NEW MEXICO TRUE HEROES: Governor Susana Martinez and Gildan New Mexico Bowl Executive Director Jeff Siembieda acknowledged the selfless acts of four New Mexicans who have gone above and beyond in making their communities a better place to live, work, and raise a family on Monday at the Veterans Memorial in Albuquerque. These four New Mexico True Heroes, credited for their bravery, dedication, kindness, and compassion, are the inaugural group of citizens receiving recognition from the State of New Mexico and the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Recognized at the ceremony were John Masterson (Roswell) for his bravery in ceasing a school shooting at Berrendo Middle School, Jan DeMaggio (Albuquerque) for her creation of dream bedrooms for children with life-threatening illnesses, Chuck Howe (Angel Fire) for his work in aiding veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Jim Stogsdill (Albuquerque) for the advocacy and protection he and his group provide for children in abusive or intimidating situations. Each True Hero will also be honored on the field during the 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
BOWL PREDICTIONS: The college football analysts didn’t waiver much on their predictions for the 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl. UTEP added another nod, garnering 8 of the 13 predictions viewed to be the top vote-getter for Conference USA. Utah State still has a majority of the nods (5) for the Mountain West, but San Diego State and Air Force are gaining ground with three apiece this week. After multiples foresaw Conference USA vacating its spot the last couple weeks, just one (Campus Insiders) still thinks that way, predicting Houston. Here is the breakdown for the 2014 bowl game:
Athlon Sports: UTEP (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
Bleacher Report: Middle Tennessee (C-USA) vs. San Diego State (MW)
CampusInsiders.com: Houston (American) vs. San Diego State (MW)
CBS Sports/Jerry Palm: Louisiana Tech (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
CFN.Scout.com: Marshall (C-USA) vs. Air Force (MW)
College Sports Madness: UTEP (C-USA) vs. Colorado State (MW)
ESPN (Mark Schlabach’s pick): UTEP (C-USA) vs. Air Force (MW)
ESPN (Brett McMurphy’ pick): UTEP (C-USA) vs. Air Force (MW)
NFL.com/College Football 24/7: UTEP (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
Phil Steele: UTEP (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
SB Nation: UTEP (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MW)
Sporting News: UTEP (C-USA) vs. San Diego State (MW)
Sports Illustrated: Louisiana Tech (C-USA) vs. Nevada (MW)
^indicates at-large bid
POSTSEASON PREVIEW: There is still only one bowl commitment for 2014-15, which is BYU going to the Miami Beach Bowl. That leaves 75 slots left amongst the 38 bowls slated for 2014-15. There are currently 71 teams that are bowl-eligible, which requires six or more wins in most cases. There are 17 teams which could still get eligible and 40 that 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’s Marshall, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, UTEP and Rice are eligible for a bowl. C-USA’s UAB must win its last game this Saturday against Southern Miss (3-8). Old Dominion has five of the six wins needed with one game remaining. However, the Monarchs are in the transitioning period and ineligible for a postseason berth unless there are not enough bowl-eligible teams to fill every game. The road to a bowl for those still looking to get eligible looks like:
Old Dominion (5-6): at Florida Atlantic (3-8)
UAB (5-6): at Southern Miss (3-8)
The MW’s Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada, San Diego State and Utah State have the wins needed for a postseason berth. Fresno State must win its final game in order to make a bowl. Hawai`i, New Mexico, San Jose State, Wyoming and UNLV have been eliminated. The road to a bowl for those still looking to get eligible looks like:
Fresno State (5-6): Hawai`i (4-8)
CHAMPIONSHIP SENARIOS: Conference USA and the Mountain West both have championship games slated for Saturday, Dec. 6. For C-USA, Marshall has already clinched the East division title and secured a spot in the game. With a win this weekend against Western Kentucky, the Herd would host the championship game. They would also host if they lost and Rice wins at Louisiana Tech. If Louisiana Tech defeats Rice and Marshall loses to WKU, then both the Bulldogs and Herd would be 7-1 in league play. They did not play in the regular season so the CFP ranking is the tie-breaker but if neither team is in the top 25, average select computer ranking (Anderson and Hester, Billingsley, Colley Matrix and Wolfe) would determine the host. The West division title will be awarded to the winner of the Rice-Louisiana Tech game this Saturday.
For the Mountain West, Boise State is the Mountain division champions with a win over Utah Sstate. Colorado State can claim the crown with a win at Air Force and a Bronco loss to Utah State. USU will take the division with a win at Boise State and a Ram loss at Air Force. On the West side, Fresno State wins it all with a victory at against Hawai`i. San Diego State can take the title with a win against San Jose State and a Bulldog loss to the Warriors. Hawai`i can claim the title with a win at Fresno State and losses by Nevada (at UNLV) and San Diego State (vs. San Jose State). In the event that Fresno State loses to Hawai`i, Nevada defeats UNLV and San Diego State falls to SJSU, it will create a four-team tie at 4-4. In that scenario, Fresno State clinches the division based on the MW divisional tiebreaking procedures. The championship game will be hosted at the home stadium of the regular-season divisional champion with the highest College Football Playoff ranking.
RECAPPING THE WEEKEND: Both conferences were on the field Friday night as Rice topped UTEP, San Diego State beat Air Force to become bowl eligible, and Utah State trounced all over San Jose State. On Saturday, Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee both picked up its sixth win and are now in the running for a bowl berth. Fresno State stayed alive in it’s quest for the postseason with a 20-point win over Nevada. Complete results for the week are:
Conference USA Mountain West
Rice def. UTEP, 31-13 San Diego State def. Air Force, 30-14
Marshall def. UAB, 23-18 Utah State def. San Jose State, 41-7
Western Kentucky def. UTSA, 45-7 Colorado State def. New Mexico, 58-20
Old Dominion def. Louisiana Tech, 30-27 (OT) Boise State def. Wyoming, 63-14
North Texas def. FIU, 17-14 Fresno State def. Nevada, 40-20
Middle Tennessee def. Florida Atlantic, 35-34 Hawai`i def UNLV, 37-35
THIS WEEK’S GAMES TO WATCH FOR: Both leagues hit the field on Friday, starting with Conference USA’s Marshall and Western Kentucky. A win for the Herd would make Marshall just the third team in C-USA history to finish the regular season undefeated. The MW’s Colorado State travels to Air Force on Friday as it tries to stay alive in the Mountain division race.
Saturday, the divisional rivals continue for the MW as Wyoming and New Mexico face off, San Jose State attacks San Diego State, Hawai`i visits Fresno State, Utah State and Boise State battle for the Mountain championship title and Nevada and UNLV fight over state bragging rights. In C-USA action, the West division title will be decided as Rice takes on Louisiana Tech in Ruston. The Owls lead the series, 4-3, including last year’s 52-14 victory in Houston. UAB can become bowl eligible as it closes out the season at long-time rival Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles lead the series 10-4 and dominated last year’s meeting, 62-27. For a complete schedule with series notes, see page 1.