We are officially halfway through the college football season and things are starting to fall into place. Well, kind of but not really. All we really know about the standings is that Boise State and San Diego State should meet in the title game.
Though the conference is all over the place, we did learn a few things about the conference in week seven action.
If you want points, head to Albuquerque (or Dallas for one week):
While other teams in the MWC are busy grinding out 17-3 and 14-10 games, New Mexico has gone the shootout route. They are sitting at 3-3 on the season, but have only been held below 28 points on one occasion. At the same time, only South Dakota has failed to break 30 points versus the Lobos defense. In total, we are looking at a 36.8-36.7 average score when the Lobos are involved.
Week seven was a great example as they combined with Air Force to put up 85 total points. That included a combined 266 yards from UNM rushers Teriyon Gipson and Tyrone Owens, while allowing Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette to cut loose for 182 yards on seven catches on the day.
The remaining schedule has much less offensive firepower, but New Mexico will find a way to make ULM, Nevada, and Colorado State look like Oregon under Chip Kelly.
Nevada is in trouble:
Heading into the season, it seemed a given that Nevada would easily settle in as a bowl bound program. They had a four game stretch that included Purdue, Hawaii, Fresno State, and San Jose State. At worst, a 3-1 record in those four games would have put the Wolfpack at 5-2 and cruising to their 11th bowl berth since the 2006 season.
Not so fast, my friend. Instead, they proceeded to lose three out of four that included a combined 41 points scored in the three losses. The only win, a 27-22 victory over Fresno State, took a fourth down stop that their own four-yard line versus an offensively challenged Bulldogs squad.
Even more confusing for Nevada is the fact that running back James Butler is the nation’s sixth leading rusher with 822 yards on 158 carries. He is literally their only effective offensive option as they can only muster 20.9 points per game, good for #115 nationally.
With Wyoming, New Mexico, San Diego State, Utah State, and UNLV left on the schedule, it is hard to see where they could pull out three more wins.
Move over Sun Belt, the MWC is running back central:
With record setting SDSU running back Donnel Pumphrey (1,111 yards), Nevada’s James Butler (822 yards), and Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols (775 yards) all in the top ten nationally, this has been an incredible season for running backs. That isn’t even mentioning Wyoming’s Brian Hill (721 yards) who is #17 nationally. If I were to pick a G5 conference with four of the top 17 rushers in the nation at the midway point, it would not have been the Mountain West Conference.
Then, you take a look at the team rushing totals and wow. New Mexico is #2 in the nation with 357.2 yards per game, Air Force is #6 with 275.2, UNLV is at #17 with 247.7, and San Diego State is at #18 with 246.0 yards per game.
Yes, that is four teams in the top 18 nationally and only one has a bell cow rusher. The biggest surprise is UNLV with a sneaky good rushing game, despite leading rusher Lexington Thomas (601 yards) sitting at #31 nationally. Just for good measure, Diocemy Saint Juste is #35 nationally with 583 yards, giving the MWC six of the top 35 rushers in the nation. That is impressive.