Mountain West rankings: From riches to rags
Special to the Nevada Appeal
Coming off one of its most impressive weekends in recent years, the Mountain West had a football weekend to forget.
After beating three Pac-12 teams a week ago, the Mountain West went out this past weekend and lost three of five non-league games, including a stunning 35-19 loss by Colorado State at home to Illinois State of the Football Championship Subdivision.
“We’ve got to go back to square one and find our identity,“ Colorado State coach Mike Bobo told the Denver Post. “We’re not very good right now. That’s the bottom line.”
The loss to Illinois State drops the Rams (1-4) one spot in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings to No. 9. The top seven spots in the rankings, led by No. 1 San Diego State, a 23-20 winner over Eastern Michigan in overtime, remain the same as five Mountain West teams had byes this past weekend.
Colorado State’s loss is the Mountain West’s second to a FCS school this year (UC Davis beat San Jose State) and fourth in the last two years. Last year Idaho State beat Nevada and Howard beat UNLV. It’s Colorado State’s first loss to a FCS team since its 22-7 loss to North Dakota State in 2012.
“We’re all just going to take a step back and kind of reevaluate things,” Colorado State quarterback Collin Hill told the Denver Post.
Illinois State, now 3-0 on the year in the FCS Missouri Valley Football Conference, dominated the game, outgaining the Rams, 538-391. The Rams get to lick their wounds this week with a bye.
San Diego State (3-1), Boise State (2-1), Fresno State (2-1), Utah State (3-1), Hawaii (4-1), Nevada (2-2) and UNLV (2-2) held on to the top seven spots, in order, in the rankings.
San Diego State had to grind out a hard-earned victory over Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference. The Aztecs’ John Baron kicked three field goals, including a 38-yard game-winner in overtime. Baron also kicked a 50-yarder with 1:16 to go in regulation to send the game to overtime.
Eastern Michigan, which beat Purdue earlier this season (20-19), held San Diego State to just 15 first downs and 350 total yards. “We have to get a lot better,” San Diego State coach Rocky Long told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “But we’re playing like I thought we would. We have a young coaching staff and very young players so being consistent and good is hard for both of those groups.”
The Aztecs also are playing backup quarterback Ryan Agnew right now (senior starter Christian Chapman has been out the last two games with a knee injury) and starting tailback Juwan Washington sat out the second half on Saturday with a strained chest. Washington had 61 yards on 12 carries before getting injured against Eastern Michigan.
San Diego’s defense and special teams beat Eastern Michigan. The Aztecs held Eastern Michigan to 14 first downs and 355 yards. The Aztecs’ Darren Hall also intercepted a pass at the goal line in overtime.
Boise State (2-1) and Fresno State (2-1) didn’t play last weekend while Utah State (3-1) beat Air Force (1-2) in the lone conference game of the week, 42-32. Hawaii (4-1) dominated Duquesne, another FCS team, 42-21 in Honolulu. Nevada (63-44 at Toledo) and UNLV (27-20 at Arkansas State) lost disappointing games on the road.
Utah State scored 42 points and piled up 489 yards of offense despite controlling the ball for just 16:20 against Air Force. Air Force ran for 323 yards and had the ball for 43:40. “We did not play our best in all three phases,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said after the game. “At times we tried to hand it to them.”
Hawaii’s pass-happy run-and-shoot offense buried Duquesne as Warriors quarterback Cole McDonald passed for five touchdowns. Duquesne, though, led 14-0 in the first quarter. Nevada’s offense gained 582 yards on Toledo but the Wolf Pack (2-2) couldn’t overcome two special teams mistakes to lose for the eighth consecutive time on the road. Toledo returned a kickoff for a touchdown and also blocked a punt and returned it for another score.
UNLV (2-2) quarterback Armani Rogers had one of the worst passing days in Rebel history in the loss to Arkansas State. Rogers was 5-of-21 through the air for 23 yards. Arkansas State nearly caught as many Rogers passes (three) as UNLV. Just three of Rogers’ completions gained more than a yard and just one was for longer than five yards.
“That’s a tough one to swallow,“ UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said. “We have to do a better job of throwing the ball.”
Sanchez, though, remained optimistic about his Rebels.
“It’s by far the most competitive we’ve been since I’ve been here,” said Sanchez of the Rebels’ first month of the season. “Our guys have played four solid football games. We’re good enough to win football games.”
No. 10 Wyoming (2-2), No. 11 New Mexico (2-1) and No. 12 San Jose State (0-3) didn’t play last weekend and remained in the final three spots in the rankings.
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for the week of Sept. 24-30 . . .
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (3-1, 0-0). Chase Jasmin replaced an injured Juwan Washington in the second half and ran for 94 yards on 16 carries against Eastern Michigan. Last week: San Diego State 23, Eastern Michigan 20, in OT. This week: BYE.
2. BOISE STATE (2-1, 0-0). Broncos’ quarterback Brett Rypien has thrown for 1,047 yards this season with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 71 percent of his passes. Last week: BYE. This week: Boise State at Wyoming, Saturday.
3. FRESNO STATE (2-1, 0-0). Bulldogs’ wide receiver KeeSean Johnson has caught 20 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown. Last week: BYE. This week. Toledo at Fresno State, Saturday.
4. UTAH STATE (3-1, 1-0). Utah State running back Gerold Bright scored on a 70-yard run against Air Force and finished with 101 yards and two scores. Last week: Utah State 42, Air Force 32. This week: BYE.
5. HAWAII (4-1, 1-0). The Warriors held Duquesne to just 166 yards and 11 first downs. Las week: Hawaii 42, Duquesne 21. This week: Hawaii at San Jose State, Saturday.
6. NEVADA (2-2, 0-0). Wide receiver Kaleb Fossum caught 14 passes for 150 yards against Toledo. Last week: Toledo 63, Nevada 44. This week: Nevada at Air Force, Saturday.
7. UNLV (2-2, 0-0). Rebel quarterback Armani Rogers has completed just 34-of-82 passes (41 percent) for 369 yards in four games but has rushed for a team-high 488 yards and six touchdowns. Last week: Arkansas State 27, UNLV 20. This week: BYE.
8. AIR FORCE (1-2, 0-1). The Falcons set a school record with 107 plays on offense (86 runs) against Utah State. Last week: Utah State 42, Air Force 32. This week: Nevada at Air Force, Saturday.
9. COLORADO STATE (1-4, 0-1). The Rams used two quarterbacks last week. K.J. Carta Samuels was 15-of-27 for 142 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while Collin Hill was 9-of-17 for 115 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Last week: Illinois State 35, Colorado State 19. This week: BYE.
10. WYOMING (2-2, 0-0). Cowboys quarterback Tyler Vander Waal has completed just 53 percent of his passes this season for 588 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Last week: BYE. This week: Boise State at Wyoming, Saturday.
11. NEW MEXICO (2-1, 0-0). Lobos running backs Tyrone Owens, Ahmari Davis and Zahneer Shuler have combined for 443 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Last week: BYE. This week: Liberty at New Mexico, Saturday.
12. SAN JOSE STATE (0-3, 0-0). Tyler Nevens leads the Spartans this season with just 79 yards (18 carries). Malike Roberson leads the Spartans with 29 carries but has just 60 total yards (2.1 a carry). Last week: BYE. This week: Hawaii at San Jose State, Saturday.