BYU is New Mexico's biggest game of the year, every year. This year, they had it in their grasp and literally fumbled it away, turning the ball over five times to squander their best chance to win a conference opener in Coach Rocky Long's eight years at the helm.
Both offenses struggled in the first quarter, with the only score coming on the game's fourth play from scrimmage when Bryan Kehl intercepted Donovan Porterie at the New Mexico 37 and took it to the end zone. The Cougars began to click late in the quarter, putting together a short drive after starting near midfield. But, on third-and-eleven from the New Mexico 16, Max Hall was intercepted in the end zone.
The Lobo offense woke up midway through second quarter, also on a short field, but only pulled within eight, 14-6, after missing the PAT. The Cougars responded by moving quickly to midfield, but after a first down at midfield, the threat expired following three straight incompletions.
After holding the Cougars to 13 yards on their first possession of the second half, New Mexico moved to the BYU 38, but Bryan Kehl came up big to stuff a fourth-and-one. Two Hall incompletions were followed by a 62-yard bomb to Austin Collie to make it 21-6. After shutting down the next Lobo possession, the Cougars were moving with a chance to put the game away. They had first down at their own 41, but this season's demons reappeared with back-to-back holding penalties, converting a first-and-ten to a first-and-thirty. A bad snap was recovered by New Mexico at the BYU 19, and four plays later it was 21-13.
The Lobos shut down the Cougars and a 71-yard screen play, followed by a two-point conversion, tied the score at 21. After another BYU punt, New Mexico quickly picked up a first down, but another fumble gave the Cougars the ball at the Lobo 32 yard line. Hall found Dennis Pitta to put BYU back on top, 28-21, but after two sputtering BYU possessions, New Mexico moved 38 yards and kicked a field goal to draw within four, at 28-24. When BYU was forced to punt on its next possession, the Lobos were right where they wanted to be: in possession of the ball and the change to forge a time-consuming drive to take the lead and leave little time for the Cougars to respond. However, Freddie Solomon fumbled the punt, the Cougars recovered at the Lobo 21, and six plays later, and after a bizarre seven-minute review that took away a clear touchdown catch by Andrew George, a Mitch Payne field goal made it 31-24.
Still, in light of the gift from the Mountain West officiating crew, New Mexico was alive with 4:12 left, but three plays netted only six yards and Coach Rocky Long opted to punt with 3:18 remaining. A Hall scramble for a first down on third-and-ten closed out the Lobos' hopes.
For the first time this year, Hall's completion percentage was held to under 50 percent, completing only 18 of 40, but numerous drops by the Cougar receiving corps contributed to the passing woes.
Next up: for BYU, a bye, followed by a trip to Las Vegas. For New Mexico, a bye, followed by a trip to Wyoming.
The Aggies hung with the Utes until halfway through the second quarter, when Brian Johnson found Marquis Wilson for a 38-yard touchdown to put Utah up 21-10, the first of four straight Utah scores. Utah State only found the end zone once more, with that score coming with 2:33 left in the game.
Next up: at Louisville Friday night.
The Rams brought the nation's second-longest losing streak to Ft. Worth, and the Horned Frogs made sure it got one game longer. Colorado State managed only 286 yards of offense as quarterback Caleb Hanie threw three interceptions, bringing his total to seven in four games, versus seven touchdowns in that same span.
Next up: for TCU, at Wyoming. For Colorado State, versus SDSU.
The Falcons rolled up 474 yards of offense and 25 first downs, but gave up two big plays in the fourth quarter, losing the lead and the game. Navy has now won 10 straight over its sister academies. Quarterback Shaun Carney became the Falcons' career total offense leader, tallying 300 yards of offense all by himself.
Next up: UNLV.
It was over in the second quarter (if not upon kickoff) when the Bearcats went up 28-3. The only surprise was that 24,000 showed up to watch.
Next up: at Colorado State.
UNLV 20, Nevada 27
It was a hard-fought game between two evenly matched, not very good in-state rivals, with the score being tied four times before the Wolfpack connected on a 43-yard pass with 27 seconds left for the final score.
Next up: at Air Force.
Wyoming did not play. Next up: TCU.