Mountain West to Send Record Seven Teams to Bowl Games
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Mountain West will send a record seven teams into postseason bowl games in 2014, eclipsing the previous record of six set in 2013. The Mountain West has earned 69 bowl bids since 1999 and holds a 35-27 (.565) all-time record. The 2014 postseason marks the eighth straight year the MW has sent at least five teams to bowls and 11 times since the league's inception in 1999. Last season, the league amassed a bowl record of 3-3, marking the eighth time in the last 10 seasons that the MW has gone at least .500 in the postseason. This season marks the second straight year that the Mountain West has had seven teams qualify for the postseason.
Over the last 10 seasons, the Mountain West has captured the Bowl Challenge Cup four times and owns the second-best win percentage in bowl games among the 10 FBS conferences with a 28-19 mark (.596) during that span. The MW is the only conference to win the trophy four times since the award's inception in 2002-03.
Mountain West Champion and No. 20 Boise State (11-2, 7-1 MW) will face No. 10 Arizona (10-3, 7-2 Pac-12) in the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos, who accepted their bid Sunday after capturing their first-ever outright MW title with a 28-14 victory over Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship Game, return to the Fiesta Bowl for the third time in the last nine years. Boise State, which will make its 13th straight bowl appearance, is 2-0 all-time in the Fiesta Bowl, including a 43-42 overtime victory against Oklahoma in 2007 and a 17-10 win over TCU in 2010. The Broncos will make their 13th straight bowl appearance, which is tied for the seventh-longest active streak in the country. The Wildcats have played in the Fiesta Bowl twice, including a 16-10 loss to Pittsburgh in 1979 and a 29-0 victory over Miami in 1994. This will mark the first meeting between Boise State and Arizona. The Mountain West holds an all-time postseason record of 9-8 over squads from the Pac-12. The 2014 VIZIO Fiesta Bowl will be played on Wednesday, December 31 at 2 p.m. MT and aired on ESPN.
Boise State becomes the first-ever team from the Group of 5 to appear in a New Year's Six bowl game. Under the BCS system, the Mountain West was also the first FBS league to have a member earn an at-large berth and win a BCS bowl game. The Mountain West played in BCS bowls four times in seven years (2004-10) and had a team ranked in the final BCS Standings 12 of the 15 seasons. Since the composite computer rankings were compiled beginning in 2004, the Mountain West finished first in seven of the 10 seasons.
Fresno State (6-7, 5-3 MW) will travel to the Hawai‘i Bowl for the second time in three years and third time overall. The Bulldogs, who won their final three games of the regular season to capture the West Division of the Mountain West and advance to the Sports Authority MW Football Championship Game, will face Rice (7-5, 5-3) out of Conference USA. The Bulldogs have made 13 bowl appearances in the last 15 years and 25 overall. Meanwhile, the Owls will be making their third consecutive bowl appearance and fifth in the last nine years. This season will mark the first time Rice has played in the Hawai‘i Bowl. The 2014 Hawai‘i Bowl is scheduled for 3 p.m. HT on Wednesday, December 24 and will air on ESPN.
Colorado State (10-2, 6-2 MW) accepted an invitation to play in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. The Rams, who will be making their 14th postseason appearance, will face Utah (8-4, 5-4 Pac-12). CSU is looking for its seventh all-time bowl victory and third straight. The Rams defeated Fresno State, 40-35, in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl, and dropped Washington State, 48-45, in the 2013 edition of the game. This will mark the first-ever trip to the Las Vegas Bowl for Colorado State. Utah is 13-4 all-time in the postseason and has qualified for its 11th bowl game in the last 14 years. The Utes hold a 55-22-2 all-time advantage over their former conference mate CSU. The squads have never met in the postseason. The Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl will be televised on Saturday, December 20 at 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC.
Utah State (9-4 overall, 6-2 MW) will make its first trip to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl and face UTEP from Conference USA. The Aggies, who are bowl eligible for the fourth-straight season for the first time in program history, have won back-to-back bowl games, including a 41-15 victory over Toledo in the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and a 21-14 win over Northern Illinois in the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. UTEP (7-5 overall, 5-3 C-USA) will make its first postseason appearance since 2010, a 52-25 loss to BYU in the New Mexico Bowl. The Miners are 5-8 overall in postseason play with their last bowl win coming in 1967. This will mark the third meeting between the squads, as Utah State holds a 2-0 advantage over UTEP including a 20-7 victory in 1960 and a 21-6 win in 1961. Kickoff at University Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M. is set for 12:20 p.m. MT and the game will air nationally on ESPN.
San Diego State (7-5, 5-3 MW) will play in its fifth consecutive bowl when it takes on Navy (6-5) in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Tuesday, December 23. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. PT on ESPN. The Aztecs, who will be playing in their second Poinsettia Bowl in three years and third overall, are 3-0 all-time against the Midshipmen, including a 35-14 victory in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. Navy has earned its 11th bowl invitation in the last 12 seasons and will appear in the game for the third time in program history.
Nevada (7-5, 4-4 MW) will participate in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for the first time in program history, as the Wolf Pack will take on Louisiana (8-4, 7-1) from the Sun Belt. Nevada is bowl eligible for the ninth time in 10 seasons and will participate in a bowl game for the 14th time in program history, including nine in the last 10 years, and its second as a member of the Mountain West. The Pack is 1-0 all-time against the Ragin' Cajuns with the lone meeting resulting in a 38-14 Nevada victory in 1995. Louisiana will make its fourth consecutive bowl appearance, having played in each of the last three New Orleans Bowls.The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will kick off the FBS postseason at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday, December 20 and will be broadcast on ESPN.
Air Force (9-3, 5-3 MW) has qualified for the postseason in seven of the last eight years and will face Western Michigan (8-4, 6-2 MAC) in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Falcons have advanced to a bowl game for the seventh time in eight years. This will also mark the first-ever meeting between Air Force and the Broncos, as well as the first time either squad has appeared in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Western Michigan has appeared in five all-time bowls with its last trip coming at the 2011 Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will get underway in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, December 20 at 3:45 p.m. MT on ESPN.