This was the first season of the post-Boise State era in the WAC, and it generally lived down to expectations.
Each league team had at least one loss by the second week of the season; that meant basically no national attention, but it did lead to an intriguing title race. Seven of the league's eight teams won at least four games overall and four won at least six, and six teams won at least three league games.
Utah State had a golden opportunity in Week One to make some national noise, leading defending national champion Auburn into the waning minutes of the game. But Auburn scored twice in the final two minutes to escape, so there would be no attention-grabbing win for a WAC team this season.
WAC AT A GLANCE
Coach of year:
Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes
Player of year:
Utah State RB Robert Turbin
Freshman of year:
Nevada QB Cody Fajardo
Coordinator of year:
Utah State offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin
Defensive player of year:
Nevada T Brett Roy
Defensive freshman of year:
San Jose State T Travis Raciti
Defensive coordinator of year:
Louisiana Tech's Tommy Spangler
Louisiana Tech did win at Ole Miss on Nov. 12, but by then, the Rebels basically had thrown in the towel on their way to a 2-10 finish.
Tech did garner notice for some close losses. There was a two-point setback in the opener at Southern Miss. There was a one-point home loss in Week 3 to Houston, a game in which the Bulldogs blew a 34-14 fourth-quarter lead. And there was a six-point overtime loss at Mississippi State on Sept. 24. Thus, the Bulldogs are 12 points away from an 11-1 record this season.
They get another chance for an attention-grabbing win when they play TCU in the Dec. 21 Poinsettia Bowl.
[Video: Bowl games to watch ]
Player of year: Utah State TB Robert Turbin. Turbin ran for 1,296 yards and 13 TDs as a sophomore in 2009, but he missed last season with a torn ACL. He returned with a vengeance this season. He had two TDs in a heart-breaking loss in the opener against Auburn and finished with 19 rushing scores. He also has run for 1,416 yards and has four TD receptions. Turbin has seven 100-yard games this season and is 10th nationally in rushing at 118.0 yards per game.
Freshman of year: Nevada QB Cody Fajardo. Fajardo played sparingly in the first four games but became the starter in Game 5. He is not a polished passer, but he is a dangerous runner in the Wolf Pack's "Pistol" offense. He has thrown for 1,647 yards and six TDs and has rushed for 680 yards and 11 scores.
Coach of year: Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes. The Bulldogs are the Eastern-most program in the league, and their performance this season had everyone else in the conference bowing in their direction. Tech opened 1-4, with the fourth loss a lopsided affair at home against Hawaii. But the Bulldogs didn't lose again and won the league crown. The defense stiffened, and a change in starting quarterbacks also provided a spark. Junior Colby Cameron became the starter for the final five games and he responded with 11 TDs and no picks.
Coordinator of year: Utah State offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin. Despite playing most of the season with true freshman QB Chuckie Keeton, the savvy Baldwin did a nice job of putting the ball in the hands of the right guy at the right time. Having a healthy Turbin was a boost, but Baldwin also received good performances from two quarterbacks, two other tailbacks and a solid group of receivers. The Aggies scored at least 34 points seven times and are sixth nationally in rushing offense (277.5 ypg).
Biggest surprise, team: Utah State. The offense carried the load for most of the season, and as a result, the Aggies are 7-5 and headed to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Picked to finish in the bottom half of the league, they instead tied for second and are enjoying their first winning season since 1996. Utah State is in the postseason for the first time since 1997 and just the fifth time in school history.
Biggest disappointment, team: Hawaii. The Warriors were the preseason pick to win the league by most prognosticators, but a tough run of injuries and a surprisingly inconsistent offense led to just their first losing record since 2000. Hawaii was 4-3 at home and also lost four times on the road, including a startling 20-point loss to UNLV in which they lost four fumbles. The mediocre record led to coach Greg McMackin's retirement after five season.
