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Mountain West: Week 9 Recap

Derek Carr and Fresno State narrowly avoided defeat in San Diego.

Derek Carr and Fresno State narrowly avoided defeat in San Diego.

As the old adage goes, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Fresno State (7-0, 4-0 MWC) got lucky Saturday, outlasting a fierce comeback from San Diego State (3-4, 2-1 MWC) that should have resulted in the Bulldogs’ first loss of the season. As it stands, Tim DeRuyter’s side left Qualcomm Stadium with its BCS hopes intact.

After a quiet first half saw the two schools trade rushing touchdowns, the Bulldogs built a 28-14 lead early in the fourth quarter and looked good for the victory. Rocky Long’s Aztecs – with Mountain West title aspirations of their own – fought back though, recording a pair of rushing touchdowns in a three-minute span in the fourth quarter.

Rattled, the Bulldogs stalled on offense opening the door for San Diego State to complete the comeback. Aztec’s kicker Seamus McMorrow attempted a 37-yard field goal as time expired but the ball was blocked sending the game to overtime.

Marteze Waller ran the ball in from a yard out on the Bulldog’s first possession of overtime before the Fresno State defense held the Aztecs on fourth down to escape with the win.

Still unbeaten, Fresno State moved up to No. 16 in the BCS standings keeping the school in line for a potential BCS bowl berth. San Diego State will now need help if it’s to leapfrog the Bulldogs in the West Division standings.

Head coach Long threw his kicker under the bus following the game, telling the media: “The kick was low. It shouldn’t have been blocked if he had gotten the ball up.”

McMorrow and the Aztecs will look to rebound with a home game against a New Mexico (2-5, 0-3 MWC) side that was idle this week. San Diego State opened as a 17-point favorite.

Fresno State will return home this coming week to host Nevada (3-5, 2-3 MWC) in another West Division showdown. The Wolf Pack came up short against in-state rivals UNLV (5-3, 3-1 MWC) on Saturday, losing to the Rebels for the first time in nine meetings.

The Bulldogs opened as a 23-point favorite over Nevada, but it was the Wolf Pack that got the better of this fixture last season, emerging with a 52-36 victory.

UNLV trailed Nevada 16-14 going into the fourth quarter but outscored the Wolf Pack by two touchdowns to one in the final frame to emerge with a fifth win in six games and second-place in the West Division standings.

This week the Rebels host San Jose State (4-3, 3-1 MWC) in a game that will determine who sits in second-place within the division, at least for the time being.

With both Fresno State and San Diego State on the schedule, the Spartans have perhaps the best shot at ruining the Bulldogs’ season and snatching a place in the inaugural Mountain West title game.

Like the Bulldogs this week, the Spartans escaped to victory, coming back from a 30-14 deficit in the third quarter to edge Wyoming (4-4, 2-2 MWC) 51-44. The victory saw quarterback David Fales throw for 482 yards and five touchdowns as well as cross the goal line for his first career rushing touchdown.

The Rebels and Spartans will be meeting for the first time since 1997 on Saturday. San Jose State owns an 11-5-1 record all-time in the series, including wins in the last three games and nine of the last 12 meetings between the schools. They open as a 2.5-point favorite.

With Utah State (4-4, 3-1 MWC) idle and Boise State (5-3, 3-1 MWC) playing out of conference, the Mountain Division standings remain unchanged at the top of the table.

The Broncos took a trip to Provo, Utah, Friday night to face Brigham Young (6-2). The Cougars outclassed Chris Petersen’s side for much of the game, building up a 31-6 lead before holding on to take the game 37-20.

Grant Hendrick completed 25 of 42 passes in his first career start for the Broncos, tallying 232 yards with a touchdown and interception as he spelled the injured Joe Southwick (foot). Jay Ajayi recorded 151 yards on the ground but it wasn’t enough for the Broncos, who lost their first game in October since 2001.

Petersen will again look for his 100th win in charge of the Broncos this weekend as the team travels to Colorado State (4-4, 2-1 MWC). The Rams held a 35-17 lead going into the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Hawaii (0-7, 0-5 MWC), but had to hold-off a final quarter surge from the Rainbow Warriors to exit Honolulu with a one-touchdown victory and the first back-to-back wins of the season.

Still winless on the season, Hawaii will face Utah State on the road this weekend. The Aggies opened as a 21-point favorite playing at home.

In this past weekend’s remaining Mountain West fixture, Air Force (1-7, 0-5 MWC) was manhandled by Notre Dame (6-2) in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Falcons took a surprise 7-0 lead and were hanging in there down 14-10 early in the second quarter but a career-best five touchdowns from Irish quarterback Tommy Rees proved far too much for a Falcons side that hasn’t won since an opening day victory over Colgate of the Patriot League.

The stakes will be high this weekend as Air Force hosts Army (3-5) at Falcon Stadium. Having lost to Navy on October 5, the best the Falcons can hope for this season is a share of the Commander-in-Chief Trophy. They’ll need to pick up a victory here and then hope the Black Knights beat the Midshipmen when the two play at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on December 14, something that hasn’t happened since 2001.

Air Force opened as a 1.5-point favorite in this one. Army was victorious in last season’s showdown, snapping the Falcon’s six-game winning streak in the series. The Falcons are 29-12 against the Black Knights since 1972, the first year the Commander-in-Chief Trophy was awarded.



Boise State 20, BYU 37


Notre Dame 45, Air Force 10

UNLV 27, Nevada 22

Wyoming 44, San Jose State 51

No. 17 Fresno State 35, San Diego State 28

Colorado State 35, Hawaii 28

Bye: New Mexico, Utah State

* * * * *


(All times ET)

Saturday, November 2

12:00 Army (3-5) at Air Force (1-7, 0-5 MWC) (matchup)

4:00 Hawaii (0-7, 0-5 MWC) at Utah State (4-4, 3-1 MWC) (matchup)

4:00 San Jose State (4-3, 3-1 MWC) at UNLV (5-3, 3-1 MWC) (matchup)

8:00 New Mexico (2-5, 0-3 MWC) at San Diego State (3-4, 2-1 MWC) (matchup)

8:00 Boise State (5-3, 3-1 MWC) at Colorado State (4-4, 2- MWC) (matchup)

10:30 Nevada (3-5, 2-3 MWC) at No. 16 Fresno State (7-0, 4-0 MWC) (matchup)

Bye: Wyoming


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