MWC Power Dozen: Time to Give Thanks
By Ken Pomponio
Ranking the Mountain West Conference 1-12 and, in the spirit of the season, offering some thoughts on what each program needs to be thankful for as the campaign winds down. Games are Saturday unless otherwise noted.
1. Fresno State (10-0, 7-0 MWC)
Last Week: Walloped visiting New Mexico, 69-28
This Week: at San Jose State, 12:30 p.m. (PT) Friday
Thankful For: The pitch-and-catch duo of senior QB Derek Carr and sophomore WR Davante Adams, who lead the FBS in passing (39) and receiving TDs (19) this season.
2. Boise State (7-4, 5-2)
Last Week: Lost to San Diego State, 34-31, in OT
This Week: vs. New Mexico, 8:15 p.m. MT
Thankful For: Success of Boise teams past, setting up a sweet TV deal that’s placed seven of the Broncos’ 12 games on the ESPN family of networks.
3. Utah State (7-4, 6-1)
Last Week: Blanked visiting Colorado State, 13-0
This Week: vs. Wyoming, noon MT
Thankful For: The MWC's unbalanced schedule, which gave Boise State a much tougher trio of West Division foes and has put the Aggies a win from wrapping up a spot in the inaugural MWC Championship Game.
4. San Diego State (7-4, 6-1)
Last Week: Beat visiting Boise State, 34-31, in OT
This Week: at UNLV, 7:30 p.m. PT
Thankful For: Their resolve for not giving up after stumbling to an 0-3 start.
5. San Jose State (5-6, 4-3)
Last Week: Lost to visiting Navy, 58-52, in 3OT
This Week: vs. Fresno State, 12:30 p.m. PT (Friday)
Thankful For: The continued excellence of QB David Fales, who ranks second in the conference with 331.1 passing yards per game, and has kept the Spartans’ season from being a bigger disappointment.
6. Colorado State (6-6, 4-3)
Last Week: Lost at Utah State, 13-0
This Week: vs. Air Force, noon MT
Thankful For: The sudden and surprising emergence of sophomore TB Kapri Bibbs, the MWC’s leading rusher and the player most responsible for putting the Rams back in bowl contention for the first time since 2008.
7. UNLV (6-5, 4-3)
Last Week: Became bowl eligible with a 41-21 win at Air Force
This Week: vs. San Diego State, 7:30 p.m. PT
Thankful For: The athletic department’s patience in sticking with coach Bobby Hauck, who was 6-32 over his first three seasons in the desert.
8. Nevada (4-7, 3-5)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: vs. Brigham Young, noon PT
Thankful For: (Sarcastically) their brutal schedule, which featured road dates at UCLA, Florida State, San Diego State, Boise State and Fresno State and a season-ending home game against BYU.
9. Wyoming (4-6, 2-4)
Last Week: Outlasted visiting Hawaii, 59-56, in OT
This Week: at Utah State, noon MT
Thankful For: Still one more season to go with starting QB Brett Smith, who set the MWC single-game total offense record last week with 640 yards (498 passing, 142 rushing) in the win over the Rainbow Warriors.
10. New Mexico (3-8, 1-6)
Last Week: Routed by host Fresno State, 69-28
This Week: at Boise State, 8:15 p.m. MT
Thankful For: Having only one game remaining in an injury-riddled, defenseless season.
11. Air Force (2-9, 0-7)
Last Week: Lost to visiting UNLV, 41-21
This Week: at Colorado State, noon MT
Thankful For: Coach Troy Calhoun, a good man to have in charge of a program, which has uncharacteristically fallen on tough times.
12. Hawaii (0-11, 0-8)
Last Week: Lost at Wyoming, 59-56, in OT
This Week: vs. Army, 6 p.m. HT
Thankful For: The season-ending home game vs. the 3-7 Black Knights, the Rainbow Warriors’ last — and best — shot at avoiding their first winless season since 1998.