It’s bye week for the Boise State (7-2, 4-1) football team. Finally a chance to rest tired souls and heal injured bodies. A chance to watch other Mountain West teams slug it out while the Broncos sit back and perhaps watch a little college football.
The Broncos rest this week knowing that they are very much alive for a berth in the Mountain West title game to be played a little over a month from now.
Trouble being, though, there is at least one team standing in the Broncos way. Thanks to their head-to-head victory over Boise State, the Utah State Aggies (5-3, 4-1) are currently in the driver’s seat to represent the Mountain Division in the Mountain West Conference championship game.
That, of course, is assuming both teams win the remainder of their conference games. As witnessed in previous years, November in college football can get pretty crazy. Maybe Air Force (5-3, 4-1) plays beyond all expectations and beats both of these teams, in turn winning the Mountain Division and causing all sorts of fans to slap Falcons tailgate tags on the back of their cars in support of their new favorite team.
Air Force, though, must get through both Boise State and Utah State if they hope to win the conference. A tall task for any team, especially the Falcons. To top that off, they finish up conference play with an upstart team from New Mexico.
Boise State is in a tough position, but one very similar to last year after an early season loss to Air Force appeared to have ended hopes for a Boise State Mountain West title. We saw how that worked. Win out again this year and the Broncos will have done their part to stay in contention.
Then there’s Utah State. A week after beating Boise State, the Aggies were dismantled by San Diego State (thus creating this nice three-way tie for first). They rebounded with a nice win over Wyoming, but did give up 201 rushing yards to Wyoming running back Brian Hill. (The Cowboys had 270 total rushing yards in that game).
Though the Aggies allow only 143.9 rushing yards per game, the numbers from the Wyoming game might bode well for the next three opponents on the Aggies schedule.
Utah State @ New Mexico, 11/7
New Mexico (4-4, 2-2) has been playing better football this year. They are only two wins away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. The Lobos approach the toughest part of their scedule, though, as they face the three teams all tied for first in the Mountain Division. (They also have Colorado State left on the schedule.)
The Lobos average 248.4 rushing yards per game and have sprinkled in the pass a bit more this year. New Mexico averages 29 points and gives up 28 points per game. They will need to have quite the defensive effort against an Utah State team that has scored over 50 points twice in their last three games.
Utah State @ Air Force, 11/14
The Falcons have the best chance to beat the Aggies. They control their games by averaging 35 points and 353 rushing yards per game. Nothing new at the Academy. Toss in a defense that is only allowing 21 points per game, we could very well be looking at 17-13 type of game, especially if a little bit of snow flies into the area over that weekend.
Air Force, though, has not beat Utah State since the Aggies joined the Mountain West. Yes, that’s only two games but neither of those game were very close, with the Falcons losing by an average score of 43-18.
Nevada @ Utah State, 11/21)
Utah State will be carrying a 13-game home winning streak into this game. The Nevada Wolf Pack (4-4, 2-2) have played mediocre ball most of the year. On paper, it looks like they don’t have much of a chance against the Aggies. Nevada averages 25 points per game and allows 26.8. They do average 212 yards per game on the ground, a number that may help them.
If Nevada can control the ball on the ground and get an outstanding effort on defense, this game can be won by the Wolf Pack. Or perhaps Utah State will believe this game is in the bag and have an eye on the next week, when they play BYU to close out the regular season.
Boise State’s bye week, though late in the season, comes at a perfect time. A time to prepare for triple-option offenses in back-to-back weeks. A time to rest up for the sprint to the finish. A finish where, with a little help, the Broncos will hopefully be standing on top of the mountain once again.