WAC teams looking for bowl eligibility
Appeal Sports Writer
All dressed up with no bowl game available?
Don’t laugh. That could be one of the scenarios for a couple of teams in the Western Athletic Conference as the college football season enters its final month.
The WAC has bowl tie-ins with the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl and the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise. The conference lost its third game when the Silicon Valley Football Classic was decertified last year.
Boise State and Fresno State are locks to get to seven wins and probably will finish 1-2 in the conference. Nevada (4-3, 3-1), Louisiana Tech (4-3, 3-1) and Hawai’i (3-5, 3-3) all could become bowl eligible.
Hawai’i needs to win its final four games, and that schedule includes Nevada (this week at Nevada), Utah State (home), Wisconsin (home) and San Diego State (home). Nevada needs to split its final four games – Hawai’i (home), New Mexico State (away), Utah State (away) and Fresno State (home). Louisiana Tech needs to win two of its last four as well – Utah State (away), Idaho (away), Boise State (home) and Fresno State (away).
Karl Benson, the WAC commissioner, admitted that could happen.
He said that if Fresno State or Boise don’t get invited to another bowl, Boise State would stay home and play in the MPC game and Fresno State would go to Hawai’i.
Two of the bowls – Liberty and Poinsettia – have openings. The Poinsettia Bowl is played in San Diego, and rumors are floating around that game officials would love to take Navy because of the nearby Naval base.
Benson brought up the fact that if UCLA and USC both qualify for a BCS bowl game, the Pac-10 might not fill all of its four slots. Currently, Oregon already has seven wins and Cal has six. Oregon State. Arizona State and Stanford all have four victories.
Nevada would certainly be a good fit at either the Pioneer PureVision Bowl in Las Vegas on Dec. 22 or the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 29. should the Pack split its final four games and go 6-5.
Fresno State’s Wendell Mathis, Boise State’s Marty Tadman and Idaho’s Mike Barrow were named the XBox Live Western Athletic Conferences offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week.
Mathis scored three times and rushed for 229 yards, as the Bulldogs won for the first time in Hawai’i during coach Pat Hill’s tenure as head coach. Fresno State last won there in 1994.
Tadman intercepted two passes and finished with a team-high 11 tackles in the 49-14 win over Nevada. One of the interceptions was in the end zone. The 14 points by Nevada was the fewest it has scored this year.
Barrow made all three of his field goals and all four of his extra points in a 38-37 double-overtime win over New Mexico State.
LOUISIANA TECH (4-3, 3-1)
The Bulldogs kept their slim bowl hopes alive with their 31-14 win over San Jose State.
Louisiana Tech is 3-1 in conference, tied with Nevada for third place. The Bulldogs are two wins away from becoming bowl eligible, and could get one step closer with a win on the road at Utah State.
“We were in kind of the same situation last year, and we lost to Hawai’i and UTEP,” coach Jack Bicknell said. “We screwed things up. It’s great to have something to play for. It’s great because it’s easier to keep them focused and play football.”
Last year Bicknell was on the hot seat, but the Bulldogs won two of their last three to finish 6-6, 5-3 in conference.
“You have to hang in there and I’m still doing that,” Bicknell said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
NEW MEXICO STATE (0-8, 0-4)
The winless Aggies dropped an overtime thriller to Idaho and lost their starting quarterback in the process.
Starter Royal Gill went down with what might be an Achilles injury. He was replaced by Joey Vincent, who enjoyed a successful game, completing 27 of 43 passes for 340 yards. Gill was expected to see the team doctor on Monday.
“We’re hoping Royal could be healthy enough to be the backup,’ coach Hal Mumme said. “We’ll see how the week goes. Right now, Joey will get the reps. Last week Royal got the reps and Joey played pretty good.”
If Gill can’t go, the Aggies could use quarterback turned receiver Paul Dombowski in an emergency situation. Gill was 1 for 7 before the injury.
IDAHO (2-6, 2-3)
Two Idaho players have been suspended indefinitely suspended from the team pending investigations by the police after being involved in on-campus incidents last week, according to a report published in the Idaho Argonaut, the Idaho student newspaper.
Vandal tight end Luke Smith-Anderson, who has been out since suffering an injury earlier this season, was charged with two counts of battery, disturbing the peace and malicious injury to property after alleged acts that include hitting two members of a school fraternity in the face, throwing beer bottles at the house next to the Student Union and kicking in the fraternity’s front door.
Left guard Jade Tadvick has been charged with battery and disturbing the peace after he allegedly hit a student in the back of the head.
Left tackle Hank Therien and freshman Jeffrey Sarkisian were charged with disturbing the peace for their alleged involvement in the altercation.
The Vandals have their second bye week in a month, and coach Nick Holt said that the redshirts and younger reserves would scrimmage during the week and in general clean things up offensively and defensively.
UTAH STATE (1-3, 2-5)
The Aggies finally got a solid performance from a running back Ryan Bohm, who rushed for 94 yards in a 35-3 loss to fourth-ranked Alabama last week. It was the best performance by a USU running back this year and a career-best for Bohm, who is a true freshman.
“They (Alabama) were playing three-man front,” coach Brent Guy said. “Ryan did a good job of finding the creases. He keeps getting better.”
Guy would like to get better play from quarterback Leon Jackson III, who needs 19 yards rushing to break the school record set in 1964. Guy likes Jackson’s athleticism, but he said that the pounding Jackson takes running the ball has affected his throwing, especially late in the game.
SAN JOSE STATE (0-5, 1-7)
The Spartans may be the most talented 1-7 team, but coach Dick Tomey said the players are hanging in there.
“When kids sign up for something, they are in it regardless of what happens,” Tomey said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself. We’re practicing the right way, and if we keep doing that, good things will happen.”
The Spartans were tied at 14 after one quarter at Louisiana Tech, but didn’t score again and the Bulldogs won 31-14.
“We started better, but didn’t finish the job,” Tomey said. “We had enough opportunities to win the game. We couldn’t sustain anything offensively. We could have gone into the second half with a 14-point lead. “
Tomey will face one of his former Arizona assistants this week when the Spartans meet Fresno State. HE believes the Bulldogs are the best team in the WAC with no disrespect intended toward three-time champion Boise State.
“It seems after seven weeks they have more bullets in their guns than anybody we have played yet,” Tomey said.
BOISE STATE (6-2, 4-0)
The Broncos, who are one game away from being bowl eligible, face winless New Mexico State at home this weekend and coach Dan Hawkins said his team will not overlook the Aggies.
Boise State plays Fresno in a battle for the WAC championship on Nov. 10 in a nationally televised Thursday night game in Fresno.
“They are a team waiting to explode,” he said. “They do a lot of good things. They had chances to win that game against Idaho.
“Not at all (will we overlook them). We’re still trying to get our whole train rolling right now.”
Hawkins said he was pleased with the way the Broncos ran the ball against Nevada, and he hopes that trend continues.
“We’re getting in a groove,” Hawkins said. “Jared (Zabransky) has played well the last several weeks.”
FRESNO STATE (6-1, 4-0)
The Bulldogs are coming off a 27-13 win over Hawai’i, their first since 1994 in Hawai’i, and the players doused coach Pat Hill with some Gatorade after the victory.
“We’d played some god games with them over the year and Hawai’i would make the plays (when needed),” Hill said. “The Bulldogs made the plays this time. It was great to get that first win over there.”
Mathis sealed the win with a 78-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter. Mathis rushed for 229 yards on 19 carries. He has scored at least one touchdown in all seven Fresno State games this year.
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