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Five Predictions For The Mountain West Conference In 2016

Air Force reached the Mountain West title game in 2015. What will 2016 bring for Troy Calhoun and the Falcons? (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images North America)
Air Force reached the Mountain West title game in 2015. What will 2016 bring for Troy Calhoun and the Falcons? (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images North America)

Five Predictions For The Mountain West Conference In 2016

The 2016 College Football season is less than four weeks away and that means prediction time. Below are five predictions for Mountain West Conference for the 2016 season. Some predictions will be right, some predictions will be wrong, and some will be spectacularly awful (or correct) by the end of the season.

There are no changes for the Mountain West Conference as the twelve teams remain the same. The Mountain division is composed of Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State, and Wyoming. The West division is made up of Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, and UNLV.

Here are five predictions for the Mountain West Conference in 2016:

1. Air Force will win the Commander-in-Chief Trophy and win 10 games – The first part only requires the Falcons to defeat the duo of Army and Navy. The chances are good to get back the CIC for the first time since 2014 (Navy has won the CIC three of the last four years). Navy was decimated on offense with only one returning starter and Air Force is better than Army on paper (that is why they play the games though).

Air Force will be returning five starters on offense including their leading rusher Jacobi Owens (1,092 yards and 7 touchdowns) and receiver Jalen Robinette. (26 catches for 641 yards and 5 touchdowns). Also back is quarterback Nate Romine who was the starter to begin 2015, but suffered a torn ACL early in the season. The offense should come close to their 2015 numbers of 33.8 points and 451 yards per game.

The defense has nine back from a unit that allowed 25.5 points and 355 yards per game. The entire secondary returns led by strong safety Weston Steelhammer (80 tackles and 5 interceptions) and they will be the anchor of what should be another solid team. The schedule opens with Abilene Christian and Georgia State at home and the Falcons should be poised to go 4-0 in non-conference this year. The Falcons do have five away games in conference, but they are winnable (Utah State, Wyoming, New Mexico, Fresno State, and San Jose State). Their toughest games come at home against Colorado State and Boise State. The Falcons have a great shot at 10 wins in 2016.

2. San Diego State will win the West Division – The Aztecs won the 2015 Mountain West Championship with a 27-24 victory over Air Force. 2016 appears to favor SDSU to get back to the title game again. They return seven starters on both offense and defense led by running back Donnel Pumphrey (1,653 yards and 17 touchdowns), but there are other reasons.

First, they avoid the Mountain Division duo of Air Force and Boise State, which makes the road much easier. The second reason is they do not face much in the way of competition in their own division with being Nevada their biggest threat. The Wolf Pack return 10 starters on offense and five on defense, but lost their offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich to Hawaii. Nevada does not have to face Air Force and Boise State from the Mountain as well. San Diego State does have to face Nevada on the road, but they look likely to win the West in a down year for the division.

3. Boise State will lead the MWC in points scored and Thomas Sperbeck will lead the MWC in receiving yardage – The Broncos were easily the best scoring offense in 2015 putting up 39.1 points per game while Air Force was second at 33.8 points per contest. Sperbeck also led the conference in receiving in 2015 with 1,412 yards on 88 catches. The next closest was Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins with 75 catches for 1,062 yards and 8 touchdowns.

The offense should easily lead the conference again as they return the young and talented quarterback Brett Rypien (3,353 yards with 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions) as well as running back Jeremy McNichols (1,337 yards and 20 touchdowns). Sperbeck will be accompanied by Chaz Anderson at receiver as he was the number two receiver with 42 catches for 578 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sperbeck will be the top target and let’s call for at least 1,500 yards in 2016 to lead the MWC.

4. UNLV will make a bowl game in 2016 – Finding an under the radar team from the West division to make a bowl game was tough. Fresno State and Hawaii have tough schedules while San Jose State is hardly under the radar after making the Cure Bowl last year. UNLV made some serious progress during 2015 in Tony Sanchez’s first season.

The offense went from 21.9 points and 387 yards per game in 2014 to 28.5 points and 405 yards in 2015 with only five starters back (as well as the new offense under Sanchez). This year six starters return including the talented Devonte Boyd at receiver (1st team all MWC in 2013 and 2nd team all MWC in 2015). The top three running backs return as well as three linemen. They will have a new quarterback, but he is likely to be former Nebraska Cornhusker Johnny Stanton. The offense should surpass the 2015 numbers they put up.

