September 2010 Archives
• Mountain West Conference member institutions are a combined 45-37-9 through six weeks of non-conference play.
• BYU (9-1-1) is ranked 12th and 15th in the latest NSCAA and Soccer America Top 25 polls, respectively.
• Air Force split a pair of matches last weekend vs. Weber State (L, 1-0) and VMI (W, 3-0) at the Falcon Invitational in Colorado Springs, Colo. Midfielder/forward Eryn Avjian and forwards Megan Dozier and Bridgett Murphy netted goals against VMI on Sunday, while goalkeeper Sharon Aradine recorded a shutout in her first career start. Patterson leads the team with 12 points on four goals and four assists in 2010.
• BYU secured a 4-0 victory over Idaho State on Wednesday night. The Cougars are riding a 14-game home unbeaten streak, dating back to Sept. 3, 2009, and open league action against Wyoming at South Field on Saturday. BYU has held all but one of its 2010 opponents to single-digit shot outputs. Marquette is the only team to record double-figure shot attempts (14) against the Cougars this year.
• New Mexico was idle last weekend, but the Lobos enter league play carrying a two-match win streak. UNM forward Rachel Fields ranks third in the league with five goals.
• San Diego State lost the final two matches of its non-conference slate. The Aztecs opened the weekend with a 2-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton on Friday, before falling to Cal Poly on Sunday, 1-0. SDSU is winless in its last five matches, going 0-4-1 during that span. The Aztecs' last victory was a 2-1 decision over San Jose State on Sept. 10.
• TCU leads the Conference in goals (26), goals per game (2.36) and shot attempts (226). Last weekend, the Horned Frogs split a pair of matches against UTSA (W, 4-1) and Texas State (L, 3-0).
• UNLV swept the MWC women's soccer weekly awards, as Ashleigh Shoughro was named Offensive Player of the Week and Caitlin Allen was named Defensive Player of the Week. Shoughro posted seven points in leading UNLV to a pair of wins over VMI (5-0) and Weber State (1-0) at the Falcon Invitational. She leads the MWC in points (21), points per game (1.91), goals (9), goals per game (0.82) and shots (50). Allen was a key member of a Rebel defensive backline that posted back-to-back shutouts. UNLV is ranked 10th in the Sept. 28 NSCAA Pacific Regional rankings.
• Utah went 1-1 last weekend. The Utes downed Utah State, 2-1, in Salt Lake City on Thursday, before falling to Arizona in overtime, 1-0, on Sunday in Tuscon. Ute freshman goalie Cheyanne Mulcock made her collegiate debut, starting both matches in place of injured netminder Hannah Turpen (ankle). Despite missing two matches with an injury, Turpen is ranked second in the MWC in total saves (52) and saves per game (5.20) during the 2010 campaign.
• Wyoming defeated Boise State, 1-0, on Friday, before falling to New Mexico State, 1-0, on Sunday. Cowgirl forward Nahiomy Ortiz notched the squad's lone goal of the weekend, finding the back of the net in the 28th minute of action against the Broncos.
The Week Ahead
• All eight MWC women's soccer teams will begin league action this week.
• The Conference slate kicks off with TCU traveling to San Diego State at 4 p.m. PT on Friday afternoon. The Aztecs enter the contest with a seven-game win streak vs. MWC foes and are unbeaten in their last nine matches against league opponents (7-0-2). SDSU leads the series 5-3, including a 4-1 victory over the Horned Frogs last season in Fort Worth. Friday's match will mark the second all-time meeting between San Diego State's Sarah Halverson and TCU's Kristen Halverson. The sisters from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., also faced off in last season's outing.
• The Horned Frogs conclude their non-conference schedule with a home match against Houston Baptist on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.
• Air Force and Utah meet in Colorado Springs at 7 p.m. MT on Friday. The Utes are undefeated against the Falcons, having won all 12 meetings between the two squads. In their 2009 clash, Utah posted a 3-0 win in Salt Lake City. The Utes return home Sunday for their final non-conference contest of the year, and their fourth game against a top-25 opponent, as No. 17 Oregon State visits Ute Field at 1 p.m. MT.
• New Mexico travels to Las Vegas on Friday to take on UNLV at 7 p.m. PT. The Rebels own a narrow 7-6-1 advantage in the series. New Mexico won last year's encounter, 2-0, in Albuquerque.
• In the final Conference match of the weekend on Saturday, BYU travels to Laramie to take on Wyoming at 1 p.m. MT. The Cougars lead the all-time series 14-1. BYU tallied a 2-0 decision over the Cowgirls in Provo in 2009.
Note: Mountain West Conference fans get to vote on Facebook throughout the 2010 college football season for their "Game of the Week." Each Sunday, the MWC will create a poll on Facebook asking fans to choose which game should be highlighted as the "MWC Game of the Week." MWC Correspondent Mick McGrane will preview the game every Thursday, along with select talent from the conference's television partners, The Mtn., CBS College Sports and VERSUS. The rest of the week's football slate will be previewed here at "Inside the MWC," the official blog of the Mountain West Conference.
Click HERE to read more about the MWC Facebook Fans' Football Game of the Week.
BYU (1-3, 0-1 MWC) at UTAH STATE (1-3, 0-1 WAC), 6 P.M. MT (FRIDAY)
TV: ESPN HD
The lowdown: In the 80th meeting of the battle for the "Beehive Boot," the Cougars lead the series 43-33-3, with the Aggies having lost 10 straight and 20 of the last 21. BYU has never failed to score more than 30 points in the series since 1982. USU is 3-26 against the Cougars since 1975.
BYU: The Cougars have lost three straight for the first time under coach Bronco Mendenhall and for the first time since 2004. BYU has been hit with significant injuries on both sides of the ball, losing junior quarterback Riley Nelson to a shoulder injury in Week 3 and losing standout nose tackle Romney Fuga to a knee injury in last week's loss to Nevada. Both players are out for the season. Additionally, starting free safety Steven Thomas will miss this week's game with a concussion, and starting outside linebacker Jameson Frazier will be out three to four weeks with a broken thumb suffered against Nevada." A lot of unique challenges this year," said coach Bronco Mendenhall. "I'm learning a lot, growing a lot as an individual, and really impressed with our team's resiliency. I know over time and at some point we will execute in a manner, and I will be able to help them execute in a manner that will pay off. But certainly, a lot of challenges right now." The Cougars have scored a total of 37 points in their last three games and rank 116th in scoring offense among the nation's 120 FBS teams. Running back J.J. Di Luigi scored the team's lone touchdown against Nevada, carrying 15 times for 67 yards. True freshman Jake Heaps, now the starting quarterback in the absence of Riley, completed 24-of-45 passes for 229 yards. BYU ranks 118th in the nation in rush defense (263.5 ypg).
