THIS WEEK’S GAMES TO WATCH FOR: The last week of regular season play for Conference USA and the Mountain West begins on Friday with televised afternoon games. The MW’s Boise State (No. 20/19) is at Air Force and needs a win to keep its division title hopes alive. The Falcons have won four straight and two consecutive in the series. On Saturday, Wyoming looks to continue its Cinderella story as it goes for the division title at New Mexico. The Cowboys were predicted to finish last in the MW at the conference’s Media Days in July and do hold a four-game series advantage over the Lobos but UNM won the last meeting by 10.a year ago in Laramie. Also notable on Saturday is the Hawai`i Rainbow Warriors host Massachusetts. Hawai`i has won five straight nonconference home games and a win this Saturday would make the program 6-7 overall and put them back in the running for a bowl if there are not enough eligible teams.
For Conference USA, West Division Champion Louisiana Tech will visit Southern Miss on Friday afternoon, looking for a win that could allow the Bulldogs to host the 2016 Dynacraft C-USA Conference Championship game. The Golden Eagles need a victory to become bowl-eligible for the second straight year. On Saturday, WKU can claim the East Division title for the second straight year with a win at Marshall. The Hilltoppers have won 18 of their last 19 C-USA games. UTSA hosts Charlotte, aiming for a win to make the Roadrunners bowl eligible for the first time in the program’s six-year history. UTSA has won eight of their last 10 games in November at the Alamodone. North Texas is on the road, visiting UTEP as it looks to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013. 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 19:
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 Saturday. WKU can also win the East Division with a loss to Marshall if Old Dominion loses to FIU. Old Dominion (6-1) can win the East Division by winning vs. FIU and having WKU lose at Marshall. In the West, Louisiana Tech (6-1) has clinched the West Division title.
MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP SCENARIOS: The following is a “simple” evaluation of the league’s 2016 football race and bowl outlook, through games of November 19:
Wyoming captures the division with a win at New Mexico. If Wyoming loses to New Mexico and Boise State loses at Air Force then Wyoming, Boise State and New Mexico would finish the season with identical conference records of 6-2. Wyoming would win the tie-breaker and advance to the championship game. When compaing 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 would win the division if it wins at Air Force and Wyoming loses at New Mexico. 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 in week 11. There are 65 bowl eligible programs after week 12. Each conference boasts at least four bowl eligible teams with the SEC leading the way with 10. Overall, there are still 17 teams that could possibly get eligible and 46 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 earned its eligibility Saturday night, winning the final game at Hughes Stadium. Fresno State, Hawai`i, Nevada, San Jose State, UNLV and Utah State have been eliminated. However, if there are not enough eligible teams, Hawai`i could be one of the first teams chosen if it wins this Saturday at home against UMass because the Rainbow Warriors would be 6-7.
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. North Texas, Southern Miss and UTSA are one win away from the six required for a bowl bid when playing a 12-game schedule. Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Rice and UTEP are out of contention. Both leagues have commitments to six bowls, including the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.