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Mountain West Conference Matchups: Aug. 29-Sept. 1

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Under coach Chris Petersen, Boise State is 6-1 against Pac-12 foes, including a 30-28 Las Vegas Bowl win in 2012 over Washington, Saturday night's season-opening foe. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.
Under coach Chris Petersen, Boise State is 6-1 against Pac-12 foes, including a 30-28 Las Vegas Bowl win in 2012 over Washington, Saturday night's season-opening foe. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

Thursday

Who: UNLV (0-0, 0-0 MWC) at Minnesota (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

When: 6 p.m. CT 

Where: TCF Bank Stadium; Minneapolis

On The Air: Big Ten Network

On The Board: Minnesota by 14

On The Line: The Rebels, who have dropped 22 straight road games, could go a long way toward returning to a bowl game if they can manage an upset against Minnesota. Even playing a close game with a Big Ten team on the road could help boost the team’s confidence.

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Who: Utah State (0-0, 0-0 MWC) at Utah (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12)

When: 6 p.m. MT 

Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium; Salt Lake City

On The Air: FOX Sports 1

On The Board: Utah by 2.5

On The Line: 39-year-old Matt Wells makes his USU and FBS coaching debut in a Beehive State battle he knows well as an ex-Aggies QB. Wells, in fact, was under center for Utah State in 1996 in the first of back-to-back wins over Utah. That’s the last time that’s happened in the 110-game series as the Utes had won 12 straight prior to last season’s 27-20 home win for the Aggies in Logan.

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Who: Sacramento State (0-0, 0-0 FCS Big Sky) at San Jose State (0-0, 0-0 MWC)

When: 7 p.m. PT 

Where: Spartan Stadium; San Jose, Calif.

On The Air: No TV. Online at www.sjsuspartans.com

On The Board: SJSU by 18.5

On The Line: Head coach Ron Caragher should cruise to his first victory as the coach of the Spartans. Expect a wide margin of victory here as Caragher will want to make sure both his offense and defense get as much experience in their new systems before the Stanford matchup next week.

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Who:  No. 24 USC (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) at Hawaii (0-0, 0-0 MWC)

When: 5 p.m. HT 

Where: Aloha Stadium, Aiea, Hawaii.

On The Air: CBS Sports Network

On The Board: USC by 23.5

On The Line: About the only thing the Rainbow Warriors have going for them is home-field advantage. Even with the Trojans unsettled at quarterback, they’re far too talented to let Hawaii hang around.

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Who: Rutgers (0-0, 0-0 AAC) at Fresno State (0-0, 0-0 MWC)

When: 7:30 p.m. PT 

Where: Bulldog Stadium; Fresno, Calif.

On The Air: ESPNU

On The Board: FSU by 10

On The Line: Many experts are looking at Fresno State as a potential BCS buster this season. We will learn a lot about them in their first matchup. It should be exciting to see what Derek Carr can do when he’s healthy.

Saturday

Who: Colgate (0-0, 0-0 FCS Patriot League) at Air Force (0-0, 0-0 MWC)

When: 1 p.m. MT 

Where: Falcon Stadium; Colorado Springs, Colo.

On The Air: ROOT Sports.

On The Board: Air Force by 27

On The Line: Junior Kale Pearson will make his debut as a starting QB as the Falcons open against an FCS foe for the seventh straight season. AFA must make the most of this tune-up against the defending Patriot League champs as the MWC opener against Utah State is at hand the following week.

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Who: Texas-San Antonio (0-0, 0-0 C-USA) at New Mexico (0-0, 0-0 MWC)

When: 6 p.m. MT 

Where: University Stadium; Albuquerque

On The Air: May50TV (Albuquerque)

On The Board: New Mexico by 3

On The Line: Two coaches formerly at big-time schools — UNM’s Bob Davie (Notre Dame) and UTSA’s Larry Coker (Miami) — meet up in the first game between the programs. Davie is trying to guide the Lobos to a season-opening win in consecutive seasons after UNM had dropped six straight openers prior to last season’s 66-21 thumping of Southern.

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Who: Wyoming (0-0, 0-0 MWC) at No. 18 Nebraska (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

When: 7 p.m. CT 

Where: Memorial Stadium; Lincoln, Neb.

On The Air: Big Ten Network

On The Board: Nebraska by 30.5

On The Line: A pair of multi-talented but often-overlooked QBs in the Cowboys’ Brett Smith (2012 MWC leader in passing efficiency) and the Huskers’ Taylor Martinez (returning FBS leader in career rushing yards) square off in this one as UW faces its Eastern I-80 neighbor for only the seventh time. Both QBs, in fact, started when the programs last clashed, a 38-14 NU win in Laramie on Sept. 24, 2011.

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Who: Eastern Illinois (0-0, 0-0 FCS OVC) at San Diego State (0-0, 0-0 MWC)

When: 5 p.m. PT 

Where: Qualcomm Stadium; San Diego

On The air: MWC Digital Network

On The board: SDSU by 14

On The line: The Aztecs look to get as much confidence as they can before traveling to Columbus to face Braxton Miller and Ohio State. They should get a nice boost by beating up on Eastern Illinois.

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Who: No. 19 Boise State (0-0, 0-0 MWC) at Washington (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12)

When: 7 p.m. PT 

Where: Husky Stadium; Seattle

On The Air: FOX Sports 1.

On The Board: Washington by 3

On The Line: If it seems like these programs just met, it’s because they did in the Las Vegas Bowl, a 30-28 BSU win. This one, though, will be in newly-renovated Husky Stadium after Washington played its 2012 home games across town at the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field. The Broncos are 6-1 vs. Pac-12 teams under coach Chris Petersen with the only loss coming on the road against the Huskies in 2007 (24-10).  

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Who: Nevada (0-0, 0-0 MWC) at No. 21 UCLA (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12)

When: 7 p.m. PT 

Where: Rose Bowl; Los Angeles

On The Air: Pac-12 Network

On The Board: UCLA by 21

On The Line: Brian Polian’s tenure at Nevada is going to get off to a rocky start. The Bruins should dominate on both sides of the ball. The Wolf Pack will hope Cody Fajardo can keep the game close going into halftime. That in itself might be considered a win.

Sunday

Who: Colorado State (0-0, 0-0 MWC) vs. Colorado (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12)

When: 4 p.m. MT 

Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High; Denver

On The Air: ROOT Sports.

On The Board: Colorado State by 3

On The Line: The Rocky Mountain Showdown certainly isn’t what it used to be as these two programs have 11 combined wins during the last two seasons. Second-year CSU coach Jim McElwain might not announce his starting QB — choosing from junior Garrett Grayson, sophomore Conner Smith and, new to the derby, freshman Nick Stevens — until game day as the Rams seek back-to-back wins over the Buffs for the first time in 13 years.

FBS columnist and Mountain West contributor Joe Jenkins co-wrote this piece.