Mountain West Football: Conference Championship Winners And Losers
We take a look back at the winners and losers from Saturday’s Mountain West football title game between Fresno State and Boise State.
Encouragements and letdowns from the week that was.
The Mountain West football championship is now officially in the books and the conference has a new champion. The Fresno State Bulldogs defeated the Boise State Broncos, 28-16, in a contest where it took a while for the visitors to find some breathing room but, as usual, both sides weren’t without winners and losers.
1. Fresno State wide receiver/kick returner Nikko Remigio
It took a painfully long time for the Bulldogs offense to get going in the first half, but it might never have happened without the contributions provided by Remigio. His 70-yard punt return late in the second quarter gave Fresno State its first points of the game, but he also had catches of 20 and 32 yards in the first quarter which set up their first scoring opportunity, though Abraham Montano’s field goal attempt would hook wide right. In all, the performance ended up being a tidy microcosm of all the ways he’s helped the Bulldogs this season.
2. Fresno State cornerback Cameron Lockridge
Lockridge ended up in the right place at the right time on two separate occasions Saturday, grabbing two interceptions which the Bulldogs offense would turn into 14 points in the team’s victory. The first came thanks to a tip from linebacker Levelle Bailey while the second ended up as an overthrow which sailed right to him from Taylen Green but, incredibly enough, it made him the first Bulldogs defender with five interceptions in a year since Derron Smith in 2013. That’s pretty good company for a defensive MVP to keep.
3. Boise State wide receiver Davis Koetter
A lot of Boise State fans wondered aloud on social media why the Broncos offense insisted on throwing, but Koetter’s big day on the blue is one big reason why they had confidence in reversing their fortunes. He had a career day despite the loss, catching five of six targets, including two of the team’s three explosive pass plays, for a team-high 91 yards and a touchdown.
1. Boise State quarterback Taylen Green
Alas, it ended up being a tough day at the office overall for the redshirt freshman Green, who completed 8-of-11 throws through the first quarter and change but couldn’t recapture that early rhythm even as Fresno State’s offense scuffled along, as well. He misfired on two big end zone throws in the second quarter and then threw two second-half interceptions to Fresno State’s Lockridge, finishing the day 17-of-38 for 175 yards with one touchdown. Brighter days are ahead, but they’ll spend a while mulling over the film on this one.
2. Boise State offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter
Why didn’t the Broncos run the ball more, though? Green, George Holani, and Ashton Jeanty had some early success generating chunk plays on the ground, with four rushes totaling 55 yards in the game’s first 20-plus minutes, but Holani had just three carries after halftime and Jeanty had only two despite the fact that the Broncos trailed just 14-9 after three quarters. That element of the game was a big part of the team’s surge down the stretch, so watching it disappear seemed puzzling, to say the least.
3. Fresno State’s offensive line
While quarterback Jake Haener eventually put it together to help the Bulldogs rally, the offensive line looked like a primary culprit for the unit’s sluggish start. Haener absorbed three sacks, including a big hit from Boise State cornerback Caleb Biggers in the second quarter, while running back Jordan Mims had 32.5% of his 83 rushing yards on just two of 25 carries (he averaged 2.4 yards per carry otherwise).
Of course, this may seem like nitpicking given that the Bulldogs won the game, but with one contest left this year on a national stage, it will likely be a point of emphasis in bowl preparations.