Mountain West Football: Week 11 Winners And Losers
We take a look at the Mountain West’s winners and losers from Week 11 of college football.
Encouragements and letdowns from the week that was.
Week 11 of Mountain West football didn’t let us down. The division leaders took care of business while rivalry games featured some unexpected twists, but despite the fun and games it wasn’t… well, fun and games for everyone. As you well know, for every winner there must be a loser.
The Border War hasn’t always been competitive in recent years — before yesterday, the series between the Cowboys and Colorado State had seen just two games decided by fewer than ten points going back to 2010 — but the men in brown and gold emerged victorious from a 14-13 fist fight on Saturday.
Backup quarterback Jayden Clemons didn’t shy away from the pressure after starter Andrew Peasley got knocked out in the first half, finishing the game 7-of-11 with 90 yards and a touchdown, but the Wyoming defense led the way despite playing stretches of the game without cornerback Cameron Stone, linebacker Easton Gibbs, and defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole. They sacked Colorado State’s Clay Millen five times and erased a second-quarter red zone threat with a Deron Harrell interception, surviving a monster game by Tory Horton and a missed Michael Boyle field goal late in the fourth quarter to hang on to the Bronze Boot.
Better yet, the Cowboys also remained on a collision course with the Boise State Broncos for a big Mountain division clash in Laramie next Saturday.
2. San Diego State quarterback Jalen Mayden
The Aztecs posted one of the more shocking results of the weekend on Saturday night, confounding the San Jose State defense with one of the team’s best overall passing performances in recent memory in a 43-27 win.
Much of that credit is owed to Mayden, who overcame a shaky start to connect with three different SDSU receivers for touchdowns and finished the night 17-of-22 with 268 passing yards. He also added a team-high 61 rushing yards and accounted for seven first downs on the ground, making him just the 12th Mountain West quarterback to post those kinds of numbers in a single game.
3. Utah State safety Ike Larsen
After flashing some playmaking ability in non-conference play, Larsen has stepped into the starting lineup in recent weeks as the Aggies have battled the injury bug on defense and that move paid off big time in a wild 41-34 win over Hawaii.
Larsen collected six tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and, most importantly, a pair of interceptions against Hawaii quarterback Brayden Schager. His pick-six in the fourth quarter would prove to be the difference maker for the Aggies, giving them just enough breathing room to withstand a late Warriors rally. Utah State might not have had the title defense they hoped for, but Larsen is looking more and more like a defensive cornerstone.
No one expected Saturday night’s contest with Boise State to be very close, but the Wolf Pack hardly showed up at Mackay Stadium in a 41-3 blowout, a rock bottom which proved once and for all that fans will need patience in this rebuild.
The offensive line struggled to protect Shane Illingworth, who completed just 13-of-30 passes for 123 yards while absorbing four sacks. The defense couldn’t contain the resurgent Broncos rushing attack, tallying just two tackles for loss while allowing the quartet of George Holani, Ashton Jeanty, Tyler Crowe, and Taylen Green to score four times and average a staggering 8.2 yards per carry. Brandon Talton even had a field goal attempt blocked in his return to action after missing five games. Things should get better in Reno again, but it’ll take time.
2. New Mexico defensive coordinator Rocky Long
Long has done very good work with the Lobos defense over the last few years, but the Air Force Falcons have absolutely bedeviled his unit in that time and did so again on Saturday afternoon in a 35-3 romp.
New Mexico managed just three tackles for loss while Air Force ran the ball 70 times, averaging 6.1 yards per carry with four rushing touchdowns. They can be forgiven at least a little for getting zero help on offense, but it’s somewhat concerning that the Lobos’ strength has generally regressed against above-average offenses in conference play.
3. UNLV’s secondary
The Rebels let an upset bid slip away in a 37-30 loss on Friday night, but while settling for field goals too many times may get more attention, the defensive backfield had no answer once again for Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener and wide receiver Jalen Moreno-Cropper.
While Jerrae Williams recovered a fumble in the second quarter, UNLV had no pass breakups against the Bulldogs and enabled Haener and Moreno-Cropper to connect eight times for 164 yards and two touchdowns. That was a big reason why Fresno State didn’t even have to punt, the first time since 2008 that had happened to the Bulldogs, so while the rest of the schedule is much friendly for their damaged bowl eligibility hopes, the pressure is on Marcus Arroyo and his staff to keep that from getting away for good.