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MWCConnection 2023 Championship Game Predictions

Who will win Saturday?

NCAA Football: Mountain West Championship-Fresno State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

It all comes down to the two teams left standing after 12 games and computer tie-breakers: Boise State and UNLV. This is the first time these teams are meeting this season and the first time the Rebels are playing in the conference championship game. They have been this year’s media darling thanks to the terrific turnaround head coach Barry Odom and his staff have done this season. On the other hand, Boise State has had a year of ups and downs, including close losses, firing their head coach, and then facing two elimination games to get to this point. Team previews will come out as usual, but hear from other writers. The MWCConnection team shares their thoughts and predictions below.

Zach: This might be the most improbable championship game in the history of the conference. On one side you have a team that has been a perennial doormat, on the other side you have a team that is being led by an interim coach. UNLV’s performance this past weekend left me concerned. Were they looking ahead? I don’t know, but I think the Rebels are going to struggle to stop Boise State’s rushing attack. The Rebels will look to feast on the weakness of the Boise State defense, their secondary. If Ricky White has a big day, they might be hoisting the championship trophy on Saturday afternoon. Boise State will need Taylen Green to avoid the bad decisions that have plagued him throughout the season. I think Boise State rises to the occasion and leaves Vegas with a conference championship. Boise State 38-UNLV 28

Mike: After all the controversy of the computers, we have Boise State and UNLV. It’s an interesting matchup for a few reasons. The Rebels have been strong all season, but might be showing a few chinks in their armor, while the Broncos have been as inconsistent as ever but have been improving over the past few weeks. UNLV has a dynamic offense with multiple players capable of making a big play, while Boise State normally relies on a few players do the bulk of the work. Both defenses are good against the run but their struggles seem to be in stopping the passing game. The Rebels seem like a team of destiny while the Broncos have found new life since the coaching change. Ultimately, the former has played out more often in recent seasons. UNLV 31, Boise State 27

Adam: It’s interesting to see Boise State in this position, winning four of their last five games, firing their coach along the way, and playing loose and dominate like the Boise State most of us figured was going to show up this season. UNLV has played lights out this season, two of their three losses are by a combined 13 points. Their third loss? To second ranked Michigan. The Rebs have done it with a balanced attack. However, San Jose State exposed their defense, and with Boise State playing loose, this could spell a recipe for a loss in Vegas. I like Boise State-42, UNLV-27.

Matt: Hands up anybody that guessed this would be the championship matchup at the beginning of the year, or even through Week 6? Yeah, exactly. Guess that first year of division-less football produced some good chaos and controversy. Especially after Boise State fired their head coach with 4 weeks left in the year. The Rebels have been strong all season, leaning on a dynamic offense under Brennan Marion and Barry Odom. Boise’s path has been a bit more circuitous, but they showed up and got wins when absolutely necessary. UNLV lost to a red-hot San Jose State team, a pre-collapse Fresno State, and a Michigan team that could be national champions. Both teams are led by their ground game, with MWC OPOY Ashton Jeanty squaring off against UNLV’s three-headed rushing attack. The game will come down to whomever can get effective stops and limit mistakes, since both offenses are predicated on ball control. Ricky White will be the X factor in this game, as Boise’s secondary has proven to be vulnerable all season. The Rebels appear to absolutely be the Team of Destiny this year, and they have a great chance at getting one more win for their first Mountain West Football title after 25 years of waiting. UNLV 38-31 Boise State

Dom: While I’m still a bit lost with the whole computer thing, we have Boise State and UNLV. It’s interesting seeing how both of these teams kind of came out of nowhere. It looked like Air Force and Fresno State would dominate the MW early on, but the Rebels caught wind. It’s not every day that a team that fired its head coach finds its way to the championship game, but that’s where we are with Boise State. On the other side, UNLV comes in with the Coach of the Year. It’s a really good matchup to see if chemistry can beat overall talent, and both programs have great defensive units. As my fellow writers have said, Ricky White is going to be the key. Both teams have seen flaws exposed this season, but Boise State is playing loose and fresh with the coaching change. We’ve seen it in the NFL, coaching changes can completely turn a team around. Give me Boise State 34 - UNLV 31

Ethan: An incredibly odd way to decide the Mountain West Championship gives us UNLV and Boise State; two teams who nobody thought would make it towards the middle of the year. Regardless, I think UNLV is a team that has overcome alot of adversity this year, with an interim head coach. On the other side, Boise State has been rather inconsistent and I don’t really see them coming up big in a spotlight game. With that being said, I’m gonna take UNLV to get their first Mountain West title for football. I think it’ll come down to the line though, give me UNLV 31 - Boise State 28.

Graham: Despite having a questionable secondary on defense Boise State is favored in this game for a reason. The Broncos played most of the season under fired head coach Andy Avalos and under interim Spencer Danielson the locker room has been united and Boise State is playing like a different team and getting hot fast. The defense looks like a stronger unit. Taylen Green is playing with more confidence. Ashton Jeanty and George Holani continue to tear apart defenses. UNLV is going to have their shot and will make the most of it in the passing game. However Boise State makes enough stops on defense and a healthy Ashton Jeanty shows why he is the Mountain West player of the year. Stacking the box could help the Rebels limit the damage, but Taylen Green is also getting more comfortable passing the ball and offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan makes the right play calls to bring the Broncos their first title since 2019. Boise State: 38, UNLV: 24