Not too far back, I gushed about San Jose’s first 3-0 start since 1982 and the possibilities that lay ahead for the Spartans. The momentum continued with an easy 34-17 win over winless UNLV. At the same time, Fresno State and Nevada each won their games to remain in the hunt for the Mountain West’s West Division title. This weekend, part of that division’s picture will clear when San Jose State and Fresno State face off for the Valley on Saturday night.
The Wild, Wild (Mountain) West
Despite only four weeks of play, the Mountain West’s West Division race looks to be one of the more exciting ones in college football. At the outset, San Diego State and defending champ Hawaii looked like the clear contenders, but early season chaos has flipped the division on it’s head. Hawaii is 2-2, while San Diego State’s loss first loss to San Jose State since 2012 left a vacancy for the top spot.
Now three main contenders are in the mix, Nevada, San Jose State, and Fresno State. Nevada is undefeated at 4-0, but showed some serious vulnerabilities in a 27-20 win over the New Mexico, or Las Vegas Lobos. The Wolf Pack’s other wins wins have been against Wyoming, Utah State, and UNLV.
Fresno State lost their first game vs Hawaii in a game that looked less surprising then as it does now. Following this loss though, the Bulldogs caught fire winning three straight blowout wins over Colorado State, UNLV, and Utah State.
San Jose State is at 4-0, like Nevada, with statement wins over Air Force and San Diego State as well as easy wins vs UNLV and New Mexico.
All of which brings us to this Saturday night. San Jose State-Fresno State’s winner will control their own destiny with three games left to play, with both teams yet to play Nevada. An even bigger indicator of the huge implications of this game is the vulnerability Boise State has shown this year, particularly in a blowout 51-17 loss to BYU where the Broncos were shorthanded. It turns out the Mountain West may not run through Boise this year after all.
This Saturday is paradise for fans of underdogs. Big Noon Kickoff has Indiana playing in their biggest game since 1967 and for the night cap, San Jose State looks to continue their path to their first Mountain West title ever. With Tulsa causing chaos, there might be a slim chance the Mountain West winner can crash the New Year’s Six. Who would have thought the Battle for the Valley Trophy would have so much more than Silicon Valley pride at stake? America needs to hone in on the Bay area for this one, as more has been at stake in this rivalry than ever.