Mountain West continues to shake it up
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings are still shaking.
Just one team in this week’s rankings — the Nevada Wolf Pack — stayed where it was heading into last week’s games after a wild weekend. The rankings have a new No. 1 — the Utah State Aggies — as the top three teams and the bottom eight all switched places.
The Wolf Pack, impressive 49-10 winners over Colorado State last Saturday at Mackay Stadium, remained at No. 4 with just two weeks remaining in the regular season. Every other team in the Mountain West either rose or fell in the rankings, including Colorado State, which dropped from No. 8 to No. 10 with its third consecutive loss.
Top-ranked Utah State (9-1) has now won nine games in a row after a 62-24 thrashing of No. 12 San Jose State. The Aggies set a school record for yards in a game with 804, the third highest total in the Football Bowl Subdivision this season. Quarterback Jordan Love passed for 491 yards and five touchdowns and didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.
“Their quarterback is brilliant,” San Jose State coach Brian Brennan said, whose Spartans returned to the bottom of the rankings and are now 1-9 this year.
Utah State had 33 first downs and held San Jose State to 14.
“We want to be on a collision course for the Mountain West championship,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said.
The Aggies have now scored 60 or more points in four games this season, 50 or more in six and 30 or more in nine.
“You ask our players and they’ll tell you we haven’t played our most complete game yet,” Wells said.
The Aggies have taken advantage of a weak Mountain West schedule this year to put up video game offensive numbers. Utah State’s six conference wins have come against six of the worst teams in the Mountain West (Air Force, UNLV, Wyoming, New Mexico, Hawaii and San Jose State). The Aggies don’t play Fresno State, Nevada or San Diego State this year and don’t play Boise State until the final week of the regular season.
Boise State (8-2) jumped up a spot to No. 2 with a comeback victory over Fresno State, 24-17. The Broncos rallied from a 10-3 deficit at halftime to remain in the running for the Mountain Division title, which will likely be settled at Boise State on Nov. 24 against Utah State.
Fresno State (8-2) fell two spots from No. 1 to No. 3 with the loss. The Bulldogs were a slight favorite against Boise State, making the Broncos an underdog at home for the first time since 1999.
“Being an underdog on the blue (Boise’s home turf), that’s not a good feeling,” said Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien, who shredded the Bulldogs for 269 yards on 24-of-29 passing. “There’s a lot of guys in the locker room that took that personally.”
Fresno State (8-2, 5-1) now only leads the Wolf Pack (6-4, 4-2) and San Diego State (7-3, 4-2) by a game in the race for the West Division title. Fresno State owns the tiebreaker against Nevada because it beat the Pack 21-3 at Mackay Stadium this year. Fresno State and San Diego State will meet this weekend in Fresno State and the Bulldogs would clinch the division title with a victory over the Aztecs. If San Diego State upsets Fresno State, however, there’s real chance all three teams could finish 6-2 in league play.
The Aztecs, though, are coming off a stunning 27-24 loss at home last Saturday to UNLV. UNLV, which climbs dramatically from No. 12 to No. 8 with the victory, had lost six games in a row heading into last weekend and was a 23-point underdog on Saturday. The three teams below them in this week’s rankings either had a bye last week (Hawaii) or lost (Colorado State, New Mexico, San Jose State).
San Diego State, which drops a spot to No. 6 with the loss, led 24-13 heading into the fourth quarter against UNLV and promptly gave up a pair of touchdowns. The game-winner was a 75-yard touchdown run by UNLV’s Lexington Thomas with 3:27 to play. Rebels’ quarterback Max Gilliam connected with Brandon Presley on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 9:19 to go to cut the Aztecs lead to 24-20.
The Rebels out-gained the Aztecs 436-368 and also picked up a first down on 8-of-15 third down plays.
“They deserved to win because they outplayed us,” San Diego State coach Rocky Long said. “I wasn’t surprised because that’s the way we’ve played all year.”
