Bronco Beat

Idaho Statesman bowl projections: Boise State vs. Oregon, Chapter III?

Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols (13) and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson (1) give each other a hug as they warm up before meeting Baylor in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl on Dec. 27, 2016 at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols (13) and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson (1) give each other a hug as they warm up before meeting Baylor in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl on Dec. 27, 2016 at Chase Field in Phoenix. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Boise State senior tight end Jake Roh said Thursday the Broncos have “mojo” coming into their final four Mountain West games.

Considering how the offense seems to be slowly improving, the defense is excellent, and special teams have been a boon instead of a bane, it’s looking like the Mountain Division is there for the taking.

On the other side of the conference, Fresno State is the surprising leader, but San Diego State is lurking, eager for a chance to pounce if the Bulldogs falter.

The Broncos’ 41-14 win at Utah State last Saturday gave them bowl eligibility once again, clinching a 20th straight season of six wins or more, and a 16th straight bowl appearance.

Only two Mountain West teams (Nevada and San Jose State) are eliminated from bowl contention, so there is plenty of jockeying to be done. Here are our first bowl projections of the year:

MOUNTAIN WEST

Las Vegas (Dec. 16): Boise State vs. Oregon

▪  Should the Broncos win the conference — and as the league’s hottest team, it’s more than possible — they will head back to Vegas, where they’ve played three times previously. The Pac-12 is a crapshoot, with only Oregon State out of bowl contention. If no Pac-12 team is in the College Football Playoff, which it looks like right now, the No. 6 team plays the Mountain West champ. We’ll go with the Ducks, who are 5-4 and play at Washington on Saturday, but host Arizona and Oregon State to finish out. Boise State beat Oregon in their two previous meetings, in 2008 and 2009.

New Mexico (Dec. 16): Colorado State vs. Florida Atlantic

Famous Idaho Potato (Dec. 22): Northern Illinois vs. Wyoming

Hawaii (Dec. 24): San Diego State vs. SMU

Arizona (Dec. 29): Fresno State vs. New Mexico State

▪  I’m not sold on Fresno State, and could see the Bulldogs losing to Wyoming and Boise State, which would let San Diego State into the conference championship game. Colorado State won’t play in the Potato Bowl, since it played here last season. There also could be a team like, say, Air Force, that could be bowl-eligible and fit into a game that has an open slot.

NEW YEAR’S SIX

Rose (Jan. 1, CFP semi): Georgia vs. Notre Dame

Sugar (Jan. 1, CFP semi): Alabama vs. Clemson

Peach (Jan. 1): Oklahoma vs. UCF

▪  The Knights have been rolling in the AAC, so it’s tough to go against them. Even if they falter, a one-win South Florida or Memphis will get the Group of Five bid over an 11-2 Boise State. Now, if the American teams lose twice each, it gets more interesting.

Orange (Dec. 30): Miami (Fla.) vs. Ohio State

Fiesta (Dec. 30): Washington vs. Wisconsin

Cotton (Dec. 29): Penn State vs. Oklahoma State

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