MWC Week #8 Wrap

This past weekend, the Cougars took a break from conference play to host the Eastern Washington Eagles. However, the rest of the Mountain West Conference faced off against conference foes. Read about how each team did, and how the conference race is looking.

BYU 42, Eastern Washington 7

It was, as expected, all BYU from the get-go against the overmatched I-AA Eagles. With less than 90 seconds played, Corby Hodgkiss intercepted a Matt Nichols pass and returned it 39 yards for the opening score. Six minutes later Max Hall found Harvey Unga for 22 yards and the Cougars led 14-0. The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter and the half ended 21-7 in favor of BYU.

The second half opened with Bryce Mahuika returning the kickoff 61 yards to the Eastern Washington 19, and it was 28-7 with less than a minute gone in the half. Eastern Washington moved to the BYU 15, but on fourth-and-five the Eagles opted for a fake field goal, which failed. The Cougars moved the ball to midfield before punting, but an Eagle interception set BYU up for their fifth touchdown of the day.

The Cougars needed only 23 first downs and 377 yards to score 42 points, as they had excellent field position all day. Only one scoring drive was longer than 50 yards.

Fui Vakapuna saw playing time for the first time since breaking his hand. Every player on the defense saw his backup play, as did nearly every player on offense. Penalties were down to six, and the only BYU turnover was an interception by Hall in the first half. Hall threw for only 156 yards, but there were plenty of drops, which brought his stats down. Harvey Unga carried for 146 yards, making over 300 in the last two games.

Next up: For BYU, at San Diego State.

Air Force 20, Wyoming 12

It was a tough, close game, but in the end it was decided by mistakes. The game saw one of the oddest sequences of plays possible. Late in the third quarter, trailing 9-7, the Falcons forced a punt and began at their own 23, moving to their own 39 in four plays. On third-and-four, quarterback Shaun Carney dashed 48 yards to the Cowboy 13. After making it first-and-goal at the three, Carney carried again but fumbled. Wyoming then moved 79 yards in just eight plays, but fumbled at the Air Force 13, where Bobby Giannini scooped it up and scooted 87 yards for a touchdown to put the Falcons up 14-9.

Karsten Sween tossed three picks for the Cowboys against only one touchdown, bringing his season totals to 12 and 8, respectively. His last interception of the day led to the final Falcon touchdown and to Ian Hetrick replacing Sween on the Cowboys' final drive, which ended with a field goal with just over two minutes to play. The Falcons recovered the onside kick and picked up a final first down to run out the clock.

The loss keeps Air Force tied for second in the loss column with New Mexico and hot on BYU's heels. It also knocks the Cowboys into a three-way tie for third in the loss column with Utah and San Diego State, likely ending their title hopes.

Next up: for Wyoming, UNLV. For Air Force, at New Mexico Thursday night in another elimination game for both teams involved.

Utah 27, TCU 20

Four straight wins for the Utes and they're back to the outskirts, at least, of the title chase. That's the bright side. Of concern, they didn't win the game as much as the Horned Frogs lost it. Utah managed only 120 passing yards, 107 rushing yards and 16 first downs. Fortunately for the Utes, it was all they needed, as TCU coughed up the ball four times (once for a touchdown) and missed a 22-yard field goal attempt on their way to falling to 4-4.

Darrell Mack rushed for 100 yards for the third straight game, but needed 32 carries to do it, an average of only 3.125 yards per carry.

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

New Mexico 20, San Diego State 17

It was two years ago that New Mexico's quarterback fumbled after picking up a first down that would likely have beaten BYU. In that game, BYU used the turnover to turn the game – and their season – around. This time the Lobos were on the other end of such a play. The Aztecs led 17-13 with 1:46 remaining and needed only to run out the clock to knock off one of the conference leaders and improve to 3-4, giving the Aztecs their biggest win since upsetting BYU in 2005. Quarterback Kevin O'Connell picked up a first down at the Lobo 29 but fumbled. The Lobos fell on the ball at the 35, and eight plays later Rodney Ferguson ran it in from six yards out with 15 second remaining.

San Diego state played well enough to win, picking up 299 yards against a good defense and holding a decent Lobo ground game to 126 yards. Are the Cougars paying attention?

Next up: For New Mexico, Air Force Thursday night. For San Diego State, BYU.

Colorado State 48, UNLV 23

That's not a misprint, folks. Colorado State, which hadn't scored more than 28 points in any game this year and only 53 in its last three games combined, used five Rebel turnovers to snap a losing streak that dated back 53 weeks. Rebel quarterback Omar Clayton, starting in favor of the benched Travis Dixon, looked for all the world like Ram quarterback Caleb Hanie, throwing three interceptions and fumbling the ball away twice. The first time was at the Rebel 28 on the game's first series, and the second time at the Rebel 45 on their second series.

Colorado State returned interceptions for two touchdowns – one 99 yards – but also racked up 497 yards of offense on a night when all the stars finally aligned for them in the desert. Hanie kept the lid on the mistakes, throwing only 19 times and completing 13 for 218 yards, one touchdown and – most important – no interceptions.

Next up: for UNLV, at Wyoming. For Colorado State, Utah.

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