San Diego State (8-3 overall, 6-1 Mountain West) and Fresno State (8-3, 6-1) can win at least a share of the Mountain West title with victories Saturday. Boise State (9-2, 6-1), which is off this week, gets its chance Dec. 1 at Nevada.
The league does not break ties. Multiple teams will be awarded trophies if necessary.
Fresno State, which hasnt won a conference title since 1999, plays at home against Air Force at 1:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network). The Falcons have beaten Nevada and Hawaii this season and they scared Boise State last year in their first meetings with the teams that moved in from the WAC.
San Diego State, which hasnt won a title since 1986, plays at Wyoming at 1:30 p.m. (Root Northwest). The Aztecs have won six straight; the Cowboys have won three straight.
Its been a long time since weve had a championship around here, San Diego State coach Rocky Long said. Our team is excited, our community is excited, about our possibilities. We also recognize that were playing a good football team thats hot right now and its not a foregone conclusion. You have to earn a conference championship by winning the game.
The Broncos, who have won eight conference titles in the past 10 years, could win their first outright title since 2009 if Fresno State and San Diego State lose. Thats not on Chris Petersens mind, though.
For us to be paying attention and hoping for those guys to win or lose, thats never our deal here, he said.
MAACO BOWL UPDATE
The MAACO Bowl Las Vegas likely wont issue an invitation to a Mountain West team before Boise State plays Nevada, executive director Dan Hanneke said Tuesday.
Boise State and Fresno State are the top contenders from the Mountain West with San Diego State likely to go to the Poinsettia Bowl. The Broncos still could land in Las Vegas if they lose to Nevada, Hanneke said.
The Broncos, who won the past two MAACO Bowls, are attractive because of their Top 25 ranking, TV draw (ESPN owns the bowl) and fan travel. This also is the last year the Big East-bound Broncos will be tied to the MAACO Bowl.
Theyd be a tough one not to pick, Hanneke said. Theyve been a good partner the last couple years.
On the Pac-12 side, the MAACO Bowl has the fourth pick after the Bowl Championship Series games. That could be the fifth or sixth pick overall. Washington (7-4), Arizona (7-4) and Oregon State (8-2), all in the BCS Top 25, are on the MAACO Bowl radar. USC (7-4) also could be a candidate, but a disappointing season could lead to a low fan turnout for the Trojans.
Hanneke likes the idea of Boise State-Washington, but will listen if the schools dont want a preview of the 2013 season opener.
We have to be sensitive to that, he said.
The MAACO Bowl is Dec. 22.
POTATO BOWL UPDATE
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl executive director Kevin McDonald will be in Logan, Utah, this week for Utah States regular-season finale against Idaho. The No. 25 and WAC champion Aggies (9-2) are virtually a lock for the Potato Bowl, which holds the first pick among WAC schools.
An invitation could be delivered this weekend, McDonald said.
Utah States the front-runner, McDonald said. Just the proximity, and being league champion, makes them pretty appealing for us.
The intrigue is on the other side. The Potato Bowl gets the third choice from the Mid-American Conference but has at least some chance of getting a ranked MAC champion to play the Aggies.
No. 23 Kent State (10-1) likely will go to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl or GoDaddy.com Bowl if it wins the MAC championship game Nov. 30.
But No. 24 Northern Illinois (10-1) doesnt have much appeal to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl because the Detroit game needs to sell tickets and the Huskies have made regular appearances there for the championship game. The GoDaddy.com Bowl also could pass because the Huskies played there last year and theres a possibility of a 2011 rematch with Arkansas State.
Thats where the possibility of a MAC-WAC champions duel arises.
Were talking to the MAC about everything, McDonald said.
If the Potato Bowl doesnt get the champion, it still could land the runner-up. The next options likely would be Toledo (9-3) and Ball State (8-3).
The Potato Bowl is Dec. 15 at Bronco Stadium (2:30 p.m.).