Look who is the No. 1 team in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings.
The UNLV Rebels, that’s who.
UNLV, now 8-2 for the first time since a 9-1 start and 11-2 finish in 1984, overpowered Wyoming on Friday, 34-14, at Allegiant Stadium.
The Rebels now own a share of first place in the Mountain West with No. 3 Air Force (both teams are 5-1 in league play with two to play).
The Rebels will be at Air Force this Saturday with the winner in the driver’s seat to host the Mountain West title game on Dec. 2.
“The one-day mentality, the one-rep mentality for us seems to work,” first-year UNLV coach Barry Odom said when asked about possibly hosting the conference title game. “The next challenge is to get our team ready to go play away from home against a real good opponent in Air Force.”
The Rebels, winners of seven of their last eight games, jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and outscored No. 6 Wyoming (6-4, 3-3) 13-0 in the second half.
“That was big,” Odom said. “Our team battled and responded. They have resolve and toughness in their mental approach and those things are starting to show up.”
UNLV redshirt freshman Jayden Maiva, who took over for injured starting quarterback Doug Brumfield in Week 3, was 17-of-24 for 232 yards and a touchdown. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes over his last six games with just two interceptions.
Wyoming is now 6-0 at home and 0-4 on the road this season. The Cowboys will host Hawaii this Saturday and close the regular season at Nevada on Nov. 25.
“We’re an excellent home team,” Cowboys coach Craig Bohl said. “But we’re not a great road team. It’s frustrating right now. I don’t feel particularly good.”
Wyoming has now lost three of its last four games after a 5-1 start.
“I told our guys that we were going to be in a doggone dogfight of a game against (UNLV),” Bohl said, “and that we better be ready to play or else you’re going to get thrown out of the saloon.”
The Rebels tossed the Cowboys out of the saloon and into the street by taking a 21-0 lead 11 minutes into the game on two rushing touchdowns by Maiava (10 and 1 yards) and a 7-yard scoring run by Jai’Den Thomas.
“Our ability to be focused right from the start was not there,” Bohl said. “We had to start fast to take the crowd (25,568) out of it, which we did not do.”
No. 2 Fresno State and No. 3 Air Force suffered stunning losses on Saturday. No. 6 San Jose State rolled over Fresno State, 42-14, and No. 9 Hawaii pulled off arguably the biggest upset in the Mountain West this year, beating Air Force, 27-13.
Hawaii’s Meki Pei returned an Air Force fumble 32 yards for a touchdown and a 27-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. Hawaii’s Peter Manuma, Cameron Stone and Noah Kema all had interceptions.
Hawaii quarterback Brayden Schager was 22-of-29 for 176 yards and two touchdown passes to Pofele Ashlock (5 and 19 yards).
Hawaii (4-7, 2-4) also beat Nevada 27-14 in Reno two weeks ago and has now won two games in a row for the first time since beating Wyoming and Colorado State in the final two games of 2021.
Air Force was missing quarterback Zac Larrier for the second consecutive week (losses to Navy and Hawaii). Running back Emmanuel Michel also missed the Hawaii game.
San Jose State dominated Fresno State, last week’s No. 1 team in the Nevada Appeal rankings, from start to finish.
The Spartans (5-5, 4-2) took a 28-10 halftime lead and a 35-10 lead early in the third quarter on a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown by Michael Dansby.
Dansby, a 5-foot-11 sophomore defensive back from Oakland, hadn’t even played in San Jose State’s three previous games because of injury.
Dansby’s return is tied for the second-longest in the FBS this season. It is also the longest interception return by a Spartan since Gerald Jones went 99 yards on the final play of the first half in a 42-30 loss to Nevada at San Jose State in 2003.
This was really special, for our fans, our alums, our students,” San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said.
The Spartans have won their last four games after a 1-5 start, scoring 35 or more points in each of the last four games.
“We started 1-5 and it looked really bad,” Brennan said. “But our fans kept coming, they kept showing up to our games (18,886 on Saturday). That’s something that has changed here. Our community supports us. This was such a magical night for us.”
No. 4 Boise State (5-5, 4-2) pounded No. 12 New Mexico (3-7, 1-5), 42-14. Boise State quarterbacks Maddux Madsen and Taylen Green were a combined 11-of-17 for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
Boise State was missing its top two wide receivers. Eric McAlister quit the team last week and Stefan Cobb is out with an injury, but freshman Prince Strachan stepped up with three catches for 128 yards and a touchdown against New Mexico.
