12 Games, 12 Takeaways: MWC Opening Weekend
By Ken Pomponio
Twelve teams, 12 games, 12 game balls and 12 takeaways from the weekend that was in the Mountain West Conference:
Minnesota 51, UNLV 23
UNLV Game Ball: TB Tim Cornett rushed for 80 yards and a TD on 20 carries and caught pair of passes for 17 yards.
Quick Take: Take away a trio of 75-yard plus Golden Gophers returns (kickoff, blocked field goal, fumble) and this one was fairly even, but in the end, it’s consecutive road loss No. 23 for the Rebels.
Salt Lake City
Utah 30, Utah State 26
Utah State Game Ball: Chuckie Keeton’s play was breathtaking as the junior QB finished 31-of-40 for 314 yards, 2 TDs and led the Aggies in rushing with 85 yards and a TD on 15 attempts.
Quick Take: Tough one to swallow as the Aggies did everything but get the W in the back-and-forth Battle of the Brothers.
San Jose, Calif.
San Jose State 24, Sacramento State 0
SJSU Game Ball: In recording the shutout, the Spartans’ D picked off a pair of passes and limited a decent FCS foe to 278 total yards, including only 86 on 36 rushes.
Quick Take: SJSU did what it had to, but now the task gets a little tougher this week on the road against Stanford.
Fresno State 52, Rutgers 51 (OT)
FSU Game Ball: Who else but QB Derek Carr, who had a career night, completing 52 of 73 passes for 456 yards and five scores?
Quick Take: Those who missed this late-night Thursday clash possibly missed the college game of the year — at least from an offensive standpoint — and one that was decided on a just-missed two-point conversion attempt.
USC 30, Hawaii 13
UH Game Ball: MLB Brenden Daley keyed a solid defensive effort by the Rainbow Warriors, notching a team-high 10 tackles, including four for losses and one sack, and forcing a fumble.
Quick Take: QB Taylor Graham’s Hawaii debut was a rough one with a quartet of interceptions, but he didn’t get much protection as the offensive front surrendered seven sacks and allowed multiple other QB hits. It’s a continuing issue from 2012.
Air Force 38, Colgate 13
AFA Game Ball: One apiece for TBs Jon Lee (130 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and Broam Hart (101, 2), the first Air Force rushing tandem to eclipse the century mark in the same game since 2009.
Quick Take: The season-opening win was overshadowed by the likely ACL injury suffered by new starting QB Kale Pearson late in the first half.
Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34
UW Game Ball: QB Brett Smith’s days as an underrated QB may be over as he shredded the Blackshirts to the tune of 383 passing yards, four passing TDs and 92 more yards on the ground.
Quick Take: On a rough opening weekend for the MWC, the Cowboys here helmet and shoulder pads above the rest of the league, even in defeat.
Eastern Illinois 40, San Diego State 19
SDSU Game Ball: Tough to find one here, but we’ll go with senior wideout Colin Lockett who paced the squad with eight catches for 98 yards and ran for a 48-yard score.
Quick Take: Twenty-one Eastern Illinois unanswered points to close the game ... five turnovers, including four interceptions thrown by starting QB Adam Dingwell ... 533 total yards allowed to a visiting FCS foe. Really, Aztecs?
Texas San Antonio 21, New Mexico 13
UNM Game Ball: QB Cole Gautsche only was 4-of-12 for 65 yards and a TD, but he led the Lobos with 118 rushing yards on 16 carries.
Quick Take: Even with the ground-oriented, clock-eating Lobos jumping out to a 13-0 lead at home, they couldn’t manage another point or put the Roadrunners away.
UCLA 58, Nevada 20
Nevada Game Ball: QB Cody Fajardo essentially was a one-man show, throwing for 164 yards and leading the team with 106 yards and two TDs on the ground.
Quick Take: New head coach, new defensive coordinator, but same glaring defensive issues (41 second-half points and 647 total yards allowed, no UCLA punts) for the Pack.
Washington 38, Boise State 6
BSU Game Ball: New starting TB Jay Ajayi ran hard, grinding out 93 yards on 23 carries against a fired-up Washington D.
Quick Take: Yeah, the Huskies may be improved, but only two field goals for the Broncos? What’s happened to the Boise State offense?
Colorado 41, Colorado State 27
CSU Game Ball: Sophomore WR/PR Joe Hansley paced the team with eight receptions for 91 yards and took a punt 74 yards to the house.
Quick Take: Hansley and the special teams were the Rams’ saving grace on a day when they were outplayed offensively and defensively by a one-win 2012 CU squad.