The race to the top of the Mountain West Conference standings seems to be deadlocked between three teams in the closing weeks of the regular season. Three teams need only win out their remaining games to clinch a share of the crown.
Here are the current standings heading into this weekend’s matchups. * = bowl eligible. ^ = not eligible for postseason.
Fresno State (8-3, 6-1 MWC), idle *
The Bulldogs are one win away from grabbing a share of the title. Fresno State concludes the regular season on Nov. 24 at Bulldog Stadium against the Air Force Falcons. At the very least, the Bulldogs are primed for a three-way tie between San Diego State and Boise State (assuming both teams win out) for first-place atop the Mountain West.
The last time the Bulldogs captured a conference crown was in 1999, as members of the Western Athletic Conference, in a three-way tie. Fresno State is idle this week. History could be made on Nov. 24. The game starts at 12:30 p.m.
San Diego State (8-3, 6-1), idle *
The Aztecs, currently tied for first in the standings, need only to win their season finale at Wyoming to ensure them a piece of the Mountain West title. In what seems to be a three-way first-place finish, Fresno State beat the Aztecs 52-40 on Sept. 29.
Boise State won against the Bulldogs 20-10 on Oct. 13, and San Diego State pulled off a narrow 21-19 victory over the Broncos on Nov. 3.
Boise State (8-2, 5-1) vs. Colorado State *
With a 5-1 conference record heading into its final two games of the season, the Broncos are alive and in the hunt for first place in the Mountain West. The Broncos, like the Bulldogs and the Aztecs, remain in control of their own destiny for first place.
It’s simple: just win. Boise State faces Nevada in its season finale on Dec. 1.
Air Force (5-5, 4-2) vs. Hawaii (Fri.)
The Falcons are currently ranked second among the nation’s bowl subdivision schools in rushing yards – averaging 335.3 yards per game. Fresno State closes its season against Air Force, the only team in the conference whose postseason fate has yet to be determined.
Nevada (6-4, 3-3) at New Mexico *
Crazier things have happened, but the Nevada Wolf Pack remain with a slight (very, very slight – and that’s stretching it) chance to walk away with a share of the conference title. Moses would have to part the waters, Nevada would have to win out and the Bulldogs, Broncos and Aztecs would all have to lose their remaining games.
A more realistic goal for the Wolf Pack would be playing spoiler to Boise State’s conference-title aspirations. Both teams conclude the regular season in a showdown on Dec. 1 in Reno.
Colorado State (3-7, 2-4) at Boise State ^
This is where the talent gap drops significantly in the Mountain West. Under first-year coach Jim McElwain, who was the offensive coordinator for BCS champion Alabama in 2011, the Rams have not been able to reach the end zone. Colorado State’s 21.6 points per game ranks 101st among football subdivision schools.
This week’s task at hand? A Boise State defense that only allows 14.4 points per game, ranking it eighth in the nation.
Wyoming (3-7, 2-4) at UNLV ^
The Cowboys and the Rebels will clash in a battle of bottom-tier teams in Las Vegas on Saturday. UNLV and Fresno State did not play each other in the regular season.
UNLV (2-9, 2-4) vs. Wyoming ^
Both team’s bowl aspirations died early in the season. Winner gets a pat on the back and gains a little more separation between bottom-dwellers New Mexico and Hawaii in the standings.
New Mexico (4-7, 1-5) vs. Nevada ^
A positive for the Lobos is that they have effectively won more games this season than their past three combined, when the team finished in back-to-back-to-back one-win seasons.
Hawaii (1-8, 0-6) at Air Force ^
Coach Norm Chow might’ve expected some growing pains, switching to a pro-style offense in his first year as head coach for the Warriors. Hawaii’s best chance at a morale-booster and a positive end to a disappointing season is against the Sun Belt Conference’s South Alabama (2-8) in the Warriors’ season finale. The Jaguars also rank last in their conference standings.