Utah State: After losing by a touchdown at No. 7 Oklahoma in their season opener, the Aggies have dropped three straight to Idaho State, Fresno State and San Diego State. Although he threw for just 130 yards (14-of-31) last week against the Aztecs, USU quarterback Diondre Borel holds the program's single-season records for total offensive yards (3,34 in 2009) and single-season rushing yards by a quarterback (632 in 2008). Against San Diego State, however, Borel was sacked four times and finished with a minus -54 yards on the ground. The Aggies, whose 41-7 loss to SDSU marked their lowest scoring total of the season, are allowing 32.5 points per game, seventh in the WAC and 101st in the nation. USU head coach Gary Andersen injured his neck in a fall at home on Monday and will wear a neck brace on the sideline. Andersen joins an injury list that includes 11 starting players. "There are a lot of injuries -- there is no doubt about that -- but that will never come up in our conversations," USU defensive coordinator Bill Bush told the Deseret News. "We just get 11 guys out there, and they need to play. We have guys down, but I imagine everyone does."
No. 5/5 TCU (4-0, 0-0 MWC) at COLORADO STATE (1-3, 0-0 MWC), Noon MT
TV: The Mtn. HD
The lowdown: TCU has an 18-game regular-season win streak and has won six straight against Colorado State. The Horned Frogs, who lead the series 6-1, have won the last five meetings by an average of 22.8 points, outscoring the Rams by an average margin of 32-9.
TCU: The Horned Frogs have won seven straight regular-season road games but are playing outside the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for the first time this season. TCU is coming off a 41-24 victory at SMU in a game where it surrendered 192 rushing yards after allowing an average of 88 in its first three games. Facing a defense that has ranked No. 1 in the nation each of the last two seasons, Mustangs fullback Zach Line ran for a career-best 139 yards. "For me, to allow somebody to run for over 100 yards is like the 11th Commandment in football," said coach Gary Patterson. "We don't let that happen at our place. A lot of it had to do with tackling. We're excited to be 4-0, but we understand that we need to play a whole lot better when we play (at) Colorado State this week." TCU rushed for 275 yards in last year's win over CSU.
Colorado State: The Rams put an end to a 12-game losing streak with last week's 36-34 win over Idaho. CSU finished with a season-high 108 yards on the ground, while true freshman quarterback Pete Thomas threw for a career-best 386 yards and three touchdowns. Thomas, who has exceeded the 300-yard mark in each of the team's past two games, will be facing the nation's ninth-best pass defense (143.3 ypg). "This was an emotional week for our football team, but one thing we keep preaching is that we're never out of the fight," said coach Steve Fairchild.
UTEP (3-1, 1-1 C-USA) at NEW MEXICO (0-4, 0-2 MWC), 4 P.M. MT
TV: The Mtn. HD
The lowdown: New Mexico leads the series 42-30-3. UTEP has lost 14 times in its last 16 visits to Albuquerque, its last win coming in a 22-19 decision in 1998. The Miners and the Lobos first met in 1919 and square off for the 76th time, making it UNM's second-oldest series next to New Mexico State (100 games). UTEP has averaged 13.5 points in its last 16 games at University Stadium and has been held to 14 points or less nine times during that span.
UTEP: The Miners are coming off a 16-13 win against Memphis in which Dakota Warren kicked three field goals, including the game-winning 18-yarder as time expired. Warren also connected from 57 and 50 yards. Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe completed 16-of-33 passes for 171 yards, while running back Donald Buckham, who missed the first three games of the season with a bruised knee, rushed 13 times for a team-high 59 yards. UTEP ranks first in Conference USA in kickoff returns and punt returns, an area of concern for New Mexico this season. "I haven't seen the Lobos give up on one play," said coach Mike Price. "In the fourth quarter you can see who's not running to the ball and who's walking around with their head down. I haven't seen that from them. They have had three really difficult games. A lot of teams would be 0-3 playing their schedule. I think they're disappointed. I'm sure they thought they had a chance to beat UNLV (last week)."
New Mexico: It's Homecoming at New Mexico, where the Lobos are 3-1 in such games against UTEP. True freshman quarterback Tarean Austin made his first career start at UNLV last week, completing 17-of-40 passes for 177 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Running back Desmond Dennis rushed for a season-high 88 yards, while wide receiver Chris Hernandez had a career-high seven catches for 66 yards. "I think when you look at where we are as a program, we're a young team," said coach Mike Locksley. "As a coaching staff, we've got to continue to find ways to bring them along as quickly as possible."
WYOMING (1-3, 0-1 MWC) at TOLEDO (3-1, 2-0 MAC), 7 P.M. ET
The lowdown: It's Homecoming for Toledo, which comes into the contest having won three straight road games. It's also a homecoming of sorts for Wyoming coach Dave Christensen, who spent nine seasons at Toledo as an offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. Though the teams have never met, the Cowboys are 3-2 against Mid-American Conference opponents.
Wyoming: The Cowboys are trying to put the brakes on a three-game losing streak, having dropped a 20-14 decision to Air Force in their MWC opener last week. Even though Wyoming rushed for a season-high 174 yards, it has endured its share of offensive struggles. The Cowboys are averaging 13.75 points per game, tied for 117th among the nation's 120 FBS teams, and rank 118th in rush offense. "I don't think we have an identity (on offense)," said quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels. "I think we all just want to win football games and whatever that takes, that's what we're going to do. That's all I want and that's all we want."
Toledo: The Rockets won their third straight last week, posting an impressive 31-20 road win at Purdue. Sophomore quarterback Austin Dantin (24-of-31, 209 yards) threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more scores. Toledo led 17-0 at the half. Sophomore wide receiver Eric Page had a season-high 10 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown as the Rockets finished with a season-high 378 yards of total offense "We're believing in what we're doing," said coach Tim Beckman. "We've got a simple plan and we're executing."
No. 25/25 NEVADA (4-0, 0-0 WAC) at UNLV (1-3, 1-1 MWC), 7 P.M. PT
TV: The Mtn. HD
The lowdown: It's the annual Battle for the Freemont Cannon in a series led by Nevada 20-15. The Wolf Pack have won five straight against the Rebels, including last year's 63-28 decision in which Nevada finished with 773 yards total offense. The Wolf Pack have rushed for 1,003 yards in their last two meetings with the Rebels.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack, which jumped into the Top 25 last week with a 27-13 win over BYU, are off to their best start since 1991, when they began 12-0. Making its first appearance in the AP Top 25 poll since 1948, Nevada limited BYU to just 91 yards rushing last week and features the No. 1 pass efficiency defense in the WAC (109.11). Yet it's the talents of senior quarterback Colin Kaepernick that could make the Wolf Pack a serious threat to No. 3 Boise State when the teams collide in late November. Kaepernick, who ranks No. 3 in the nation in total offense, directs a group that ranks sixth in the country in rush offense (286.3 ypg) and is averaging 529.0 total yards. Nevada has allowed just one sack, the best mark in the NCAA. "That Fremont Cannon is a special trophy," said Nevada coach Chris Ault. "It is the largest rival trophy in America. And it is special because it represents the entire state of Nevada. We have been fortunate to have it for five years and our full intention is to keep it for six."
