Week 3 was eventful for the Mountain West. Conference play kicked off with two critical games and there were some entertaining games against Power 5 opponents. Through three weeks, it looks like the race in the West will be tough, and there is a surprise team emerging in the Mountain. Here are the good, bad, and ugly performances of week 3.
What a game. This was the game of the year in college football to this point. Fresno State did everything they could to lose this game on the defensive side of the ball, but Jake Haener and the Fresno State offense put on the performance of a lifetime. The Bulldogs are now ranked and should head into Nevada 5-1 in a few weeks. Could Fresno State be a New Year Six contender? We will find out soon enough.
San Diego State
The Aztecs always bring it against PAC 12 teams and Saturday evening was no exception. San Diego State nearly squandered a 14 point fourth quarter lead. But they continue to win games with good defense, great special teams play, and a solid running attack.
The Cowboys were pretty underwhelming the first two weeks, but they were dominant in a win over a Ball State squad that won the MAC last season. The Cowboys’ defense had the bounce back performance they needed after giving up 43 points against NIU, but this Charmin-soft OOC schedule makes it hard to give a good evaluation. We won’t learn anything about this squad until they take on Air Force in three weeks.
San Jose State
This team has an elite defense, but I’m not sure if they have a championship offense this season. The running game needs to improve and Starkell needs to find a reliable number one receiver. However, it is hard to go to the island and walk out with a win. The Spartans are 1-0 in conference play and right where they need to be.
The Rams needed a bounce back performance and they got it, The defense played a great game, and they got a nice boost with a punt return touchdown. The offense still has a long way to go as the passing game, outside of Trey McBride, is largely ineffective.
This team is resilient. They have played from behind in all three of their games and came away with the victory. Justin Rice is emerging as a defensive player of the year candidate and Calvin Tyler Jr. is off to a great start in the running game. Logan Bonner left the game with an injury, but Andrew Peasley was great in relief. We will learn if this team is in for a magical season this weekend when they host Boise State in a nationally televised contest on CBS.
What happened to the elite defense that the Falcons were supposed to have? It was a solid offensive performance, but they made the Utah State quarterbacks look like future NFL draft picks. This secondary is flawed and will need to improve if they are going to get back into the title picture. Starting 0-1 against a division rival is not ideal.
Honestly, the Lobo defense kind of exceeded my expectations in this game. I think this team is improved, but they aren’t improved enough to win a lot of games. Will the offense be able to put up points against good defenses? It’s not looking good at this point.
The Rainbow Warriors are not a threat to win the conference, but they proved one thing on Saturday night. They have the potential to play spoiler. The offense is flawed, but the defense is improved and taking steps in the right direction. Getting to bowl eligibility is going to be a challenge for this team.
Another epic meltdown late in the second quarter cost the Broncos a great victory. The last four minutes of the second quarter against Oklahoma State and UCF have cost the Broncos a 3-0 record and a high ranking. This coaching staff has a lot of questions that need answered. Saturday morning against Utah State looms large for the Broncos; they need to make a statement.
Nevada is a team that relies on big plays and offensive flow. Kansas State is always a disciplined team, and they were able to wear down the Wolf Pack and run away with the victory in the fourth quarter. The Wolf Pack have to improve at running the ball or they will have zero chance at winning the Mountain West. The Wolf Pack will enter the bye week with an extra week to prepare for a Boise State team that might be limping into this contest. Is it possible that Nevada will be favored to win a game on “the Blue?” It would be a season-defining moment.
This football team does not have an identity or a group of players that can lead them out of the dark times they have been in. Marcus Arroyo has done a nice job recruiting, but does he have the coaching staff to win games? This team needs to find a way to get a few wins. The Rebels will face another ranked team this weekend when they take on Fresno State.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Which moments from week 3 stood out to you? Which games will you be following this weekend? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.