Key matchups and surprise results were the theme of week nine in the Mountain West. A West Division titan had their worst loss in a few years, and a surprise team got one step closer to bowl eligibility. Let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly moments of week nine in the Mountain West.
San Jose State
Going into Army and coming away with a victory is nothing short of impressive. San Jose State finished their non-conference slate with two road victories. Josh Love would be an all-conference quarterback if the season ended today following another 300 yard performance. The Spartans still have UNLV and Fresno State on the schedule, and both of those games look winnable at the moment. A bowl game may not be a pipe dream for the Spartans.
It was a dominating victory over a team in shambles. Wyoming was led by Xazavian Valladay who had over 200 yards on the ground. Quarterback Sean Chambers was seen in street clothes with ice on his knee at the end of the game. The Cowboys have a bye week and will look to get healthy before heading to Boise for a game that might decide the Mountain Division.
Going into Fresno and coming away with a victory is a huge feat for the Rams. Coming into the game with a 2-5 record, the Rams could have easily quit, but they came out on fire and took a quick 14-0 lead on the Bulldogs. With the game tied 31-31, the Rams were able to capitalize on a tipped ball that resulted in an interception and great field position. The Rams scored a late touchdown and field goal to come away with a 41-31 victory.
The final score does not indicate the beat down that the Rainbow Warriors put on the Lobos, but Hawaii won this game with ease This may be the spark they need to right the ship before critical games against Fresno State and San Diego State. If the Warriors can come away with both of those wins, they will represent the West in the conference championship game.
Air Force had 448 yards rushing and Utah State had 14. Air Force had the ball for over 45 minutes. What an impressive, dominating performance for the Falcons. Air Force has now beaten Fresno State, Hawaii, and Utah State convincingly in three straight weeks. The Falcons are playing as well as anyone in the Mountain West right now and will likely be favorites in their last four games. A double digit win season may be in reach.
The Lobos showed some heart when the game was already decided, and that is why they only land in the “Bad” category. But, when the athletic director refuses to answer questions after the game, that is not a good sign for a coach that is firmly on the hot seat.
San Diego State
The Aztecs are a hard team to read. They are 7-1 and firmly atop the West Division, but they have struggled against teams that they should handle. They struggled to move the ball against a poor UNLV win, but a win is a win. The Aztecs control their own destiny.
The Rebels had the recipe for an upset; they didn’t turn the ball over, and they had a balanced, offensive attack against the Aztecs. But, a missed field goal and the inability to finish some drives ultimately doomed UNLV. Tony Sanchez desperately needed this win but came up short.
What happened to the Bulldog defense? They could not stop a Colorado State offense that was being led by a backup quarterback. I was guilty of assuming that Fresno State was good enough to overcome a lot of significant losses. Boy, was I wrong. The Bulldogs fall to 3-4 and a bowl game is in serious jeopardy.
No Malik Henry, bad quarterback play, and a defense that spends way too much time on the field. That is all a recipe for disaster. This Wolf Pack squad is falling apart; they may not win a game the rest of the season.
I expected more from the Aggies; I though their showdown with the Falcons would be a battle, but they were completely dominated in every aspect of the game. Jordan Love does not have the weapons that he had last season and is not looking like a first round, NFL quarterback. Things don’t get easier for Utah State; their next four games are against BYU, Fresno State, Wyoming, and Boise State. This loss makes each Mountain West game an elimination game for the Aggies.