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The Mountain West Conference Title Contenders: How they Started versus How they Finished

Fresno State

Fresno State was able to defeat Boise State in the Mountain West title game 28-16. Being up by only one score at halftime 14-6; Fresno State was able to pull away in the second half of the game. Jake Haener threw for only one touchdown, which made the score 21-9 early in the fourth quarter. With Boise throwing an interception the following drive, the Bulldogs were able to march down and hand the ball off to Jordan Mims for a 3-yard touchdown score making the score of the game 28-9 with less than ten minutes remaining in the fourth quarter helping secure the win for the Bulldogs. Fresno was able to pull away in the second half and gain the title of Mountain West Champions.

Beginning the season 1-4 Fresno State had a lot of climbing to go to even contend for this title let alone win it, however, after winning eight straight games they were able to contend for the title and were also able to beat the other top opponent in the division, Boise State, who they lost to in week 5 earlier this season. In a recent AP News article Fresno State’s coach Jeff Tedford had some words about how the season started.

“We’ve come a long way since the first part of the year when a lot of people didn’t believe in us,”

Fresno State finished with a conference record of 7-1 and currently holds an overall record of 9-4. Fresno State will be competing against Washington State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl on December 17th.

Boise State

Like Fresno State, Boise State started the year to a rough start going 2-2 through the first four games of the season, however, with some decisions on the sideline they were able to improve their offense and lost only one other game after their 2-2 start to BYU, until making their appearance in the Mountain West title going in as three-point favorites against a Fresno State team that was looking for revenge.

While the 28-16 score in Fresno’s favor says otherwise, Boise State did not entirely play a bad football game against the Bulldogs. Boise State was able to drive the field the whole game. In comparison to Fresno State, Boise State had a total of 321 yards while Fresno State had 245. On the ground, Boise State had a total of 146 yards rushing, while Fresno State had only 61 yards rushing. Not to mention, Fresno only threw for 9 more yards than Boise State did as well. So, the question is where did it go wrong? The title game started very slow with only a score of 0-3 in Boise State’s favor with less than five minutes to go in the second quarter, however, after a special teams flop, Fresno State was able to capitalize on a punt return for a 70-yard touchdown making the game 7-3 Fresno State’s lead. Getting the ball back after Fresno’s punt return for a touchdown, Taylen Green threw an interception to Cam Lockridge which he returned for 25 yards to the Boise State 17-yard line. Three plays later Fresno State’s offense scored making the game 14-7 Fresno State led with a minute to go before halftime. Before half-time Boise State was able to get a last-second 47-yard field goal.

Throughout the beginning of the second half, Boise State was able to start slowly creeping back up to Fresno State making the score 14-9, however, early in the fourth quarter Taylen Green threw his second interception to Cam Lockridge once again setting up Fresno State at Boise’s 34-yard line. After this point in the game, Fresno State was able to pull away enough to secure the win. What explains how Fresno State led in all those yardage categories, but still lost by 12 is the fact that Fresno State forced two important turnovers that changed the pace for both the first and second half setting them up in great field position.

The Boise State Broncos and North Texas Mean Green will compete in the 2022 Frisco Bowl on December 17th.