Mountain West Football: Week 4 Winners and Losers
Who came out ahead and who left something to be desired in Week 4 of Mountain West football?
Some encouragement and some letdowns from the week that was.
For a long time on Saturday, it looked like Week 4 would be an especially grim one for Mountain West football. Thankfully, though, the late games provided the conference a much-needed shot in the arm because an entire column of losers would be an incredible bummer.
As usual, it became another weekend with winners and losers, so let’s hand out some finger-guns and finger wags as we pick out the best and worst of Week 3.
1. San Diego State kicker John Baron II. The Aztecs’ senior kicker has had a pretty good month, helping SDSU through some critical situations with big kicks. Last week, it was a 54-yarder that gave the Aztecs a second-half lead; this week, he bombed a 50-yard attempt which would send the game to overtime, then connected again from 38 yards for the game-winner against Eastern Michigan.
We know no baron but the Baron of Mission City, whose name is John.
2. Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. In a conference matchup of contrasting styles, it was Love who carried the day for the Aggies. He completed nine passes of 15 or more yards, finishing 26-of-38 for 356 yards and two touchdowns. He made the most of a lopsided time-of-possession battle and propelled USU on a collision course with Boise State for Mountain division supremacy.
3. Bowling ball running backs in the Mountain West. There are some guys you watch run the ball and think there’s no way you’d want to try your hand at tackling them. I’d guess that Hawaii running back Dayton Furuta, at 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds, and Nevada true freshman Toa Taua, at 5-foot-8 and 205, might be near the top of the list, and they both made plenty of hay against Duquesne and Toledo, respectively.
Furuta led the Warriors with 114 yards on 12 carries, while Taua finished with 170 yards and three touchdowns on 15 attempts. If it’s going to be a fist-fight to the top of the West division, both of these guys could play key roles in how conference play unfolds.
1. UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers. This was a tough call because there’s no doubt that the Rebels’ sophomore was their biggest playmaker on Saturday afternoon. His legs were a weapon, earning 181 rushing yards and a score, but he was absolutely abysmal when dropping back to pass, finishing just 5-of-21 for 23 yards with three interceptions.
Two of those turnovers killed potential UNLV scoring drives, and while it didn’t help that he was continually backed into obvious passing situations (the average Rebels third down came with 9.4 yards to go), he needed to be better to score a big road win and simply wasn’t.
2. The Nevada defense. We saw a lot of the same positives and negatives from the Wolf Pack on Saturday, as they did collect three sacks and eight tackles for loss, but there were too many other instances where they looked lost against the powerful Toledo Rockets. They allowed Mitchell Guadagni to account for 342 yards of total offense and six touchdowns, and the secondary in particular looked overmatched against the Rockets’ trio of talented wide receivers.
The offense will create a lot of headaches for Mountain West foes in conference play, but the defense may hold Nevada back from its ceiling if they can’t be more consistent.
3. Colorado State. Good luck trying to find one person to pin the latest disaster upon (excepting, perhaps, head coach Mike Bobo). The Rams were outgained 538-391 on offense, continued to foist Collin Hill onto the offense for some reason, finished -2 in turnover margin, committed nine penalties, had zero sacks and one tackle for loss, got visibly frustrated and generally looked like a team in disarray. We saw CSU defy the odds by beating Arkansas, but San Jose State and New Mexico are surely sharpening their knives for the next couple weeks.