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This Week in WAC Football-Dec. 8
Courtesy: Associated Press

WAC SENDS FIVE TO POSTSEASON BOWLS – For the second time in its history and first since 1992, the WAC is sending five teams to postseason bowl games.  Boise State, Fresno State, Hawai’i, Louisiana Tech and Nevada will all continue their seasons later this month.  WAC regular season champion, Boise State, is one of just two undefeated teams left in the country and is ranked ninth nationally.  The Broncos are playing in their seventh straight bowl game and will face No. 11 TCU on Dec. 23 in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.  The matchup between the ninth and 11th-ranked teams (AP poll) is the fifth best of all 34 bowl games with only four BCS games ranked above this one.  Hawai’i, which already earned an invitation to the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl last week, will host Notre Dame in the Dec. 24 game.  It is the sixth bowl game for the Warriors in the last seven years.  Louisiana Tech earned its first bowl appearance since 2001 and is heading just 70 miles west to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 28.  The Bulldogs will take on Northern Illinois.  Nevada, playing in its fourth consecutive bowl, is returning to the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl on  Dec. 30 and will take on ACC opponent Maryland.  Fresno State opens the WAC bowl season with a Dec. 20 game against Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl.  The Bulldogs are making their ninth postseason appearance in the last 10 years.

WAC OWNS THIRD BEST SIX-YEAR BOWL WINNING PERCENTAGE – Over the last six years, the WAC has the third best winning percentage in bowl games of any conference in the nation. The WAC has sent 22 teams to postseason games from 2002-07 and those teams won 54.5 percent of their games with a 12-10 record. WAC teams won one of four bowl games in 2007, three of four games in 2006, one of three games in 2005, two of four games in 2004, three of four in 2003 and two of three in 2002. During this six-year span, WAC teams are 7-4 in bowl games against teams from conferences that have an automatic berth into the BCS.

WAC TOPS NATION IN ALL-TIME BOWL RECORDS – The WAC’s nine teams have an all-time record of 33-27-2 (.548) in bowl games. That winning percentage is the best among the 11 FBS conferences based on current membership. The ACC is second at .529 followed by the SEC (.528) and Pac-10 (.523).

COACHING CHANGES – Last week, Gary Andersen was named Utah State’s 26th head football coach.  Andersen comes to Utah State after five seasons as the assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Utah, where he has helped guide the Utes to a 12-0 record this season.  New Mexico State is still in the process of finding a new head coach.  Hal Mumme was let go following a 3-9 season and was 11-37 (4-27 WAC) in four seasons with the Aggies.

WAC INDIVIDUAL AWARDS – As voted upon by the WAC’s nine head coaches, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick was named the Offensive Player of the Year, Hawai‘i’s Solomon Elimimian and San Jose State’s Jarron Gilbert shared Defensive Player of the Year honors, and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore was named the Freshman of the Year.  Boise State’s Chris Petersen was voted the WAC’s Coach of the Year.

ALL-WAC TEAMS – Nevada led the league with six first-team all-WAC honorees, while Boise State placed five on the first team and Hawai‘i and Louisiana Tech each placed four.  Repeat first team all-WAC selections from last year include Boise State wide receiver Jeremy Childs, Hawai‘i offensive lineman John Estes, Nevada offensive lineman Dominic Green, Hawai‘i linebacker Solomon Elimimian, Hawai‘i linebacker Adam Leonard and Louisiana Tech defensive back Antonio Baker.  Boise State placed a WAC-high six players on the second team while Fresno State and San Jose State had five apiece.

BRONCOS WIN FIFTH TITLE WITH PERFECT RECORD – Boise State defeated Fresno State, 61-10, last Friday to post its fifth 8-0 record in WAC play since 2002.  Boise State also was 8-0 in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006.  The Broncos are the only team in WAC history to go undefeated in the conference five times as both Brigham Young and Wyoming had done it four times.  The regular season championship is also Boise State’s sixth in seven years as the Broncos tied Nevada with a 7-1 mark in 2005.

BRONCOS UNDEFEATED AGAIN – Even years have been good to Boise State recently.  In 2004, Boise State was 11-0 in the regular season before losing to Louisville in the Liberty Bowl.  In 2006, the Broncos ran the table and were the only undefeated team in the nation with a 13-0 mark after a victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.  In 2008, Boise State is again undefeated at 12-0.

PETERSEN NAMED FINALIST FOR COACH OF THE YEAR – Boise State head coach Chris Petersen was named one of 10 finalists for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.  The winner will be announced on Dec. 31.

WAC WITH SIX BOWL ELIGIBLE TEAMS – For the first time since 1998, the WAC had six bowl eligible teams: Boise State, Fresno State, Hawai‘i, Louisiana Tech, Nevada and San Jose State.  The last time the WAC had six bowl eligible teams was in 1998 when it had seven (four of those played in bowls).  Five of the six this year earned bowl bids as San Jose State came up just short in receiving an invitation.