The defense went from 38.5 points and 513 yards allowed per game in 2014 down to 33.7 points and 457 yards per contest in 2015. Those numbers should improve again this year as eight starters return. The team was competitive last year and had three losses by a touchdown or less. UNLV will open up against Jackson State, UCLA (away), Central Michigan (away), and Idaho. They also face Fresno State, Hawaii (away), Colorado State, San Jose State (away), and Wyoming in conference, which makes a bowl in reach if they can go 3-1 or even 2-2 out of conference.

5. New Mexico will make their second straight bowl game in 2016 – The Lobos have not been to back-to-back bowl games since 2006 and 2007 when they played in the New Mexico Bowl both times. They played in the same bowl last year against Arizona where they lost 45-37.

The offense will have just five starters back from the group that put up 29.9 points and 388 yards per game. Quarterback Lamar Jordan returns after throwing for 1,045 yards with 5 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, but the focus of this offense is the triple option. Jordan ran for 807 yards and 9 touchdowns, but the leading rusher departs. He will be replaced by Teriyon Gipson who ran for 848 yards and 6 touchdowns. They also return the top two receivers from last year, which is a plus if they need to rely on the passing attack a bit more.

The defense looks like the strength of the team. In 2014, they allowed 35.9 points and 519 yards per game while 2015 saw an improvement to 28.4 points and 438 yards per game with seven starters back. For 2016, there are ten starters returning including middle linebacker Dakota Cox (97 tackles, 5 sacks, and one interception). There should be even more improvement this year.

The schedule opens up with South Dakota before winnable road games against New Mexico State and Rutgers. Their final non-conference game is in mid October against Louisiana Monroe, another winnable contest. In conference, they will have games versus San Jose State, Boise State, Air Force (in Dallas), Hawaii (away), Nevada, Utah State (away), Colorado State (away), and Wyoming. There are at least three wins in there in which they can become eligible for a bowl game (assuming a 3-1 non-conference record).

The Prediction Schedule

With the MWC predictions above, there are now predictions for six conferences in the books. Below are the predictions completed and which conference is next.

July 17 – FBS Independents

July 17 – Sun Belt

July 23 – C-USA

July 24 – MAC

July 30 – American Athletic

July 31 – Mountain West

August 7 – Big 12

August 13 – Atlantic Coast

August 14 – Pac-12

August 20 – Big Ten

August 27 – SEC

2015 College Football Preview: MWC West

Donnel Pumphrey is poised to have another monster year in 2015. Will it be enough to lead San Diego State to the Mountain West Title Game? (Lance King/Getty Images North America)
Donnel Pumphrey is poised to have another monster year in 2015. Will it be enough to lead San Diego State to the Mountain West Title Game? (Lance King/Getty Images North America)

2015 College Football Preview: MWC West

Sports Enthusiasts’ 2015 College Football Preview is up to part four and the Mountain West Conference’s West Division. The MWC’s Mountain Preview can be found here while the entire schedule for each conference or division preview is below.

MAC East Division – July 1

MAC West Division – July 3

Mountain West, Mountain Division – July 7

Mountain West, West Division – July 10

C-USA East Division – July 14

C-USA West Division – July 17

The American East Division – July 21

The American West Division – July 24

Sun Belt – July 28

FBS Independents – July 28

Big 12 – July 31

ACC Coastal Division – August 4

ACC Atlantic Division – August 7

Big 10 West Division – August 11

Big 10 East Division – August 14

Pac-12 North Division – August 18

Pac-12 South Division – August 21

SEC East Division – August 25

SEC West Division – August 28

Below is a look at the Mountain West Conference’s West Division and conference championship prediction.

1. San Diego State Aztecs

San Diego State will be in their 5th year under head coach Rocky Long and he has been ultra consistent making a bowl game in each of his first four seasons. Year 5 will have added pressure as they will be one of the favorites to make the Mountain West Championship Game.

The offense will be led by Donnel Pumphrey at the running back position. All he did was run for 1,867 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2014 with a 6.8 yards per carry average. Even his backup, Chase Price, ran for 674 yards and 5 touchdowns. Those two will be important as the Aztecs are breaking in a new quarterback in Maxwell Smith, who has transferred in from Kentucky. He should be able to be on par with last year’s starter Quinn Kaehler. Kaehler threw for 2,157 yards with 9 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and 55% completions. Smith will also have two of the top three receivers from 2014 as well as 3 starters from the offensive line returning. The offense should be just fine in 2015.