UNLV: The Rebels gave first-year coach Bobby Hauck his first victory with last week's 45-10 win over New Mexico. UNLV's point total was its highest since posting a 54-10 win over Idaho State in 2006. Wide receiver Michael Johnson finished with career highs in catches (eight), receiving yards (138) and receiving touchdowns (three). Quarterback Omar Clayton moved into third place on the school's career TD passes list with 39. UNLV scored more touchdowns on offense in the first half (four) than its previous three games combined (three). Two of the Rebels' previous five scores came on defense and special teams. UNLV has six sacks in the last six quarters after having none in its first 10 quarters this season. "It's a big week," said Hauck, "and if our guys aren't juiced up for this one, then we've got problems."
Drop-off? What Drop-off?
Its linebacking corps lost three players to graduation, including the team's top tackler. Another linebacker was lost for the season during spring drills, and yet another has been hampered by a foot injury. The team's secondary was also hit hard by graduation, losing three starters, one of whom was an NFL draft pick.
So how badly has Utah's defense suffered as a consequence? This much: The Utes, who are enjoying a bye week before going on the road to face Iowa State, have not allowed a touchdown in the last five quarters. Utah is ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense (12.8 ppg, tied for No. 8) and ranks No. 6 in total defense (246.8 yards per game). The Utes are No. 11 in rushing defense, allowing 86.8 yards per game.
"Our defensive staff has done a great job of getting those guys ready each week," said coach Kyle Whittingham. "We didn't return a lot of guys on defense, but if you recruit the right way, you should have good players coming up through your system who are ready to step in and take the place of your departing seniors. That's really the bottom line."
The Flip Side
While San Diego State's offense, which ranks No. 7 in the nation in total yards (509.5 ypg) and No. 18 in scoring (38.25 ppg), has garnered a considerable amount of attention during the team's best start in 29 years, its defensive effort has largely gone unnoticed.
Through four games, the Aztecs (3-1), who are off this week before a road date with BYU, rank No. 12 in the nation in scoring defense (13.75 ppg) and pass efficiency defense (99.30). SDSU ranks No. 21 in rush defense (99.25 ypg) and No. 27 in total defense (296.0 ypg).
For a bit of perspective, before the arrival of head coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator Rocky Long last year, the Aztecs in 2008 ranked 118th among the nation's 120 FBS teams in rush defense. They were 113th in both scoring defense and total defense and 112th in pass efficiency defense.
"I think we're playing together more on defense," Hoke said. "I think we obviously understand the system better than we did a year ago and guys are being very accountable to each other in trying to play their best every time they take the field."
Onward and Upward
Prior to rallying for a 36-34 win over Idaho in its home opener last week, Colorado State was mired in the midst of a 12-game losing streak, the third-longest active streak in the nation among Football Bowl Subdivision schools and the fifth-longest in school history.
Yet to connect last year's nine-game skid with the Rams' 0-3 start in 2010 wasn't fair to the current squad, coach Steve Fairchild said.
"We weren't talking about losing streaks here," Fairchild said. "This team was 0-3. It didn't bear the burden of anything from previous years. We obviously weren't playing well enough to win one of those first three games, but I think all along this team felt like it was getting better."
Meanwhile, the program is mourning the loss of former All-American offensive lineman Anthony Cesario, 34, who passed away on Saturday due to possible heart-related issues.
Cesario was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft and also spent time with the Miami Dolphins before injuries cut short his career. He is survived by his parents and sister. He was single and did not have children.
Services are scheduled for Friday at the Massai Arena on the CSU-Pueblo campus at 10 a.m.
The Road Ahead
After closing out nonconference play at Toledo this week, Wyoming faces the unenviable task of playing the MWC's so-called "Big Three" --- TCU, Utah and BYU -- in consecutive weeks.
Yet coach Dave Christensen, who spent nine years at Toledo as an offensive line coach and offensive coordinator, has more to concern himself with than the schedule. Not only are the Cowboys struggling with depth issues (68 scholarship players), they are also trying to stop a three-game losing streak.
"I'm just worried about going to Toledo right now," Christensen said. "If I was to look at the rest of the schedule and worry about that, I wouldn't be able to focus on the job at hand. We're dying to get a victory here, and this program can't afford to look any farther ahead than this Saturday."
Life After Football
The nation's service academy football teams --- Air Force, Army and Navy --- are a combined 8-3 thus far and have shown the capability of going toe-to-toe with college football's elite, despite myriad recruiting limitations.
Air Force (3-1) hosts Navy (2-1) this week in the 43rd meeting of the series.
"I think university presidents are well aware of the entertainment dollars that can be involved if you're willing to go a route where, in terms of (academics), you can go after a much larger pool of players," said Falcons coach Troy Calhoun. "(But) that's not the case for these three schools. It's the development of young men and young women and the training that's involved to get them ready to become officers.
"There's no right way or wrong way (to build a football program). But what's obvious when you look at the seven power conferences, and it starts with the university presidents, is that there's a very large commitment to getting bigger, faster players and to having more continuity within programs."
Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop
BYU, which finds itself at 1-3 for just the second time since 2005, was hit with bad news for the second straight week when it was announced that junior defensive tackle Romney Fuga would undergo season-ending knee surgery after being injured in last week's loss to Nevada.
Arguably the Cougars' top defensive player, Fuga earned All-MWC honors last year after finishing with 40 tackles.
A week earlier, BYU learned that junior quarterback Riley Nelson, who had started the team's first three games, would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.
True freshman Jake Heaps has taken the reins at quarterback, but finding a replacement for Fuga will be no small task.
"I don't think the void (left by Fuga) is fillable," said coach Bronco Mendenhall. "Romney this year was playing as well as any nose tackle I've coached before. But maybe even more than that, his consistency and his dedication really embraces the culture of our team. He's one of the more experienced players on our team and knows what it takes (to win). That part of Romney may be missed even more than his play."
Fuga is expected to return in time for 2011 fall camp.
You Gotta Start Somewhere
With its quarterback corps depleted by injuries, New Mexico last week started true freshman Tarean Austin against UNLV. Austin completed 17-of-40 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown and left an impression on Lobos coach Mike Locksley.
