Mountain West bowl outlook

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In 2002, ESPN created the Bowl Challenge Cup as a way to determine what FBS conference had the best combined postseason record each and every season. Since its inception, the Mountain West Conference has claimed more BCC titles — at four — than any other conference.

Even though the University of Wyoming won’t participate in the challenge this year — undeservingly not receiving a bowl invite — a win for the conference would stand as a win for the Pokes in a way, so let’s take a look at the matchups.

New Mexico Bowl: Utah State (10-2) vs. North Texas (9-3)

Only four of the 39 bowl games feature teams with fewer combined losses than this one. The Aggies enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2018, so much so that head coach Matt Wells took his talents to Lubbock, Texas. Utah State won 10 games and sported their first-ever College Football Playoff ranking at one point, while the Mean Green won nine games, which included a resounding win over Arkansas in the nonconference.

The pick: Utah State

Las Vegas Bowl: No. 21 Fresno State (11-2) vs. Arizona State (7-5)

Fresno State picked one heck of a good time to claim its first win on the blue turf in Boise. The Bulldogs toppled Boise State in the MWC championship to earn a trip to Las Vegas. The Bulldogs are well acclimated to Sin City and proper behavior in the desert oasis having won at UNLV earlier this season.

The pick: Fresno State

Frisco Bowl: San Diego State (7-5) vs. Ohio (8-4)

A lot of frequent flyer miles will be racked up in this one. The Bobcats and Aztecs reside 1,080 and 1,347 miles away from Frisco, Texas, respectively. SDSU limped into the finish line, losing three straight games and four of its last five, which made Wyoming a much more attractive team for this bowl, but I digress.

The pick: Ohio

Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii (8-5) vs. Louisiana Tech (7-5)

Can you say home-field advantage? The Rainbow Warriors won’t be awestruck by the white-sandy beaches or majestic mountains of the island. In fact, they’re probably sick of them by now, if that’s even possible. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, call Rustin, Louisiana, home. Visiting intercity parks are some of the top things to do in Ruston, according to Google, so Louisiana Tech players will have to resist the temptation to view the bowl game as a vacation of sorts. Good luck.

The pick: Hawaii

First Responder Bowl: No. 25 Boise State (10-3) vs. Boston College (7-5)

OK, so a 12:30 p.m. kickoff the day after Christmas. Which team won’t have the euphoric crash following Christmas? Which team will watch what they eat on the holiday and not feel sluggish in this one? Well, Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien is one of the best to ever pass through the MWC.

The pick: Boise State

Arizona Bowl: Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (6-6)

Dec. 29 marks the date of the CFP semifinal games, but the Wolfpack and Red Wolves are here to get you warmed up for those heavyweight matchups. The Wolfpack are back in a bowl game for the first time since 2015, winning four of their final five games. Also, a pack of wolves is much tougher than just one red one.

The pick: Nevada.

Pokes notes

• The No. 21 University of Wyoming’s wrestling team dominated No. 19 North Dakota State University to improve to 3-2, 1-1 on the season. Former Sheridan Bronc Hayden Hastings logged a 7-3 win over NDSU’s Lorenzo De La Riva in the 174-pound bout.

• UW’s men’s basketball team fell to the University of Denver 90-87 in overtime Tuesday night to drop to 3-7 on the season.

• UW jumpers Ja’la Henderson and William Nolan were named Mountain West Conference women’s and men’s Field Athletes of the Week. Henderson broke the 38-year-old long jump school record with a leap of 20 feet, 7 inches.

By |Dec. 14, 2018|

About the Author:

Bud Denega joined The Sheridan Press in November 2017 as the primary sports reporter. He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Wyoming. Prior to working in Sheridan, Bud spent time as a sports reporter for the Minot Daily News in Minot, North Dakota, before being a sports reporter for the Laredo Morning Times in Laredo, Texas. Email Bud at: bud.denega@thesheridanpress.com

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