Mountain West Football: Week 1 Winners And Losers

Mountain West Football: Week 1 Winners And Losers

Who came out ahead and who left something to be desired across the Mountain West in Week 1 of the college football season?

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Encouragements and letdowns from the week that was.

Week 1 has come and gone and, folks, college football is back. For a lot of Mountain West fanbases, however, the results of the first full weekend of college football action surely left a sour taste in the mouth while a lucky couple found a way to get things against Power 5 opponents.

Here are Mountain West football’s winners and losers for Week 1.


1. Wyoming

You might be forgiven for writing off the Cowboys after they fell behind 17-0 by the end of the first quarter, but they clawed their way back out of the huge hole one Texas Tech mistake at a time: A second-quarter Tyler Shough interception turned into a Caleb Driskell touchdown reception; a blocked field goal in the third quarter, one of three Red Raider misfires, turned into three more Cowboys points; a dinged-up Andrew Peasley ran for four first downs and a touchdown after halftime.

When Sam Scott scored the two-point conversion that sealed the win in double overtime, he finished a comeback that came about despite Wyoming getting outgained on a per-play basis, 5.4 yards per play to 4.1. That was a product of strong defense (three sacks, nine pass breakups) and timely third-down production (2-of-7 in the first half, 4-of-8 in the second half and OT), exactly the formula Craig Bohl must hope his team can replicate more consistently in the weeks to come.

2. Fresno State quarterback Mikey Keene

Power 5 opponent on the road? Check. Absorbed some punishing hits, enough to be sidelined briefly? Check. Balling out of his mind, anyway? Check. Keene’s Fresno State debut had more than a few shades of Jake Haener’s now-legendary performance at UCLA in 2021.

The Bulldogs quarterback set personal bests by completing 31 of 44 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns against one interception, rallying the road team from a 28-17 deficit just after halftime to secure a season-opening win over Purdue. He was particularly potent on Fresno State’s final drive with 4:30 left in the fourth quarterback, going 6-of-6 for 76 yards with the game-winning 22-yard connection to Erik Brooks.

3. The San Diego State secondary

The Aztecs may have taken their foot off the gas just a touch in the second half of their home win against Idaho State, but position coaches Kyle Hoke and Demetrius Sumler should be pleased with the way their cornerbacks and safeties took care of business. Dezjhon Malone led the way with an interception and four pass breakups, Cedarious Barfield added another interception, and the pass defense held the Bengals to a combined 47.6% completion rate and 4.9 yards per attempt. Things will get tougher in the coming weeks against UCLA and Oregon State, but that’ll play.


1. Any Mountain West team playing against the Pac-12

Well, that wasn’t pretty at all. Not only did the Mountain West finish Week 1 with a 0-5 record against Pac-12 opponents, the conference got outscored by an average margin of 50.2 to 19.6. No one was immune to getting pasted, either: Nevada, unsurprisingly, allowed 66 points to USC, Colorado State got bullied for 50, and Boise State allowed Washington to score 28 points in the second quarter and 21 more in the fourth quarter.

There are still a few weeks left to right to right this particular ship, but at least Mountain West fans can take solace that they didn’t get the Portland State treatment.

2. Utah State’s banged-up defense

The Aggies aren’t here for the usual reasons but because they battled the Iowa Hawkeyes to a ten-point loss while dealing with some pretty heavy losses on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Hale Motu’apuaka didn’t play while young linebacker Max Alford may have suffered a season-ending injury, but Utah State held Iowa to 4.1 yards per play and got reasonably successful debuts from the likes of Anthony Switzer, Jaiden Francois, and Bronson Olevao Jr.

There’s plenty of season left, but the Aggies will have to hope they don’t need to dig too far down the depth chart too soon.

3. Colorado State’s offensive line

The more things changed in the trenches, the more they stayed the same for the Rams in Week 1. Much of the attention after Saturday’s lopsided loss to Washington State focused on Clay Millen’s underwhelming stat line but it’s worth noting that, according to Pro Football Focus, among the 14 Mountain West quarterbacks who have at least ten dropbacks in the young season, Millen and Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi are 13th and 12th, respectively, in time to throw per attempt (2.40 and 2.41 seconds).

New starting tackles Saveyon Henderson and Drew Moss combined to allow six quarterback hurries and nine pressures on 43 pass-blocking snaps. Run blocking wasn’t much better against Washington State as Avery Morrow and Kobe Johnson combined to average 2.5 yards per carry. The Rams have two weeks to fix all of this in preparation for the suddenly resurgent Colorado Buffaloes in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, but if the improvement doesn’t start up front then the rest may not matter.


Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire