A new No. 1 in Mountain West rankings
Special to the Nevada Appeal
There’s a new No. 1 team in the Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings.
The San Diego State Aztecs upset the nationally ranked Arizona State Sun Devils, 28-21, last Saturday night in San Diego and now sit atop the rankings. Boise State fell one spot to No. 2 after a 44-21 loss at Oklahoma State while Fresno State remained at No. 3 after going to the Rose Bowl and beating UCLA, 38-14.
The Mountain West won three games against the Pac-12 last weekend for one of the best non-conference performances in recent Mountain West football history. In addition to San Diego State’s win over Arizona State and Fresno State’s win over UCLA, the Nevada Wolf Pack moved up a notch in the rankings to No. 6 after beating Oregon State, 37-35.
Arizona State was ranked 23rd in the Associated Press rankings and 25th in the Coach’s Poll heading into its game at San Diego State. The Aztecs, using junior backup quarterback Ryan Agnew because of an injury to senior starter Christian Chapman, simply ran the ball right at the Sun Devils. San Diego State rushed for 311 yards on 58 carries, led by Juwan Washington’s 138 yards. Agnew was just 12-of-24 for 129 yards but did throw his first career touchdown pass in the game.
“It’s hard to win a football game with people running like that against you,” Arizona State coach Herm Edwards said.
Arizona State did have a chance to tie the game with an apparent pass completion to Frank Darby down to the San Diego State 2-yard line with six seconds to go. The pass, though, was ruled incomplete despite San Diego State’s Trenton Thompson getting penalized on the play for targeting Darby. A final Sun Devils’ pass from the 35-yard line fell incomplete in the end zone on the next play.
“This just shows we can go play with anybody,” Washington said.
“We deserved to win the game,” Aztecs coach Rocky Long said. “We out-played them. Them even making it that close at the end seems kind of ridiculous.”
Boise State had the most difficult challenge for a Mountain West team last week with its trip to Oklahoma State to play the 19th ranked (Associated Press) Cowboys. The Broncos only trailed 17-7 at the half. Oklahoma State, though, sacked Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien seven times and also blocked two Boise State punts.
“They (Oklahoma State) played like we saw on tape,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “They played fast, they played physical and they made plays.”
Fresno State kept UCLA and its new head coach Chip Kelly winless on the year at 0-3. The Bulldogs now have nine victories over Pac-12 teams since 2000, with three of them coming against UCLA. Fresno State also beat UCLA in 2008 on the road (36-31) and in the Silicon Valley Football Classic bowl game in San Jose, Calif., in 2003, 17-9.
“We knew this (Fresno State) was a really good football team,” Kelly said.
The victory was the first for Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford over a Kelly-coached team. Kelly, as coach at Oregon, beat California four times when Tedford coached the Golden Bears.
“It’s got nothing to do with me,” Tedford said. “I wasn’t playing Chip Kelly.”
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion ran for four touchdowns and also passed for one. “It’s a huge win,” McMaryion said.
Utah State held onto the No. 4 spot in the rankings with a one-sided 73-12 victory over Tennessee Tech last Thursday. Utah State rushed for seven touchdowns. Quarterback Jordan Love was 21-of-26 for 236 yards and two touchdowns through the air, all in the first half.
Hawaii remained at No. 5 despite a 28-21 loss at Army. The Rainbow Warriors had to travel 5,000 miles for the game at West Point, N.Y., and is now 2-11 in games played in the eastern time zone. Army, which has now won nine games in a row at home, ran for 303 yards and four touchdowns.
The Wolf Pack jumped over UNLV and into the No. 6 slot with its win over Oregon State, its first win over a Power Five team since it beat Washington State (also of the Pac-12) in 2014. The win over Oregon State was in the 15th game overall and the second year of head coach Jay Norvell’s career at Nevada. The win over Washington State was in the 14th game overall and second year of Brian Polian’s career at Nevada.
The two-point victory (Oregon State’s Jordan Choukair missed a 33-yard field goal on the final play) is the fifth time the Pack has won a game by two points or less since it moved to Division I-A in 1992. It’s the 16th time in the program’s history (since 1896).
UNLV dropped to No. 7 after a 46-17 victory at home over Prairie View, a FCS school. The Rebels led 34-0 at halftime and ended up controlling the ball for more than 37 minutes.
