Mountain West Recap: Wolf [SPACE] Pack are back?
Week 3 of Mountain West play is over, and with that comes more clarity in the race for the Mountain West Championship game. In a week that featured some bizarre matchups, some teams impressed, others continued to embarrass themselves (looking at you, Fresno). Here’s what happened on Saturday, September 13th…
Boise State 38, Connecticut 21 – Early on, it appeared all was going as planned. A blast from Armand Nance forced a fumble that Tanner Vallejo took to the house. #BEATEMDOWN, right? Not quite. On the worst playing surface I’ve ever watched Boise State play on, the Huskies appeared to have all the energy in the stadium. The Broncos looked listless, Ajayi worn-out. Whether that’s because of the early start time, jet lag from a long trip, whatever excuse, it was clear Boise State was lacking something. A UConn punt that hit Jack Fields was recovered by the Huskies, and they quickly capitalized. Broncos fans were getting nervous, but key INTs from Moxey and Deayon closed this game out for Boise State. Considering the circumstances, be glad the Broncos won this game.
Air Force 48, Georgia State 38 – About those bizarre matchups, here’s another one. The Falcons traveled all the way to Georgia to take on the Panthers after losing in Laramie to Wyoming last week. The offense moved the ball easily all day behind Kale Pearson, throwing 224 passing yards (!!!) and the run game going off for 315 yards. The Falcon defense is still a problem, giving up 38 points and 532 total yards to a bad Georgia State team. That said, Troy Calhoun’s team needs to start winning again regardless of the circumstance. They’ll take the win.
Oregon 48, Wyoming 14 – Craig Bohl’s Cowboys are a tough team to figure out. After two slim victories at home against arguably to two worst teams they’ll see all season, they walk into Eugene and start off so well they led the Ducks (!!!) 7-0 after 1 quarter. Sure, eventually Mariota and the offense woke up and won comfortably, but Wyoming did some good things. 439 total yards on the Ducks defense is nothing to scoff at. I need to see more of this team, but Bohl’s team just might flirt with going bohling this season (see what I did there?). Shaun Wick might be the best RB in the MW you’ve never heard of.
A certain king of all bandwagoners was rumored to be in the suites for this game…
— LostLettermen.com (@LostLettermen) September 14, 2014
Colorado State 49, UC-Davis 21 – The Rams opened their home slate vs. an FCS program, which is just what they needed after facing Boise State on The Blue. Garrett Grayson had another huge day through the air, going 22/31 with 425 passing yards and 4 TDs. Dee Hart seems to have cooled down since his breakout game vs. Colorado, rushing for only 38 yards, but backup RB Treyous Jarrells had a decent day with 84 rushing yards. WR Rashard Higgins looks like he might threaten to snag a 1st-team All-MW spot. Overall, the Rams got what they needed out of their home opener, putting together a solid 4-quarter performance.
Utah State 36, Wake Forest 24 – The craptastic offensive display in Logan continues. There were two TDs, one for each team, in the first quarter. They were both pick-sixes. Then the Aggie explosion occurred, going into halftime up 29-7. Then Keeton got hurt again. That inspired a mini comeback from the Demon Deacons, a comeback backup QB Darrell Garrettson squashed. The Aggies won 36-24 over the questionable Demon Deacons, but the real topic is Chuckie Keeton’s health. Keeton’s knee does not appear to be as far along as off-season reports would allow one to believe. A win is a win, but the Aggies got problems going forward.
Northern Illinois 48, UNLV 34 – In classic Rebel fashion, Bobby Hauck’s team made this game weird. It appeared we were set for a standard UNLV blowout, down by the odd score of 5-28 in the 3rd quarter. However, the Rebels made a run in that 3rd quarter to close the score to 31-26 thanks to QB Blake Decker zoning in on star WR Devante Davis. 17 fourth quarter points were enough for the Huskies to put away the Rebels, but at least UNLV showed some heart in this one.
Nebraska 55, Fresno State 19 – Oh, Fresno. Everyone knew these first three games would be very tough, but this home game vs. Nebraska was supposed to be the most likely victory of the three. Or at least the most competitive. Instead it was more of the same. In front a packed crowd of red, 20,000 of them being Huskers fans, the Bulldogs were dominated from start to finish. Tommy Armstrong Jr., Ameer Abdullah, and the Huskers bounced back from a weak performance at home vs. McNeese State to whip the Dogs in every phase of the game. Once again, Fresno gave up over 550+ total yards, and the offense struggled to move the ball vs. the Huskers first string. The highlight of the game was probably the safety Fresno got as a result of a Huskers player batting the ball out the back of the end zone on a punt return. Apparently that dude didn’t know the rules. Fresno hopes to get Brandon Connette back soon and get back on track after this horrible start.
— Josh Harvey (@JoshHarveyScout) September 14, 2014
Arizona 35, Nevada 28 – We might have a clear favorite to win the West Division after Week 3. After upsetting Washington State last week, Nevada traveled to Arizona to play a second Pac-12 opponent, and they didn’t disappoint. Cody Fajardo struggled to run the ball effectively, but was nearly flawless through the air. Nevada’s run game altogether was stymied, but Fajardo made up for it. I know giving up 500+ total yards and 35 points isn’t exactly impressive, but the Nevada defense is clearly a top 2-3 MW unit. Anu Solomon and Nick Johnson were ultimately too much for Reno, but bottom line: MW fans, watch out for Nevada.
Hawaii 27, Northern Iowa 24 – Nothing better than closing the college football weekend with Robert Kekaula and an unpredictable Hawaii team. Hawaii will be without RB Joey Iosefa for at least another 3 weeks, forcing Steven Lakalaka (real name) to step up, and he did. 124 rushing yards on 32 carries, Lakalaka was the entire UH offense in this game. The defense did a good job of containing RB David Johnson, holding him to only 46 rushing yards on 18 carries. I know on the surface a 27-24 win over an FCS school isn’t all that impressive, but this is only the second time Norm Chow has won a game that wasn’t in the final week of the season. Northern Iowa is a pretty good FCS program too. Hawaii will take any win they can get. Upcoming weeks will show if UH can turn this thing around.
Next up…Week 4
It’s all Saturday once again for the Mountain West. Hawaii travels to Colorado to take on the Buffs, which can be seen on the Pac-12 Network. Starting at 2 p.m. MT, San Jose State will be on the Big Ten Network playing Minnesota. Outside of those games, this week’s slate of games have been relegated to ESPN3 status. Boise State will play UL-Lafayette on CBS Sports, but you already knew that. Utah State-Arkansas State and San Diego State-Oregon State figure to be interesting games.
Clock flips on Boise State again this week, 8:30 p.m. start time. Get out to Albertsons Stadium and support the Broncos!