BOISE STATE 9TH IN BCS RANKINGS – In the final BCS rankings, Boise State remained 9th for the fifth straight week.  The Broncos had an average computer ranking of 8th as they were ranked 7th by Anderson & Hester, 8th by Billingsley, 8th by Colley, 8th by Massey, 8th by Sagarin and 6th by Wolfe.  The BCS poll throws out the best and worst computer ranking to get the average and factors in the USA Today and Harris polls to calculate the BCS rankings.  WAC teams have been ranked in the final BCS poll six times since the inception of the poll in 1998.  The highest a WAC team has ever been ranked in any BCS poll was when Boise State was 7th on Nov. 21, 2004.

NATIONAL POLLS – Following the conclusion of the regular season, Boise State remained ninth in all three polls: AP, USA Today (coaches) and Harris Interactive.  Boise State’s ranking of ninth is the highest the Broncos have ever been ranked during the regular season.  Boise State has been ranked in the top 25 at least once in each of the last seven seasons.  At least one team from the WAC has been in the polls every week since Sept. 17, 2006 (45 consecutive polls).

2008 BOWL LINEUP – The WAC is contracted with three bowl games: the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, N.M., the Sheraton Hawai‘i Bowl in Honolulu and  in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

WAC SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH POINSETTIA BOWL – The WAC and San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl officials signed a contingency agreement that impacts the 2008 and 2009 bowl games.  The contract stipulates that if the bowl’s agreement with the Pac-10 doesn’t yield a bowl eligible team with six or more wins, then the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl will get a team from the WAC.  The bowl’s primary agreement with the Pac-10 calls for the San Diego postseason game to receive the seventh place team. The WAC agreement is activated only if that team fails to reach the required six wins.

BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES – Since 1997, the WAC has been an official part of the Bowl Championship Series. The WAC champion will receive an automatic berth in one of the five BCS bowl games if ranked in the top 12 of the BCS Standings (and is the highest ranked team from a conference without an automatic bid) or if ranked in the top 16 of the BCS Standings and its ranking is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls. The BCS Standings are determined by a formula involving polls and computer rankings.

THREE WAC PLAYERS RANKED NUMBER ONE – In the final regular season’s NCAA stats, the WAC has three players leading the nation in statistical categories.  New Mexico State defensive back Derrick Richardson ranks number one in tackles per game with 12.5 while Idaho’s T.J. Conley is the country’s top punter with a 47.4-yard average.  San Jose State’s Jarron Gilbert leads the nation in tackles for loss with 1.83 per game.  There will be a final statistical update following the bowl games.

HOLBROOK ONE OF TOP QUARTERBACKS IN THE NATION – New Mexico State senior quarterback Chase Holbrook is ranked in the top five in several national active career leader categories.  Finishing up his third and final year at the FBS level, Holbrook is second in attempts per game (43.5), completions per game (30.2), completions (1,087) and yards per game (329.1), third in total yards (11,846), completion percentage (69.46) and attempts (1,566) and fourth in touchdown passes (85).

IAN JOHNSON ACTIVE RUSHING TOUCHDOWN LEADER – Boise State senior running back Ian Johnson is the nation’s active leader in career rushing touchdowns with 57.  That total is tied for the most in WAC history with San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk (1991-93).  Johnson is second in overall touchdowns scored with 58.  Johnson is fifth in rushing yards with 4,156.  He became the fourth WAC running back to reach 4,000 yards joining LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU, 1997-00; Steve Bartalo, Colorado State, 1983-86; and Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, 1991-93.

IMPROVED TEAMS – The WAC has five teams that posted more wins this year than last.  Boise State and Louisiana Tech had the biggest turnarounds with a two-win improvement from last year.  Nevada, San Jose State and Utah State all improved their win totals by one from 2007.

TEAMS RACK UP VICTORIES – Since the 2003 football season, the WAC’s top teams have established themselves as some of the most successful programs west of the Mississippi River. Boise State has won 68 games over the last six years while Hawai‘i has 52 wins, Fresno State has 46 and Nevada has 41. Only USC (70) has won more than Boise State. There are 53 Division IA programs west of the Mississippi that include all of the teams from the WAC, Big 12, Mountain West and Pac-10 and several teams from the Big Ten, Conference USA, SEC and Sun Belt.

WAC TRIO WITH 166 WINS – Boise State, Fresno State and Hawai‘i have combined for 166 victories since the 2003 season. That total is the fourth most of any FBS conference’s top trio.

