Fresno State Football

Mountain West adds new prize to bowl lineup – and it’ll be in an NFL stadium near you

Before strong Red Wave presence, Fresno State makes history with Las Vegas Bowl win

Fresno State defeats Arizona State 31-20 to win the Mitsubishi Las Vegas Bowl championship. The Bulldogs won their 12th game, the most ever in program history.
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Fresno State defeats Arizona State 31-20 to win the Mitsubishi Las Vegas Bowl championship. The Bulldogs won their 12th game, the most ever in program history.

The Mountain West Conference unveiled its bowl lineup through the 2025-26 season on Wednesday, the big prize a new bowl in Los Angeles to be played in the NFL stadium that is under construction and will be home to the Rams and the Chargers.

The big prize remains a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

But the Los Angeles bowl replaces the Las Vegas Bowl as the primary bowl destination for the Mountain West.

The yet-to-be-named bowl will get first choice in a bowl lineup that also will include the Potato Bowl in Boise against an opponent from the Mid-American Conference, the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque against an opponent from Conference-USA, the Arizona Bowl in Tucson against an opponent from the MAC, the Hawaii Bowl against an opponent from the American Athletic Conference or C-USA and an existing ESPN Events game to be played in the Dallas Metroplex.

The opponent for the Los Angeles bowl has yet to be announced, but it has long been rumored to be a Pac-12 team.

“It’s a huge recruiting base for us. It’s a phenomenal facility,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said.

“We’re going to be playing in some phenomenal places, but to play in a NFL stadium that will be seen literally every Sunday – it’s shared between the Rams and the Chargers – is phenomenal for our kids in and of itself for the team that plays in that bowl game.”

The bowl is not required to take the Mountain West champion. The selection order behind the Los Angeles bowl is to be determined.

The Las Vegas Bowl, which is moving to the Raiders’ new stadium just off the Strip, has partnered with the Pac-12 with the opponent to come from the Big Ten or Southeastern Conference.

Fresno State played in the Las Vegas Bowl last season as the Mountain West champion, beating Arizona State from the Pac-12.

It also played in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2013, losing to USC.

MW championship game on move?

Thompson said conference membership also has discussed playing the Mountain West championship game at a neutral site in Los Angeles or Las Vegas.

“We’ve talked about that,” Thompson said. “There’s interest in exploring it, no question.”

That game, which pits the winners of the West and Mountain divisions, has not been a big draw played on a home field.

The largest crowd for a Mountain West championship game was in 2013 when Fresno State beat Utah State in the inaugural title game. The announced attendance was 31,362.

Over the past five years the game has failed to draw even 30,000 with a high of 26,101 for the 2014 game between the Bulldogs and Boise State at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

Last year in the snow, the announced crowd was 23,662 to see Fresno State beat the Broncos in Boise.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
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