Mountain West Football: Week 12 Winners and Losers
Who came out ahead and who left something to be desired in the last two days of Mountain West football?
Some encouragement and some letdowns from the week that was.
COVID-19 may have erased half of the Mountain West football schedule this weekend, but the games that remained intact certainly upped the weirdness factor and the drama in their stead.
Here’s who shined and who left something to be desired from Week 12 of Mountain West football.
1. Boise State running back Andrew Van Buren. There was some lingering question about how effective the Broncos’ running game would be as long as George Holani was sidelined by injury, but the senior Van Buren shouldered the burden on Saturday night and came away with career single-game highs in carries (27) and rushing yards (113) while scoring twice for the third time in four games.
2. Nevada wide receiver Romeo Doubs and San Diego State cornerback Darren Hall. This might be bending the system a little bit, but the one-on-one matchup between the Wolf Pack’s top pass catcher and San Diego State’s elite cornerback was as good as advertised.
Doubs was “held” to five catches for 133 yards and a touchdown, which included two plays of more than 50 yards. He now has seven such catches in five games, tying him with Rashard Higgins and Vincent Brown for the most such receptions by any Mountain West player since 2010.
Hall, for his part, may have been beaten a couple of times but led the Aztecs with 11 tackles, defended Doubs inside the five-yard line on what could have been a critical touchdown in the fourth quarterback, then created the team’s only turnover with an interception that went off of Doubs’s hands on Nevada’s last drive. He did his part to help SDSU have a chance to win the game at the end.
3. Air Force fullback Brad Roberts. The Falcons’ 28-0 victory over New Mexico wasn’t always the tidiest affair, but the sophomore Roberts made sure that Air Force could slam the door with 177 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. It wasn’t the first time he’s done the heavy lifting in Mike Thiessen’s offense and, the way he’s played in the team’s first four games, it probably won’t be the last.
1. New Mexico’s kicking game. It was definitely a night to forget for George Steinkamp and Andrew Shelley, the Lobos’ pair of kickers, because while most of their field goal tries weren’t gimmes, going 0-for-4 overall is an effective way to take the wind out of a team’s sails. Bear in mind that Shelley’s miss was from 40 yards and two of Steinkamp’s came from 50 and 51 yards, respectively, before you snicker too much about it all.
2. San Diego State quarterback Lucas Johnson. Yes, the new Aztecs quarterback dealt with a hamstring injury in the second half against the Nevada Wolf Pack, but the game was right there for the taking long before the agonizingly close finish. At halftime, he was on pace to throw for 300 yards, but he completed just 4-of-12 passes in the last 30 minutes with one first down through the air.
There’s no question he gave the bland passing game a shot in the arm, but he and everyone else will be thinking about how this one got away from them.
3. San Jose State and Fresno State. The way that things broke this weekend, the Spartans and Bulldogs had a chunk of their margin for error down the stretch removed when COVID-19 protocols erased their clash for the Valley Trophy from the schedule. The Spartans, now even with Boise State at 4-0 in conference play, play what might well be an elimination game next Saturday on the blue, while Fresno State will have its own chance to contend with San Diego State to stay in the hunt on Friday.