Last week the Aztecs came into their game against UNLV riding high and ranked #19. They boosted their overall record to 10-1 after another down the wire victory. The win positioned the Aztecs one win away from earning an opportunity of playing in the Mountain West Championship game. However, the performance was not enough to move their ranking closer up the poll. In fact, they were consequently punished for their close victory over an inferior conference opponent.
Unfortunately the bias against non-autonomous conferences lives on. SDSU touts a one loss record, with their biggest victory over a 3 loss Utah football team. Yes, the same Utah that last week destroyed the previously #4 ranked Oregon. One would think this quality win by Utah would translate into a boost to SDSU. The complete opposite was the case. Utah leapfrogged the team that beat them earlier in the season on their way to a #18 CFB Ranking and SDSU was pushed down to #21, two spots lower than last week.
So today’s TV watch rooting guide is a bit different for our readers. We’ve chosen to focus on the Mountain West Conference games to watch and who to root for. Of course most of this is completely up to your preference, but have some fun with us!
Below you can see the game scenarios that are all at play to determine the winner of the Mountain and the West divisions that will face off against each other next Saturday. Five teams overall have chances to make the game; three from the Mountain (Air Force, Boise State, and Utah State) and two from the West (Fresno State and San Diego State).
So here’s all you need to know about who is playing each other, when they are playing and who we think will win!
-7.5 Fresno State @ San Jose State 12:30pm PST • FS1
Fresno State clinches the West division with a win and a San Diego State loss. Simple as that. So of course the Aztecs want the Spartans to take care of business for them a day before their game against Boise State. The Spartans and Bulldogs have a longer standing rivalry matchup than SDSU does with either, so this game should live up to the hype. No matter if either team is performing great that season, this game is always a crazy one. San Jose who has been down for most of the last few decades, has the ability to pull off the upset. The Bulldogs however have been strong all year long. While a fluke loss to Hawaii wasn’t that big of a detraction to their season, the loss to Boise State at home was almost devastating to the Broncos.
Playing on Thanksgiving day has a special feel to it for this game, a perfect setting for a rivalry like this. Look for Spartans QB Nick Starkel and RB Tyler Nevens to have standout performances against Fresno. The two seniors combined with TE Derrick Deese Jr. want to finish their time at SJSU with a blaze of glory. And dont discount the SJSU defensive front either to limit some of what QB Jake Haener and the Bulldogs offense is able to do. Our prediction Spartans 31 Bulldogs 28
-2.5 Boise State @ San Diego State 9:00am PST • CBS
The homer in us obviously picks the Aztecs. But when you look closer at the matchups, that shouldn’t be a surprise. The Aztecs boast one, if not the top Defensive line, Special Teams, and a tough physical Offensive line/Running attacks in the conference. Though the rushing attack has not been what SDSU fans have become accustomed to, the improving passing game led by QB Lucas Johnson and WRs Jesse Matthews, Elijah Kothe and TE Daniel Bellinger may provide some more balance to the offense.
This is important as Boise State brings perhaps the conference’s best secondary defense. All the Broncos need is to win this game and for If the Broncos defensive front can make things difficult for the Aztecs running backs enough, that may ruin the Aztecs plans of going to the championship game. But as mentioned the Aztecs defensive front and Special Teams are the tops in the league. This duo works together to force opposing offenses to march the entire field in order to score. And while the only team to rush successfully against the Aztecs was Fresno State, the Broncos do not possess the same level of explosiveness on the passing game that the Aztecs have to account for in the same manner.
But Broncos QB Hank Bachmeier and RB George Holani are capable of making many things happen. As previously mentioned, a win and the Aztecs are in—but the Broncos need both to win and Air Force to lose against UNLV. The Aztecs are at their usual best when in close game situations, so we’re rolling with the Aztecs 23 Broncos 19.
-15.5 Utah State @ New Mexico 10:00am PST • FS1
For as bad as the Aggies played last week in their embarrassment against Wyoming, New Mexico was worse. The Lobos without a bonafide starting QB available and forced to play the team manager, should get slammed again. The Aggies have to win on the road in Albuquerque, and hope that SDSU beats Boise State in order for their Mountain division hopes stay alive. This game shouldn’t be close and we expect the Aggies to come out on fire. We’ve got the Aggies in a lower scoring match becuase of that Danny Gonzales and Rocky Long coaching ability. But the score may look worse than the game. Aggies 31 Lobos 14
UNLV vs -18 Air Force 12:30pm PST
After a huge effort in Las Vegas, the Rebels should be feeling good about themselves. And for the 2nd straight week they get the opportunity against one of the conferences better opponents. Justin Rodgers showed he is capable of making the big plays. But it may be a different story in the altitude against an Air Force group who’s rushing attack is relentless. Air Force has too much at stake and UNLV is still unproven. All Air Force needs is for Utah State AND Boise State both to win and they are in the Championship game. That may sound a little wacky considering Utah State beat them. But according to the rules, if there is a three way tie at the end of the year. Air Force 38 Rebels 21