Week 9 Mountain West Previews

    BYU (4-3) at Boise State (5-2) Oct. 24, 9:00, ESPN Here’s The Deal: Before the season started, the hope for both teams was that this might turn into a key

    October 24, 2014

    BYU (4-3) at Boise State (5-2) Oct. 24, 9:00, ESPN 

    Here’s The Deal: Before the season started, the hope for both teams was that this might turn into a key battle to stay alive for a possible playoff spot – if everything went perfectly. Of course, that went bye-bye for Boise State in the opener against Ole Miss, and the chance to take the Group of 5 bowl bid probably went away with the weird loss to Air Force. But there’s still plenty of time to close out strong and come up with a great ten-win season and a Mountain West title – after trying to take advantage of a wounded BYU first. 

    The Cougars were rolling right along until star quarterback Taysom Hill got injured, and while they haven’t been brutally bad, they can’t seem to pull up out of the nosedive losing three straight including a late overtime loss to Nevada following an overtime loss to UCF. The offense is still decent, the defense is struggling in key moments, and the carrot at the end of the stick is the Miami Beach Bowl with two more wins. Beating Boise State at Boise State, though, would be a highlight. 

    What’s Going To Happen: The Cougar run defense that’s stopping everyone will keep Jay Ajayi and the Bronco attack in check, but the secondary is going to have problems. Boise State will win the turnover battle and will stuff the Cougar ground game, while Grant Hedrick – who’s been on fire hitting 47-of-61 over the last two games, will come up with a solid day in a tough win. 

    Prediction: Boise State 34 … BYU 30 
    Line: Boise State -7 o/u: 58 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Dumb and Dumber To – 1: Manhattan Love Story … 3 

    San Jose State (3-3) at Navy (3-4) Oct. 25, 1:00, CBS Sports Network 

    Here’s The Deal: This hasn’t been the way it was supposed to go. Navy was supposed to steamroll through a relatively easy schedule and make a ton of national noise, but instead, the defense hasn’t come through with key stops and the offense, while solid, isn’t blowing up with the running game like it should – the best win so far came against Temple. With Notre Dame coming up next week, and a tremendous Georgia Southern team to follow, all of a sudden, going bowling isn’t a lock. A loss to the Spartans would make for a very, very tense November. 

    San Jose State is on a two game winning streak coming off a tough overtime performance against Wyoming after a blowout over UNLV. The losses came to the three good teams – Auburn, Minnesota and Nevada – and the wins came against the easy teams. This now becomes a test – how good are the Spartans? With Colorado State up next, they need to win this or have to beat the red-hot Rams to stay in the bowl hunt. 

    What’s Going To Happen: There’s talent on the San Jose State defensive front seven, but there’s a problem – the run defense has been awful. Being No. 1 in the nation in pass defense and pass efficiency D won’t matter much this week. Can it be close to the 58-52 thrill ride Navy win of last year? QB Keenan Reynolds went ballistic on the Spartans running for 240 yards and seven scores, and while that might not happen this time around, the Midshipmen will roll. 

    Prediction: Navy 38 … San Jose State 30 
    Line: Navy -10 o/u: 54 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Dumb and Dumber To – 1: Manhattan Love Story … 2.5 

    UNLV (2-5) at Utah State (4-3) Oct. 25, 4:00, ESPNews 

    Here’s The Deal: Was UNLV’s win over Fresno State the moment when the season turns around? The Rebels came up with a stunner in overtime, and now it needs to go on a run to have any hope of getting to a bowl. There are plenty of winnable games left, but it’s not time to get too jacked up unless the offense can start to produce consistently after doing next to nothing for long stretches. Beating Utah State on the road would be a huge step with New Mexico coming to Vegas next week – the Rebels have a realistic shot at a three-game winning streak with a win. 

    Utah State fought hard in a tough road loss to Colorado State, but it’s still deep in the Mountain West title hunt, even without star quarterback Chuckie Keeton done with a torn ACL and with top backup Darell Garretson out with a wrist injury. The Aggie defense has been absolutely sensational since the loss to Tennessee to open up the season, doing a tremendous job against the run and not allowing more than 24 points since the loss to the Vols. If Utah State plays up to its ability, it should rip through the next five games before a showdown at Boise State, but beating UNLV is first up. 

    What’s Going To Happen: The Rebels are about to be shutdown cold. The defensive front of the Aggies will swarm into the backfield before UNLV can get the offense started, but the Utah State quarterback situation is just shaky enough to keep it close. The spotlight is on Craig Harrison to take over the reins for the Aggies, and he has to be better than he was against Colorado State. 

    Prediction: Utah State 34 … UNLV 14 
    Line: Utah State -17 o/u: 51.5 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Dumb and Dumber To – 1: Manhattan Love Story … 2 

    Wyoming (3-4) at Colorado State (6-1) Oct. 25, 7:00, MW 

    Here’s The Deal: Is Colorado State the best team in the Mountain West? It’s playing like it, winning five straight with two tough wins over Nevada and Utah State over the last few weeks. With a favorable schedule with three of the next four games at home, and likely no bowl-bound teams on the slate until the regular season-ender at Air Force, 11-1 isn’t out of the question. The Ram running game is strong, the passing game better, and the defense just good enough to get by. 

    Wyoming had its chance to change its season around against San Jose State, but crumbled late and lost in overtime for a three-game losing streak. The Cowboy offense is struggling to put points on the board, and the run defense isn’t coming up with enough key stops. With a road game this week and a date at Fresno State to follow, there’s plenty of work to be done before getting nasty home games against Utah State and Boise State. Call it a transition year under head coach Craig Bohl, but a win over Rams would be a nice stepping-stone. 

    What’s Going To Happen: Colorado State is going to turn to the ground game and rip through the Cowboys. Wyoming is a miraculous late fumble against Florida Atlantic away from being on a five-game losing streak, mainly because the offense struggles to turn drives into points – it’s 105th in the nation in red-zone offense. Colorado State won’t have the same problems. 

    Prediction: Colorado State 41 … Wyoming 20 
    Line: Colorado State -21.5 o/u: 55 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Dumb and Dumber To – 1: Manhattan Love Story … 2 

    Nevada (4-3) at Hawaii (2-5) Oct. 26, 12:00 AM, MW 

    Here’s The Deal: It didn’t count in the Mountain West standings, but Nevada’s comeback win to beat BYU last week was a big deal after losing to Boise State and Colorado State. All three Wolf Pack losses came by a touchdown or less, and while it’s going to be tough to get back in the conference title chase, they can’t blow the winnable games at this point. A bowl bid seems like a lock, but after so many close games this year, a blowout would be nice. 

    Hawaii’s offense is sputtering, scoring 14 points or fewer in three of the last four games with no downfield passing game and not enough running to help the cause. Making matters worse is the loss of RB Joey Iosefa, who’s on a three-game suspension after being arrested for drunk driving. On the plus side, the Rainbow Warriors won their two home games against teams outside of the Power 5, but it’s going to need to take one of the team’s best offensive performances of the year to pull off the upset. 

    What’s Going To Happen: Nevada’s defense has been a problem with one of the nation’s worst pass defenses, but that might not be a problem this week. The Hawaii D will hold up well for a while, but the offense will make way too many mistakes – the Wolf Pack are awesome in turnover margin. 

    Prediction: Nevada 34 …. Hawaii 20 
    Line: Nevada -2.5 o/u: 52 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Dumb and Dumber To – 1: Manhattan Love Story … 2 

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