It happens every late summer in August without fail. That large pitcher of kool-aid is passed around from fan to fan, every team believes this could be “their year”. The practices are tougher, the players are better, all is well in the month of August. Week 1 in the Mountain West is over, and of the 12 teams in the conference, very few are still passing around that pitcher of kool-aid. Week 1’s Mountain West games stretched across four days from Thursday-Sunday, here’s how things played out…
Ole Miss 35, Boise State 13 – Determining how this game went really comes down to your preference. Some will see the glass as half empty, others half full. The Bronco defense lived up to the off-season belief that they would play with a fire under Marcel Yates. Only down 6-7 in the 4th quarter, albeit struggling mightily with the Rebel defense, the Broncos looked like they might steal this one. Injuries to Tyler Horn and Donte Deayon allowed the floodgates to open, and it was all over very quickly. Hedrick had a night to forget with 4 INTs as the offense struggled in the red zone. Ajayi performed well, but turnovers and failed red zone trips hurt the offense.
San Jose State 42, North Dakota 10– The Spartans, who have surprised in recruiting as of late, held the North Dakota
Fighting Sioux we don’t have a name’s to under 250 total yards on offense, and QB Blake Jurich impressed in his debut going 22/25, 250 passing yards, and 3 TDs. Maybe there is life after Fales for the Spartans.
Colorado State 31, Colorado 17 – The Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver was a game of momentum swings. The Buffs grabbed it early, opening the game up 10-0 and exposing the Rams secondary. A late TD from Dee Hart, the Rams newly-minted Alabama transfer, gave momentum back to the Rams going into halftime. That is all McElwain and the Rams needed to take hold of this game. RBs Dee Hart and Treyous Jarrells led a rushing attacked that gashed the Buffs for 266 rushing yards on the way to a 2-TD “blowout” in Denver. Impressive game from McElwain’s club, who are now as a result being touted as a MW favorite.
Arizona 58, UNLV 13 – There isn’t much to recap with this result. The Rebels held their own for about 10 minutes to start this game, but eventually Anu Solomon took over. The brand new Wildcats QB went off for 425 passing yards, 50 rushing yards, and 4 TDs. Devante Davis may be the MW’s best WR, and it looked like it in this game, but that’s about the only positive I can find for the Rebels.
Air Force 44, Nicholls State 16 – Mountain West fans, meet Jacobi Owens. The sophomore RB from Las Vegas made a big impact in the Falcons opener vs. Nicholls State, going for 233 rushing yards on 23 carries. QB Kale Pearson returned from injury to contribute to the Falcons offensive onslaught. Obviously it may be too early to declare Air Force is back, considering Nicholls State would lose to just about any FBS school by 28 points, but this is a positive start for fly boy Calhoun.
Nevada 28, Southern Utah 19 – Considering the Wolf [SPACE] Pack are a darkhorse to win the MW for some, this was an underwhelming result for Reno. While the veteran-laden defense did their part, by all accounts the Nevada O-Line is still a liability on this team. The score was only 7-0 Pack at the half, not what you’re looking for vs. an FCS program. The offense eventually flipped the switch and rolled the Thunderbird defense, but overall a 9-point win over an FCS team doesn’t exactly scream “MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP HERE WE COME!!!”.
Wyoming 17, Montana 12 – I watched this game via the MW stream available at themw.com. Bohl’s offense looked NDSU caliber on their first drive, establishing a very impressive power run game. QB appeared to be an issue for the Cowboys, as they simply could not finish drives with Kirkegaard throwing the ball. Despite two lightening delays, the Cowboy defense maintained an aggressive edge all day. A 17-12 win over an FCS school is certainly nothing impressive, but the Pokes showed flashes of what Bohl brings to the table. 2014 may be a struggle with a brutal schedule, but I liked what I saw from Wyoming. Give Bohl time, Cowboy fans.
San Diego State 38, Northern Arizona 7 – Not gonna lie, I did not watch this game. Quick look at the box score suggests the Aztecs didn’t exactly blow the lid off of the Lumberjack defense, but a 38-7 win over Northern Arizona is much better than what happened in their last encounter with an FCS program.
USC 52, Fresno State 13 – What else can be said for Fresno after Week 1? They couldn’t replace Derek Carr effectively at all (both QBs finished with less than 100 passing yards), and the defense gave up an astounding 700 total yards (!!!) to USC, who clearly weren’t feeling the effects of a drama-filled week. Lots of time to turn things around, but the schedule won’t get any easier for this team. At least Lord Derek Carr is making positive news.
UTEP 31, New Mexico 24 – Like many of you, it’s almost impossible to watch ALL of the Mountain West games each week, and this one fell under the box score watching category. I’m guessing the game only lasted 45 minutes or so, considering the Miners and Lobos combined for 740 rushing yards (!!!). Cole Gautsche is still at New Mexico, and rushed for 184 yards in the losing effort. UTEP, led by former Boise State OL coach Sean Kugler, gave the ball to RB Aaron Jones who in return rushed for 237 yards. Defense was optional in Albuquerque. Great win for UTEP, but bad loss for the Lobos. This program loaded up on JUCO transfers to make a run in year #3 of the Bob Davie era, and so far not so good.
Washington 17, Hawaii 16 – Pete in purple, that will take some getting used to. The perplexed grimace on his face, the same one you make when you can’t figure out why students at Idaho keep falling off balconies, on the other hand, is all too familiar. No getting around it, this game was the Mountain West shocker of the weekend. The Huskies were favored by as much as 21.5, and didn’t come anywhere near covering that spread. The predictable Husky offense was dominated by a Hawaii front led by sophomore Kennedy Tulimasealii (get used to hearing that name). The Huskies were out-gained 424-336 in total yards against a team that went 1-11 last fall, and while Hawaii looks MUCH improved, this was a bad showing for Chris Petersen. Mental mistakes and missed field goals are the only thing standing between Petersen and a shocking loss to Hawaii. Still, feel free to jump on the bandwagon that started in Pago Pago, America Samoa. RB Joey Iosefa is leading UH to what could be a surprise season in the MW.
Tennessee 38, Utah State 7 – Nobody in the MW received more positive hype this preseason than the blue Aggies and Chuckie Keeton #ChuckieForHeisman. The Vols are inexperienced, having lost all starters on both lines, and are still very much rebuilding as a program. The Aggies, despite having similar problems with inexperience, were expected to compete due to the phenomenal abilities of one Charles Keeton. What ensued was not expected, even from the biggest Aggie haters. 244 total yards and an abysmal performance overall from the Aggie offense, including Keeton was the culprit to this 7-38 beat down. Add injury to insult, star LB Kyler Fackrell sustained a knee injury that could have him missing time, potentially lots of time. Nothing went right in this game for Utah State. Both lines were not enforcing their will on their opponent like in the past, and the skill positions sucked. Even Chuckie Keeton looked slow. There is still lots of time to turn things around, but the Aggies took a shot to the ego, and possibly a shot to their defensive potential if Fackrell is done. [UPDATE] Fackrell done for the season with ACL tear
— Brent Dougherty (@brentdougherty) August 25, 2014
Next up….Week 2.
What to watch…..Friday night serves up a treat with Nevada hosting Washington State on ESPN. No rest for the weary, as Fresno State has to travel to Utah, and Hawaii will take on a second Pac-12 opponent as well in Oregon State. The late Saturday night game on ESPN2 between Boise State and Colorado State is being hailed by some as the game that could decide the Mountain Division. Can’t wait.
Make it out to Albertson’s Stadium! Harsin and this team deserve a raucous crowd. Go Broncos!!!