SAN JOSE -- Welcome to the Western Athletic Conference's final football season.

Four schools have left in the past two years, two schools have joined the league, and five more are leaving after this season, including the two that just joined.

As the league prepares for its not-so-grand finale, there are several logistical matters to keep in mind:

  • The league has one bowl affiliation (the famous Idaho Potato Bowl) but teams would be eligible to fill vacancies in other games if they have a winning record.

  • Texas State and Texas-San Antonio are eligible for the league title but not for the postseason.

  • Wins over Texas State count toward bowl eligibility; wins over UTSA do not.

    To the projections ...

    1. Louisiana Tech: With 14 returning starters, including veteran quarterback Colby Cameron and big-play receiver Quinton Patton, the Bulldogs stand as the clear favorite. They could finish two or three games ahead of the competition.

    2. Utah State: Giving USU the edge over San Jose State in the race for second based on its experience at quarterback. But there appears to be little difference between the two programs.

    3. San Jose State: The Spartans possess the best defensive linemen and receivers in the conference, plus a bevy of options at tailback. If the secondary and offensive line hold up and SJSU gets decent play from quarterback David Fales, a winning season -- and perhaps a bowl berth -- should follow.

    4. New Mexico State: Only a handful of starters return on defense, which could be a good thing given the unit's performance last season.

    5. Idaho: When your best player is your punter (in this case: Bobby Cowan), a rough season is sure to follow.

    6. Texas State: With 14 returning starters and a proven major-college coach (Dennis Franchione), the Bobcats could win a few games in their first year playing major college football.

    7. Texas-San Antonio: Three wins would constitute a successful season for the Roadrunners and coach Larry Coker. But long-term, watch out for this well-funded program with loads of in-state prospects to recruit.