As with so many seasons in the past, the Boise State football team is sitting in familiar territory. The Broncos are 3-0 and back in the polls. Boise State opened up the season a little less spectacularly than seasons prior with a game against Louisiana Lafayette. The Broncos trounced the Ragin’ Cajuns 45-10. Boise would go on to face back-to-back Pac-12 opponents, Washington State and Oregon State, winning them both. The Broncos earned not only their first ever win in Corvallis, but also an overall winning record against the Pac-12 conference itself.
Yep, you could say the Broncos are riding high and are doing the Mountain West proud. Unfortunately, the rest of the conference is pretty much a flaming train wreck. However, not all is lost and on fire. Let’s have a look around the Mountain West.
NEW MEXICO AND UNLV
I’ve always been a fan of just ripping the band aid off, so let’s start with the conference unfortunates, New Mexico and UNLV. The two teams have combined for a record of 2-5 in their first seven games. The Lobos started off strong opening the season against South Dakota and doing what you would expect them to do against an FCS opponent. New Mexico racked up 615 yards of offense with 428 coming on the ground. The Lobos went on to win the game 48-21. Then things went south. New Mexico would go on to lose their next two games including one to in-state rival New Mexico State by one point, 32-31. The Lobos would also lose their next game against Rutgers after blowing a 21 point lead and letting the Scarlet Knights score 31 unanswered points. New Mexico would manage bring it within 3, only to give up 2 field goals in the closing minutes of the game. There is a silver lining for the Lobos though. Thus far their offense is looking pretty good overall. In their first 3 games, New Mexico has tallied up over 1,400 yards of offense and has picked up more first downs than any of their opponents so far.
UNLV started off blowing poor Jackson State right out of the water with a whopping 63-13 victory. The Rebels tallied 503 yards of offense in that game. The season looked like it wouldn’t be a total failure for UNLV. Then UNLV remembered that it was UNLV. The Rebels drop their next three games to UCLA, Central Michigan, and…dare I say it? Idaho. What’s worse is that Idaho won in overtime. Oh and UNLV had over 150 more yards of offense than Idaho, but I digress. Getting back on topic, the Rebels did manage to bring the UCLA game within one score, but let the Bruins score two unanswered touchdowns to wrap it up. The season looks to be a rough one for the Rebels at this point, but a lot can change.
FRESNO STATE, HAWAI’I, AND SAN JOSE STATE
Fresno State, Hawai’i, and San Jose State aren’t fairing any better. The three units have combined for a record of 3-9 with no notable wins among them. Hawai’i has played four games that include three losses to Power 5 opponents including a 63-3 thrashing by Michigan. San Jose State started off its season in much the same with the Ragin’ Cajuns did with a 45-10 loss. The Spartans managed to pull out a 66-35 win over Portland State, but have fallen flat since and lost their next two games by a combined score of 78-27. Pretty sad for a team that touted the Mountain West’s best recruitment class not long ago. Fresno State has done the Mountain West no favors either by losing three of their four games by a combined score of 143-68. The Bulldogs dropped games to Nebraska, Toledo, and Tulsa. As if living in Fresno wasn’t punishment enough, they now have to suffer through what will most certainly be an awful football season.
Nevada, Wyoming, and Colorado State are luckily painting a different story for the Mountain West. Despite the teams breaking even at 6-6 combined, they have each shown some amount of promise. Looking first at Colorado State, the Rams have dropped two games, Colorado and Minnesota. Breaking down those two games, we see that the loss to Colorado is looking less and less ugly since the Buffaloes are shaping up to be a decent squad. Currently, Colorado is sitting at 3-1 after beating Oregon on the road 41-38. The Buffaloes also gave Michigan a scare on the road. Looking at the Rams other game, we see that they gave Big 10 opponent, Minnesota, a scare when it came within a touchdown of taking the Golden Gophers to overtime. Worth noting about the Rams is that they are being led by a freshman quarterback who has completed 60% of his passes and has five touchdowns to just one interception. If this season doesn’t go the way they want it to, they can always take some solace knowing that they may have a brighter future.
