The Ultimate Schedule: WAC

September 2nd, 2009

WAC Scheduling “Rules”:

-         Five non-conference games (as a result of playing at Hawaii, you get to make up travel costs with an extra home game)

-         Eight conference games


Week 1: Oregon @ Boise State (September 3rd)


Things got a little heated in last season’s meeting, which was won by the Broncos. Boise State picked up two personal fouls for late hits, one of which resulted in an ejection (Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli was knocked out of the game on one of those hits). Of course the rematch coincides with the new mandate that teams must shake hands prior to the game. Let’s just say that Masoli and friends were none too thrilled with that prospect, and RB LaGarrette Blount told Sports Illustrated’s Austin Murphy in the offseason that “we owe them an ass whuppin’.” The national media may place more focus on Alabama/ Virginia Tech, but this may be the game of the weekend.


Other Games Considered: Nevada @ Notre Dame (9/5), Louisiana Tech @ Auburn (9/5), Idaho @ New Mexico State (9/5)


Week 2: Louisiana Tech @ Navy (September 12th)


Before playing Army last season the Bulldogs had never faced a service academy team in football. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to mention that Louisiana Tech managed just 152 yards of offense in the 14-7 loss, and Navy’s a much better team than the Black Knights. But Derek Dooley’s team should perform better on offense this season with Ross Jenkins firmly entrenched as the starter.


The Bulldogs ranked second in the WAC and thirteenth nationally in rush defense, allowing opponents to rush for just under 104 yards per game. A performance like that against the team that’s led the nation in rushing each of the last four seasons would be improbable, but the Bulldogs just need to do enough to ensure a win.


Other Games Considered: Fresno State @ Wisconsin (9/12), Utah @ San Jose State (9/12)


Week 3: Boise State @ Fresno State (September 18th)


The Bulldogs haven’t had much success against Boise State in recent years, dropping three straight and seven of the last eight meetings. If Pat Hill’s team wants to entertain any thoughts of winning the WAC they need to defend their home turf in front of a national television audience. Things got beyond out of hand on the “Smurf Turf” last season, with Boise State romping to a brutally efficient 61-10 win. Fresno State won’t be able to match the Broncos score for score; if the defense can slow down the vaunted BSU attack they just might stick around for a bit.


Other Games Considered: Nevada @ Colorado State (9/19), San Jose State @ Stanford (9/19)


Week 4: Missouri @ Nevada (September 25th)


For the second consecutive season the Wolf Pack will host a team from the Big 12, and the thought of beating Missouri is a bit more realistic than beating Texas Tech last season. The Tigers will be working with a new quarterback (Blaine Gabbert) among other newcomers at the skill positions, and while the defense returns First Team All-Big 12 selection Sean Witherspoon (155 tackles) Colin Kaepernick could be in position to make some things happen. Things got out of hand in Columbia last season, with the Tigers blowing out Nevada 69-17. But Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman won’t be on the field in Reno, which gives the home team a puncher’s chance.


Other Games Considered: Fresno State @ Cincinnati (9/26), New Mexico State @ New Mexico (9/26)


Week 5: New Mexico State @ San Diego State (October 3rd)


Not exactly a marquee game, but it is a matchup between two teams working with new coaching staffs. Brady Hoke and DeWayne Walker hope to change the culture at their respective schools, and a game like this could be a springboard into bigger things. You have to learn how to win before aspiring to win championships. The solutions for both teams go beyond one side of the football; they struggled on both sides of the ball in 2008. This will either be a low-scoring game because both teams struggle offensively or a high-scoring game due to the play of both defenses.


Other Games Considered: UNLV @ Nevada (10/3), Hawaii @ Louisiana Tech (9/30)


Week 6: Louisiana Tech @ Nevada (October 9th)


The winner becomes Boise State’s biggest challenger while the loser has to hope for some serious help if they’re to remain a part of the championship chase. Nevada’s won the last four meetings, including coming back from a 31-14 deficit to steal a 35-31 decision in Ruston last year. The Bulldogs will need a big day from QB Ross Jenkins, but they won’t need to ask him to match Colin Kaepernick play for play. Both teams have the talent necessary to pose a threat to Boise State; whether or not they get to play the Broncos with something on the line will likely be decided by this game.


Other Game Considered: Fresno State @ Hawaii (10/10)


Week 7: Boise State @ Tulsa (October 14th)


There could be some serious fireworks in Tulsa when the Broncos step onto the field. Two of the nation’s best offenses in 2008 are poised to rack up points in 2009, even though the Golden Hurricane haven’t decided on a starting quarterback just yet. G.J. Kinne, Jacob Bower and Shavodrick Beaver are all possibilities to start, and all three will likely see snaps. The options available to Tulsa head coach Todd Graham could make preparation a bit more difficult for the Broncos. This could be a game in which the team with the ball last wins.


