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WAC Preview

Same as Big 12

A new era in WAC history begins this year as realignment has left the conference with nine teams, three of which transfer over from the Sun Belt. The league says goodbye to UTEP, Tulsa, SMU, and Rice and welcomes in Utah State, New Mexico State, and Idaho. According to the StatFox Power Ratings, the WAC takes a hit in composite strength, but should benefit with some new and more regionalized rivalries. The conference will be trying to continue a stretch since 2001 that has seen it compile the best bowl game winning percentage of any other league. Including three straight wins by Fresno State, the WAC is 7-4 in bowl games, good for 63.6%, during that time frame.

The WAC remains an extremely top heavy league for 2005 as Boise State, Fresno State, and to a lesser degree, Hawaii, stand as favorites to win the league title. Boise State is the defending champion and will enter the season on a tremendous 26 game conference win streak. As of now, the only impending date on the schedule that figures to be a threat to that streak is the contest at Fresno State, scheduled for November. Other than that showdown, it should be smooth sailing for the two teams at the top. Elsewhere, Hawaii is a tier below and begins the first year in the post-Timmy Chang era, while Louisiana tech and Nevada will look to take advantage of a weak league and earn bowl bids for the first time in many years. In San Jose, Dick Tomey’s arrival has Spartans fans optimistic for a UTEP-like turnaround of a year ago, while Utah State, Idaho, and New Mexico State likely have no aspirations other than getting acclimated to their new surroundings in 2005.

Fresno State

Play On: @Oregon 9/17

With 16 returning starters, Coach Pat Hill’s teams usually starts fast out of the gate. The Bulldogs are 8-1 ATS against Pac-10 teams. With Oregon playing USC at home the following week, a wandering eye to the future gives Fresno State a chance to pull an upset.

Play Against: @Hawaii 10/29

The long sojourn to the islands is a difficult trip for Fresno State. The visitor is 2-11 SU and 3-10 ATS in this heated rivalry.

Boise State

Play On: Nevada 10/29

The Broncos are 5-0 SU and ATS against Nevada over the last five years, with the average score being 51-11. Boise State is the play.

Play Against: @Oregon State 9/10

Last year Boise State broke through and defeated the Beavers 53-34 in a game that was not that close. Anticipate Oregon State to be prepared this time around. The Broncos are 2-8 ATS vs. the Pac-10.

Hawaii

Play On: Fresno State 10/29

The Warriors are 7-3 ATS over the last decade against Fresno State. The Bulldogs 70 points last year were the most scored against Hawaii since 1848. These opposing coaches have little use for one another, should be a WACked –out contest.

Play Against: @Michigan State 9/10

This will be the second most difficult non-conference road game for Hawaii over the last 10 years.(USC 2003 is first) The Warriors first trip into the mainland is unkind with a 1-9 SU mark and a 3-7 ATS record. Hawaii upset Spartans 41-38 as six point home dogs last December.

Louisiana Tech

Play On: Boise State 11/26

The Bulldogs will probably be 17+ points’ home dogs for this WAC contest. With the home team delivering a 5-1 ATS record in this series, Co. Bicknell’s boys worth a solid look at Ruston, this late in the season.

Play Against: @Florida 9/10

The swamp is never a good place to visit, particularly when filled with hungry Gators. This is especially tough when the trip is to Gainesville and you are 6-16 ATS in your last 23 road games.

New Mexico State

Play On: UTEP 9/3

After being slammed 45-0 in 2004 by UTEP, a significant home underdog spot is forecasted. New passing offense under Coach Hal Mumme keeps Aggies within the number.

Play Against: @Boise State 11/5

Smurf Turf and speedy Broncos too much for WAC’s newest member New Mexico State. Aggies are 6-12 ATS in November coming from weak Sun Belt Conference.

Nevada

Play On: UNLV 9/17

In-state rival spanked Wolf Pack last year 48-13. Rebels have new coach and return only 8 starters from last year’s mediocre team. Coach Ault has Nevada on the prowl, with the duo of QB Jeff Rowe to WR Nichiren Flowers ready to deliver knock out punch.

Play Against: Fresno State 11/26

This has not a good match-up for Nevada, who has surrendered 48 PPG over the last six years to Fresno State. Nevada is 2-6 SU and ATS in home finales.

San Jose State

Play On: New Mexico State 11/19

New Coach Dick Tomey should have put his stamp on San Jose by this point of the season. Despite small crowds, the Spartans are 7-2 ATS in November home games.

Play Against: @Boise State 10/15

Last year San Jose missed a 38-yard field goal to beat Boise State at home. No such results this season, as the Broncos stampede the Spartans at home.

Idaho

Play On: Utah State 10/1

This will in all probability be the only game that Idaho will be favored in 2005. Vandals take what should have been a win last year, in convincing fashion at home this time around.

Play Against: @Washington State 9/1

The Vandals return 16 starters but will be no match for the Cougars. Washington State has 9 offensive players back including QB Swogger, this allows them to name the final score in this Northwest contest.

Utah State

Play On: @New Mexico State 11/26

The underdog is a 100%, 6-0 against the number in this battle of former Sun Belt Conference members. Utah State is 11-3 ATS since 1990 vs. the team with the same nickname as they have.

slam

posted by slam

Aug. 2 2005 12:39pm

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