Week 14 MWC football picks: Utah State, Boise State battle to end for Mountain division

Breaking down who I think is going to win in this weekend’s Mountain West football games.

Friday

Fresno State (10-0, 7-0) at San Jose State (5-6, 4-3), 12:30 p.m.; TV: CBSSN

Derek Carr has never beaten San Jose State as a starter. He started against the Spartans at home in 2011 as a sophomore, when the Bulldogs lost 27-24 in what proved to be coach Pat Hill’s second-to-last game as head of the Bulldogs. San Jose State hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent in 21 straight tries, and have won just seven times in their last 25 tries over the Bulldogs (who have used that run to take a lead in the series 39-33-3.) Friday’s game will also be the introduction of a trophy for the decades old rivalry: The Valley Cup, which will almost assuredly be residing in Fresno for the next year.

San Jose State’s defense will take one look at what Derek Carr is doing and recognize it instantly. He does everything David Fales does on offense. And I’d expect the Spartans to be just as good at stopping it as everyone else has.

Friday’s showdown between the Mountain West’s two top quarterback, mostly by virtue of San Jose State’s ghost defense, should not be all that close.

Prediction: Sorry, no bowl for the Spartans; Fresno State wins 52-35.

Saturday

Air Force (2-9, 0-7) at Colorado State (6-6, 4-3), 11 a.m.; Online: ESPN3

Colorado State needs one more win to become bowl eligible. They luck out with a cupcake at home in Air Force, a team with no passing game and a suspect running game it uses all the time. The Rams defense has been powerful against the run this year, not so against the pass, which makes them quite fortunate to close out the season. Kapri Bibbs and Garrett Grayson are going to abuse this defense.

Prediction: Colorado State wins and reaches a bowl, 42-17.

Army (3-7) at Hawaii (0-11), 8 p.m. Saturday; Online: MTN Digital

What happens when the nation’s No. 1 rushing offense crashes into the one of the nation’s worst defenses? A laugher, that’s what.

I don’t know how Norm Chow keeps his job after this season.

Prediction: Army wins 42-14.

Wyoming (5-6, 3-4) at Utah State (7-4, 6-1), 11 a.m.; New Mexico (3-8, 1-6) at Boise State (7-4, 5-2), 7:15 p.m.; TV: ESPN2

Here’s the scenario with Wyoming, Utah State and Boise State:

  • Wyoming needs a win to become bowl eligible.
  • Utah State wraps up the Mountain division with a win.
  • Boise State can win the Mountain division with a win and a Utah State loss.

Wyoming isn’t likely to become bowl eligible because their sputtering defense is unlikely to slow down Utah State enough to win, plus the Pokes offense has been proven to be stoppable by good defensive efforts this season. Boise State should manhandle New Mexico regardless of who is under center — Grant Hedrick or Joe Southwick — for the Broncos.

Predictions: Utah State wins 34-24; Boise State wins 48-21.

San Diego State (7-4, 6-1) at UNLV (6-5, 4-3), 7:30 p.m.; TV: ESPNU

The Aztecs cannot win the Western division because their lone loss is to Fresno State. But they can finish the season respectably by beating the Rebels, which should have a lot of trouble with Adam Muema and Donnell Pumphrey, given how average their running defense has been. San Diego State is on a four game winning streak, but could just as easily have been on a five game losing streak considering how close its games with the San Jose State, New Mexico, Hawaii and Boise State were.

A few breaks — a made field goal instead of a blocked field goal by SJSU, a made field goal by Boise State, and a better late drive by Hawaii — and the Aztecs are looking at a long December instead of a likely trip to Fort Worth.

Prediction: Aztecs win 35-28.

Brigham Young (7-4) at Nevada (4-7), noon; TV: CBSSN

BYU is going to run it at the Wolf Pack — you know, the thing the Spartans should have been doing — and should have good results. They are 13th in the nation in rushing yards, averaging 263.7 per game, and they can move the ball through the air also. Nevada’s offense is still pretty much Cody Fajardo. It’s worth noting that, given the fact that BYU beat both Utah and Utah State, they haven’t had much trouble with dual-threat QBs this season.

Prediction: BYU storms off with a 28-17 win.

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