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Mountain West Conference lands rich new TV deal with two TV partners


The Mountain West Conference has a brand new TV deal locked in, and it’s a big one for the conference. The Mountain West announced it has agreed to terms on a new media rights deal with CBS Sports Network and FOX that will run through 2025-2026. The six-year contract is valued at $270 million for the conference.

The new media contract with CBS Sports and FOX will send 23 Mountain West Conference football games to CBS, CBS Sports Network, FOX, or FOX Sports 1, and an additional 10 games may be added to CBS Sports Network or CBS’s streaming digital platform, which is a paid service. FOX will air game son both network television and FOX Sports 1. FOX will have first dibs on any Boise State home games as part of the deal. FOX will broadcast the Mountain West Conference championship game as part of its package of games on either FOX or FOX Sports 1.

Boise State continues to be a winner in the new deal with a higher percentage of conference TV revenue share. However, it has been noted this will be the final time Boise State gets such an advantage.

Also of note, Hawaii will be keeping its own local rights agreement. In return, Hawaii will hand over conference games as part of the TV deal. Hawaii’s revenue share will be calculated differently as well.

The new media deal is certainly heavy on traditional television outlets as opposed to the push for digital streaming options. Even though the media landscape continues to move away form traditional cable options, the Mountain West Conference going with a relatively shorter contract shows the conference is still comfortable with the media landscape’s stability for the near future. And for how much the conference will distribute to conference members for the next six years, everyone should be pretty happy about the deal. As far as Group of Five conferences go, the Mountain West has a very good deal in place with multiple viewing options to expand the visibility of the conference’s football and basketball brands.

Boise State sack machine Curtis Weaver declares for the draft

Boise State Curtis Weaver
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As expected, Boise State is losing Curtis Weaver early to the next level.

“After discussing my future with my family, I am going to chase my next dream,” Weaver wrote on Twitter. “And that [dream] is playing in the National Football League.” The linebacker/defensive end is foregoing his final season of eligibility to enter the 2020 NFL Draft.

“I came here as a fat boy and I’m leaving as a young man,” Weaver added. “You all played a part in shaping me over the course of my career. …

“I am forever grateful and honored to be a Bronco.”

In 39 career games, Weaver was credited with 34 sacks, the current active leader at the FBS level.  He’s had at least nine sacks in each of the last three seasons, the only player at this level of football that can make that claim.

After 18½ tackles for loss and 13½ sacks this season, Weaver was named as the 2019 Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year.  He was also named a first-team Walter Camp All-American.

Weaver is the second prominent Bronco to declare early. Christmas Eve, it was confirmed that starting left tackle Ezra Cleveland is off to the NFL.

Boise State losing Ezra Cleveland early to NFL draft

Boise State Ezra Cleveland
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The loss for Boise State of Ezra Cleveland will result in a gain for an NFL team.  At least, said team hopes it will.

Speaking to the Idaho Statesman‘s Ron Counts, Cleveland confirmed Tuesday that he will be entering the 2020 NFL Draft.  The redshirt junior left tackle had one season of eligibility he could have used.

The official decision came a couple of days after Boise’s loss to Washington and former head coach Chris Petersen in the Las Vegas Bowl.

“I felt like throughout the season, we were getting progressively better as an offense,” the lineman told the Statesman. “I was having a good season and this was the right thing to do.”

Cleveland started 40 of the Broncos’ 41 games the past three seasons.  He was named honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference as a redshirt freshman in 2017.  The past two seasons, the 6-6, 310-pound lineman earned first-team All-MWC honors.

The early loss of Cleveland might not, though, be the only one felt by the Broncos.  Curtis Weaver, a first-team Walter Camp All-American, has yet to announce his decision. It’s widely expected the defensive lineman will leave early, although nothing is official on that front.

This season, Weaver has totaled 18½ tackles for loss and 13½ sacks.

College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 21 Viewer’s Guide

College Football Bowl Preview
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Your trusty and semi-daily college football bowl preview that today takes a quick-hit look at the Dec. 21 bowl menu, which on opening weekend features six games.  Included in that is a battle of 10-win teams and, most notably, the Chris Petersen Bowl.

WHO: Central Michigan (8-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3)
WHAT: The 14th New Mexico Bowl
WHERE: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Talk about going from worst to (nearly) first.  Last season, Central Michigan went a school-worst 1-11. This season, under first-year head coach Jim McElwain, CMU won the MAC West title and came within six points of winning in the conference championship game. … With a win, San Diego State will reach 10 (or more) for the fourth time in five seasons. The Aztecs have already won seven or more games each of the past 10 seasons. … Here’s a statistic to note: The Chippewas are undefeated (8-0) when they rush for at least 140 yards this season. … Here’s another statistic, this one to chew on: The Aztecs are currently second nationally in run defense, giving up 72.3 yards per game. … Of the 54 touchdowns CMU scored on offense, 35 came on the ground. The Aztecs’ seven rushing touchdowns allowed are the fourth-fewest in the country. … Do you sense a key-to-the-game vibe I’ve got going on here? … If not, how about this one: San Diego State hasn’t given up more than 23 points in any game this season, while CMU is 0-5 when they score fewer than that number in 2019. … This game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.
THE LINE: Central Michigan, +3½
THE PREDICTION: San Diego State 23, Central Michigan 15


