Mountain West Football: Week 13 Winners And Losers
We take a look at the Mountain West’s winners and losers from Week 13 of college football.
Encouragements and letdowns from the week that was.
Mountain West football’s regular season wrapped up in Week 13 with a six-game slate that included some wild rivalry action and record-breaking performances. Don’t cry now that it’s over, smile because it happened.
Here are our picks for those who gave plenty for which to be thankful and those who let us down.
1. UNLV safety Johnathan Baldwin
The Rebels got heroics from a number of players in reclaiming the Fremont Cannon, but few did quite as much as their sophomore safety, who stymied multiple Nevada threats in UNLV’s 27-22 win.
Baldwin finished the day with eight tackles, two pass breakups, a 55-yard fumble return for a touchdown which helped the Rebels cut an early 13-0 deficit, and a third quarter interception which stopped a Wolf Pack drive on UNLV’s side of the field. It was emblematic of the promise this roster has going into 2023.
2. Colorado State quarterback Clay Millen
When you set a positive record of some kind, you make the winners list, that’s the rule. In CSU’s 17-0 victory over New Mexico, Millen had perhaps his best game of the season by going 19-of-24 for 214 yards and two touchdowns, which helped him set a new FBS single-season record for completion percentage by a freshman, 72.2%.
The Rams didn’t have the season that anyone in Fort Collins envisioned, but their young quarterback flashed plenty of potential throughout the year and fans have good reason to be optimistic going into next year.
3. Boise State quarterback Taylen Green
The Broncos needed some late-game heroics to put Utah State away for good in a 42-23 victory, but their signal-caller had the most productive game of his young career in doing so.
Green completed 14-of-23 passes for 220 yards and four touchdowns, including two to up-and-coming wide receiver Eric McAlister, but it was his program-record 91-yard touchdown run that provided the exclamation point and gave the Broncos some late-game breathing room. As far as we can tell, the sky is the limit for the redshirt freshman from Lewisville, Texas.
1. Star players seeing too much time in meaningless games
Yes, the players themselves likely do not see it this way since both Boise State and Fresno State hosted their respective Senior Days on Friday, but you can’t help but wonder how next Saturday’s championship game might change because of potential injuries to impact players.
For the Broncos, nickelback Tyreque Jones and defensive end Ahmed Hassanein both got banged up in the victory over Utah State. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, lost offensive tackle Jacob Spomer and defensive end David Perales in their win against Wyoming. Jones needed a cart to get off the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium while Perales was seen on crutches, and if either or both can’t play next weekend, there should be a lot of grumbling about why.
2. San Diego State’s rushing attack
Where have you gone, Greg Bell? With quarterback Jalen Mayden under fire seemingly every time he dropped back to pass, any help at all from the ground game would have helped. He didn’t get it, though, a big reason why the Aztecs finished their regular season with a 13-3 loss to Air Force.
Though you have to account for 20 sack yards, the trio of Jordan Byrd, Martin Blake, and Kenon Christon combined for… three yards on nine carries. On the season, San Diego State managed just 4.13 yards per carry as a team while Byrd, the offense’s leading rusher, had 389 yards. That’s a far cry from the string of 1,000-yard runners the program had from 2010 to 2017 and figures to be a point of emphasis in preparation for their eventual bowl game next month.
Did the Cowboys have an emotional hangover from their crushing home loss to Boise State in Week 12? It looked like it at Valley Children’s Stadium on Friday night, where Fresno State forced Wyoming into six straight punts to open the game and the Pokes couldn’t even get to the Bulldogs’ 40-yard line until the fourth quarter, culminating in a 30-0 blowout loss.
Many of the same offensive frustrations reared their ugly heads, from Andrew Peasley‘s 12-of-29 and two-interception performance to Titus Swen getting virtually no help from anyone, but in averaging just 3.29 yards per play, Wyoming had its worst per-play showing since December 2020. The talent for a breakthrough is still there, but you can’t fault the brown and gold faithful for their frustrations at this point.