Aztecs replace Wolf Pack at top of Mountain West rankings

San Diego State linebacker Caden McDonald celebrates after a 33-31 win in triple overtime against Utah on Sept. 18, 2021, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

San Diego State linebacker Caden McDonald celebrates after a 33-31 win in triple overtime against Utah on Sept. 18, 2021, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

There is a new team atop the Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings this week.
The San Diego Aztecs survived a three-overtime thriller Saturday to beat the Utah Utes, 33-31, at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. The Aztecs have beaten a pair of Pac-12 teams (Arizona, Utah) in consecutive weeks to stay unbeaten at 3-0.
“It was exciting,” San Diego State coach Brady Hoke said. “I’m not going to deny that. But I do not know if it is great for you if you are a coach.”
The Aztecs beat the Utes on a two-point conversion pass from Jesse Matthews to quarterback Lucas Johnson. Both the Utes and Azetcs missed field goals in the second overtime. A new rule in college football this season allows teams to attempt only one two-point conversion play on each possession from the 3-yard line starting with the third overtime.
Utah nearly tied the game at 33-33 but its two-point conversion pass from quarterback Cameron Rising to Connor O’Toole was ruled to have hit the ground.
“I still can’t believe it,” San Diego State defensive lineman Cameron Thomas said. “I’m excited to keep this season rolling.”
The Nevada Wolf Pack (2-1) dropped from the top spot to No. 2 after a 38-17 loss at Kansas State. The Wolf Pack rallied to tie the game at 17-17 with 10 points in the third quarter but Kansas State scored three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes.
“We have to get better,” said head coach Jay Norvell, whose Wolf Pack lost for the first time since a 30-20 loss to San Jose State in Las Vegas on Dec. 11, 2020.
No. 3 San Jose State squeaked out a 17-13 victory at Hawaii to improve to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the Mountain West. Both teams struggled to throw the ball in extremely windy conditions in Honolulu. San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel completed just 23-of-50 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns and Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro was just 18-of-39 for 242 yards.
“The wind affected all parts of our game,” San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said. “It was a messy game but to come off a bye week and then travel to Hawaii, I couldn’t be happier for our team.”
Fresno State jumped up two spots to No. 4 with an upset 40-37 victory over UCLA in Los Angeles. The lead changed four times in the fourth quarter as the Bulldogs (3-1) won a 13-yard pass from Jake Haener to Jalen Cropper with 14 seconds to play.
Fresno State jumped to a 23-10 lead in the second quarter, controlled the ball for over 40 minutes in the game and outgained the Bruins 569-395. Haener completed 39-of-53 passes for 455 yards and two scores.
Boise State dropped two spots to No. 5 after a 21-20 loss at home to Oklahoma State. Boise State led 20-7 but Oklahoma State scored twice in the final 2:10 of the second quarter to take a 21-20 halftime lead. Boise State running back George Holani fumbled the ball away with just under two minutes to play in the second quarter, leading to Oklahoma State’s go-ahead touchdown.
Neither team scored in the second half.
“We have to be more consistent,” Boise State first-year head coach Andy Avalos said. “The way we finished the first half wasn’t exactly stellar.”
This is the first season Boise State has lost two of its first three games since 2005, when it lost to Georgia and Oregon State on the road to start the year before winning nine of its last 11 games.
No. 6 Utah State stayed perfect at 3-0 with a 49-45 Mountain West victory over No. 8 Air Force (2-1).
Utah State used big plays in the fourth quarter to beat the Falcons. Deven Thompkins caught a 72-yard pass from quarterback Andrew Peasley and Calvin Tyler scored on a 61-yard run.
Utah State outgained the Falcons 628-619 despite 437 yards and five touchdowns on the ground by Air Force. Utah State quarterbacks Logan Bonner and Peasley combined to complete 31-of-50 passes for 448 yards and five touchdowns.
No. 7 Wyoming whipped Ball State at home 45-12 to stay perfect at 3-0. Wyoming, which has also beaten Montana State (19-16) and Northern Illinois (50-43), also started 3-0 in 2019 before finishing 8-5.
Wyoming quarterback Sean Chambers was 14-of-23 for 201 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys’ defense had six sacks.
No. 9 Colorado State (1-2) got its first victory of the season by beating Toledo 22-6 on the road. The Rams scored the final 16 points of the game on a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown by Thomas Pannunzio and three field goals (29, 47, 23 yards) by Cayden Camper. Camper also had two field goals in a 41-35 loss at Toledo in 2019 as a freshman.
No. 11 New Mexico (2-1) suffered its first loss of the year, 34-0 at Texas A&M. The Lobos had just 122 total yards and punted the ball 11 times. Quarterback Terry Wilson was just 10-of-23 for 33 yards and an interception and was sacked four times.
Iowa State dominated No. 12 UNLV (0-3), 48-3 in Las Vegas. The Rebels are now 0-9 under head coach Marcus Arroyo, who took over the program before last season.
UNLV had just seven first downs and 130 yards against Iowa State. The Rebels also picked up just 36 yards on 31 rushing attempts.
“Our guys are resilient,” Arroyo said. “They keep fighting. They care about each other.”
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings for the week of Sept. 20:
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (3-0, 0-0). Last week: San Diego State 33, Utah 31 (3 OT). This week: Towson at San Diego State at Carson, Calif., Saturday.
2. NEVADA (2-1, 0-0). Last week: Kansas State 38, Nevada 17. This week: Bye.
3. SAN JOSE STATE (2-1, 1-0). Last week: San Jose State 17, Hawaii 13. This week: San Jose State at Western Michigan, Saturday.
4. FRESNO STATE (3-1, 0-0). Last week: Fresno State 40, UCLA 37. This week: UNLV at Fresno State, Friday.
5. BOISE STATE (1-2, 0-0). Last week: Oklahoma State 21, Boise State 20. This week: Boise State at Utah State, Saturday.
6. UTAH STATE (3-0, 1-0). Last week: Utah State 49, Air Force 45. This week: Boise State at Utah State, Saturday.
7. WYOMING (3-0, 0-0). Last week: Wyoming 45, Ball State 12. This week: Wyoming at Connecticut, Saturday.
8. AIR FORCE (2-1, 0-1). Last week: Utah State 49, Air Force 45. This week: Florida Atlantic at Air Force, Saturday.
9. COLORADO STATE (1-2, 0-0). Last week: Colorado State 22, Toledo 6. This week: Colorado State at Iowa, Saturday.
10. HAWAII (1-3, 0-1). Last week: San Jose State 17, Hawaii 13. This week: Hawaii at New Mexico State, Saturday.
11. NEW MEXICO (2-1, 0-0). Last week: Texas A&M 34, New Mexico 0. This week: New Mexico at UTEP, Saturday.
12. UNLV (0-3, 0-0). Last week: Iowa State 48, UNLV 3. This week: UNLV at Fresno State, Friday.

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