Mountain West Power Dozen: Bulldogs Are Top Dogs
By Ken Pomponio
Ranking the Mountain West Conference teams 1-12 following three weeks of action:
1. Fresno State (2-0, 0-0 MWC)
Last Week: Game at Colorado postponed due to flooding.
This Week: vs. Boise State, 6 p.m. PT (Friday)
Quick Take: Fresno State and the Red Wave are mega-hyped for the ESPN-televised early-season showdown, but the Broncos come in having won seven straight and 11 of 12 in the series.
2. Boise State (2-1, 1-0)
Last Week: The Broncos opened MWC play with a 42-20 rout of visiting Air Force.
This Week: at Fresno State, 6 p.m. PT (Friday)
Quick Take: In senior quarterback Joe Southwick (second in MWC passing efficiency) and sophomore running back Jay Ajayi (second in rushing, first in scoring), BSU packs quite a 1-2 punch.
3. Utah State (2-1, 1-0)
Last Week: The Aggies rolled to their second straight rout, punishing in-state FCS foe Weber State, 70-6.
This Week: at USC, 12:30 p.m. PT
Quick Take: In a conference that includes Derek Carr and Brett Smith, Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton, the nation’s leader in points (13 total touchdowns) is the early leader for MWC Offensive Player of the Year.
4. San Jose State (1-1, 0-0)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at Minnesota, 11 a.m. CT
Quick Take: The Spartans needed the extra week off to recover from a physical loss to national power Stanford.
5. Wyoming (2-1, 0-0)
Last Week: The Cowboys posted their second straight home win with a 35-7 victory over FCS Northern Colorado.
This Week: at Air Force, 8:15 p.m. MT
Quick Take: The game became secondary Saturday when Brett Smith injured his right ankle on the third play. He got it taped was able to finish, but his health is the unquestioned key for the Cowboys going forward.
6. Nevada (1-2, 0-0)
Last Week: The Wolf Pack led No. 10 Florida State, 7-3, in the second quarter before giving up the final 59 points in a 62-7 beatdown.
This Week: vs. Hawaii, 5:05 p.m. PT
Quick Take: Will starting quarterback Cody Fajardo (sprained knee) return this week after missing the FSU game? Nevada was down to its third QB last week after backup Devin Combs tore an ACL in the first quarter.
7. Air Force (1-2, 0-2)
Last Week: The Falcons were on the wrong end of a second straight MWC blowout, falling 42-20 at Boise State.
This Week: vs. Wyoming, 8:15 p.m. MT
Quick Take: You know it’s not good when the Falcons get outrushed in back-to-back games. It wasn’t, as Utah State and Boise State outscored Air Force, 94-40, to open conference play.
8. New Mexico (1-2, 0-0)
Last Week: The Lobos were no match for host Pittsburgh, falling 49-27.
This Week: Bye.
Quick Take: UNM will use the first bye week during Bob Davie’s tenure to decide whether Cole Gautsche or Clayton Mitchem will start the next game.
9. Colorado State (1-2, 0-0)
Last Week: After opening with two tight losses, the Rams beat FCS Cal Poly, 34-17, in their home opener.
This Week: at Alabama, 6 p.m. CT
Quick Take: Coach Jim McElwain, the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator from 2008-11, and the Rams are only a 39.5-point underdog this week in Tuscaloosa, but could be catching Bama at the right time coming off an emotional win over Texas A&M.
10. San Diego State (0-2, 0-0)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: vs. Oregon State, 4:30 p.m. PT
Quick Take: New starting quarterback Quinn Kaehler, a walk-on junior from Diablo Valley College, and the Aztecs got a much-needed bye last week as they get set to tangle with the Beavers.
11. Hawaii (0-2, 0-0)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at Nevada, 5:05 p.m. PT
Quick Take: The UH defense held its in own against Pac-12 foes USC and Oregon State, but the nation’s 117th-ranked scoring offense (13.5 ppg) needs to step it up as the Rainbow Warriors kick off MWC play.
12. UNLV (1-2, 0-0)
Last Week: Backup quarterback Caleb Herring rallied the Rebels with a 24-of-28, 266-yard, three-touchdown performance as UNLV overcame Central Michigan’s 21-0 lead to post a 31-21 victory and snap a five-game skid.
This Week: vs. Western Illinois, 6 p.m. PT
Quick Take: UNLV seeks back-to-back wins for the first time in the Bobby Hauck era, but it can ill afford to overlook the FCS Leathernecks, who played Minnesota to a 29-12 loss, closer than the Rebs did (51-23).