Week five showcased some impressive showings, and we got a realistic idea of who the true contenders for a conference championship are. We also saw some headscratching performances from teams that were supposed to contend this season. Let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly performances from week five.
The Aggies narrowly land in the “Good” category after squeaking out a 34-33 victory over UCONN. Ike Larsen blocked a late PAT attempt which helped the Aggies avoid overtime. Cooper Legas entered the game in relief of McCae Hillstead and led a miraculous come from behind victory for an Aggie team that continues to play its best football in the second half.
The Rebels were able to overcome a lackluster performance by quarterback Jayden Maiava and use a dominant rushing attack to come away with a big victory over Hawaii in their first conference game of the season. The Rebel defense also did a great job of keeping the Rainbow Warriors out of the end zone despite giving up more than 300 yards through the air. The Rebels are inching closer to bowl eligibility and have one of the more manageable schedules in the conference. This team is a lock for a bowl game and may have even bigger goals in sight.
It was the finest defensive performance the Cowboys have ever had, but it seems like this team is starting to find it’s identity on the offensive side of the ball. Harrison Waylee is quickly emerging as one of the most explosive players in the Mountain West, gaining 191 yards on only 18 carries. The Cowboys will face one of their toughest tests of the year this weekend when they play host to Fresno State.
The Rams narrowly land in the “Good” category after coming away with a victory over Utah Tech in a game that was closer than it should have been for the majority of the contest. The Rams passing attack had a prolific day with Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi passing for 462 yards and Tory Horton with 227 yards receiving. I worry about this team’s inconsistency on defense and the amount of turnovers and penalities they have.
This might have been the most complete performance I have ever seen from an Air Force team. They were physically dominant in every aspect of the game against a San Diego State team that is known for its physicality. Zac Larrier has squashed the concerns that I had about the quarterback position for the Falcons heading into the season; his performance against the Aztecs was remarkable.
It wasn’t the cleanest football game the Bulldogs have played this season, but the result was never in doubt. Despite the struggles of the offense, the Bulldog defense had another great showing. Fresno State travels to Laramie to take on the Cowboys this weekend; they will need a cleaner performance against a talented Wyoming squad if they want to come away with the victory.
The Lobos were in this game for the majority of the contest. But, their inability to be consistently effective in the passing game and their failure to stop the Wyoming rushing attack ultimately cost them the victory. If New Mexico is going to live up to the promise their head coach made of making a bowl game, they will need to beat at least one of the heavyweights in the Mountain West.
I was pretty impressed with the defensive performance of the Wolf Pack. They did everything they could to give their team a chance, but the offensive performance was extremely lackluster. It seemed like the game plan was to rely on the legs of quarterback Brandon Lewis in the run game and hope that it would open things up from the air. This team hasn’t made the strides this year that I expected.
Typically a three point loss on the road to a good team wouldn’t land you in the “Ugly” category, but the Bronco coaching staff made a number of questionable calls that likely cost the team the game. Boise State had two opportunities to score touchdowns in the red zone but opted to kick field goals on fourth and one. One field goal was blocked and returned for a touchdown, a play that shifted the momentum of the game and likely cost the Broncos the win. The Broncos are also embroiled in another quarterback controversy after freshman Maddux Madsen came on in relief of Taylen Green and led two touchdown drives.
The Rainbow Warriors inability to stop opposing rush offenses continues to hold this program back. The Rainbow Warriors allowed over 300 yards on the ground to UNLV, while failing to establish their own rushing attack. The biggest weakness of this team continues to be in the trenches, an area that Timmy Chang needs to address sooner rather than later.
San Diego State
This might have been the worst performance of Brady Hoke’s second tenure in San Diego. The Aztecs were thoroughly whooped in every aspect of the game by a talented Air Force team. This was an embarrassing performance by an Aztec team that is known for its physical style of play. They looked like a finesse team that was eager to get out of Colorado Springs as soon as possible. This feels like the beginning of the end for Brady Hoke and his staff unless they can pull off a miracle turn around.
Which performances from this past weekend stood out to you? Who do you think has a realistic chance at a conference championship? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.