Nevada’s Jake Barlage stops Idaho State’s Jovan Sowell on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 at Mackay Stadium in Reno. (Photo: Thomas Ranson/NNG)
The Nevada Wolf Pack thus far is simply taking care of business.
The No. 1 team in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings whipped the Idaho State Bengals, 49-10, Saturday night at Mackay Stadium to improve to 2-0.
“We could have played way better,” Nevada quarterback Carson Strong said after throwing for 381 yards and four touchdowns. “That’s the great part about this team. We’re not playing our best football but we’re still winning games.”
The Wolf Pack, which plays at Kansas State this Saturday, led Idaho State of the Big Sky Conference just 21-10 in the third quarter before breaking the game open with four touchdowns in the final 17 minutes.
Jay Norvell, who has now won 24 of his last 37 games to improve to 27-22 as Nevada’s head coach, wasn’t completely happy with his team’s performance. The 39-point victory, though, equals the Wolf Pack’s third largest since Norvell became head coach in 2017 (with a 49-10 win over Colorado State in 2018). The top two one-sided wins under Norvell so far are 72-19 over Portland State in 2018 and 59-14 over San Jose State in 2017.
“We have a long ways to go, to be honest,” Norvell said after beating Idaho State, a team the Pack lost to 30-28 in 2017.
The Wolf Pack’s victory was one of three by the Mountain West over a Football Championship (Division I-AA) school this past weekend. No. 6 Fresno State whipped Cal Poly 63-10 and No. 5 Utah State trampled North Dakota 48-24. Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener threw for four touchdowns as did Utah State’s Logan Bonner. Both Fresno State (671) and Utah State (621) had over 600 yards (Nevada had 586 against Idaho State).
San Diego State jumped up to No. 2 with an impressive 38-14 victory over Arizona in Tucson. San Diego State’s Kaegun Williams blocked an Arizona punt and Tyrell Shavers returned it 27 yards for a touchdown for a 21-0 Aztecs lead late in the first quarter.
“They certainly out-played us, out-coached us and out-schemed us,” said first-year Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch, the quarterbacks coach for the New England Patriots last season. “They are big, strong and fast and it showed.”
San Diego State quarterback Jordon Brookshire was 10-of-15 for 183 yards and two touchdowns to complement an Aztecs’ running game that produced 271 yards.
“It was really important, trying to get as many hands on the ball as possible and show the diversity of our offense,” Brookshire said.
No. 3 Boise State crushed UTEP 54-13 as quarterback Hank Bachmeier passed for 340 yards and two touchdowns. Boise State wide receiver Stefan Cobbs had a pair of touchdowns on an 81-yard punt return and a 61-yard catch. Running back George Holani, who has battled a knee injury the past two seasons, had five carries for 22 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown.
“The offense was explosive,” Boise State first-year head coach Andy Avalos said. “Hank (Bachmeier) is doing a much better job of taking what the defense is giving him and spreading the ball around.”
No. 7 Air Force buried Navy 23-3, for its first victory in Annapolis since 2011. It was just the third victory for Air Force in Annapolis over Navy since 1997. The Falcons also beat Navy on the road in 2001 and 1999 but both games were played in Landover, Md.
“This win feels like a long time coming,” Air Force linebacker Demonte Meeks said.
“Our guys fought like crazy,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “The game was tough, it was difficult and it was rugged. It was exactly what you’d expect.”
No. 8 Wyoming needed late-game heroics by quarterback Sean Chambers once again to pull out its second consecutive victory, beating Northern Illinois 50-43.
Wyoming led 42-16 late in the third quarter but found itself down 43-42 with just under five minutes to play as Northern Illinois scored 27 consecutive points.
Chambers pulled the game out with 1:35 to play on a 9-yard touchdown run. A week earlier the Wyoming quarterback tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass with 47 seconds to play to beat Montana State 19-16.
No. 9 Hawaii fell to Oregon State, 45-27, in Corvallis, Ore., despite getting 366 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Chevan Cordeiro. Hawaii had beaten Oregon State, 31-28, in 2019 at Hawaii. Oregon State, though, has now won five of its last six games against Hawaii dating back to 1999.
No. 10 New Mexico stayed unbeaten (2-0) with a 34-25 victory over rival New Mexico State. The Lobos are now 2-0 for the first time since a 3-0 start in 2005. New Mexico, which got 381 yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Terry Wilson against New Mexico State, has now won four games in a row dating back to last season.
No. 11 Colorado State stayed winless (0-2) with a 24-21 loss at home to Vanderbilt. Colorado State led 14-7 at halftime and outgained its SEC opponent 445-342 overall.
No. 12 UNLV fell 37-10 to Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., and is now 0-8 under head coach Marcus Arroyo over the last two seasons.
The Rebels, though, did have early leads of 3-0 and 10-7 but the Sun Devils scored the final 30 points. Arizona State out gained UNLV 465-155, rushing for 290 yards.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings for the week of Sept. 13:
1. NEVADA (2-0). Last week: Nevada 49, Idaho State 10. This week: Nevada at Kansas State, Saturday.
2. SAN DIEGO STATE (2-0). Last week: San Diego State 38, Arizona 14. This week: Utah at San Diego State, Saturday.
3. BOISE STATE (1-1). Last week: Boise State 54, UTEP 25. This week: Oklahoma State at Boise State, Saturday.
4. SAN JOSE STATE (1-1). Last week: Idle. This week: San Jose State at Hawaii, Saturday.
5. UTAH STATE (2-0). Last week: Utah State 48, North Dakota 24. This week: Utah State at Air Force, Saturday.
6. FRESNO STATE (2-1). Last week: Fresno State 63, Cal Poly 10. This week: Fresno State at UCLA, Saturday.
7. AIR FORCE (2-0). Last week: Air Force 23, Navy 3. This week: Utah State at Air Force, Saturday.
8. WYOMING (2-0). Last week: Wyoming 50, Northern Illinois 43. This week: Ball State at Wyoming, Saturday.
9. HAWAII (1-2). Last week: Oregon State 45, Hawaii 27. This week: San Jose State at Hawaii, Saturday.
10. NEW MEXICO (2-0). Last week: New Mexico 34, New Mexico State 25. This week: New Mexico at Texas A&M, Saturday.
11. COLORADO STATE (0-2). Last week: Vanderbilt 24, Colorado State 21. This week: Colorado State at Toledo, Saturday.
12. UNLV (0-2). Last week: Arizona State 37, UNLV 10. This week: Iowa State at UNLV, Saturday.