Mountain West rankings: San Jose State has reason to celebrate
For the Nevada Appeal
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for the week of Sept. 23-29:
1. BOISE STATE (4-0, 1-0) — This week: Bye.
2. UTAH STATE (2-1, 1-0) — This week: vs. Colorado State, Saturday.
3. SAN DIEGO STATE (3-1, 0-1) — This week: Bye.
4. AIR FORCE (2-1, 0-1) — This week: vs. San Jose State, Friday.
5. HAWAII (3-1, 0-0) — This week: at Nevada, Saturday.
6. NEVADA (3-1, 0-0) — This week: vs. Hawaii, Saturday.
7. WYOMING (3-1, 0-0) — This week: vs. UNLV, Saturday.
8. FRESNO STATE (1-2, 0-0) — This week: at New Mexico State, Saturday.
9. COLORADO STATE (1-3, 0-0) — This week: at Utah State, Saturday.
10. SAN JOSE STATE (2-1, 0-0) — This week: at Air Force, Friday.
11. NEW MEXICO (2-1, 0-0) — This week: at Liberty, Saturday.
12. UNLV (1-2, 0-0) — This week: at Wyoming, Saturday.
The San Jose State Spartans haven’t had many opportunities to celebrate in recent years.
That all changed this past weekend.
The Spartans are indeed celebrating this week after beating Arkansas of the Southeastern Conference, 31-24, last Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.
“It’s been a really, really hard two years,” San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said Saturday.
The Spartans finished 1-11 last year and 2-11 in 2017 in Brennan’s first two years as head coach. The victory over Arkansas, though, lifts Brennan’s Spartans to 2-1 this season and two spots higher in the latest Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings to No. 10.
There wasn’t much movement in this week’s rankings as just two teams moved up from a week ago. Utah State jumped up three spots to No. 2 after a 23-17 victory at San Diego State and San Jose State moved out of the bottom of the rankings.
San Jose State’s victory is significant for the Spartans and the Mountain West. It is the Mountain West’s eighth victory this season over a school from a Power Five conference. It is also San Jose State’s first victory ever over an SEC team in the school’s history. The last time San Jose State beat a Power Five team was 2006 (Stanford).
“We didn’t fold,” Brennan said of the win over Arkansas. “We actually bowed up.”
DeJon Packer’s 19-yard touchdown run with 1:13 to play gave the Spartans the victory over Arkansas. The Spartans jumped out to a 24-7 lead at halftime as Josh Love completed 32-of-49 passes in the game for 402 yards and two scores.
Arkansas was coming off a 55-34 win over another Mountain West team (Colorado State) the previous week. Losing to San Jose State, though, is an eye-opener for an SEC team.
“This performance is completely unacceptable,” Arkansas coach Chad Morris said. “You get what you deserve in life and we didn’t deserve to win this football game.”
The victory is the Spartans’ first over a Division I-A (FBS) opponent in a non-conference game since it beat Georgia State (Sun Belt Conference) at the end of the 2015 season in the Cure Bowl. The Spartans’ eight victories since 2015 before last Saturday were either over a Mountain West team or an FCS (Division I-AA) opponent.
“San Jose State out-played us and out-coached us,” Morris said. “For three quarters they were the SEC football team.”
Boise State (4-0, 1-0) remained at No. 1 after a convincing 30-19 win over Air Force to open its Mountain West schedule.
Freshman Hank Bachmeier completed 19-of-26 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns for Boise State. The Broncos rushed for just 95 yards on 29 carries though running back Robert Mahone did pick up 75 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
Air Force (2-1, 0-1) dropped one spot to No. 4. The Falcons ran for 242 yards on 51 carries against Boise and did score the first points (nine) that the Broncos have allowed this season in the second half.
Utah State (2-1, 1-0) moved up to No. 2 after an impressive 23-17 win at San Diego State. The Aggies led 23-3 going into the fourth quarter.
Utah State needed three field goals by Dominik Eberle and a 48-yard touchdown return of an interception by Shaq Bond to beat the Aztecs.
San Diego State (3-1, 0-1) fell a spot to No. 3 despite controlling the ball for nearly 37 minutes as quarterback Ryan Agnew passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Neither team, though, could run the ball. The Aztecs had 91 yards on the ground on 46 carries and the Aggies had 82 yards on 27 carries.
Hawaii (3-1, 0-0) dropped one spot to No. 5 after a 35-16 win at home against Central Arkansas, the No. 12 FCS team in the nation.
Cole McDonald passed for 300 yards with four touchdowns to four different receivers. Kai Kaneshiro also returned an interception 55 yards for a score as the Rainbow Warriors won despite turning the ball over four times.
The Nevada Wolf Pack (3-1) had to grind out a 37-21 win at UTEP to remain ranked No. 6. Backup quarterback Cristian Solano completed 13-of-19 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns to Elijah Cooks in the victory.
“We knew it would be a tough environment but our kids responded,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said.
Wyoming (3-1, 0-0) stayed at No. 7 after a close (24-21) loss at Tulsa. The defeat ended a seven-game Wyoming winning streak. The Cowboys, though, had a chance to pull out the victory but a fumble by Wyoming quarterback Sean Chambers at the Tulsa 3-yard line sealed the defeat with 50 seconds to play.
Fresno State (1-2, 0-0) stayed at No. 8 after a difficult 34-20 victory over Sacramento State of the Big Sky Conference (FCS).
The Bulldogs led just 14-13 in the fourth quarter before two rushing touchdowns by Josh Hikit broke open the game. Fresno State held Sacramento State to just 12 rushing yards on 17 carries.
Colorado State (1-3, 0-0) stayed at No. 9 after a 41-35 loss at Toledo. The Rams, though, discovered a new quarterback as Nebraska transfer Patrick O’Brien passed for 405 yards and a touchdown. O’Brien, who got the start in place of the injured Collin Hill (season-ending knee surgery) completed 32-of-52 passes. Colorado State picked up 36 first downs and gained 694 yards in the loss.
New Mexico (2-1, 0-0) stayed at No. 11 after a 55-52 win over rival New Mexico State. Lobos quarterback Tevaka Tuioti passed for 355 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 59 yards. Ahmari Davis ran for 133 yards and two scores as New Mexico gained 243 yards on the ground. Jerrick Reed also returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown.
UNLV (1-2, 0-0) dropped two spots to No. 12 after a bye last week as the two teams below the Rebels in last week’s rankings (San Jose State and New Mexico) both won.