MWC Week 13 Big Bowl Of Recaps

Nevada 45, UNLV 10:

In a battle of twin 4-7 teams, the Nevada Wolfpack systematically dismantled UNLV to the tune of 45-10.

James Butler just missed out on his first 200 yard game of the season, finishing with 196 yards on 32 carries to go along with three touchdowns. That was his sixth 100+ yard rushing game of the season, though it was only his second in the last six games.

The Wolfpack scored on five of their first six possessions to build up a 27-7 lead late in the first half. UNLV responded with a last second field goal and looked to be somewhat in the game despite a disaster of a first half.

The second half turned out to be all Nevada as the defense forced punts on each of the first three drives for UNLV. By the time that UNLV skipped punting in favor of a fourth down conversion attempt, it was already 38-10 and the game was well out of hand.

With the loss, UNLV ends the season at 4-8, a slight improvement from 3-9 during the first year under head coach Tony Sanchez. He is slowly turning the Rebels into a competitive squad, but it will take time in a tough MWC.

Nevada ends the season at 5-7 and are in that weird position of seeing where they rank in the APR standings versus open bowl bids. Unless something drastically changes, they are not going to make the list of APR bowl teams, instead spending the postseason in Reno.

Air Force 27, #19 Boise State 20:

In what seems to be a way too common occurrence, the Boise State Broncos struggled against the option attack in falling to Air Force 27-20. The loss not only ended any hope of a MWC title, but also killed any hope of another trip to a NY6 bowl. They will likely fall to the Las Vegas Bowl.

The loss by Boise State is compounded by the fact that Wyoming fell flat on their face against New Mexico the following night, meaning that a Boise State win over Air Force would have put them in the conference title game.

Air Force was able to play keep away from a potent but inconsistent Broncos attack. Eight different players carried the ball in the Falcons run game with quarterback Arion Worthman leading the way with 80 yards on 26 carries. Four ball carriers had 40+ yards in the win.

With the win, Air Force still keeps hope alive of a 10 win season this fall, with the previous one coming in 2014. That was the only time Air Force has reached double digit wins under head coach Troy Calhoun.

San Jose State 16, Fresno State 14:

With the bottom of the MWC on the line, the San Jose State Spartans barely pulled out a 16-14 win over the one-win Fresno State Bulldogs.

The game was about as ugly as the final score indicated with neither team breaking the 150 yards passing mark. Fresno State was just as bad in the run game with only 96 total yards on 41 carries, but found a way to hang in and nearly get the win.

The Spartans were able to win the game with a strong run game that included 126 yards from Deontae Cooper and another 70 yards from quarterback Kenny Potter. Despite rushing for over 200 yards as a team, SJSU was unable to find the endzone on the ground even once.

Kicker Bryce Crawford was 3-3 on the night at field goal attempts, including the eventual game winner with 6:25 left in the game. The Bulldogs had two late chances to respond with a score of their own, but never even crossed their own 30-yard line.

With the loss, Fresno State ends their season at 1-11, only the second one-win season in school history. Only once (1944) did they finish the season with no wins, so one can argue that this was one of the three worst seasons in school history.

Colorado State 63, San Diego State 31:

In one of the biggest surprises of the night, the San Diego State Aztecs were completely destroyed in every possible way in a 63-31 loss to the Colorado State Rams.

Despite the loss and disappointing end to the regular season, SDSU still has a chance to win the MWC as they face Wyoming in the title game next week. That gives running back Donnel Pumphrey another game (plus a bowl game) to make a run at the NCAA rushing record. He has struggled in recent weeks, putting up his two worst performances of the season in the last two weeks.

Colorado State has become arguably the hottest team in the MWC and now sit at 7-5 after a rough start to the season. They are a much improved team that has leaned on an efficient rushing attack and a quarterback that does not make costly mistakes. Nick Stevens was 10-15 passing for 210 yards and four touchdowns in the win.

New Mexico 56, Wyoming 35:

Possibly looking past this game and to a matchup with SDSU in the Mountain West title game, the Wyoming Cowboys were blindsided by New Mexico to the tune of 49-28.

The Lobos had three players rush for 100+ yards in the game, led by Teriyon Gipson with 217 yards on only 12 carries. Lamar Jordan and Richard McQuarley combined to add 282 yards and another three touchdowns in the win.

While nothing else was working for the Cowboys, Brian Hill continued his stellar play with a 24 carry, 120 yard game to go with two touchdowns. That was his sixth straight 100+ yard game and ninth of the season. He is now over 1,600 yards for the season and could end up with 2,000 yards on the season if things fall right.

Though they were completely dominated, Wyoming does have the silver lining of heading to the MWC title game. They will face San Diego State with a chance to win their first ever MWC title and first conference title of any type since 1993.

BYU 28, Utah State 10:

Normally a fierce rivalry, the battle between BYU and Utah State was all Cougars as BYU cruised to a 28-10 victory. This win was the 14th in the last 16 meetings for BYU.

The Aggies were incredibly inefficient on offense all night long. They ended the night barely breaking 20 yards of total offense and a paltry 25% third down conversion rate. Utah State was their own worst enemy with an interception that resulted in a BYU touchdown, a missed field goal, and a pick-six that gave BYU a 14-3 lead.

In the end, Utah State is lucky that the final score did not get more out of hand as they were never really in the game despite trailing only 14-10 at the half.

With the loss, Utah State falls to 3-9 on the season and have more questions than answers about the direction of the program. Only four years ago, the Aggies were 11-2 and starting a 30-11 run from 2012-2014. Now they have lost 16 of their last 25 games.

Hawaii 46, UMass 40

Well this was an unexpected barn-burner. Dru Brown was surprisingly efficient for Hawaii under center, finishing the game 22-for-30 for 311 yards and five touchdowns. Diocemy Saint Juste even added in 122 rushing yards and a score of his own to finally put the Rainbow Warriors ahead for good in a game that earned them bowl eligibility.

Yes, bowl-eligibility. Remember, Hawai’i gets that 13th game waiver thing, so 6-7 is the same as 6-6 for Hawai’i. Anyways, the defense struggled to stop UMass’ Andrew Ford when he found a rhythm and started launching bombs downfield left and right. But as usual, UMass couldn’t figure out how to close out a game. Hawai’i successfully doing things like executing fake punts and UMass doing things like screwing up snaps and turning them into safeties wound up being just enough for the ‘Bows. One last burst for the Warriors was enough to seal the win.

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