Colorado State Poised for MWC Opener Against BYU

<b>BYU 27, Boise State 28</b> <br> A potential breakthrough win became a heartbreaking loss in the most unexpected of ways. Sophomore quarterback <b>John Beck</b>, starting only his sixth game, threw for more yards than any BYU quarterback since <b>Brandon Doman</b> at Hawai'i in 2001 while the defense held the nation's top scoring offense to barely half its average.

With 23 seconds remaining, the Cougars gave the ball to Matt Payne, one of the best kickers in the nation who had not missed a field goal attempt all year. He drove an easy chip-shot wide left. Nineteen out of 20 times, Payne makes that kick and BYU upsets a ranked team on their home field, but it wasn't to be.

An abject Payne apologized to the team and fans forgetting, in his grief, all he's contributed during his career. It was Payne who, as a freshman, hit the walk-off field goal to beat Mississippi State in 2001, bringing the Cougars' record to 12-0.

After a horrible start, which included a safety and only 25 yards of total offense in the first quarter, the Cougars rallied. The defense came up big on several occasions, playing as well as it has since opening against Notre Dame. On consecutive downs in the fourth quarter, the Broncos tried to pick up a single yard at the BYU three-yard line, but Bronco Mendenhall's defense snuffed both attempts and the Cougars took over on downs.

Todd Watkins caught nine balls for 211 yards and one touchdown while Austin Collie snagged five for 94 yards. Although Beck had the best game of his short career, look for further improvement as a young quarterback continues to recover from his opening game shoulder separation as he and Watkins keep learning to work together better.

Again, the BYU running game was painfully absent. The Broncos defensive line repeatedly penetrated the Cougar front five. It must improve if this team is to have any shot at the MWC title. Just as the BYU offense took the pressure off the defense in Boise, the running game can greatly improve the passing game. To do so, it need not be dominant; just merely a threat that defenses must respect, at their peril. If the rushing game nets even 90 yards and Beck shows further improvement, look for a big win in Ft. Collins Saturday.

Next up: Oct. 2 at Colorado State.

Colorado State 39, Montana State 14
The Rams beat the I-AA Bobcats for their first win of the year, and led 27-7 at halftime. Justin Holland was 21 of 35, but threw another interception, his ninth in just four games. Still, Montana State, which beat Adams State, but lost to Cal-Poly, managed 17 first downs and 308 yards of offense against the much bigger Rams.

Next up: Oct. 2 vs. BYU

Utah 49, Air Force 35
Turnovers were the story in Salt Lake City, including a disputed fumble recovery call that went against the Falcons as they were driving for a potentially tying score down 28-35. In all, Air Force gave up the ball three times and possessed the ball 34:33 to Utah's 25:27.

Next up: Oct. 1 Utah at New Mexico / Air Force hosts Navy.

Wyoming 37, Mississippi 32
The Cowboys never trailed and although it was close they posted what is easily their most impressive win in at least two years. Despite being out-gained 547 yards to 379, and surrendering 34 first downs while picking up only 20, Wyoming took advantage of Rebel miscues. The visitors turned the ball over five times and were flagged 14 times for 110 yards. Josh Barge returned the first Ole Miss punt of the second half 87 yards for a touchdown to open a 12-point lead. A field goal on Wyoming's next possession made it 30-15. The Rebels drew within five, but could do no more.

Next up: Oct. 2, vs. Louisiana-Monroe

UNLV 21, Utah State 31
John Robinson, one of the great coaches in college football history, is done in Las Vegas after this season. The Rebels coached announced after the game that he will retire at season's end. UNLV, playing at home, out-gained Utah State 550 yards to 291; had 24 first downs to the visitors' 14; and possessed the ball 36 minutes to the Aggies' 24. However, they handed their guests five turnovers while Utah State committed none. The Rebels were also flagged for 11 penalties to only four for Utah State. Moral: you can win a lot of games by not beating yourself.

Next up: Oct. 2 vs. Nevada

b><San Diego State 27, Nevada 10
After last week's near upset of Michigan, it's beginning to look like SDSU decided to field a team this year after all. Until the Wolfpack scored a touchdown with only seconds left in the game, this was a 24-point blowout.

Next up: Oct. 2 at UCLA

New Mexico 38, New Mexico State 3
The Lobos pounded their hapless non-conference, in-state rival early and often, winning for the 29th time in the last 36 meetings. It was 17-0 at the half, and 31-0 at the end of three before the Aggies hit a 27-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. The Lobos open their conference schedule Friday against visiting Utah in what may ultimately decide the conference title. Meanwhile, New Mexico running back DonTrell Moore, the best at his position in the conference, left the game in the third quarter with a strained ligament in his left knee and may not play Friday. If he does not, the Lobos will struggle.

Next up: October 1 (Friday night) vs. Utah.

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