Week one of the Mountain West football season is in the books and umm.. wow. That’s how we’re going to describe week one. The Mountain West certainly could have used a few more wins to bolster the conference reputation, but instead lit itself on fire and ran around in circles screaming. In the opening weekend of football the conference went 3-9. Three and freaking nine. Let’s get to the team recaps and see where the weekend went wrong..
The Mountain West football season kicked off with UNLV taking on Minnesota (before it turns into a winter ice castle). The Rebels took a first quarter lead on a Tim Cornett run, and only trailed by 3 going into halftime. However, the third and fourth quarter is where a mid-level B1G team really turns it up. The Rebels lost a nail biter 51-23. Nick Sherry threw for 226 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Rebels ran the ball pretty well, running for a team total of 193 yards. Shaquille Murray-Lawrence ran for 108 yards and stud RB Tim Cornett ran for another 80 yards. The Rebels will open their home set of games against Arizona next week. The Wildcats are coming off of a shutout win vs. Northern Arizona, 35-0.
In one of the more entertaining games Thursday night Utah State made the trip South to Salt Lake City to take on Utah. The Aggies and Utes went back and forth for a good part of the game with Aggie superstar Chuckie Keeton piled up the yards by throwing for 314 yards and two touchdowns and running for another 85 yards and another score. Travis Van Leeuwen caught 107 yards of Keeton’s passes. In the end, the Aggies couldn’t get it done in the 4th quarter as the Utes used a pair of field goals to seal the game, 30-26. The Aggies had a real shot to win this game, and will be kicking themselves later for not doing so. The Aggies will be at Air Force next week, who pasted FCS patsy, Colgate.
San Jose State hosted in-state FCS foe Sacramento State and pitched a shutout of the Hornets, 24-0. Quarterback David Fales struggled in this game by only completing half of his passes and throwing for 225 yards and two scores. Not the debut he probably had in mind when taking on a mid-level Big Sky Conference team. Wide receiver Noel Grigsby was on lockdown and only hauled in 4 passes for 51 yards, but caught a 15 yard touchdown pass from Fales. Senior running back Jason Simpson had a nice game rushing for 135 yards and a score. The Spartans will get a pretty tough test next week when they travel up the road a few miles to Palo Alto to take on Stanford in their season opener.
In a throwback to the WAC days Fresno State and Rutgers decided that playing defense was probably not in their best interest and decided to have a good ol’ fashioned track meet. Derek Carr lost his mind and pitched the rock 73 times, completing 52 of those passes. That might be more completed passes than an Iowa quarterback will complete over the next three games. Carr piled up 456 yards and 5 touchdowns. Both teams managed to pile up more than 500 yards of total offense. In overtime receiver Greg Watson hauled in a 25 yard pass from Carr and finished it off with a successful PAT. In the Rutgers half of the first overtime Gary Nova tossed his fifth touchdown to Brandon Coleman and Rutgers decided to end the game there.. and they would, because they missed their two point conversion and Fresno State won 52-51. Fresno will host FCS Cal Poly who defeated San Diego last weekend.
In the nightcap of the first night of college football the formerly Warriors, now Rainbow Warriors, took on Pac12 powerhouse USC. Taylor Graham made his Hawaii debut after transferring from Ohio State and now probably wishes that he was on a beach instead of Aloha Stadium. Luckily Aloha also means goodbye, because Graham said goodbye to the football four times in his debut. He tossed for 208 yards and a touchdown as well. The ‘Bows failed to get any momentum throughout the game, but their defense played reasonable well against a much more talented Trojan football team. The Trojans played a two QB system and neither one seemed to separate themselves from the other. The Rainbow Warrior defense played a lot more physical than the Trojans would have liked. The game ended 30-13. The Warriors will travel to Corvallis this week to take on Oregon State, who lost to FCS Eastern Washington.
In one of the better Mountain West performances Wyoming traveled to Lincoln to take on Nebraska from the B1G. The Cowboys, who were 31 point underdogs, put a scare into the britches of the vaunted Blackshirt defense by coming within 3 points of upsetting the Huskers at home. Brett Smith lost his mind and threw the ball for 383 yards and 4 touchdowns and rushed for another 92 yards. Smith finished second in the Mountain West in total yards for week one. The Cowboys ran up more than 600 yards on the Blackshirts, but came away with a three point loss, 37-34. The Cowboys will host Idaho next week in Laramie. The Vandals are coming off of a shellacking at the hands of North Texas last weekend.
