Is two wins enough for SDSU to skip into the postseason?

Jordan Byrd leaps in the end zone following the game winning score. Credit Don De Mars/EVT

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SDSU tries to tackle the ball carrier. Credit Don De Mars/EVT

The Mountain West has a partnership with five bowl games. It also has agreements with another five as secondary options should those bowls not be able to field a game with their primary partners. Leaving behind the fallback opportunities that could become available as the regular season plays out, the conference has seven teams vying for the five tie-ins bowls. SDSU currently is on the outside looking in. They are tied for the sixth-best record with Saturday’s opponent, UNLV.

The Aztecs’ situation is murky. They are expected to win against the Rebels and at New Mexico (2-6), which would make them bowl-eligible. Without a rash of upsets, however, six wins likely has them searching for a game outside of the conference’s guaranteed bowls. Depending on what happens with the teams above them, seven wins might not be enough, either.

Credit: Boise State Athletics

Boise State (6-2)

Boise State and Wyoming are the only teams currently bowl-eligible. Given the Broncos’ victory over the Aztecs, it would take a monumental collapse by Boise State for SDSU to jump them in the pecking order. They would likely have to lose their remaining four games. One of those is at Nevada (2-7). Any result that ended with BSU at seven wins makes them more attractive than SDSU with the same win total.

Wyoming (6-3)

With their final games against the Broncos at home and on the road versus Fresno State, the Cowboys will be clear favorites in only one more game. Getting to seven wins should not be a problem, eight will require a win against one of the current division winners. Would a 7-5 Wyoming be more attractive than a 7-5 SDSU team? The Cowboys played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl last year. It is the game closest to their campus.

San Jose State (5-2)

With games at home against Colorado State (2-6) and Hawai’i (2-7), getting to seven wins is probable. Eight also looks good against Utah State (3-5) on the road, though SJSU is only 1-2 when traveling this season. There is even a shot they could get to nine if their road game against New Mexico State is rescheduled. The Spartans come to San Diego next week, giving the Aztecs the opportunity of winning the head-to-head matchup, but the outcome may not matter when deciding which team is more attractive to ESPN and their bowl partners.

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Air Force (5-3)

The Falcons look to capture their first Commander and Chief Trophy since 2016 on Saturday when they take on Army (3-4). A win tomorrow makes them bowl-eligible. Following their service academy clash, they host New Mexico and Colorado State before heading to San Diego to play the Aztecs. AFA will be favored to be 8-3 heading into that final game of the regular season. If SDSU wins its final three games before the matchup, SDSU would have a chance to match the Falcons’ record. At eight wins, both would likely find a postseason berth among the MW bowls unless a more attractive option opened up elsewhere.

Jalen Mayden led the Aztecs to victory over Hawaii 16-14. Credit Don De Mars/EVT

Fresno State (4-4)

Only three games ago, the Bulldogs were 1-4. Today, they hold the inside track to represent the West Division in the Mountain West Championship. SDSU needs to win out and have the Bulldogs lose two games if they are going to pass FSU in the division. Fresno State travels to the islands tomorrow to take on Hawai’i. They follow that with a short week of preparation when they play UNLV on the road on Friday, November 11. They close their season at Nevada and at home against Wyoming. The contests against the Rebels and Cowboys are clearly their toughest, but they will likely be favored in every game. An interesting development would be if FSU loses a regular season contest and the MW Championship. It would place them at 7-6. The star of Josh Haener would likely keep the Bulldogs ahead of the Aztecs at 7-5 in that scenario.

UNLV (4-4)

After the first five games of the season, UNLV was 4-1, and bowl eligibility looked like a foregone conclusion. Three consecutive defeats later and the Rebels are reeling. Like the Aztecs, they need two wins to reach the magic threshold. Their final two games of the year are at Hawai’i and at home versus in-state rival Nevada in the Battle for the Freemont Cannon. Assuming victories in those contests, they will have to win against SDSU tomorrow or at home over Fresno to get to seven victories. Upset victories over the Aztecs and Bulldogs coupled with a San Jose State loss, would create a three-way tie for the division title.

Caden McDonald celebrates the game-sealing interception against Toledo. Credit Don De Mars/EVT

San Diego State (4-4)

Six wins will likely not be enough for the Aztecs to guarantee themselves a spot in bowls the MW partners with. Seven might not even do it. Either total, though, should open a door to the postseason.

There are 41 bowls in 2022. 82 of the 131 FBS teams will reach the postseason. Only 89 teams currently have four or more wins. Given this parity in college football, SDSU likely plays in the postseason somewhere if they manage to win six games.  In this light, their game against UNLV tomorrow is one of the most important of the season.

Prognosticators in Vegas placed SDSU’s win total at 6.5. Winning on Saturday would put them right in line with that prediction.

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