The Mountain West Power Rankings are a glance at where things stand at this point of the season. It was an uneven week in the Mountain West as the conference went 4-4. Two of the losses were to FCS opponents. Only one undefeated team remains as San Diego State and Wyoming each lost for the first time this season, both to Big Ten powerhouses. Only five teams are in action this week with the marquee game a rematch of last year’s thriller in Reno, when Nevada ended Boise State’s perfect run.
1. Boise State Broncos (3-0)
Last Game: Beat Tulsa 41-21; Next Game- vs Nevada October 1st
Kellen Moore was brilliant once again but the team sputtered in the 2nd half after he was taken out with a 34-0 lead. The defense allowed fewer than 300 yards of offense to a team that had put up significant numbers the week before against Oklahoma State, but Tulsa scored all three of their touchdowns in the final 20 minutes to make the final score look more competitive than it truly was. The Broncos preach focus and finishing and they will have to do both to avenge last season’s loss to the Wolf Pack. Boise State’s rushing game, which has struggled so far this season, hopes to get on track against the nation’s 108th-ranked rushing defense. Doug Martin had a huge game last season in Nevada and this week may be his breakout performance of 2011.
2. TCU (3-1)
Last Game: Beat Portland State 55-13; Next Game- vs SMU October 1st
For the second consecutive week, TCU struggled offensively early in the contest as Portland State led 3-0 after the 1st quarter. The Horned Frogs got going early in the 2nd however, and reeled off 41 consecutive points to take command. Casey Pachall threw for three touchdowns and Waymon James had a big game with 136 yards rushing and a score to go along with a kickoff return for another touchdown. The defense still looks like a shell of its former self as Portland State was able to control the ball for over 36 minutes and convert 9-20 3rd down attempts and their only 4th down try. June Jones has the SMU offense working as they have outscored their last two opponents 82-7, led by the 15th-ranked passing offense in the country. The Mustangs’ trademark has been jumping out to a big, early lead which could spell trouble for TCU.
3. San Diego State Aztecs (3-1)
Last Game: Lost to Michigan 28-7; Next Game- vs TCU October 8th
The Aztecs could not stop Denard Robinson in the 1st half and the Michigan quarterback sliced them for 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns in Brady Hoke’s first game against his former team. The defense forced three 3rd quarter turnovers to try to get back in the game but the offense could not convert the turnovers into points. Ryan Lindley missed open receivers and receivers dropped the ball on multiple occasions. Star running back Ronnie Hillman rushed for 109 yards but was held out of the end zone for the first time this season and also fumbled the ball twice. The Aztecs now have a week off to re-focus the offense as they prepare for a huge Mountain West showdown at home against TCU next week.
4. Air Force (2-1)
Last Game: Beat Tennessee State 63-24; Next Game- @ Navy October 1st
The Falcons bounced back from their loss to TCU and a bye week to pile up nearly 800 yards in the big win over the Tigers. Air Force finished with 595 yards on the ground and six rushing touchdowns. The Falcons were led by Asher Clark with 148 yards and a score. Tim Jefferson finished 11-13 passing with three touchdowns in his best performance of the season. Mike DeWitt added two rushing scores and five different Falcons ran for at least 57 yards. The defense gave up 394 yards of offense however and the potent Navy rushing attack will challenge the Falcons this week. The trip back east to face the Midshipmen is the first of a brutal four-game stretch that sees Air Force also travel to Notre Dame before returning home to face San Diego State. The Falcons then hit the road again, traveling to Boise on October 22nd.
5. Wyoming (3-1)
Last Game: Lost to Nebraska 38-14; Next Game- @ Utah State October 8th
Wyoming was able to hang with Nebraska for two quarters on Saturday but the Cornhuskers ran away in the 2nd half to take the win. Brett Smith passed for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the loss and Wyoming was held to nearly 200 yards below its season average while allowing the Cornhuskers to run for 333 yards. Smith’s touchdown pass to Mazi Ogbonna with 3:37 remaining in the 2nd quarter cut the Nebraska lead to 14-7 but Nebraska scored the next 17 points to put the game away. Wyoming has the week off before a visit to Logan to face Utah State.
