Hopefully you have been following along with our bowl projections each week, which serve as a week-to-week collection of our team’s thoughts. This post will serve as a snap-shot companion post to the week-in, and week-out projections. As the weekly projections more or less plug deserving teams into the existing bowl structure, this one will look at every team in its own right and see what their chances are to go to a bowl game this season (Spoiler: some teams have a much better shot than other teams).
I’ll categorize each team’s chances (as told by me, so you know, it’s flawed) of making a bowl game this year with a rating system that may be familiar to some of you or may be something you’ve never heard of. If you are an avid TV watcher (like me), you may be familiar with the site tvline.com and their annual renewal/cancel scorecard.
Anyway, all 12 MWC teams will be rated using the following: Officially Clinched, A sure thing, A safe bet, Could go either way, A long-shot, Essentially eliminated, and Officially eliminated. A short explanation will follow each.
This year, no one has officially clinched a bowl berth, which may be the first time since this annual post has begun. This is yet another demonstration of how the conference is having a disappointing season.
A Sure Thing
The Broncos are one win away from extending their bowl eligibility streak, which is a remarkable feat in its own right. However, it is even more remarkable considering they were in the “Long Shot” category a month ago. They are as close as the Mountain West has to a great team and their five wins reflect that. Boise State has numerous chances to get this last win and should clear it with quite a few wins to spare.
The Cowboys have been a sneaky good team in the MWC this season. They too are at the five-win mark and are basically a lock at this point to reach a bowl game. Credit to them for getting better and finding their form as the season has gone on. And, they have done it by sticking to their system rather than making big, headline-worthy changes. Despite being such a young team, they have come together well now should be rewarded with a bowl game.
A Safe Bet
The Falcons have struggled at times this season, but still figure to end up in a bowl game when it’s all said and done. They need to win two of their final four games and two of those games are extremely winnable. On paper, this should be no issue. However, Air Force has been surprising during games this year, and not in a good way.
San Diego State
The Aztecs may be treading water this season but they have the numbers on their side. With five games remaining, only having to win two of them seems very doable. San Diego State has a big matchup against Fresno State next week, but they get a struggling UNLV team and then New Mexico before the end of their season. SDSU knows what it takes to reach a bowl game and seem like a good bet to get there.
San Jose State
The Spartans were penciled into the category above with the assumption they were going to win this past weekend. However, the game got postponed and they remain at four wins on the season. San Jose State is on pace to make a bowl and with an easy schedule remaining, there isn’t much standing in their way. All they need to do is avoid the miscues that plagued them in their upset loss to Fresno State.
Could Go Either Way
The Bulldogs are on a two-game win streak and things are looking up for them. However, they still have a lot to overcome and are only halfway toward bowl eligibility. Much of their fate would seem to depend on the health of their key players, but on the other hand, they have figured it out the past two weeks without those players. Fresno State still has the talent to compete against anyone in the conference, and next week against San Diego State will be a big game, but it won’t determine their fate, as long as they win their first three November games.
The Rebels have dropped a category of two and now are more on the bubble. Their bye week is coming at a good time as they need to take a breather, regroup, and ideally get healthy. Still, with four games left, they only need to go 2-2 to clinch a bowl berth. It seems likely they will lose the next two and then win the final two, but that would also mean they continue their downward momentum, which isn’t helpful. On the other hand, winning the Freemont Cannon game to go to a bowl would be very satisfying.
A Long Shot
Most people figured the Aggies would not be able to recapture the magic of last season, but conventional wisdom said they were probably still a bowl team. Instead, they are now fighting stay alive in the bowl hunt. Following a bye, they have two easier games and two hard games, needing to win three of four. Utah State should take care of business against New Mexico and Hawaii, but beating one of San Jose State and Boise State will be extremely tough. The odds are not on their side.
The Rams likely won’t make a bowl, but they have figured out a way to win games lately, which is something. Their offense still isn’t scoring much, but they are finding ways to beat the teams they should be beating and almost beat. The issue for Colorado State is they are now entering another stretch where there are no more teams they should beat. At least, not until the end of the year. It will be considered a success if they can pull out another win or two.
It is important to remember the Rainbow Warriors weren’t expected to be good this year. And they have met those expectations. While they have looked like an improved team the past few weeks, the improvement registers as bad rather than their previous horrendous. While they have no gimmie wins remaining on their schedule, Hawaii hasn’t given up and is fighting for one more upset on the season.
It seems like ages ago the Wolf Pack was 2-0 and riding good times to start their season. Now, it appears they may not win another game again this year. Last week they just got their first passing touchdown against an FBS team this season. It’s just a matter of time for Nevada.
Similar to last year, the Lobos got off to a promising start before the wheels completely fell off. And here they are again, scuffling on offense and winless in their last five games. New Mexico will need to win out to make a bowl game and that simply won’t happen. However, if they can regroup during their bye week, maybe they can win another game this season.
Similarly to the first category, no one has been officially eliminated, although that is likely to change this upcoming weekend. Credit to the struggling teams for not completely giving up and delaying their official elimination for a bowl game as long as possible.