After watching his team's shot at a BCS bowl game and undefeated
season collapse with a 62-52 loss to San Jose State, Fresno State
coach Tim DeRuyter has had to try to get his team to rebound and
focused for this week's inaugural Mountain West Championship Game.
The good news is that the Bulldogs (10-1), by virtue of their higher
BCS Standings rating, get to host Utah State (8-4) on Saturday night
at Bulldog Stadium.
"We were obviously very disappointed on Friday," DeRuyter said of
the loss to the Spartans. "But the sun came up Saturday, and we've
got a resolve to not finish our season that way."
Utah State was the surprise winner of the Mountain Division over
Boise State, which defeated the Aggies (7-1) head-to-head but
finished a game behind them in the standings after a late season
loss at San Diego State. The Broncos also lost at Fresno State,
"There's a lot of buzz around here," Utah State coach Matt Wells told hjnews.com. "It's the inaugural Mountain West championship game. We
earned the right to play another week and on national television."
The Bulldogs lead the all-time series with Utah State, 16-10-1, and
have won the last five in a row. Fresno State has also won 12
straight games at Bulldog Stadium.
Air Force: The Falcons (2-10, 0-8) finished winless in conference
play for the first time since joining a league, the Western Athletic
Conference, in 1980. A big reason was a defense allowed 40 points
per game which ranked No. 116 nationally.
Boise State: The Broncos could be the marketing chip that conference
commissioner Craig Thompson uses to get all seven bowl eligible
teams in the conference to a bowl game. Right now the league has
just six bowl tie-ins but bowls with potential openings, like the
Independence Bowl in Shreveport or the Heart of Dallas Bowl, could
select the Broncos. "People are interested in Boise State," Thompson
Bowl game TBA.
Colorado State: The Rams (7-6) became bowl eligible for the first
since 2008 with a 58-13 thrashing of Air Force in their season
finale. Speculation is the Rams could battle UNLV (7-5) for the
final bowl spot among the league's six tie-ins with the New Mexico
Bowl or the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise the likely landing
Bowl game TBA.
New Mexico: The Lobos (3-9) gave up an average of 60 points in their
final three losses to Colorado State, Fresno State and Boise State.
Utah State: Since dropping back-to-back games to BYU and Boise State
in October, the Aggies (8-4, 7-1) have won five in a row to win the
Mountain Division. Quite an accomplishment considering star
quarterback Chuckie Keeton was lost for the year with a knee injury
At Fresno State, Saturday: The Aggies play in the inaugural Mountain
West Championship game with the winner likely headed to the Las
Vegas Bowl. Fresno State has won 12 in a row at Bulldog Stadium and
has won the last five meetings against the Aggies.
Wyoming: Wyosports.net reported Tuesday that former Cal coach Jeff
Tedford and ex-Kansas coach Mark Mangino, now an assistant at
Youngstown State, have emerged as possible candidates to replace
Dave Christensen who was fired on Sunday night.
Fresno State: The Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1) host the inaugural Mountain
West Championship Game on Saturday night. Fresno State split the
Mountain West title last year with Boise State and San Diego State.
Vs. Utah State, Saturday: Fresno State has won 12 in a row at
Bulldog Stadium. It's a matchup of the conference's top offense in
the Bulldogs (47.3 points, 580.6 yards per game) and the top defense
in Utah State (16.8 points allowed per game).
[to top of second column]
Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors (1-11, 0-8) avoided
a winless season with a season-ending 49-42 win over Army last
Saturday night but it was bittersweet. Earlier that day it was
learned that junior running back Willis Wilson, who was
redshirting after transferring from Washington, had drowned
Nevada: Not a good start to the Brian Polian era. The Wolf Pack
(4-8) finished with their worst record since 2001 (3-8). Nevada
also lost possession of the prized Fremont Cannon to UNLV for
the first time in eight years.
San Diego State: The Aztecs (7-5) had an eight-game November win
streak snapped with a season-ending 45-19 loss at UNLV. San
Diego State has still won 13 of its last 15 conference games
dating back to Oct. 6, 2012.
Bowl game TBA.
San Jose State: The Spartans (6-6) needed a stunning 62-52 upset
of unbeaten Fresno State to become bowl eligible. However, the
league has only six bowl tie-ins for seven teams and San Jose
State has the fewest wins of the bunch but arguably one of the
Bowl game TBA.
UNLV: Despite finishing the season with an impressive 45-19
dismantling of San Diego State, the Rebels (7-5) could be
stiffed when it comes to getting a bowl invite. The Hawaii Bowl
has been rumored. Las Vegas is considered the ninth island for
many islanders who like to spend their vacations in Sin City.
Bowl game TBA.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr ranks first nationally
among all FBS players with 45 passing touchdowns and 284 points
responsible for. Florida State QB Jameis Winston, considered the
Heisman Trophy frontrunner, is third in passing touchdowns (35)
and tied for ninth (228) in points responsible for.
Colorado State sophomore Kapri Bibbs leads the FBS with 28
rushing touchdowns which also ties him with BYU's Luke Staley
(2001) for first on the Mountain West single-season chart.
San Jose State (62) and Fresno State (52) combined for 114
points in their contest last Friday which ranked as the
third-highest scoring game in Mountain West history. The record
is 117 combined points set by Hawaii (72) and BYU (45) on Dec.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The ultimate goal here is to get seven teams
placed." — Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson try to get
another bowl to select a Mountain West team.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST:
Can Utah State's defense, which ranks at or near the top of
all the major defensive categories in the Mountain West, find a
way to slow down Fresno State's high-powered offense led by
Can Fresno State, which was torched for 62 points and 736
yards in a season-ending loss at San Jose State, contain Utah
State enough to win the inaugural Mountain West Championship
Can Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson pull some magic
out of his hat and get all seven of his bowl-eligible teams
Can Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr do enough Saturday to
at least warrant an invite to the Heisman Trophy ceremonies?
Will Washington finally be the school that can convince Boise
State coach Chris Petersen to leave?
]The Sports Xchange]