How will Derek Carr and Fresno State rebound this week in the Mountain West Conference championship game? Photo: USA Today Sports
The stakes in the Mountain West Conference championship game this weekend took a dive last weekend when San Jose State upended Fresno State, a team with a realistic shot at reaching the BCS to represent the conference. No conference has had the BCS busting success like the Mountain West Conference (yeah, we'll throw in the defunct WAC football history here), and it looked for a while as though Fresno State was on track to get there one last time in the BCS era. All of that has changed now, but this weekend marks a significant point in the conference's history with the first ever conference championship game. Fresno State will play host to Utah State, who managed to edge Boise State in the Mountain Division despite losing quarterback Chuckie Keeton earlier in the season. Can the defensively stout Aggies slow down Fresno State enough to score an upset? Here's what we think...
Allen Kenney: Where's your head at, Fresno? Are the Bulldogs feeling deflated after losing their perfect season a week ago? Give me the always steady Aggies.
Utah State 27, Fresno State 23
Andy Coppens: One of these two thought they would be here when the season started, the other…well, most wrote them off when Chuckie Keeton went down early in the season. Credit Matt Wells at Utah State for keeping things moving forward and they ended up landing in Las Vegas because of it. The Bulldogs went down in a crazy shoot out against San Jose State and knocked themselves out of BCS contention. Well, they’ll knock themselves out of the MWC championship this weekend because they run into a team that plays good defense and can score some points too.
Utah State 31, Fresno State 27
Aaron Torres: If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a million times: The undefeated team loses the penultimate game of their season, then slogs through a
meaningless championship game a week later (think Ball State in 2008).
Fresno State’s season ended last weekend, even if they still had two more games to play.
David Singleton: The Aggies have made it here without their star quarterback. Fresno State might be ripe for being picked off after losing to San Jose State last week. Count on the Aggies defense to be the difference in this game.
Utah State 27 Fresno State 24
Jonathan Biles: The Bulldogs still have an outside chance at a BCS bid and a loss against Utah State would dash all of those Central Californian dreams. Can Jordan Lynch and Derek Carr share the Heisman?
Fresno State 37, Utah State 31
Josh Parcell: Fresno State was dealt a heavy dose of reality against San Jose State last week, but with the pressure of finishing the season undefeated off of their shoulders, they'll play loose this weekend and burn up the scoreboard.
Fresno State 63, Utah State 35
Kevin Causey: Down the stretch, Utah State feasted on weaker opponents to catch fire and overtake a Boise State team that beat them to make it to this game. Fresno State was 10-0 and a threat to make a BCS bowl game until last week when their defense just got obliterated by San Jose State (6-6). I think Fresno has enough offensive firepower to win this game going away. It's a good thing for them that Chuckie Keeton isn't playing in this one.
Fresno State 42 Utah State 35
Kevin McGuire: I must admit I did not think there was any way Fresno State was going to lose last weekend in San Jose Sate, not with a potential shot at a BCS berth still within sight. So naturally I have some of the same concerns about the Bulldogs and their mental state heading in to this weekend's conference championship game against Utah State. However, I also feel pretty confident that Fresno State will manage to bounce back in a big way against a team that owns the best defense in the Mountain West Conference. Utah State leads the MWC in rushing, passing, scoring and total defense, while Fresno State's air attack is as potent as anyone's in the country. Something is going to have to give, and I look for Derek Carr and Davante Adams to answer the call in a big way. A BCS trip is no longer part of the equation, but Fresno State wins a big one at home.
Fresno State 38, Utah State 26
Tom Perry: Fresno State may come into this game a bit deflated after falling to San Jose State last weekend and ending its run at a perfect season. But getting a conference championship is still a big deal, so there's a good chance the Bulldogs will get the job done.
Fresno State 48, Utah State 28