Biggest surprise, player: San Jose State K Jens Alvernik. Alvernik, 27, is a native of Sweden who arrived at San Jose State last fall after two seasons at City College of San Francisco, where he kicked 22 field goals in two seasons. He punted 10 times last season but didn't attempt a field goal. The Spartans returned K Harrison Waid, but Alvernik eventually beat him out, starting with the fourth game of the season. Alvernik played in nine games and finished the season 18-of-25 on field goals. He finished third in the league in scoring, and his 8.9 points per game ranks 20th nationally.
Biggest disappointment, player: Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz. It is with some reluctance that we pick Moniz, but there's no question his season wasn't near what was expected. He threw for 5,040 yards and 39 TDs last season and Hawaii officials mounted a Heisman campaign for him heading into the season. But the offensive line had all sorts of issues, which meant an inconsistent running game – and that Moniz often was running for his life. Moniz suffered a broken leg in the 10th game, against Nevada, and finished the season with 2,733 yards and 22 TDs; seven of his TD passes came against FCS program UC Davis.
Best game: Nov. 19, Utah State 49, Idaho 42 (2OTs). Utah State was 4-5 going in and couldn't afford a loss to the lowly Vandals. But Idaho used a big third quarter to tie the game at 28 going into the fourth period. Each team scored once in the fourth quarter and once in the first OT, with Utah State scoring on a fourth-and-goal from the 1. After Utah State scored on the first possession in the second OT, Idaho faced a fourth-and-6 from Utah State's 21. The Vandals completed a 13-yard pass, but eventually threw a pick in the end zone to end it.
Biggest upset: Nov. 5, Idaho 32, San Jose State 29. Idaho went into the game 1-7, with the only win over a FCS opponent. San Jose State was 3-5 but still had an outside shot at bowl eligibility. San Jose State led 22-10 after three quarters, but the Vandals' offense woke up and scored three TDs in an eight-minute span in the final stanza.
Underclassmen liable to turn pro: Utah State RB Robert Turbin
Bowl outlook: Three WAC teams are in the postseason, and each has a tough opponent. Louisiana Tech's reward for winning the league is a Poinsettia Bowl date with TCU. This has been a good season for the Bulldogs, but it becomes a great one if they can pull the upset. Nevada has a tough task, as well, facing Southern Miss in the Hawaii Bowl. But the Wolf Pack could have an advantage in that you wonder about Southern Miss' focus considering that coach Larry Fedora has accepted the job at North Carolina. Finally, Utah State meets Ohio in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. As with Utah State, Ohio is potent offensively, but the Bobcats are much more proficient on defense.
|FIRST TEAM OFFENSE|
|QB||Derek Carr, Fresno State; 6-3/205, Soph.; Bakersfield (Calif.) Christian|
|RB||Robbie Rouse, Fresno State; 5-7/185, Jr.; San Diego Madison|
|RB||Robert Turbin, Utah State; 5-10/216, Jr.; Fremont (Calif.) Irvington|
|WR||Rishard Matthews, Nevada; 6-2/215, Sr.; Bakersfield (Calif.) College, preceded by Santa Ana (Calif.) Saddleback|
|WR||Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech; 6-2/195, Jr.; Coffeyville (Kan.) CC, preceded by Tennessee, preceded by LaVergne (Tenn.) High|
