Mountain West Football: Week 10 Winners and Losers
Who came out ahead and who left something to be desired in the last three days of Mountain West football?
Some encouragement and some letdowns from the week that was.
Though we lost one of the weekend’s seven Mountain West football games to COVID-19, Thursday and Friday and Saturday ended up giving us a very entertaining slate. Late night Hawaii is back, just about every team had one monster performance, and there are still two remaining unbeatens in the conference, but, as always, things can’t all be well everywhere.
Here are the winners and losers from Week 10 of Mountain West football.
1. Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers. The Bulldogs running back has long been known as a prolific scorer, but there haven’t been that many games where Fresno State needed every last point he could give them. He answered the bell early and often against UNLV, leading the team in both rushing and receiving yards (133 and 99, respectively) while scoring four touchdowns.
Three of those scores, including the last one, enabled the Bulldogs to reclaim the lead from the Rebels, proving once again that players who can do it all are a rare and invaluable asset.
2. San Jose State quarterback Nick Nash. If the weekend taught us anything, it’s that things can get pretty dicey when a backup quarterback is thrust into the spotlight. It looked like that might be the case for the Spartans after starter Nick Starkel left the game early with injury and Nash completed just one of his first seven passes, but he settled in and helped lead the program to one of the biggest wins in its short time within the Mountain West.
After the rough start, Nash would finish the game 15-of-18 for 161 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, proving that he could be more than a running quarterback (though he also chipped in with a team-high 53 rushing yards on 11 attempts, too).
3. Nevada wide receiver Romeo Doubs. How good has Doubs been so far in this young season? After ripping Utah State with seven catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns, he already ranks in the top 75 nationally by receptions and in the top 40 by receiving yards and, on a per game basis, leads the country with 157.7 receiving yards per game. That’s not bad at all.
1. Boise State. Let’s get this out of the way first. Yes, there were a lot of mitigating factors that raised concerns before the game against BYU even started — no Hank Bachmeier, no George Holani, no Demetri Washington, just to name a few — but when the Broncos suffer the kind of blowout on the blue that no one has seen in nearly a decade and a half, there’s really no other choice but to slot them here.
Is there reason for long-term worry? That depends on your perspective. The defense did all it could to keep the Broncos in the game but ended up allowing 8.8 yards per play, a figure which is surpassed only by Boise State’s wild win over New Mexico back in 2014. They brought down Zach Wilson three times but otherwise allowed him to average 12.9 yards per attempt.
On offense, the possibility of being without both Bachmeier and backup Jack Sears at quarterback suddenly looks a lot more perilous. Cade Fennegan looked game but simply couldn’t get it done before being temporarily benched. And with a short week to prepare for Colorado State, there won’t be much time to find answers.
2. Utah State head coach Gary Andersen. When you’re the first coach anywhere in the country to get fired in the yearly cycle, you get stuck here. Those are the rules.
In retrospect, though, perhaps there were some glaring signs that the Aggies athletic department was preparing to pull the plug on Andersen’s second stint in Logan. After losing to San Diego State two weeks ago, he referred to the team’s performance as “100% pathetic” and added that, on offense in particular, they had no identity. Given that they are currently dead last in the FBS by yards per play, it seemed clear that something had to give, though interim head coach Frank Maile won’t have it easy answering the ongoing questions.
3. Army head coach Jeff Monken. Our Sean O’Toole already laid out the larger argument for why the Black Knights coach had exactly the wrong take about the cancellation of Saturday’s morning game with Air Force, but the fact that West Point, too, is dealing with an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak — a reality from which his own players have not been immune — makes the “tough guy” schtick look extremely narrow-minded and lame. Maybe he lives for tweaking Troy Calhoun, but someone should help him get a little perspective.