While there isn’t much for the Wolf Pack to brag about, they are still sitting at 2-2 and have loses to Purdue and a wildly overrated Notre Dame team. Nevada’s wins this season include an overtime win over Cal Poly and a win against Buffalo. The Wolf Pack look to at least jump from 2-2 to 4-2 as they take on Hawai’i and Fresno State over the next two weeks.
Wyoming could be sitting at 3-1 had they managed to hang on against Eastern Michigan. You could even argue that they may be 4-0 had they not displayed an epic fourth quarter meltdown against Nebraska. The Cowboys were within one score entering the final quarter of play before the Cornhuskers blow the doors wide open and scored 28 unanswered points. Wyoming heads to Fort Collins this week to take on Colorado State which is sure to be a fun game.
AIR FORCE, BOISE STATE, SAN DIEGO STATE, AND UTAH STATE
Moving up the ladder, we see 4 teams sitting on top of the Mountain West; Air Force, Boise State, San Diego State, and Utah State. Combined these teams are 11-2 and three of them are currently undefeated. Notable wins by these teams include Cal, Oregon State, and Washington State. Two of them have potential Heisman contenders that hold the number 1 and 2 spot for rushing touchdowns, and two of them are currently ranked. Let’s start alphabetically.
Air Force hasn’t done much in the way of tallying up big victories this season. They’re undefeated because they’ve essentially beaten ITT Tech and the University of Phoenix. Regardless, they are undefeated and have had the Broncos number the last two years. The Falcons first real big test comes this weekend against Navy which is sure to be an incredibly boring game that might include a pass or two. Either way, should Air Force win the game, they will have beaten a Navy team who has won 15 of their last 17 games. It also puts the Falcons in a position to finish the season undefeated up until they play Boise State. That would help the Broncos tremendously as they could potentially play two ranked and undefeated opponents back-to-back in Air Force and San Diego State. That of course is contingent upon the Aztecs running the table and Air Force doing the same as well as sliding into the rankings.
SAN DIEGO STATE
San Diego State is another team that has pestered the Broncos since the two landed in the same conference. To lay it out, the Aztecs look good. They shut out their first opponent, beat a very offensively minded Cal team who beat Texas, and beat up on NIU. Not to mention they are armed with arguably one of the best running backs in the country with Donnel Pumphrey. The senior running back is annoyingly good and is coming off his second 200+ yard game. Pumphrey’s biggest accomplishment this season is 281 yards and 3 touchdowns on Pac-12 team, Cal. San Diego State’s passing game isn’t anything to scoff at either. The Aztecs are led by Christian Chapman who is boasting a 61% completion rate with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
You may be wondering why I’ve included Utah State in this portion of the Mountain West review. The biggest reason is simply because they aren’t out of the Mountain Division running just yet. Should they upset the Broncos this weekend it mixes a lot up. Granted, the Aggies resume isn’t exactly impressive with wins against Weber State and Arkansas State. Further, Utah State’s loss to USC doesn’t look all that great either considering just how terrible the Trojans are doing right now. Regardless, the Aggies have enough fire power to make some noise even without their star running back Mays in the picture. Utah State has Lindsey to fall back on and their quarterback Myers isn’t doing so bad himself with a completion rate of over 60%. While things are looking a bit rough for Matt Well’s squad over in Logan, there is still a slimmer of hope for them.
So, why does all this matter? Well there are a lot of reasons and a lot of “what ifs” for Harsin’s squad that are dependent on how the conference fairs overall. Granted most of the teams are a lost cause at this point, there are still some serious match-ups ahead that could have BIG implications for the Broncos should some other out of conference factors fall into place for them. But that’s another conversation for another time. As Coach Harsin says, go into every week thinking “1-0”.