Mountain West Football: Bowl Season Winners and Losers
We look back to take stock of the biggest winners and losers from the Mountain West’s seven bowl games.
Some encouragement and some letdowns from the postseason that was.
Well, it had to end sometime.
The Mountain West wrapped up bowl season with a 4-3 record and certainly brought with it a great deal of excitement. While it’s naive to tease out a lot of meaning from what amounts to seven exhibitions, we can still look back one last time to see who stood out and who might be thinking a lot about what might have been in the long off-season.
Here are Mountain West bowl season’s winners and losers.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl – Utah State wide receiver Siaosi Mariner. He didn’t get all that much attention in the vacuum to replace all of last year’s pass-catching star power, but Mariner’s bowl performance — seven catches, 113 yards, two touchdowns — helped to put a bow on what was arguably the best season by an Aggie wide receiver in the last ten years.
New Mexico Bowl – San Diego State running back Jordan Byrd. The Aztecs thumping Central Michigan was easily the most surprising result of the Mountain West’s bowl season, but the most pleasant part of that surprise was the surge from a running game that often scuffled in 2019.
Byrd, making a return home to his native New Mexico, finally put up the kind of numbers (17 carries, 139 yards and a touchdown) we’d been accustomed to seeing from San Diego State in years past, providing a glimmer of encouragement that, along with a young receiving corp, the pieces are in place to make a leap forward next fall.
Mitsubishi Las Vegas Bowl – Boise State defensive end Chase Hatada. A lot of things weren’t pretty in the desert, but the senior Hatada finished his collegiate career with perhaps his finest effort. While Curtis Weaver was relatively quiet against Washington, Hatada finished with six tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks.
SoFi Hawaii Bowl – Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald. Despite being briefly benched for some reason, McDonald put on an aerial show that rivaled some of the best performances of Hawaii quarterbacks past. In the process, he set the new Mountain West record for passing yards in a bowl game by throwing for 493 yards and four touchdowns on 28-of-46 pass attempts. It seems almost certain, then, that something will have to give in the Warriors’ ongoing quarterback shuffle, but we’ll probably have to wait until summer to learn more.
Cheez-It Bowl – Air Force running back Kadin Remsberg. Tailbacks in the Falcons offense don’t often receive a typical RB1 workload, but if anyone doubted that Remsberg had played at an all-conference level for two straight years before Air Force’s win over Washington State, consider that doubt removed.
Remsberg’s 26 carries were both a career high and the most by a Falcons runner this year and he made them count, rushing for 178 yards and a late touchdown that sealed the deal against the Cougars.
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl – Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay. Well, this one is an easy call. Any time someone accounts for nearly 300 yards of total offense like Valladay did against Georgia State (204 yards rushing and 7.8 yards per attempt, 91 receiving yards on three receptions, and two touchdowns), that someone is definitely a winner.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Nevada wide receiver Elijah Cooks. Like Mariner, Cooks quietly put together a strong 2019 and saved the best for last. While the Wolf Pack may have come up short against Ohio, you can’t place too much blame on the junior wide receiver, who finished with 14 catches, 197 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets.