Three Things We Learned From Week 11 in the Mountain West Conference

Well, the Mountain division is a little bit more messy now

I do not in any way understand how Wyoming would up playing a game in which they scored 66 points and not only lost, but only led for a total of seven minutes worth of game time. I don’t think there’d be much doubt that the Cowboys got caught looking ahead to the San Diego State matchup, but it says a million terrible things that they gave up 400+ rushing yards to Nevada the week before they face Donnel Pumphrey and the SDSU rushing attack of all things.

New Mexico survived Utah State’s inability to execute at the end of the game, and Boise steamrolled Hawai’i, so now everyone is tied atop the division again. Wyoming is still in the driver’s seat, as they still sit in “win and you’re in” territory for the division title.

That said, their struggles against UNLV make me a lot more worried about their ability to defeat SDSU or New Mexico (two teams that both run the ball a lot better than UNLV does). Boise and New Mexico both need to win out and get help (Boise from Wyoming, New Mexico from Boise), but those scenarios are much more likely after Wyoming’s horrific defensive performance this weekend.

The Mountain West has an outside shot at eight bowl teams

It’s a very outside shot, but it could certainly happen. Boise State, Wyoming, New Mexico, Air Force, and San Diego State are already there, which makes five. Colorado State has tough matchups with New Mexico and San Diego State, but only needs to win one of those two games and will likely play a San Diego State team with little to play for. Hawaii is two wins

Colorado State has tough matchups with New Mexico and San Diego State, but only needs to win one of those two games and will likely play a San Diego State team with little to play for. Hawaii is two wins

Hawaii is two wins away, but is still well within shouting distance with matchups against Fresno State and UMass (combined record 3-17).

UNLV has the longest shot, needing a road win against Boise and then a home win against Nevada, but even that isn’t impossible after the signs of life they showed on offense last week.

How about the turnaround by the New Mexico FOOBAW BAWBS Lobos?

Remember this: on Sunday, October 8th, the New Mexico Lobos had just gotten their doors blown off by Boise State to fall to 2-3. Their two wins were against South Dakota and San Jose State, and their two non-Boise losses were to New Mexico State and Rutgers.

Let all of that sink in for a minute:

  • They led New Mexico State 14-3 at the end of the first quarter and went on to lose 32-31. New Mexico State has one win since then.
  • They led Rutgers 21-0 with 13 seconds left in the first quarter, only to trail 31-21 going into the fourth quarter of an eventual 37-28 loss. Rutgers hasn’t won since and has been held to seven points or less five times in seven games.
  • They beat San Jose State 48-41 in a game they led 41-20 going into the fourth quarter. SJSU has scored more than 17 points in only two other games.
  • They lost to Boise 49-21 despite outscoring the Broncos 14-0 in the fourth quarter.

Since then, they’ve rattled off five wins in a row and are still in the title conversation. Sure they struggled a lot more on the road against Hawaii and Utah State than they should have, but that’s not surprising for a poor defensive team. That said, averaging 344 rushing yards per game can cure a lot of those ills.

The extra impressive part has been how explosive the running game has been. Teriyon Gipson has averaged 7.3 yards per carry in those five games (they are now 5-0 when he reaches 1oo rushing yards), while Tyrone Owens has averaged 9.1 yards per carry in that same span. The Lobos are 0-3 in games where neither of these two reaches 100 yards, so I think we’ve found their key.

This bodes well for their chances against a porous Colorado State team, and possibly also against a “good-but-wtf-happened-last-week” Wyoming defense. Left for dead, and now they’re a dark horse title contender a month later

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