MWC Week #4 Wrap

The fourth week of the 2008 college football season for the Mountain West Conference featured some thrilling contests both in and out of conference play.

#11 BYU 44, Wyoming 0

Is it possible for a 44-point shutout to be closer than the score indicates? If so, this one was. Wyoming will struggle this year on offense, but their defense is respectable. The Cowboys held one of the best offenses in the nation scoreless through the first quarter, and gave up only 23 first downs and 359 yards of total offense the entire game. UCLA gave up 521 yards, and Washington gave up 475. On offense, the Cowboys had 18 first downs and 273 total yards, but they made a difficult task impossible by giving up six turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Max Hall completed only 16-of-26 for 190 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions before leaving the game with 6:00 remaining in the third quarter. Brendan Gaskins in relief completed 3-of-7. Harvey Unga picked up 95 yards on only 19 carries, Fui Vakapuna had 28 yards on five carries, and the big lead enabled four other Cougars to get carries.

The big - and surprising - story is the Cougar defense. It was inexperienced coming into the season, and it showed in the first two games. Defensive coordinator Jaime Hill deserves accolades for quickly getting the defense into shape. For the first time in 23 years, the Cougars recorded back-to-back shutouts and have a good shot at a third on their next outing.

Next up: for BYU, a bye followed by a trip to Logan on Friday, October 3, the Cougars' first visit to Utah State since 2002 when they won 35-34 after trailing by 27 at halftime. Freshman Curtis Brown sparked that win with 217 rushing yards. For Wyoming, Bowling Green samples Laramie's charms.

#20 Utah 30, Air Force 23

The Utes had a close call, but it was largely the product of their own mistakes. The Falcons were held to nine first downs and 191 yards of total offense, including only 53 rushing yards, but three Utah turnovers in the first half, including a fumble returned for a touchdown, led to a 16-9 Air Force lead. In the second half, however, the Utes held the Falcons to a single touchdown.

The winning touchdown came with only 58 seconds left on a 9-yard run by Darrell Mack. Both he and Matt Asiata rushed for more than 100 yards.

Next up: for Utah, former Ute head coach Ron McBride brings the Weber State Wildcats to Salt Lake City. For Air Force, a bye, followed by Navy.

TCU 48, SMU 7

Former Southwest Conference cross-town rivals squared off, and the Horned Frogs barely broke a sweat against the Mustangs. It was 34-0 before SMU finally got on the board late in the third quarter. The Mustangs gave up three turnovers, but the Horned Frogs really didn't need them, piling up 498 yards of offense and 23 first down and holding the ball for more than 36 minutes.

Next up: at #2 Oklahoma.

Colorado State 28, Houston 25

For the second straight week Houston lost to a Mountain West squad. Colorado State never trailed, but it was a battle to the very end. To preserve the win, Klint Kubiak intercepted a Case Keenum pass in the Rams' end zone. The Cougars could have sent the game to overtime with a field goal, but with third-and-six at the Ram 15 they elected to go for the win.

Colorado State is developing some genuine quarterback play. Billy Farris completed 24-of-33 for 276 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Houston dominated the game statistically, but gave up four turnovers to none for the Rams.

Next up: at Cal.

UNLV 34, Iowa State 31 (OT)

The Rebels proved last week's upset of then-No. 15 Arizona State was no fluke.

Yes, Iowa State is dismal. Its two wins are over the Kent State Golden Flashes and the FCS South Dakota State Jackrabbits are likely to be its only two this year. Still, at halftime UNLV had 15 first downs to one for the Cyclones, and 288 yards of offense to 38 - all without the benefit of any Iowa State turnovers and only three penalties - and led 21-0. The Rebels needed every point.

The Cyclones scored 28 second-half points in regulation, the last with three seconds remaining, to force overtime, the second straight for the Rebels. Iowa State was forced to settle for a field goal on its overtime possession and UNLV's Omar Clayton found freshman sensation Phillip Payne in the end zone on the Rebels' first overtime play to end the game.

UNLV appeared to have the game in hand after downing a 52-yard punt at the Iowa State 2-yard line with only 1:34 remaining. On fourth-and-two from the Cyclones' 23, quarterback Austen Arnaud scrambled for 25 yards to midfield. One more pass took the visitors to the UNLV 28. After an incompletion the Rebels called timeout with 10 seconds left, hoping in vain to get their defensive act together. When play resumed, Arnaud found R.J. Sumrall for the tying score.

Clayton finished 15-of-21 for 235 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, while Frank Summers picked up 109 yards on the ground on 27 carries.

Next up: Nevada.

New Mexico 14, Tulsa 56

The Lobos proved last week's upset of Arizona was a fluke.

A week after going toe-to-toe with Arizona of the Pac-10, New Mexico got wasted by Tulsa of Conference USA. Twenty-eight first downs to 16 and 606 yards of offense to 316 hardly tell the story. It was 21-0 at the end of the first quarter, 35-0 at halftime, and 56-7 until the Lobos got a final touchdown with 3:45 to play.

New Mexico starter Donovan Porterie was 11-of-13 for 92 yards, no touchdowns and one interception before being knocked out of the game with 3:42 remaining in the first half.

Next up: at New Mexico State.

San Diego State did not play. Next up: versus Idaho.

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