After a lengthy hiatus of me being lazy and getting back into a writing rhythm, coupled with the boredom of watching SEC football, the Mountain West recap and preview blog is back! Let’s see, what have I been up to.. I got to see Wyoming and Montana faceoff in the week 1 opener, I’ve watched the Montana Grizzlies twice, and I’ve watched excessively too much college football. That about covers it, right? I was surprised to see Boise State get slapped around by Ole Miss as bad as they did, I figured that game might be fairly close. Boise responded by beating Colorado State, a team thought to maybe contend for the MW championship this year.
So my question is.. is there a dominant MW team this year? Utah State looked like an overwhelming favorite in the Mountain division but getting throttled at Tennessee, then playing a couple of okay games against FCS Idaho State and Wake Forest (plus losing Chuckie Keeton for a week), are they still the favorite? One thing is for sure at this point and that’s the Mountain West isn’t going to put a team in the first ever playoff this year.. just no way Boise can get in because it didn’t take care of the best team on its schedule, Ole Miss.
What do I make of the Mountain West so far? Well, we’re only three weeks in so it’s hard to tell how the season is really going to shake out. Fresno State is probably a little surprised that they started the season 0-3, but their opening three games were probably the toughest in the country.. even Idaho is like, “Whoa guys, slow down.” Everyone in the Mountain division has a winning record except New Mexico and right now their week 4 opponent New Mexico State (at the time of this writing) is favored. Not good news for Bob Davie’s Lobos.
And Hawaii.. well, you beat Northern Iowa. Barely. At home. Those poor Iowegians traveled all that way for a paycheck and got thisclose to beating the ‘bows at home. Plus it’s the annual ritual of the Hawaii AD threatening to cancel football if they don’t start making money. I wonder if he’s reading off the same sticky note from 2002. Some have pondered whether Hawaii should go independent in football and schedule a boat load of home games to generate revenue. An interesting idea, and they could basically schedule murderers row for teams, even home and homes, and it’s a win for everyone because by playing Hawaii on the road teams can schedule a 13th game to make up the revenue from travel. Do fans on the islands care enough about Hawaii football to go to that many home games? Beats me, but one thing I do know is that I wish I was going to be in Honolulu later this year when Wyoming plays at Hawaii. Unfortunately, that’s not a December game so it’ll be too early to escape the cold and gray of Montana, and it’s in the middle of elk slaying season.
First world problems, I know.
What’s on tap this week for the Mountain West?
Starting off we have Hawaii at CoLOLrado in Boulder. Let’s just get this out of the way immediately.. this is a football game featuring two very bad football teams. Very very bad football teams. Shockingly, and I don’t know how, both of these teams are not on ESPN.com Bottom 10. Hawaii enters this game at 1-2 this season, putting up respectable losses to PAC12 opponents, then eeking out a puzzler vs FCS Northern Iowa. CoLOLrado enters this game also at 1-2, with losses to Colorado State and Arizona State, while beating FCS UMass… oh wait, UMass is FBS.. that has to be a typo on ESPNs site, no way UMass is FBS, they’re too awful (#1 ranked team on the Bottom 10!). Hawaii is led by quarterback Ikaika Woolsey who has thrown for 631 yards and one touchdown. Also leading the charge is senior running back Joseph Iosefa. Iosefa has rushed for four touchdowns, but run for 197 yards. Goal line machine right there. CoLOLrado is bringing a potent passing attack to this game led by quarterback Sefo Liufau who is listed as being from “USA” (http://espn.go.com/college-football/player/_/id/550278/sefo-liufau). This guy is a true patriot and American. He’s thrown for 837 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s quite a few, six of them to WR Nelson Spruce. Someone should probably cover that guy.
PREDICTION: No one wins if you’re watching this. Also, CoLOLrado.
Up next is Florida Atlantic and Wyoming in Laramie. Wyoming is coming off of a tough loss to the Oregon Ducks. That stupid motorcycle riding Duck gets them people all riled up and the place goes insane. I suppose that quarterback they have, Marcus Mariota, might have a tiny bit to do with their success too. Florida Atlantic is coming off of a whipping of Tulsa. Before their little outburst last weekend they’d been held to seven points in two games against Nebraska and Alabama. Wyoming is led by its running back combo of DJ May and Shaun Wick (who refuse to have a cheeky nickname like Thunder and Lightning). The combo has rushed for 443 yards and two touchdowns and caught 143 yards and one score. Florida Atlantic is led by dual threat quarterback Jaquez Johnson who’s thrown for 379 yards and four scores. FAU brings a lot of speed to this game.. but will they catch their breath at that altitude?
PREDICTION: The Bohldozer continues rolling.
San Jose State travels to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota this week. Boy this sure is a tough game to predict, no idea what to expect out of either team. San Jose State is coming off of a very early bye after a loss to Auburn (after that I’d want a bye too, I suppose). The Spartans are 1-1 with a win over North Dakota the opening week. Minnesota comes in at 2-1 with wins over Eastern Illinois and Middle Tennessee State but got their little tails slapped by TCU. The Spartans are led by senior DT Travis Raciti who is apparently never going to graduate. Seems like that guy has been there forever. Slow year for him so far, only six tackles. Maybe this week he’ll add some sacks to that. The Spartans have a QB named Blake Jurich who isn’t too shabby either, he’ll need to be on point to beat Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are led by senior running back David Cobb who has 332 yards and two touchdowns on the season. I imagine Jerry Kill’s guys are going to be ground and pound in this one.
PREDICTION: Minnesota by a score or two.
Utah State is making its way to Walmart country to take on Arkansas State who’s on its hundredth coach in the last ten years or something. Utah State will be without the services of Charles F. Keeton this week as he’s having some pain in his knee. The Aggies will lean on quarterback Darell Garretson to carry them this week. As mentioned above, Utah State is 2-1 on the season with wins over Idaho State and Wake Forest. Arkansas State comes into this game at 1-2 with a win over Montana State (boo!) and losses to Tennessee and Miami. Tennessee being a common opponent the Red Wolves faired a little better than the Aggies did against the Vols. Maybe the Ags softened them up a bit or something. Sure, go with that. Arkansas State will lean on quarterback Fredi Knighten to lead them, who’s got 602 yards and two scores. Utah State needs a big day from Garretson to win this won.
PREDICTION: Arky State, probably. Without Keeton this game changes a bit.
The Rio Grande Rivalry between New Mexico and New Mexico State looks like it might be a real pillow fight this year. New Mexico is leading this series by a considerable margin, 68-31-5. They played their first game in 1894.. that’s a pretty long time ago. New Mexico is 0-2 on the season with losses to UTEP and Arizona State. New Mexico State is 2-1 on the season with wins over Cal Poly and Georgia State and a loss to UTEP. UTEP owns the state of New Mexico, apparently. UTEP managed to hold both teams to 24 points.. however the Lobos faired quite a bit better. New Mexico is doing that thing where they don’t throw the football again, but I’m sure Cole Gautsche is still wearing a football helmet too small for his head. Gautsche is the leading rusher on the team with 184 yards and two scores. Gautsche has run for more yards than they’ve passed for as a team. NMSUs quarterback Tyler Rogers has thrown for 723 yards and seven scores this year, but to be fair, NMSU has been beating on the little sisters of the poor this year. Wide receiver Teldrick Moore has caught 342 yards of passes and four scores. Someone should cover that guy.
PREDICTION: The Rio Grande will keep flowing, just like Cole Gautsche’s locks, and the Lobos will win.
Bobby Hauck’s UNLV Rebels really hate winning football games, and I’m guessing they won’t have any happiness this week either because they’re traveling to Houston to take on uhh.. Houston. The Cougars haven’t exactly been world beaters this year, they’re 1-2 on the season and got absolutely hammered by UTSA in the opener, beat something called Grambling State, then let BYU smack them around too. UNLV, on the other hand, is also 1-2 with losses to Arizona and Northern Illinois and eeked out a win vs the worst team in the Big Sky Conference, Northern Colorado. The Rebels still don’t like Nick Sherry so they have a QB named Blake Decker who’s thrown for <50% but has 770 yards and four scores. Houston still has that offense where they throw a whole bunch and don’t play defense. Quarterback John O’Korn (what Jonathan Davis’s band would be if they were Irish) has thrown for 711 yards and four scores. I think Houston is a better football team than their record indicates. I think UNLV is about the team that their record indicates.
PREDICTION: Many many total yards passing and a Houston victory.. mostly because it’s at home.
Southern Utah is headed to Fresno State to get their payday and get the hell out of town. There really is nothing interesting to write about this game. This isn’t the same Southern Utah team who beat UNLV or the same one who has been fairly competitive when playing up. This is the Southern Utah team who apparently is so awful ESPN doesn’t list stats for them. Fresno, while they might be 0-3, have played a very difficult schedule. I’m guessing this will be a welcomed break for them. Marteze Waller is back for the Bulldogs who’s run for 177 and two scores. Honestly, this will be a blowout.
PREDICTION: Southern Utah gets a few bucks added to their bank account and Fresno gets in the W column.
San Diego State hits the road this week to take on Oregon State in a pretty tough road matchup. The Aztecs come into the game with a win vs Northern Arizona and a loss to North Carolina. Oregon State is coming into the game at 2-0 with wins over Portland State and Hawaii. San Diego State returns starting quarterback Quinn Kaehler who has 546 yards passing and two scores. The Aztecs also have a couple of good backs in Donnel Pumphrey and Chase Price. Combined they’ve rushed for 327 yards and five scores. Not too shabby in two games. Oregon State has quarterback Sean Mannion returning. He’s thrown or 628 yards and four touchdowns on the season so far. Mannion is a very good quarterback who will someday be in the NFL, but the Aztec rushing attack doesn’t look bad so far.
PREDICTION: The Beavers in a close one.
In the final game of the week the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette takes on Boise State. ULL might be my favorite Sun Belt team, a ton of fun to watch. Boise State is going to have its hands full in this one, I think. ULL is 1-2 on the season with a win over Southern and losses to Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss. Boise State is 2-1 on the season with a loss to Ole Miss and wins vs Colorado State and Connecticut. Boise State has a new coaching staff this year, Bryan Harsin taking over for the departed Chris Peterson. Harsin is a Boise alum who was previous at Arkansas State. The Broncos are led by senior quarterback Grant Hedrick who’s thrown for 849 yards and five touchdowns. Bronco running back Jay Ajayi has rushed for 344 yards and two scores, and WR Matt Miller has 309 yards and three touchdowns. The Boise offense is clickin’ to say the least. Louisiana Lafayette is led by senior quarterback Terrance Broadway who might have the best name in college football. Broadway has 516 yards and four scores this season. The Ragin’ Cajuns can run the football a little bit too with running backs Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris. This one should be a lot of fun to watch, I hope.
PREDICTION: Boise State wins a fun one.
That’s all for this week in the Mountain West. Should be a good week of football.. no real marquee games, but should be plenty entertaining.
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