Fresno State players hoist the Old Oil Can trophy while celebrating the team's 30-20 win against San Diego State on Oct. 30, 2021, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
There is a new No. 1 team in the Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings.
The Fresno State Bulldogs took over the top spot by beating the San Diego State Aztecs, 30-20, in Carson, Calif. The previously unbeaten Aztecs (7-1, 3-1) fell to No. 2 and are now tied with Fresno State and the Nevada Wolf Pack in the West Division with one Mountain West loss.
“We brought a lot of physicality from the start which set the tone,” said Fresno State head coach Kalen DeBoer, whose Bulldogs were coming off a 34-32 win over Nevada. “We knew this was going to be a grind.”
Fresno State (7-2, 4-1) led 20-0 in the second quarter in front of a crowd of 11,034 at Dignity Health Sports Park, the Aztecs makeshift home until their new stadium is completed for the start of next season.
“We were able to take away their strength of running the football,” DeBoer said.
The Aztecs still had 165 yards rushing on 33 carries, an average of 5 yards per attempt. San Diego State also had nine first downs rushing, the most they’ve had in four Mountain West games this year.
Fresno State, though, did force the Aztecs into throwing 38 passes, the most they’ve had in a game this season.
“We knew they were going to try to pound the ball,” Fresno State defensive lineman Kevin Atkins said. “Our game plan was to stop the run and make them rely on the pass game. We took them out of their comfort zone.”
San Diego State quarterback Lucas Johnson was just 14-of-32 for 220 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions (backup Will Haskell was 3-of-6). Atkins also forced and recovered a key fumble on a Johnson run in the third quarter.
“It hurts to lose,” Aztecs coach Brady Hoke said. “You hate it. But I told the players if it doesn’t hurt they should leave the program.”
Fresno State played the game without starting running back Ronnie Rivers, who injured his leg the previous week against Nevada. Jordan Mims, though, stepped in for the Bulldogs and had 186 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 29 carries. Mims also had 134 yards against Nevada.
“In the first half we didn’t play hard enough,” San Diego State defensive lineman Keshawn Banks said.
No. 3 Nevada rolled over No. 12 UNLV, 51-20, at Mackay Stadium as Carson Strong passed for 417 yards and four touchdowns. The Wolf Pack defense also returned two interceptions for touchdowns and held the Rebels to 293 total yards.
UNLV (0-8, 0-4) has now lost 14 games in a row. Nevada (6-2, 3-1) has now won eight games in a row at home. The Wolf Pack’s last loss at home was to UNLV in the final game of the 2019 season, the last time UNLV has won a game anywhere.
“It’s obviously disappointing to come in here and play the way that we played,” said UNLV head coach Marcus Arroyo, who is still looking for his first victory since taking over the program after the 2019 season.
The No. 5 Boise State Broncos got past the No. 9 Colorado State Rams, 28-19, in Fort Collins, Colo. Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier passed for 253 yards and three touchdowns, completing nine for 118 yards to Khalil Shakir.
The Rams had to settle for four short field goals (all under 30 yards) from Cayden Camper.
“We kicked field goals instead of getting touchdowns and that showed up,” Colorado State coach Steve Addazio said.
Colorado State (3-5, 2-2) did jump out to a 13-0 lead and still led 16-7 at halftime.
“Our third quarter just wasn’t good enough on either side of the ball,” Addazio said. “That’s most disappointing to me.”
Boise State (4-4, 2-2) will be looking to get over .500 for the first time this season when it plays at No. 1 Fresno State this Saturday.
“Overall, that (the Colorado State game) was our best performance,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “We grew as a team.”
No. 6 Utah State (6-2, 4-1) crushed No. 8 Hawaii 51-31, piling up 30 first downs and 564 yards. Utah State quarterback Logan Bonner passed for 361 yards and four touchdowns, completing seven for 176 yards to Deven Thompkins. Hawaii (4-5, 1-3) returned injured starting quarterback Cheven Cordeiro to the starting lineup for the first time since Sept. 25. Cordeiro was 23-of-39 for 296 yards and three touchdowns. The vast majority of his completions went to Calvin Turner (eight) and Dedrick Parson (seven).
No. 7 San Jose State (5-4, 3-2), hoping to become bowl eligible with a victory at Nevada on Saturday, beat No. 11 Wyoming, 27-21. Backup quarterback Nick Nash, playing once again for the injured Nick Starkel, passed for 150 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown. Wyoming (4-4, 0-4) got 172 yards rushing from Xazavian Valladay but still lost for the fourth game in a row. The Cowboys and UNLV are the only two teams in the Mountain West without a league victory.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings for the week of Oct. 25:
1. FRESNO STATE (7-2, 4-1). Last week: Fresno State 30, San Diego State 20. This week: Boise State at Fresno State, Saturday.
2. SAN DIEGO STATE (7-1, 3-1). Last week: Fresno State 30, San Diego State 20. This week: San Diego State at Hawaii, Saturday.
3. NEVADA (6-2, 3-1). Last week: Nevada 51, UNLV 20. This week: San Jose State at Nevada, Saturday.
4. AIR FORCE (6-2, 3-2). Last week: Bye. This week: Army vs. Air Force at Arlington, Texas, Saturday.
5. BOISE STATE (4-4, 2-2). Last week: Boise State 28, Colorado State 19. This week: Boise State at Fresno State, Saturday.
6. UTAH STATE (6-2, 4-1). Last week: Utah State 51, Hawaii 31. This week: Utah State at New Mexico State, Saturday.
7. SAN JOSE STATE (5-4, 3-2). Last week: San Jose State 27, Wyoming 21. This week: San Jose State at Nevada, Saturday.
8. HAWAII (4-5, 1-3). Last week: Utah State 51, Hawaii 31. This week: San Diego State at Hawaii.
9. COLORADO STATE (3-5, 2-2). Last week: Boise State 28, Colorado State 19. This week: Colorado State at Wyoming, Saturday.
10. NEW MEXICO (3-5, 1-3). Last week: Bye. This week: UNLV at New Mexico, Saturday.
11. WYOMING (4-4, 0-4). Last week: San Jose State 27, Wyoming 21. This week: Colorado State at Wyoming.
12. UNLV (0-8, 0-4). Last week: Nevada 51, UNLV 20. This week: UNLV at New Mexico, Saturday.