WAC Bowl Preview: One Fan's Perspective
With the bowl season kicking off in a few days in New Mexico, I thought it was time for a fan of the WAC to get his perspective out there.
I'll briefly break down all four games and give my prediction of the outcome.
The WAC definitely wants to rebound from two consecutive poor bowl seasons. From the years 2002-2006, the WAC went 11-5 in bowl games, capped off with Boise State's astounding win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta.
In 2007, Hawaii lost to Georgia in the Sugar, and the WAC overall has won only two of the nine bowl games the past two seasons.
This year the WAC is back in the BCS and should be back on track.
New Mexico Bowl
Pat Hill and the Fresno State Bulldogs kick off the bowl season Dec. 19. They face a 6—6 Wyoming team that finished fourth in the Mountain West.
The Cowboys are led by a freshman QB who likes to run. While mobile QBs have given the Bulldogs fits this season, Fresno should have no problem winning this game.
Wyoming has been beaten badly by most of the good teams they have faced. They were shut out 52-0 against BYU and lost to TCU 45-10.
Fresno State, meanwhile, went 8-4 this year, losing three close games to some of the toughest teams in the nation. Boise State and Cincinnati went undefeated but were fortunate to come away with wins against the Dogs.
The Bulldogs then went on to win seven of their last eight games, with the lone loss being a blowout loss to Nevada in which Ryan Mathews suffered a concussion.
Look for the nation's leading runner (average yards per game) to go out huge. The Cowboys give up an average of 170 yards on the ground, a total which is likely to increase after this matchup.
The Bulldogs likely lose Mathews after this final showcase, but win the game 41-10.
The last time we saw June Jones on the sidelines of a bowl game, his undefeated Hawaii team was getting pounded by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. This year his SMU Mustangs bring him back to the islands to face the Nevada Wolf Pack.
For SMU it's a return to the postseason, somewhere they've not been since receiving the "death penalty." Jones brings in a team that finished 7-5 overall and 6-2 in Conference USA. After QB Bo Levi Mitchell went down, the passing has been done by freshmen Kyle Padron.
The story of the game, however, will not be passing. Nevada made history with three 1,000-yard rushers, and they will do what they do best. Chris Ault has done a great job of adapting the Pistol offense to his running QB Colin Kaepernick and RBs Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott.
The combination of the three will be too much for SMU. Nevada will win its ninth game of the season 52-21.
The other team from Idaho was the feel-good story the first half of the college football season. They started out by winning six of their first seven games and then sputtered off to end the season 7-5.
This will be their first bowl game since 1998, and they will be face a challenging Bowling Green team.
Bowling Green is also 7—5 this year, but they feature one of the most underrated sensational performers in all of college football in Freddie Barnes. You may have heard his name after his 22—reception game against Kent State earlier this year. He enters this game with a total of 132 receptions for 1,551 yards.
While Bowling Green has the momentum going into this game (four straight wins), Idaho has the home field advantage. Robb Akey is going to have his guys fired up for a close win on the blue turf.
Fiesta Bowl (Non-AQ National Championship)
The year of the undefeated in college football has brought forth an unprecedented matchup in the BCS era. Two undefeated teams will play in a bowl other than the championship.
Alabama and Texas were handed that game, so the Fiesta thought it would be novel to create this matchup.
TCU and Boise State battled all year long to crash the big party only to end up dancing with each other. It has generated far more controversy than any of the other bowls this year, leading most people to just assume that the BCS got the championship game right.
While many (myself included) feel like both of these teams got the shaft by not getting to play BCS opponents, this game is actually a great matchup.
I've decided to coin it the "Non-AQ National Championship." The winner of this game will have just as good a résumé of the winner from Alabama/Texas.
If the Broncos win, they beat two BCS bowl teams. A TCU win would be their fifth over a ranked opponent this year. Either team will have knocked off an unbeaten to cap off their own perfect season.
I won't get into too many particulars for this game, as there will surely be plenty of other articles out there doing just that. What I will say is it will be a very close game, but the Broncos are lucky they get Kellen Moore back next season because they don't get it done this year.
TCU wins the game of the year 34-31.