The Most Fun, Must-See Game of 2006
Posted Oct 18, 2006

There are several big games this weekend with BCS implications. Screw that. The most fun game of the year will be in Las Cruces where Colt Brennan and Hawaii take on New Mexico State in a battle of the nation's top two passing games. Check out this and all the Fearless Predictions of every game.

Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico St | San Jose State | Utah State
- Past WAC Predictions: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7
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How are the picks so far? SU 39-6   ATS 24-14

WAC Game of the Week

Hawaii (4-2) at New Mexico State (2-4) 8:00 PM EST Saturday October 21
Why to Watch:  Oh, what college football fan hasn’t waited with bated breath for this game?  The record for passes attempted by two teams in one game is 135 (TCU against Houston in 1990), but that's in serious jeopardy in what should be the most entertaining, fun game you'll see all year long.  Hawaii QB Colt Brennan is averaging 40 attempts per game, while New Mexico State QB Chase Holbrook threw the ball 65 times against Boise State.  Suffice to say, the ball will be thrown ...a lot.  Hawaii dominated Fresno State with its aerial circus piling up 68 points on the Bulldogs’ home field. New Mexico State fought back late against Boise State, despite giving up too much early in a 40-28 defeat.  Did the second half comeback give the Aggies confidence that they can beat a quality WAC opponent in a shootout against a team like Hawaii? Enjoy the show.
Why Hawaii Might Win: Hawaii rarely has lacked a potent offense, but the eleven that take the field each this year are as explosive as any unit in Warrior history.  Brennan throws the ball less than Holbrook, but makes the most of his attempts.  Not only is he effective with his throws, he hasn’t thrown a pick in two games and has a 23 to five TD to interception ratio on the year.  Facing a New Mexico State secondary that's one of the worst in the nation, expect Brennan to control the game through the air, again. New Mexico State is 113th in the nation in pass defense giving up 261 yards per game, and is 115th in the country in pass efficiency defense. Uh oh. However ...
Why New Mexico State Might Win:  ... Hawaii can't stop the pass, either. The warriors allow 247 yards per game and also stink against efficient passers. Holbrook gives NMSU a puncher's chance of pulling this off.  The Warrior defense spends a lot of time on the field, given the rapid nature with which the Warriors put the ball in the end zone.  The Aggie signal caller can take advantage of a unit that yields 402 yards per game total offense, 247 yards through the air.  With WR Chris Williams having career games every time he steps on the field, the Warrior defense will have their hands full stopping that QB-WR duo. This is one of the few teams in the nation that can hang punch for punch with the Warriors.
Who to Watch:  The Hawaii defensive line is the key to stopping Holbrook and the Aggie passing game.  When Boise State got pressure from its defensive front four, Holbrook was unable to get the ball off, or made poor decisions.  But how much pressure can the Warrior defensive front, which hasn't consistently gotten into the backfield all season long, generate? UH defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville will sell out to force mistakes.
What Will Happen:  The Aggies will get their yards against the Hawaii defense, but they won't be able to keep up a tremendous pace.  Brennan, for the third consecutive week, won't throw an interception, and WR Davone Bess will torch the Aggie secondary for a big play or three. Expect, nay, demand, over 1,000 yards of passing and at least 100 points. Oh, this will be fun.
CFN Prediction: Hawaii 65 … New Mexico State 38 ... Line: Hawaii -15
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Knights of Prosperity) ... 4

