Mountain West Conference News and Notes

11:21 AM, Sep 23, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -

AIR FORCE: Since opening the season with a sizeable win over Colgate (38-13), the Falcons have been in a downward spiral with three straight defeats, the latest coming on Saturday night against Wyoming in conference play, 56-23. Air Force actually scored the first points of the night on a 33-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Jaleel Awini and then led 10-7 late in the first quarter before the Wyoming offense kicked into gear. Awini, who hit on 11- of-18 pass attempts for 89 yards, was second on the team with 68 rushing yards as the group generated 346 yards and a pair of scores on the ground, but it was not nearly enough to hold off a Cowboys group that produced a staggering 622 yards of total offense. The Falcons are headed back out on the road this coming weekend as they contend with the Nevada Wolf Pack in Reno. Air Force won the only previous meeting between the programs last season by a score of 48-31.

BOISE STATE: The Broncos went into their meeting against rising Fresno State last Friday night with a run of seven straight wins in the series, but a late drive by the Bulldogs put the home team over the top in what was a 41-40 final. Boise State, which did manage to deliver three touchdowns in as many possessions over the third and fourth quarters, is now 2-2 on the campaign overall and 1-1 in conference play which means the squad has now lost two games in back-to-back years after losing no more than just a single outing in any one season since 2007 when it was 10-3 following a bowl loss to East Carolina. Joe Southwick, who a week earlier set a new school record for passing accuracy in a single game, converted 31-of-45 attempts for 313 yards, was intercepted once and sacked four times. Southwick did score once on the ground, as did Jay Ajayi, while Aaron Baltazar racked up a game-high 92 yards and two TDs on 18 carries. Next on the docket for the Broncos is a matchup with a Southern Miss program that went all of 2012 without a single victory. Part of that run of ineptitude included a 40-14 setback against Boise State at home the first week of October.

COLORADO STATE: Pitted against the top team in the country and the two-time defending national champions, the Rams ended up bowing to Alabama on Saturday in a 31-6 decision in Tuscaloosa. In the first game for CSU head coach Jim McElwain against his former team -- he was the offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide before moving to Fort Collins -- quarterback Garrett Grayson converted 24-of-38 passes for 228 yards, but the team generated just 51 net rushing yards against the staunch Tide defense. On a more positive note the Rams, now 1-3 on the season, limited mighty Alabama to only 66 rushing yards in the encounter, although the Crimson Tide did deliver a solid seven yards per play during the meeting. Following a pair of first-ever clashes against the likes of Alabama and Cal Poly, the Rams take on a more familiar foe in Texas-El Paso this weekend on the road. The Miners won the last meeting between the programs in 2011 by a score of 31-17, but still it is CSU that owns a 24-10 edge in the all-time series.

FRESNO STATE: For the first time since 2004, the Bulldogs find themselves off to a perfect 3-0 start after breaking a seven-game slide against Boise State last Friday night, 41-40, in the Mountain West Conference opener for Fresno State. The Bulldogs, who are now ranked 25th in the nation by the Associated Press, were again led by Heisman candidate Derek Carr who put together a 13- play, 87-yard drive in the fourth quarter in order to bring the Bulldogs back from a 40-34 deficit as Josh Quezada scored the game-winning TD on a one-yard run. One of the most accomplished passers in the nation, Carr finished the meeting with 460 passing yards and four touchdowns, without an interception. Not only was it the fifth career 400-yard passing game for Carr, the signal caller also extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one passing touchdown to 23 in a row, the longest active run in the FBS. Because they played on Friday night, the Bulldogs get an extra day to prepare for their adventure in Honolulu against Hawaii this coming weekend. Last season, Fresno State crushed the Warriors at home in a 45-10 decision, giving the Bulldogs a little more cushion in the all-time series, which now stands at 23-21-1.

HAWAII: The Rainbow Warriors lost five starters during their outing against Nevada on Saturday, more than enough experienced players to send Hawaii to a 31-9 defeat in Reno. Now winless in three outings this season, the squad lost quarterback Taylor Graham to a shoulder injury that now has him listed as questionable moving forward. Fellow signal callers Sean Schroeder, Jeremy Higgins and Ikaika Woolsey also saw game action for the squad, with Schroeder throwing a touchdown pass to Chris Gant in the second quarter. Schroeder completed 8-of-14 passes for just 74 yards, while being picked off twice and suffering two sacks. Hawaii quarterbacks combined to hit 24-of-45 passes for 243 yards, were taken down behind the line of scrimmage four times and picked off just as often. The Rainbow Warriors ended up with six turnovers, all in the second half. Norm Chow's club is back at Aloha Stadium this coming weekend as it hosts the 25th-ranked Fresno State Bulldogs in league action. Fresno holds a slight lead in the all-time series, 23-21-1, thanks in part to a 45-10 romp in last year's encounter in California.

NEVADA: Without an injured Cody Fajardo, the Wolf Pack turned to freshman signal caller Tyler Stewart to lead them to a 31-9 victory over visiting Hawaii on Saturday. Stewart connected on 14-of-20 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns, dealing with three sacks along the way as the Pack moved to 2-2 on the season by opening up the Mountain West Conference slate on a positive note. Kolby Arendse reeled in four passes for 77 yards and two of those touchdowns for the Pack, while linebacker Alex Bertrando contributed to the win with a two-yard return of a fumble for a touchdown in the fourth quarter for the hosts. Nevada logged a pair of fumble recoveries and four interceptions, two of those picks coming from Markus Smith. Also grabbing the spotlight on defense was Brock Hekking who forced two fumbles, made an interception and tallied three sacks. The Pack is home for the second straight week, this time taking on Air Force in conference play. Nevada lost the only previous matchup between the programs a season ago in Colorado by a score of 48-31.

