The Spartans face a Nevada team that hasn’t won in five weeks and is hurting on both sides of the ball. The Aztecs face a winless Hawaii team that will at least have the benefit of looking pretty in throwbacks while likely getting nailed to the wall on Saturday. Colorado State’s run-stopping defense has to love seeing a team that can do only one thing right: run the ball.
This will be the week the conference finally shakes out its bowl teams from its bad teams.
Colorado State (5-5, 3-2) at New Mexico (3-6, 1-4), 4 p.m. Saturday
This is your oil and water matchup of the week. Colorado State is brutal against the run and New Mexico runs an option offense that specializes in putting the ball in its running back’s hands (They are second in the nation in rushing offense with about 329 yards per game.) Not surprisingly, the Lobos are thinking about throwing the ball – something they do exceptionally poorly – against the Rams, whose pass defense might not be able to stop it.
Still, there’s a reason Colorado State is almost bowl eligible and New Mexico, while feistier than in year’s past, is only 1-4 in conference. The Rams are going to run away with this.
Prediction: Rams beat the Lobos, 42-17.
Wyoming (4-5, 2-3) at Boise State (6-3, 4-1), 7:15 p.m. Saturday; TV: ESPN2
Cowboys fans have to be wondering where this season jumped the rails after such a promising start, and it really starts and ends with their poor defense. The Pokes have been blasted twice during their current three-game losing streak at home, and in painful games too. First, they lost by 30 in a rivalry game with Colorado State, then three weeks later got blasted on national TV by Fresno State thanks to an embarrassing offensive showing to go along with a typically inept defensive showing.
Brett Smith is a damn good dual threat quarterback, and Shaun Wick is a good running back. But no offense is going to succeed
They go on the road to face Boise State, a team that is rolling right along despite quarterback Joe Southwick likely being done for the year. Grant Hedrick has been just as good, if not better, for the Broncos. Boise State remains one of the conference’s best as they cruise to the Mountain division crown. The Broncos are likely to drop 50 on this poor defense.
Prediction: Boise State wins 52-21.
San Diego State (5-4, 3-2) at Hawaii (0-9, 0-6), 7:30 p.m. Saturday; TV: CBSSN
Hawaii has stopped no one this year. The Rainbow Warriors don’t generate enough offense to make up for that mostly because they are incapable of running the ball. San Diego State is coming off a rousing win against the Spartans the week before. Spiffy throwback uniforms only count for so much when you can’t stop anyone.
Prediction: San Diego State wins 42-20.
San Jose State (5-4, 3-2) at Nevada (3-7, 2-5), 7:30 p.m Saturday; TV: ESPNU
Last week’s loss by the Spartans to San Diego State was deflating in every way. It damaged their shot at certain bowls and their chances of a postseason in general, and it killed any hope of a meaningful matchup with Fresno State to end the season. David Fales has looked out of sorts the last two week, and the Spartans went away from their emerging running game last week.
Still, with Nevada’s defense among the worst in the nation, quarterback Cody Fajardo hobbled and the Wolf Pack on a five-game losing streak, the Spartans should prevail in this one and reach the holy grail of bowl eligibility.
Prediction: San Jose State wins 34-24. Yes, I pick the Spartans every week.
Off this week: Fresno State (9-0, 6-0; next at New Mexico, Nov. 23); Utah State (6-4; 5-1; next vs. Colorado State, Nov. 23); Air Force (2-8; 0-6; next vs. UNLV, Nov. 23); UNLV (5-5, 3-3; next at Air Force, Nov. 23).
Side note: If Derek Carr sets another team or conference record this week, I’ll eat a football. And enjoy it.