THIS WEEK’S GAMES TO WATCH FOR: The Mountain West starts Week 12 on Friday night as Boise State hosts UNLV. It’s a must-win game for the Rebels, who are facing postseason elimination with a loss, but it’s also a big game for the Broncos, who are ranked No. 20 in the latest CFP Rankings, which is the highest of all non-Power Five conference members. Saturday afternoon, a battle of the best in the league takes place on CBS Sports Network at 1:30 p.m. MT as Wyoming hosts San Diego State. The Cowboys hold a slight edge in the series (18-17) but the Aztecs have won two straight and three of the last four vs. Wyoming. Saturday evening Colorado State goes for postseason eligibility, hosting New Mexico in the final game at Hughes Stadium. The Rams have won six straight in the series with the Lobos and desperately need the win since CSU closes out the season at San Diego State next weekend, which currently boasts the country’s best conference win streak (17 games).
West Division Champion Louisiana Tech (6-1, 8-3) and East Division-leading WKU (6-1, 8-3) are both idle this week, but there is plenty to be decided in Conference USA Football. Old Dominion (5-1, 7-3) is the one other team that could still earn a spot in the C-USA Championship Game and the Monarchs will visit Florida Atlantic, winners of two straight. A game with huge bowl implications takes place in Denton, where North Texas hosts Southern Miss. The Mean Green need a victory here and at UTEP in the final week to reach bowl-eligibility for the first time since 2013, while one more win puts Southern Miss into bowl-eligibility for the second straight season. Charlotte, like North Texas, maintains bowl hopes, but must get wins in their final two games, beginning with Saturday’s home contest against Middle Tennessee, a team that is already bowl-eligible. For a complete schedule with series notes, see page 1.
C-USA CHAMPIONSHIP SCENARIOS: The following is a “simple” evaluation of the league’s 2016 football race and bowl outlook, through games of November 12:
In the East, WKU (6-1) controls its destiny to win the East Division. The Hilltoppers can win the East Division by winning at Marshall on Nov. 26. WKU can also win the East Division with a loss to Marshall, if Old Dominion loses a game. Old Dominion (5-1) can win the East Division by winning vs. Florida Atlantic and FIU and having WKU lose at Marshall.
In the West, Louisiana Tech (6-1) has clinched the West Division title.
Regarding the host of the C-USA Football Championship game - If WKU and Louisiana Tech are division champions with the same record, LA Tech defeated WKU in the regular season and the Bulldogs would host the championship game based on a head-to-head victory.
If Old Dominion and Louisiana Tech are the division champions with the same record, those teams did not play in the regular season, eliminating the headto-head tie-breaker, the second tie-breaker after conference record. Therefore, the CFP ranking is the next tie-breaker. If neither team is in the top 25 of the CFP Rankings, average computer ranking would be used to determine host.
MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP SCENARIOS: The following is a “simple” evaluation of the league’s 2016 football race and bowl outlook, through games of November 12:
WYOMING captures the Mountain Division if it wins out. The Cowboys also clinch the division if it loses to San Diego State and defeats New Mexico (who also must lose to CSU in the scenario), and Boise State loses one of final two games. Wyoming wins the division due to head-to-head victory over Boise State. If Wyoming (loses to San Diego State and defeats New Mexico), Boise State (loses to UNLV and defeats Air Force) and New Mexico (defeats Colorado State and loses to Wyoming) finish the season with identical Conference records of 6-2, Wyoming would win tie-breaker and advance to championship game. When comparing the tied teams, Wyoming would be 2-0. Boise State 1-1 and New Mexico 0-2. If Wyoming (defeats San Diego State and loses to New Mexico), Boise State (defeats UNLV and loses to Air Force) and New Mexico (loses to Colorado State and defeats Wyoming) finish the season with identical Conference records of 6-2, Wyoming would win tie-breaker and advance to championship game. When comparing the tied teams, all three would be 1-1 against each other. The next tie-breaker is winning percentage in games played against division opponents and Wyoming would be 4-1, Boise State 3-2 and New Mexico 3-2.
BOISE STATE captures division if it wins out and Wyoming loses at least one of its final two games. If Boise State goes 1-1 in final two games, Wyoming loses its final two games and New Mexico loses to Colorado State and defeats Wyoming, BSU and UNM would be tied atop of the division with identical 6-2 records. Boise State wins the division due to head-to-head victory over New Mexico.
NEW MEXICO captures the division if it wins out and Boise State loses at least one of its final two
SAN DIEGO STATE has already won the West Division.
POSTSEASON OUTLOOK: The first of 80 bowl spots has been claimed with BYU accepting an invitation to the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl after the Cougars picked up their sixth win last weekend. Ten teams became bowl eligible in week 11, bringing the total to 58 teams. Each conference boasts at least three bowl eligible teams with the ACC leading the way with nine eligible teams. Overall, there are still 38 teams that could possibly get eligible and 32 that have been eliminated.
For our partner conferences, the Mountain West’s Boise State was the first to become eligible with a victory in week 7. With a win in week 8, San Diego State was the first from the league’s West Division to become eligible. Wyoming picked up the necessary six wins in week 9 with its first win in program history over 13th-ranked Boise State. In week 10, New Mexico and Air Force joined the ranks with its six Ws. Colorado State could be the next in if the Rams win in their final game at Hughes Stadium Saturday night. UNLV avoided elimination last week with a huge upset of Wyoming. The Rebels, still in a must-win situation, finish at Boise State this Saturday night and at home against Nevada on Nov. 26. Fresno State, Hawai`i, Nevada, San Jose State and Utah State have been eliminated.
For Conference USA, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee and WKU all picked up eligibility after victories in week 9. Old Dominion joined the elite with a huge win over Marshall in week 10. Southern Miss and UTSA are one win away while Charlotte and North Texas are two shy of the six required for a bowl bid. FIU, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Rice and UTEP are out of contention. Both leagues have commitments to six bowls, including the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.