The Boise State Broncos are back atop the Mountain West.
“They are the most dominant team in this league,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said after his Falcons lost to the Broncos, 19-14, on Saturday at home.
The Broncos have won three games in a row and sit on top of the Nevada Appeal Mountain West rankings with a record of 5-3, 4-0. Boise State, the only team in the conference at 4-0 in league play, has beaten No. 5 San Diego State, 35-13, No. 6 Fresno State, 40-20, and now No. 3 Air Force during its three-game winning streak.
“Every game in this conference is a battle and every week demands your best,” said Boise State coach Andy Avalos, whose Broncos lost at UTEP, 27-10, on Sept. 23 before turning their season around. “We have a team that really cares for each other.”
Boise State kicker Jonah Dalmas kicked four field goals (42, 29, 51 and 39 yards) to beat Air Force. The Broncos’ defense held Air Force’s triple option run-based offense to just 175 yards on the ground over 50 carries (3.5 a carry). It is Air Force’s lowest yards per carry this year, while its 175 yards is its second-lowest behind the 171 it had in a 17-14 loss to Wyoming.
Air Force (5-3, 2-3) has only beaten Nevada (48-20) and UNLV (42-7) this year in Mountain West play with its three league losses against Wyoming, Utah State and Boise State coming by a combined 15 points.
“They are outstanding on defense,” Calhoun said of Boise State. “They are big, thick and they’re good. Credit to them.”
The Broncos held Air Force running back Brad Roberts to 90 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior currently leads the Mountain West in rushing at 118 yards a game (943 overall) and 13 touchdowns.
“This (Air Force) is not an easy place to play,” Avalos said. “Our whole team came in and backed each other up. That’s what it takes.”
No. 2 Wyoming (5-3, 3-1) beat No. 9 Utah State, 28-14, at home to capture the Bridger Rifle trophy that is handed out to the winner each year in this rivalry. Wyoming’s Titus Swen had 160 yards rushing and three touchdowns and was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week. D.Q. James ran for 120 yards on 10 carries for the Cowboys. James had just 23 yards on 10 carries this season going into the game.
“My boy D.Q., you all saw what he can do,” Swen said. “He’s just scratching the surface.”
“Titus has the power and the speed and I have the speed and the power,” the 5-6 James said. “You never know as a defense what is going to happen.”
Wyoming quarterback, Andrew Peasley, who transferred from Utah State this past off-season, was 13-of-26 for 199 yards in his first game against his former teammates.
“Obviously, I had to control my emotions,” Peasley said. “But at the end there was a line of dudes waiting to give me a hug and say, ‘Congrats,’ and say they were proud of me. That’s when the emotions came.”
Peasley was 70-of-130 for 830 yards and seven touchdowns over four seasons at Utah State. This year, he is 105-of-197 for 1,204 yards and a Mountain West-best nine touchdowns for Wyoming in his first consistent starting opportunity.
“He’s really meshed with our football team,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said.
No. 5 San Diego State (4-3, 2-1) beat No. 11 Nevada, 23-7, in Reno. The Aztecs’ defense scored a touchdown on a 30-yard return of a Nevada fumble just two plays into the game. Quarterback Jaylen Mayden, who was converted from safety two weeks ago, scored on a 32-yard run to cap the scoring in the third quarter. The lone bright spot on offense for Nevada was the team’s first touchdown pass since Week 3, a 20-yard throw from Shane Illingworth to Spencer Curtis in the second quarter.
Nevada, 2-6 overall and 0-4 in the Mountain West, has lost six games in a row. It is the nation’s second-longest losing streak among FBS schools (Akron has lost seven in a row). Nevada is among six FBS schools in the nation at 0-4 in conference play.
No. 6 Fresno State (3-4, 2-1) rolled over No. 12 New Mexico, 41-9. Bulldogs quarterback Logan Fife was 19-of-29 for 225 yards and a touchdown and also ran for two touchdowns. Running back Jordan Mims picked up 165 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Fresno State led 13-6 at halftime but outgained the Lobos (2-6, 1-2), 510-138, for the game. New Mexico, which has lost five games in a row, had just eight first downs.
“Three years ago, when I took this job, the challenge of fixing the program was mighty,” New Mexico coach Danny Gonzales said. “That’s not changed. But the sky is not falling. We’re not going backward. But you have to be realistic. We’re still building this.”
Fresno State, which had lost four games in a row to fall to 1-4, has climbed back into the West Division race by winning its last two games against San Jose State (17-10) and New Mexico.
