MWC Wrap: Week #8

After a couple of upsets and a blowout victory, there is finally a little separation in the Mountain West Conference standings. The BYU Cougars have the first place spot all to themselves followed closely by Air Force and Wyoming. The Cowboys must be considered the surprise team of the conference eight weeks into the season.

BYU 52, UNLV 7.

UNLV has had a lot of losses this year, but BYU gave the Rebels their most lopsided one, with room to spare. So early was this game in the bag that two Cougars rushed for more than 100 yards, and Fui Vakapuna was not one of them. In just three quarters Curtis Brown picked up 149 yards on 19 carries, scoring one touchdown, to move within 253 yards of Jamal Willis's school record. True freshman Mike Hauge had eight carries for 116 yards and one touchdown, on an 87-yard dash. Joe Semanoff, filling in for both Vakapuna and Manase Tonga, carried five times for 31 yards.

Coupled with Air Force's stunning loss at San Diego State, BYU is now all alone in first place for the first time in five years.

This game was significant for three reasons: Vakapuna got a rest, the Cougars stayed unbeaten in conference, and lots of backups saw valuable game time. Much more significant will be next week's contest against Air Force, as the Falcons will be desperate to keep pace with BYU.

Next up: For BYU, at Air Force. For UNLV, at Utah.

New Mexico 34, Utah 31.

Utah's season continues to unravel. No turnovers, only four penalties for 24 yards, and nearly 400 yards of total offense should be enough to beat a mediocre New Mexico team, but Utah's defense gave up 467 yards to an offense that has struggled all year. A Brett Ratliff pass to Derrek Richards with 3:27 left in the first half gave the Utes a 24-3 lead, and they seemed on the verge of blowing it open. Instead, their defense gave up 83 yards in five plays to end the half, and three more unanswered scores to open the second half to trail 24-27. Still, when Eric Shyne intercepted a bobbled pass and returned it to the New Mexico 23, there was life. A personal foul gave the Utes the ball at the Lobo eight, and three plays later Utah was back in the lead. All they needed was a stop to seal the win, but a 10-play Lobo drive put New Mexico back in front with 2:09 remaining. Utah had time, but could not move the ball when it counted and that is where it ended.

Next up: For New Mexico, UNLV.

Wyoming 24, Colorado State 0.

The Cowboys continue to impress, posting a shutout in the Border War for the first time in 47 years. The game was close statistically, but the Rams handed three turnovers to their hosts while Wyoming had none. Freshman Karsten Sween completed 10 of 22 for 152 yards, no interceptions and two touchdowns. With the win the 'Pokes stayed in the conference race, only a half game behind BYU. Next week will be a major test for the Cowboys if they want to prove they are the real deal, as they travel to Ft. Worth.

Next up: For Wyoming, at TCU. For Colorado State, New Mexico.

San Diego State 19, Air Force 12.

It is hard to rush for nearly 300 yards and lose, but Air Force did it. It was not turnovers—the Falcons only had one that mattered. It was not penalties—Air Force had six to the Aztecs' five. It was not time of possession—the Falcons had the ball for 35:29 to SDSU's 24:31. First downs? Nope. Air Force 23, SDSU 15. The Falcons moved the ball all night, but could not turn the yardage into points. Air Force seemed to have dodged a bullet when it forged a nine-play drive to open the fourth quarter with what seemed to be a tying score, but Zach Sasser missed the PAT, leaving the Falcons trailing 10-9. Sasser redeemed himself with a 38-yard field goal with 3:06 remaining and Air Force only needed a defensive stop. Instead, Kevin Craft led a 12-play drive that culminated in a 38-yard field goal for a 13-12 lead with three seconds remaining. Air Force's desperation attempt to get creative with the kickoff led to a fumble into their end zone, which SDSU recovered to account for the final score. With the loss, the Falcons fell to a second place with Wyoming, a half game behind BYU.

Next up: For Air Force, BYU. For SDSU, Cal Poly.

TCU 31, Army 7.

The Horned Frogs handled the Cadets with ease, leading 31-3 at the half and letting the air out of the ball in the second half.

Next up, Wyoming.

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