"I was really impressed with his poise," Locksley said. "When we made the decision on our No. 2 quarterback coming out of fall camp, his poise played a large role in that decision. He just had the presence of a veteran. Even though he's a young guy and even when things don't go well, he rarely loses his poise. I was proud of the way he competed and I think, obviously, his best football is still ahead of him."
Austin figures to get his second start this week when New Mexico hosts UTEP on Saturday.
Frogs Get Leap-Frogged
Despite running its record to 4-0 with last week's 41-24 victory over SMU, TCU dropped to No. 5 in the AP poll. Oregon now holds the No. 4 spot previously occupied by the Horned Frogs.
"If I was voting, I probably would have voted Oregon (a 42-31 winner at Arizona State) ahead of us," said coach Gary Patterson. "Will I feel that way next week? We'll find out. But I don't think (dropping to No. 5) makes much difference. We've got eight games left to play and we've got a tough schedule; so does Oregon. After that, we'll see how things turn out at the end."
Though not about to quibble with the outcome of the SMU game, Patterson wasn't particularly pleased that the Horned Frogs, the nation's No. 1 defense the past two seasons, surrendered 139 yards rushing to Mustangs fullback Zach Line.
"For me, to allow somebody to run for over 100 yards is like the 11th Commandment in football," he said. "We don't let that happen at our place. A lot of it had to do with tackling. We're excited to be 4-0, but we understand that we need to play a whole lot better when we play (at) Colorado State this week."
With one-third of the 2010 college football season put to bed, we'll awake Saturday to a handful of games that will supposedly, er, greatly impact the matchups in year's BCS bowl games: Florida at Alabama, Stanford at Oregon, Oklahoma vs. Texas. With the exception of Texas, all are ranked in the top 10 in either the Associated Press
or USA Today
Coaches' polls and all are undefeated.
Of course, if you think any of the aforementioned teams won't be issued get-out-jail-free cards to play in the Rose, Fiesta, Orange or Sugar bowls despite blemishes on their regular-season records, you're also likely to be convinced that the BCS system is based on a fairy tale in which all conferences skip through fields of poppies together and live happily after.
In ESPN's weekly conference power rankings, released Monday, the Mountain West is positioned at No. 5 following a week in which the Big East continued to sail into oblivion and Texas was left as exposed as a house of cards in a high wind.
Per ESPN: "The Big East in a freefall. The Mountain West has overtaken them in the computer rankings. The West Virginia Mountaineers are the only team receiving any (Associated Press poll) points, and they dropped out of the top 25 following their loss to the LSU Tigers. The conference fell to 5-13 against FBS schools and 1-10 against other (automatic-qualifying BCS) schools. They are much closer to being overtaken by Conference USA than they are to catching any of the top seven conferences.
"The Big 12 took a hit as well with the Texas Longhorns' surprise loss to the UCLA Bruins. They fell to fifth place in the AP poll, behind the Mountain West.."
Before plucking a handkerchief from your pocket and daubing the tears from your eyes for the Big East and the overly-lauded Longhorns, know this: Even with multiple losses and/or being ousted from the Top 25, they still have the opportunity to reap the benefits of receiving a BCS bowl bid.
As for teams such as TCU, Utah, Air Force, Boise State and Nevada? Despite all but Air Force being undefeated and ranked in the Top 25 (the Falcons are receiving votes in both polls), one loss and their hopes of appearing in a BCS game disappear like a ghost into a fog.
On the injustice scale, think public flogging for jaywalking.
Consider: As one of six automatic-qualifying BCS conferences, the Atlantic Coast Conference is 3-9 this season against the five other AQ conferences. Those three wins have all come against teams from the Big East, whose champion is already guaranteed to have a minimum of two losses. Yet the loser of No. 5 TCU and No. 12 Utah, or No. 3 Boise State and No. 25 Nevada later this season, will end the hope of those teams from making an appearance in a BCS game. What a crazy system we live with when we can accept that a loss to Top 25 opponent eliminates some teams from BCS contention, while the potential ACC champion can absorb a loss to a Football Championship Subdivision team and still play in a BCS game and reap the benefits of a 19 million dollar payday.
The 11 FBS conferences are halfway through a four-year evaluation period to determine which conferences will earn or lose an automatic BCS bid. The criteria include:
1) The ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings each year.
2) The final regular-season-rankings of all conference teams in the computer rankings used by the BCS each year.
3) The number of teams in the Top 25 of the final BCS standings each year.
Utilizing that formula in 2008-09, the MWC surpassed the Big East and ACC under all but one of the three aforementioned criteria. And while the MWC is making substantial strides en route to achieving a passing grade, the Big East and ACC continue to be awarded automatic BCS bids despite being on the brink of sporting dunce caps and assuming a seat in the corner.
The ambiguous four-year evaluation period plucked from the air when the BCS contracts were drawn up doesn't take into account that conference members come and go. Is it any wonder that the Big East has had all eight members play in bowl games since its realignment in 2005? Where once the Louisvilles, UConns and South Floridas were left to grovel for attention from college football's aristocracy, they are now members of an AQ conference, having aligned themselves with the Big East.
Closer to home, current MWC member Utah will receive the same benefit when it joins the Pac-10 next season. Of course, Boise State, which joins the MWC next year, and TCU will be left to plead their cases once again. It's an argument that incredibly, impossibly, continues to fall on deaf ears in a sport screaming for change.
Please Leave a Message
San Diego State freshman running back Ronnie Hillman has earned MWC Offensive Player of the Week honors for two consecutive weeks, the first time an Aztecs player has done so in the conference's 12-year history.
He carried 23 times for 228 yards (9.9 ypc.) and two touchdowns against No. 25 Missouri last week, becoming the first SDSU player to run for over 200 yards in a game in seven years. The 228 yards represent a MWC single-game freshman record and rank fourth nationally in 2010. Hillman's 93-yard touchdown run against Missouri was the longest rushing play in the nation this season and is third all-time in conference history./
And while the national media has come calling, SDSU coach Brady Hoke believes it's best to put the phone on hold.
Rams Change Clothes, Hope to Change Fortune
When Colorado State hosts Idaho on Ag Day on Saturday, the Rams will wear orange in a football game for the first time since they wore orange pants in 1958, the last year they were known as the Aggies. The team has not worn orange jerseys since the end of World War II.
CSU will also honor the legacy of former All-American tight end and Colorado Rockies president Keli McGregor, who passed away in April. CSU has invited McGregor's family, including his wife, Lori, and the couple's four children, to serve as honorary captains for the pregame coin toss. They'll also be on the field after the first quarter, when CSU will show a tribute video as part of a special ceremony. Members of the Rockies organization will also be in attendance.
