MWC Summary: When it Rained, it Poured Snow

<b>BYU 12, Boise State 50.</b> <P> Although the weather man predicted snow Thursday night, in LaVell Edwards Stadium it was actually pouring rain – as in, "When it rains, it pours."

It was a pre-Halloween smorgasbord of horrors for the Cougars and their faithful, as though everything bad from each game this year returned to haunt BYU.

Remember the kicking game giving up an easy touchdown, a la USC? A bad snap on a wet night caused Matt Payne to lose time and timing, and a blocked punt ended up as a Boise State gift touchdown.

Ever seen an ill-advised pass returned for a touchdown, a la Wyoming? BSU's third touchdown came on a 42-yard interception return.

Can an opponent burn the defense for one big play after another, a la CSU? Tim Gilligan and Ryan Dinwiddie repeatedly embarrassed the BYU defense.

How about when your opponent's miscues seem to be so bad they're good? Not to be outdone, Boise State center snapped not one, but two bad passes, deep in BSU territory no less. Easy blocks, you say? A quick 14 BYU points? Not this year. These two snaps were so bad each sailed cleanly over the head of the Bronco punter, who had no chance.

However, unlike the unfortunate Payne, this also meant he had no chance to make an off-balance catch and rush a punt attempt into the face of the rush. Instead both snaps slide into the BSU end zone where they become not 14 points, but only four.

It got worse. Matt Berry, after looking much improved last week in Las Vegas, experienced problems with his throwing hand. While nothing was broken, he lost feeling in the hand and threw three interceptions in four consecutive series. He was thankfully pulled in favor of freshman John Beck.

Beck, in turn, suffered a Berry-like blow to a finger on his throwing hand after eight credible attempts, resulting in both a fracture and a laceration to the same finger. He is apparently lost for the season. Third-stringer Todd Mortensen, with no practice snaps, is rushed into the game with predictable results: 5-24, 51 yards, no TDs and one interception. Ouch. Scout team QB Jackson Brown, in mop-up duty, completed 5 of 9 for 57 yards and actually looked pretty good.

Next up for BYU: after a bye this week, the Cougars visit Notre Dame on Nov. 15. NBC will have television coverage. The Irish, who were humbled by Florida State 37-0 this week, host a respectable Navy squad next weekend.

Utah 45, Air Force 43 (3 OT)

For the second straight week, an opponent laid big rushing yards on the Utes, in this case 288. Unlike New Mexico, however, the Falcons lacked even a mediocre passing attack. Chance Harridge completed just 6 of 15 attempts for only 74 yards. The result was triple overtime, which the Falcons' let slip away when they couldn't convert a mandatory two-point try in the third extra session.

A week after handing the Lobos the key to their own dream house, Utah took it back, helped by the Lobos' stumble in Las Vegas and the upset of the week, and possibly the season, in Laramie. Utah now needs only win in Salt Lake City in two weeks against 4-5 Wyoming, and the following week in Provo against 4-6 BYU, to be the outright conference champions, an accomplishment that eluded Ron McBride for 12 years.

Next up for Utah: Wyoming in Salt Lake City. Air Force hosts Army this week, then closes out the season at New Mexico and SDSU.

Wyoming 35, CSU 28.

Not to be outdone by Fisher DeBerry's Falcons, Sonny Lubick's Rams traveled the short road to Laramie in a four-way tie for first and laid an egg.

After scoring with 4:27 left in the second period, the Rams were poised to take a 21-7 lead into the halftime locker room. A good CSU defense promptly let Wyoming march 81 yards in only five plays, then gave up two third-quarter Cowboy touchdowns. The Rams were down 28-21. They rallied to tie it at 28 early in the fourth, but Wyoming promptly answered, then held a potent CSU offense scoreless for the last 10 minutes of the game.

The Cowboys' Casey Bramlet leads the MWC in passing, but he didn't do it on his own as Wyoming also rushed for 129 yards.

Next week Wyoming is idle, then travels to Salt Lake City. CSU hosts New Mexico this week.

UNLV 37, New Mexico 35.

In a heartbreaking loss, Rocky Long's Lobos gave the Rebels three fumbles, three interceptions, and gave away their chance at the conference title in the process. 578 yards of total offense comes to naught as a result of the turnovers.

Still, after five turnovers, when most teams would be dead, the Lobos were still alive. Jamaal Brimmer's pick of a Casey Kelly pass was the backbreaker with just over six minutes left to open a 37-28 Rebel lead. The Lobos fought back, drawing within two points with two minutes left, but could do no more.

New Mexico travels to Fort Collins this week, while UNLV hosts SDSU.

SDSU did not play this week.

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