Mountain West Wrap-up Week #5

With only one MWC team playing a non-conference opponent, the early race for the conference championship is really beginning to take shape. Wyoming and TCU got out of the gate quickly so BYU must win out in conference and get a lot of help if they are going to be in the mix come November.

BYU 10, San Diego State 31.

"A foolish consistency," said Emerson, "is the hobgoblin of little minds." Emerson would have made a terrible football coach, but he would have loved John Beck. A week after throwing for five touchdown passes and 557 passing yards Beck was the epitome of disaster, completing only 25 of 49 attempts for 261 yards, and throwing two horrendous interceptions. These were not the tipped balls of last week, they were ugly, punt-like, virtually end-over-end lobs into the open arms of Aztec defenders.

On defense it was perhaps to be expected, given all the injuries of last week. After all, the Cougars were without defense stalwarts Manaia Brown, Paul Walkenhortst, and Cameron Jensen. The offense, however, was worse than the defense. On few occasions the walking wounded rose up to stop the Aztecs, but got no help from their teammates. BYU's only chance for a win going in was to outscore the Aztecs, but the offense would never let their teammates get a rest. Beck repeatedly overthrew receivers and failed to check down, as the Aztecs clamped down on star receiver Todd Watkins. It was not until the fourth quarter that Beck began to show any ability at all, by which time it was too late for a tired and depleted defense to lend any help.

The Cougars could face bowl elimination by mid-October, as they can lose only two more games this season and still qualify.

On another note, on October 8, rookie head coach Bronco Mendenhall will still be looking for his first ever win over a Division I-A opponent.

Next up: for BYU, at New Mexico. For SDSU, at UNLV.

Utah 17, North Carolina 31.

The 3-1 Utes traveled to Chapel Hill to pick up a quick non-conference win over the 1-2 Tar Heels and fell apart, committing five turnovers and 11 penalties. Utah quarterback Brian Johnson was the Utes leading rusher, but had only 95 yards as running back Quinton Ganther was held to 53 yards on 11 carries.

Quirky stat of the week: although the two teams punted 10 times, there was only one punt return.

Next up: at Colorado State. A loss in Ft. Collins will eliminate the Utes from any meaningful chance at a conference title.

Wyoming 42, UNLV 14.

If it was not over by halftime when Wyoming led 28-3, it was on the ‘Pokes first possession of the second half when they drove 80 yards in 9 plays to go up 35-3. It was 42-3 earlier in the fourth quarter before coach Joe Glenn called off the dogs and UNLV picked up two meaningless TDs. Mike Sanford's Rebels fall to 1-4, and Wyoming improves to 4-1 and remains unbeaten in conference play, along with TCU and Colorado State.

Next up: for Wyoming, the make-or-break game of the season, as they host TCU. For UNLV, although the Rebels are hoping for Idaho again it's SDSU in Las Vegas.

Colorado State 41, Air Force 23.

The Rams dominated the Falcons in the Thursday night ESPN game, outgaining the visitors 551-357. Air Force also handed their hosts two turnovers to fall to 2-3 after opening 2-0.

Next up: for CSU, versus Utah. For Air Force, at Navy.

TCU 49, New Mexico 28.

After an emotional road win in overtime at BYU the Horned Frogs did not let down against the Lobos, instead taking control of the conference race. New Mexico played like a bad high school team, giving TCU the ball at their own 8, 6, and 29 yard lines on three of the Frogs' first four possessions, digging themselves a 28-0 hold in the process. The Lobos rallied to tie the score at 28 midway through the third quarter, but three TCU touchdowns put the game away. The classic formula for winning in the road is to avoid mistakes. It is a lesson New Mexico has not learned, as they gave the ball away six times and were penalized seven times. The Frogs scored on plays of plays of 29, 38, and 56 yards.

Next up: for TCU, at Wyoming. For New Mexico, versus New Mexico.

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