The Rams, who have lost 12 straight, are hopeful that the change of uniforms will coincide with a change of fortune.
"Maybe these jerseys will turn into kind of like the lucky Notre Dame green jerseys," sophomore defensive end Broderick Sargent told The Coloradoan. "... I think it gives you that little bit of added boost of emotion towards the game."
En route to being named last year's MWC Freshman of the Year, Wyoming quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels endured his share of hard knocks. And in last year's game at Air Force, the knocks just kept on coming.
In his fifth start as a collegiate quarterback, Carta-Samuels was sacked six times. He completed only 14-of-31 passes for 74 yards and was intercepted once. The Cowboys lost 10-0, a defeat that marked Air Force's first shutout of a conference opponent in 12 years.
At War Memorial Stadium in Laramie on Saturday, Carta-Samuels will get a shot at redemption as Wyoming hosts the Falcons in its conference opener.
"When I went into Air Force, they did so many things, schematically, to mess with me, and do things differently, that I don't think any coach could've prepared me for what I saw," Carta-Samuels told the Casper Star-Tribune. "So this is a big game for me, because I want to come back and not let them do any of the stuff they did to me last year."
Getting His Act Together
After a shaky start in the season opener against Pittsburgh, Utah punt returner Shaky Smithson has been tabbed the MWC Special Teams Player of the Week two weeks in a row.
Shuffling the Deck Again?
UNLV quarterback Omar Clayton needed just one game to regain his starting job, but the Rebels' offensive struggles could result in Clayton being displaced once again.
Heaps of Responsibility
With Riley Nelson sidelined for the rest of the season after suffering a shoulder injury in last week's loss at Florida State, true freshman quarterback Jake Heaps now has sole control of BYU's offense. Heaps and the Cougars will try to avoid opening the season 1-3 for the first time since 2005 on Saturday when they host high-powered Nevada.
Taking a Look at the Big Picture
Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun is not one to back down from a challenge. Despite the myriad of challenges the Academy faces when it comes to recruiting, Calhoun is convinced that Air Force can be a contender --- and not just in football.
Mountain West Conference women's soccer teams are a combined 37-31-9 through five weeks of non-conference play.
BYU (7-1-1) is ranked eighth and ninth in the latest Soccer America
and NSCAA Top 25 polls, respectively.
Air Force split a pair of matches last weekend at Northern Arizona (L, 1-0) and vs. Southern Utah (W, 5-0). Forwards Bridgett Murphy and Stephanie Patterson each scored two goals and had an assist against the Thunderbirds on Sunday, while midfielder/forward Eryn Avjian also netted her first-career goal and added an assist in the victory. Midway through the season, Patterson leads the team with 12 points on four goals and four assists.
BYU forward Lynda Hercules earned MWC Offensive Player of the Week honors after notching the lone goal in the Cougars' 1-0 victory at Rice on Saturday. In just 37 minutes of action, the Plano, Texas, native also accounted for a team-high three shots on goal. Hercules' score came in the 43rd minute of action, just seven minutes after she entered the contest. Both of the freshman forward's goals this season have ended up being the deciding goal of the match.
New Mexico won both of its matches at the Montana Tournament, defeating North Dakota (2-0) and Boise State (1-0). Forward Jordan Craig helped the Lobos top the Broncos on Sunday, taking teammate Roxie McFarland's pass and firing a 15-yard shot inside of the left in the 70th minute. After pitching two shutouts last weekend, New Mexico goalkeeper Kelli Cornell has seven on the year. She is tied for second place on the Lobos' all-time record list for shutouts in a career with 20.
San Diego State went 0-1-1 at last weekend's Oregon State Nike Invitational. The Aztecs opened tournament play with a 2-1 loss to Oregon. On Sunday, SDSU received two goals from midfielder/forward Michaela DeJesus and tied No. 18 Oregon State, 2-2. DeJesus' two goals and four points against the Beavers established single-game career highs for the senior. The Dublin, Calif., native leads the squad with three goals and seven points in 2010.
TCU goalkeeper Kelsey Walters was named MWC Defensive Player of the Week after leading the Horned Frogs to a 1-1 record against No. 18/17 Memphis (W, 3-0) and Mississippi (L, 0-1). On Friday, Walters recorded a shutout against the Tigers, saving all six of the shot attempts she faced. The victory was the senior's first shutout of the season and the 11th of her collegiate career. Walters concluded the trip by holding Ole Miss scoreless in the second half of Sunday's match. After allowing the Rebels to score in the 42nd minute, the Oklahoma City, Okla., product protected the net in the second stanza and finished the afternoon by tallying five saves on six shots on goal.
UNLV went 1-1 at the UNLV Rebel Classic. The Rebels rebounded from a 2-1 overtime loss to Long Beach State on Friday night to topple UC Davis, 2-1, on Sunday. UNLV forward Ashleigh Shoughro currently leads the MWC in both goals (seven) and points (14). Her seven goals rank 13th in the country. Rebel goalie Kylie Wassell has tallied a 1.17 goals against average, 38 saves and one shutout this season.
Utah went 0-2 at the Santa Clara Classic. The Utes dropped a 6-1 decision to No. 2/2 Stanford on a neutral field, before falling to No. 11/12 Santa Clara, 1-0. Utah has faced three top-25 teams away from home this season. Ute goalie Hannah Turpen is averaging 5.20 saves per contest, ranking second in the MWC.
Wyoming lost the final two contests of its five-match road trip last weekend, losing to Creighton (6-2) on Friday and Drake (1-0) on Sunday. It was announced on Wednesday that Cowgirl forward Sara Paul, a native of Calgary, Alberta, has been selected to attend the Canadian women's soccer training camp in preparation for the 2011 Women's World Cup.
The Week Ahead
Air Force hosts the Falcon Invitational at the Cadet Soccer Stadium. AFA will take on Weber State on Friday, before closing out the fifth week of non-conference play on Sunday vs. VMI. Weber State is 0-9 on the season after dropping matches to Cal Poly (4-0) and UC Santa Barbara (2-0) last weekend. VMI, which has tallied only two goals in 2010, is 1-7 on the season after falling to Howard (2-0) and Navy (4-0) in its last two matches.
After suffering its first loss of the season at No. 24 Texas on Monday night, BYU looks to start a new win streak when it travels to Utah State on Saturday. The Aggies are 3-2-4 on the year and 2-0-0 against teams from Utah, having already notched victories over Weber State and Utah Valley.
New Mexico has a week off before returning to action Friday, Oct. 1, when the Lobos travel to UNLV for its first Conference matchup of the season.
