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Mountain West Rankings: Nevada is ahead of the pack

By Joe Santoro For the Nevada Appeal
Nevada running back Devonte Lee (2) runs for a gain around UNLV linebacker Malakai Salu (43) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/John Locher

The Nevada Wolf Pack is the No. 1 team in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings.
“We’re scratching the surface,” Wolf Pack coach Jay Norvell said after last Thursday’s 34-9 victory over the Utah State Aggies at Mackay Stadium. “We’re showing the type of team we can be.”
The Wolf Pack remained unbeaten (3-0) and jumped over Boise State into the top spot in the Appeal’s rankings. The Pack has now scored 34 or more points in three consecutive game for the first time since the middle of the 2017 season. 
“I’m starting to really believe in this team,” Norvell said, “because of the way they prepare and how they handle things maturely.”
The Wolf Pack will play No. 10 New Mexico this Saturday in Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium. New Mexico, now 0-2, lost at Hawaii 39-33 late Saturday night after practicing all week in Las Vegas. 
Boise State was stunned by BYU on Friday, 51-17, and dropped to No. 2 in the rankings at 2-1 overall (2-0 in the Mountain West). It is the Broncos’ worst loss at home since it lost 64-19 to Idaho in 1996.
“I hope we never forget this,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “This is going to fuel us.”
The Broncos played the majority of the game with third-string quarterback Cade Fennegan. Regular starter Hank Bachmeier was unavailable to play going into the game and his backup, Jack Sears, was injured against BYU in the first quarter. Fennegan, a true freshman, completed 15-of-26 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
BYU, though, outgained Boise State 573-310 and scored 38 unanswered points at one point.
“It was not the kind of performance that anyone of us is proud of,” Harsin said.
The Broncos, though, are one of just three remaining unbeaten Mountain West teams in league play with Nevada and San Jose State.
“The No. 1 thing is, ‘What did you learn from this?’” Harsin said. “If you don’t internalize this and recognize it, then it’s a waste. We’re going to study it and we’re going to learn from it.”
San Jose State, now 3-0 for the first time since 1982, stunned San Diego State, 28-17, and is now ranked No. 3 in the Appeal rankings.
The Spartans held San Diego State, the Mountain West’s best rushing team at 347 yards a game, to just 2.2 yards a carry (101 yards on 45 carries).
“Our defense just kept showing up,” San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said. “This is such a big win for us.”
San Jose State’s starting quarterback, Nick Starkel, was injured on the fourth play of the game and never returned. He was replaced by 6-foot-1 sophomore Nick Nash, who completed 16-of-25 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns and also led the team in rushing with 53 yards and a score on 11 carries.
San Diego State, which fell two sports to No. 4, turned the ball over three times. “We are very disappointed as a football team,” San Diego State coach Brady Hoke said. “We have to go back to work.”
San Jose State, which hasn’t started 4-0 since 1955, has allowed just 44 points all season in its three victories. 
“They (San Jose State) came out to play and we did not quite match it,” San Diego State offensive lineman Kyle Spaulding said.
Fresno State is now ranked No. 5 after a 40-27 win over UNLV. The Bulldogs outscored UNLV 13-0 in the fourth quarter.
Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns and also caught six passes for 99 yards and another score. Rivers, a 5-foot-9 senior, has now scored seven touchdowns in the last two games (eight for the year).
The Bulldogs had six sacks and picked off UNLV quarterback Max Gilliam twice (both by Chris Gaston) in the fourth quarter. Gilliam, though, did run for 139 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown and is the 11th UNLV quarterback in history to rush for 100 or more yards. Gilliam completed 15-of-31 passes for 160 yards as the Rebels (0-3) remained at the bottom (No. 12) of the rankings.
No. 6 Colorado State jumped out to a quick 24-7 lead and held on for a 34-24 win over No. 7 Wyoming in the Border War rivalry game. It was Colorado State’s first win in the rivalry after four losses.
“We’re still a new program,” Colorado State first-year head coach Steve Addazio said. “We’re still developing. I’d like to think we can continue to improve.”
Wyoming, though, outgained Colorado State 465-342 as quarterback Levi Williams completed 19-of-31 passes for 321 yards. Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay gained 147 yards on 27 carries. Colorado State quarterback Patrick O’Brien, though, completed 18-of-26 for 255 yards and two touchdowns, both to Trey McBride (five catches, 90 yards). 
“I think we’re just tapping into our potential,” O’Brien said.
Wyoming had won eight of the previous 11 Border War games.
“This is where (the Bronze Boot trophy) belongs, in Fort Collins (Colo.),” McBride said. “Just going out there and getting that boot, holding it, kissing it, loving on it. I mean, it’s just exciting to have it back.”
No. 8 Hawaii got a pivotal 410-yard, four-touchdown effort from quarterback Chevan Cordeiro (33 completions in 43 attempts) to beat New Mexico. Cordeiro was 31-of-57 for 339 yards in Hawaii’s first two games combined and was sacked nine times. New Mexico sacked him just once.
“It was a hectic night,” Hawaii coach Todd Graham said. “It was ugly. But I really like this team and how they battle.”
New Mexico quarterback Tevaka Tuioti was 17-of-31 for 181 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 71 yards on five carries. The  Lobos ran for 279 yards (Nathaniel Jones and Bobby Cole each had 96 yards).
No. 9 Air Force saw its rivalry game against Army postponed last weekend because of a coronavirus outbreak near the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Falcons’ game this weekend at Wyoming has also been canceled for the same reason.
No. 11 Utah State jumped out to a 9-0 lead on Nevada last Thursday but never threatened the rest of the game. The Aggies (0-3) gained just 210 total yards.
No. 12 UNLV did pick up 402 yards in its loss to Fresno State as Charles Williams ran for 89 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Williams is now the fifth-leading rusher in UNLV history with 2,713 career yards.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings . . .

1. NEVADA (3-0, 3-0): Last week: Nevada 34, Utah State 9. This week: Nevada vs. New Mexico at Las Vegas, Saturday.

2. BOISE STATE (2-1, 2-0): Last week: BYU 51, Boise State 17. This week: Colorado State at Boise State, Thursday. 

3. SAN JOSE STATE (3-0, 3-0): Last week: San Jose State 28, San Diego State 17. This week: UNLV at San Jose State, Saturday.

4. SAN DIEGO STATE (2-1, 2-1): Last week: San Jose State 28, San Diego State 17. This week: Hawaii vs. San Diego State at Carson, Calif., Saturday.

5. FRESNO STATE (2-1, 2-1): Last week: Fresno State 40, UNLV 27. This week: Fresno State at Utah State, Saturday.

6. COLORADO STATE (1-1, 1-1): Last week: Colorado State 34, Wyoming 24. This week: Colorado State at Boise State, Thursday.

7. WYOMING (1-2, 1-2): Last week: Colorado State 34, Wyoming 24. This week: Air Force at Wyoming, cancelled because of a cornavirus outbreak near the Air Force Academy.

8. HAWAII (2-1, 2-1): Last week: Hawaii 39, New Mexico 33. This week: Hawaii vs. San Diego State at Carson, Calif., Saturday.

9. AIR FORCE (1-2, 1-1). Last week: Game vs. Army postponed. This week: Air Force at Wyoming, cancelled because of a coronavirus outbreak near the Air Force Academy.

10. NEW MEXICO (0-2, 0-2): Last week: Hawaii 39, New Mexico 33. This week: New Mexico vs. Nevada at Las Vegas, Saturday.

11. UTAH STATE (0-3, 0-3). Last week: Nevada 34, Utah State 9. This week: Fresno State at Utah State, Saturday.

12. UNLV (0-3, 0-3): Last week: Fresno State 40, UNLV 27. This week: UNLV at San Jose State, Saturday.