Rankings: Mountain West struggles against Power 5

Jay Norvell during Colorado State’s game at Michigan on Sept. 3, 2022.

Jay Norvell during Colorado State’s game at Michigan on Sept. 3, 2022.
Brandon Randall/Colorado State athletics

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF
Jay Norvell knew his Colorado State Rams were going to be in for a tough afternoon last Saturday.
“It’s a little bit of too much, too soon for us to be able to face a team of this quality this early,” said Norvell after his Rams were whipped 51-7 by Michigan in front of a crowd of 109,575 at Ann Arbor, Mich.
Norvell, whose Rams are ranked No. 7 in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings, was making his Colorado State debut after leaving the Nevada Wolf Pack last December.
“I’m not discouraged about our guys at all,” Norvell said.
Michigan, which outgained Colorado State 440-219, led 44-0 in the fourth quarter. The lone Rams touchdown was by a pair of former Norvell players at Nevada as quarterback Clay Millen connected with wide receiver Tory Horton for a 34-yard touchdown pass with nine minutes to play.
“Your first one is always fun,” said Millen, who was making his first career start. “So that was good to go out there and throw my first one here, which is a cool experience.”
Millen was efficient, completing 16-of-20 passes for 137 yards. Horton caught six passes for 69 yards. Former Wolf Pack running back Avery Morrow ran seven times for 21 yards and ex-Nevada wide receiver Melquan Stovall caught three passes for 33 yards.
“The speed of the game wasn’t extremely a lot faster,” said Millen, who completed 1-of-2 passes for the Wolf Pack last season. “It wasn’t like the game in my head was going really fast. They (Michigan) were just a really good football team that executed well.”
The Rams weren’t the only Mountain West team that struggled against a Power Five opponent last weekend. No. 3 Utah State was beaten 55-0 at Alabama, No. 4 San Diego State lost to Arizona, 38-20, and No. 5 Boise State lost 34-17 to Oregon State.
“It’s brutal,” Boise State tight end Riley Smith said of the loss at Oregon State. “It’s not the outcome we wanted. But a lot of it is on us. We were holding ourselves back (with mistakes).”
Boise State also now finds itself in the middle of a quarterback controversy. Starter Hank Bachmeier turned the ball over three times in the first quarter and was taken out of the game after completing 4-of-8 passes for 30 yards. Redshirt freshman Taylen Green played the rest of the game at quarterback and was 19-of-28 for 155 yards and rushed for two touchdowns.
“Given the situation with how many turnovers we had and our lack of offensive production, we had to make an adjustment,” Boise State head coach Andy Avalos said. “Hank threw into double coverage. He was holding the ball too long in the pocket.
“Hank has to respond. Hank has to be better and that’s what we’re here for to help him do. Taylen has to be better, too.”
Green ran for 102 yards on 11 carries, scoring on a 74-yard run. He became the first Boise State quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game since Grant Hedrick in 2014.
“One of the biggest things is his ability to extend plays with his legs,” Avalos said.
No. 1 Fresno State dominated Cal Poly 35-7 to open the season. Quarterback Jake Haener was 36-of-42 for 377 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Jordan Mims scored three touchdowns, two on the ground.
“I thought we played pretty well at times,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said, “but we had too many penalties.”
The Bulldogs were called for just six penalties.
“We were up 21-0 and then the floodgates opened with penalties,” Tedford said. “We have to learn how to keep the grind on.”
No. 2 Air Force whipped Northern Iowa, 48-17. The Falcons ran the ball 62 times (16 players had at least one carry) for 582 yards and five touchdowns. Brad Roberts and Dane Kinamon each had 71-yard touchdown runs. Kinamon also caught an 80-yard touchdown pass from Haaziq Daniels.
“They were faster than us,” Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley said. “You can’t screw up when you play them.”
Roberts, who led the Mountain West in rushing last year with 1,356 yards, had 114 yards on eight carries after undergoing off-season knee surgery.
“Whenever a guy has major surgery, you wonder how they are going to play in their first game,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “Maybe he can build some confidence knowing, ‘OK, I can lean on this wheel again.’”
No. 6 Nevada won its home opener 38-14 over Texas State to become the first team in the Mountain West to win two games this season. The Wolf Pack defense intercepted two passes and recovered two Texas State fumbles and now leads the nation with nine turnovers forced this season and a NCAA-best plus-9 turnover margin.
No. 8 Wyoming outlasted Tulsa, 40-37, in overtime. Wyoming trailed 34-24 in the fourth quarter and forced overtime with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Peasley to Joshua Cobbs with 6:19 to go in the fourth quarter.
No. 9 San Jose State beat Portland State 21-17 at home as quarterback Chevan Cordeiro ran for two touchdowns and passed for one. Former Nevada wide receiver Elijah Cooks had six catches for 123 yards.
“I remember when I was at Nevada we hated playing against (Cordeiro),” said Cooks of the former Hawaii quarterback, “because he was a dynamic guy. He could throw the ball deep and run it.”
No. 11 New Mexico beat Maine 41-0 in its season opener. Maine had just seven first downs and 118 total yards after making the long trip.
“We’re a different football team this year,” New Mexico coach Danny Gonzales said. “I’m not saying we’re a good football team yet. Don’t mix my words. We still have a long ways to go.
“But (against Maine) we were more aggressive and we were more physical. We were just the better football team.”
No. 12 Hawaii fell to 0-2 on the season with a 49-17 loss to Western Kentucky at home. Hawaii is in its first season under head coach Timmy Chang, a Nevada assistant the past five seasons under Norvell.
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for the week of Sept. 5-11:
1. FRESNO STATE (1-0, 0-0). Last week: Fresno State 35, Cal Poly 7. This week: Oregon State at Fresno State, Saturday.
2. AIR FORCE (1-0, 0-0). Last week: Air Force 48, Northern Iowa 17. This week: Colorado at Air Force, Saturday.
3. UTAH STATE (1-1, 0-0). Last week: Alabama 55, Utah State 0. This week: Weber State at Utah State, Saturday.
4. SAN DIEGO STATE (0-1, 0-0). Last week: Arizona 38, San Diego State 20. This week: Idaho State at San Diego State, Saturday.
5. BOISE STATE (0-1, 0-0). Last week: Oregon State 34, Boise State 17. This week: Boise State at New Mexico, Friday.
6. NEVADA (2-0, 0-0). Last week: Nevada 38, Texas State 14. This week: Incarnate Word at Nevada, Saturday.
7. COLORADO STATE (0-1, 0-0). Last week: Michigan 51, Colorado State 7. This week: Middle Tennessee at Colorado State, Saturday.
8. WYOMING (1-1, 0-0). Last week: Wyoming 40, Tulsa 37 (OT). This week: Northern Colorado at Wyoming, Saturday.
9. SAN JOSE STATE (1-0, 0-0). Last week: San Jose State 21, Portland State 17. This week: San Jose State at Auburn, Saturday.
10. UNLV (1-0, 0-0). Last week: Idle. This week: UNLV at California, Saturday.
11. NEW MEXICO (1-0, 0-0). Last week: New Mexico 41, Maine 0. This week: Boise State at New Mexico, Friday.
12. HAWAII (0-2, 0-0). Last week: Western Kentucky 49, Hawaii 17. This week: Hawaii at Michigan, Saturday.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment