WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK: The Mountain West kicks off on Friday night with a non-conference games as Boise State looks to stay perfect in its young series with BYU. On Saturday, another non-conference game starts the day as Notre Dame visits the Air Force Falcons for the first time since 2006. Nevada looks for its ninth straight win in the instate series with UNLV, which is in Reno, where the Wolf Pack are 3-0 this season. Another instate rivalry game sees Fresno State and San Diego State facing off in the night game on ESPN2. The Aztecs, who have won three consecutive games, have won nine straight conference games, tying Florida State for the sixth-longest active streak nationally. However, the Bulldogs are undefeated at 6-0 this season.
In the Pac-12, the four BCS-ranked teams in the league are facing off on ESPN as No. 12 UCLA is at No. 3 Oregon (4 p.m. PT) and No. 6 Stanford is at No. 25 Oregon State (7:30 p.m. PT). USC and Arizona both look for their second straight conference wins as the Trojans host Utah and the Wildcats invade Colorado. Washington will be desparate to avoid its fourth straight loss of the season but its opponent (California) will be fighting to stay alive in a hunt for a bowl game. A complete list of each conference’s games is available on the first page of the PDF.
WEEK 8 RECAP: Both conferences were only in action on Saturday. The Mountain West had just four league games while Air Force, Hawai`i, San Diego State and San Jose State had byes. The conference games were lopsided with the closest game being decided by 17 points (Boise State vs. Nevada). The contests were split with two road and two home teams winning, however, the road teams won by a larger margin (32.5 vs. 20.5 points).
The Pac-12 had every team on the field with five conference games and two non-conference games. USC came up just short in its heated rivalry with Notre Dame while Colorado earned a much-needed win thanks to its last-minute scheduling with Charleston Southern as a make-up from the game against Fresno State being canceled due to flooding. In league action, Arizona State stunned Washington to move atop the South Division leaderboard. Stanford topped UCLA in a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 Championship game and Oregon stayed undefeated despite Washington State’s Connor Halliday setting several league passing records. Complete results from week 8 are:
Colorado def. Charleston Southern, 43-10 / 36,730
Colorado State def. Wyoming, 52-22 / 24,953
#13 Stanford def. #9 UCLA, 24-10 / 51,424
Arizona State def. #20 Washington, 53-24 / 60,057
Notre Dame def. USC, 14-10 / 80,975
Boise State def. Nevada, 34-17 / 35,843
Utah State def. New Mexico, 45-10 / 19,739
Arizona def. Utah, 35-24 / 50,871
#17 Fresno State def. UNLV, 38-14 / 37,604
#2 Oregon def. Washington State, 62-38 / 56,949
Oregon State def. California, 49-17 / 44,671
BOWL PREDICTIONS: The national writers who update their postseason projections each week are starting to form a more unified prediction for this year’s Gildan New Mexico Bowl. San Jose State is nearly unanimous to be the home team and represent the Mountain West while Arizona has a slight edge over Utah as the visiting team from the Pac-12. Here is the breakdown of what has been selected for the 2013 bowl game:
Athlon Sports: Utah (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
Bleacher Report: Utah (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
CBS Sports: USC (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
CFN.Scout.com: Utah (Pac-12) vs. San Diego State (MW)
ESPN (Mark Schlabach’s pick): Arizona (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
ESPN (Brad Edwards’ pick): Arizona (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
ESPN (Ted Miller’s pick): Arizona vs. MW
National Football Post: UCLA (Pac-12) vs. Fresno State (MW)#
Phil Steele: Arizona (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
SB Nation: USC (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
Sports Illustrated: San Jose State (MW) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt)*#
*at-large bid #pick not updated from preseason
WHO’S GOING BOWLING: There are 35 bowl games scheduled for the 2013-14 postseason equaling 70 slots. Currently, there are 21 bowl-eligible teams and seven have already been eliminated. For the Pac-12, three teams (Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford) already have the necessary six wins while Arizona State and UCLA are just one victory away. California is on the hot seat for the rest of the season, facing disqualification with one more loss. The Mountain West has one team (Fresno State) that has already qualified for the postseason and one team (Boise State) a single win away from eligible status. The league’s teams in danger of elimination are Air Force (1-6 with five games remaining) and Hawai`i (0-6 with six games remaining).
NATIONAL RANKINGS: The first BCS rankings of the season were announced Sunday evening and the Pac-12 Conference has four representatives among the top 25, while the Mountain West Conference has one. Leading the way is Oregon, coming in a No. 3 behind Alabama and Florida State, respectively. Stanford sits sixth, followed by 12th-ranked UCLA and No. 25 Oregon State. For the MW, Fresno State rankes No. 17.
The latest Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches’ top-25 polls were announced Sunday and the Pac-12 has three teams in the Top 25, including two in the Top 10. It’s the 38th consecutive AP polling period where the Pac-12 has had three or more teams ranked in the Top 25. Oregon leads the way, sitting at No. 2 in both polls. Stanford and UCLA swapped spots in both polls for the second straight week. Stanford is now placing eighth in both while UCLA fell to No. 12/11.
For the Mountain West, Fresno State rose multiple spots in the AP rankings, coming in at No. 15 in this week, while sitting No. 18 in the USA Today/Coaches’ poll.
TALE OF THE TURNSTILES: The heads have been counted and during week 8 the Mountain West averaged 29,535 over four games while the Pac-12 averaged 54,525 in seven games. The MW’s largest attendance figure came at home for the Fresno State Bulldogs, who ushered in more than 37,600 fans. The Pac-12’s biggest draw was 80,975 on the road as USC resumed its rivalry with Notre Dame. The league’s biggest home crowd was in Tempe, Ariz. where 60,057 witnessed Arizona State hand the Washington Huskies their third straight loss this season. A complete breakdown of each team’s attendance figures is available in the attached PDF.