Air Force climbed over San Diego State to No. 5 (from No. 7) with a 42-24 victory over New Mexico. The Falcons (4-6, 2-4) rushed for 479 yards and four touchdowns on 67 carries and outgained the Lobos 624-305 overall.
“We’re not real good right now,” New Mexico coach Bob Davie said, whose Lobos (3-7, 1-5) dropped to No. 11 (from No. 9) with their fifth loss in a row.
Air Force has six losses this year but the Falcons have played a difficult schedule. Their four Mountain West losses have come to Utah State, San Diego State, Boise State and Nevada while their two non-league losses were on difficult road trips, to Army (West Point, N.Y.) and Florida Atlantic (Boca Raton, Fla.).
Five Mountain West teams (Utah State, Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and San Diego State) have already become bowl eligible. Air Force would become bowl eligible with victories over Wyoming and Colorado State to close out the regular season. Wyoming needs to beat both Air Force and New Mexico while Hawaii needs to beat either UNLV or San Diego State to also qualify. UNLV, Colorado State, New Mexico and San Jose State are eliminated from bowl consideration.
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for the week of No. 12 . . .
1. UTAH STATE (9-1, 6-0): Running back Darwin Thompson rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns against San Jose State. Last week: Utah State 62, San Jose State 24. This week: Utah State at Colorado State, Saturday.
2. BOISE STATE (8-2, 5-1): Alexander Mattison rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns against Fresno State. Last week: Boise State 24, Fresno State 17. This week: Boise State at New Mexico, Saturday.
3. FRESNO STATE (8-2, 5-1): The Bulldogs controlled the football for just 25:34 against Boise State and were out-gained just 448-390. Last week: Boise State 24, Fresno State 17. This week: San Diego State at Fresno State, Saturday.
4. NEVADA (6-4, 4-2): Ty Gangi passed for 404 yards and four touchdowns against Colorado State and has thrown for 832 yards and eight touchdowns in two games against the Rams in his career. Last week: Nevada 49, Colorado State 10. This week: Nevada at San Jose State, Saturday.
5. AIR FORCE (4-6, 2-4): Quarterback Donald Hammond passed for 145 yards and rushed for 136 against New Mexico for one of the best performances by a Mountain West player this season. Last week: Air Force 42, New Mexico 24. This week: Air Force at Wyoming, Saturday.
6. SAN DIEGO STATE (7-3, 4-2): UNLV held San Diego State running back Juwan Washington to 66 yards on 21 carries. Last week: UNLV 27, San Diego State 24. This week: San Diego State at Fresno State, Saturday.
7. WYOMING (4-6, 2-4): The Cowboys have not lost a game since a 24-16 loss to Utah State on Oct. 20 (the only time Utah State has scored less than 31 points all season). Last week: Bye. This week: Air Force at Wyoming, Saturday.
8. UNLV (3-7, 1-5): Max Gilliam passed for 237 yards and a touchdown against San Diego State in the Rebels’ first victory over San Diego State since 2000. Last week: UNLV 27, San Diego State 24. This week: UNLV at Hawaii, Saturday.
9. HAWAII (6-5, 3-3): The Rainbow Warriors have lost four games in a row, allowing 195 points combined during the losing streak. Last week: Bye. This week: UNLV at Hawaii, Saturday.
10. COLORADO STATE (3-7, 2-4): The Rams rushed for just 74 yards on 33 carries against Nevada. Last week: Nevada 49, Colorado State 10. This week: Utah State at Colorado State, Saturday.
11. NEW MEXICO (3-7, 1-5): The Lobos were not called for a penalty in last week’s loss to Air Force. Just two penalties were called on Air Force. Last week: Air Force 42, New Mexico 24. This week: Boise State at New Mexico, Saturday.
12. SAN JOSE STATE (1-9, 1-5): Quarterback Josh Love was 18-of-36 for 210 yards against Utah State. Michael Carillo was 4-of-6 for 134 yards. Tre Walker caught seven passes for 209 yards. Last week: Utah State 62, San Jose State 24. This week: Nevada at San Jose State, Saturday.