Las Vegas Bowl 2019: USC Leads Pack of Early Contenders

Predictions are already forming over who'll play at Sam Boyd Dec. 21

Paul Ihander
October 08, 2019 - 11:04 am
Matt Fink

Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

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As we roll into October, the haves and the have nots are beginning to emerge when it comes to bowl contention.   Let’s take a look at where the leading predictions land and get you on the road to this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl set for Sat., Dec. 21, at Sam Boyd Stadium.

THE PICKS:

24/7 Sports: Wyoming vs. USC

CBS Sports: Fresno State vs. Washington State

College Football News: Utah State vs. USC

ESPN: Cal vs. Hawaii (Bonagura), USC vs. Hawaii (Schlabach)

Sporting News: Wyoming vs. USC

Stadium: Boise State vs. USC

THE CONTENDERS:

Mountain West

Truly a coin toss at this part of the season, the Mountain West list of contenders is roughly half the conference.  Fresno State came last year, so we could imagine the bowl might want a fresher face – although if you were at the 2018 game, the Bulldogs faithful travelled really, really well.  I also don’t see Boise State here.   On Saturday night, they gave up silly penalties, and still managed to keep a huge gap over UNLV.  They are a good team on off nights.  And that’s scary.  Look to the October 12 game with

Wyoming needs a signature conference win this year – and faces likely the roughest November schedule, with Boise State, Utah State, Colorado State and Air Force.  They could slow roll into Vegas. 

Utah State has a star quarterback in Jordan Love, but the supporting cast needs more seasoning.  They would be an interesting MW pick if they can get hot and come together.

Hawaii seems to be the wildcard in this scenario.  They have the softest finish.   If they can get the “W” over Boise State and make it through October unscathed, the Warriors could be the Group of 5 rep in the New Year’s Bowl set.   Or they’ll play in the bowl named after the state they call home and save the airfare.

Pac-12

There seems to be consensus that a shade of red will be on the Conference of Champions sideline in late December.  The USC Trojans have survived multiple lightning strikes on-field and off the field to start the season, with two injured quarterbacks, and drama starting in the now-empty Athletic Director’s office.  Watch Michael Pittman, Jr.  The senior wide receiver is a next level athlete, averaging more than 100 yards a game receiving.  His playmaking performances have been the most consistent in the conference. 

Washington State and its crimson could be in Vegas come December as well.   Mike Leach continues to put up gawdy offensive numbers in the post-Gardner Minshew era, but it’s the defense which is raising eyebrows for the wrong reasons.  Defensive Coordinator Tracy Claeys is out, and a pair of co-defensive play callers are in for now.  When UCLA drops 67 on you, and Utah follows with 38, you know change is coming.

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