Bowl picture remains muddled – for now
Last weekend’s results did little to clear up the bowl picture within the WAC or the rest of the country.
The WAC has five bowl-eligible teams and a sixth, Hawaii, is one win away. Boise State, Fresno State and Louisiana Tech are assured of bowl appearances after chalking up seven or more wins this season. Nevada, 6-5, could reach seven if it gets a road win at Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
Where the WAC teams will end up is anybody’s guess. The only certainty is that Hawaii, if it beats Washigton State or Idaho, is assured of a spot in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24. The WAC also has direct tie-ins with the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 30 and Dec. 20, respectively.
Commissioner Karl Benson said that there could be openings in the Hawaii Bowl (WAC vs. Pac-10), Poinsettia Bowl (MWC vs. Pac-10), Emerald Bowl (Pac-10 vs. ACC), Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs. Big East), Independence Bowl (SEC vs. Big 12), Pappa John’s Bowl (Big East vs. SEC) and the Motor City Bowl (MAC vs. Big Ten).
“There could be as many as eight spots open,” Benson said during Monday’s final WAC teleconference of the season. “Any team with seven wins will get a bowl slot. We’re projecting 71 bowl-eligible teams (68 are needed) right now.
“Can the system accommodate 68 teams? I think the answer is yes. It depends on whether a 6-6 team merits the post-season. That’s the question. Some 6-6 teams believe they have achieved (enough) a certain level. There are other 6-6 teams that have underachieved.”
According to writers who cover Boise State, there is always tremendous pressure for the team to stay home and play if it doesn’t get invited to a BCS game. The players voted to go to Hawaii last year for obvious reasons. Would you rather spend four days getting ready for a bowl game in crummy weather or prepare for a bowl game in 75-degree weather with a beach and good nightlife nearby? It’s a no-brainer.
The WAC philosophy is to provide its teams with the best possible bowl matchups, and Benson said that isn’t always possible. He also pointed out that the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl has prospered with or without the Broncos playing.
“It can stand on its own,” Benson said. “Boise State has only played in one of the last four. I think they have created a foundation of fans in Boise. They have a very committed title sponsor in Roady’s.”
Benson said that he has talked to all of the bowls that have projected openings, but he also said that the conference won’t have any say with the outside bowls. Geography and past bowl history could play a role in the decision.
For many reasons, the WAC is hoping that Nevada could get to seven wins this week. That would enable Louisiana Tech to play in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport if it needs an outside team and Nevada would be either slotted to New Mexico or to Boise and Fresno State would likely get the other slot which would leave Boise State free to go to the Poinsettia Bowl and play nationall ranked TCU.
THE UTAH-BOISE STATE DEBATE
Utah State coach Brent Guy was asked about Boise State and Utah since he played both schools this season.
Guy said that Utah’s early season win at Michigan, the win over Oregon State and the win over TCU were tyhe main reasons why he thinks the human voters and computers made the right decision by selecting undefeated Utah as one of the at-large entrants in the BCS.
“Boise State’s only significant win was Oregon away, and that’s a big win. I love Boise State. I coached there three years.”
LAST HURRAH FOR GUY
Guy, who was fired two weeks ago at Utah State, will coach his final game for the Aggies this weekend against New Mexico State.
“I haven’t changed anything,” Guy said. “The kids have practiced hard. Even in a difficult situation we’ve tried to keep it on the light side. I don’t want them walking around with their heads hanging. If we beat New Mexico State, we would have three WAC wins which is something we haven’t done.
“My coaches are doing what they normally would do. We’re all professional and we’re all being professional. We don’t want this place to be like a funeral parlor.”
FOOTBALL HONORS TRIO
Boise State wide receiver Austin Pettis, Hawaii linebacker Solomon Elimimian and Louisiana Tech running back Keith Brown were named the conference players of the week.
Pettis, a sophomore, caught a career-high nine passes for 126 yards and two scores in the Broncos’ 41-34 win over Nevada. He had TD catches of 18 and 10 yards.
“He’s been such a good player for us all year long,” BSU coach Chris Petersen said. “He gets near the ball and usually he comes up with big catches.”
Elimimian, a senior, had a season-high 13 tackles and a tipped pass that resulted in an interception in the Warriors’ win over Idaho.
“He’s played well all season,” said Hawaii coach Greg McMackin. “He’s all around the football. He’s a team leader.”
Brown, a senior, made two solo tackles on kick returns and blockd a punt that was recovered and returned for a touchdown in Tech’s 35-31 win at New Mexico State.
“He had a phenomenal game,” Brown said. “He’s a walk-on special teams guy and he’s been a factor all year. He had a huge punt block that helped put us up 28-10. He embraces his role on the team.”
Boise State Mark Sanchez and Fresno State’s Bailey Amundsen have been selected the men’s and women’s players of the week by the conference.
Sanchez, a senior, scored 39 points as the Broncos lost to Siena and beat Idaho State in double overtime. Sanchez had 25 points and 14 rebounds against ISU for his first career double-double.
Amundsen, also a senior, averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs to wins over Sacramento State and UC Santa Barbara. Against UCSB, she went 6-for-9 from beyond the 3-point arc en route to a 26-point effort.
– Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281