San Diego State opens a three-match homestand this week, as Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly visit the SDSU Sports Deck. The Aztecs will face the Titans on Friday, before playing the Mustangs on Sunday. Cal State Fullerton owns a 2-6 record after dropping its last four matches. Cal Poly enters the week 4-4 after playing three common opponents of SDSU. Like the Aztecs, the Mustangs have squared off with top-ranked North Carolina (L, 1-0), San Jose State (W, 2-0) and Utah State (L, 3-2).
TCU starts out its final week of non-conference play by traveling to UTSA on Friday and plays host to Texas State on Sunday. The Roadrunners (5-4-0) are coming off their first home loss of the season, a 3-1 setback to Houston on Sunday at the Recreational Sports Complex. The Bobcats (5-4-0) are on a three-match win streak after capturing a 3-1 win over Houston Baptist on Sunday.
UNLV heads to Colorado Springs, Colo., for a pair of matches at the Falcon Invitational. The Rebels challenge VMI on Friday and square off with Weber State on Sunday.
Utah returns home to host Utah State on Thursday. The Utes conclude their weekend with a road match at Arizona on Sunday. Utah holds a 10-2-0 record all-time against the Aggies, including a perfect 6-0 mark on its home turf. The Utes are 4-4- all-time against the Wildcats, including a 2-2 mark on Arizona's home pitch.
Following a five-match road trip, Wyoming returns to the Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex to take on Boise State and New Mexico State on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Broncos, who have been outscored 10-9 this season, are 3-4-1 in the 2010 campaign. The Aggies, who have outscored their opponents 25-4, are 5-1-2 midway through their season.
Note: Mountain West Conference fans get to vote on Facebook throughout the 2010 college football season for their "Game of the Week." Each Sunday, the MWC will create a poll on Facebook and on TheMWC.com asking fans to choose which game should be highlighted as the "MWC Game of the Week." MWC Correspondent Mick McGrane will preview the game every Thursday, along with select talent from the Conference's television partners, The Mtn., CBS College Sports and VERSUS. The rest of the week's football slate will be previewed at "Inside the MWC," the official blog of the Mountain West Conference.
Click HERE to read more about the MWC Facebook Fans' Football Game of the Week.
NO. 5/4 TCU (3-0) at SMU (2-1), 7 P.M. CT
TV: ESPN HD
The lowdown: Dubbed the "Battle for the Iron Skillet," TCU has won three straight in the series and nine of the last 10, its average margin of victory being 27 points. The Horned Frogs, who have enjoyed the benefit of playing their first four games of the season in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, are 7-1 against the Mustangs under coach Gary Patterson. SMU, expected to contend for the Conference USA West title, has won two straight after dropping a 35-27 decision to Texas Tech to open the season. The Mustangs are coming off a 35-21 win over Washington State.
TCU: The Horned Frogs had little trouble with Baylor last week, scoring on their first five possessions en route to a 45-10 win. Sophomore Ed Wesley, who has emerged as TCU's featured back, rushed for a career-high 165 yards against the Bears. Meanwhile, senior quarterback Andy Dalton completed 21-of-23 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns, setting a MWC and TCU single-game record for completion percentage (91.3). He opened the game with 11 straight completions. The Horned Frogs have a 17-game regular-season win streak. "After playing Baylor last week, this is our second week of emotional games," Patterson said. "We're going across town to play a good football team that is 2-1. They really came back on Texas Tech. They're probably the best defense we'll play to this point."
SMU: The Mustangs' 35-21 win over Washington State last week ended a 17-game losing streak to BCS conference schools dating to 2000. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Padron threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Padron has at least two touchdown passes in all three games and eight overall. He has not thrown an interception in the last two weeks. SMU, under third-year coach June Jones, is 7-1 in its last eight home games. "What I've talked about since I came here is being able to (develop) a home-field advantage," Jones said. "To be a good football team, a championship team, you have to win your home games and steal a few on the road. If you do that, it doesn't matter if you're in the NFL or Conference USA. You're probably going to feel pretty good about yourself."
AIR FORCE (2-1, 1-0 MWC) at WYOMING (1-2, 0-0 MWC), NOON MT
TV: The Mtn. HD
The lowdown: Air Force leads the overall series 25-20-3, but Wyoming is 11-9-2 against the Falcons in Laramie. Air Force's 10-0 win last season marked its first shutout of a MWC opponent in 12 years. The Cowboys, who have dropped four straight against the Falcons, have not beaten Air Force in Laramie since posting a 43-26 win in 2004.
Air Force: The Falcons, who are receiving votes in both polls, put a scare into No. 7 Oklahoma last week, falling 24-21 after leveling the Sooners with 351 yards on the ground, the most ever allowed by a Bob Stoops-coached Oklahoma team. The Sooners have been ranked in the national top 20 in rush defense nine consecutive seasons. Air Force, which leads the nation in rushing at 399.0 yards per game, pulled within three points with 3:39 remaining but couldn't get the ball back. "We came into this game thinking that we were going to win," said fullback Jared Tew. "We don't come into any game just wanting to get close. Just because they're the No. 7 team, we're not going to back down and just try to get close to the No. 7 team. We came in here to win."
Wyoming: The Cowboys are coming off consecutive weeks of facing two of the top 5 teams in the nation in Texas and Boise State. After dropping a 34-7 decision to the No. 4/5 Longhorns, Wyoming fell to No. 3 Boise State, 51-6. The Broncos finished with 648 total yards, the most the Cowboys have allowed in eight years. Equally problematic, however, has been Wyoming's struggles to run the ball. The Cowboys are averaging just 24.3 yards on the ground, fewest in the nation among FBS teams. Wyoming finished with a minus -21 yards rushing last week. "There's no easy answer," said coach Dave Christensen. "We're in the process of playing with some kids who haven't had a lot of experience in the spread offense. I don't think we're doing a good job of finishing blocks. The play might come off OK, but then we don't sustain (blocks), which is obviously critical."
IDAHO (2-1, 0-0 WAC) at COLORADO STATE (0-3, 0-0 MWC), 2 P.M. MT
The lowdown: In last year's meeting in Moscow, Idaho, Colorado State built a 20-7 lead but couldn't hold on, falling 31-29 when it failed on a two-point conversion attempt with 1:41 left. Idaho is facing its second consecutive MWC opponent after posting a 30-7 win last week over UNLV. The series between CSU and Idaho is tied 3-3, but the Vandals have won the last two. The Rams, playing their first home game of the season, have won two consecutive home openers and 14 of their last 16.
