The Mountain West Conference (MWC) saw some of the best football games of the season this past week. We had close games across the entire west coast and plenty of interesting stories coming from a variety of teams.
The MWC should be a name that will shortly make their appearance in the AP polls top #25. But, for now, let’s focus on what this week brought for these exciting teams on the west coast.
Utah State (6-1; 3-0 Conf.): This offensive powerhouse matched up this past weekend against a struggling Wyoming team. The Aggies traveled east to Laramie, WY where we saw one of the best games of the entire weekend. Utah State’s starting QB, Jordan Love came into this game off a five-touchdown performance in the week prior against UNLV.
However, the Cowboy’s defensive unit allowed only 53 yards from Love. The true highlight player for the Aggies was running back Darwin Thompson who ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Utah State was struggling to throw the football all game long. If it were not for a solid performance from Thompson, along with their defense and special teams, the Aggies would not have won this game (FINAL 24-16).
I think this close game was a good wake up call for a now 6-1 Utah State team. The Aggies came into week nine with mostly dominate victories from prior games and will now be forced to regroup and game plan for next week. Utah State will host a 3-4 New Mexico squad at home next weekend, where they will attempt to reenergize their high scoring offense.
San Diego State (6-1; 3-0 Conf.): San Diego State was almost a field goal away from being the victims of the biggest upset the MWC would have seen all season. This past weekend, the Aztec’s hosted a winless San Jose State team. Like the battle in Laramie, the Aztec’s struggled to move the football all game long.
San Diego managed to pull out a 16-13 victory and should be grateful that kicker John Baron II showed up to play on Saturday. Baron made three total field goals, including a go-ahead 51-yard kick late in the fourth quarter. San Jose’s defensive unit only allowed 85 yards through the air, and 81 on the ground. Luckily for San Diego, their defense and special teams came up big when the game was on the line. San Diego has been one of the most exciting teams in the MWC all season long.
Even with a near devastating loss in the record books, I expect the Aztec’s to bounce back next week against Nevada. They will need to prepare mentally and physically, as they are going to be on the road against a Wolfpack team that is coming off a huge win versus Hawaii.
Fresno State (6-1; 3-0 Conf.): The Bulldogs traveled to New Mexico this past Saturday where they completely dominated in a 38-7 victory. Fresno State’s offense was firing on all cylinders and managed to get the job done through the air and on the ground. Starting QB Marcus McMaryion threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns, while RB Ronnie Rivers ran for two touchdowns.
Fresno State played a complete game and was in control the entire time. Now 6-1 on the season, this football team is hotter than any other team in the Mountain West. The Bulldogs have proven that they can take care of business against lower ranked opponents. I am excited to watch this team the rest of the season, as they still have Hawaii, Boise State, and San Diego on their schedule.
The Bulldogs have been a dominant defensive force all season, and now with their offense gaining strength, they should be making other MWC teams nervous. Next weekend the Bulldogs will host a 6-3 Hawaii team, where I believe they will take full control of their respected division.
Boise State (5-2; 3-1 Conf.): Coming into this past weekend’s game against Colorado State, Boise State had more to prove than any other team in the MWC. With losses to Oklahoma State and San Diego State, many looked at this Bronco’s team and saw a mess in Idaho. However, Boise State put all the rumors and talk to rest this weekend.
Boise State won this game in a dominating fashion (FINAL: 56-28) and was led by starting QB Brett Rypien. The Broncos had been struggling on offense leading up to Friday night but put the past where it belongs as Rypien threw for 308 yards and four touchdowns. Boise State had everything to prove coming into week eight and finally looked comfortable in a solid win.
Once the offensive line allowed Rypien a reasonable time to throw the football, the rest can be seen on the scoreboard. Boise State will travel to Air Force this next weekend, where I predict this offensive showing was only a preview of what’s to come. The Broncos started this season sloppily but have the potential to keep the momentum they gained against Colorado State moving forward.
Nevada (4-4; 2-2 Conf.): This Wolfpack team has been one that I have been excited to write about all season, and finally with a 40-22 road victory over Hawaii this past weekend; here it is. Nevada has had a rollercoaster of a season thus far. Currently 4-4 on the year, Nevada has been fighting to gain some control in the Mountain West.
This past weekend’s game was highlighted by not a single player, but by the team as a whole. The Wolfpack played a solid game against a very talented Hawaii team. Starting QB Ty Gangi threw for 247 yards and a touchdown and was complemented by RB Toa Taua’s 126 yards on the ground. Nevada is in a tough position in the standings with Fresno State and San Diego looking as good as ever.
However, this could all change this weekend when the Aztec’s travel to Nevada for a Saturday night game. I expect this upcoming game to be close and should be seen as a must-win for both teams if they want any chances of leading within the Mountain West.
COLLINSTUHL’S WEEK NINE POWER RANKINGS:
1. San Diego State (Previously: 1st)
2. Fresno State (Previously: 3rd)
3. Utah State (Previously: 2nd)
4. Boise State (Previously: 4th)
5. Nevada (Previously: 6th)
6. Hawaii (Previously: 5th)
7. Air Force (Previously: 9th)
8. Colorado State (Previously: 7th)
9. Wyoming (Previously: 10th)
10. New Mexico (Previously: 8th)
11. San Jose State (Previously: 12th)
12. UNLV (Previously 11th)