Even if most of my fellow AP voters fell asleep during Boise State’s 59-52 overtime win at Colorado State, the College Football Playoff committee paid attention.
The Broncos were No. 25 in this week’s rankings, their first appearance of the year. Boise State has been impressive during its six-game win streak, notching victories over bowl teams in Colorado State, San Diego State and Wyoming. I voted the Broncos 24th in the AP poll, highest of anyone. The Broncos lost eight points (from 14 to six) between polls, but I think the CFP had it right.
However, a rough September probably will hurt the Broncos in November. The American will most likely have a team as the top Group of Five conference champion, with South Florida sitting at 9-1, Central Florida at 9-0 and Memphis at 8-1.
Still, the Broncos appear to be the class of the Mountain West, and would be a wanted team, likely going to a bowl they haven’t appeared in since 2012.
Here are our bowl projections for this week (last week’s are here):
Las Vegas (Dec. 16): Boise State vs. UCLA
This is the third week I’ve done the bowl projections, and I’ll offer a third Pac-12 opponent for the Broncos. Oregon still is very possible, but I don’t see them beating Arizona, setting up a must-win in the finale against punching bag Oregon State. Stanford’s win over Washington will put the Cardinal too high to land in Vegas. Six Pac-12 teams sit at five wins, and the No. 6 team goes to Vegas (five have seven or more wins). So ... let’s submit a new entrant: UCLA. The Bruins play USC this week, so that sixth win may not come until the finale against Cal. Jim Mora may have been canned by then, but could be a fun matchup against Josh Rosen, if he doesn’t pull a Christian McCaffrey and sit out the bowl. Rosen, a junior, is ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper’s No. 1 quarterback for the 2018 draft.
New Mexico (Dec. 16): San Diego State vs. UTSA
Famous Idaho Potato (Dec. 22): Toledo vs. Wyoming
Hawaii (Dec. 24): Colorado State vs. SMU
Arizona (Dec. 29): Fresno State vs. Arkansas State
For the third straight week, the five bowl teams remain the same, but one more team fell out of contention (Hawaii). Utah State, Air Force and UNLV still have a shot at six wins. Though the teams are the same, we’ll mix it up a bit and ship Colorado State to Hawaii. San Diego State is an interesting case, and could be a possibility for the backup bowl options (Foster Farms, Cactus) or as an at-large in Frisco. The Aztecs may not even make the Mountain West championship but could be an appealing 10-win team. The Potato Bowl would love Wyoming and Josh Allen, and since the MAC doesn’t have a true pecking order, an excellent Toledo team could make a good matchup.
NEW YEAR’S SIX
Rose (Jan. 1, CFP semi): Oklahoma vs. Ohio State
Sugar (Jan. 1, CFP semi): Alabama vs. Clemson
Peach (Jan. 1): Georgia vs. UCF
Orange (Dec. 30): Miami (Fla.) vs. Wisconsin
Fiesta (Dec. 30): USC vs. Auburn
Cotton (Dec. 29): Penn State vs. Notre Dame