The Mountain West Power Rankings are a glance at where things stand this week. Three undefeated teams remain and surprisingly, only one school remains winless. All eight teams are in action this week, two playing against ranked BCS conference schools and four others against FCS foes. Here is one writer’s view of where things stand after three weeks:
1. Boise State Broncos (2-0)
Last Game: Beat Toledo 40-15; Next Game- vs Tulsa September 24th
Boise State finally gets to kick off their home schedule when Tulsa comes to town this week. The two teams have some history dating back to 2009 when the Golden Hurricane gave the Broncos a major scare in a 28-21 Boise State win. Two of the catalysts from that game, quarterback G.J. Kinne and receiver Damaris Johnson, are unlikely to play in this contest. Kinne is questionable with a knee injury and is likely to be replaced by redshirt freshman Kalen Henderson who went only 7-23 against Oklahoma State last week. Last week Kellen Moore was on fire, throwing for 455 yards and five touchdowns. The offense would like to get the running game going but they will continue to take what the defense gives them.
2. San Diego State Aztecs (3-0)
Last Game: Beat Washington State 42-24; Next Game- @ Michigan September 24th
The Aztecs face a second consecutive BCS conference opponent when they travel to the Big House to take on Michigan and former coach Brady Hoke. San Diego State was impressive against Washington State a week ago, scoring the final 28 points of the game to vanquish the NCAA scoring leaders after the first two weeks. Ronnie Hillman was once again outstanding, rushing for 191 yards and four touchdowns including two in the decisive final quarter. Quarterback Ryan Lindley was mostly efficient with 273 yards and two touchdowns. The secondary was leaky, allowing two long touchdowns to Cougar star Marquess Wilson and a total of 368 passing yards but the defense did force four turnovers to contribute to the win.
3. TCU (2-1)
Last Game: Beat Louisiana-Monroe 38-17; Next Game- vs Portland State September 24th
The Horned Frogs struggled early against an outmanned Warhawks team but used Greg McCoy’s 2nd half kickoff return for a touchdown, and a forced fumble on the next series, to put away Louisiana-Monroe to give Gary Patterson his 100th win with the program. TCU has had defensive lapses in each game this season but after giving up 17 1st quarter points, they shut the Warhawks down the rest of the way. The Horned Frogs showed excellent balance, passing for 204 yards and running for 207 but they will need to improve their offensive consistency, and correct their defensive breakdowns with a big battle against San Diego State looming in two weeks.
4. Air Force (1-1)
Last Game: Lost to TCU 35-19 September 10th; Next Game- vs Tennessee State September 24th
The Falcons have had two weeks to soak in the loss to TCU in a game that looked like a statistical toss-up but was dominated by the Horned Frogs on the scoreboard. Quarterback Tim Jefferson was dinged up at the end of the TCU game but should be ready for Tennessee State this week. The Falcons defense needs to do a better job of getting off the field as they allowed TCU to convert 9-16 3rd downs and their only 4th down attempt. Falling behind early with their offense is a recipe for disaster and they were down 21-0 until a last second field goal to close the first half. The Falcons face a very tough stretch after their game against the Tigers this week with road trips to Navy and Notre Dame followed by MWC matchups with the top two teams, San Diego State and Boise State.
5. Wyoming (3-0)
Last Game: Beat Bowling Green 28-27; Next Game- vs Nebraska September 24th
The Cowboys blocked an extra point with three seconds remaining to preserve a win and lead them to their first 3-0 start in 15 years. Brett Smith threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns and the defense forced six Falcon turnovers. Despite giving up 514 yards of offense, including 437 yards from Bowling Green quarterback Matt Schilz, the Cowboys were able to hold on in stunning fashion. Wyoming trailed at halftime before reeling off 21 consecutive points to give themselves a 28-14 cushion. The Falcons scored twice in the final five minutes but Wyoming made the big play when it needed to in order to preserve the win. Wyoming now hosts Nebraska for the first time, having lost their last 14 games against ranked opponents by a whopping average of 34.1 points per game. Perhaps the Cowboys can catch the Cornhuskers looking ahead to their big matchup the following week against Wisconsin.
6. Colorado State (2-1)
Last Game: Lost to Colorado 28-14; Next Game- @ Utah State September 24th
The Rams lost their first game of the season against rival Colorado in Denver last week. The offense was inconsistent with quarterback Pete Thomas throwing for only 157 yards, although he did score on a 4-yard keeper in the 1st quarter. The offense accounted for only 243 yards on the afternoon and three straight Colorado scores following Thomas’ touchdown put the Rams in a hole they couldn’t climb out of. Charles Lovett’s pass to Crockett Gilmore, off a lateral from Thomas, brought CSU within seven points in the 4th quarter but Buffaloes quarterback Tyler Hansen finished off the Rams with his 2nd rushing touchdown of the day. The Rams hope to get some momentum in the next two games as they face off with Utah State and San Jose State from the WAC before their next conference game at home against Boise State.
7. UNLV (1-2)
Last Game: Beat Hawaii 40-20; Next Game- vs Southern Utah September 24th
The Rebels shocked the world with an unlikely win over Hawaii last week behind a defense that shut down the powerful Warriors and two touchdowns apiece from Tim Cornett on the ground and Caleb Herring through the air. Phillip Payne caught both of Herring’s touchdown throws among his 98 yards receiving. Hawaii fumbled the ball four times and ran for a total of six yards while converting only 1-9 3rd down attempts. The Rebels are home again against Southern Utah this week before road trips to Nevada and Wyoming.
8. New Mexico (0-3)
Last Game: Lost to Texas Tech 59-13; Next Game- vs Sam Houston State September 24th
The Lobos remain the only winless team in the conference after getting trounced in Lubbock last week. Since dropping a tough 14-10 game to Colorado State in the season opener, New Mexico has now been outscored by 95 points in their last two games. The team ranks 116th in the country in points and 114th in points against, losing their three games by an average score of 42-9. There was not much of a silver lining in their last contest as they turned the ball over three times and were outgained by nearly 300 yards. James Aho did nail both of his field goal attempts from over 40 yards. The Lobos best chance to win a game comes this week against Sam Houston State although the Bearkats are 2-0 thus far.
Future Mountain West Conference team updates:
In addition to Hawaii’s embarrassing loss to UNLV, Fresno State struggled with the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, needing a touchdown with nine minutes left to re-take the lead after going ahead 14-0 in the 1st quarter. Jalen Saunders hauled in 86 and 52-yard touchdown receptions in that 1st quarter but the Fresno offense was mostly silent after that. The Bulldogs will take it, as their first win of the season, but they shouldn’t feel great about the manner in which they won. They face Idaho in the conference opener this week.
Nevada struggled to beat San Jose State 17-14 a week after getting trounced at Oregon. Tyler Lantrip struggled mightily with two interceptions and only 112 yards on 11-21 passing but Mike Ball picked up the offensive slack with 124 yards and two scores. Following a matchup this week at Texas Tech, the Wolf Pack begin a run of three straight games against Mountain West teams starting on October 1st in Boise.
The aforementioned loss to UNLV was a stunner for Hawaii although they have traditionally been a different team on the road than they are at home. After rushing for 121 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against Colorado, quarterback Bryant Moniz has totaled negative 26 yards in the last two games. The Warrior offense has become increasingly one-dimensional but they look to get back on track with a home contest against UC-Davis leading into WAC play.
Week One Power Rankings
Week Two Power Rankings
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