For much of the country, football has returned in all of it’s glory. Unfortunately, fans of Mountain West Conference schools have been unable to join in on the celebration. We are left to find unique ways to scratch the incessant college football itch. A mild salve for the irritation comes in the form of the NFL. Our favorite college squads may not be playing, but we can still watch some legends from yesteryear battle it out in the pros.
Each week of the NFL season we will highlight the top five performances from former Mountain West titans. It’s important to note that the list is highly subjective and will have a bias towards players that rack up counting stats (yards, tackles, sacks, completions, etc.). In addition to the top five, we’ll throw in some notable performances from former MWC players. If we miss something, let us know in the comments and we’ll feature it in an “oops” section the following week.
Top Five Mountain West Conference Performances
Darian Thompson, Safety, Dallas Cowboys ~ 10 Tackles
The former Boise State safety was announced as a surprise starter a few weeks before the NFL season kicked off. The Cowboys waived veteran Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix to make room for Thompson, and he paid immediate dividends with ten tackles in a season-opening loss to the Rams. Thompson was forced to step up after the Cowboys lost fellow Boise State legend Leighton Vander Esch to a collarbone injury early in the game.
Alexander Mattison, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings ~ 50 Rushing Yards - 30 Receiving Yards
Boise State goes back-to-back on the list after an inspired performance by backup RB Alexander Mattison in a loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Mattison had 50 rushing yards on just six carries (8.3 YPC) and caught all four of his receiving targets for 30 yards. Meanwhile, the recently paid Dalvin Cook was limited to 50 rushing yards on 12 carries (4.2 YPC) and had one catch for minus two yards. Mattison also stole Darnell Savage's soul:
Alexander Mattison just sent Darnell Savage back in time for a quick sec pic.twitter.com/sjjHkCpmrd— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) September 13, 2020
Derek Carr, Quarterback, Las Vegas Raiders ~ 22/30 - 239 Yards - One Passing Touchdown
Fresno State joins the fray after former Bulldog gunslinger Derek Carr led his Las Vegas Raiders to victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Carr wasn’t flashy, but he was efficient. Carr completed 22/30 passes (73%) and threw a touchdown pass and no interceptions. Most importantly, with the Raiders trailing late in the game, Carr led Las Vegas to a game-clinching touchdown to secure the Las Vegas Raiders first ever victory.
Derek Carr’s day SHOULD be remembered for hooking up with his brand new toy, first round WR Henry Ruggs III...
Henry Ruggs is already loose in the secondary #RaiderNation @__RUGGS— NFL (@NFL) September 13, 2020
: #LVvsCAR on CBS
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/DTlgEUZamw pic.twitter.com/fXFgQdi6iZ
...and throwing an absolute dime to Agholor for a 23-yard touchdown...
That throw from Carr to Agholor was a thing of beauty pic.twitter.com/bZPygAyNwl— Ben “Game Seven” Shpall (@BenShpall) September 13, 2020
...but unfortunately, the football world will instead focus on Carr using Jon Gruden’s wife’s name as an audible:
Here’s Gruden on the pumped in crowd noise yesterday and that audible from @derekcarrqb— Jesse Merrick (@JesseNews3LV) September 14, 2020
“Cindy Gruden Tiger Woods!”
Josh Allen, Quarterback, Buffalo Bills ~ 33/46 - 312 Yards - 2 Passing Touchdowns - 57 Rushing Yards - 1 Rushing Touchdown
Wyoming Cowboys legend Josh Allen takes the number two spot this week after leading the Buffalo Bills to a 27 - 17 win against the New York Jets. Allen finished with a monster stat line, completing 33 passes for 312 yards with two touchdowns through the air. He added 57 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground. As is typical with Allen, things weren’t always pretty (he lost two fumbles), but he did more than enough to lead the Bills to victory.
As with Derek Carr, what we should be talking about with Josh Allen are all of these throws...
Josh Allen was accurate on 26 of 29 passes up to 10 yards against the Jets. 90%.— QB Data Mine (@QBDataMine) September 15, 2020
He was accurate on 8 of 13 passes that travelled further than 10 yards downfield. 61.5% pic.twitter.com/Qu2WZMBe9g
...but it seems like all anyone wants to talk about is this one:
Ok, I'm gonna try and go easy on the Josh Allen stuff but OH. MY. GOD. pic.twitter.com/qYCrKpPokb— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) September 13, 2020
Davante Adams, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers ~ 14 Receptions - 156 Yards - Two Touchdowns
When you tie an 80-year old franchise record in a dominate divisional game win to open the season you are getting the number one spot on the list. That is exactly what the former Fresno State Bulldog did on Sunday. Davante Adams grabbed a ridiculous 14 catches on 17 targets and finished with 156 yards and two touchdowns. Adams has an eye-popping 27 catches in his last two games against the Vikings.
Adams is widely considered the best route runner in the NFL. He showed off that skill throughout the game on Sunday:
Davante Adams using his signature hesi & burst to win the Go route pic.twitter.com/36ZaQDYS2R— Receiver Life (@ReceiverLife_) September 16, 2020
Adams also added an acrobatic toe-tapping touchdown that is too pretty to leave out:
What a throw from Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams! pic.twitter.com/xOdPnUZCEz— The 5th Quarter (@The5ifthQuarter) September 13, 2020
Notable Plays From Week One:
The official week one list is complete. Wyoming finishes with one player and is joined by a pair of Boise State Broncos and Fresno State Bulldogs, respectively. However, a few other notable plays were made by Mountain West alumni:
Former Wyoming Cowboy safety Andrew Wingard snags his first career interception off of future Hall-of-Fame (right?) QB Phillip Rivers:
Andrew Wingard with his first career INT!!!— MINSHEW 2020 (@AussieJag) September 13, 2020
ANOTHER Wyoming Cowboy, DE Carl Granderson, sacks Tom Brady and does a...creative dance in celebration:
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) October 6, 2019
Carl Granderson celebrated his first career NFL sack by doing the worm. pic.twitter.com/pJJUgPpQhI
Last but not least, we welcome the Colorado State Rams to the party to highlight maybe the most controversial play of the weekend. Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup caught a huge pass along the sideline late in the 4th quarter against the L.A. Rams, but it was called off after a downy-soft offensive pass interference penalty was called:
Really didn't like this OPI call on Michael Gallup. He doesn't extend his arms. Both he and Ramsey are hand-fighting. Good job by Ramsey to sell it. pic.twitter.com/gQY1Xx5ZP1— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) September 14, 2020
With week one in the books, and the MWC stars highlighted, it is on to week two (remember to leave a comment if we missed a big play or moment). Watch out for these former MWC luminaries tonight when the Browns face off against the Bengals to kickoff week two:
Nevada Wolfpack OG Joel Bitonio
Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins
Wyoming LB Logan Wilson
UNLV CB Torry McTyer