Mountain West Football: Week 12 Winners and Losers
Who came out ahead and who left something to be desired in Week 12 of Mountain West football?
Contact/Follow @MattK_FS & @MWCwire
Some encouragement and some letdowns from the week that was.
That’s how you do a rivalry week, yeah? Friday and Saturday brought a lot of twists and turns all across the Mountain West but as always, for every winner there has to be a loser.
Here’s who stepped up and disappointed in Week 12.
1. Utah State linebacker Eric Munoz. Life isn’t always easy for a walk-on athlete, so when you crush your chance to shine, you have to make the winners list. In his first career start, Munoz led the Aggies with 13 tackles and came away with two interceptions, too, including the one that sealed the victory over Wyoming late in the fourth quarter. Considering his winding path to this moment, we’ll definitely be on the lookout for more production down the stretch.
2. Air Force linebacker Jake Ksiazek. Speaking of players you probably didn’t know about until yesterday, the Falcons got a big time performance from its front seven and no one was better than the senior from Tucson. He had three of Air Force’s eight sacks against Colorado State and forced two fumbles while recovering one himself to help secure the Ram-Falcon Trophy.
3. San Diego State cornerback Luq Barcoo. In a crucial game for the Aztecs’ division title hopes, Barcoo continued to play at what’s almost certain to be an all-conference level. He had two interceptions in a tight win over Fresno State, one of which shut down a fourth-quarter scoring threat, which makes him one of three FBS defenders at the moment with at least seven INTs on the year.
1. Wyoming quarterback Tyler Vander Waal. The Cowboys needed to get more out of their passing game on Saturday against Utah State and didn’t get it. Vander Waal’s final stat line — 20-of-36 for 185 yards and three interceptions — belies the fact that it took a late rally to get that many yards through the air. His four giveaways also killed two scoring chances and led directly to two Dominik Eberle field goals that ultimately made the difference in the battle for the Bridger Rifle.
2. UNLV’s offense. Against a Hawaii defense that had given up at least seven yards per play in each of its last four games, the Rebels had perhaps their worst overall performance of the year. They averaged just 4.8 yards per play, went 2-for-11 on third downs, threw two interceptions (one of which was a pick six), and put a little more heat under head coach Tony Sanchez’s ever-warmer seat.
3. New Mexico’s running game. You can’t blame the Lobos for leaning on Ahmari Davis and Bryson Carroll, but it didn’t help when both running backs got hurt early and their replacements were mostly ineffective in their blowout loss to Boise State. In the first quarter, New Mexico ran the ball 16 times for just 45 yards, getting stuffed on a third-and-one, third-and-two, fourth-and-one while the Broncos raced out to a 28-0 lead that put the game out of reach.