BOWL PREDICTIONS: We are one week away from the first Playoff Poll, which will help the analyst predictions for the 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Two more correspondents are seeing the Rice Owls coming out of Conference USA after two made the initial prediction last week. Utah State is still the favorite from the MW but is down two nods, giving them six of the 13 predictions. Phil Steele still thinks that C-USA won’t fill it’s spot and thinks a Pac-12 member will fill it’s shoes but this week is projecting the Washington Huskies after choosing the Utah Utes the last two weeks. Here is the breakdown of what has been selected for the 2014 bowl game:
Athlon Sports: UAB (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
Bleacher Report: Rice (C-USA) vs. Wyoming (MW)
CampusInsiders.com: UAB (C-USA) vs. Air Force (MW)
CBS Sports/Jerry Palm: Rice (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
CFN.Scout.com: Marshall (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
College Sports Madness: Louisiana Tech (C-USA) vs. Colorado State (MW)
ESPN (Mark Schlabach’s pick): UTEP (C-USA) vs. Air Force (MW)
ESPN (Brett McMurphy’ pick): Rice (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
NFL.com/College Football 24/7: North Texas (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
Phil Steele: Washington^ (Pac-12) vs. Utah State (MW)
SB Nation: Rice (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
Sporting News: Louisiana Tech (C-USA) vs. San Diego State (MW)
*Sports Illustrated: UTSA (C-USA) vs. Nevada (MW)
*indicates no change from preseason selection ^indicates at-large bid
POSTSEASON PREVIEW: Ten more teams became eligible for the postseason over the weekend, bringing the total to 16. Miami (OH) joined the list of ineligible teams, falling to 1-7 with four games left. Four teams were already ineligible: Appalachian State (Sun Belt), Georgia Southern (Sun Belt) and Old Dominion (C-USA) are all transitioning to the FBS while Idaho (Sun Belt) is eliminated due to NCAA probation.
For our aligned leagues, Conference USA has 13 teams and five bowl commitments while the Mountain West has 12 teams and 6 commitments. Both leagues also have one game where they are slated as a back-up. Conference USA already has one team (Marshall) eligible for a bowl while Colorado State is the first MW team with the six wins needed for the postseason. Middle Tennessee (C-USA), Air Force (MW), and Boise State (MW) need one more wins to be eligible.
RECAPPING THE WEEKEND: Action started off on Friday night for the Mountain West conference with a league game on national television. Boise State used a 37-27 win over Fresno State to reclaim first place in the MW Mountain Division. Saturday, the league had four more conference games as Air Force, San Jose State, Colorado State and San Diego State picked up wins. In non-conference action, Nevada went into Provo, Utah and handed the BYU Cougars their second straight loss at home. All six games were competitive with the victor winning by an average of just 7 points.
Conference USA had just five league games on Saturday. Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, and Southern Miss all picked up wins after a bye in Week 7. Marshall built it’s lead in the East Division and rose in the national rankings with a win over FIU. Middle Tennessee stayed right on the Herds’ heels with a home win over UAB. The league continues to score big with it’s victors averaging 36 points per game in week 8. Also, on average the winners outscored their opponents by an average 13 points per game. Complete results for the week are available in the attached PDF.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES TO WATCH FOR: This week begins for the Mountain West on Friday night as Boise State takes a break from league action and hosts the former MW member, BYU. The Broncos look to hand the Cougars their fourth straight loss and render them 0-3 against the MW this season. Saturday, San Jose State also plays a non-conference game, heading to the East Coast for it’s fourth contest in the series with Navy. There are just three MW league games in Week 9. For Conference USA, there are five league games but only one, Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss, is an old rivalry (USM leads, 31-14) with the remaining series having seen just five games or less. In non-conference action, UAB travels to Fayetteville, Ark. for the first time, taking on the Razorbacks at Noon ET on the SEC Network. For a complete schedule with series notes, see page 1 of the attached PDF.
TALE OF THE TURNSTILES: The attendance numbers are in and Conference USA averaged 15,999 fans in five league games while the Mountain West pulled in just over 34,000 among six games in week 8. The largest crowd (56,355) came at the home of the BYU Cougars, where the Nevada Wolf Pack (MW) posted to a 42-35 non-conference win. The biggest home crowd in the MW came in a league game at Qualcomm as San Diego State topped Hawaii before an announced crowd of 35,686. C-USA’s most attended game (19,127) was the division battle of Southern Miss at North Texas, where both teams were looking for it’s first league win. A complete breakdown of each team’s attendance figures is available in the attached PDF.