The conference as a whole lost a lot steam --especially if you watched ESPNs Gameday Final-- by BYU and Utah both losing to unranked teams. This hurts the Mountain West and their chance for a shot at the title game, and an auto bid for the BCS. The loses are not the end of the world but the league is not quite as strong as last year, but I would still bet on three teams being ranked in the top 25 when the season ends and the league champ being ahead of the Big East and maybe the ACC.
They came out and beat up on New Mexico in the first conference game of the year. Not much really to say on the offensive front as the Falcons ran for 298 yards on the day. The Falcons have two top end rushers in Asher Clark and Jared Tew who get the bulk of the carries, but they go another four deep at running the ball while being productive. One odd note on offense is that no quarterback ran the ball once, typically the Air Force quarterback runs a few plays on the game.
The defense for Air Force is looking pretty good; even though this was against New Mexico the Falcons were able to force four turnovers and hold the passing game to 102 yards. However the rushing game was an issue in this game by giving up 126 yards to James Wright, but the reason for that was that AFA gave up a bug play for an 84 yard run. If you take that run away then the Falcons did a good job. We will know more in two weeks when Air Force takes on the Naval Academy.
The Cougar defense and Max Hall reverted back to the 2008 season. The defense was unable to stop Florida State in the passing game, yes the yards were not there but nearly everything was completed by FSU. Then there is Max Hall who threw three picks which were all ill advised passes.
The hype surrounding BYU as a potential BCS title game contender ended up being false with the blowout of the game. Also, FSU maybe better then thought because the hung with Miami (FL) who is now ranked in the top 15. BYU defense was exposed for what it is: not very good. Lets see what BYU learns from this game and makes any adjustments.
The 'other' undefeated team in the league along side TCU and is 3-0. While the Rams defense did give up a good amount of yards, but they countered that by forcing turnovers. The quarterback play for the Rams is still questionable, however Grant Stucker managed the game two touchdowns but only 165 yards. The running game looks to have been solved with John Mosure who had 99 yards on the day.
The running game looks to be settled, but the defense needs work in limiting the yards given up and the passing game needs to be improve some more to keep defenses honest.
The Lobos are still terrible and will challenge for the basement of the Mountain West. The Lobos finally scored their first offensive touchdown on the season, and it was from an 80 plus yard run. The passing attack is still completing under 50 percent on the year, and is only averaging 142 yards per game. In short New Mexico is a bad team.
San Diego State
The other resident bad team in the league is San Diego State, and showed it as they lost to equally bad team Idaho. This team goes as far as Ryan Lindley can go, and in the Idaho game he left for part of the game with an injury. The rushing game is a concern for San Diego State, and if they were to get a decent ground game then they might be able to compete with more teams in the league.
The defense however is another question for the Aztecs. They are sixth in total defense in the Mountain West and 60th in the nation. The real concern is that they are giving up 28.7 points per game which is 90th in the nation.
It is hard to tell what can be said about TCU after their win over FCS opponent Texas State. Their game was uncomrotably closer then the 56-21 score indicates, because at the start of the fourth the score was only 35-21. We know RB Joseph Turner is doing just fine in becoming the full time back after sharing time last year. The rush defense is there and allowed only 1.3 yard per play by Texas State and forced them to go 3-14 on third downs.
Not much can be made this week, but next weeks game at Clemson is huge for the league as they are the highest ranked team and the only team left to have a chance to make a BCS game. This will be the TCU's first tough test, because Virginia and Texas State have not been a challenge for TCU.
The Rebels havee the second best overall quarterback and the best dual threat in the league with Omar Clayton. Clayton coming off an injury was able to pass for 340 yards and run in a touchdown. Clayton does not run a lot but his threat to break off a big run makes him a real threat. Also, the Rebels have the best receivers in the league with Ryan Wolfe and touchdown maker Phillip Payne. The running game is the real concern which is currently lead by Channing Trotter who is decent but not quite to the level of last years back Frank Summers.
The biggest flaw is the defense that in this short season has given up big plays to the opposing team. UNLV has given up 371 yards per game, but 505 yards came in their recent game against Hawai'i. The Rebels lok for real, at least on offense and will be able to hang in games on that alone.
The Utes are not going undefeated again, which was not going to happen anyways. RB Matt Asiata is what makes the team go; he was obviously hurt during this game and was unable to provide is power running style in the game. RJ Stanford should be benched for not being able to cover any wide receiver. The corner backs did not lose the game for Utah but there were times when they gave up big plays. QB Jeremiah Moseli only completed four passes by each of those completions were for 95 yards.
QB Terrance Cain showed his inexperience by throwing ill advise passes which lead to two picks. He also was forced to throw 41 times which is the Utes do not want to do and rely on the rookie quarterback. The rush defense which was to be the Utes strengthed was the weakness against Oregon and allowed 217 yards. This is a concern because the defensive line is deep and experienced.
There is a positive to be made of there last game with Utah being able to comeback from a 21-7 deficiet to 28-24 before the last pick by Cain. The kicking game is still a problem and in this game caused Utah to go for it on fourth down instead of kicking a field goal.
The quarterback carousel of 2009 has arrived in Laramie for the second straight season. This past week former starter Karsteen Sween made an apperance to take over along with Robert Benjamin and Austyn Carta-Samuels. Carta-Samuels had the best game, but his stat line wasnothing special with 125 yards and he lead the team in rushing. The running game is the other concern which is suffering a lot after having two established runners the past few years.
The pass defense is actually solid and held Colorado to only 175 passing yards and under fifty percent completion percentage. But the rush defense is not very good and the leading rusher against the Pokes was not even star recruit Darrell Scott for Colorado but was sophomore Rodney Stewart who was able to scamper for 128 yards. This might I add was by Colorado who was outplayed and out manned by Colorado State and Toledo.