in Cade Hall, and he will want to give Hank Bachmeier grief all day. I suppose someone has to be the contrarian, and I think that the Spartans can finish off their magical season before someone else hires Brent Brennan. San Jose State 35, Boise State 27
Alex: Last week against Nevada, San Jose State really showed us what this team is made of. They had gone through teams in the middle and bottom of the conference pretty easily and had its game against Boise State in the regular season canceled. But the Spartans silenced the naysayers with its win last week at “home,” against the Wolf Pack. As good as the offense has been for San Jose State, it’s the defense that stands out to me, they held Nevada and that explosive offense to just 20 point, zero came in the second half. I really like this San Jose State defense and that gives them the edge in the championship game and they have all the momentum on their side, give me the Spartans Saturday in Sam Boyd Stadium, San Jose State 28, Boise State 24.