Week three in the Mountain West Conference saw some blowout wins, near misses, and ugly losses. Several teams provided reason for my preseason confidence, while others have failed to live up to preseason expectations.
The conference went 4-4 last week, including a loss, and several close calls to FCS schools.
Tim DeRuyter’s Fresno State Bulldogs are looking solid, and moving up in my power rankings. Others, such as the Wyoming Cowboys, are traveling southward. Here are my week four Mountain West power rankings:
1. Boise State Broncos (1-1) Last Week (1)
Chris Petersen’s Broncos needed to show some life after looking anemic against the Michigan State Spartans in week one. Granted Miami (OH) isn’t near the same on defense, but credit QB Joe Southwick for utilizing his talented skill players and putting points on the board.
So far the new additions to the Broncos defense have stood up tall. A showdown with the BYU Cougars on Thursday night in Idaho, will provide the most complete team BSU has had to tangle with thus far.
2. Fresno State Bulldogs (2-1) Last Week (3)
I didn’t expect the Colorado Buffaloes to win Saturday night in Fresno, but the way they lost was fairly unexpected. Is CU as bad as a 69-14 beat-down, or are the Bulldogs that good? I see a combination of both.
Derek Carr is the real deal at QB and Robbie Rouse is a play-making running back. If the Dogs can stay undefeated (which is highly possible) for their October 13 visit to Boise; get the popcorn ready.
3. Nevada Wolf Pack (2-1) Last Week (2)
I really like Cody Fajardo at quarterback for Chris Ault’s crew. Running back Stefphon Jefferson is excellent and it showed last week (247 yards 2 TDs). The Pack can score with the best in the Mountian West. Defensively, there is still much to be desired.
The Northwestern State Demons had a 40 yard touchdown rush and a 68 yard touchdown pass in the 4th quarter making the game much closer than the folks in Reno would like. Until Ault and company shore up that D, this is where Nevada peaks on my rankings.
4. San Diego State Aztecs (2-1) Last Week (4)
No movement for Rocky Long’s Aztecs. Last Saturday wasn’t the greatest performance against North Dakota as SDSU won 49-41. Ryan Katz put up 241 yards and three touchdowns in the air setting the tone for a great offensive night. The running game is working with both Adam Muema and Walter Kazee eclipsing 100 yards.
The San Jose State Spartans provide a stiffer test than FCS UND. The Spartans can move the football themselves, so if the Aztecs aren’t careful, they could find themselves at .500 before their trip to Fresno State.
5. Air Force Falcons (1-1) Last Week (5)
After a bye week the Falcons have a road date with the UNLV Rebels. Connor Dietz has been deadly effective at operating head coach Troy Calhoun’s option attack. Throw in fantastic running back Cody Getz, and one has to be reminded both are first year starters. Questions about whether or not the new faces in Colorado Spring could carry the torch have been answered.
6. Hawaii Warriors (1-1) Last week (8)
No I’m not gushing over a 54-2 win over the Lamar Cardinals last weekend, but I have to give the Warriors credit for at least beating an FCS school, which some of their conference brethren have failed to accomplish. A punt and kickoff return for a TD, including zero interceptions thrown by quarterback Sean Schroeder, are causes for optimism as Norm Chow’s squad welcomes the Pack this Saturday.
7. Wyoming Cowboys (0-3) Last Week (6)
Honestly, I would like to the drop the Cowboys further down it the power rankings but the teams below aren’t making a case for themselves to move up. This was supposed to be the year that head coach Dave Christensen evelated the Pokes to the next level. Not so fast my friend.
Apparently when quarterback Brett Smith is absent, this Wyoming team goes from good to bad to flat out ugly. The Cal Poly Mustangs put up 325 yards on the ground including 196 from back Deonte Williams averaging 9.8. That deserves a yikes.
8. Colorado State Rams (1-2) Last Week (7)
Just a few short weeks ago it was all good in the Ft. Collins hood. Funny how quickly things can change in college football. After losses to the North Dakota State Bison and San Jose State, the Rammies will not get a break with the Utah State Aggies in town.
The good news for head coach Jim McElwain is that he should see the return of running back Chris Nwoke in the lineup. The bad news is that senior corner and return man Momo Thomas is likely out this weekend. If CSU cannot improve on their 16.3 points a game, this is where they stay.
9. UNLV Rebels (0-3) Last Week (10)
The carousel between nine and ten continues on the bottom of my Mountain West rankings. I give the Rebels credit for keeping it close against a much more talented Washington State Cougars team. The Rebels scored 27 points in the loss which is miracle worthy. Quarterback Nick Sherry was harrassed by the Cougars defense all night but showed a lot of guts throwing for 351 yards and three TDs.
10. New Mexico Lobos (1-2) Last Week (9)
The Lobos are just bad. Quarterback B.R. Holbrook has failed to balance the run heavy attack with any sort of passing efficiency. Save for their lone win against the lowly Southern Jaguars, the Lobos have been horiffic on offense as they managed only 127 yards against the Texas Tech Red Raiders last weekend. Bob Davie is a humanatarian for taking the gig in Albuquerque, but he better recruit more talent especially on defense, where UNM allowed over 700 yards of offense in the 49-14 loss to Tech.
For last week’s rankings click here
James Gomez is a Pac-12 and Mountain West columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America
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