I have probably spent about 17 minutes of my life total actually watching College Gameday and many hours reading commentary and reaction about where they have picked the next site to be. Not surprisingly, I find a semi-arbitrary third-party decision awarding some trivial crown based on week-to-week results and behind-the-scenes intrigue compelling.
Before we get to SDSU’s chance to claim sole first place let’s examine the max-chaos scenario that is Oski Unleashed. Here’s our verbose run right now:
San José State 7 at USC 30 on Sep 04, 2021 Stanford 42 at USC 28 on Sep 11, 2021 Fresno State 40 at UCLA 37 on Sep 18, 2021 UCLA 35 at Stanford 24 on Sep 25, 2021 San Diego State 19 at San José State 13 on Oct 15, 2021 Fresno State at San Diego State on Oct 30, 2021 USC at California on Nov 12, 2021 California at Stanford on Nov 19, 2021 UCLA at USC on Nov 19, 2021 Fresno State at San José State on Nov 24, 2021 California at UCLA on Nov 26, 2021 San Diego State 1-0 Fresno State 1-0 UCLA 1-1 Stanford 1-1 USC 1-1 San José State 0-2 2021, 11, ,
Cal has three MCC games on the 2021 schedule but they have yet to play any. Should they sweep USC at home, Stanford on the road and UCLA on the road they will be 3-0 and out of reach of SDSU. (Should Fresno sweep SDSU and San Jose State to complete their 3-0 it would come down to common margin against UCLA for Cal and Fresno. Cal just needs go higher than 3.) Undefeated Cal and Fresno in tie-breakers for the cup would be refreshing.
Of Cal’s three opponents they will probably be a coinflip against USC, slight dog to Stanford and down at least one touchdown to UCLA. It’s not impossible. If they go into UCLA on the last week of the season with 2 California wins it will mean their bowl eligibility is likely at stake as well.
What’s the max-boredom status quo scenario? USC runs the table to end up 3-1 and the state schools cannibalize each other with at least one loss each: another USC title for an especially fraught team.
Happily the most likely scenario is that the winner of this weekend’s Fresno State at San Diego State game is this season’s cup winner. SDSU comes in at 7-0 ranked 22 in the AP with a viral star in their punter Matt Araiza. That link is full of amazing punts but I like this one in the SJSU game just for the scale. He takes the snap in his own end zone and the ball ends up on the opponent’s 5:
Fresno State has one bad loss at Hawaii that knocked them out of the AP top 25 but they’re putting a solid season up as well. Their quarterback Jake Haener started the year on an insane tear and is still ranked 19th nationally in ESPN’s passing efficiency. (And 3rd in gross yards.) In addition to the eternal glory of the MCC the winner of this game will be in first place in the Mountain West Conference West division.
The spread is SDSU -1 on Monday after opening as a pickem. That feels like it’s got room to move one more point so there might be good value on SDSU right now. Both Sagarin and Ed Feng have SDSU as about 2-4 point favorite depending on how much home field advantage there is. With its strong games against Oregon and UCLA earlier this year Fresno might be the more public team right now.