Mountain West Football: Week 9 Winners and Losers
Who came out ahead and who left something to be desired in Week 9 of Mountain West football?
Some encouragement and some letdowns from the week that was.
Not everything turned out as expected in Week 9 of Mountain West football action. While some teams did what needed to be done to stay in the hunt for division titles and bowl eligibility, there were also some notable flops and just enough lingering questions to sustain the intrigue surrounding the race to the top.
Here’s who stepped up and disappointed in Week 9.
1. Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald. A lot of people wondered whether the Warriors quarterback would put up 400 yards on a struggling New Mexico defense, but no one considered that a big chunk of that could come from his legs. McDonald finished 17-of-30 with 237 passing yards and a touchdown, but he also added 140 yards on the ground with two more scores, joining a select group of Hawaii runners in the process.
2. Wyoming strong safety Alijah Halliburton. The senior from Aurora, Colorado should really get more attention than he has so far in 2019, especially if he continues to have performances like the one he put forth against Nevada. Halliburton picked up his first interception of the year and recorded 2.5 tackles for loss (including a sack) among his seven total tackles in the Cowboys’ rout of the Wolf Pack.
3. New Mexico running back Ahmari Davis. It would have been very easy for the Lobos to roll over after falling into a 35-3 halftime deficit against Hawaii, but Davis’s explosiveness provided a sorely needed offensive spark in the second half. He became the first New Mexico player with 200 rushing yards since Teriyon Gipson in 2016, scoring two touchdowns from 67 and 19 yards.
1. The Utah State offense. It became clear pretty early that the Aggies were going to have to match Air Force touchdown for touchdown if they wanted to win on the road, but they instead had one of their worst overall performances in over a decade. Utah State couldn’t do anything with two first-quarter Falcon fumbles, went three-and-out on six different drives, and finished 1-of-9 on third downs while averaging just 3.56 yards per play.
They’re still alive in the Mountain division race, but they’ll need to fix these problems in a hurry with Wyoming and Boise State still on the docket.
2. San Diego State. Given the chance to really put distance between themselves and UNLV on Saturday night, the second half was a reminder that there’s still work to be done for the Aztecs to be the true front-runner for the Mountain West title. There’s really no reason the game should have come down to a missed field goal attempt, especially when the Aztecs had the Rebels pinned with a 4th-and-24 at their own 20,
3. Fresno State defensive coordinator Bert Watts. A lot of things didn’t go well for the Bulldogs in a loss to Colorado State at home, but I’m just going to put it on record that “put one guy in coverage on Warren Jackson” should be considered malpractice at this point. On a per-play basis in conference play, Fresno State has fallen to eighth among Mountain West teams in allowing 5.88 yards per play, a figure which can’t be explained away by personnel turnover forever.