The strength of the San Diego State team in 2014 was the defense. They gave up only 19.8 points and 332 yards per game while bringing back only 4 starters. In 2015, the number of returning starters is eight including six of the top 7 tacklers. The losses are all in the front seven with one on the defensive line and two at linebacker. The secondary will be the focal point for the Aztecs defensively. They gave up only 179 passing yards per game and allowed only 55.8% on completions. All four starters return, which means opposing quarterbacks better watch out.

San Diego State opens the season against fellow city university San Diego before an in-state road trip to California and another home game against South Alabama. The wrap up their non-conference schedule at Penn State before another home game against Fresno State. The Aztecs have a fairly easy Mountain West schedule by not having to face Air Force or Boise State and get Utah State at home as well. Things are looking very good for San Diego State in 2015.

2. San José State Spartans

It is probably a bit surprising to see San José State here in the second spot of the West Division after a 3-9 season in 2014, but there are plenty of positives including 16 starters returning.

On offense, the Spartans return 10 starters with their lone loss at the center position. Joe Gray returns at quarterback after throwing for 2,305 yards with 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. His most impressive stat from 2014 is the fact he completed 63.6% of his passes. He will also have his top three receivers from 2014 back including Tyler Winston. Winston caught 78 passes for 694 yards and 5 touchdowns. Newcomer Kanya Bell is a prized recruit who is likely to see a big role in 2015. Tyler Ervin will be the starter at running back after 888 yards and 4 touchdowns with four of his offensive linemen back to pave the way. After averaging only 19.3 points and 395 yards per game in 2014, the offense should do far better this year.

San José State has 6 starters returning on defense including linebacker Christian Tago, who tied for the team lead in tackles with 96. He also recorded 5.5 tackles for loss. Both the defensive line and linebacking units lose two starters, but considering the fact they gave up an average of 259 rushing yards per game in 2014, it may not be the worst thing. The secondary only allowed 118 yards passing per game in 2014 and they return three starters as well as adding in a solid freshman (Tae’on Mason). The defense should be solid again in 2015.

San José State has a tough start to the season after an opening game against New Hampshire. They have back-to-back road games against Air Force and Oregon State before a home game against Fresno State. They draw New Mexico and Boise State from the Mountain Division in addition to Air Force. San José State could surprise many and they are right in the thick of the race for second in Mountain West Conference’s West Division.

3. Fresno State Bulldogs

Fresno State has made the first two Mountain West Championship Games in 2013 and 2014, winning the first and losing the second. However, 2014 was a sub-standard season with a 6-8 record including losses in the MWC Title Game and bowl game.

In 2015, the offense will have some work to do with the top quarterback and wide receiver departing. Marteze Waller will have a heavier burden, but that should not be too much of an issue. Waller ran for 1,368 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2014. The quarterback battle will be down to freshman Chason Virgil and sophomore Zack Greenlee. Greenlee started against Wyoming, but had a very poor outing going 7 of 16 for 55 yards. Gone at wide receiver is Josh Harper (90 catches, 1,097 yards, and 7 touchdowns) while Aaron Peck will step in to fill his shoes. Peck caught 32 passes for 419 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2014. There will be some growing pains for Fresno State on offense, but should be able to reach their 2014 numbers of 28.5 points and 406 yards per game.

The defense will have 5 starters back in 2015 from a defense that gave up 32.4 points and 456 yards per game a year ago. The defensive line has only 1 starter back in Todd Hunt, who recorded 54 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for loss. There are two starters back at linebacker and in the secondary. The pass defense was poor in 2014 with 254 yards passing a game given up as well as 60.4% on completions. Like offense, there will be some growing pains.

Fresno State has an easy game against Abilene Christian to start the season before back-to-back toughies at Ole Miss and home to Utah. In conference, they have early road tests against San José State and San Diego State in back-to-back games before a home game against Utah State. They draw Air Force and Colorado State out of the Mountain Division as well. Fresno State could finish as high as second or as low as fourth in this division, but should be able to reach bowl eligibility.

4. Nevada Wolf Pack

Nevada enters 2015 with Brian Polian in his third season at the helm. Polian led Nevada to a 4-8 record in 2013 before a 7-6 record and a bowl game in 2014.

