This week’s predictions for Saturday’s slate of Mountain West Conference games:
Hawaii (0-10, 0-7) at Wyoming (4-6, 2-4), 11 a.m.
Wyoming still has an outside shot at a bowl game, although there could soon be too many teams for the number of bowl tie-ins. The Rainbow Warriors are playing for pride, and coach Norm Chow’s future. The team hasn’t been this bad since the Fred Vonappen years, a three-year period in the mid-1990s that most Hawaiians would rather forget.
The Pokes need to get off the schneid after four straight losses, each one worse than the last. Hawaii has, in general, been good as a slump buster this season.The Rainbow Warriors defense is accident prone, the kind that will make the Cowboys look stronger than it has any right to look. There’s still the outside chance the Hawaii offense puts everything together, which could turn this into a shootout that Wyoming should still win just on firepower alone.
Wyoming should keep it’s bowl hopes alive since they are at the War Memorial this weekend.
Prediction: Wyoming wins 42-30.
New Mexico (3-7, 1-5) at Fresno State (9-0, 6-0), 1 p.m.; TV: ESPNEWS
The Lobos present a vexing problem for Fresno State … Until Derek Carr posts 600 passing yards before halftime. New Mexico’s defense has been that bad this season. The Lobos can run the ball with the best of them most of the time (second in the nation with an average of 323 yards per game), but they will be without Kasey Carrier and Cole Gautsche, which is most of their offensive firepower. Fresno State’s offense is bad, but not that bad.
The Bulldogs clinch the Western Division with a win. Barring an outrageous turn of events that has New Mexico figuring it out on defense, Fresno State is going to bury the Lobos and their weak defense. Win No. 10 should be a cake walk.
Prediction: Bulldogs 60, New Mexico 17.
Colorado State (6-5, 4-2) at Utah State (6-4, 5-1), 12:30 p.m.; TV: CBSSN
Utah State’s strong conference season is the only thing keeping Boise State from booking its trip to Fresno now. The Aggies’ quarterback, Darell Garretson, has done an admirable job in place of Chuckie Keeton, who was lost for the season back in October. He’s not as explosive, but he’s more than getting the job done.
That beating said, the Aggies have gotten by on defense. They are allowing just 19.4 points per game, 17th in the nation. To call Darell Garretson’s passing abilities suspect is charitable, he’s thrown just six TDs since he’s taken over, with three against Hawaii. He’s not the big play quarterback Keeton is, and that’s forcing them to give the ball to Joe DeMartino more on offense (he carries are up the last two weeks.)
Colorado State’s offense is more potent than Utah State’s. Garrett Grayson is a strong quarterback with two good games the last two weeks, and running back Kapri Bibbs has had two straight monster games (603 yards on 78 carries with 10 touchdowns the last two weeks.)
The Aggies need a win and a Boise State loss to take over first place in the Mountain Division. the Rams offense is clicking at the right time, and its defense, which feasts on the run but struggles mightily against the passing game, might just be good enough to steal a win. It’s also important to note that the Rams need one more win to be bowl eligible because they played a 13-game schedule this year.
Utah State enters this game as 11-point favorites, numbers that, if I had not just looked them up, might have sent me to the nearest sports book. This one is going to come down to who wants it more, the truest coin flip in the conference.
Prediction: I’m sticking with the smart money, Utah State 28-27 over Colorado State.
Boise State (7-3, 5-1) at San Diego State (6-4, 5-1), 7:30 p.m.; TV: CBSSN
The Broncos have gotten a strong couple of weeks out of Grant Hedrick as Joe Southwick’s replacement. The continue to move the ball with ease either through the air or on the ground, and the points continue to come unabated. The defense is a little suspect, which is part of the reason they have three losses for the first time in the Chris Petersen era.
San Diego State is a vexing team, one that plays up or down to its competition. But their offense hinges on whether Adam Muema and Donnel Pumphrey can move the ball on the ground. Boise State has bottled up good running backs all season, and Saturday night should be no different. The difference will be how good Quinn Kaehler is against the Broncos secondary, and if the Aztecs defense is able to slow down or shut down Boise State’s potent offense.
Prediction: Boise State should roll in this one, 34-20.