WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK: There is a full slate of college football on Saturday with 12 games amongst Conference USA and Mountain West members. C-USA East Division rivals FIU and Marshall kick off from Huntington on Facebook at 12:30 p.m. MT. Rice battles bowl-elimination at home against West Division rival, Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs lead the series, 6-4, after a 45-point victory last year but the Owls are 3-1 vs. La Tech when playing at home. FAU looks to keep its half-game lead on WKU in the East but faces an uphill battle as it heads to WKU. The Owls lead the series, 5-3, but the Hilltoppers are 14-2 at home against C-USA opponents since joining the league in 2014. The lone cross division matchup pits Old Dominion against North Texas for the first time. The instate battle betweek UTSA and UTEP rounds out the night for C-USA. Last year’s meeting was the longest in league history, going to five overtimes. The road team has won each of the four previous meetings.
The MW action starts with Air Force looking to hand Colorado State its first league loss of the season. The Falcons lead the series and won last year’s matchup but the home team has won each of the last five games. San Jose State steps away from conference play, taking on BYU in the final game of a home-and-home series that started in 2015. New Mexico aims to even the series against Wyoming with its fourth straight win against the Cowboys. In the 8 p.m. timeslot, Boise State visits Utah State on CBS Sports while Fresno State hosts UNLV on AT&T Sports Network. A win for the Bulldogs would make head coach Jeff Tedford just the third first-year coach to lead Fresno State to bowl eligibility in his first season. Closing out the night on ESPN2, Hawai`i welcomes San Diego State and looks to end the Aztecs’ five-game win streak in the series. Please check out the complete schedule with series notes and viewing information on page 1 of the linked PDF above.
POSTSEASON OUTLOOK: The first of 78 bowl bids has been officially claimed. Army earned its sixth win last weekend, solidifying its automatic spot in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. There are 27 other teams around the FBS who are now bowl-eligible. The Mountain West’s San Diego State, Colorado State and Conference USA’s Marshall are among the group waiting for an invitation. Two teams, Ole Miss because of a self-imposed penalty, and Coastal Carolina because its transitioning to the FBS, are ineligible for the postseason. Eight, including Charlotte (C-USA), UTEP (C-USA), Nevada (MW) and San Jose State (MW) have been eliminated from postseason play. For Conference USA, WKU and Southern Miss are next in line to become bowl eligible, boasting five wins. Five other C-USA teams are just two wins shy of the necessary six needed. Rice, at 1-6, is on the cusp of elimination. In the Mountain West, Boise State and Fresno State are one victory from joining in on the postseason. Wyoming and Utah State are two wins away from the required six victories.
POSTSEASON PROJECTIONS: Several national collegiate football analysts do their best to piece together a prediction for how the bowl lineup will turn out. For the second straight week, early everyone has changed their minds for the 2017 Gildan New Mexico Bowl. San Diego State leads the way as the Mountain West representative with six nods while Wyoming (3), Fresno State (2) and Boise State (1) also garner votes. For Conference USA, three are predicting the North Texas Mean Green will be making their first appearance in the Albuquerque-based bowl while UTSA, Middle Tennessee and WKU all received two bids. For a complete breakdown, look at the chart at the top of page 2 in the PDF linked at the top.