No. 7 UNLV (4-4, 2-2) lost for the third game in a row, 44-21, at Notre Dame. The Rebels were 0-for-12 on third down and trailed 30-7 at halftime in front of a crowd of 73,165 at South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame blocked two UNLV punts in the first quarter.
“Blocked punts, turnovers, lack of execution,” UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo said. “It’s going to be hard to overcome those things against good teams on the road.”
UNLV has lost three games in a row against San Jose State, Air Force and Notre Dame by a combined score of 126-35. This is the eighth year in a row that UNLV has lost at least three games in a row at some point.
“We’re in the middle of a heavyweight fight,” Arroyo said. “You are going to take some blows. But you have to get up and fight back.”
UNLV, which has played the bulk of the last three games without starting quarterback Doug Brumfield (concussion), did run the ball for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries against Notre Dame. Courtney Reese had a career-high 142 yards on just 11 carries.
Reese, in his fourth season at UNLV, now has 357 yards on 47 carries this year. His first three years he had 34 carries for 147 yards combined.
No. 8 Colorado State (2-5, 2-1) got past Hawaii (2-6, 1-2), 17-13, at home to remain in the race for the Mountain Division title. Quarterback Clay Millen returned from injury to complete 17-of-24 passes for 177 yards while Avery Morrow ran for 147 yards and two scores. Morrow’s 10-yard touchdown with 1:28 was the game-winner, capping an 80-yard drive in the final eight minutes.
“Coach (Jay) Norvell always talks about emptying your tank,” Morrow said. “He gave me the ball and I left it all out there.”
Morrow had 210 yards on 25 carries for Norvell at Nevada in 2020 and 2021 combined and has blossomed this year at Colorado State for 500 yards on 99 carries.
“I don’t think there was any doubt in anyone’s mind that they (the offense) were going to score on that last drive,” Colorado State linebacker Dequan Jackson said.
“We really challenged the team at halftime (Hawaii led 13-3) that we needed to come out with some spark in the third quarter,” Norvell said.
Hawaii, coming off a 31-16 win at home against Nevada the week before, had just 38 total yards on offense in the second half.
There are only four games in the Mountain West this week as Utah State, Air Force, New Mexico and UNLV are idle.
Colorado State will head to Boise State on Saturday, hoping to break Boise State’s three-game winning streak. Colorado State coach Jay Norvell won at Boise State last year (41-31) as coach of Nevada.
Wyoming goes to Hawaii while San Diego State heads to Fresno State in a crucial West Division matchup. Nevada hopes to keep its bowl game hopes alive with a game at San Jose State.
The Wolf Pack needs to sweep its final four games this year (against San Jose State, Fresno State, Boise State and UNLV) to become bowl-eligible.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings for the week of Oct. 24:
1. BOISE STATE (5-2, 4-0). Last week: Boise State 19, Air Force 14. This week: Colorado State at Boise State, Saturday.
2. WYOMING (5-3, 3-1). Last week: Wyoming 28, Utah State 14. This week: Wyoming at Hawaii, Saturday.
3. AIR FORCE (5-3, 2-3). Last week: Boise State 19, Air Force 14. This week: Idle.
4. SAN JOSE STATE (4-2, 2-1). Last week: Game at New Mexico State postponed. This week: Nevada at San Jose State, Saturday.
5. SAN DIEGO STATE (4-3, 2-1). Last week: San Diego State 23, Nevada 7. This week: San Diego State at Fresno State, Saturday.
6. FRESNO STATE (3-4, 2-1). Last week: Fresno State 41, New Mexico 9. This week: San Diego State at Fresno State, Saturday.
7. UNLV (4-4, 2-2). Last week: Notre Dame 44, UNLV 21. This week: Idle.
8. COLORADO STATE (2-5, 2-1). Last week: Colorado State 17, Hawaii 13. This week: Colorado State at Boise State, Saturday.
9. UTAH STATE (3-5, 2-2). Last week: Wyoming 28, Utah State 14. This week: Idle.
10. HAWAII (2-6, 1-2). Last week: Colorado State 17, Hawaii 13. This week: Wyoming at Hawaii, Saturday.
11. NEVADA (2-6, 0-4). Last week: San Diego State 23, Nevada 7. This week: Nevada at San Jose State, Saturday.
12. NEW MEXICO (2-6, 0-4). Last week: Fresno State 41, New Mexico 9. This week: Idle.