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Conference Preview: The WAC

crystalballIn an effort to address all the teams and conferences that make the fall so exciting, OTP’s All-Star Editorial staff is putting on their prognosticatin’ hats and taking a stab at each of the conferences and all of the teams in FBS. Alan and Edge are giving you the conference’s order of finish, the records, the superlatives for offense and defense, and the biggest surprise for each conference. At the conclusion of our series, we’ll have the Bowl Projections for all 34 Bowl Games.

OTP Conference Preview: The WAC

wac_logo
The WAC is one of those conferences this year where nearly everyone is pointing to one particular school in Boise as the sort of predetermined champion. Knowledgeable fans, and those fans who follow the conference will point to Nevada as a pretty sizable sticking point to Boise collecting more hardware for their campus trophy case.

In 06, Boise State made its way to the Fiesta Bowl and its epic upset of Oklahoma. That game set the stage for midmajor conferences throughout FBS to point to their ability to compete. It was the first, but not the last WAC appearance in the BCS as Hawaii made a trip to the Sugar Bowl in 2007.

The WAC certainly suffers a bit because of their locale and their locations, not occupying any major market and competing against the Mountain West, Pac 10, and Big 12 for local recruits, attention, and notoriety. Luckily for them, and thanks largely to Boise State, it is a battle they can win.

This year, Boise State has a challenging but manageable schedule, but of greatest importance to them is the fact that they play 13 games. When most teams have two bye weeks, Boise only has one. Bad for rest, good for keeping them in the minds of the pollsters and computers which will dictate their potential berth in the Bowl Championship Series.

Last 5 Conference Champions
2008: Boise State
2007: Hawaii
2006: Boise State
2005: Boise State/Nevada
2004: Boise State

Bowl Tie Ins
The Western Athletic Conference has three regular bowl tie-ins, with a contingency to fill a spot in a fourth game.
#1– The Humanitarian Bowl will host the WAC champion, unless that team is selected by the Bowl Championship Series. In that case, the bowl will get the first selection among the remaining WAC teams.
#2– The New Mexico Bowl receives the second choice of WAC teams.
#3– The Hawaiʻi Bowl will host the University of Hawaiʻi team if it has at least seven wins, and is not selected by the BCS (which happened in the 2007 season). In years where Hawaiʻi does not qualify, the bowl will receive the third choice of the remaining eligible WAC teams.
#4– The Poinsettia Bowl normally hosts the sixth selection from the Pac-10, but in years when the Pac-10 does not have six eligible teams, they will select an eligible WAC team instead.

Alan’s WAC Predictions
Order of Finish:
Boise State 13-0 (8-0)
Nevada 10-2 (7-1)
Fresno State 7-5 (6-2)
Louisiana Tech 6-6 (4-4)
Utah State 4-8 (3-5)
San Jose St. 4-8 (3-5)
Hawaii 3-10 (2-6)
Idaho 2-10 (2-6)
New Mexico St. 2-11 (1-7)

League Champion: Boise State, earning a BCS berth

League MVP: Kellen Moore, Boise State
Offensive MVP: Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
Defensive MVP: Dontay Moch, Nevada

Biggest Surprise This Season: Aside from Boise State earning a BCS berth, the biggest surprise will be Nevada playing the Irish to a touchdown difference in their first game of the season.

Edge’s WAC Predictions
Order of Finish:
Boise State 12-1 (7-1)
Nevada 9-3 (6-2)
Hawaii 9-4 (6-2)
Louisiana Tech 7-5 (6-2)
Fresno State 7-5 (5-3)
San Jose State 3-9 (2-6)
Utah State 3-9 (2-6)
New Mexico State 3-10 (2-6)
Idaho 1-11 (1-7)

League Champion: Boise State

League MVP: Austin Pettis, Boise St
Offensive MVP: Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
Defensive MVP: Ben Jacobs, Fresno St

Biggest Surprise This Season: Boise State gets a little too comfortable in week 13 against Nevada and blows a perfect season after 11 straight wins.

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