MWC Wrap: Week #4

Conference play started for four teams this week with Air Force and Utah notching their first Mountain West victories of the season. BYU and New Mexico also recorded wins over WAC and Conference USA opponents respectively. The conference went 4-2 with three MWC teams enjoying a bye.

BYU 38, Utah State 0.

If there was any lingering diffidence after last week's heartbreaking loss at Boston College, it did not show on Saturday. Then again, Utah State is not a team to provide much of a test, having failed to score an offensive touchdown all year.

Some sputtering might have been expected on offense, with seldom-used backup quarterback Jason Beck playing in place of starter John Beck, Jake Kuresa moving to center in place of the suspended Sete Aulai, and Travis Bright starting in place of Eddie Keele, out for the season with a torn ACL. The offense was efficient, however, committing only four penalties against an instate rival and fumbling not at all. The only hiccup was one interception. The Cougars missed nary a beat, scoring early and often. Every quarter saw a BYU touchdown, with Fui Vakapuna picking up three on only 13 carries. Beck threw for his first score as a Cougar, completing 20 of 28 for 305 yards and one interception.

On the other side of the ball the Cougars managed their first shutout since laying a bagel on UNLV in 1999. Aaron Wagner led the pack with six tackles and six assists while Cameron Jensen had six and five, but overall the defense was not as sharp as it needs to be, allowing 242 yards against an Aggie squad that could manage only 98 versus Utah last week. The D-line should also have had more pressure on the Aggie quarterback, picking up only one sack.

Next up: at TCU on Thursday night at 5:00 p.m. Central Time.

Utah 38, San Diego State 7.

The Aztecs can't win for losing, handing their guest five interceptions including a pair returned 30 yards for touchdowns, and being penalized eight times. On one series a first and goal at the Utah 10 led to a rush for one yard, a rush for a loss of a yard, a sack of 13 yards, and a rush for one yard. Game over. Look for the Aztecs to pack it in of they drop next week's game at San Jose State.

Next up: for Utah, Boise State. For SDSU, at San Jose State.

Air Force 31, Wyoming 24.

You'd think when you're able to run 70 (yes, 70) rushing plays, control the ball for over 40 minutes and roll up 24 first downs you'd cruise to victory. As it was, the Falcons needed a little help to preserve a win and it came in the form of a Wyoming fumble. After the Cowboys kicked a field goal to draw within a touchdown an onside kick failed. The ‘Pokes managed to force a three-and-out and had some life left with 1:32 and the ball on their own 25, but a fumble on fourth down spelled doom for Wyoming.

Next up: for Air Force, New Mexico. For Wyoming, at Syracuse.

New Mexico 26, UTEP 13.

The surprise of the week came as UTEP traveled to Albuquerque and got spanked. The Miners had handled SDSU in a road opener, then nearly upset #24 Texas Tech, losing only on a field goal in overtime, and looked to roll over the struggling Lobos. Instead, New Mexico kept constant pressure on record-setting UTEP quarterback Jordan Palmer, forcing him into short throws and plenty of mistakes, including intentional grounding in his own end zone. The Lobos had more first downs, more total offense, more time of possession and fewer penalties in a complete team victory heading into conference play.

Next up: versus at Air Force..

TCU did not play. Next up: BYU.

Colorado State did not play. Next up: at Fresno.

UNLV did not play. Next up: at Nevada.

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