WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK: The Pac-12 starts play this week on Thursday night as Arizona State travels to Pullman, Wash. for a big game with Washington State. The Sun Devils can become bowl eligible with a win on Halloween. Friday night, USC and Oregon State will battle on ESPN as the Trojans look to snap a pesky three-game losing streak to the Beavers. Saturday, the league has just two conference games on tap as Oregon, Stanford, Utah and Washington all sit with byes. Arizona can solidify its postseason status with a win at Cal while UCLA can also clinch the important sixth win, hosting Colorado.
The Mountain West has all but one team (Wyoming) on the gridiron Saturday, starting off with Air Force hosting Army at 10 a.m. MT. UNLV welcomes San Jose State to Sam Boyd Stadium as it hunts for win No. 6 while Boise State looks to earn its postseason berth on the road, taking on Colorado State. New Mexico heads to the west coast, taking on former head coach Rocky Long and his San Diego State Aztecs, which haven’t met since 2011. Former WAC opponents Hawai`i and Utah State also resume a rivalry last played in 2011. The evening ends with unbeaten Fresno State hosting Nevada on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. PT. A complete list of each conference’s games is available on the first page of the PDF.
WEEK 9 RECAP: The Mountain West started action Friday night on ESPN with a non-conference game as Boise State looked for a win in Provo against BYU. But the Cougars capitalized on their home field advantage, coming away with a win and an invitation to the Fight Hunger Bowl. On Saturday, the league had its second straight ESPN night game as San Diego State hosted then 17th-ranked Fresno State. The Aztecs pushed the Bulldogs into OT before coming up short to the undefeated team which is one of just eight remaining in the country.
The Pac-12 had five conference games on the field Saturday, highlighted by No. 3 Oregon hosting No. 12 UCLA and No. 25 Oregon State hosting No. 6 Stanford. The Bruins held tough with the Ducks until the fourth quarter, when Oregon pulled away for an 18-point win to stay perfect at 8-0. The Cardinal and Beavers battled down to the last minute but Oregon State couldn’t convert on a fourth down near the end zone, giving Stanford the win. Complete results from week 9 are:
10/25 BYU def. Boise State, 37-20 / 62,954
10/26 USC def. Utah, 19-3 / 64,715
Notre Dame def. Air Force, 45-10 / 44,672
UNLV def. Nevada, 27-22 / 32,521
San Jose State def. Wyoming, 51-44 / 16,123
#3 Oregon def. #12 UCLA, 42-14 / 59,206
Arizona def. Colorado, 44-20 / 38,679
#6 Stanford def. #25 Oregon State, 20-12 / 44,519
#17 Fresno State def. SDSU, 35-28 (OT) / 32,707
Washington def. California, 41-17 / 66,328
Colorado State def. Hawai`i, 35-28 / 29,752
THEISMANN SET TO SPEAK AT KICKOFF LUNCH: Joe Theismann was announced as the featured guest speaker at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl annual kickoff luncheon hosted by Isleta Resort and Casino on Friday, Dec. 20 at 11:30 a.m. A very limited number of tickets are available to the public for $75 and can be purchased by calling the Gildan New Mexico Bowl office at 505-925-5999. Theismann is an entrepreneur and the former star quarterback for the Washington Redskins. He spent the last two decades working for ESPN on their NFL broadcast and the NFL Network. A 1971 graduate of University of Notre Dame, Theismann received All-American honors and led the Fighting Irish to consecutive Cotton Bowls and was runner-up to Jim Plunkett in the Heisman Trophy balloting. In 2003, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Today, Theismann oversees a popular Washington DC restaurant that bears his name. Staying true to his concern for children, he is a member on the Sports Advisory Board of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
BOWL PREDICTIONS: The national writers who update their postseason projections each week are starting to form a more unified prediction for this year’s Gildan New Mexico Bowl. San Jose State is nearly unanimous to be the home team and represent the Mountain West while Arizona and USC both receive four nods as the visiting team from the Pac-12. Here is the breakdown of what has been selected for the 2013 bowl game:
Athlon Sports: Utah (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
Bleacher Report: Utah (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
CBS Sports: USC (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
CFN.Scout.com: Arizona (Pac-12) vs. San Diego State (MW)
ESPN (Mark Schlabach’s pick): USC (Pac-12) vs. UNLV (MW)
ESPN (Brad Edwards’ pick): Arizona (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
ESPN (Ted Miller’s pick): Arizona vs. MW
National Football Post: USC (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
Phil Steele: Arizona (Pac-12) vs. San Jose State (MW)
SB Nation: USC (Pac-12) vs. UNLV (MW)
Sports Illustrated: San Jose State (MW) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt)*#
*at-large bid #pick not updated from preseason
WHO’S GOING BOWLING: There are 35 bowl games scheduled for the 2013-14 postseason equaling 70 slots. BYU was the first team to grab a slot, accepting a bid to the Fight Hunger Bowl. Currently, there are 34 bowl-eligible teams and 17 have already been eliminated, leaving 75 teams that can still become eligible. For the Pac-12, which has seven bowl tie-ins for its 12 members, three teams (Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford) already have the necessary six wins while Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Washington are just one victory away. California has been eliminated from the postseason. The Mountain West, which has six bowl tie-ins for its 12 members, has one team (Fresno State) that has already qualified for the postseason and two teama (Boise State and UNLV) a single win away from eligible status. Air Force and Hawai`i were eliminated from bowl eligibility on Saturday.
NATIONAL RANKINGS: The second BCS rankings of the season were announced Sunday evening and the Pac-12 Conference had three representatives among the top 25, while the Mountain West Conference has one. Leading the way is Oregon, which moved up a spot to No. 2, behind Alabama. Stanford moved up a spot as well, coming in at sixth, followed by 20th-ranked UCLA. For the MW, Fresno State moved up a spot, ranking No. 16.
The latest Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches’ top-25 polls were announced Sunday and the Pac-12 has four teams in the AP Top 25 and three in the coaches, including two in the Top 10. It’s the 39th consecutive AP polling period where the Pac-12 has had three or more teams ranked in the Top 25. Oregon leads the way, sitting at No. 2 in both polls. Stanford moved up to No. 6/7 while UCLA fell to No. 17/19. Arizona State climbed in to the 25th spot in the AP poll and is receiving votes in the coaches poll.
For the Mountain West, Fresno State dropped a spot in the AP rankings, coming in at No. 16 in this week, while remaining No. 18 in the USA Today/Coaches’ poll.
TALE OF THE TURNSTILES: The heads have been counted and during week 9 the Mountain West averaged 36,455 over six games while the Pac-12 averaged 54,689 in five games. The MW’s largest attendance figure came on the road as Boise State played in front of almost 63,000 fans at BYU in Provo, Utah. The league’s largest home crowd was the 44,672 that showed up at Falcons Stadium as Air Force hosted Notre Dame. The Pac-12’s biggest draw was 66,328 in Seattle, Wash. as the Huskies rebounded with a big win over California, which was playing in just its third road game of the season. A complete breakdown of each team’s attendance figures is available in the attached PDF.