Mountain West Football: Week 2 Winners And Losers
We take a look at the Mountain West’s winners and losers from Week 2 of college football.
Encouragements and letdowns from the week that was.
Oof, that was brutal.
The Mountain West did not cover itself in glory throughout Week 2, winning just three of ten non-conference games and losing two games, in particular, to FCS opponents. Needless to say, there were a lot of brutal cuts among this week’s biggest winners and losers from Friday and Saturday.
1. Air Force
It’s clear who owns the Centennial State for the time being. The Falcons mauled the Colorado Buffaloes by a 41-10 margin despite playing something less than perfect football: Air Force had three lost fumbles and Haaziq Daniels completed just one pass for eight yards.
The ground game and defense ultimately got it done, though, as the former compiled 435 rushing yards at 6.2 yards per carry while the latter stifled Colorado to the tune of 162 total yards, 3.1 yards per play, and a 1-of-11 showing on third downs. When things have clicked through two games, the Falcons have looked like the best team in the Mountain West.
2. Boise State
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Broncos snagged a road win over New Mexico on Friday night and, once again, begin Mountain West play at 1-0. Hank Bachmeier bounced back with a serviceable line (16-of-27, 170 yards, three touchdowns, one interception) and got some help from young contributors like Ashton Jeanty and Latrell Caples, the latter of whom turned three targets into two touchdowns.
On defense, the Broncos flummoxed Miles Kendrick and a New Mexico game plan that seemed to signify their belief they could beat Boise State through the air, limiting the Lobos quarterback to 9-of-28 passing for 98 yards. Boise State also held the home team to just one third down conversion in 14 tries, as well, so while there’s still room for improvement on both sides of the ball, the talent is still there to be very competitive in the conference.
3. San Diego State’s running game
You can play the “it was only Idaho State” card as often as you like, same as people did with UNLV after Week 0, but the Aztecs got back to basics and put on a much stronger offensive performance in their second game thanks to their legion of running backs.
San Diego State finished the day with eight explosive run plays which totaled 275 yards, which included a 47-yard touchdown scramble by Braxton Burmeister, a 53-yard scoring sprint by Jordan Byrd, and a 61-yard dash by Jaylon Armstead to set up another scoring opportunity. Again, it wasn’t a flawless performance — the Aztecs averaged 3.5 yards on their 61 other plays and had five team fumbles, including two which were recovered by the Bengals — but it was enough to think San Diego State should have a fighting chance on the road next week against Utah.
1. Utah State
What was that, exactly? Weber State pantsed the Aggies at home by four touchdowns and simply never looked in sync at any point, raising a lot of questions about their imminent title defense.
Logan Bonner had what was easily the worst game of his career, completing 12-of-31 throws for 120 yards and three interceptions, but receivers dropped multiple passes, as well, and he didn’t get a lot of help from a running game that saw Calvin Tyler Jr. run for a mere 3.6 yards per carry. Head coach Blake Anderson called out his own fans in a fashion that didn’t sit well with many, too, so there’s a lot more turmoil around this team all of a sudden than anyone would have expected three weeks ago.
2. Fresno State
It was all right there for the Bulldogs, who instead added another frustrating near-miss to 20-plus years full of them in a 35-32 loss to Oregon State. The defense played an exceptional game for three quarters but then collapsed in the fourth, allowing 180 yards of offense in the last 15 minutes after giving up 217 in the first 45. The offense had a fair share of big plays but was ultimately hit or miss despite averaging 6.5 yards per play.
And then there’s the red zone. The ‘Dogs settled for field goals too many times and finished the game with just 22 points in six total trips, 3.67 on average. Oregon State, meanwhile, had 28 points in four trips, four touchdowns, including the final Jack Colletto run where everyone in the stadium knew he was calling his own number. The Red Wave will be thinking about how this one got away for a long time.
3. Colorado State quarterback Clay Millen
You have to feel for the young Rams gunslinger, though you may not want to given how many hits he’s taken in Colorado State’s first two games. After absorbing seven sacks in the season opener against Michigan, Millen’s offensive line gave up nine more in a 34-19 loss against Middle Tennessee State. You can pin some of the blame on having to play without both starting tackles, Brian Crespo-Jaquez is actually out for the year after suffering a knee injury while Dontae Keys got knocked out of the game early with an injury of his own.
Beyond the constant pressure, though, Millen again didn’t do himself any favors with two fumbles (one lost) and two interceptions, including a pick-six on the first play of the game. The Air Raid did come to life for a stretch in the third quarter and Millen was a big reason for that — he completed 6-of-8 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns to Tory Horton in those 15 minutes — but the learning curve is still likely to be a steep one going forward.