NON-CONFERENCE – The WAC is 18-19 (.486) in non-conference games this season. WAC teams have competed against the Big East (1-1), Big Sky (3-0), Big Ten (0-1), Big 12 (0-5), Conference USA (2-0), Great West (1-0), FBS Independents (0-1), MAC (2-1), Mountain West (2-5), Pac-10 (3-4), SEC (1-1), Southland (1-0) and SWAC (2-0).  The WAC is 1-9 versus AP top-25 non-conference opponents as Hawai‘i lost at No. 5 Florida on Aug. 30, Utah State lost at No. 18 Oregon on Sept. 6, Louisiana Tech lost at No. 14 Kansas on Sept. 6, Nevada lost to No. 12 Texas Tech on Sept. 6, Nevada lost at No. 6 Missouri on Sept. 13, Utah State lost to No. 22 Utah on Sept. 13, Fresno State lost to No. 10 Wisconsin on Sept. 13, Boise State beat No. 17 Oregon on Sept. 20, Utah State lost to No. 8 BYU on Oct. 3, and Hawai‘i lost to No. 13 Cincinnati on Dec. 6.

COACHES MOVING UP RECORD LISTS – A couple of WAC coaches are working their way up the NCAA coaching record lists. Nevada head coach Chris Ault is in his 24th season as a head coach and is 198-90-1, the sixth winningest active coach in the FBS. San Jose State’s Dick Tomey is the seventh winningest active coach as he is in his fourth year with the Spartans and 28th overall with a record of 181-135-7. Tomey previously won 63 games at Hawai‘i from 1977-86 and 95 games at Arizona from 1987-2000. Tomey has coached 323 games, the fourth most among active coaches. In WAC games only, Fresno State head coach Pat Hill has 64 conference victories, the fourth most in league history while Tomey has 48 WAC wins, the sixth most.

WAC COACHES THIRD IN NATION – The WAC’s nine coaches have averaged 72 wins over their careers, the fifth best average as a group of all FBS conferences’ coaches.

HARRIS, PAYSINGER NAMED WUERFFEL TROPHY FINALISTS – Louisiana Tech senior linebacker Quin Harris and San Jose State senior center Justin Paysinger are two of only 13 finalists for the 2008 Wuerffel Trophy.  The prestigious award is presented to the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with outstanding academic and athletic achievement.  A committee that includes the Wuerffel Trophy national directors and selection committee members will vote on the finalists and the winner will be formally announced on December 9.

ACADEMIC HONORS – A total of nine WAC football players were named to the 2008 first-team CoSIDA Academic All-District teams.  Idaho senior punter T.J. Conley was also named to the Academic All-America second team.  Conley leads the nation in punting with a 47.4-yard average.  He is majoring in Civil Engineering and has a 3.60 GPA.

Academic All-District First Team Members
Richie Brockel, Jr., RB, Boise State (District 8)
*T.J. Conley, Sr., P, Idaho (District 8)
Dallas Dobbs, Gr., LB, Boise State (District 8)
Moses Harris, Jr., DB, Fresno State (District 8)
Quin Harris, Gr., LB, Louisiana Tech (District 6)
Derek Hoke, Gr., OL, Utah State (District 8)
Andrew Jackson, So., OL, Fresno State (District 8)
Vince Pascoe, So., RB, Fresno State (District 8)
Vinny Perretta, Sr., WR, Boise State (District 8)

*Second Team Academic All-America


(9/9) Boise State Broncos (12-0, 8-0 WAC)
Held its WAC opponents to 94 points, the second lowest in WAC history for an eight-game schedule (TCU-89 points in 2000) ... the defense allowed just 67 offensive points in those games ... its 35 wins since 2006 are the most in the nation ... is 60-4 all-time in WAC games ... has won 49 consecutive regular season home games, including 38 straight in conference ... has won 38 of its last 39 home games (.974), the best home winning percentage in the nation since 2003 ... its current 19-game home winning streak is currently the second longet in the nation ... is the highest scoring team in the nation since 2000 averaging 41.56 points over 113 games ... Kyle Brotzman has made all 115 of his PATs, an on-going school record (the WAC record is 128).

Fresno State Bulldogs (7-5, 4-4 WAC)
CB Damion Owens made his first start of the season at Boise State and on the fourth play of the game, picked off a pass and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown ... it was the Bulldogs’ first interception return for a TD since doing so against Boise State on Nov. 1, 2006 ... has played in eight bowl games the previous nine seasons ... junior KR A.J. Jefferson is the nation’s active career leader in average yards per kickoff return at 32.25 and is tied for second in touchdowns scored via kick return with 3 ... with two blocked kicks against Boise State, the Bulldogs have 44 blocked kicks since 2002, the most in the nation in that time ... has 14 BCS wins since 2000, tied for the second most among non-BCS teams during that time.

