Raise your hand if you’re sad the football season is over? Yeah, I’m sad too. This weekend we saw the conclusion of the Mountain West regular season come to an end. What started with a bang ended with a team getting their first win of the season. Division champions were crowned and they will play in the championship game next weekend. Congrats to Fresno State and Utah State on playing in the inaugural Mountain West championship game, this year held in Fresno. For a few other teams in the Mountain West they will wait for selection Sunday to find out where they will be heading in the post season.
Getting us started this week was the biggest game on the slate in the Mountain West, San Jose State hosting Fresno State. The Spartans were fighting for bowl eligibility; the Bulldogs were fighting for a place in the BCS bowls. In what was a dual among the conference’s elite quarterbacks, and two quarterbacks who will be playing on Sundays next year, they did not disappoint. David Fales was the winner of this duel, slinging the football for 547 yards and six touchdowns. His performance earned him Walter Camp offensive player of the week. Derek (not David) Carr’s performance wasn’t much worse, who threw for 519 yards and six score, but also had an interception. The teams seemed content trading scores in the first half, but the second half is where the Spartans took control. #WACtion was in full effect here, folks. A pair of touchdowns and a pair of field goals from Austin Lopez sealed it for San Jose State, who reached the magical six wins needed for bowl eligibility. The Bulldogs fell to 23rd in the BCS standings, ending their bid for a BCS bowl. Fresno State will host Utah State in the MW championship game, SJSU will patiently wait to hear if a bowl calls them.
Next year I will get #WACtion trending on Twitter. Just you watch.
Next up was another team fighting for bowl eligibility, Wyoming, going against a team who wanted to play in the Mountain West championship, Utah State. The teams were playing in what was dubbed as “Bridgers Battle” and fighting on the field for a Rocky Mountain Hawken rifle, similar to what legendary mountain man Jim Bridger carried as he explored the Wyoming/Utah border. Utah State played like a team who wanted to be a champion and flat out dominated Wyoming from the get-go. Darell Garretson had an efficient day, throwing for 156 yards and three scores. Joey DeMartino had a great day rushing for 112 yards and a score. Brett Smith turned in his lowest output of the season, throwing for 162 yards and one score. Wyoming’s lone score came on a 60 yard bomb from Smith to Dominic Rufran. Utah State capitalized on two Wyoming special teams gaffes, a muffed punt from Jalen Claiborne and a punt return for a touchdown from Bruce Natson. The Aggies will travel to Fresno for the Mountain West championship, Wyoming’s season is over.
With Wyoming’s season being over they took the liberty of firing their head coach, Dave Christensen today, after a big season turned into a big letdown. The search will begin immediately for his replacement.
Colorado State needed one more win to seal up their bowl eligibility and found the right team to get that needed win, as they hosted Air Force. The Falcons have really had a season they’d like to forget, finishing with two wins and winless in conference play. Colorado State needed seven wins due to them having 13 games on their schedule. Garrett Grayson picked a good day to show up and play quarterback, throwing for 395 yards and three scores. Kapri Bibbs kept on doing what he does best, run the football and score touchdowns. Bibbs didn’t rush for a ton of yards (you know, not 200), but gave the Rams 79 yards and three scores. Chris Nwoke even got in on the action, rushing for 49 and a score. By the time the Falcons scored any points they were already down by 58 points. Those points game with less than five minutes left in the game. Colorado State will wait for a bowl invitation, Air Force will not.
In a late season non-conference game BYU made a trip to Reno to take on the Wolf Pack (two words) and got a little more than they bargained for from a feisty Nevada team. The Cougars rushed the ball for nearly 400 yards on the Wolf Pack and still only held the ball for 23 minutes. Quite amazing what their hurry up offense can do. Cougar back Jamaal Williams rushed for 219 yards and a score, while Taysom Hill rushed for 154 and a score. Cody Fajardo came ready to play throwing for 259 yards and a score and rushing for 19 yards and another score. Senior receiver Brandon Wimberly ended his Wolf Pack career in great fashion catching 117 yards and a score. No doubt he’ll be playing on Sundays. Nevada’s season is now over.
