Hello there! I interrupt your regularly scheduled Mountain West Quad Shot for what I think will be a much better and certainly more coherent version of the Quad Shot because Brad decided hunting and Las Vegas was more important than you our loyal Wyonation audience. Luckily, I am here to keep you caffeinated this Monday morning with some new features that aren’t as lame as power rankings and players of the week. Now let’s get to it!
All the MW west teams were in action this week except Mountain-Division leading Boise State who had a bye before traveling to San Jose State this weekend. Speaking of the Spartans they improved their record to 4-4 with a road win at Army. Just a few seasons ago San Jose State versus Army would be the mother of all pillow fights but the Spartans and the Black Knights are now somewhat respectable on the football field. Who would have guessed?
The West-Division leading San Diego State Aztecs had a bit of a scare in Vegas and needed the help from the up-right with 37 seconds left in the game versus the UNLV Rebels to avoid overtime. The Rebels scored a 4th quarter TD with 5:57 left in the game to get within three but their comeback effort fell short as they missed a 42-yard field goal in the last minute of the game. The Aztecs learned an important Vegas lesson many of us have already learned: sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Elsewhere in the conference, Hawai’i stopped a two-game losing streak with a rare mainland conference win over the Lobos and Air Force continued their strong season with a solid win on the road versus Utah State where they racked up a season-high 448 rushing yards. The school to the south also made some headlines doing something they haven’t done in over a calendar year. Colorado State with a win at Fresno State collected their first back to back wins on a football field since early October of 2018.
Locally, Wyoming played their most complete game of the year. Running back Xazavian Valladay set the mark for the most all-purpose yards in the Mountain West so far this season with 280 yards in a dominant win for the Cowboys over Nevada. Wyoming QB Sean Chambers left the game in the first half with a knee injury but the Pokes have a bye week this coming Saturday so he might be ready to take snaps again when the Pokes next take the field. Monitor that medical report in the coming days from Coach Bohl.
New Mexico 31
Colorado State 41
Fresno State 31
San Diego State 20
Utah State 7
Air Force 31
Mountain West Bowl Eligibility Update
Bowl Eligible Teams (4): Air Force, Boise State, San Diego State, Wyoming
Teams who should qualify (2) Hawai’i, Utah State
50/50 Shot (1): Fresno State
DOA (5): Colorado State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Jose State, UNLV
Mountain West Toxic Standings
For those that forget, the toxic standings are a calculation called the toxic differential that: adds up a team’s offensive explosive plays, then subtracts a team’s explosive plays on defense and then adds or subtracts the team’s turnover margin to get a single number. This number is a very good indicator of a team’s overall strength and is much better than some BS “power rankings” every fool on the internet posts on a weekly basis. You can read more about the toxic differential HERE.
Air Force +40
San Diego State +32
Boise State +26
Fresno State +14
Utah State -2
Colorado State -3
San Jose State -3
New Mexico -7
The Quad Shot
I have been one of the most vocal critics of the Wyoming offense under Brent Vigen over the years. I will give him some praise though as we are finally seeing some adjustment in the passing game that is making the Wyoming offense much more balanced. When you run the ball as well as Wyoming does, when you do throw the ball you should have wide receivers getting open facing mostly single coverage. Wyoming has struggled so far this season but in the last two games versus New Mexico and Nevada, we saw adjustments to the passing game that resulted in quicker shorter passes that really helped out Sean Chambers. We even saw a big pass play on first down (on the first offensive play of the game for Wyoming) that resulted in a touchdown. Wyoming still has a long way to go but if through recruiting and player development Wyoming can add a go-to WR and a reliable TE to the mix, Wyoming could have a powerhouse offense in the future.
We are getting into crunch time and as we look at the race to get to the MW Championship Game the team with the clearest path is the San Diego Aztecs. With a 4-1 record, they have a good-sized lead over second-place Hawai’i who currently have a 2-2 conference record. The Aztecs will travel to Hawai’i in late November which could be a de facto West Division title game if Hawai’i can avoid defeat until then. The Mountain Division is much more complicated with four teams (Boise, Air Force, Utah State and Wyoming) still in the mix. Wyoming’s schedule is tough down the stretch but if the Pokes can win out in conference play they would win the division. That’s unlikely with games versus Boise, Utah State and Air Force all on the road but anything is possible.
The Air Force Falcons MIGHT be the best all-around team in the conference at this point in the season. The Toxic Differential that is shown above makes a good case for that as they are 8 points clear of the Aztecs and 14 points ahead of the Broncos. The Falcons only have two losses, the problem is one of those losses is to Boise State earlier in the season and they will need some help from another school to get the Falcons back on even footing to have a chance to get to the MW title game.
I included the bowl eligibility update above so Poke fans can start thinking about football in December with Wyoming now at six wins. Now, six wins weren’t good enough last season for Wyoming to go bowling but it should be this year. First of all, the MW only looks to have at most seven bowl-eligible teams this season for their five bowl slots and I doubt the conference would leave Wyoming home two years in a row. Secondly, Wyoming has a good shot to get to 7, 8, or even 9 wins which will put the Cowboys in a better position than last year especially with the chance to get some wins head to head versus those other bowls eligible teams. The bottom line is the MW bowl situation is a joke and is among the worse bowl ties in the country, conference leadership needs to do better.