Boise State again will receive the largest share of Mountain West TV bonuses for the 2015 football season.
The Mountain West uses a portion of its TV revenue to pay bonuses to members for appearances on ESPN, ESPN2 or the major broadcast networks. The bonuses are $300,000 for weekday games and $500,000 for Saturday games.
The system was negotiated by Boise State as part of its agreement to stay in the conference rather than join the American Athletic. And because Boise State also negotiated a deal that gives ESPN the rights to at least six Broncos games a year, Boise State is in a better position to capitalize on the system than other schools.
A couple of reminders: Bonuses are paid only for Mountain West-controlled games, which generally means games played at MW stadiums. Hawaii doesn’t receive Mountain West TV money and isn’t part of the system. Also, the other 10 members (besides Boise State and Hawaii) have agreed to pool and share the bonuses they earn for games involving Boise State because Mountain Division teams get that opportunity more often than West Division teams (the pool included $800,000 this year).
This year, Boise State earned $1.6 million – $720,000 more than any other school. Wyoming, San Diego State and Nevada earned $880,000 each. Fresno State and Utah State earned $680,000 apiece.
Without the bonus system, the $6.8 million would have been distributed with $618,181 to each school. That means six schools profited from the system and six lost (see chart).
Boise State received $2.1 million in 2014 and $1.6 million in 2013. In three years of the system, Boise State has received $5.3 million in bonuses. That’s $3.44 million more than the school would have received without the bonus system.
Fresno State (3-7, 2-5) – With their victory at Hawaii, the Bulldogs are 10-3 in the month of November under coach Tim DeRuyter, including road wins at Nevada in 2012, at Wyoming in 2013, at Nevada in 2014 and at Hawaii this season. The only road loss in that span was a big one, at San Jose State in 2013 that ended a run at an undefeated season after 10 wins.
The win at Hawaii also marked the first time this season Fresno State has scored a touchdown in all four quarters – it put up 7, 21, 7 and 7.
Next game: at BYU, noon Saturday (ESPN3)
Notable: Marteze Waller will have to wait another week to become the fifth Fresno State running back with 3,000 career rushing yards. The senior went into the Hawaii game with 2,922 and gained 27 yards on 13 carries, 2.1 yards per play. This week’s opponent, BYU, ranks 42nd in the nation in rushing defense at 145.7 yards per game.
Robert Kuwada, The Fresno Bee
Hawaii (2-9, 0-7) – Not only have the Rainbow Warriors lost eight consecutive games, they have endured numerous injuries. On Tuesday, the Warriors had only seven offensive linemen from the active roster available to practice. Only 18 of the 33 players on the defensive three-deep chart were healthy enough to practice.
“We’re trying to M*A*S*H-unit it out there, put a Band-Aid on somebody and try to find who want wants to play and finish out the last two games,” interim coach Chris Naeole said.
Next game: vs. San Jose State, 8 p.m. Saturday
Notable: Quarterback Ikaika Woolsey will make his third consecutive start this week, Naeole said. Woolsey was pulled after the first half of last week’s 42-14 loss to Fresno State.
Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Nevada (6-4, 4-2) – The Wolf Pack is bowl eligible. That doesn’t mean it is headed to a bowl game.
The Mountain West has seven bowl tie-ins this season, although the Hawaii or Las Vegas Bowl will go to BYU, leaving six spots for MW teams. The conference currently has five bowl-eligible teams:n Nevada, Boise State, Air Force, San Diego State and New Mexico. Two more teams – Utah State, which Nevada plays Saturday, and Colorado State – are one win from bowl eligibility.
If the Aggies and Rams win a sixth game, which seems likely, that would leave seven teams for six slots, potentially leaving one bowl-eligible team on the outside looking in, like San Jose State in 2013.
“I always feel like we need to get one more (victory),” coach Brian Polian said, “but when you study the different landscapes, you have a good chance at six. Last year, I felt six wasn’t going to get you in. I feel like this year, six gives you a chance. I’m not saying I feel like it’s a guarantee or certainty, but when you look at the landscape, not only with our tie-ins but also with where other conferences are, there’s a chance.”
Next game: at Utah State, 12:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3)
Notable: Currently, there are 62 bowl-eligible teams for 80 spots, leaving 18 free. Thirty-five teams have been ruled out of bowl contention; 31 teams could still become bowl eligible over the next three weeks.
Chris Murray, Reno Gazette-Journal
San Diego State (7-3, 6-0) – San Diego State has asked starting quarterback Maxwell Smith if he’d consider returning for next season on an NCAA injury waiver, and the graduate transfer is giving coaches the vibe that he would like to do so.
“He’s very positive about the idea,” Aztecs coach Rocky Long said.
Smith started his career at Kentucky, where he played in eight games (starting three) as a true freshman and four games as a sophomore before an ankle injury limited him.
Smith returned to play nine games his junior year (starting four), but also missed three games with a rotator cuff injury that required surgery after the 2013 season. He has said he wasn’t healthy enough to compete for playing time in the 2014 season at Kentucky, after which he transferred to San Diego State and earned the starting job in the fall.
The possibility of Smith’s return, of course, is significant for the Aztecs, who may also return their star tailback, Donnel Pumphrey, who repeatedly has said he will return for his senior season rather than go into the NFL draft.
Up next: at UNLV, 7:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network)
Notable: San Diego State’s current streak of four consecutive wins by 23 points or more is the longest in the nation.
Tod Leonard, San Diego Union-Tribune
San Jose State (4-6, 3-3) – The Spartans’ November woes continued with a 37-34 overtime loss at Nevada.
San Jose State has lost seven games in a row in November over two seasons and is 2-10 in the month during coach Ron Caragher’s tenure.
The Spartans have a chance to reverse the trend in Honolulu. But they also would need to upset Boise State on Nov. 27 at home to have a chance to reach the postseason.
“For us, we’re not going to look past Hawaii,” quarterback Kenny Potter said. “We have to win the next one first.”
It will be another road challenge. San Jose State is 1-4 on the road entering its final away game. The Spartans’ only road victory was a 33-27 overtime triumph at UNLV last month.
Next game: at Hawaii, 8 p.m. Saturday
Notable: Potter became the first San Jose State quarterback in 30 years to rush for at least 100 yards in a game after gaining 116 on 19 carries against Nevada. In 1985, Spartans quarterback Doug Allen gained 117 yards on eight carries against Fresno State.
Elliott Almond, San Jose Mercury News
UNLV (3-7 2-4) – For once, coach Tony Sanchez didn’t have the answers.
It was tough to figure out what went wrong for the Rebels’ defense in Saturday’s 49-35 loss at Colorado State. That’s because just about everything seemed to.
Sanchez said the numerous emotional games the Rebels have played this season might have caught up with them.
“I’m disappointed in the outcome, no doubt about it,” Sanchez said. “I told our guys the hardest thing about this is I don’t feel we played our best football. I feel like we left a lot of things out on the football field.
“That’s a good football team. They were a better football team than we were. ... I think that was apparent, so we needed to do things on a higher level in order to try to compete with these guys. We’re just not where they’re at right now.”
Next game: vs. San Diego State, 7:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network)
Notable: Sanchez said he didn’t have immediate word on quarterback Blake Decker’s injury, but it doesn’t look as if he will play against the Aztecs and is listed as doubtful. Decker left the game at Colorado State late in the second quarter, walking gingerly on his right foot. Kurt Palandech is listed first on the depth chart this week, with freshman Dalton Sneed second. Sneed is redshirting, so he would most likely play only in an emergency.
Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Air Force (7-3, 5-1) – A four-game winning streak has thrust the Falcons into first place in the Mountain Division by one game with two to play.
A victory Friday at Boise State could clinch the title, depending on how New Mexico fares on Saturday against Colorado State.
“I’d definitely say we’ve all kind of caught our second wind here to finish out the season,” Air Force safety Weston Steelhammer said.
Yes, the game at Boise State is as big as any game the Falcons have played in recent memory. It was going to be big anyway, given Air Force’s 28-14 upset last season, but now there are legitimate stakes.
The matchup isn’t particularly promising for the Falcons, considering their struggles against the pass (Utah State threw for 364 yards and four long touchdowns last week) and Boise State’s willingness to pass more than 70 times in a game, as it did last week in a loss to New Mexico.
There’s also the home-field factor, as Air Force has won just two of its past 10 road conference games and Boise State has lost just four times at home since 2001.
But the Broncos have dropped two of four, giving up 12 turnovers in those losses. The Falcons forced seven turnovers in defeating Boise State last year.
“You can see the blood and smell it, so we’re going to try to capitalize on that,” Air Force cornerback Roland Ladipo said. “But they’re going to be hungry for this win.”
Next game: at Boise State, 6:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN2)
Notable: Quarterback Karson Roberts passed for 271 yards last week and is 18 of 27 for 408 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions over the past two weeks.
Brent Briggeman, The (Colorado Springs) Gazette
Boise State (7-3, 4-2) – Coach Bryan Harsin made true freshman quarterback Brett Rypien available to the media for the first time Monday in an attempt to emphasize his leadership role on the team.
The Broncos are 5-2 in Rypien’s starts going into Friday’s must-win Mountain West game against Air Force.
They lost 31-24 to New Mexico last week largely because of a hot-and-cold passing attack that generated 506 yards but was hampered by 34 incompletions – many of them drops, including three passes that hit receivers and were intercepted on deflections.
“We need to be better as an offense as a whole and I need to be better,” Rypien said. “It starts with me. ... Whether that’s in practice or in the film room, there’s little things that we have to do out there that need to be better in order for us to get wins consistently and just be better on offense consistently.”