Boise State (7-0) at Idaho (4-3) 5:05 PM EST Saturday October 21
Why to Watch:  The battle for state supremacy is actually the secondary story this week, as first place in the WAC is on the line when Idaho’s best take the field at the Kibbie Dome.  Boise State has had little trouble running the table to this point and is coming off of a nationally televised 40-28 victory over New Mexico State.  But the Broncos aren’t the only team in the state with a winning streak.  Idaho has won three straight, including last weekend’s 24-14 victory over Louisiana Tech, and has climbed the WAC ladder right up next to Chris Petersen’s squad.  Although three straight wins have put Idaho in position to vie for a postseason berth, the wins have come over the three of the worst teams in the WAC – Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State and Utah State.  Suffice to say, the Broncos are a wee bit better than the three vanquished Vandal foes.  With a bye week to follow before a visit from Fresno State, don’t expect the Broncos to hold anything back, but don’t think that Dennis Erickson is going to keep the tricks under his sleeve, either.
Why Boise State Might Win: Although Idaho shares the first place seat with Boise State, Petersen’s crew is playing at another level. This is the most complete, and most talented, team that Boise State has had in a long time, if not ever.  The defense, led by Korey Hall, is the best in the conference, while the offense has the best balance of any team in the league.   RB Ian Johnson continues to torch the WAC running for 192 yards and four touchdowns against New Mexico State. Considering the fact that Idaho’s defense is 78th in the nation against the run, Johnson stands to have another prodigious ball game.
Why Idaho Might Win
:  Idaho is a team rejuvenated under Erickson, which is not unusual under a new coach and his staff, but the Vandals have gained a huge amount of confidence the past three weeks.  Erickson’s crew forced eight turnovers against Louisiana Tech, allowing the Vandals to escape Ruston with their third WAC victory in a row.  The Vandals are using their 1-2 punch at running back, Jayson Bird and Brian Flowers, if his ankle allows him to play-to keep opposing defenses off balance.  The two backs registered 116 yards and two touchdowns against Louisiana Tech and are key in this matchup against Hall and the Bronco defense.
Who to Watch:  If Hall isn’t an All-American at year end, it’ll be a terrible shame.  The senior captain had one of his best ever statistical games last weekend against New Mexico State, registering 15 tackles, one sack and an interception, proving that he just might be the nation's best unknown defender.
What Will Happen:  Boise State will establish Johnson early in the game, and when Idaho brings safeties into the box, QB Jared Zabransky will drive the stake in the Vandals with big throws over the top.  The Vandals won’t be able to match Boise State score for score, allowing BSU to leave with win number eight.
CFN Prediction: Boise State 42 … Idaho 21 ... Line: Boise State -20.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Knights of Prosperity) ... 2

San Jose State (4-1) at Nevada (3-3) 7:00 PM EST ABC Saturday October 21
Why to Watch:  The biggest surprise in the WAC has to be San Jose State, sitting at 4-1 tied for first place in the league after a 21-14 victory over Utah State in their WAC opener.  After an opening day loss to Washington in Seattle, the Spartans have won four in a row, but their biggest test comes this week traveling to Reno to face the Wolf Pack in what will be the real indication of if they're for real.  Nevada’s bye week came at the best possible time, after the long trek to the Island for a last second loss to Hawaii, so it should be well rested.  With a win, San Jose State could realistically move to 7-1 before Boise State travels south on November 11th, but a Nevada win could signal a five-game run before the unofficial WAC championship game against the Broncos in Boise.  A loss for either team ends any realistic hopes of winning the WAC this season.
Why San Jose State Might Win
: The Spartan defense boasts one of the best secondaries in the nation, led by the nation’s interception leader Dwight Lowery.  They’re ranked 14th in the nation, yielding 153 yards per game and should give Nevada QB Jeff Rowe, who’s probable for this week’s game, problems when he attempts to throw the football.  But, it’s the Spartan receivers, James Jones and Steve Broussard, who could take over this game early with their explosive speed.  Their ability to get downfield against the experienced Nevada secondary is a huge key in this game.
Why Nevada Might Win:  Hubbard and Fragger.  No, not a New York City law firm, RB Robert Hubbard and Brandon Fragger.  The two Wolf Pack runners have taken turns slicing up opposing defenses, and with a week off to get healthy, they should be fresh and ready for the Spartan defense.  Luckily for these two, the Spartan defense is ranked 104th in the nation against the run, giving up a whopping 176 yards per game.  These two can actually be the 12th defender against the potent San Jose State offense by moving the chains on sustained drives, and keeping them off the field.
Who to Watch:  No player in this game has more pressure on his shoulders than San Jose State QB Adam Tafralis.  The Spartan signal caller can’t continue to make mistakes, especially against an opportunistic Nevada defense.  He threw two picks against Utah State, but that’ll be two too many this weekend.
What Will Happen: The Wolf Pack will use Hubbard and Fragger to control the ball on the ground and then strike with QB Rowe after the ground game is established.  Tafralis will throw a pick in a key spot that’ll seal the home win for the Wolf Pack.
CFN Prediction: Nevada 31 … San Jose State 28 ... Line: Nevada -13.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Knights of Prosperity) ... 2