Boise State was also missing leading rusher Ashton Jeanty with an injury. George Holani, though, picked up 95 yards and two scores on the ground and Jambres Dubar, a freshman from Anna, Texas, had 91 yards on 15 carries.
Despite the win, Broncos head coach Andy Avalos was fired a day later. He was 22-14 in two-plus seasons.
No. 8 Colorado State (4-6, 2-4) held on to beat No. 10 San Diego State (3-7, 1-5), 22-19, in Fort Collins, Colo.
Linebacker Mohammad Kamara had a safety for Colorado State late in the first quarter for a 2-0 lead. Jordan Noyes also kicked field goals of 34 and 30 yards and Dallin Holker scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run as the Rams took a 15-0 lead at halftime.
San Diego State scored the final 16 points of the game after falling behind 22-3 in the third quarter.
Colorado State rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns, led by Justin Marshall’s 119 yards on 18 carries.
“That is a team that is hard to beat,” Colorado State coach Jay Norvell said of San Diego State. “I really don’t care what their record is. This is a good measuring stick for our program. It was a game we needed to win.”
Marshall, a 5-11, 175-pound freshman from Merrillville, Ind., was playing in his first game.
“We needed a shot in the arm,” said Norvell, whose Rams will host the Nevada Wolf Pack this Saturday. “We needed a little juice in our run game. He gives us a little something we didn’t have.”
No. 11 Nevada (2-8, 2-4) lost to No. 7 Utah State (5-5, 3-3), 41-24, on the road. Redshirt freshman A.J. Bianco made his first start for Nevada at quarterback and was 13-of-25 for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 74 yards on 13 carries.
Utah State’s Rahsul Faison had 181 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown as the Aggies rushed for 292 yards.
“To take the next step toward (six victories and a bowl game invite) is huge,” Utah State coach Blake Anderson said. “Getting six is hard but we’ve put ourselves in a good position.”
The Aggies will play Boise State this Saturday at home and New Mexico on the road the following week to close out the regular season.
Utah State took a 17-7 lead on a 63-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive tackle Seni Tuiaki in the second quarter.
“Anytime you get a big-man touchdown is huge,” Anderson said. “I’m not going to say a ‘fat-man touchdown’ like I did in the locker room, but anytime you get a non-offensive touchdown is huge. It put some air between us and them and gave us a chance to win.”
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for the week of Nov. 13:
1. UNLV (8-2, 5-1). Last week: UNLV 34, Wyoming 14. This week: UNLV at Air Force, Saturday.
2. FRESNO STATE (8-2, 4-2). Last week: San Jose State 42, Fresno State 18. This week: New Mexico at Fresno State, Saturday.
3. AIR FORCE (8-2, 5-1). Last week: Hawaii 27, Air Force 13. This week: UNLV at Air Force, Saturday.
4. BOISE STATE (5-5, 4-2). Last week: Boise State 42, New Mexico 14. This week: Boise State at Utah State, Saturday.
5. SAN JOSE STATE (5-5, 4-2). Last week: San Jose State 42, Fresno State 18. This week: San Diego State at San Jose State, Saturday.
6. WYOMING (6-4, 3-3). Last week: UNLV 34, Wyoming 14. This week: Hawaii at Wyoming, Saturday.
7. UTAH STATE (5-5, 3-3). Last week: Utah State 41, Nevada 24. This week: Boise State at Utah State, Saturday.
8. COLORADO STATE (4-6, 2-4). Last week: Colorado State 22, San Diego State 19. This week: Nevada at Colorado State, Saturday.
9. HAWAII (4-7, 2-4). Last week: Hawaii 27, Air Force 13. This week: Hawaii at Wyoming, Saturday.
10. SAN DIEGO STATE (3-7, 1-5). Last week: Colorado State 22, San Diego State 19. This week: San Diego State at San Jose State, Saturday.
11. NEVADA (2-8, 2-4): Last week: Utah State 41, Nevada 24. This week: Nevada at Colorado State, Saturday.
12. NEW MEXICO (3-7, 1-5). Last week: Boise State 42, New Mexico 14. This week: New Mexico at Fresno State, Saturday.