You know it’s a whole new world in college football when UNLV is now a championship contender.
A national championship? Don’t be silly. This ain’t the apocalypse. But a Mountain West championship is within reach.
Rebel after Rebel have picked up weekly conference honors this season. This week’s standout is linebacker Austin Ajiake, who was named Defensive Player of the Week for racking up 11 tackles and an interception in UNLV’s 34-24 road win at Utah State.
This week’s opponent is a New Mexico squad fresh off a 38-0 drubbing at Death Valley by LSU. Outside of opening the season with a 41-0 win over Maine, the Lobos have been outscored 96-24 in their last three games.
My pick (UNLV -13.5): The Las Vegas proverb, “The house always wins,” now applies to UNLV.
San Diego State (+6.5) at Boise State
As far as Group of 5 teams go, San Diego State is solid at best.
The Aztecs have evened their record after topping Toledo 17-14 at home last week. Jack Browning was named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week for kicking a career-best 50-yard field goal late in the third quarter that proved to be the difference.
This version of the Aztecs are nothing like the team that competed for the MWC title last season but still good enough for a bowl game. However, betting on the Aztecs this Friday against Boise State has less to do with them and more to do with the state of Broncos than anything else.
After losing on the road to UTEP to even their record to 2-2, Boise State fired it’s offensive coordinator and the starting quarterback, Hank Bachmeier, went straight into the transfer portal.
Home field advantage can only take the Broncos so far on a short week after completely turning over the offense, even if the new play-caller is Dirk Koetter.
My pick (San Diego State +6.5): A straight-up upset might be getting to frisky but I doubt the Aztecs will lose by a touchdown.
UCLA (+3) vs. No. 15 Washington
After starting the season 4-0, UCLA will finally be tested by the No. 15 Washington Huskies.
These are the type of games that makes a college football fan feel alive. Your team is undefeated, at the peak of their power, but a loss in this game seemingly invalidates the goodwill built up from the first four weeks. However, to take down the No. 15 team in the country would catapult the Bruins to prominence, a place they were hoping came sooner under Chip Kelly’s tenure at head coach.
You know Washington is a flimsy favorite when the odds of them to surpass their minuscule point spread is +100. At the same time, you’d be getting +115 for UCLA winning.
My pick (O64.5): Just root for fun. Both teams can score Washington leads the PAC-12 in scoring with 176 points while UCLA is not too far away with 167. Friday night lights are meant for shootouts.