Boise State cornerback Kekaula Kaniho celebrates after Utah State missed a field goal during the first half Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP)
The Boise State Broncos looked an awful lot like the old Boise State Broncos on Saturday.
The Broncos, which surrendered double-digit leads in losses to Oklahoma State and Central Florida in two of their first three games this season, dominated the Utah State Aggies 27-3 on Saturday with a vintage Boise State formula.
The Broncos used a stifling defense, a game-breaking trick play and an efficient offense to hand Utah State its first loss of the season. The victory moved Boise State (2-2, 1-0) up two spots to No. 3 in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West Football Rankings. Utah State (3-1, 1-1) fell two spots to No. 8.
“We’ve learned enough lessons and now it’s time to apply those lessons learned,” said Boise State first-year head coach Andy Avalos. “We’ve got a good idea who we are and what our strengths are.”
The Broncos will host No. 2 Nevada, idle last week, in a key Mountain West matchup this Saturday afternoon at Bronco Stadium.
“That was a huge win for us,” said Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier of the win over Utah State. “It was a grinding kind of game. It was a lot tougher than 27-3.”
Bachmeier pulled out an old Boise State trick to help the Broncos beat Utah State, firing a 3-yard touchdown pass to lineman Scott Matlock. The touchdown gave the Broncos a commanding 27-3 lead with five minutes to play.
“I hope he would have caught it because he was wide open,” Bachmeier smiled.
“We started working on that play back in fall camp,” Avalos said. “That was the play with the most anticipation on the sidelines when it came over the headset. It was nice for Hank to put it in the breadbasket for him. He (Matlock) caught it when it counted and that’s all that matters.”
Utah State had more yards (443-435) than the Broncos but was also called for 13 penalties (86 yards). Running back Calvin Tyler (20 carries 126 yards) was the lone Utah State bright spot as Boise State controlled the football for 35 minutes.
No. 1 San Diego State, as expected, rolled over Towson 48-21 in front of just 7,619 fans in Carson, Calif. The Aztecs out-gained Towson, a Division I-AA school, 281-15 on the ground and 450-228 overall.
No. 4 Fresno State received an unexpected scare from No. 12 UNLV on Saturday, escaping with a 38-30 victory at home. UNLV, winless at 0-4, jumped out to leads of 14-0 and 21-9 and still led 30-29 after a 30-yard field goal by Daniel Gutierrez with 6:38 to play. Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener, though, threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns as Fresno State improved to 4-1, 1-0.
“These are some lessons we’re going to learn,” Fresno State coach Kalen DeBoer said. “We’re going to be able to get better from watching this film and it’s better to do that when you are coming off a win.”
San Jose State (2-2, 1-0) dropped two spots to No. 5 with a 23-3 loss to Western Michigan at Kalamazoo, Mich. The Spartans, the defending Mountain West champions, had just 11 first downs and 119 total yards on offense.
San Jose State had the ball for just over 22 minutes and had seven punts, two lost fumbles and tossed an interception on its final 10 full drives. Western Michigan sacked San Jose State quarterbacks eight times.
Wyoming jumped up a notch to No. 6 by beating Connecticut 24-22 to remain unbeaten (4-0) on the year. Three of the Cowboys’ wins, over Montana State, Northern Illinois and Connecticut, have come by a total of 12 points. The other Wyoming win was 45-12 over Ball State. Montana State is a Division I-AA school (Big Sky Conference) while Northern Illinois, Ball State and Connecticut are a combined 3-10 this year.
“We faced a lot of adversity,” said Wyoming coach Craig Bohl after the two-point win over winless (0-5) Connecticut. “We made some things a lot harder than they should have been.”
Wyoming is 4-0 for the first time since the 1996 team won it first nine games.
“I thought we were done with this ‘cardiac’ stuff but we’re not,” Bohl said.
No. 7 Air Force (3-1, 0-1) whipped Florida Atlantic 31-7, rushing for 446 yards and four touchdowns. Air Force held the ball for just under 41 minutes and had 516 yards overall.
“We’ll keep grinding, we’ll keep pounding,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “And what that means is we’ll make improvement.”
No. 9 Colorado State (1-3, 0-0) lost at Iowa, 24-14, in front of 65,456 fans at Iowa City. Colorado State was up 14-7 at halftime in the defensive struggle. Both teams had just 12 first downs and Iowa out-gained Colorado State just 278-250.
No. 10 Hawaii (2-3, 0-1) beat New Mexico State 41-21 in Las Cruces, N.M., while No. 11 New Mexico lost to UTEP 20-13 in El Paso, Texas. New Mexico (2-2, 0-0) was up 13-3 at halftime but couldn’t move the ball in the second half. The Lobos punted on five of their seven second-half drives and also tossed an interception. Only one of their drives in the second half was longer than three plays.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings for the week of Sept. 27:
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (4-0, 0-0). Last week: San Diego State 48, Towson 21. This week: Bye.
2. NEVADA (2-1, 0-0). Last week: Bye. This week: Nevada at Boise State, Saturday.
3. BOISE STATE (2-2, 1-0). Last week: Boise State 27, Utah State 3. This week: Nevada at Boise State, Saturday.
4. FRESNO STATE (4-1, 1-0). Last week: Fresno State 38, UNLV 30. This week: Fresno State at Hawaii, Saturday.
5. SAN JOSE STATE (2-2, 1-0). Last week: Western Michigan 23, San Jose State 3. This week: New Mexico State at San Jose State, Saturday.
6. WYOMING (4-0, 0-0). Last week: Wyoming 24, Connecticut 22. This week: Bye.
7. AIR FORCE (3-1, 0-1). Last week: Air Force 31, Florida Atlantic 7. This week: Air Force at New Mexico, Saturday.
8. UTAH STATE (3-1, 1-1). Last week: Boise State 27, Utah State 3. This week: BYU at Utah State, Saturday.
9. COLORADO STATE (1-3, 0-0). Last week: Iowa 24, Colorado State 14. This week: Bye.
10. HAWAII (2-3, 0-1). Last week: Hawaii 41, New Mexico State 21. This week: Fresno State at Hawaii, Saturday.
11. NEW MEXICO (2-2, 0-0). Last week: UTEP 20, New Mexico 13. This week: Air Force at New Mexico, Saturday.
12. UNLV (0-4, 0-1). Last week: Fresno State 38, UNLV 30. This week: UNLV at UTSA, Saturday.