Idaho: Against UNLV last week, quarterback Nathan Enderle completed 15-of-27 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown as the Vandals scored on four of their six trips inside the red zone. Senior defensive end Aaron Lavarias, the WAC Defensive Player of the Week, led a unit that collected six sacks while limiting UNLV to 11 first downs and 187 yards total offense. Idaho leads the nation in red-zone defense, allowing only three scores on eight possessions inside the 20-yard line. "They're playing with confidence right now and that's due to having some success," coach Robb Akey told the Idaho Statesman. "I think the experience factor leads to that a lot. The size, strength and speed are better. It's the first time we haven't had a bunch of new faces in the defense, and I think that's making the difference. They are carrying a better swagger now."
Colorado State: The Rams are trying to put the brakes on a 12-game losing streak after falling to Miami (Ohio) last week, 31-10. CSU, battling a lack of experience on offense, is the lowest-scoring team in the nation (6.3 ppg). Despite starting a true freshman quarterback in Pete Thomas, the Rams' real struggles have come in the running game, where they are averaging just 42.7 yards. "This will probably be as good a defensive team as we have played," said coach Steve Fairchild. "From a personnel standpoint and a production standpoint, this will be the best defense in our first four games. They fly around, they play extremely hard, they pursue the ball, they tackle well. So we're going to have our work cut out for us, particularly with the state of our offense. But again, it's a winnable game, and we just have to worry about ourselves and keep improving every week."
UTAH STATE (1-2, 0-1 WAC) at SAN DIEGO STATE (2-1, 0-0 MWC), 5 P.M. PT
The lowdown: This is the first meeting between the two schools in 33 years. The Aztecs lead the series 9-1. Since joining the WAC in 2005, Utah State is 0-8 in road games against the MWC. San Diego State is off to its best start in six seasons. With a win, Utah State will open a season with a 2-2 mark for the first time since 2005.
Utah State: The Aggies are coming off a 41-24 loss to future Mountain West Conference member Fresno State. Utah State opened the season with an impressive showing at Oklahoma, falling 31-24 before rebounding to beat Idaho State 38-17. The Aggies, who are averaging 186.7 yards rushing per game, finished with 205 against Fresno State. The Aggies yielded 230 yards rushing to Fresno State and now must contend with an Aztecs offense that is averaging 237.3 yards per game on the ground. Utah State already has lost eight starters to injuries this season. "It is a problem, but it's not going to be a crutch for me or this football team," coach Gary Andersen told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "But it'd be a problem for any team in the nation if you lost eight starters. You sit down and wonder if you're doing anything wrong or if you can do anything different."
San Diego State: The Aztecs are averaging 511.3 yards and 37.3 points per game. Running back Ronnie Hillman, the MWC's leading rusher, set a freshman single-game conference record when he got loose for 228 yards in last week's 27-24 loss at No. 25 Missouri. Hillman averaged 9.9 yards per carry. San Diego State's defense is allowing just 313.0 yards and 16.0 points per game. The Aztecs limited Missouri to 89 yards rushing. Asked about his team's inability to seal the deal at Missouri when the Tigers scored with 51 seconds left, coach Brady Hoke said: "Play better. There's no real magic formula. You're also skewing your perspective. It's one of 12 opportunities. It doesn't matter if they're a ranked team or an elementary school. You're playing a game; you're playing 60 minutes of competition. Each guy has to compete at his highest level and you put yourself out there and see what happens. I think sometimes there's way too much made about who you're playing. It's really about how we play, it doesn't matter who we play. ... It's one game, move forward. We have nine more guaranteed opportunities."
SAN JOSE STATE (1-2, 0-0 WAC) at NO. 13/13 UTAH (3-0, 2-0 MWC), 6 P.M. MT
The lowdown: Utah leads the series 5-1, including a 24-14 win in Salt Lake City last year and a 49-17 win in 2008. In both games, the Utes outgained the Spartans by more than 160 yards. It's Homecoming for Utah, which is currently enjoying its highest ranking since finishing the 2008 season ranked No. 2 in the AP poll and No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches' poll. The Utes have won 19 straight home games, the longest home win streak in MWC history, second-longest in school history and the third-longest active win streak in the nation.
San Jose State: The Spartans opened the season with consecutive road losses at No. 1 Alabama (48-3) and two weeks ago at No. 10/11 Wisconsin (27-11). SJSU topped Southern Utah last week, 16-11. The Spartans struggled offensively, converting just 3-of-12 third downs and finishing with 250 total yards. The defense, however, limited Southern Utah to only 4-of-16 on third down and held an opponent without a touchdown for the first time since 2003. "It wasn't pretty, but we did what this team can always do, which is never say die and never give in," said coach Mike MacIntyre.
Utah: Utes senior quarterback Terrance Cain was nearly perfect in last week's win at New Mexico. Cain, who has started the last two games after Jordan Wynn suffered a thumb injury in the season opener against Pittsburgh, set a school record for completion percentage (.869) when he connected on 20-of-23 passes. Senior wide receiver/kick returner Shaky Smithson earned MWC Special Teams Player of the Week honors, returning four punts for 140 yards, including a 73-yard TD return. Senior defensive back Lamar Chapman garnered MWC Defensive Player of the Week honors with eight tackles (seven solo), two of which came behind the line of scrimmage, and a sack. The Utes are averaging 40.3 points per game while allowing an average of 16.0. "Their offense is in the pistol now and they are doing things different there," coach Kyle Whittingham said of San Jose State's system under first-year coach Mike MacIntyre. "They had a lot of personnel returning and their defensive scheme has been tweaked. They seem to be playing hard and with enthusiasm, but it is what you expect when you change coaching staffs --- a little different look."
NEW MEXICO (0-3, 0-1 MWC) at UNLV (0-3, 0-1 MWC), 7 P.M. PT
TV: The Mtn. HD
The lowdown: New Mexico is 7-4 against UNLV in MWC play and has won three of the last four games played in Las Vegas. UNLV snapped a 20-game conference road losing streak last year in Albuquerque, winning 34-17. The Rebels have won the last two meetings between the teams.
New Mexico: The Lobos will be without starting quarterback B.R. Holbrook, who underwent exploratory knee surgery this week. Although backup Brad Gruner is expected to be available, he suffered a back injury in last week's loss to Utah, leaving true freshman Tarean Austin to potentially make his first career start. In two-plus quarters of work against Utah, Austin completed 15-of-27 passes for 128 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also finished with a team-high 38 yards rushing. "Nobody in that locker room, including the coaches, has cashed it in," Lobos coach Mike Locksley told the Albuquerque Journal. "We're excited now for the opportunity as we get into conference play to continue to get better. As we said at the beginning of this season, take the next step. Very hopeful we're able to do that starting with (UNLV)."