Other Games Considered: San Jose State @ Fresno State (10/17), Nevada @ Utah State (10/17)


Week 8: Louisiana Tech @ Utah State (October 24th)


There are some, despite the hiring of a new head coach, who believe that the Aggies can make a move up the WAC standings. But the Bulldogs have won the last four meetings and used a pair of pick-sixes to win 45-38 in Ruston last season. In order for Gary Andersen’s team to move up in the standings the defense needs to improve. Utah State ranked eighth in the conference in both scoring and total defense. Hence the decision to hire the former Utah defensive coordinator, who helped lead the Utes to an undefeated season last year. If the Aggies take care of the football they’ll be in the game throughout.  


Other Game Considered: Boise State @ Hawaii (10/24)



Week 9: Bye Week (October 31st)


Utah State at Fresno State may be the game with the biggest impact on the conference race, and neither has been projected to be a title contender. Boise State hosts a San Jose State team that could match them defensively but still has a number of questions to answer on offense. Hawaii’s trip to Nevada has the ability to be a wild affair, but you have to wonder about the ability of the Warrior defense to stop Colin Kaepernick.


Week 10: Boise State @ Louisiana Tech (November 6th)


Boise State has won the last seven in the series, and they haven’t been very close either. It’s another case of a team getting into a shootout with the Broncos, only to find that they don’t have the bullets necessary to survive. Provided both teams take care of business in the weeks leading up to this matchup it should be a frenzied atmosphere with a national television audience tuning in. A good individual matchup to watch will be Tech WR Phillip Livas against Boise State CB Kyle Wilson.


Other Games Considered: Nevada @ San Jose State (11/8), Utah State @ Hawaii (11/7)


Week 11: San Jose State @ Utah State (November 14th)


One of these two teams, if not both, may be in the position of needing wins to become bowl eligible in mid-November. The Spartans have had a tough time winning in Logan, including a loss there in 2005. SJSU won in Logan in 2007, but the final margin was just three points. The Spartans won at home 30-7 last season, holding the Aggies to 190 yards of offense and ten first downs. The lone touchdown for Utah State came with less than two minutes remaining in the game when the Spartan starters were on the bench. Expect a closer meeting in the rematch.


Other Games Considered: Fresno State @ Nevada (11/14), Louisiana Tech @ LSU (11/14)


Week 12: Louisiana Tech @ Fresno State (November 21st)


The battle of the Bulldogs and the winner will do themselves a favor in the caliber of their bowl game. Daniel Porter gashed Fresno State to the tune of 189 yards in the 38-35 Louisiana Tech win, so he’ll be a focal point for Fresno State’s defensive efforts. Fresno State rushed for just sixty-three yards in the loss while allowing Louisiana Tech to rush for 280. Phillip Livas also had an impact, returning a punt eighty-one yards for a touchdown. Louisiana Tech did practically nothing in the air but the dominant performance on the ground was all they needed. Fresno State had better take care of that if they want to entertain any thoughts of winning.


Other Games Considered: Hawaii @ San Jose State (11/21), Boise State @ Utah State (11/20)


Week 13: Nevada @ Boise State (November 27th)


The WAC title could be on the line the night after Thanksgiving, and in the case of the Broncos they could be chasing a BCS berth as well. New Mexico State the following weekend won’t pose much of a challenge, so it may all come down to beating a Nevada team that gave them all they wanted in Reno last year. Boise State has won the last seven games in the series, with the majority of those wins being blowouts. Boise State survived last season despite turning the ball over four times, stopping the Wolf Pack late in the fourth quarter to hang onto the 41-34 win. Nevada can compete; whether or not they can compete against Boise State on the road has proven to be another matter in the past.


Other Game Considered: Navy @ Hawaii (11/28)


Week 14: San Jose State @ Louisiana Tech (December 5th)


Louisiana Tech was dominant in last year’s 21-0 win, holding the Spartans to 148 yards of offense and a paltry six first downs. It’s hard to predict the same, but Dick Tomey’s team has never been known to light up a scoreboard. Kyle Reed was decent last year and the hope this season is that Reed can help lead an offensive resurgence. By the time December 5th rolls around we’ll know what kind of answer the Spartans have for their offensive issues, and someone could be playing for a bowl berth as well.


Other Games Considered: Wisconsin @ Hawaii (12/5), Fresno State @ Illinois (12/5)