6. Colorado State (3-1)
Last Game: Beat Utah State 35-34; Next Game- vs San Jose State October 1st
The Rams bounced back from their first loss of the season to knock off Utah State in overtime, stopping a two-point attempt in the 2nd overtime possession to preserve the win. Chris Nwoke’s touchdown run with just :42 remaining in the 4th quarter, followed by a two-point conversion from Pete Thomas to Crockett Gillmore, forced the overtime period. Gillmore answered a Utah State touchdown in the first overtime possession and Nwoke added his second touchdown moments later before Colorado State made a critical stop on the game’s final play. Shaquil Barrett returned a fumble 15 yards for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter but the offense struggled all game long, finishing with only 232 yards of total offense. The Rams continue their tour of the WAC as they host San Jose State, followed by a week off before Boise State comes to Fort Collins.
7. UNLV (1-3)
Last Game: Lost to Southern Utah 41-16; Next Game- @ Nevada October 8th
One week after an impressive win over Hawaii, UNLV was humiliated again as they fell to FCS Southern Utah, getting outscored 31-6 in the 2nd half. Caleb Herring threw three interceptions, all returned for touchdowns, to offset a solid defensive performance. Philip Payne was the lone bright spot for the Rebels as he amassed 13 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown. UNLV dominated the ball and converted four of their 4th down attempts but the turnovers, especially the interceptions that led directly to touchdowns, were the difference. Austin Minifee added two rushing touchdowns for Southern Utah who pulled away in the 2nd half despite their sputtering offense. UNLV now gets a week off before traveling to Nevada in an intra-state tussle that is always highly emotional.
8. New Mexico (0-4)
Last Game: Lost to Sam Houston State 48-45; Next Game- vs New Mexico State October 1st
New Mexico added to their season of misery with an overtime loss to the FCS Bearkats. Deon Long took back the opening kickoff for a touchdown and later recorded three receiving touchdowns but it wasn’t enough for the Lobos to overcome Bearkats running back Tim Flanders. Flanders finished with 194 yards rushing and five touchdowns, the last of which gave the Bearkats the win in overtime. Long’s third touchdown of the game with only :27 remaining in regulation forced overtime but the Lobos were held to a field goal. Long’s 378 all-purpose yards, including 209 receiving yards, set a Mountain West record.
Future Mountain West Conference team updates:
Fresno State had no trouble with Idaho as Derek Carr threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-24 win. The Bulldogs pulled away in the 2nd half, outscoring the Vandals 17-0 in the decisive 3rd quarter. The defense held Idaho to 283 yards of offense and Nat Harrison returned the only Idaho turnover 40 yards for a touchdown late in the 3rd quarter to put the game out of reach. The Bulldogs host Mississippi this week before Boise State comes to town for a Friday night matchup on October 7th.
Nevada lost a heartbreaker to Texas Tech 35-34, giving up the final Red Raider touchdown with 44 seconds remaining. Cody Fajardo came off the bench in relief of Tyler Lantrip and dashed 56 yards for a touchdown to give Nevada a 28-14 lead midway through the 3rd quarter but the Red Raiders outscored Nevada 21-6 from that point on. Fajardo finished with 139 yards rushing and two scores and appears poised to take the starting quarterback job from Lantrip sooner rather than later. Both will see time this week as they travel to Boise to face the Broncos.
Hawaii bounced back from their humiliating loss to UNLV to rout UC-Davis 56-14 behind 464 yards and a stunning seven passing touchdowns from Bryant Moniz. All seven passing touchdowns happened in the first two quarters as Hawaii built a 49-0 lead on the Aggies. Moniz, who led the NCAA in total offense last season, added 50 yards on the ground before sitting out the entire 2nd half of the rout. Royce Pollard caught three of Moniz’ touchdowns and piled up 145 yards on nine receptions. The Warriors now open WAC play with two consecutive road games at Louisiana Tech and San Jose State and they have been a much different team away from home.
Week One Power Rankings
Week Two Power Rankings
Week Three Power Rankings
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