ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Mountain West and Pac-12 face each other 11 times in the regular season before squaring off in the eighth annual Gildan New Mexico Bowl. After week 1, the Pac-12 is undefeated at 5-0. The battle continues this week with Hawai`i at Oregon State, San Jose State at Stanford, and Arizona at UNLV.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK: Action starts Thursday night for the Pac-12 as Arizona State kicks off it’s season hosting Sacramento State on the Pac-12 Network. Saturday, both the Pac-12 and Mountain West have their first league games of the season as top-25 USC hosts Washington State (Pac-12) and Utah State plays it’s first-ever league game, traveling to Air Force. Both leagues have a national-highlighted game of the week with both San Diego State (MW) and No. 2/3 Oregon (Pac-12) playing on ABC and/or ESPN2 against No. 3/2 Ohio State and Virginia, respectively. The regular season battle between these two conferences also continues with three games on the slate: Hawai`i (MW) at Oregon State (Pac-12), San Jose State (MW) at Stanford (Pac-12), Arizona (Pac-12) at UNLV (MW). After week 1, the Pac-12 is undefeated against the MW at 5-0. A complete week 2 schedule is available in the attached PDF.
WEEK 1 RECAP: The opening weekend could have gone better for the Mountain West Conference, which went a dismal 3-9 after coming up short on several close calls. Utah State nearly knocked off Utah in Salt Lake City and Wyoming was a field goal shy of pulling off a rare upset in Lincoln against the Nebraska Huskers. A bright spot for the league was Fresno State’s 52-51 overtime victory against Rutgers on ESPN2 opening night. For the Pac-12, the league’s affiliates were 3-0 heading into Saturday and finished 7-3 with notable wins going to third-ranked Oregon, No. 21 UCLA and Washington on Saturday. Complete results from week 1 are:
8/29: Minnesota def. UNLV, 51-23 / 44,217 (attend)
Utah def. Utah State, 30-26 / 45,237
San Jose State def. Sacramento State, 24-0 / 13,136
Fresno State def. Rutgers, 52-51 OT / 33,098
#24/24 USC def. Hawai`i, 30-13 / 39,058
8/30: Arizona def. Northern Arizona, 35-0 / 53,793
8/31: Air Force def. Colgate, 38-13 / 32,095
#3/3 Oregon def. Nicholls State, 66-3 / 57,769
Eastern Wash. def. #25/25 Oregon St., 49-46 / 41,649
Auburn def. Washington State, 31-24 / 85,095
Eastern Illinois def. San Diego State, 40-19 / 42,978
#18/18 Nebraska def. Wyoming, 37-34 / 91,185
UTSA def. New Mexico, 21-13 / 26,311
#21/21 UCLA def. Nevada, 58-20 / 60,562
Washington def. #19/19 Boise State, 38-6 / 71,963
#22/22 Northwestern def. Cal, 44-30 / 58,816
9/1: Colorado def. Colorado State, 41-27 / 59,601
A PREVIEW OF THINGS TO COME: The Mountain West and Pac-12 face each other 11 times in the regular season before squaring off in the eighth annual Gildan New Mexico Bowl. After week 1, the Pac-12 is undefeated at 5-0, outscoring the MW 39.4-18.4 per game.
This year, the MW’s Hawai`i and Utah State take on the rival league the most (two times each) while three Pac-12 programs (Colorado, Oregon State and USC) play MW members twice. Air Force, New Mexico and Wyoming are the only MW members that do not have a game against a Pac-12 member this season. Arizona State, California, Oregon and Washington State do not have a Mountain West team on tap this year. Below is a week-by-week breakdown of the regular season match-ups:
Last year, the Pac-12 won the regular season series, 4-3, averaging 28.9 points per game while the MW averaged 28.0 points per game. The league went on to pick up its first Gildan New Mexico Bowl win with a miraculous come-from-behind 49-48 victory by Arizona.
BOWL PREDICTIONS: Only five national football writers updated their preseason picks after week 1 action. Of those five, three are predicting Oregon State to represent the Pac-12 as the visiting team in the 2013 Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Four selections were updated for the Mountain West with two of them projecting San Jose State. Here is the breakdown of what has been selected for the 2013 bowl game:
Athlon Sports: Washington (Pac-12) vs. Air Force (MW)#
Bleacher Report: Arizona State (Pac-12) vs. Air Force (MW)#
CBS Sports: Oregon State (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
CFN.Scout.com: Arizona (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
ESPN (Mark Schlabach’s pick): Oregon State (Pac-12) vs. Wyoming (MW)
ESPN (Brad Edwards’ pick): Oregon State (Pac-12) vs. Air Force (MW)
ESPN (Ted Miller’s pick): Washington State vs. MW
National Football Post: UCLA (Pac-12) vs. Fresno State (MW)#
Phil Steele: Utah State (MW) vs. Arizona (Pac-12)#
SB Nation: San Jose State (MW) vs. Washington (Pac-12)#
Sports Illustrated: San Jose State (MW) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt)*#
*at-large bid #pick not updated from preseason
TALE OF THE TURNSTILES: The heads have been counted and during week 1, the Pac-12 averaged just over 57,350 fans per game while the Mountain West drew over 46,600. Both leagues saw the biggest crowds on the road, especiallly the MW, whose top six attendance figures were away from home. The league’s largest home crowd was just under 43,000 at Qualcomm in San Diego. The Pac-12’s biggest home draw was just shy of 72,000 in Seattle, Wash. A complete breakdown of each team’s attendance figures is available in the attached PDF.
NATIONAL RANKINGS: The latest Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches’ top-25 polls were announced Monday and the Pac-12 still has five teams ranked in the top-25, including two in the top-5, although the roster has changed from last week. The Pac-12 ranked institutions are: Oregon (2/3), Stanford (5/4), UCLA (18/18), Washington (20/23) and USC (25/22). The Huskies moved into the spot vacated by then-No. 25/25 Oregon State after receiving numerous votes in the preseason poll Arizona State and Arizona are both receiving bids in both rankings.
The Mountain West’s lone representative in the preseason polls (No. 19 Boise State) fell out of grace with the voters after a loss at Washington. Fresno State leads the league in votes in both polls, followed by Boise State. San Jose State and Utah State both garnered nods in the Coaches’ poll.