The Boise State football team likely will play in one of two bowls this year, barring a series of outcomes that change the landscape.
If the Broncos beat San Jose State on Friday to finish the regular season 8-4, their most likely destination is the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego to play a MAC team like Bowling Green (9-3) or Northern Illinois (8-4). The same matchup could be placed at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, where the Broncos haven’t played in 10 years.
If the Broncos lose to finish 7-5, their most likely destination is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The opponent could be one of those same top MAC teams or a lesser MAC team like Ohio (8-4) or Central Michigan (6-5).
The Broncos haven’t shown much interest in playing in Boise since appearing in the game in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2005. But they haven’t finished a regular season with seven or fewer wins since 1998, the year before their first bowl trip. And the seniors are in danger of leaving Boise State having lost their final two home games, so they might like the idea of another home game.
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The Mountain West also could encourage the Broncos to stay home. That would be a financial win for the conference. Plus, the Mountain West needs a strong bowl season to make up for a poor non-conference performance during the regular season. Boise State would be a strong favorite at home.
One potential hiccup for the Mountain West: If Kansas State beats Kansas and West Virginia, the Big 12 likely will fill its spot in the Cactus Bowl. That could push Air Force to the Poinsettia Bowl.
New Year’s Six projections
Cotton, semifinal (Dec. 31, Arlington, Texas): No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma
Orange, semifinal (Dec. 31, Miami Gardens, Fla.): No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Iowa
Rose (Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.): Stanford (Pac-12) vs. Michigan State (Big Ten)
Sugar (Jan. 1, New Orleans): Baylor (Big 12) vs. Ole Miss (SEC)
Peach (Dec. 31, Atlanta): Navy (Group of Five) vs. Florida State (at-large)
Fiesta (Jan. 1, Glendale, Ariz.): Notre Dame (at-large) vs. Michigan (at-large)
Mountain West projections
Las Vegas (Dec. 19, Las Vegas): San Diego State (MW/BYU) vs. UCLA (Pac-12)
Cactus (Jan. 2, Phoenix): Air Force (Big 12/MW) vs. Arizona State (Pac-12/MW)
Armed Forces (Dec. 29, Fort Worth, Texas): Utah State (MW) vs. Minnesota (Big Ten)
Hawaii (Dec. 24, Honolulu): BYU (MW/BYU) vs. Temple (AAC)
Famous Idaho Potato (Dec. 22, Boise): Colorado State (MW) vs. Central Michigan (MAC)
New Mexico (Dec. 19, Albuquerque): New Mexico (MW) vs. Middle Tennessee (C-USA)
Poinsettia (Dec. 23, San Diego): Boise State (MW) vs. Bowling Green (MAC)
Arizona (Dec. 29, Tucson, Ariz.): Nevada (MW) vs. Old Dominion (C-USA)