Mountain West Wrap-up Week #4

Over half of the teams in the Mountain West were taking on non-conference opponents this weekend. The conference was 3-2 in those games with a wins over the SEC and the WAC. Inside the conference, the championship race continues to take shape. Forrest Allred reviews each of the weekend's MWC games.

BYU 50, TCU 51.

It was all for naught. John Beck's five touchdown passes and 557 passing yards? Doesn't matter. 32 Cougar first downs? Meaningless. Curtis Brown's 23 carries for 85 yards? Nada. Watkins' seven catches for 176 yards? Rien du tout. In the end, it all meant nothing. Nothing, because BYU couldn't stop a backup quarterback who'd never started a college game, who'd thrown all of one pass in his career, from going 8 for 12 with two TDs and no interceptions. Nothing, because BYU couldn't stop that same backup quarterback from sneaking in from three yards for a two-point conversion. Nothing, because the Cougars couldn't cover five TCU receivers with eight defensive backs. Nothing, because BYU can't take care of the ball.

Life is often imperfect, but in general you get what you earn. In football, when your hand your opponent the ball three times while taking it away none, when you can't snap a ball seven yards without dribbling it on the ground with the game on the line, when you're penalized 10 times at home, you don't deserve to win. On Saturday, BYU got what it deserved.

Despite upbeat pre-season talk, BYU must now go at least 5-3 over the rest of the season to qualify for even the humblest bowl game. Considering that those eight games include contests at New Mexico, at Notre Dame, and at Wyoming, five wins will be very difficult. Utah will be favored to win even in Provo. Right now the Cougars are likely to be favored only at SDSU next week, at home versus Colorado State on October 15 and Air Force on October 29, and at UNLV November 5. Even at that CSU and AFA will not be pushovers.

Next up: for BYU, at San Diego State. For TCU, vs. New Mexico.

Wyoming 24, Mississippi 14.

The Cowboys didn't just win, they dominated on the road against an SEC opponent. The final score was in no way indicative of the tenor of the game. After the Rebels opened a 7-0 lead Wyoming responded with 24 straight points and beat their host in every way, including 18 first downs to 10, 383 total yards to 282, and 37:01 of possession. The last Ole Miss score was a meaningless touchdown with only 1:33 remaining. This is Joe Glenn's best team in his short tenure in Laramie. The "Pokes," Utah, TCU and New Mexico are all legitimate title contenders at this point.

Next up: UNLV.

Air Force 35, Utah 38.

The Falcons, trying to bounce back from last week's home loss to Wyoming, shot themselves in the foot instead. Special team woes plagued Air Force for the second straight week, as a blocked punt gave the Utes the ball at the Falcon 33 yard line and an easy touchdown. Later, a bad pitch by quarterback Shaun Carney as he was hit resulted in the Utes taking over at the AFA 12, leading to another touchdown. Air Force outgained Utah, and had more first downs, but with the two turnovers deep in their own territory the Falcons handed the Utes the victory.

Next up: for Utah, at North Carolina. For Air Force, at Colorado State Thursday on ESPN.

Colorado State 42, Nevada 21.

The Rams won for the first time this year, but it wasn't as easy as the score might indicate. The Wolfpack seemed intent on giving the game away quickly, as CSU blocked a punt for the first time in four years, recovering on Nevada's two-yard line, and the resulting touchdown gave the Rams a 21-0 lead. From there the teams played to a standoff, however, and although CSU piled up 480 yards and 24 first downs, Nevada responded with 419 yards and 22 first downs.

Next up: Air Force, Thursday on ESPN.

San Diego State 52, San Jose State 21.

A "get-well" game was what the Aztecs needed, and the Spartans obliged. SDSU put up 513 yards in a balanced attack.

Next up: BYU.

UNLV 24, Utah State 31.

You'd think that picking up 26 first downs while holding your opponent to only 17 would be enough to win, that a 387 to 283 advantage in total offense would seal the deal, that committing only six penalties to your opponent's 12 would be the nail in the coffin. You'd think, but you'd be wrong. It came down to who wanted it least. The Rebels drove to the Utah State 24, but couldn't convert on fourth down and the Aggies took over with 2:06 remaining, needing only to a first down to run out the clock and salt away the win. They couldn't do it, and gave the ball back to the Rebels with 24 ticks left on the clock. UNLV had a chance to send it to overtime, but three consecutive pass plays at the Aggie goal line were broken up, and Utah State had its first win of the year.

Next up: at Wyoming.

New Mexico 13, UTEP 21.

If you count beating yourself, New Mexico is still undefeated. In a four-minute span in the third quarter the Lobos gave up a 68-yard interception return and had a punt blocked in their own end zone. The result was that despite Dontrell Moore's 161 rushing yards, and holding their hosts to only 16 first downs, 248 total yards, and 26:22 of possession, New Mexico came home with a loss.

Next up: at TCU


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