Utah State (1-6) at Louisiana Tech (1-5) 7:00 PM EST ESPN+ Saturday October 21
Why to Watch:  Two teams trolling at the bottom of the WAC meet in Ruston to erase the memories of demoralizing WAC losses last week.  Utah State had a 14-7 lead going into halftime, behind QB Riley Nelson’s two touchdown throws, but couldn’t stave off a San Jose State comeback in the 21-14 loss.  Louisiana Tech turned the ball over a whopping eight times in a 24-14 loss to Idaho at home.  With few gimmes on the schedule the rest of the season, this game signals each team’s best chance to win a game over the second half.
Why Utah State Might Win: The Aggies couldn’t get any better play from a freshman QB with Nelson playing as well as could be hoped for in two starts completing 21 of 24 throws and two touchdowns against San Jose State.  He only threw for 145 yards, but he used the passing game to control the clock, helping the Aggies posses the ball for over 36 minutes.  With Louisiana Tech’s penchant for turning the ball over, Nelson and the offense could thoroughly dominate time of possession again, leading to a key Utah State win.
Why Louisiana Tech Might Win: No team has followed up an eight turnover performance with another eight turnover performance, so it can’t get any lower for the Bulldogs, can it?  Utah State had trouble stopping San Jose State’s explosive receivers giving up 198 yards to John Broussard and James Jones, and Louisiana Tech has an equally dynamic pair of receivers, plus one, Johnathan Holland, Eric Newman and Josh Wheeler.  If those three have seen the film of last week’s Utah State game, they’ll be clamoring for QB Zac Champion to find them deep downfield.
Who to Watch:  Champion struggled mightily last week, throwing four interceptions against Idaho in a ten point loss.  The coaching staff knows that Champion hasn’t gotten much help from his running game, but another subpar performance might put the signal caller on the bench.  But against Utah State’s 90th ranked pass defense, he should gain his confidence in a hurry.
What Will Happen:  Tech will get back on track with a strong game from Champion and the defense will harass Nelson into a couple of key turnovers.  The Bulldogs will get a much needed victory in front of the home folks.
CFN Prediction: Louisiana Tech 24 … Utah State 17 ... Line: Louisiana Tech -5.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Knights of Prosperity) ... 1.5

Fresno State (1-5) at LSU (5-2)  9 PM EST ESPN2 Saturday October 21st
Why to Watch: Remember back in August when LSU and Fresno State fans looked at this game as one of the dangerous beartraps of the 2006 season? After the way the Bulldogs pushed USC to the wall last year, many figured this was going to be a much-watch battle ... nyuh-uh. Fresno State has completely gone into the tank bottoming out with a loss to Utah State and getting annihilated 69-37 by Hawaii as part of a five-game losing streak. Meanwhile, LSU has destroyed everything in its path at home this year going 5-0
outscoring its opponents 236 to 30 and allowing only 13 points in the first half. Can this be more than just a scrimmage for the Tigers before the showdown at Tennessee next week? Can Fresno State make a statement and turn its season back around? Probably not, and no, but this still might be worth watching to see the LSU machine roll again.
Why Fresno State Might Win: Not much is going right for Fresno State at the moment, but it can bomb away a little bit. Tom Brandstater connected with Bear Pascoe for a 75-yard touchdown to open things up against Hawaii last week, and No. 2 QB Sean Norton, who should see a little bit of time, can also chuck ithrowing for three scores on the Warriors. FSU, who was good enough to come close to beating Oregon just a few short weeks ago, should be able to put up more points than most have been able to in Death Valley. Fresno State gets the rap of just getting up for the showcase games against the big boys, and this is one of them.
Why LSU Might Win: The secondary has been picked apart to death. Facing Hawaii's Colt Brennan and Oregon's Dennis Dixon didn't help the stats, but it had problems with Utah State's Riley Nelson, Washington's Isaiah Stanback, and Colorado State's Caleb Hanie. Worse yet, the defense, which has only forced four turnovers so far, isn't likely to generate the mistakes needed to keep this close.
Who to Watch: LSU QB JaMarcus Russell has to be licking his chops. Not only has the FSU pass defense been abysmal, but Russell has been out of this world at home so far. In five games, the junior has completed 76 of 98 passes (78%) for 1,203 yards and 12 touchdowns with only one interception. It'll be a shock if he doesn't pad the stats in this apparent layup.
What Will Happen: Fresno State still has the talent make this a battle, but it's not playing nearly well enough to slow down the LSU machine at home.
CFN Prediction
: LSU 45 ... Fresno State 17 ... Line: LSU -32
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Knights of Prosperity) ... 2