MW rankings: Pack, Rebels move in opposite directions
Special to the Appeal
The UNLV Rebels are now the worst team in the Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings.
The winless San Jose State Spartans, losers of 17 of their previous 18 games, buried the Rebels 50-37 on Saturday. It is the most points the Spartans have scored against a Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-A) team since a 62-52 win over Fresno State on Nov. 29, 2013.
“It’s tough when you feel you have to be perfect offensively to win a game and you have to score every time,” UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said after the loss to San Jose State.
The No. 12 Rebels (2-6, 0-4) have now lost five games in a row and have allowed 50 or more points in three of their last four games. San Jose State rolled up 554 yards of offense on the Rebels as quarterback Josh Love was 25-of-36 for 335 yards and four touchdown passes.
“We’re just not playing at a high level right now,” Sanchez said. “We have to get better. There’s no doubt we have to get more athletic.”
The Rebels’ only two victories this year have come against the only remaining winless team in Division I-A (UTEP at 0-8) and a sub-.500 Division I-AA school (Prairie View at 3-5). Sanchez, now in his fourth season as UNLV’s head coach, has a 14-30 career record.
No. 11 San Jose State (1-7, 1-3) is now 7-26 over the last three seasons. The Spartans, though, have won eight of their last nine games against UNLV.
“We kept talking to the kids about kicking down the door,” San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said. “In our three conference games we either had the lead or were tied in the fourth quarter and had not won any of them. Our whole thing is we’ve got to believe we can and then kick the door down and finish one.”
The Spartans were in position to win their first three Mountain West games heading into the fourth quarter. They led Hawaii 24-16 before losing 44-41 in overtime, were tied with San Diego State 13-13 before losing 16-13 and led Colorado State 30-28 before losing 42-30.
Two teams that have kicked down the door in all four of their Mountain West games this season (the only remaining unbeaten teams in Mountain West play) are No. 1 Fresno State and No. 2 Utah State.
The top-ranked Bulldogs routed No. 8 Hawaii 50-20 while Utah State jumped over Boise State and into the No. 2 spot in the rankings after a convincing 61-19 win over No. 10 New Mexico.
Fresno State piled up 562 yards on Hawaii as quarterback Marcus McMaryion threw for 284 yard and four scores. The Bulldogs’ Jamire Jordan also returned a missed Hawaii field goal 100 yards for a touchdown right before halftime.
Utah State (7-1, 4-0) has now won seven games in a row after a season-opening 38-31 loss at Michigan State. The Aggies have scored 40 or more points in six of the last seven games. Utah State’s defense also held New Mexico (3-5, 1-3) to 13 first downs and 291 total yards.
Boise State (6-2, 4-1) dropped a spot to No. 3 after grinding out a 48-38 victory over Air Force. No. 6 Air Force (3-5, 1-4) took a 28-21 lead late in the second quarter on a 32-yard pass from Joseph Saucier to Andrew Smith. The Falcons also ran for 201 yards on the Broncos and passed for 242.
Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien tossed five touchdown passes, three to John Hightower. Rypien also passed for 399 yards and now has the most (20) 300-yard passing games in Boise State history.
Struggling against Air Force, especially on the road, is nothing new for Boise State. The victory was the first in Boise State history at Air Force after losses in 2014 and 2016.
The Nevada Wolf Pack climbed into the No. 4 spot in the rankings with a 28-24 victory over San Diego State at home. The Wolf Pack (5-4, 3-2) trailed 14-0 early and 24-15 at halftime before shutting out the Aztecs (13-0) in the second half.
The Aztecs fell to No. 5, despite losing for the first time since a 31-10 loss at Stanford on Aug. 31. San Diego State also lost for the first time this season in a game decided by seven points or less (they are now 5-1).
Wyoming climbed to No. 7 after a 34-21 victory over Colorado State. The Cowboys (3-6, 1-4) scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to blow open a close game (3-0 Wyoming) at halftime. Freshman quarterback Sean Chambers passed for 116 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown.
The Wyoming defense held No. 9 Colorado State (3-6, 2-3) to just 20 yards rushing on 20 carries, though three of the carries went for touchdowns.
There will be just four games this week that involve two teams in the Mountain West. Utah State is at Hawaii, San Jose State is at Wyoming, Fresno State is at UNLV while San Diego State is at New Mexico. Two teams (Nevada and Colorado State) have byes this week before facing each other Nov. 10 in Reno. Two other Mountain West teams will play non-league games (Air Force at Army and BYU at Boise State).
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for the week of Oct. 29 . . .
1. FRESNO STATE (7-1, 4-0): The Bulldog’s running game (led by Ronnie Rivers’ 125 yards) produced 214 yards against Hawaii on 33 carries. Last week: Fresno State 50, Hawaii 20. This week: Fresno State at UNLV, Saturday.
2. UTAH STATE (7-1, 4-0): Utah State set a school record with 704 yards of offense against New Mexico. Their previous high was 684 against both Nevada (1992) and Weber State (2001). Last week: Utah State 61, New Mexico 19. This week: Utah State at Hawaii, Saturday.
3. BOISE STATE (6-2, 4-1): Alexander Mattison ran for 136 yards and a touchdown against Air Force. Last week: Boise State 48, Air Force 38. This week: BYU at Boise State, Saturday.
4. NEVADA (5-4, 3-2): Running back Toa Taua had just seven yards on 13 carries against San Diego State but did lead the Wolf Pack with five catches for 76 yards. Last week: Nevada 28, San Diego State 24. This Week: Bye.
5. SAN DIEGO STATE (6-2, 3-1): Running backs Chase Jasmin and Chance Bell combined for 163 yards on 31 carries but the Aztecs still had quarterback Ryan Agnew throw a career high 41 passes (he completed just 20) against Nevada. Last week: Nevada 28, San Diego State 24. This week: San Diego State at New Mexico, Saturday.
6. AIR FORCE (3-5, 1-4): The Falcon’s four Mountain West losses have all been by 10 points or less. Last week: Boise State 48, Air Force 38. This week: Air Force at Army, Saturday.
7. WYOMING (3-6, 1-4): Nico Evans rushed for 176 yards and a touchdown against Colorado State. Last week: Wyoming 34, Colorado State 21. This week: San Jose State at Wyoming, Saturday.
8. HAWAII (6-4, 3-2): Cole McDonald was just 17-of-28 for 225 yards against Fresno State. Last week: Fresno State 50, Hawaii 20. This week: Utah State at Hawaii, Saturday.
9. COLORADO STATE (3-6, 2-3): Collin Hill passed for 333 yards, completing 34-of-54 passes, against Wyoming. Last week: Wyoming 34, Colorado State 21. This week: Bye.
10. NEW MEXICO (3-5, 1-3): The Lobos used two quarterbacks against Utah State and both threw for 110 yards. Collin Gerhart was 8-of-12 and Sheriron Jones was 10-of-25. The two combined for four interceptions, three by Jones. Last week: Utah State 61, New Mexico 19. This week: San Diego State at New Mexico, Saturday.
11. SAN JOSE STATE (1-7, 1-3): Dakari Monroe returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown against UNLV. Last week: San Jose State 50, UNLV 37. This week: San Jose State at Wyoming, Saturday.
12. UNLV (2-6, 0-4): Quarterback Max Gilliam passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns against San Jose State but also was intercepted three times. Last week: San Jose State 50, UNLV 37. This week: Fresno State at UNLV, Saturday.