|TE||Ryan Otten, San Jose State; 6-6/235, Jr.; Loomis (Calif.) Del Oro|
|T||Bryce Harris, Fresno State; 6-6/300, Sr.; Tulare (Calif.) Union|
|T||Jeff Nady, Nevada; 6-7/290, Jr.; Minden (Nev.) Douglas|
|G||Chris Barker, Nevada; 6-4/305, Jr.; Etiwanda (Calif.) High|
|G||Philip Gapelu, Utah State; 6-2/299, Sr.; Lynwood (Calif.) High|
|C||Tyler Larsen, Utah State; 6-4/297, Soph.; Salt Lake City Jordan|
|FIRST TEAM DEFENSE|
|E||Matt Broha, Louisiana Tech; 6-4/255, Sr.; Baton Rouge (La.) Baton Rouge Catholic|
|T||Logan Harrell, Fresno State; 6-2/275, Sr.; Santa Margarita (Calif.) High|
|T||Brett Roy, Nevada; 6-4/280, Sr.; Yucaipa (Calif.) High|
|E||Travis Johnson, San Jose State; 6-3/240, Jr.; San Jose The King's Academy|
|LB||Adrien Cole, Louisiana Tech; 5-11/250, Sr.; Mobile (Ala.) McGill-Toolen|
|LB||Art Laurel, Hawaii; 6-0/235, Soph.; Wahiawa (Hawaii) Leilehua|
|LB||Bobby Wagner, Utah State; 6-1/232, Sr.; Ontario (Calif.) Colony|
|CB||Terry Carter, Louisiana Tech ; 5-11/190, Sr.; West Monroe (La.) High|
|CB||Isaiah Frey, Nevada; 6-0/190, Jr.; Sacramento (Calif.) Jesuit|
|S||Donyae Coleman, New Mexico State; 5-10/187, Sr.; Compton (Calif.) College, preceded by Lynwood (Calif.) High|
|S||Duke Ihenacho, San Jose State; 6-1/205, Sr.; Gardena (Calif.) Serra|
|FIRST TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS|
|K||Matt Nelson, Louisiana Tech; 5-10/160, Jr.; Cibolo (Texas) Steele|
|P||Bobby Cowan, Idaho; 6-5/232, Jr.; Vancouver (Wash.) Evergreen|
|KR||Taveon Rogers, New Mexico State; 6-0/188, Sr.; Antelope Valley College (Calif.), preceded by Lancaster (Calif.) High|
|PR||Devon Wylie, Fresno State; 5-9/185, Sr.; Granite Bay (Calif.) High|
|SECOND TEAM OFFENSE|
|QB||Bryant Moniz, Hawaii; 6-0/205, Sr.; Fresno (Calif.) City College, preceded by Wahiawa (Hawaii) Leilehua|
|RB||Brandon Rutley, San Jose State; 5-11/192, Sr.; Martinez (Calif.) Alhambra|
|RB||Kenny Turner, New Mexico State; 5-10/192, Jr.; Fullerton (Calif.) College, preceded by Orlando Olympia|
|WR||Noel Grigsby, San Jose State; 5-11/170, Soph.; Los Angeles Crenshaw|
|WR||Royce Pollard, Hawaii; 6-1/175, Sr.; San Diego University City|
|WR||Jalen Saunders, Fresno State; 5-9/160, Soph.; Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove|
|T||Kris Cavitt, Louisiana Tech; 6-2/300, Sr.; Mansfield (Texas) Summit|
|T||Davonte Wallace, New Mexico State; 6-4/272, Soph.; El Paso (Texas) Irvin|
|G||Leslie Cooper, Fresno State; 6-4/320, Sr.; Compton (Calif.) Dominguez|
|G||Kevin Saia, Louisiana Tech; 6-2/305, Jr.; Geismar (La.) Dutchtown|
|C||Stephen Warner, Louisiana Tech; 6-0/295, Jr.; Ruston (La.) High|
|SECOND TEAM DEFENSE|
|E||Christian Lacey, Louisiana Tech; 6-1/245, Sr.; Marrero (La.) Archbishop Shaw|
|T||Vaughn Meatoga, Hawaii; 6-2/295, Sr.; Kalaheo (Hawaii) Kamehameha|
|E||David Niumatalolo, New Mexico State; 6-2/247, Sr.; Kahuku (Hawaii) High|
|LB||Aaron Brown, Hawaii; 6-1/225, Sr.; Saddleback CC (Calif.), preceded by Puyallup (Wash.) High|
|LB||Jay Dudley, Louisiana Tech; 6-3/225, Sr.; Shreveport (La.) Northwood|
|LB||Kyle Gallagher, Utah State; 6-0/225, Sr.; Woodland (Calif.) High|
|LB||TreShawn Robinson, Idaho; 5-11/250, Sr.; Upland (Calif.) High|
|CB||Jonte Green, New Mexico State; 6-0/184, Sr.; St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood|
