Crowded Trails: The Mountain West Race Gets Tighter

The Hike just started, but the race to the top of the Mountain West is already looking to be a crowded field. Weeks one and two of Mountain West Football didn’t provide many answers. Yet the answers provided are certainly important ones.

Leaders Of The Pack

Even though the subheading might not suggest so, Nevada definitely  isn’t leading the race. Instead, we’re looking at more of a five squad lead between the Rainbow Warriors, the Broncos, the Falcons, the Cowboys, and the Aztecs.

The Broncos didn’t exactly hop on their horse after trotting to a 14-7 win over Marshall. But Marshall isn’t a bad team, who hadn’t allowed a 100 yard rusher since 2017- and Boise broke that streak. That’s mainly notable because Boise’s leading rusher, Robert Mahone, went down to injury early in the game.

The Falcons brushed their teeth with Colgate in week one, which wasn’t unexpected. Air Force then soared back to the hangar for a bye week last weekend, and have a chance to take off again against Colorado next weekend. I truly believe they have a great shot to missile the high flyin’ Buffalo and put the Mountain West on notice.

Hawaii has started out with two ‘lanakilas’ over Oregon State and Arizona- effectively proving Rainbows do indeed hold supremacy over Beavers and Wildcats. Head Coach Nick Rolovich also included this epic troll of the Pac-12:

 

(For those of you who don’t get it, if Hawaii were in the PAC-12, they would be atop the rankings and therefore qualified for the Rose Bowl).

HOW ABOUT DEM COWBOYS?! No, not those Cowboys. The WYOMING Cowboys. Sean Chambers lead the Yellow and Brown to a shootout victory over Missouri in week one, and then took down a feisty Texas State squad on the road.

Coach Bohl takes on FCS opponent Idaho (giggle) next weekend, and don’t face a quality Mountain West opponent until October. Wyoming has a great shot at becoming ranked at some point this season- possibly going into a road match against Boise State on November Ninth.

San Diego State is easily the least credible of the top five runners in the race. A 6-0 win over Weber State definitely doesn’t scream Division Champs, but a second win over UCLA on the road puts them in the conversation.

They’ll have a huge test two weekends from now versus Utah State on the road. Until then, the Aztecs can pound their chest and scream “RBU!!!”

Stumbling, But Still Running

Three teams who were thought to be favorites before the season are slipping on pebbles early on. Utah State, Fresno State, and Nevada have all been beat by Power Five Teams, with a special amount of pain for Fresno State, who lost on basically the exact same play two separate times.

Utah State has the most room to rebound out of this group. After suffering a crushing loss on the road to Wake Forest, they let out their anger by blasting Stony Brook at home.

Even though Aggies lack the recognition given to the Cult Close By and the Utes, Jordan Love isn’t a QB to forget. He’ll have an opportunity to leave a mark with upcoming match-ups against San Diego State, Colorado State, and LSU.

‘Jorge Reyna, back to pass. There’s a receiver wide open down field, and Reyna throws… it’s intercepted! Reyna put too much air under that one, and he can’t believe it.’ I don’t know what the exact radio call was in Fresno, but it’s gotta be close to that.

The fact that the same call might’ve happened twice- against both USC and Minnesota- must hurt Fresno fans even more. Luckily, Fresno gets a break with two matchups against Sacramento State and NMSU coming up. Wtwo wins and a return to .500, Fresno can turn their sites to Mountain West play and defending their Championship.

Nevada, Nevada. What can I say? The Pack made headlines after beating Purdue at home with a game winning field goal in week one. Going into a match-up against Oregon, who had just lost to Auburn, the Pack looked primed to have a decent showing. Losing 77-6 was certainly NOT a decent showing. But Nevada still has plenty of talent, and will stay competitive in a wide open West Division.

They Need Some Hydration

Just like Florida State, these Mountain West squads need to rebound quick- or face the sacrificial lamb of poor hydration.  Fire those strength and conditioning coaches, everyone! But really- UNLV and San Jose State are gasping for air.

The Rebels started off runnin’ against Southern Utah, but quickly screeched to a grinding halt against Arkansas State. Yes, Arkansas State. It wasn’t even close! The Red Wolves won 43-17, destroying the hopes of UNLV fans who had thought they’d found something in Armani Rogers.

A gauntlet of opponents are approaching, too. Northwestern, Boise, and Wyoming are their next three games. Oof. The odds aren’t looking good in Vegas.

San Jose State could learn a thing or two from the Spartans in Michigan. A home win over Northern Colorado was nearly a given. But an 18 point loss and a QB injury against Tulsa definitely wasn’t. Just like UNLV, they’ve got a couple of tough opponents coming up- Arkansas and Air Force.  If they can’t pull a miracle out of thin air, the Spartans will be 1-3 and sinking fast.

Lost Behind A Tree Somewhere

New Mexico and Colorado State are impossible to spot right now. They’re certainly in the race, but where? I’m not sure. Colorado State dropped 31 points on Colorado… but gave up over 50. They then scored 38 points… against Western Illinois. We might not know where they stand for another two games, especially considering that they play upset prone Arkansas next and then take on Toledo. I’d like to assume that they’ll air drop into the top half of the pack. Quarterback Collin Hill is good enough to make it happen.

New Mexico scraped by Sam Houston on weekend numero uno, salvaging Bob Davies for another game. As you can tell, I’m predicting that the Lobos won’t end up doing so hot. One could theoretically say that the UNM ground attack will carry them to a few wins. Unfortunately, Notre Dame will have something to say about that next weekend.

My Mountain West Rankings After Week Two

Mountain Division

  1. Boise State
  2. Wyoming
  3. Utah State
  4. Air Force
  5. Colorado State
  6. New Mexico

West Division

  1. Hawaii
  2. San Diego State
  3. Fresno State
  4. Nevada
  5. UNLV
  6. San Jose State

 

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