Now that Ohio State won the national championship -- first congrats Buckeyes -- it is a perfect time to look back at the Mountain West bowl season. It is painful for four of the Mountain West teams, but we still need to take a quick look back at what we learned this bowl season.
The Mountain West was favored in four of their seven games, so winning just three of those is not that bad. However, how teams lost like Fresno State and San Diego State, or just not showing up in Fresno State losing in the Hawaii Bowl. Boise State helped this mark with their upset win over Arizona, but overall bowl season was not a success.
That is the amount of points that Nevada was averaging per season on offense and defense. Both units had the complete opposite typical performance in their 16-3 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Wolf Pack offense was non-existent and quarterback Cody Fajardo had one of his worst games all year with 49 rushing yards and just 14 of 29 for 124 yards. The offense just stalled and was unable to do much.
The defense on the other hand did a great job in keeping Nevada in this game by allowing just 16 points and holding the Ragin' Cajuns to three field goals.
UTEP's offense is nothing special but the Utah State defense allowed just six points, and that is a shade over three touchdown difference in the bowl game. The Aggies defense just played their game and shutdown UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers to just 126 yards and 53 of those came on a desperation throw. Typical day at the office for Utah State defense.
Shayne Davern and D.J. Johnson are next men up for Air Force
The Falcons were missing Jacobi Owens to an injury and missed this game, but sophomore running back Shayne Davern stepped up and had a big game in his first start. Davern ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, he had one long run of 55 yards for a score, but he had a huge game for the Falcons. Fellow sophomore D.J. Johnson also had a big game with 83 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. Not that the running game is ever lacking with the Falcons, but Owens also was a sophomore this year.
Coaching makes a difference
Colorado State not having Jim McElwain for their bowl game against Utah was a bigger deal than most thought. Dave Baldwin did great things running the offense all year, and going up against a very good Utah defense would be tough but scoring just 10 points was unexpected. In-game adjustments were an issue as Baldwin was in charge of everything and not just the offense. Also, Utah played one of its best games all year by scoring their third-most points all year and two touchdowns more than their season average.
Points were hard to come by in the Poinsettia Bowl for both San Diego State and Navy, but the Aztecs Rocky Long made a gutsy call to not kick a field goal to go up by four points and force Navy to score a touchdown to win instead of a field goal. Sitting at the 12-yard line facing a 4th-and-5, Long went for a pass but it was incomplete. Kicker Donny Hageman made all three prior kicks and a 29-yard attempt would have been as close to a sure thing there is out there. Hageman missed a chance to win the game with a 34-yard attempt, but the game probably should not have come down to that.
Fresno State in the postseason has not been kind, and the Bulldogs have lost their sixth straight bowl game and third straight blowout bowl loss. Heading into the post season at 6-7, there was not a lot of confidence in Fresno State as they were so inconsistent all year there was very little confidence they could beat Rice. Who knows what the issue is in postseason play for Fresno State. It could be coaching as scouting and game planning has not gone well with multiple weeks to prepare for their next opponent.
Boise State is not going anywhere
The Broncos peaked at the right time and it started with the second half of their comeback win over San Diego State. In the Fiesta Bowl, Arizona had no answer for Boise State's offense in the first half and had to play catch up to make this a game. Bryan Harsin has made a seamless transition taking over for the legendary Chris Petersen with similar results compared to Petersen's first year as the Broncos head coach. Game planning was strong as not only offense, but the defense, had a good showing against an Arizona team that put up a lot of points all year.