MWC Week #12 Wrap

BYU secured a share of the Mountain West Conference title, and can secure an outright title by winning one of its final two games. How did the rest of the conference do this past week, and what is the bowl outlook like? Read on to find out.

BYU 35, Wyoming 10

Max Hall led the Cougars to a road win, completing 26 of 37 passes for 331 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in slightly more than three quarters. It was the third consecutive game, and fifth overall, that Hall has passed for more than 300 yards. Austin Collie had 103 receiving yards on eight catches. Harvey Unga picked up 110 yards on the ground, his fifth 100-yard game as a freshman.

After scoring on their first possession, the Cougars stymied themselves, failing to pick up two yards on fourth down at the Wyoming 25. They then moved to the Cowboy 21 on their next possession, only to have a Mitch Payne field goal attempt blocked, the first of two on the day. The quarter ended only 7-0, but two efficient second quarter drives staked BYU to a commanding 21-3 halftime lead. When the Cougars scored on the first possession of the second half to go up 28-3, the game was effectively over.

The Cougar defense was excellent, holding the Cowboys to nine net rushing yards, and also picked off Wyoming quarterback Karsten Sween once. Through the air the Pokes gained 268 yards, picking up several long third downs to keep the home folks interested for most of the game.

C.J. Santiago was the Maytag Repairman of the game, being asked to punt only three times, the first with 5:35 left in the third quarter.

For Cougar fans, the major anxiety came from injuries to both Hall and Collie. Hall left the game late in the third quarter after landing on his throwing shoulder with a Cowboy defender on top of him. It was apparent on the next two plays that the arm was hurt, and when Hall tried to throw on the sidelines after the Cougars punted, he was in obvious pain. A trip to the locker room had the BYU faithful holding their breath, but Hall emerged and replaced Brendan Gaskins after two handoffs on the next Cougar possession. Hall threw one more pass, a short one that Unga turned into 43 yards, but it was his last of the afternoon. Gaskins did complete two of three attempts later in the quarter and may be needed next week. Postgame reports called Hall's injury a shoulder sprain, or a Grade I separation.

Collie reinjured the ankle that has put a crimp in the last half of his season when a pile of players rolled up on his leg as he was blocking. Cougar coaches said both Hall and Collie would play against Utah.

With the win, BYU clinched no worse that a tie for the conference title, but with Utah to play, that's not enough. Both schools know that no season can be called successful without a victory over their archrival. The Cougars appeared in both the AP and ESPN/Coaches polls at #23, their debut appearance this season.

Next up: For BYU, Utah. For Wyoming, the Border War, at Colorado State.

Utah 28, New Mexico 10

New Mexico lost four fumbles, while the Utes gave it back twice, and in Salt Lake City the Lobos lost the game, their slim hopes of sharing the conference title and any realistic chance of sneaking into a bowl game. Utah, riding a seven-game win streak, had control with a score of 14-0 at the half, forcing New Mexico to rely on its inconsistent passing game.

Defense, and the teams' own errors, dominated the game, as Utah had only 310 yards of offense and New Mexico had only 279. The Utes punted eight times, while the Lobos did so nine times.

The Utes have hopes for a conference title, but would need not only to beat the Cougars in Provo, but help the following week from San Diego State.

Next up: for Utah, at BYU. For New Mexico, UNLV.

Air Force 55, San Diego State 23

The Falcons had it all together as they scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, two in the second and three in the third, rolling up 569 rushing yards, 670 yards of offense and 30 first downs. Three Falcon backs rushed for over 100 yards, led by Jim Ollis with 163 and Chad Hall with 151.

Air Force has finished a fine regular season at 9-3 and awaits a bowl bid. With two BYU losses, they could still share the conference title with the Cougars and Utes. Should BYU beat Utah, the Falcons would be all alone in second place. Should BYU lose to Utah and beat SDSU, the Falcons would tie for second with the Utes, but would have the tiebreaker over them.

Next up: a bowl bid.

Colorado State 42, Georgia Southern 34

It wasn't as close as the score might indicate, but it wasn't a cakewalk for the Rams, either. The Eagle scored 17 fourth quarter points, but the last three came on a field goal with 1:41 remaining. Colorado State recovered the onside kick to win their first home game of the year.

Next up: Wyoming comes to town for the Border War. The surging Rams, winners of two of their last five and riding their longest win streak of the season (1) should beat the slumping Cowboys, losers of their last three and five of their last six.

TCU 34, UNLV 10

The Horned Frogs climbed above .500 for the fifth time in their up-down season, easily dispatching the visiting Rebels with 28 straight points to open the game.

With the win, TCU became bowl-eligible, but will need a win next week against the Aztecs – no mean feat - to have a winning regular season.

Up next: TCU, at SDSU. For UNLV, at New Mexico.

The Bowl Outlook

BYU, now at 8-2 and 6-0 in the conference, has clinched at least a tie for the conference title and can finish no worse than 8-4. The Cougars needs only one more victory to win the title outright. A third-straight trip to Las Vegas is likely, but could slip away if the Cougars finish the season with a two-game losing streak.

Air Force now looks likely to be in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Utah will likely be Navy's opponent in the Poinsettia Bowl, unless the Utes can beat BYU in Provo and BYU drops its finale at San Diego State.

TCU appears headed to Albuquerque after a lackluster 7-5 season, assuming it secures a win at San Diego State next week.

New Mexico's loss to Utah all but eliminated them from bowl consideration. A probable win over UNLV would leave the Lobos at 8-4, but an 8-4 New Mexico won't attract much love outside the Land of Enchantment.

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