It’s time for another roundtable favorite. Every year we attempt to predict which teams will be good enough to make a bowl game in the upcoming season. Every year, fans and readers criticize us for hating on their team by not picking them. Every year we come back to this question anyway. Which teams will be bowl eligible in the 2020 season?
Seven schools reached bowl games in 2019, them being Nevada, Wyoming, San Diego State, Boise State, Hawaii, Utah State, and Air Force. Air Force, Boise State, and Nevada are safe bets to reach those heights once again next season, but let’s take a peek at the teams that could join them. Wyoming has a lot of turnover on the defensive side of the ball but are returning talent on both sides of the ball. If they can figure out their QB position, I have no doubt they will make a bowl game. Much like Wyoming, SDSU has similar flaws on their roster and also like UW, if they can find a solid option at QB they will reach bowl status. The last team I believe could be in competition for a postseason bout is Colorado State. They are returning one of the best receiving corps in the conference and their defense is nothing to scoff at.
There are four obvious teams that we can get out of the way. Boise State, Wyoming, Air Force, and San Diego State are locks to go bowling. Now if we are looking at teams from last year that won’t go bowling, I think Hawaii and Utah State will both barely fall short. The other bowl teams will be Colorado State (barely), Fresno State, and Nevada. So, I think the Mountain West will once again have seven bowl teams.
Predicting the wins and losses for 12 teams before the season has begun is always hard. Our current situation makes it nearly impossible. There is bound to be a team or two that wins a game early on because they handled the chaotic offseason better than others. We could also see a team’s star players have to sit due to contracting Coronavirus throughout the year. With that said, I think the Mountain West Conference sends seven schools bowling again in 2020.
In the Mountain, Air Force, Boise State, and Wyoming seem like locks to go bowling. I’ll add Nevada as a Mountain team that sneaks into the postseason. In the West, I have San Diego State, Fresno State and, as a surprise pick, I’ll say San Jose State sneaks in with six wins. My most controversial snub is Colorado State, but they have a sneaky tough schedule and a new staff, I think they’ll win five games.
I think seven schools is a good look for the conference, six may be more likely.
The locks: Boise State, Air Force, San Diego State, and Wyoming. Safe bet: Nevada.
The Broncos and Aztecs both have long bowl streaks. The Falcons and Cowboys have been solid to great the past few years, with no signs of slowing down. The Wolf Pack seem to have six wins as their floor under Jay Norvell currently.
I could see some mix of Fresno State, Hawaii, or Colorado State getting in, but not all of them. I do not see SJSU, Utah State, UNLV, or New Mexico reaching a bowl game this season.
The Bulldogs look to be around 5-7 wins, as does Hawaii. So let’s say the winner of the head to head matchup reaches bowl eligibility (although both could make it). I’ve said in a previous roundtable that I think the Rams will be able to pull out a 6 win season based on offensive weapons, a new coaching staff, and just enough schedule luck.
So I’ll pick Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Hawaii, Nevada, SDSU, and Wyoming for seven teams.
I’m going to play it a little safer than everyone else. I only have 6 teams to go to bowl games for now. Boise State is a lock. Right behind them is Air Force which should return to a bowl game. After that, I’ll say Nevada and San Diego State in the West Division. For the last 2 teams, I have Wyoming and Fresno State. I think if there is to be a 7th team it will be Hawaii. In which case, Hawaii would go to the Hawaii Bowl. However, here is an all-too-early bowl projection with just the 6 teams:
- SoFi Hawaii Bowl - Nevada
- LA Bowl - Boise State
- New Mexico Bowl - Air Force
- Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - San Diego State
- NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl - Fresno State
- Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl - Wyoming
My first impressions say six teams get in with the first four obvious ones already mentioned: Boise State, San Diego State, Wyoming and Air Force.
Next impressions that round out to six are Colorado State and Nevada. The Wolf Pack here makes sense and though the Rams can be a bit of a surprise, they’re interesting with a new well-credentialed head coach and some good returning players. But we can probably course-correct everything after week one right?
The bubble teams are too blurry to predict. These next two teams have some benefit of past history, recruiting and returners in their favor. So even with notable coaching and scheme changes to overcome, Fresno State and Hawaii still look and feel to have a chance, though I lean, no.
Of course, San Jose State will be my under-the-radar-bubble bowl team in year four of their current system. They’ve quietly checked off some boxes in a good slow-growth path and also look to have a bonafide QB lead contender to top if off.