Boise State needs to beat Air Force and San Jose State next week and have New Mexico lose one of its final two home games against Colorado State and Air Force to win the Mountain Division.
Rypien leads the Mountain West in passing yards per game by more than 100 yards (he’s at 317.4; Nick Stevens of Colorado State is at 202). Rypien also leads in pass efficiency at 143.01.
Next game: vs. Air Force, 6:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN2)
Notable: Boise State redshirt freshman tight end David Lucero was arrested Tuesday on a felony charge of attempted strangulation, according to Ada County Jail records. Lucero has been suspended indefinitely from the team, the school announced. He appeared in nine games this season, with four catches for 63 yards as the fifth man in the tight end rotation.
Chadd Cripe, (Boise) Idaho Statesman
Colorado State (5-5, 3-3) – The option offense coach Bob Davie has used to turn around New Mexico’s program over the past four seasons has evolved into something quite a bit different than the Air Force option attackhe set out to emulate.
The formations are different and the reads the quarterback makes don’t always lead to the same conclusion.
Still, Colorado State coach Mike Bobo and his defenders feel good about their chances of keeping the Lobos’ ground game under wraps Saturday, partly because of the success they had last month against Air Force. The Rams limited the Falcons to 269 rushing yards, well below their average of 333.2, in a 38-23 win Oct. 17 at Hughes Stadium.
The Rams played with a kind of discipline they hadn’t shown previously, with defenders reading the proper keys, controlling their gaps and swarming to the ball, so if the first defender missed the tackle, the second or third defender could bring down the ballcarrier.
“What we really honed in on was actually running to the ball, everybody just sticking to their job,” junior linebacker Deonte Clyburn said.
New Mexico averages 231.4 rushing yards a game but will go to the air, too: The Lobos passed for a season-high 218 yards in last week’s 31-24 win at Boise State.
Next game: at New Mexico, 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Notable: Colorado State has averaged 62 points in its past two games against New Mexico.
Kelly Lyell, Fort Collins Coloradoan
New Mexico (6-4, 4-2) – On the heels of the Lobos’ upset of Boise State and their first season of six wins or more since 2007, New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs submitted an open letter to the fan base.
Now is the time, he wrote Monday, to jump on the bandwagon.
“Many fans have taken a wait-and-see approach,” Krebs wrote. “Well the wait is over. ... This team deserves your attention. The wait-and-see is over, because our time is now.”
New Mexico has averaged 23,485 in attendance through five of seven home games, about 60 percent of capacity at University Stadium.
Next game: vs. Colorado State, 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Notable: Quarterback Lamar Jordan, who left the game after banging his head on the turf at Boise State, should be OK for Colorado State, said Davie, who added Jordan and junior quarterback Austin Apodaca likely again will share playing time.
Rick Wright, Albuquerque Journal
Utah State (5-5, 4-3) – Back-to-back losses at New Mexico and Air Force by a total of eight points in games that went to the final minute has ended Utah State’s chance to play for the Mountain West championship.
The Aggies can still qualify for a school-record fifth consecutive bowl game, however, by beating Nevada on Saturday. They finish the regular season Nov. 28 against BYU, also at Maverik Stadium.
“We want to be in a bowl game, there’s no question about it,” coach Matt Wells said.
Next game: vs. Nevada, 12:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3)
Notable: The Aggies have won 13 in a row at home, going back to 2013. The school record is 17 straight, set from 1959 to 1963.
Steve Luhm, Salt Lake Tribune
Wyoming (1-10, 1-6) – A bye week this late in the season is unusual, and not always ideal.
But it’s a good thing this week for the Cowboys, who are coming off one of their more physical games of the season in a 38-3 loss at San Diego State.
“We did not sustain any significant injuries, but there were a lot of bumps, bruises, blood and stitches,” coach Craig Bohl said.
“Going into the game, we felt like (San Diego State) was the most physical team in the conference, and after the game, I would say that was the case. We’ll need this week to get healed up. It’s been a long time since I saw a locker room like that after the game. It looked like a 16-round fight against Evander Holyfield.”
Next game: vs. UNLV, Nov. 28
Notable: Wyoming needs to beat UNLV to avoid its first one-win season since 1970.
Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Mountain West football TV money
This year’s bonus totals. Note: Does not include inconvenience fees members receive for playing weeknight and late-night games on non-bonus networks:
San Diego State
San Jose State
How the MW football teams have fared since the beginning of the system. The total bonus amount of $20.5 million would have provided $1.86 million per school if shared evenly. Only four schools have received that amount in the bonus system.
San Diego State
San Jose State
- Air Force at Boise State, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
- Fresno State at BYU, noon (ESPN3)
- Nevada at Utah State, noon (ESPN3)
- Colorado State at New Mexico, 2:30 p.m.
- San Diego State at UNLV, 7:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
- San Jose State at Hawaii, 8 p.m.