The Roundtable is back for another week, and with it we bring one of our classic (and divisive) questions. Hopes are high in the offseason for every team, but come fall, some teams will rise to the top while others will sink to the bottom. With that in mind, this week’s question is: which of the 12 Mountain West teams will be bowl eligible at the end of the 2021 season?
Zach: Let’s start with the Mountain. I think three teams make it (Boise State, Air Force, Wyoming). I think Colorado State is a dark horse with lots of talent at the skill positions, but just misses out. I think 5 teams from the West sneak in (Nevada, San Jose State, San Diego State, Hawaii, Fresno State). That might sound impressive but I think the West will be filled with teams that go 6-6 or 7-5. The Mountain West needs a big year and eight bowl teams would be a solid statement.
Mike: I think Boise State, San Diego State, and San Jose State are pretty much locks. Nevada and Air Force are just short of locks and I am confident in their ability to make a bowl game. I really think Fresno State will do well this year, so I think they get to at least six wins, although they will have to pull an “upset” or two but I see a clear path for them. I will also go on record saying that I think Wyoming can reach a bowl game this year, with their solid defense and favorable schedule getting them in. That gives the Mountain West 7 teams, which would be great for their conference prestige, in a year they sorely need it.
NittanyFalcon: Mike and Zach are thinking along the same line that I am, but I think they are high in the number of teams that will get bowl bids. I think it more likely that some teams, particularly in the West division, will be able to separate themselves from the others and that will keep the teams that don’t keep up a tough time getting to 6 wins. In particular, Fresno State plays 2 good Pac 12 teams, and they have to play Boise and Wyoming (at Laramie) out of the Mountain division. Add that to the road games against San Diego State, San Jose State and Hawaii, and their margin of error is very small. I’ll go with Boise State, San Jose State, Nevada, San Diego State, Air Force, and Wyoming.
Graham_Gibson: There is no question that Boise State is a definite lock and San Diego State, San Jose State, and Nevada could all be locks too. Hawaii is still a team to consider and it is important to remember that the Warriors get Fresno State, San Jose State, and San Diego State all at home. Nevada will look to be a lot stronger with the maturation of Carson Strong and Air Force could also have a good chance at earning a bowl bid. Teams such as Utah State, Colorado State, and Wyoming could have a harder time making a bowl game this year as all three draw some tough opponents at some point in their schedules and must also get through Boise State and Air Force. A sleeper team to consider is Fresno State. A tough stretch against Hawaii, Wyoming and Nevada won’t be easy but if the Bulldogs can make it through two of those three games they could be in good position to make a bowl game for the first time since their 12-2 (7-1) Mountain West championship season in 2018.
Adam: I am going to go with five teams to be bowl eligible. I like Boise State to be one. I love Wyoming’s schedule and defense, they should be a shoe-in. I can also see San Jose State, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the MWC Championship game again this season. In fact they’ll get a chance to see just how good they are on September 4th when they pay USC a visit. From there, we get into some borderline teams to make numbers four and five. Hawai’i has five winnable games on their schedule, meaning all they have to do is win those and sneak past someone to get to bowl eligibility. The same goes for Colorado State, Fresno State and Nevada. Out of all of those, I will take Hawai’i as number four. And then to sound very much like a homer, I am going New Mexico as my fifth to get to bowl eligibility. Honestly, UNM should be 3-1 going into conference play, giving them eight chances to win three games. With the way they ended last season, the fact that they can now practice and play in state, and another year under Danny Gonzales, I think UNM is the sleeper in the Mountain Division.
Alex: I see seven teams from the Mountain West being bowl eligible this season. Looking at the Mountain division, Boise State, Wyoming, and Air Force are the top three teams in that division. The Broncos and Cowboys are the two top teams in the division and they should have a nice battle for the division crown, and Air Force is talented enough and well-coached to get to at least six wins. The West division on the other hand is much more wide open and will be a lot of fun to watch, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, and Hawaii will all be bowl eligible. The Wolf Pack have the best quarterback in the conference, the Aztecs should be much improved in a second year under Brady Hoke, the Spartans return a lot of key players from last year, and the Rainbow Warriors have an explosive offense and are riding the wave of last year’s upset bowl win against Houston. A team to watch out for is Fresno State, I believe they are talented enough to get six wins, but the West division will be very challenging and the other four teams mentioned are just a bit better, as of now, than Fresno State and I have more confidence in a head-to-head matchup when Fresno State plays those other four teams. The Bulldogs might finish around 5-7 and just miss out if a bowl bid, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did sneak in a sixth win.