Mountain West bowl game outlook and predictions

Geoff Huebner

The Colorado State Rams (5-5, 3-3 Mountain West) need to win at least one out of the final two games remaining on their schedule to receive NCAA bowl eligibility. The team hopes to get a key victory in New Mexico Saturday against the Lobos (6-4, 4-2 MW), but if the Rams are unsuccessful they will have one final opportunity at Fresno State against the Bulldogs (3-7, 2-5 MW).

Heading into the games of week 12 of the Mountain West season, here is a look at what bowl games some Mountain West football teams are projected to play by ESPN college football analysts Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy.

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Air Force (7-3, 5-1 Mountain West)

Cactus Bowl

Chase Field, Phoenix

Saturday, Jan. 2, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Air Force has had a strong in-conference season this year and overall. Suffering their only MW loss in Fort Collins against the Rams, the Falcons are one of the top teams this year. They will finish the season with two difficult games, traveling to Boise State and New Mexico, but if they win their final three games (including the projected bowl game) they have a chance to win 10 games this year. Schlabach has them projected to play Arizona in the Cactus Bowl and McMurphy is projecting them against Cal in the same Bowl.

Boise State (7-3, 4-2 Mountain West)

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl vs. UCLA

Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

Saturday, Dec. 19, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

 San Diego County Credit Union Pionsietta Bowl vs. Western Michigan

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Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Boise State has become not only a Mountain West powerhouse — over the past fifteen years they have hoisted one of the best win-loss records in the country. The Broncos suffered conference losses from Utah State and most recently New Mexico but still remain a top team in the MW. Air Force and San Jose State will conclude their regular season and Schlabach has them slotted to play UCLA in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl against UCLA and McMurphy has them against Western Michigan in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinseitta Bowl. 

Colorado State (5-5, 3-3 Mountain West)

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona

Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas

Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2 p.m. (ESPN)

Colorado State has had its fair share of disappointment this season but the goal to make a bowl game is still alive and well. The Rams have to come out of New Mexico or Fresno State with a win to achieve bowl eligibility, but McMurphy is predicting that they will play Old Dominion in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, and Schlabach has them against California in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

Nevada (6-4, 4-2 Mountain West)

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Central Michigan.

Albertson’s Stadium, Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, Dec. 22, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona

Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Nevada has already received bowl eligibility with their win over San Jose State last weekend. The Wolf Pack have two difficult games remaining in Utah State and San Diego State, but McMurphy has them in Idaho this holiday season against Central Michigan and Schlabach has them projected to play in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl against Old Dominion. 

New Mexico (6-4, 4-2 Mountain West)

Gildan New Mexico Bowl vs. Rice

University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Saturday, Dec. 19, 2 p.m. (ABC)

On the season, the Lobos are averaging 28.4 points per game and are allowing opponents to score 26.1 a game. They are coming off of back-to-back impressive wins over Utah State and Boise State where they outscored the two teams 45-37 and three of their six wins this season have come in a game settled by a touchdown or less. The Lobos have ground out some close wins indeed and have been one of the surprises of the MW this season. They are currently projected to play in the Gildan New Mexico bowl at home against Rice.

San Diego State (7-3, 6-0 Mountain West)

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl vs. UCLA

Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

Saturday, Dec. 19, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) 

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl vs. Northern Illinois

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)

 The San Diego State Aztecs remain perfect in conference play this season, including a beat-down of the Rams at Hughes Stadium. With UNLV and Nevada being the only games remaining on their schedule, the chances of the Aztecs finishing the season with an unblemished MW record looks realistic as well. McMurphy has them in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl against UCLA and Schlabach has them against Northern Illinois in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Utah State (5-5, 4-3 Mountain West)

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Ohio.

Albertson’s Stadium, Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, Dec. 22, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas

Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2 p.m. (ESPN)

Utah State has its ups and downs this season but remain one of the most impressive teams in the conference. The Aggies were able to pull out a big win over Boise State earlier this season but have suffered losses to San Diego State, New Mexico and Air Force since. Schlabach has them projected to play Ohio in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and McMurphy is predicting a Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl appearance against Indiana.

Collegian Football Reporter Geoff Huebner can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @Huebnermedia93.