2015 will bring back six starters on offense for the Wolf Pack, but one of them is not at quarterback. Cody Fajardo is gone after throwing for 2,498 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions as well as running for 1,046 yards and 13 touchdowns. Replacing Fajardo will be redshirt freshman Hunter Fralick. He will have four of the top five receivers as well as the second and third leading rushers from 2014. Don Jackson ran for 957 yards and 7 touchdowns while James Butler contributed 635 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns. There are only two starters returning on offense and the losses give some worry about their performance, at least in the early part of the season.

On defense, there will be 5 starters returning from a unit that allowed 27.2 points and 447 yards per game in 2014. That unit also had 10 starters returning. Both the defensive line and secondary were hit hard by losses with two losses on the line and three in the secondary. The linebacker unit will be the strength with the #2 and #3 tacklers from 2014 comprising this group. Those two are Jordan Dobrich, who started only 6 games in 2014, but still managed to record 85 tackles. The other is Matthew Lyons who finished with 80 tackles. This defense will probably take a step back in 2015.

Nevada will open the season with back-to-back home games against UC Davis and Arizona before road trips to Texas A&M and Buffalo. In conference play, Nevada draws New Mexico (home), Wyoming (road), and Utah State (road) from the Mountain Division, but have a brutal four game stretch to finish the season. Those four games are Fresno State (road), San José State (home), Utah State (road), and San Diego State (road). Nevada could finish second or third if they do well in the final stretch and should also make a bowl game in 2015.

5. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

Hawaii has hit hard times after their spectacular 12-1 season in 2007. Norm Chow has gone 3-9, 1-11, and 4-9 in his first three seasons and another losing record in 2015 could see the end of his time in Honolulu.

2015 should produce Hawaii’s best offense under Chow. They return 8 starters from 2014 including their quarterback, but he is likely to be usurped by new arrival Max Wittek, who was previously at USC. Also returning is the top rusher from a year ago in Steven Lakalaka, though he only ran for 646 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wittek will have he top two receivers from 2014 as well with Marcus Kemp (56 catches for 797 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Quinton Pedroza (59 catches for 674 yards and 3 touchdowns). The highest production under Chow was in 2013 when Hawaii put up 27.4 points and 416 yards per game. 2015 should produce those numbers again, if not higher.

On defense, the Warriors will have 6 starters back including their #2, #3, and #4 leading tacklers from 2014. Two starters have to be replaced on the defensive line and at linebacker. Kennedy Tulimasealii will anchor the line after recording 40 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 7 tackles for loss. Simon Poti will be one of the top men at linebacker after putting up 64 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 tackle for loss. The secondary will return three starters and a former starter in Marrell Jackson at safety, who started 15 games in his first two seasons. The defense should put up similar numbers as it did in 2014 (26.8 points and 418 yards per game).

Hawaii does not have an easy non-conference schedule. They open with a home game against Colorado, travel to face Ohio State, come back home to face FCS UC Davis, and then travel to Wisconsin to close out September. Hawaii will also face Louisiana-Monroe on the final weekend in November to end the regular season. In conference, the Warriors draw Boise State (road), New Mexico (road), and Air Force (home) out of the Mountain Division. They do get San Diego State, Fresno State, and San José State at home, but it looks like another losing season for Hawaii.

6. UNLV Rebels

Bobby Hauck was given 5 years to turnaround UNLV and it looked like he would after a 7-6 season in 2013. However, the 2014 season produced a 2-11 record with both the offense and defense getting worse. Now, former high school head coach Tony Sanchez is the head coach and he has his work cut out.

The offense returns five starters from a unit that produced 21.9 points and 387 yards per game. They will be learning a new system, but do return quarterback Blake Decker. Decker threw for 2,886 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions while completing 57.6% of his passes. He also ran for 365 yards and 5 touchdowns as the third leading rusher in 2014. The running game was by committee and the leading rusher from last year is gone while the #2 rusher, Keith Whitely, is back after running for 504 yards and 2 touchdowns. The top receiver in Devonte Boyd is back as well after he put up 65 catches for 980 yards and 4 touchdowns. Things are not looking too bad for UNLV, but 2015 might be a learning experience with the new offense being put in place.

