Nevada Appeal Mountain West Football Rankings: Boise State takes top spot | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada Appeal Mountain West Football Rankings: Boise State takes top spot

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Nevada’s Sam Hammond (98) sticks a hand up to deflect a punt in the first half against Portland State as the Wolf Pack defense rushes the Vikings’ Ben Niesner.

The Boise State Broncos were compared to a recent national championship team this weekend.

"That's the best team we've played since Clemson in 2016," Troy coach Neal Brown said after a 56-20 loss to the Broncos Saturday night in Troy, Ala.

The one-sided victory on the road in the deep south against a Football Bowl Subdivision school (Sun Belt Conference) helps make the Broncos the top team in the first Nevada Appeal Mountain West Football Rankings of the season.

Brown's praise of Boise State should not be taken lightly. Troy, after all, knows a thing or two about talented FBS teams. Clemson, after all, went on to beat Alabama 35-31 in the national title game at the end of the 2016 season after surviving a scare from Troy 30-24 on Sept. 10, 2016. Other top FBS teams Troy has played since it met Clemson in 2016 have been Southern Mississippi (a 37-31 Troy win later in 2016), Boise State (a 24-13 Troy loss early in 2017) and LSU (a 24-21 Troy win later in 2017).

"Boise is a quality team, they were ready to play and their quarterback was lights out," Brown said.

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien, who passed for 305 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday, is a big reason why college football experts have tabbed Boise State as the clear-cut choice as the best team in the Mountain West this year. Rypien had 276 yards and four touchdowns in the first half against Troy as Boise built a 35-7 lead at the break.

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San Diego State, Fresno State, Utah State and Hawaii round out the top five in the first Nevada Appeal Mountain West Football Rankings.

San Diego State holds onto the No. 2 slot despite a 31-10 loss at Stanford. The Aztecs, though, held Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Love to just 29 yards rushing on 18 carries. Stanford had just 50 yards rushing on 28 carries overall against the Aztecs defense.

San Diego State also trailed just 9-7 at halftime. "The first half went pretty well," said Aztecs coach Rocky Long.

No. 3 Fresno State, which won the West Division a year ago, blitzed Idaho of the Big Sky Conference 79-13 in one of four Mountain West blowout victories last week against Football Championship Subdivision teams. The other three were the Nevada Wolf Pack over Portland State 72-19, New Mexico over Incarnate Word 62-30 and Air Force over Stony Brook, 38-0.

Utah State jumps into the No. 4 slot of the rankings thanks to an impressive showing at Michigan State, in what might have been the most impressive performance by a Mountain West team last weekend. The Aggies lost at Michigan State just 38-31 but came within a couple minutes of pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the nation last week.

Utah State led the Spartans 31-30 after a 1-yard touchdown run by Darwin Thompson with 5:05 to go. Michigan State, though, scored its game-winning touchdown with two minutes to play on an 11-yard run by Connor Heyward.

"We will take some confidence going out of this game," Utah State coach Matt Wells said. "I'm proud of our guys. But don't misconstrue that to say that was a moral victory or anything like that."

Hawaii, ranked fifth, is already 2-0 this season after winning just three games all last season. The Rainbow Warriors, coached by former Wolf Pack offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich, beat Navy 59-41 last weekend after opening the season Aug. 25 with a 43-34 win at Colorado State. Hawaii has returned to its run-and-shoot roots this season and it has shown up immediately on the scoreboard with 102 points in two games.

The No. 6 Wolf Pack heads the second group of five Mountain West teams in the rankings, followed by UNLV, Wyoming, Air Force and New Mexico.

Nevada, Air Force and New Mexico, as expected, enjoyed easy victories over FCS schools and each piled up some impressive numbers. Wyoming was beaten 42-19 by Washington State of the Pac-12, though the Cowboys were ahead 16-13 at halftime. UNLV, ranked seventh, also turned in a respectable effort against a Pac-12 team, falling 43-21 at USC.

