NCAA Bowl Projections, Part Four: The Western Athletic Conference
Continuing with the non-BCS half of the bowl projections, we get to the conference that will likely sneak a second “BCS Buster” berth into the big dance: The Western Athletic Conference.
The WAC may be maligned as the no-defense league, but at the very top they’ve proven they can score enough to hang with the big boys.
Boise State is on the verge of back-to-back undefeated regular seasons (and their third in four years) and already has a BCS victory to its credit thanks to its much-revered win over Oklahoma on New Year’s Day 2007.
This year, though, the next wave of teams is very good at worst. The problem there is that because of contracts, there’s a chance one of them will have to be.
The WAC has three tie-ins and four eligible teams, but both of those stats could change. On the former half, it’s because the BCS isn’t counted as a tie-in, so Boise State’s likely berth opens up a fourth slot.
The latter, meanwhile, is dependent on Hawaii’s game with Wisconsin this weekend.
If the Warriors win, they become eligible and will go to the Hawaii Bowl as per contractual obligation—meaning the eligible team not selected will go elsewhere to fill a forfeited spot.
If the Warriors lose, they’re out of contention and everyone goes to a bowl.
Again, this could change if Hawaii wins this weekend. But as of now, the WAC teams going bowling are:
Boise State (12-0)
Fresno State (7-4)
Here, in order of selection, are the WAC's automatic bowl bids:
No.1: Humanitarian Bowl
No.2: New Mexico Bowl
No.3: Hawaii Bowl
There are, however, a few contingencies in the WAC.
The Humanitarian, for example, gets the WAC Champion unless they go to the BCS; if so, they get first choice.
Also, the Hawaii Bowl is contractually obligated to take the Rainbow Warriors if they are eligible.
The WAC usually has a contingency plan with the Poinsettia Bowl if not enough Pac-10 teams are eligible, but that will not be a problem this year.
Nor should the Hawaii snafu, as you’ll see in the next slide.
Projections and Synopsis
No.1: Fiesta Bowl—Boise State
No.2: Humanitarian Bowl—Idaho
No.3: New Mexico Bowl—Nevada
No.4: Hawaii Bowl—Fresno State
Boise’s selection to the BCS opens up another bid, and their likely destination is the Fiesta Bowl. They will likely play either Iowa or Penn State.
The Humanitarian, which is already guaranteed to lose its MWC tie-in because of TCU’s success, will then select in-state rep Idaho.
They’re not the best team available; that would be Nevada. But with their campus only 300 miles away, the Vandals would likely be able to sell the required amount of tickets to stay within the Humanitarian’s bizarre guidelines.
The New Mexico Bowl would then be glad to have Nevada; their Mountain West tie-in is projected to be Wyoming, so it would be a war of the mountains down in Albuquerque.
As for the Hawaii Bowl, well, I just don’t think Hawaii beats Wisconsin to gain eligibility.
Sure, the Warriors are on a four-game winning streak, but outside of Navy that streak has come against three WAC doormats. Wisconsin had last week off, and coming off a stinging loss to Northwestern, they’ll be fighting for their own bowl position.
So, with the Warriors ineligible, that gives Fresno State the “dishonor” of having to spend Christmas Eve in a tropical climate against the number two selection out of Conference USA.