The defense also returns five starters as well as five of their top six tacklers from 2014. The defensive line was decimated by departures with only one starter returning, but that group gave up an average of 294 yards rushing per game last year. All three linebackers return including 2014’s leading tackler Tau Lotulelei. He had 99 tackles, 3 sacks, and 7.5 tackles for loss. The secondary was also hit hard with three starters lost. The lone returning starter is Peni Vea who had 88 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, and 1 interceptions last year. The defense could be in for a long season with the losses they have sustained.

The non-conference schedule will be tough for a new head coach. The Rebels open with a road trip to Northern Illinois, a home game against UCLA, another road trip to the Big House to face Michigan, and finish September with a home game against FCS Idaho State. The Rebels will be lucky to get a win from Mountain West play and could finish with double digit losses for the fifth time in six seasons.

Overview

The 2015 Mountain West Conference’s West Division looks to be pointing to San Diego State as the winner. However, if they stumble or have a lot of bad luck, then it will be between San José State, Fresno State, and Nevada to win. Hawaii is a cut below the top four while UNLV will be back in the basement for 2015. Below is predicted order of finish for the West Division.

1. San Diego State

2. San Jose State

3. Fresno State

4. Nevada

5. Hawaii

6. UNLV

2015 Mountain West Championship

Part three of the 2015 College Football Preview looked at the Mountain West Conference’s Mountain Division and took Boise State to win. With San Diego State predicted as the West Division winner, that means it will be between Boise State and San Diego State for the conference championship. Boise State looks like the superior team and they are predicted to win the 2015 Mountain West Conference Championship Game.

Check back on Tuesday, July 14 for an in-depth look at Conference USA’s East Division Preview.

Washington And Fresno State To Play In 2017

Fresno State will travel to Seattle to play the Washington Huskies in 2017 (Kevin Casey/Getty Images North America)
Fresno State will travel to Seattle to play the Washington Huskies in 2017 (Kevin Casey/Getty Images North America)

Washington And Fresno State To Play In 2017

Both the Washington Huskies and Fresno State Bulldogs announced on Monday that the two teams would meet in 2017. The game will take place on September 16, 2017 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.

“This is a great opportunity for us to stay on the west coast and play a highly competitive Pac-12 program,” Fresno State Director of Athletics Jim Bartko said. “This game will provide us with great exposure and is an easy trip for both our team and our fans to get to and from Seattle.”

The Huskies and Bulldogs have met three times previously in 1979, 2004, and 2006. Washington won 49-14 in 1979, the Bulldogs won 35-16 in 2004, and the Huskies won 21-20 in 2006. Like the game in 2017, those three meetings were in Seattle.

The Bulldogs have made a habit of facing Pac-12 conference teams. From their release, “Fresno State has played a Pac-12-member school in each of the past four seasons and in 17 of the last 20 years overall.”

The matchup between Washington and Fresno State will only be a single-game series.

Delvon Hardaway Suffers Partially Torn ACL

Delvon Hardaway lines up against San Diego State in 2014 (Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)
Delvon Hardaway lines up against San Diego State in 2014 (Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)

Delvon Hardaway Suffers Partially Torn ACL

Fresno State wide receiver Delvon Hardaway has suffered a partially torn ACL and will need surgery to resolve the issue. He will miss the rest of spring practice and is expected to miss at least 6 months.

A mid-September return for Hardaway would mean missing at least two games against Abilene Christian and the Ole Miss Rebels.

Head coach Tim DeRuyter had this to say, “Hopefully, he’ll be back to full speed by [mid-September], but we fully anticipate he’ll be playing … this season and hopefully it will be early.”

After redshirting in 2013, Hardaway had an impact on offense in 2014. He played in all 14 games with 23 catches for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 23 catches ranked sixth on the team while his 279 yards was fourth best. Hardaway was expected to be a starter at wide receiver in 2015.

That was not the only injury news for Fresno State. It was also announced that defensive end Todd Hunt will miss the rest of spring practice due to surgery as well. Hunt will undergo surgery for a torn ligament in his left hand, which will sideline him from football for 3 to 4 months. The following quote is from the Fresno Bee:

“Todd got some ligament damage in a finger last week in a scrimmage,” DeRuyter said. “He competed the entire scrimmage — didn’t even realize it was an issue until afterward. But he’ll get that thing repaired, which will put him out a couple of months. He’ll still be able to run and lift and do some things, so he should be fine and ready to go within three or four months.”