|CB||L.J. Jones, Fresno State; 5-11/180, Soph.; Encino (Calif.) Crespi|
|S||McKade Brady, Utah State; 5-11/183, Jr.; BYU transfer, preceded by Cove (Utah) Sky View|
|S||Richard Torres, Hawaii; 5-8/185, Sr.; Kahuku (Hawaii) High|
|SECOND TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS|
|K||Jens Alvernik, San Jose State; 6-3/209, Sr.; City College of San Francisco, preceded by Stockholm (Sweden) Rudbecksskolan Secondary|
|P||Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech; 6-2/215, Jr.; Oregon State transfer, preceded by Salem (Ore.) West Salem|
|KR||Tyler Ervin, San Jose State; 5-10/170, Fr.; Colton (Calif.) High|
|PR||Rishard Matthews, Nevada; 6-2/215, Sr.; Bakersfield (Calif.) College, preceded by Santa Ana (Calif.) Saddleback|
|ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM OFFENSE|
|QB||Cody Fajardo, Nevada; 6-2/205, redshirt freshman; Anaheim (Calif.) Servite|
|RB||Joey Iosefa, Hawaii; 6-0/240, redshirt freshman; Pago Pago (American Samoa) Fagaitua|
|RB||Hunter Lee, Louisiana Tech; 5-10/200, true freshman; Flower Mound (Texas) High|
|WR||Jabari Carr, San Jose State; 6-0/180, true freshman; Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy, preceded by San Jose Oak Grove|
|WR||Austin Franklin, New Mexico State; 6-2/175, true freshman; Dallas Kimball|
|WR||Josh Harper, Fresno State; 6-1/185, redshirt freshman; Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's|
|T||Cody Wichmann, Fresno State; 6-5/310, redshirt freshman; Mariposa (Calif.) High|
|G||Dave Lefotu, Hawaii; 6-3/305, redshirt freshman; Pearl City (Hawaii) High|
|G||Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, New Mexico State; 6-2/270, true freshman; Garland (Texas) Lakeview Centennial|
|C||Mike Marboe, Idaho; 6-2/303, redshirt freshman; Wenatchee (Wash.) High|
|ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM DEFENSE|
|E||Maxx Forde, Idaho; 6-5/260, redshirt freshman; Woodinville (Wash.) High|
|T||Tyeler Davison, Fresno State; 6-2/305, redshirt freshman; Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain|
|T||Travis Raciti, San Jose State; 6-5/293, redshirt freshman; Pleasant Hill (Calif.) College Park|
|E||Stephen Meredith, New Mexico State; 6-4/240, true freshman; Garden Grove (Calif.) High|
|LB||Tavaris McMillian, Utah State; 6-2/227, redshirt freshman; Miami Jackson|
|LB||Derek Muaava, San Jose State; 6-0/230, redshirt freshman; San Jose Independence|
|LB||Kyrie Wilson, Fresno State; 6-3/210, true freshman; Bakersfield (Calif.) Ridgeview|
|CB||Dion Bass, Idaho; 5-9/171, true freshman; Corona (Calif.) Centennial|
|CB||Davon Dunn, Fresno State; 5-11/185, redshirt freshman; San Diego Lincoln|
|S||Mike Sellers, Hawaii; 5-11/175, true freshman; Ewa Beach (Hawaii) Campbell|
|S||Bradley Njoku, Idaho; 6-1/192, true freshman; Leander (Texas) High|
|ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS|
|K||Tyler Hadden, Hawaii; 5-11/180, redshirt freshman; Whittier (Calif.) California|
|KR||Tyler Ervin, San Jose State ; 5-10/170, true freshman; Colton (Calif.) High|
|PR||Scott Harding, Hawaii; 5-11/195, true freshman; Brisbane (Australia) Anglican Church Grammar School|
Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
• Condensed NBA schedule will lead to bad basketball
• Networks in tug-of-war over Tebow | Bill Cosby a fan
• MLB rookie managers taking wild winter meetings ride