BOWL PREDICTIONS: The first College Football Playoff poll came out yesterday and to the surprise of some, did not include Conference USA's undefeated Marshall. With that in mind, College Football News is predicting the Herd will be in our game this year, taking on the Aggies of Utah State. A majority of the analyst predictions for the 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl agree with the MW prediction as Utah State garnered 8 nods of the 13 predictions viewed. The C-USA side does not have a clear favorite with Rice grabbing three bids and UTEP and Middle Tennessee earning two apiece. Phil Steele still thinks that C-USA won't fill it's spot and thinks a Pac-12 member will fill it's shoes. For the second straight week he is projecting the Washington Huskies after choosing the Utah Utes the two weeks before that. Here is the breakdown of what has been selected for the 2014 bowl game:
Athlon Sports: UTEP (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. Nevada (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: Middle Tennessee (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
*Sports Illustrated: Middle Tennessee (C-USA) vs. Nevada (MW)
*indicates no change from preseason selection ^indicates at-large bid
POSTSEASON PREVIEW: Presently there are 31 teams that have reached "conditional" bowl-eligibility status with six or more wins. Seven teams have been eliminated from the postseason, including Idaho (Sun Belt), which 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 and Boise State have the six wins needed for a postseason berth. Louisiana Tech (C-USA), Middle Tennessee (C-USA), Air Force (MW), and Nevada (MW) need one more win to be eligible.
RECAPPING THE WEEKEND: Boise State started the weekend with a bang, blowing out BYU on ESPN Friday night, 55-30 and garnering it's sixth win to become bowl eligible. It was the most points scored by a Mountain West member in Week 9 as the league tallied 260 points for an average 32.5 per game. Utah State and Nevada both picked up league victories, giving them five for the season. Colorado State took home the trophy in the annual Border War with Wyoming, putting the Rams in a tie at the top of the Mountain division with Boise State.
Week 9 appeared to be a walk in the park for Conference USA winners as they won by an average 20.8 points. Western Kentucky was the high scorer for the weekend, posting 66 against Old Dominion en route to it's first C-USA win of the season. Marshall remained unbeaten with a 19 point victory over Florida Atlantic and UTEP garnered an important win, leaving the Miners two wins shy of becoming bowl eligible. Complete results for the week are available in the attached PDF.
THIS WEEK'S GAMES TO WATCH FOR: All action for Conference USA and the Mountain West is slated for Saturday, Nov. 1 in Week 10. The day begins with Air Force taking on Army in the Falcons' final battle for the Commander-In-Chief Cup. The game will be televised by CBS at 11:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. MT. CBS Sports Network will air three C-USA and MW games, beginning with BYU at Middle Tennessee at 3:30 p.m. ET, followed by Colorado State at San Jose State (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT) and concluding with San Diego State at Nevada (10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT). The Wyoming at Fresno State contest is also on national TV, airing on ESPN2 at 10:45 p.m. ET/7:45 p.m. PT. 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 just over 30,000 fans in six games while the Mountain West pulled in just under 29,500 among five games in week 9. The largest crowd (61,800) came at the home of the Arkansas Razorbacks, where they posted a 45-17 non-conference win over UAB. The biggest home crowd in C-USA came in a league game at the Alamodome as UTEP knocked off UTSA before an announced home crowd of 31,956. The Mountain West's most attended game (36,752) was the non-conference battle between BYU and Boise State in Idaho. A complete breakdown of each team's attendance figures is available in the attached PDF.