Hunt, a starter at defensive end, played in 21 games and recorded 34 tackles, 7 tackles-for-loss, and 2 sacks in 2012 and 2013. 2014 was even better with 54 tackles, 5 tackles-for-loss, and 2.5 sacks in 14 games.

Fresno State is about midway through their spring practices with their spring game set to take place on Saturday, March 28.

Mountain West Conference Releases 2015 Schedule

Boise State won the 2014 Mountain West Championship on its home field (Brian Losness/USA TODAY Sports)
Boise State won the 2014 Mountain West Championship on its home field (Brian Losness/USA TODAY Sports)

Mountain West Conference Releases 2015 Schedule

On Tuesday the Mountain West Conference released its conference schedule for the 2015 season. There will be 48 conference games in all between the 12 teams in the league.

The first conference game will take place on Saturday, September 12 with San Jose State at Air Force. The season will conclude on Saturday, December 5 with the 2015 Mountain West Conference Championship. The Championship game will be played at the home of the highest-ranked division winners.

The Mountain West will televise games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday throughout the season. Some of the games listed below will be moved to another day when ESPN and CBS Sports Network determine their respective television schedules.

A PDF of all the games can be found here, while the Mountain West has provided a wonderful composite schedule infographic here.

Thursday, September 3

Colorado at Hawaii

UC Davis at Nevada

New Hampshire at San Jose State

Southern Utah at Utah State

 

Friday, September 4

Washington at Boise State

 

Saturday, September 5

Morgan State at Air Force

Savannah State at Colorado State

Abilene Christian at Fresno State

Mississippi Valley State at New Mexico

UNLV at Northern Illinois

North Dakota at Wyoming

 

Saturday, September 12

San Jose State at Air Force*

Boise State at BYU

Minnesota at Colorado State

Fresno State at Mississippi

Hawaii at Ohio State

Arizona at Nevada

Tulsa at New Mexico

San Diego State at California

UCLA at UNLV

Utah State at Utah

Eastern Michigan at Wyoming

 

Friday, September 18

Idaho State at Boise State

New Mexico at Arizona State

 

Saturday, September 19

Air Force at Michigan State

Colorado State vs. Colorado (in Denver, Colorado)

Utah at Fresno State

UC Davis at Hawaii

Nevada at Texas A&M

South Alabama at San Diego State

San Jose State at Oregon State

UNLV at Michigan

Utah State at Washington

Wyoming at Washington State

 

Friday, September 25

Boise State at Virginia

 

Saturday, September 26

Colorado State at UT-San Antonio

Hawaii at Wisconsin

Fresno State at San Jose State*

Nevada at Buffalo

New Mexico at Wyoming*

San Diego State at Penn State

UNLV at Idaho State

 

Saturday, October 3

Air Force at Navy

Hawaii at Boise State*

Colorado State at Utah State*

Fresno State at San Diego State*

UNLV at Nevada*

New Mexico State at New Mexico

San Jose State at Auburn

Wyoming at Appalachian State

 

Saturday, October 10

Wyoming at Air Force*

Boise State at Colorado State*

Utah State at Fresno State*

San Diego State at Hawaii*

New Mexico at Nevada*

San Jose State at UNLV*

 

Saturday, October 17

Air Force at Colorado State*

Boise State at Utah State*

Hawaii at New Mexico*

UNLV at Fresno State*

Nevada at Wyoming*

San Diego State at San Jose State*

 

Saturday, October 24 

Fresno State at Air Force*

Wyoming at Boise State*

Hawaii at Nevada*

New Mexico at San Jose State*

Utah State at San Diego State*

 

Saturday, October 31

Air Force at Hawaii*

Boise State at UNLV*

San Diego State at Colorado State*

Wyoming at Utah State*

 

Saturday, November 7

Army at Air Force

Colorado State at Wyoming*

Nevada at Fresno State*

Hawai‘i at UNLV*

Utah State at New Mexico*

BYU at San José State

 

Saturday, November 14

Utah State at Air Force*

New Mexico at Boise State*

UNLV at Colorado State*

Fresno State at Hawai‘i*

San José State at Nevada*

Wyoming at San Diego State*

 

Saturday, November 21

Air Force at Boise State*

Colorado State at New Mexico*

Fresno State at BYU

San José State at Hawai‘i*

Nevada at Utah State*

San Diego State at UNLV*

 

Saturday, November 28

Air Force at New Mexico*

Boise State at San José State*

Colorado State at Fresno State*

Louisiana-Monroe at Hawai‘i

Nevada at San Diego State*

BYU at Utah State

UNLV at Wyoming*

 

Saturday, December 5

Mountain West Conference Championship Game

 

* denotes a Mountain West Conference game

Boise State Holds Off Stubborn Fresno State 37-27

This article originally appeared on VAVEL USA.