Air Force would be the last win for the Mountain West this weekend as they took on FCS Colgate. The Falcons may have suffered a fatal blow to their offense as it’s rumored that quarterback Kale Pearson may have a torn ACL. The Falcons, even without Pearson, still managed to run up 409 yards rushing on the Raiders. The Falcons had a pair of 100 yard rushers in Jon Lee and Broam Hart, who combined for four touchdowns. The Falcons came away with a 38-13 win. The Falcons will take on Utah State next, who lost to Utah in their opener.
In the biggest what just happened out there moment of the first week San Diego State lit Monty Montezuma on fire in the middle of the field and just watched him burn. Quarterback Adam Dingwell completed 27 of his 63 pass attempts and threw for 318 yards.. but also gave the ball to the other team four times without throwing a single touchdown. Running back Adam Muema, a preseason pick for a possible player of the year selection, rushed the ball ten times for 17 yards. All of this wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that the Aztecs were playing FCS Eastern Illinois. The Panthers more than doubled up the Aztecs on the scoreboard winning 40-19. The Aztecs won’t be getting a break next week as they travel to Columbus to take on the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes who beat Buffalo last week.
New Mexico started their season not quite how they would have liked. The Lobos got a lot of offense out of quarterback Cole Gautsche who completed four passes for 65 yards and rushed for 118 yards. Lobo running back Kasey Carrier rushed for 54 yards but it wasn’t enough to overcome a good showing from Conference USA newcomer UT-San Antonio. Roadrunner quarterback Eric Soza threw for 237 and two touchdowns, and also rushed for 48 yards to lead the Roadrunners to a 21-13 victory in their third year as a football team. The Lobos will travel to El Paso to take on UTEP in their season opener.
The Nevada Wolfpack hit the road to Los Angeles to take on the #21 UCLA Bruins in the Rose Bowl. Wolfpack quarterback Cody Fajardo would have liked his night to go a little better. Fajardo threw for 164 and ran for another 106 yards. Fajardo accounted for 270 of the Wolfpack’s 353 yards. Unfortunately none of those yards led to scores. The Bruins used a good night from quarterback Brett Hundley to dominate the Wolfpack defense. Hundley accounted for four of the Bruins touchdowns in a 58-20 win. The Wolfpack will host Big Sky Conference member UC-Davis next week in their home opener. Davis lost a nailbiter to South Dakota 10-7.
The 19th ranked Boise State Broncos traveled to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies and debut their totally remodeled stadium. The Broncos struggled a great deal in their 2013 opener.. in fact, their offense may not have made the trip to Seattle. Quarterback Joe Southwick was largely ineffective, throwing for 152 yards and an interception. Running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 93 yards and no scores. The only scores for the Broncos came from kicker Dan Goodale who booted two field goals in the 38-6 loss. Washington put up nearly 600 yards on a Boise defense who has been very good the last couple of years. The Broncos will look to put this game behind them as they host FCS patsy Tennessee-Martin next week. The Skyhawks won their opener vs Chattanooga last weekend.
In the last game of the Mountain West slate the Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver capped off week one. The Colorado State Rams played the neutral site game against Colorado at Invesco Field. The Buffaloes made new coach Mike MacIntyre’s debut a good one as quarterback Connor Wood threw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ram quarterback Garrett Grayson threw for 201 yards but no scores. The Ram rushing attack also had trouble getting off the ground as Kapri Bibbs ran for 70 and Chris Nwoke ran for 6 yards on 6 carries. The game was still relatively close going into the fourth quarter with the Rams trailing by 1, but after that the flood gates opened and the Buffaloes won 41-27. The Rams will travel to Tulsa next, who lost their opener to Bowling Green 34-7.
That’s this week in the Mountain West. We can only hope that week two will be more courteous to the teams of the Mountain West. At the end of week one Derek Carr (494) and Brett Smith (475) are 1 and 2 in the nation in total offense. A couple of teams, San Diego State, San Jose State, and UNLV will have their work cut out for them to help store order in this conference.