MWC Wrap Week #2

Mountain West Conference football teams improved on last week's 4-4 record with a 5-3 performance on Saturday. Unlike week 1, the conference took care of its I-AA opponents. Colorado State contributed the only win over a BCS school. The three losses came against BCS teams by a combined total of eight points.

BYU 49, Tulsa 24.

I said last week that BYU appears to have a defense, albeit a young and inexperienced defensive line. The Cougars proved that last week was no accident when they stopped a Tulsa team that is better offensively than Arizona. After a slow start, adjustments took effect and BYU held the Golden Hurricane to 243 yards and 17 points until it no longer mattered. After a 53-minute lightning delay, both teams' backups added points and yards.

It looked good for Tulsa into the second quarter, when the Hurricane tied the score at 7-7 with 11:03 left in the half. When they forced a three-and-out, blocked a Derek McLaughlin punt, and took over at the BYU 15, they looked ready to open a 14-7 lead and take control of the game. The Cougar defense held, however, limiting the damage to a field goal, and that was the turning point. The Cougars promptly marched on a 13-play drive culminating in a Manase Tonga touchdown and a 14-10 lead, forced Tulsa into a three-and-out, then scored again in only six plays to go up 21-10. After the break BYU sandwiched touchdowns around a single score for the visitors and the deal was sealed.

The O-line vowed to improve after last week's anemic performance at Arizona, and it delivered. Curtis Brown rushed for 125 yards on 21 carries and Fui Vakapuna had 96 on 11. John Beck was efficient, if not spectacular, completing 16 of only 21 attempts for 240 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Penalties remain a problem. The Cougars got flagged 11 times for 90 yards, to only three fouls for 28 yards on Tulsa. If they expect to compete with Boston College, the penalties must stop, and the defense has to get out of the blocks quickly.

Next up: at Boston College, a 34-33 winner at home in double overtime over #18 Clemson.

Utah 45, Northern Arizona 7.

Looking for a breather after scheduling UCLA, the Utes inked a deal with the I-AA Lumberjacks. After staggering out of the chute, they got their breather. Aided by six first quarter penalties against the hosts, NAU managed a seven-point lead, but the Utes righted themselves and coasted the rest of the way, rolling up 512 yards of offense.

Next up: at Utah State.

Air Force 30, Tennessee 31.

Never schedule Air Force if you are looking for a week off. After a huge upset win over #9 Cal last week, and with #7 Florida coming to town next week, the Vols could have been looking past the Falcons, who were playing their season opener. Air Force never gives up, and went toe-to-toe with Tennessee for 60 minutes. With the Vols leading 31-17, the Falcons went on a 13-play drive, recovered an onside kick, scored in six plays, and had to decide whether to take the tie and force overtime on the road against a powerful foe, or roll the dice on a two-point conversion attempt and the huge upset. To Fisher DeBerry's credit, he went for the win, but the rushing attempt was thrown for a loss. Another onside kick was recovered by Tennessee and they escaped with their lives.

Next up: a bye, followed by a trip to Laramie.

TCU 46, Cal-Davis 13.

The Aggies actually had a lead, at 3-0, but it did not last long. This was a yawner over a overmatched I-AA foe, but the Frogs are 2-0 heading into their showdown with their in-state rival Red Raiders.

Next up: #24 Texas Tech.

Colorado State 14, Colorado 10.

It wasn't pretty. Between them, the teams had only 26 first downs, 393 yards of offense, and no scoring for the last 34 minutes, but the Rams go to 2-0 while their archrival falls to 0-2. Caleb Hanie was the man of the hour for CSU, completing 20 of 23 for 233 yards for one touchdown and no interceptions.

Next up: at Nevada.

New Mexico 34, New Mexico State 28.

Seeking to rebound from an embarrassing opening loss to a I-AA foe, the Lobos traveled to Las Cruces to take on their in-state rival. It took a quarter, but 17 points in the second frame banished memories of the Lobo's offensive woes in their opener. Although New Mexico gets the W, it was more a case of the Aggies giving the game away. They had 528 yards of total offense and 28 first downs but also had four fumbles and one interception. The Lobos had no turnovers.

Next up: versus Missouri.

UNLV 10, Iowa State 16.

The Rebels traveled to the Midwest and gave the Big XII Cyclones all they wanted. Even after losing starting quarterback Rocky Hinds to a knee injury in the first half, the game ended with UNLV at the Iowa State 13 with a first down, but a sack followed by three incomplete passes ended the threat.

Next up: at Hawai'i.

Wyoming 12, Virginia 13, OT.

Virginia beat a Mountain West foe for the first time since winning at BYU in 1999—the Cavaliers lost to CSU in 2002 and BYU in 2000. The Cowboys were not the doormats the Cavaliers expected. Wyoming outplayed Virginia in every way, but two turnovers and a missed PAT in overtime cost the ‘Pokes dearly.

Next up: versus Boise State.

San Diego State did not play. Next up: at Wisconsin.

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