Jay Ajayi

Jay Ajayi (#27) had 158 yards and 2 touchdowns (AP Photo)

 

 

Jay Ajayi‘s 30 carries for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns was enough Boise State to fend off the stubborn Fresno State Bulldogs on Friday night by a score of 37-27.

Ajayi got the scoring started on the Broncos’ second possession with a 9 yard touchdown run. His run was setup a play earlier when Shane Williams-Rhodes sprinted for 49 yards to gash the Bulldogs defense. Fresno State came back with a 34 yard field goal from Kody Kroening to cut the lead to only 7-3. However, the Broncos responded with their own field goal from 34 yards out to restore the lead at 7 points.

It did not take long for Fresno State to tie the game when Marteze Waller broke a tackle and outran the Broncos to the end zone. Another field goal from the Broncos would cap a high scoring first quarter with the Broncos leading 13-10 over Fresno State.

Outside of Jay Ajayi’s 3 yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter, there was not much action. Both teams saw their defenses tighten up and force punts. Outside of the Ajayi touchdown drive, the Broncos managed to only reach the Fresno State 47 yard line while the Bulldogs did not run a single play beyond their own 35 yard line in the second quarter. At halftime, Boise State led 20-10.

Fresno State’s sluggish second quarter offense did not return in the third quarter. The second play of the quarter was Waller’s 38 yard run down to the Boise State 32 yard line. On the next play, Brian Burrell hit Josh Harper for the 32 yard touchdown to make it 20-17 in favor of the Broncos.

Boise State’s offense had the perfect response by going 62 yards in 12 plays. Grant Hedrick‘s 21 yard pass to Williams-Rhodes re-established the lead at 10 points for the Broncos.

Fresno State came back with a long, methodical drive of their own. They went 56 yards in 16 plays while taking 6:32 off the clock. They settled for a 44 yard field goal from Kroening and trailed only 27-20. That deficit would be erased in matter of three plays.

On the ensuing kickoff, Dallas Burroughs took the return from his own goal line and got to the 17 yard line where he was hit by T.J. Thomas. Burroughs lost the ball on a hit that was not very jarring and Stratton Brown recovered for the Bulldogs. Two plays later, Waller pounded his way into the end zone to make it a 20-20 game at the end of the third quarter.

Another draining series by Boise State would prove to be the difference. The Broncos embarked on a 17 play drive that covered 75 yards and wiped 7:46 off the clock. The Broncos converted two fourth downs and the scoring play was Thomas Sperbeck finding a wide open Grant Hedrick on the trick play to make it 34-27.

Fresno State failed to move the ball in the final 9 minutes as the Broncos added a third field goal from Dan Goodale to reach the final score of 37-27. Donte Deayon intercepted Burrell’s pass in the final 90 seconds to end the little hope the Bulldogs had of making a spectacular comeback.

Brian Burrell went 13 of 25 for 127 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was helped out immensely by the play of Marteze Waller who had 164 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries. Josh Harper caught 4 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown while Delvon Hardaway had 2 receptions for 44 yards.

Grant Hedrick went 21 of 30 for 190 yards and a touchdown. Hedrick also ran for 45 yards on 15 carries. Jay Ajay’s workhorse performance went for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns on 30 carries. He was clearly laboring by the end of the game, but he had an excellent performance. The Broncos ran for 264 yards on 51 carries as a team.

The leading receiver for Boise State was Troy Ware with 3 catches for 43 yards. Shane Williams-Rhodes had 4 catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 49 yards on just one carry. Ajayi contributed with 37 yards on 4 receptions.

Fresno State (3-5, 2-2) are on a two game losing streak, but they will have two weeks to prepare for Wyoming. They face the Cowboys on November 1 at home.

Boise State (5-2, 3-1) have bounced back nicely from their upset loss to Air Force three weeks ago with two wins. They have a big game next Saturday against BYU, but they will be back on their patented blue turf.