The out-of-conference portion of the season is nearly behind us, and teams across the Mountain West appear to be finding their footing. Teams that struggled last year look like they are taking steps in the right direction. As the conference season continues to heat up, one thing is clear. This is going to be an exciting season of Mountain West football. Let’s take a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly performances in week four.
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Broncos did what they needed to do and came away with the win in their first conference game of the year against San Diego State. Ashton Jeanty had a legendary performance, amassing 254 total yards and two touchdowns. The struggles on the defensive side of the ball are still very concerning for the Broncos, but they did just enough to even up their record at 2-2 and start the conference slate 1-0.
The Falcons fell behind 20-10 and their defense was struggling to slow down Chevan Cordeiro and the Spartans. Air Force completely changed the tide of the game in the second half by using their ball control offense to take any momentum away from the Spartans. The Falcons finished the game by scoring 35 consecutive points on their way to a convincing victory.
It wasn’t always pretty and the Lobos were pretty much dominated in the box score, but the Lobos’ dream of making a bowl game are still alive after an overtime victory over UMass. A bowl game is still a pipe dream for this team, but there is no doubt that this is an improved Lobos team over last year’s squad.
The Rams were coming off of one of the most emotional losses in the history of their program. A slow start was to be expected. The offense settled in and was able to come away with a solid victory over Middle Tennessee to get the Rams their first victory of the season. The Rams have, without a doubt, found their quarterback of both the present and future in Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi. Fowler-Nicolosi had another solid performance throwing for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cowboys were dominated in the box score, but their defense did a good job of stopping Appalachian State when it mattered most. Wyoming struggled to throw the ball, gaining only 31 yards through the air, but big stops on defense and a huge blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown allowed the Cowboys to wrap up their out-of-conference slate witha 3-1 record.
The Rebels continued their fast start to the season with a victory over UTEP. This was an exciting back and forth contest for the majority of the game, but the Rebels settled in late in the game to secure the victory. The Rebels intercepted three Miner passes, including two late in the game, that sealed the victory. Jayden Maiava definitely had his ups and downs in his first start for UNLV, but they made up for it by gaining more than 300 yards on the ground.
The Bulldogs did exactly what they should do against one of the worst teams in college football: dominate. This contest was never in doubt and Fresno State was clearly the superior squad. Mikey Keene has probably been the most impressive quarterback in the conference at this point, and the Bulldog defense appears to be cleaning things up after a slow start.
The Rainbow Warriors went into the half trailing New Mexico State 17-3. Their offense was able to find their groove in the second half and the defense made some impressive adjustments shutting the Aggies out in the last two quarters on their way to a 20-17 victory. Hawaii did a nice job of slowing down the Aggie passing attack in what was clearly the most impressive defensive performance the Rainbow Warriors have had this season.
The Aggies had a miserable start against James Madison, falling behind 24-0. Once freshman quarterback McCae Hillstead found his footing in his first start, things started to get interesting. Hillstead led a miraculous comeback with the Aggies tying the game at 38 late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for Utah State, James Madison was able to march down and score a touchdown that ultimately won the game for the Dukes.
San Diego State
I think you could make a strong argument that the Aztecs outplayed the Broncos for the better part of this contest. Jalen Mayden had two costly fumbles: one that took seven points off the board for the Aztecs and one that gifted the Broncos seven points. In a game that was only decided by three points, those plays proved to be the difference. Coming off of three consecutive losses, will the Aztecs be able to bounce back against Air Force?
After an impressive loss to Kansas and a great first half against Texas State which saw the Wolf Pack jump out to a 17-0 lead at the half, it looked like Nevada was on the verge of getting it together. The Bobcats made some great adjustments at the half where they controlled the game on the ground and through the air. Texas State scored 35 consecutive points in the final two quarters to come away with the victory. Nevada’s problems on the defensive side of the ball continue to be a glaring weakness for this team, as they gave up 574 yards.
San Jose State
It looked like the Spartans had the blue print for beating Air Force. They were able to keep the ball in the hands of their offense and make enough stops on defense to jump out to a 20-10 lead. But Air Force made the most of their offensive possessions from that point forward, scoring 35 consecutive points to close out the game. The Spartans allowed the Falcons to control the ball for over 39 minutes of the game and gave up 400 yards on the ground. That is not a recipe for success against one of the most disciplined teams in college football.
Which performances from this weekend stood out to you? How do you feel about your team’s chances this season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.