Colorado State stayed at No. 8 after a 48-10 loss at Florida. The game was billed as “The Buyout Bowl” because Florida owed Colorado State a $2 million buyout after Colorado State coach Jim McElwain jumped to Florida in December 2014. The $2 million payout is the highest ever in NCAA football history for a single game. McElwain is now a receivers coach at Michigan. Florida still owes Colorado State an additional $1 million because of its buyout agreement with the Rams.
Colorado State did hold Florida to just 341 total yards and 14 first downs despite the 38-point loss. “Our guys need to hold their heads up high,” current Colorado State coach Mike Bobo said. “The score is not indicative of how we played or how close the game was.”
Air Force, which didn’t play last week, jumped a spot to No. 9 ahead of Wyoming (No. 10), New Mexico (No. 11) and San Jose State (No. 12).
Wyoming struggled to beat Wofford, a FCS school, just 17-14, at home. Wofford is now 1-20 against FBS schools. New Mexico whipped New Mexico State (0-4 as a FBS independent), 42-25. New Mexico State, though, led 17-7 after one quarter.
San Jose State, a 40-point underdog, lost just 35-22 to Oregon on the road. Spartans’ quarterback Josh Love was 15-of-31 for 238 yards and a touchdown. The San Jose State defense allowed Oregon to rush for just 2.7 yards a carry (134 yards on 49 carries). The Spartans, the only winless team in the Mountain West, had just 29 yards on the ground on 28 carries.
Five Mountain West teams (Boise State, Fresno State, Wyoming, New Mexico and San Jose State) don’t play this week.
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for the week of Sept. 17-23 . . .
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (2-1, 0-0): The Aztecs also won at Arizona State, 30-20, last season. Last week: San Diego State 28, Arizona State 21. This week: Eastern Michigan at San Diego State, Saturday.
2. BOISE STATE (2-1, 0-0): Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien passed for 380 yards and three touchdowns at Oklahoma State. Last week: Oklahoma State 44, Boise State 21. This week: BYE.
3. FRESNO STATE (2-1, 0-0): Fresno State scored 17 points off of four UCLA turnovers and also controlled the ball for nearly 40 minutes against the Bruins. Last week: Fresno State 38, UCLA 14. This week: BYE.
4. UTAH STATE (2-1, 0-0): Utah State has now scored 60-plus points in two consecutive games for the first time in school history. The Aggies beat New Mexico State 60-13 two weeks ago. Last week: Utah State 73, Tennessee Tech 12. This week: Utah State at Air Force, Saturday.
5. HAWAII (3-1, 1-0): Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald came into the game with 1,165 yards and 13 touchdowns this season and then passed for 321 yards and two scores against Army. Last week: Army 28, Hawaii 21. This week: Duquesne at Hawaii, Saturday.
6. NEVADA (2-1, 0-0): Freshman running back Toa Taua ran for 81 yards and a touchdown against Oregon State. Last week: Nevada 37, Oregon State 35. This week: Nevada at Toledo, Saturday.
7. UNLV (2-1, 0-0): Rebels quarterback Armani Rogers rushed for four touchdowns and 122 yards and passed for one score and 130 yards against Prairie View. Last week: UNLV 46, Prairie View 17. This week: UNLV at Arkansas State, Saturday.
8. COLORADO STATE (1-3, 0-1): Rams quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels passed for 217 yards and a TD against Florida. Last week: Florida 48, Colorado State 10. This week: Illinois State at Colorado State, Saturday.
9. AIR FORCE (1-1, 0-0): Air Force beat Utah State 38-35 at home to close out the 2017 season. Last week: BYE. This week: Air Force at Utah State, Saturday.
10. WYOMING (2-2, 0-0): Quarterback Tyler Vander Waal was 25-of-42 for 224 yards against Wofford with more than half the yards (133) coming in the fourth quarter. Last week: Wyoming 17, Wofford 14. This week: BYE.
11. NEW MEXICO (2-1, 0-0): Ahmari Davis rushed for four touchdowns and Tyrone Owens ran for 110 yards on 30 carries against New Mexico State. Last week: New Mexico 42, New Mexico State 25. This week: BYE.
12. SAN JOSE STATE (0-3, 0-0): Neither San Jose State or Oregon had a running play of at least 10 yards last week. Last week: Oregon 35, San Jose State 22. This week: BYE.