Hawai‘i Warriors (7-6, 5-3 WAC)
Led 24-10 against No. 13 Cincinnati last week, but allowed 19 points in the final 11 minutes to lose 29-24 ... lost its first game of the year when scoring 20 or more points ... is playing in a bowl game for the sixth time in the last seven years ... senior LB Solomon Elimimian is the WAC’s active leader in career tackles with 425 ... he is second among active players in the nation and 19 short of the WAC record of 443 set by UTEP’s Robert Rodriguez (2001-04) ... UH is 24-0 when scoring 40 or more points since 2005 ... has won 13 of its last 15 home games ... played six road games this year, the most since 2003 ... is 9-3 in WAC road games since 2006 ... has posted a non-losing season in WAC play for the eighth year in a row.

Idaho Vandals (2-10, 1-7 WAC)
In its final game, opened with a 14-play, 74-yard touchdown drive in the game at Hawai‘i ... Tino Amancio tied his career-long with a 52-yard field goal ... Amancio became the first Vandal to make every PAT attempt (82) in his career which includes 29 this season ... senior T.J. Conley punted four times for 203 yards at Hawai‘i and remains the national leader with a 47.4-yard average ... his 220 career punts are eighth most among active players ... true freshman Kama Bailey became Idaho’s single-season kickoff return yardage leader with 902 yards ... senior C Adam Korby started every game Idaho played during his career (47) ... has lost 14 straight road games, the third longest streak in the nation.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (7-5, 5-3 WAC)
Had its five-game WAC winning streak snapped, 35-31, against Nevada at home ... the loss also broke a six-game home winning streak ... Daniel Porter rushed for 50 yards against Nevada, snapping a streak of four consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing ... senior RB Patrick Jackson is the WAC’s active career leader, sixth in the nation among active players, 11th all-time in WAC history and second in Tech history in all-purpose yards with 5,126 ... senior PR Philip Beck has averaged 14.86 yards per punt return in his career, the best among active players in the nation ... junior DL D’Anthony Smith is tied for first as the nation’s active career leader in assisted sacks with 10.

Nevada Wolf Pack (7-5, 5-3 WAC)
Sophomore QB Colin Kaepernick is the fifth different player in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards and pass for 2,000 yards in a season ... only two teams have averaged 300 yards rushing and 200 yards passing per game in a season (Houston, 1968 and Arizona State, 1973) ... Nevada is currently averaging 291.4 yards rushing and 219.2 yards passing per game ... Kaepernick has 16 rushing touchdowns on the season while RB Vai Taua also has 16 ... senior WR Marko Mitchell has caught a pass in 26 straight games and in 37 of the 38 games in his career ... senior PK Brett Jaekle is first in the nation in active career extra point attempts with 216 and extra points made with 206 ... his 356 career points are the fourth most among active players nationally.

New Mexico State Aggies (3-9, 1-7 WAC)
Senior QB Chase Holbrook threw for more than 300 yards in a game 24 times in his career and 400 yards, 10 times in his career ... he had 85 career TD passes, the most in NMSU history ... Holbrook cracked the 3,000-yard passing mark for the third straight season, tying an NCAA record ... senior A.J. Harris is the school’s all-time career leader in receptions with 269, the second most of any active player in the nation and 15th most in NCAA history ... he caught a pass in 45 straight games, the longest streak in the WAC ... senior Chris Williams is second among active players in the nation in career receiving yards (3,555) ... ended the season with a seven-game losing streak, the fifth longest in the nation ... has lost seven consecutive WAC home games.

San Jose State Spartans (6-6, 4-4 WAC)
Ater a 5-2 start, finished the regular season losing four of its last five games ... against Fresno State, senior Sean Flynn made his first start at quarterback and was 20-of-36 for 170 yards ... SJSU was held to negative rushing yards for the second straight week with -5 against Fresno State (-23 versus Nevada the previous week) ... senior DT Jarron Gilbert’s 42.0 career tackles for loss are the most among active players in the WAC and are a school record ... he had 22 this year, tying the single-season WAC record ... senior DB Christopher Owens has 13 interceptions in his career, tied for the ninth most among the nation’s active players, but has not had one since the opening game of this season ... head coach Dick Tomey is the first vice-president of the AFCA.

Utah State Aggies (3-9, 3-5 WAC)
Did not allow any offensive points against NMSU for the first time since Oct. 25, 2003 when it defeated Arkansas State, 49-0 ... held NMSU to negative seven yards rushing, which is the first time USU has held an opponent to negative rushing yards since Sept. 19, 1998 at Colorado when it held the Buffaloes to negative two ... posted three wins for the first time since 2005 (3-8) ... won three WAC games, the most since joining the league in 2005 ... had 16 TD passes this season, five more than its total from last year ... senior WR Otis Nelson caught a pass in 30 straight games, the third longest active streak in the WAC ... LB Jake Hutton has been granted an extra year of eligibility for a medical hardship and will return for the 2009 season.

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