NEW MEXICO: After a week off, the Lobos get back to the business of playing football on Saturday as they host the UNLV Rebels in Mountain West Conference action. Last season New Mexico, which finished a mere 1-7 in league play, suffered a 35-7 loss in Sin City versus the Rebels, which means the all-time series is now knotted at 10 games apiece.

SAN DIEGO STATE: Adam Muema rushed a career-high 28 times for 71 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, but still the Aztecs came up short in their 34-30 setback against visiting Oregon State. San Diego State, which led 27-14 heading into the fourth quarter before falling apart, was paced by quarterback Quinn Kaehler who converted 16-of-25 pass attempts for 251 yards and two touchdowns, but he was sacked five times and had a pair of passes picked off, one of those being returned 16 yards for a touchdown late in the final period to decide the outcome. Colin Lockett finished with five receptions for 113 yards and a score, while the SDSU defense watched OSU receiver Brandin Cooks reel in 14 passes on the other side. On a positive note, the Aztecs did limit the visitors to just 10 net rushing yards on 20 attempts. The Aztecs head out on the road this coming weekend to challenge the New Mexico State Aggies in non-conference play. Three years ago, SDSU delivered a 41-21 win over the Aggies, moving the Aztecs to an 8-1-1 advantage in the all-time series.

SAN JOSE STATE: The Spartans were paced by David Fales who converted 22-of-35 passes for 439 yards and three scores, but he was also picked off twice on Saturday afternoon as the team suffered a 43-24 loss at Minnesota. Chandler Jones caught seven passes for 197 yards and all three of those touchdowns, but SJSU was limited to only 47 net rushing yards while allowing 353 yards to the Golden Gophers. Averaging 9.3 yards per play, SJSU generated 486 yards of total offense, but the team converted just 1-of-9 on third down and controlled the action for less than 19 minutes. The Spartans deal with a short week this time around as they welcome former Western Athletic Conference foe and current MWC opponent Utah State to California on Friday night. USU crushed San Jose State last season, 49-27, the only league setback for the Spartans and one of only two defeats the entire season for SJSU. Despite the defeat, the Spartans still lead the all-time series by a count of 20-14-1.

UNLV: For the first time since 2008, the Rebels managed to put together a modest two-game win streak on Saturday, thanks to a 38-7 romp over FCS foe Western Illinois in Las Vegas. The largest margin of victory for UNLV since the team defeated New Mexico by five touchdowns in 2010, the Rebels were led by Tim Cornett who ran for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 12 carries, while Caleb Herring converted 14-of-20 pass attempts for 140 yards and another score. UNLV generated 284 yards rushing in the meeting and although he had a mere 33 of those yards, Adonis Smith was still a major contributor with a couple of rushing touchdowns during the onslaught. Back out on the road for the first time since the Aug. 29 opener against Minnesota, the Rebels open Mountain West Conference play against New Mexico on Saturday in Albuquerque. Of the two wins tallied by UNLV a season ago, one came against UNM in a 35-7 final at home. With the triumph, the Rebels knotted the all-time series at 10 games apiece. Should UNLV pick up a win this coming weekend, the team will finally reach three victories in a season for the first time since 2009 when it finished 5-7.

UTAH STATE: Against a USC squad that had won all four previous meetings in the series between the programs, the Aggies put up a huge fight on Saturday afternoon before suffering the 17-14 loss to the Trojans on the road. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton registered touchdown passes to Brandon Swindall and Travis Reynolds in the second and third quarters, respectively, but he finished only 21-of-39 for 179 yards and was sacked four times in the losing cause. Because of those sacks, USU was held to only 106 net rushing yards and 285 yards of total offense, while being flagged for 11 penalties, leading to a loss of 89 yards. For the second time in less than a week the Aggies, now 2-2 on the campaign, find themselves in the Golden State as they prepare for a meeting against San Jose State, another former Western Athletic Conference competitor who has made the move to the MWC. Utah State demolished the Spartans a season ago, 49-27, but still the Aggies trail in the all-time series, 20-14-1.

WYOMING: The Cowboys recorded their highest point total ever against Air Force on Saturday night, mostly thanks to quarterback Brett Smith, as the Pokes posted a resounding 56-23 road win in Colorado. Now 3-1 on the year and 1-0 in Mountain West play, the Cowboys leaned heavily on Smith who not only converted 35-of-41 passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns, but he also ran for a game- high 138 yards and another score on 16 attempts during the onslaught. Not only did Smith establish a new single-game school record for total offense with 511 yards, he also became the program's all-time leader in passing touchdowns, now with 60 over the course of three campaigns. With the victory, Wyoming also registered consecutive wins in Colorado Springs for the first time since turning the trick in 1986 and 1988. The Cowboys saddle up and travel to the Lone Star State this weekend where they will contend with the Texas State Bobcats in non-conference play. Wyoming won the only previous meeting between the teams by a score of 45-10 two seasons ago.

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