Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 | 7 p.m.
When the music finally came to a halt and bowl eligible teams took their collective chairs throughout the day Sunday, San Jose State was the Mountain West team left with no place to sit down.
Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said Monday he expected one of the league’s seven eligible teams to be left out of the bowl season. That turned out to be the Spartans (6-6), who had the fewest victories of the group and caused a lot of this kerfuffle by upsetting Fresno State two weeks ago.
While that victory got the Spartans to bowl eligibility, it wasn’t enough to convince a game to bring them in and it cost the entire league, including themselves, a potential BCS payout. Because of Northern Illinois’ loss this weekend, Fresno State would have made the BCS field and brought in six-figure payouts for every team in the league.
The Spartans are one of nine eligible teams that won't play in a bowl. Here are the six Mountain West teams who will be playing in the postseason, starting with the league-champion Bulldogs in Las Vegas:
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State (11-1) vs. USC (9-4), Dec. 21 on ABC
• The Trojans are a team that local bowl representatives coveted all season and this is as good of a matchup as they could have hoped for.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Utah State (8-5) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1), Dec. 26 on ESPN
• There was talk that Boise State could end up here but as the league’s second-best team the Aggies ended up in the second-best bowl game. It will be interesting to see how Northern Illinois responds after missing out on a BCS bid.
Heart of Dallas Bowl
UNLV (7-5) vs. North Texas (8-4), Jan. 1 on ESPNU
• This is where things started to get interesting. ESPN Regional Television started maneuvering teams around for matchups it wanted to create in the at least nine bowl games it operates. ERT put Middle Tennessee State into the Mountain West’s slot in the Armed Forces Bowl against Navy and moved the Rebels over to this game in a spot left open by the Big Ten.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6), Dec. 24 on ESPN
• Early in the week there were rumblings about a Boise State-Notre Dame matchup on the Big Island. When Broncos coach Chris Peterson left for Washington and the Irish accepted a bid to the Pinstripe Bowl it wasn’t clear where Boise State would end up. ERT was able to put together a decent matchup on the field that happens to coincide with the Diamond Head Classic, where both the Broncos and Beavers basketball teams will be playing Dec. 22-23 and 25.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Colorado State (7-6) vs. Washington State (6-6), Dec. 21 on ESPN
• There could have been some drama behind the doors — Boise State was rumored to be in the mix — but Colorado State to the New Mexico Bowl was as close to a sure thing as there was in the bottom four Mountain West games.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
San Diego State (7-5) vs. Buffalo (8-4), Dec. 21 on ESPN
• The general consensus was San Jose State athletic director Gene Bleymaier’s 30 years at Boise State would be enough to get the Spartans into the Potato Bowl. San Diego State AD Jim Sterk said he hadn’t talk to Potato Bowl reps in the last few days and was pleasantly surprised to get a call during Sunday’s basketball game.
“I’m excited, relieved and all those good things,” Sterk told the San Diego Union Tribune.
So at the end of a wild day that featured all the wheeling and dealing people are accustomed to seeing with the bowl season, a San Jose State team that pulled off the upset to start the chaos ended up staying home. Musical chairs must have a loser.