It’s finally nice to see a weekend of college football, where the weather is appropriate for the season. Yes, the leaves are beginning to change, and the temperatures are starting to drop, as the Mountain West Conference opened their first full week of in-conference match-ups for the 2015 NCAA football season. Things continue to look up for the conference, as they posted a combined 5-7 record in week five of action. The highlight for me obviously is one of the earliest in-state rivalry games in college football, as UNLV traveled to Nevada-Reno, and won back the Fremont Cannon in solid fashion, by the score of 23-17.
We’ll continue to look at the good (Boise State), the bad (Fresno State) and the downright ugly (Wyoming) in Mountain West play this week. The Broncos continue to look like the only legitimate big bowl game contender, while the remainder of the conference are so-so and simply bad football programs at this point in time. That doesn’t mean the downtrodden programs don’t have a plan or aren’t in a rebuilding stage, because they are. But for the 2015 season, Boise State remains the class of a primarily poor football conference. Let’s take a closer look.
Boise State played host to Hawaii on Saturday, and backup quarterback Brett Rypien took full advantage of his opportunity to start for the injured Ryan Finley, and did not disappoint, throwing for 271 yards on 19-of-25 passing, and the route was on early. The Rainbow Warriors have yet to score a single touchdown in three road trips to the continental United States this season. Boise State opened the first quarter with a pair of touchdowns to go up 14-0, and then lowered the boom, putting up 35 more points to go into the locker room 49-0.
The Broncos racked up over 550 yards of total offense against Norm Chow’s Hawaii team, and moved their overall record to 4-1 on the season, with their lone loss being the upset at the hands of BYU. Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols rushed twenty times for 108 yards and a pair of scores as well. Hawaii starting quarterback Max Wittek injured his leg, leaving in the third quarter after throwing for 66 yards in a beat down effort, and Ikaika Woolsey took the snaps the remainder of the way. Hawaii had only 170 yards of total offense on the day.
What appeared to be a competitive football game at the half, turned into another disappointment for the now 1-4 Fresno State Bulldogs, as they lost on the road to San Diego State by the final of 21-7. The score was all notched at 7 going into the locker room, but as has been the case for most of 2015, the offense simply could not sustain drives when it mattered the most, and the Aztecs put up a pair of touchdowns to improve to 2-3 on the young season.
Maxwell Smith came out in the second half looking strong, firing a pair of touchdown passes for San Diego State. Fresno State had less than 100 total yards in the ballgame, getting just 89 yards, 12 of which came on the ground. The Bulldogs took advantage of an Aztec fumbled punt to get their only points of the game in the first half, but that’s as close as Fresno State would be the entire day. San Diego State’s strong ground game continued to ramble on, as Donnel Pumphrey rushed for 124 yards, and Case Price had 151 yards of his own in the winning cause. San Diego State posted 409 yards of total offense.
In a theme of lackluster offense, the Wyoming Cowboys are once again this week’s “ugly” team from the Mountain West. The Pokes traveled to Boone, North Carolina to take on Appalachian State and came home 0-5 on the season. The Cowboys’ defense is still looking for answers, as they yielded a 59-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage to Mountaineers’ running back Marcus Cox.
You always hate to term a play a “back breaker” in the first half, but that’s exactly what occurred, as the Mountaineers returned a 91-yard interception for a touchdown on the Pokes’ first offensive possession to go up 14-0, and that was basically all she wrote for the visiting Cowboys on Saturday. Wyoming scored a touchdown from one of their lone bright spots on the season, as Brian Hill scampered for 208 yards rushing and a score on 30 rushes, to make it 21-7 at the half.
The Pokes fell behind 28-7 in the third quarter, getting a late fourth quarter touchdown from Josh Tapscott, but missed the PAT attempt. Wyoming actually had more total yards of offense on the day, 349 to Appalachian State’s 314, but failed to put consistent scoring drives together to keep the game close. Wyoming failed to make the Mountaineers punt even one time in this contest, while having more first downs than the Mountaineers. Had Wyoming been able to sustain a couple more scoring drives, this game might have been a different story.
Check back in next week as we review the good, the bad, and the ugly from Mountain West college football!