The Nevada Wolf Pack will be among a record seven Mountain West schools in this year’s inflated bowl game field.
The Wolf Pack, which finished the regular season at 7-5, returns to a bowl game for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons. The Pack will take on Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 20.
The Mountain West sent six teams to a bowl in 2013. The 16-year-old conference has earned 69 bowl bids since 1999 and holds a 35-27 (.565) all-time record in the postseason. The 2014 postseason is the eighth straight year the conference has sent at least five teams to bowls and 11 times since the league’s inception in 1999. 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).
Mountain West champion and 20th-ranked Boise State (11-2) will face No. 10 Arizona (10-3) of the Pac-12 in the Vizio Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31. The Broncos, who captured their first outright Mountain West 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.
Fresno State is under .500 at 6-7 but will travel to the Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24) for the second time in three years and third time overall. The Bulldogs, who won their final three games of the regular season (including a 40-20 win over Nevada at Mackay Stadium) to capture the West Division of the Mountain West, will face Rice (7-5) of Conference USA. The Bulldogs have made 13 bowl appearances in the last 15 years and 25 overall. The Owls will be making their third consecutive bowl appearance and fifth in the last nine years.
Colorado State (10-2) will play in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 20 against former Mountain West school Utah (8-4) of the Pac-12. CSU is looking for its seventh all-time bowl victory and third straight. Utah is 13-4 all-time in the postseason and has qualified for its 11th bowl game in the last 14 years.
Utah State (9-4) will make its first trip to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl (also on Dec. 20) and face UTEP (7-5) from Conference USA. The Aggies, who are bowl eligible for the fourth-straight season for the first time, 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 will make its first postseason appearance since 2010, a 52-25 loss to BYU in the New Mexico Bowl.
San Diego State (7-5) will play in its fifth consecutive bowl when it takes on Navy (6-5) in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23. 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. Navy has earned its 11th bowl invitation in the last 12 seasons and will appear in the game for the third time.
The Wolf Pack (7-5) will participate in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for the first time in program history. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) is from the Sun Belt. 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.
Air Force (9-3) has qualified for the postseason in seven of the last eight years and will face Western Michigan (8-4) of the MAC in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise on Dec. 20. The Falcons have advanced to a bowl game for the seventh time in eight years. Western Michigan has appeared in five bowls with its last trip coming at the 2011 Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl.