The top of the Mountain West conference race looks like it’s going to be a fantastic finish. Utah State, Boise State, Fresno State and San Diego State are all making their cases for who should be the top dog at the top of each division and play in the championship game.
Utah State and Fresno State seem to be the class of the conference right now, but you can’t sleep on the other two. Meanwhile, the conference is looking at having eight teams eligible for a bowl game if the current trend continues. San Jose State and UNLV are the only teams officially eliminated from bowl contention. Everyone else is still in play.
Boise State and BYU locked horns in Boise this weekend. Their series is starting to become a rivalry of sorts. This time the Broncos were the victors. Since the series began the Broncos are 7-2 all-time against BYU and have now won three in a row. Boise State got off to a hot start getting a rushing touchdown from running back Alexander Mattison. The Broncos followed that up with a Brett Rypien touchdown pass to AJ Richardson to get out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. BYU came back with a pair of field goals in the second quarter from Skyler Southam to close the margin to eight. BYU would get within a point as Zach Wilson punched in a four yard touchdown run. Boise State would respond with an eight minute drive of their own, capping it off with a Mattison touchdown run. BYU kicked a fourth quarter field goal to get within five. With seconds left on the clock BYU had the ball on the Boise State two yard line and on the final play of the game the Cougars took a sack to end the game.
Air Force traveled East this weekend to take on the Army Black Knights in West Point, NY. The annual game is played between the academies for the Commander-In-Chief trophy. The last leg of the mini-tournament will be played between Army and Navy in Philadelphia. Army got on the board first with a 21 play 75 yard drive that took 12:55 off the clock and ended with a Darnell Woolfolk touchdown run. Army followed that up in the second quarter with a 89 yard drive that ended in a Kelvin Hopkins run. Air Force got on the board in the third quarter with a Donald Hammond one yard touchdown run. Air Force would close the gap late in the fourth quarter with a Joseph Saucier six yard touchdown run. Army got the ball back and converted a fourth and two at midfield to effectively end the game.
Onto the rest..
San Jose State 9
Fresno State 48
Air Force 14
Boise State 21
San Diego State 31
New Mexico 23
Utah State 56
Mountain West Player of the Week
This week’s Mountain West player of the week is Utah State running back Darwin Thompson. Thompson rushed 13 times for 141 yards and three touchdowns, as well as receiving 37 yards worth of passes in the Aggies win over Hawaii on Saturday night.
Mountain West MVP Candidates
Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State – 23/35 for 214 yards and 1 TD, 1 INT
Marcus McMaryion, QB, Fresno State – 26/35 for 274 yards and 2 TD, 1 INT, 39 yards rushing
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State – 10/13 for 127 yards and 1 TD, 13 rush yards and 1 TD
Nico Evans, RB, Wyoming – 33 carries for 187 yards and 1 TD
John Ursua, WR, Hawaii – 3 receptions for 78 yards and 1 TD
Mountain West Power Rankings
San Diego State
San Jose State
The Quad Shot
San Jose State has regained the top spot in my quad shot this week. The Spartans were just dominated every which way Saturday in Laramie. The Cowboy offensive and defensive lines just brutalized the Spartans all day Saturday. Quarterback Josh Love was frustrated all day as Cowboy defenders planted him on every pass attempt. The guy has tough as nails, but man, he spent a lot of time on his back. Hopefully the offensive line bought him a massage this week because he’s gonna be sore. Wyoming didn’t even have their top two defensive lineman playing, as Carl Granderson was out (family emergency) and Youhanna Ghaifan also missed another game (suspension).
Utah State and Fresno State are getting a lot of attention this past week as the season starts to come near a close and the coveted Group of Five spot on New Years Day is up for grabs. Central Florida had a dominating performance on Thursday night, but so did Fresno State and Utah State on Saturday. In the Football Outsiders S&P index Fresno State is currently sitting at 14, Central Florida at 8, and Utah State at 14. The Sagarin rankings have Fresno State at 14, Central Florida at 23, and Utah State at 32. Interestingly enough, FCS North Dakota State is at 31. With Houston losing this past weekend to SMU it would seem that they are probably eliminated from this discussion.
Speaking of the New Years playoff, watched a few games over the weekend. Man, what a dominant team Alabama is. They just absolutely blasted LSU this weekend in Baton Rouge. At the same time, Clemson hung 77 points on Louisville. I don’t see many scenarios where we don’t see an Alabama/Clemson rematch in the championship game this year. Most of us in the West will find this playoff season a snoozer if we see another field of Notre Dame/Alabama/Clemson/Georgia or whomever. At this rate no one from the Pac12 is going to be in the playoff, nor the Big 12. Not much attention will be paid outside of northern Midwest and South.
Thinking about bowl season (I know, too soon).. but the thought came into my head as I was looking at the Sagarin rankings with North Dakota State being ranked at 31. The Bison are 48-6 since 2015. They are 1-0 against FBS competition in that time as well, a 2016 win over Iowa. You have to wonder how the Bison would do against some Power 5 competition in a bowl scenario. Unfortunately the FCS playoff and championship game directly coincide with the bowl season, so we’d never see that scenario play out. Interesting thought though.