New Mexico really couldn’t catch a break this year. They ended their season with Boise State who was fighting for a chance to play in the Mountain West title game. At some point in the game Clayton Mitchem left and the chances for New Mexico to keep this one close were gone. Joe Southwick (sans porn star mustache) started the game, but only played very limited until Grant Hedrick returned to the game. Hedrick had a decent game throwing for 175 and three scores. Southwick only completed two passes, but one of those was a touchdown. Pretty good passing stats for a day. Some New Mexico’s trouble stemmed from starting quarterback Cole Gautsche and Kasey Carrier not playing in this game. Matt Miller and Jay Ajayi had great games for the Broncos. Ajayi rushed for 147 yards and a score and caught 105 more yards of passes for a score. Matt Miller caught 111 yards and three scores for the Broncos. They overwhelmed the Lobos and will wait to see what bowl is calling them. New Mexico will be doing the opposite.
UNLV sure knew how to make a statement on senior day in Las Vegas. They ran into a pretty good team in San Diego State and beat them down. Caleb Herring made the most of his final game in Las Vegas throwing for 270 yards and five scores. He also rushed for 60 yards and one touchdown. Tim Cornett had a slightly disappointing game in his Vegas finale, rushing for 61 yards. San Diego State drew first blood with Quinn Kaehler hitting Colin Lockett for a 39 yard score. From that point forward UNLV dominated the game. San Diego State had a pair of turnover which probably prevented them from keeping pace with UNLV who is apparently really excited about going to the post season. So excited that they gave Bobby Hauck a three year contract extension. Junior running back Adam Muema was virtually non-exist, rushing for 11 yards on 12 attempts. Donnel Pumphrey carried the load for the Aztecs going for 87 yards and a score. Both of these teams will await the bowl picking committee to see where they will land.
In the last game of the Mountain West regular season we saw another non-conference matchup between Hawaii and Army. Army made a really freakin’ long trip for this game and when they got to the islands they held a track meet. Winless Hawaii has looked like a team who really wanted to win a football game, Army didn’t look prepared to run a track meet but played admirably. The Rainbow Warriors, who were in their throwback kelly green uniforms played a little WAC ball and spent the second half trading scores with the Black Knights. Tied at 28 in the third quarter the ‘Bows eventually pulled away despite a late Army score to get within seven. Sean Schroeder had a great game for the Rainbow Warriors throwing for 322 yards and three scores. The big surprise was the rushing attack from Hawaii who actually out-rushed Army. Joey Iosefa rushed for 154 yards and a score, and Steven Lakalaka added on 104 more. Listening to the serene voice of Robert Kakaula really made the end to this Mountain West season the best. Chris Gant had 116 yards receiving for Hawaii. Army quarterback AJ Schurr threw for 122 yards and rushed for 47 yards and four scores. With one win Hawaii is not the worst team in college football. That’s all on you Miami of Ohio and Georgia State!
Crazy week of college football was an appropriate way to end the regular season. If any of you watched Michigan/Ohio State and Auburn/Alabama you got the full effect of college football. If you were like me you started watching football at 10am and you didn’t stop until Hawaii took a knee to end it. That’s what college football is all about. The Mountain West finished with seven bowl eligible teams but only six contracts with bowls. It appears that some Mountain West team will be left out, as there are more than 70 teams eligible for bowls. In my opinion it looks like the final spot is down to San Jose State, Colorado State, and UNLV. The question bowls must answer is who is going to sell the most tickets. SJSU and UNLV don’t have large fanbases and certainly don’t travel well. David Fales is certainly worthy of being in a bowl and are playing very well. UNLV hasn’t been to a bowl in more than a decade, it would be nice to reward Hauck’s crew with a post season berth.
Someone’s heart is going to get broke next Sunday. The good news is that the Mountain West will be showcased on prime time TV! Fresno State and Utah State lock up in the first Mountain West championship. Fresno should have an advantage in this game, but Matt Wells has done an incredible job with Charles F. Keeton and four other starters being out with season ending injuries. I think Utah State plays salty enough defense to win this game. How’s that for a bold prediction?