Mountain West Football: Week 6 Winners And Losers
We take a look at the Mountain West’s winners and losers from Week 6 of college football.
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Encouragements and letdowns from the week that was.
Man, what a weekend of Mountain West football.
Week 6 brought a good chunk of drama along with it on Friday and Saturday, a full slate of conference games with three of the six contests decided by seven or fewer points. It wasn’t pretty for everyone, though, so here are the winners and losers from this weekend.
1. Utah State quarterback Cooper Legas
I wrote about how you couldn’t completely count out Utah State in the hunt for the conference title two weeks ago and Legas’s performance in a 34-27 win against Air Force on Saturday is exactly what I meant. In what might have been the weekend’s most shocking Mountain West victory, the Aggies signal-caller put up the best single game of his young career to date, throwing for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-23 passes while adding another another score on the ground to go along with 76 rushing yards.
It may still be an uphill climb for Utah State to defend the Mountain division title, but if this is the team we’ll see more often in the second half of the season, the Aggies could once again be no fun to face.
2. Boise State linebacker Ezekiel Noa
The Broncos linebacker has been a rock solid contributor to quality defenses for years now, but last night’s performance might have been the best of Noa’s collegiate career. He picked up six solo tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, and a forced fumble as Boise State defeated Fresno State by a 40-20 margin to secure the Milk Can for another year.
3. Wyoming’s defensive line
Jay Sawvel’s defense got off to a slow start on Saturday against New Mexico, falling behind 14-0 by the end of the first quarter, but the men in the trenches were one big reason the Cowboys rallied and come away with a 27-14 road win over the Lobos.
Wyoming posted a season-high six sacks, all of which came after that lackluster first quarter and all of which came from the young defensive line. Even without star defensive tackle Cole Godbout, sophomore Gavin Meyer stepped into the breach with two sacks while Braden Siders, DeVonne Harris, and Oluwaseyi Omatosho chipped in to the pass rush, as well.
1. Norvell Bowl I
In what was easily the sickos game of the weekend within the Mountain West, the clash between the Rams and Wolf Pack began with dramatics from head coaches Jay Norvell and Ken Wilson in the pre-game and then… well, it was messy.
Colorado State had 14 penalties for 136 yards, the most flags in a game for the Rams since at least 2000, while Nevada had seven for 65 yards. The Rams were also just 1-of-11 on third downs; Nevada finished the day 7-of-19. Starting quarterbacks Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi and Nate Cox completed 50% and 47.6% of their passes, respectively, and combined for three interceptions while the offenses also had four fumbles, two of which ended up as giveaways. While there were some valiant individual efforts in CSU’s eventual 17-14 victory, you have to hope Norvell Bowl II, set for next year in Fort Collins, features crisper play all the way around.
The Rebels didn’t get the kind of performance they hoped for on Friday night against San Jose State, dropping a 40-7 decision for the inside track in the West division title hunt. Quarterback Doug Brumfield got off to a slow start before getting knocked out early with injury, and while backup Cameron Friel did his best to try and rally the Rebels against a surging Spartans defense, the offense crossed midfield just three times in 11 drives.
The defense, meanwhile, coughed up far too many chunk plays (13, totaling 280 yards) and could not generate a takeaway for the first time this season. Things are far from over, but UNLV will need to regroup quickly with a home date against Air Force and road trips to Notre Dame and San Diego State on deck.
3. Fresno State defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle
The Bulldogs’ flailing quarterback situation has received more attention, but the defense might actually have the bigger problems, many of which were on display in the team’s 40-20 loss at Boise State on Saturday night. Fresno State gave up more than six yards per play for the third time in four games and managed just three tackles for loss while the Broncos ran wild with 316 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
If that weren’t bad enough, the ‘Dogs also allowed Boise State to convert 10-of-18 third downs, a 55.6% rate that is the worst of the season to date, and enabled the Broncos to get points on all eight of their trips to the red zone for the second year in a row. A pair of Jonah Dalmas chip-shot field goals kept the final result from being even worse, but a red-hot San Jose State team coming to Bulldog Stadium next week could only make matters worse