Mountain West rankings: No. 1 Boise State survives San Jose State

San Jose State wide receiver Bailey Gaither (84) catches a touchdown pass in front of Boise State cornerback Avery Williams (26) during the second half Saturday in San Jose, Calif. Boise State won 52-42.

San Jose State wide receiver Bailey Gaither (84) catches a touchdown pass in front of Boise State cornerback Avery Williams (26) during the second half Saturday in San Jose, Calif. Boise State won 52-42.

The San Jose State Spartans nearly turned Mountain West football upside down Saturday night.

“It’s obviously disappointing for us,” San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said after a heartbreaking 52-42 loss to the Boise State Broncos in San Jose. “There were moments in that game where we felt we had a real chance to get it done.”

The Spartans led 14-0 in the first quarter, 17-7 and 24-14 in the second quarter, 27-17 in the third quarter and 34-31 going into the fourth quarter. Boise State (7-1, 4-0), though, somehow survived on the strength of 253 yards and six touchdowns on the ground to hold onto the No. 1 spot in the Nevada Appeal Mountain West Football rankings for yet another week.

“We have a good team,” said Brennan, whose Spartans are ranked No. 10 with a 4-5 overall record and 1-4 in the Mountain West. “We can play with everybody. But we’ve got to find a way to finish. It’s disappointing.”

Boise State is now 14-0 against San Jose State since the rivalry began in 1978. The closest San Jose State has ever gotten to beating Boise State was a 56-49 double-overtime Boise win in 2004 and a 23-20 Boise win in 2006. Boise has won six games in the rivalry by 35 points or more. The two teams, though, met just twice over the previous eight seasons before Saturday night.

Freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier, now 7-0 as the Boise State starter, returned to the lineup after not playing since Oct. 12 because of a hip injury. Bachmeier, though, was just 13-of-17 for 213 yards and an interception as Boise State did most of its damage on the ground. Another Boise State freshman, running back George Holani, ran for 126 yards and four touchdowns. Holani had 113 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.

“George is a guy that since the day he showed up he’s provided nothing but positiveness to our football team,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “I love when George is on the field.”

San Jose State had more first downs (28-23) and total yards (497-466) than Boise State. Spartans quarterback Josh Love was 29-of-53 for 438 yards and two touchdowns.

Boise’s first touchdown came on a 66-yard punt return by Avery Williams. “That was what we needed,” Harsin said. “You talk about game-changing special teams plays. That became the kicker that started everything.”

Boise State has now allowed 107 points over its last three games combined to Hawaii, BYU and San Jose State. The 42 points San Jose State scored are the most Boise State has allowed since a 44-21 loss to Oklahoma State on Sept. 15, 2018 and the most the Broncos have surrendered in a Mountain West game since a 59-52 overtime win over Colorado State on Nov. 11, 2017.

The top five spots in this week’s rankings remained the same as a week ago. Air Force (7-2, 4-1) stayed at No. 2 after a narrow 17-13 win over Army as Joshua Stoner scored on a 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Falcons have now won four games in a row for the first time since a six-game winning streak to close out the 2016 season.

Wyoming (6-2, 3-1) stayed at No. 3 and San Diego State (7-1, 4-1) remained at No. 4 after byes this past weekend.

Utah State (4-4, 3-1) also stayed at No. 5 despite a one-sided 42-14 loss to rival BYU. BYU, a member of the Mountain West from 1999-2010, also beat Boise State 28-25 this season.

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love passed for 394 yards but was intercepted three times and also lost a fumble. The Aggies have been outscored 73-21 over the past two weeks by Air Force and BYU ever since a 36-10 win over Nevada on Oct. 19.

No. 6 Colorado State (4-5, 3-2) whipped UNLV 37-17 and has now won three games in a row. The Rams’ Anthony Hawkins returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown as Colorado State jumped out to a 21-0 lead.

“Coach said, ‘It’s going to be there,’” Hawkins said. “And he said, ‘When it’s there, just hit it.’ I felt the hole opened up wide. It took all 11 men to do something like that.

“When I saw the kicker, it’s me one-on-one with the kicker, that’s what I got my scholarship for. When you see (the kicker) you have to put it on the other side. If you get tackled by the kicker, that’s the worst nightmare.”

Colorado State, which lost five of its first six games, was ranked No. 11 for two weeks in a row in the middle of October.

No. 11 UNLV (2-7, 0-5) has lost three games in a row and seven of its last eight and was eliminated from bowl game consideration with the loss.

Fresno State (4-4, 2-2) moved up two spots to No. 7 with a 41-38 win at Hawaii. Cesar Silva kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired for the win after No. 8 Hawaii had rallied for two touchdowns in the final two minutes to tie the game.

Backup quarterback Chevan Cordeiro rallied Hawaii in place of starter Cole McDonald on the Rainbow Warriors’ final two drives. McDonald was 21-of-42 for 275 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

“The ball was coming out of Cole’s hands a little bit funky,” Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich said, explaining the quarterback switch. “I thought it was time for Chevan to see if he could bring a different element.”

Fresno State rushed for 290 yards and three touchdowns and scored 24 consecutive points at one point to take a 38-24 lead.

“It was far from perfect,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said. “Down the stretch, it was nerve-wracking for sure.”

Hawaii was also called for 13 penalties (135 yards). “The false starts, it’s getting on the side of embarrassing,” Rolovich said. “We can’t reward guys who are doing stupid things by embarrassing our university and our state.”

The Nevada Wolf Pack (5-4, 2-3) moved up a spot to No. 9 after a 21-10 win over No. 12 New Mexico at Mackay Stadium. Freshman Carson Strong was 28-of-40 through the air for 305 yards and two touchdowns. It was his first touchdown passes since he tossed three in the season opener Aug. 30 in a 34-31 win over Purdue. Romeo Doubs caught 11 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown for Nevada.

The Wolf Pack needs to beat San Diego State this Saturday night on the road to keep its West Division title hopes alive. New Mexico (2-7, 0-5) has now lost six games in a row and has been eliminated from the bowl game picture.

The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for Nov. 4-10:

1. BOISE STATE (7-1, 4-0). This week: vs. Wyoming, Saturday.

2. AIR FORCE (7-2, 4-1). This week: at New Mexico, Saturday.

3. WYOMING (6-2, 3-1). This week: at Boise State, Saturday.

4. SAN DIEGO STATE (7-1, 4-1): This week: vs. Nevada, Saturday.

5. UTAH STATE (4-4, 3-1). This week: at Fresno State, Saturday.

6. COLORADO STATE (4-5, 3-2). This week: Bye.

7. FRESNO STATE (4-4, 2-2). This week: vs. Utah State, Saturday.

8. HAWAII (5-4, 2-3). This week: vs. San Jose State, Saturday.

9. NEVADA (5-4, 2-3). This week: at San Diego State, Saturday.

10. SAN JOSE STATE (4-5, 1-4). This week: at Hawaii, Saturday.

11. UNLV (2-7, 0-5). This week: Bye.

12. NEW MEXICO (2-7, 0-5). This week: vs. Air Force, Saturday.


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