The Rebels went to the Los Angeles Coliseum and made the Trojans sweat a little on Saturday, trailing just 19-14 heading into the fourth quarter. The Rebels rushed for 308 yards, led by running back Lexington Thomas (138 yards) and quarterback Armani Rogers (88). Rogers, though passed for just 97 yards (12-of-27) and was sacked five times.

"I know," UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said, "that myself, our coaches, our kids, we are getting on the bus ride home with genuine disappointment in the outcome of the game. We had opportunities to win that game."

Colorado State, ranked No. 11, and San Jose State, at No. 12, round out the rankings. Colorado State is now 0-2 after losses to Hawaii and Colorado. San Jose State lost to UC Davis of the Big Sky Conference 44-38 at home last Thursday in what might have been the Spartans' best chance to win a game this season.

The Nevada Appeal Mountain West Football Rankings for the week of Sept. 3-9:

1. BOISE STATE (1-0, 0-0): Sean Modster was Brett Rypien's favorite target last week with 167 receiving yards against Troy. Tyler Horton, this week's Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week, returned two fumbles for touchdowns against Troy. Last week: Boise State 56, Troy 20. This week: Connecticut at Boise State, Saturday.

2. SAN DIEGO STATE (0-1, 0-0): Juwan Washington, next in line at running back for the Aztecs after Donnell Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny in recent years, had 158 yards on 24 carries against Stanford. Last week: Stanford 31, San Diego State 10. This week: Sacramento State at San Diego State, Saturday.

3. FRESNO STATE (1-0, 0-0): Bulldogs rushed for 239 yards and seven touchdowns against Idaho and quarterback Marcus McMaryion completed 19-of-26 passes for 207 yards but without a touchdown. Last week: Fresno State 79, Idaho 13. This week: Fresno State at Minnesota, Saturday.

4. UTAH STATE (0-1, 0-0): The Aggies new up-tempo, no-huddle offense worked through the air (quarterback Jordan Love was 29-of-44 for 319 yards) but the run game sputtered (25 yards on 25 carries) at Michigan State. Last week: Michigan State 38, Utah State 31. This week: New Mexico State at Utah State, Saturday.

5. HAWAII (2-0, 1-0): Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald has already passed for 846 yards and nine touchdowns this season through two games. Last week: Hawaii 59, Navy 41. This week: Rice at Hawaii, Saturday.

6. NEVADA (1-0, 0-0): Wide receivers McLane Mannix and Kaleb Fossum combined to catch 10 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns against Portland State. Last week: Nevada 72, Portland State 19. This week: Nevada at Vanderbilt, Saturday.

7. UNLV (0-1, 0-0): UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers had almost as many yards on the ground (82) as he did through the air (97) against USC. Last week: USC 43, UNLV 21. This week: UTEP at UNLV, Saturday.

8. WYOMING (1-1, 0-0): Tyler Vander Waal, who has been given the difficult task of replacing Josh Allen at quarterback this season, was just 8-of-20 for 67 yards against Washington State. Last week: Washington State 42, Wyoming 19. This week: Wyoming at Missouri, Saturday.

9. AIR FORCE (1-0, 0-0): The Falcons held Stony Brook to just 75 yards on offense and just four first downs last week. Last week: Air Force 38, Stony Brook 0. This week: Air Force at Florida Atlantic, Saturday.

10. NEW MEXICO (1-0, 0-0): Quarterback Tevaka Tuioti passed for 327 yards and four touchdowns against Incarnate Word as the run-happy Lobos are opening up their offense this year through the air. Last week: New Mexico 62, Incarnate Word 30. This week: New Mexico at Wisconsin, Saturday.

11. COLORADO STATE (0-2, 0-1): The Rams' defense allowed 617 yards to Hawaii to open the season and another 596 to Colorado last weekend. Last week: Colorado 45, Colorado State 13. This week: Arkansas at Colorado State, Saturday.

12. SAN JOSE STATE (0-1, 0-0): UC Davis quarterback Jake Maier passed for 446 yards and three touchdowns against the Spartans last Thursday in San Jose. Last week: UC Davis 44, San Jose State 38. This week: San Jose State at Washington State, Saturday.