WHO: Liberty (7-5) vs. Georgia Southern (7-5)
WHAT: The 5th FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl
WHERE: Exploria Stadium, Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 2:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
THE SKINNY: Cure Bowl fact: All four previous games have been decided by 10 or more points. … In just its second season at the FBS level, Liberty has qualified for its first bowl berth. So pleased with the program’s progress, university administrators have already handed first-year head coach Hugh Freeze a contract extension. … While not quite the neophyte as their opponent, Georgia Southern will be playing in just its third bowl game. In fairness, they have only played at the FBS level for six seasons. … The Flames and Eagles have one common opponent this season: FCS Maine.  GSU beat them 26-18, while Liberty won their matchup 59-44. … Another similarity? Both teams went 2-2 in the last four games of the regular season. … To say that GSU is run-heavy is a bit of an understatement. The Eagles’ 261.5 yards rushing per game is eighth nationally and second in the Sun Belt. To further highlight how ground-dependent they are, leading passer Shai Werts has rushed for nearly as many yards (683) as he has thrown for (704). … GSU’s run-pass ratio this season is 621-136. … For those curious, the Flames’ give up 192.7 yards per game on the ground, which is 100th in the country. … One final note: Liberty’s starting quarterback goes by the nickname “Buckshot” — and Stephen Calvert‘s thrown 26 touchdowns vs. just five interceptions — so I know who I’m going with.
THE LINE: Liberty, +4
THE PREDICTION: Liberty 34, Georgia Southern 21


WHO: SMU (10-2) vs. Florida Atlantic (10-3)
WHAT: The 6th Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
WHERE: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.


WHO: Florida International (6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)
WHAT: The 6th Camellia Bowl
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: A win in the second-to-last game of the regular season clinched bowl eligibility for Butch Davis and Florida International for the third time in his three seasons at the Conference USA school.  The fact that it came at the expense of Davis’ old school, Miami, was simply icing on the cake and still makes me ROTFLMAO every single time I think about it. … Blake Anderson‘s wife lost her brave fight with cancer in mid-August and, after being away for a couple of weeks, the head coach rejoined the team in Week 2. Over the last nine games of the year, the Red Wolves went 6-3. … One of the best matchups of the early bowl season could be Omar Bayless vs. the FIU secondary.  The Arkansas State All-American has caught 84 passes (tied for ninth nationally) for 1,473 yards (second) and 16 touchdowns (second). He’s also averaging 17.5 yards per reception.  Conversely, FIU is sixth in the country in allowing 178.5 yards passing per game.  The Panthers give up just 6.45 yards per attempt as well. … If you’re a gambling man/woman, and I’ll bet you are, keep this tidbit in the back of your mind as you open your wallet: The first five Camellia Bowls have been decided by a combined 17 points.  Average score, rounded down? 31-27.
THE PREDICTION: Arkansas State 24, FIU 23


WHO: Boise State (12-1) vs. Washington (7-5)
WHAT: The 28th Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC
THE LINE: Boise State, +3½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.


WHO: Appalachian State (7-5) vs. UAB (6-6)
WHAT: The 19th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

College Football Bowl Preview: Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl

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WHO: No. 19 Boise State (12-1) vs. Washington (7-5)
WHAT: The 28th Las Vegas Bowl
WHEN: December 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada
THE SKINNY: There are a ton of fun and interesting matchups on tap this bowl season but few have the kind of storylines surrounding them that the Las Vegas Bowl sports in one of the most anticipated postseason games of the entire 2019-20 slate. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a more compelling option than this one if you throw out the records next to the team names and disregard the College Football Playoff semifinals.

And most of it has to do with one man: Chris Petersen.

The Washington head coach stunned the college football world earlier in the month when he announced he was stepping away from the Huskies after six fairly memorable seasons on Montlake. While he is not retiring from the game, his departure from the program was bound to ratchet up interest in whatever bowl game the team landed in as it would result in a fairly sentimental sendoff for one of the best active coaches in the sport’s history.

Well, as luck would have it, the Las Vegas Bowl that UW wound up getting ticketed to was also set to play host to the team where Petersen first made his name (i.e. going 92-12) as head coach: Boise State. With a number of his former players and coaches (like Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin) on the other sidelines, this is probably the last opponent that Petersen wanted his swan song to come against but viewers at home or in the stands won’t fret too much about all that and will instead get to enjoy one of the more compelling games of the month.

Beyond the Petersen storyline though, there’s plenty to enjoy in this one. BSU defensive end Curtis Weaver is one of the best players west of the Rockies and has totaled up career marks of 34 sacks and 47.5 tackles for loss going into what is likely his last time in the school’s uniform. His ability to get off the edge has made him a nightmare in the Mountain West and now he’ll get to chase down Huskies QB Jacob Eason in a matchup NFL scouts are sure to keep a close eye on. The Seattle native has been hot and cold during his first season as a starter under center but also completely capable of reminding you why he was a five-star coming out of high school when he unleashes his cannon of an arm down the field.

He’ll need to do so quite a few times because Boise State really put a team effort together to win their league and come ever so close to capturing the New Year’s Six bid. On top of a fast and physical defense, the Broncos have a wide variety of skill position weapons to beat you with and they over came needing to rely on three different quarterbacks this season to go nearly unblemished in 2019. While they typically wouldn’t be super motivated to play in Vegas for the second time in three years, this will be the final MWC appearance in the game before the bowl changes affiliations so closing out the conference’s impressive year with another win over a Power Five opponent — and over their old coach — is bound to be in the back of BSU players minds.

Still, as solid as Boise State has been and disappointing the Huskies have looked for much of the year, it’s hard to see this one not following the script and seeing Petersen ride off into the desert night a winner. His teams have typically shown up and put up impressive outings in the Las Vegas Bowl in the past and while he’s wearing different colors for this one, the result may very well wind up being the same as both sides say their goodbyes just off the Strip.

THE PICK: Washington 24, Boise State 20