Mountain West football rankings: ‘Aloha can cover all’
For the Nevada Appeal
Nick Rolovich believes the state of Hawaii is a big reason why his football team is 2-0 to start the season.
“They stick together,” the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors coach said of his team after beating Oregon State on Saturday in Honolulu, 31-28. “They’re pretty tight. I think it comes from the culture of the state and it oozes onto the team. Our older guys take that culture and inject it on the new guys.”
Hawaii, which also beat Arizona 45-38 on Sept. 24, moves up a spot to No. 2 in the latest Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings.
“No matter what is your color, what is your race or what is your ethnicity, aloha can cover all,” said Rolovich, the Nevada Wolf Pack offensive coordinator from 2012-15 before leaving to become Hawaii’s head coach.
Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald passed for 421 yards and four touchdowns against Oregon State and has now thrown for 799 yards and eight touchdowns in just two games this year.
“We have eight guys at receiver, starters and backups, that are just insanely gifted and insanely quick,” McDonald said. “It’s just so nice as a quarterback to have four solid dudes (on the field at one time) that you can rely on.”
McDonald favored one more receiver than the others against Oregon State, connecting with JoJo Ward for four touchdowns. Ward caught 10 passes for 189 yards overall.
“JoJo Ward had a day,” Rolovich said.
Boise State, also 2-0, remained in the top spot of the rankings for the second consecutive week with a 14-7 victory over Marshall. The Broncos scored touchdowns on their final drive of the first half and their first drive of the second half to remain undefeated.
“We know what we’re capable of as an offense and that wasn‘t our standard,” Boise State wide receiver Khalil Shakir said.
The Broncos’ offense, though, did execute well with the game on the line. Boise State secured the victory with an interception with 7:36 to play at the Boise State 25-yard line. The Broncos then killed off the final 7:36 with a 15-play, 67-yard drive on offense.
Boise State also dominated the game everywhere but on the scoreboard. The Broncos outgained Marshall 437-172, had more first downs (22-9) and controlled the ball for 39:12.
San Diego State made the biggest jump this week in the rankings, moving up six spots to No. 3 with a 23-14 victory at UCLA.
The victory was the Aztecs’ first in the program’s history in 23 games against UCLA. San Diego State was 0-21-1 against UCLA before this weekend.
San Diego State’s win over UCLA and Hawaii’s win over Oregon State give the Mountain West six victories in 10 games this year against schools from Power Five conferences.
“We wanted to make history and be the first team to beat UCLA,” said San Diego State quarterback Ryan Agnew, who passed for 293 yards against UCLA.
The Aztecs controlled the ball for 38:16. A crowd of just 36,951 — the smallest at the Rose Bowl to watch a UCLA game in 22 years — witnessed the game.
“We got to play in a monumental stadium in the Rose Bowl,” Agnew said. “Offense, defense, special teams brought it.”
The Aztecs struggled to a 6-0 win over Weber State of the Big Sky Conference in its season opener.
“San Diego State beating UCLA, if it had (happened) two or three times before, I would say it wouldn’t be unusual,” Aztecs coach Rocky Long said. “But since it was the 23rd meeting and finally winning one, that kind of makes it a special day.”
UCLA coach Chip Kelly wasn’t in agreement.
“The fact that we haven’t lost to them before means absolutely nothing,” the former Oregon Ducks and San Francisco 49ers head coach said.
Utah State moved up two places to No. 4 after a 62-7 victory over Stony Brook of the Division I-AA Colonial Athletic Association. Utah State quarterback Jordan Love was 25-of-34 for 294 yards and a touchdown in roughly two quarters of play. Utah State outgained Stony Brook 717-263.
No. 5 Wyoming (2-0) trailed 14-3 before recovering to beat Texas State 23-14. Tyler Hall returned an interception for a touchdown and Cooper Rothe kicked three field goals for the Cowboys.
Stony Brook quarterback Gresch Jensen, though, did pass for 394 yards against Wyoming while Cowboys‘ quarterback Sean Chambers was just 8-of-18 for 103 yards.
The Nevada Wolf Pack fell four spots to No. 6 after a 77-6 loss to Oregon. Freshman quarterback Carson Strong was just 13-of-25 for 89 yards and two interceptions.
“I missed a lot of plays and left a lot of plays on the field,” Strong said.
Nevada has now lost to Oregon by a combined score of 146-26 in its last two meetings (2011, 2019) with the Pac-12 school.
Fresno State (0-2) moved down two spots to No. 7 after a 38-35 loss in overtime to Minnesota of the Big 10. Minnesota, which lost three fumbles, scored a touchdown in the final minute of regulation to tie the game and secured the victory in overtime by picking off a pass from Fresno State quarterback Jorge Reyna.
“It was there,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said of Reyna’s final pass. “I don’t think there was anything wrong with the call. We just didn’t execute it.”
No. 8 Air Force (1-0) and No. 11 New Mexico (1-0) were both idle last week. New Mexico plays at Notre Dame this Saturday while Air Force takes a short trip to Colorado.
Colorado State (1-1) moved up a spot to No. 9 after a 38-13 victory over Division I-AA Western Illinois. The Rams dominated the game, piling up more yards (585-15) and more first downs (25-12) than the Leathernecks of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
UNLV (1-1) fell two spots to No 10 after a 43-17 loss to Arkansas State at home. UNLV was just 3-of-16 on third down and was out-gained 498-300.
UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers was just 8-of-23 for 42 yards in front of a crowd of just 18,742 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
“It is extremely disappointing,” UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said. “It is unacceptable. There is no reason for this to happen.”
San Jose State (1-1) remained at the bottom of the rankings at No. 12 after a 34-16 loss to Tulsa. Spartans quarterback Josh Love was 16-of-30 for 189 yards but did throw a touchdown pass and was not intercepted.
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for the week of Sept. 9-15:
1. BOISE STATE (2-0, 0-0). This week: vs. Portland State, Saturday.
2. HAWAII (2-0, 0-0). This week: at Washington State, Saturday.
3. SAN DIEGO STATE (2-0, 0-0). This week: at New Mexico State, Saturday.
4. UTAH STATE (1-1, 0-0). This week: Bye.
5. WYOMING (2-0, 0-0). This week: vs. Idaho, Saturday.
6. NEVADA (1-1, 0-0). This week: vs. Weber State, Saturday.
7. FRESNO STATE (0-2, 0-0). This week: Bye.
8. AIR FORCE (1-0, 0-0). This week: at Colorado, Saturday.
9. COLORADO STATE (1-1, 0-0). This week: at Arkansas, Saturday.
10. UNLV (1-1, 0-0). This week: at Northwestern, Saturday.
11. NEW MEXICO (1-0, 0-0). This week: at Notre Dame, Saturday.
12. SAN JOSE STATE (1-1, 0-0). This week: Bye.