UNLV: The Rebels are looking for their first three-game winning streak over the Lobos since 1979-81. Rebel senior QB Omar Clayton needs just 13 passing yards to tie Glenn Carano (1973-76) for fourth place on the school's career list with 5,095. Mike Clausen, who won the starting quarterback job in fall camp by unseating Clayton but has since moved to free safety, could get his first start on defense. "I think he's got good athletic ability," said first-year coach Bobby Hauck. "He's got a good understanding of the game. He likes the physical part of the game. If you're describing a guy who's good at safety, that's how you'd describe it." UNLV is hoping it can get its offense untracked after scoring just three touchdowns in its first three games. "We're breaking down," said Hauck, whose team is coming off a 30-7 loss at Idaho. "It's up to me as the head coach to make sure we're getting 11 guys doing it the right way."
Nelson Shoulder Injury Puts QB Out for the Season
BYU junior quarterback Riley Nelson will have surgery to repair a shoulder injury suffered Saturday during the Florida State game and will be out the remainder of the 2010 season.
An MRI has revealed the need for surgery on Nelson's non-throwing shoulder. The anticipated recovery time is 4-5 months.
"We will miss Riley's leadership, toughness and playmaking ability," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "Unfortunately, injuries are part of football. Riley is a great young man and we will look forward to his return."
Nelson had started each of BYU's first three games while sharing time with true freshman Jake Heaps. Nelson completed 20-of-40 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns while adding 148 yards and one touchdown on 31 rushing attempts.
Heaps has completed 30-of-61 passes for 260 yards with an interception and a touchdown. The other two quarterbacks currently listed on the roster are sophomore James Lark and freshman Jason Munns.
BYU, a program with a proud history when it comes to the passing game, is averaging just 4.65 yards per completion through its first three games.
"Any time when you divide the repetitions between quarterbacks, it's been very clear that has affected our execution," said Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Other reasons for shortcomings in the passing game, Mendenhall said, are that his quarterbacks have held the ball too long, receivers are not getting off the line of scrimmage cleanly and the offensive line has experienced problems protecting the passer. BYU has allowed nine sacks.
"We're evaluating everything right now until we're able to add balance to our offense throwing the football," Mendenhall said.
Nice Problem to Have
With sophomore quarterback Jordan Wynn working his way back from a thumb injury suffered in Utah's Week 1 win over Pittsburgh, senior backup Terrance Cain has been brilliant, compiling an eye-popping quarterback rating of 204.0.
In Saturday's win at New Mexico, Cain completed 20-of-23 passes and set a school record with an .869 completion percentage. He threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns. In starting the Utes' last two games, Cain has completed 33-of-43 passes (76.7 percent) for 455 yards and five touchdowns. He's also averaging 5.2 yards per rush.
So what happens when Wynn is once again healthy?
"We'll manage that situation as it comes along," said Utes coach Kyle Whittingham. "The first order of business is to determine whether Jordan is going to be available at full capacity. Terrance has certainly played exceptionally well. If there's a way we can get a set of plays or a package of plays for him, we'll do whatever is best for the football team and the big picture. But Terrance has really been something. He's come in and done a great job when we needed him to."
Run Before You Walk
When your team is relying on a true freshman quarterback to bear the brunt of the load, ideally you need to establish the run to alleviate pressure. That remains the goal of Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild, whose first- and second-string quarterbacks, Pete Thomas and Nico Ranieri, are both true freshmen.
Unfortunately for the Rams, who are 0-3 heading into Saturday's home game against Idaho, establishing the run has been no small task. CSU has averaged just 42.7 yards per game on the ground, leading to changes this week in offensive line personnel.
"Regardless of who the quarterback is, our scheme is based on being able to run the football, to be able to use the play-action pass off of running the ball," Fairchild said. "But we're struggling to do that right now. We've got to get some sort of run game going. We've always been able to do that around here in the past. It's key for everybody on our offense."
Fogler Status Up in Air
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun told the Colorado Springs Gazette that receiver Kevin Fogler has a possible concussion and that he was uncertain when Fogler might return to practice.
Although he did not rule Fogler out of this week's game at Wyoming, Calhoun told the Gazette, "He's on the back burner right now."
Fogler, a senior, has caught just two passes this season but is averaging 33.5 yards per catch.
We Meet Again
When Utah State visits San Diego State on Saturday, the game will pit Aggies offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin against Aztecs defensive coordinator Rocky Long. Before going to Utah State, Baldwin served for two seasons as the offensive coordinator at New Mexico, where Long was the head coach.
"Obviously, there's a lot of familiarity there and a lot of respect," said Aztecs coach Brady Hoke. "Rocky and I talked a little bit about it, but I think it's really more about the two of them having a healthy relationship and the spirit of competition."
Not Easy Being No. 1
For the past two seasons and four of the last 10, TCU's defense has ranked No. 1 in the nation. Heading into Saturday's game at SMU, the Horned Frogs rank No. 4, allowing an average of 222.7 yards per game.
"We've played with a lot of effort and a lot of intensity, but I don't think we've played very smart, giving up plays because of missed assignments" said coach Gary Patterson. "I don't think we've played our best football yet as far as playing as a group. But every week we've gotten better."
Better, however, is not acceptable with a defense that has allowed just six touchdowns in its last seven home games.
"We've got a standard here," Patterson said. "We man-blitz, we zone-blitz, we play base defense and we change coverages. One assignment breakdown results in a touchdown."
Finding Their Feet
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen's team will face the top rushing offense in the nation this week when it hosts Air Force. The Falcons are averaging 399.0 yards per game on the ground.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the Cowboys, who through three games are averaging 24.3 yards rushing, last in the nation among FBS teams.
"There's no easy answer," Christensen said. "We're in the process of playing with some kids who haven't had a lot of experience in the spread offense. I don't think we're doing a good job of finishing blocks. The play might come off OK, but then we don't sustain (blocks), which is obviously critical."
Bumps in the Road
As if digging out of an 0-3 hole while having been outscored 180-31 weren't challenging enough, New Mexico is now facing a quarterback crisis.
Starter B.R. Holbrook will undergo exploratory knee surgery on Wednesday and is not available for Saturday's game at UNLV. Although backup Brad Gruner is expected to be back in the lineup, he suffered a back injury in last week's loss to Utah, leaving true freshman Tarean Austin to potentially make his first career start this week.
In two-plus quarters of work against Utah, Austin completed 15-of-27 passes for 128 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also finished with a team-high 38 yards rushing.
"Whether he starts or comes off the bench, I think he's deserving of extended playing time," Locksley said. "I also realize he's a freshman. Sometimes the pressure of starting doesn't help him."
Getting on the Same Page
Seldom is there a smooth transition following a coaching change. In addition to dealing with a new coach's philosophies, players must adapt to new systems, challenges that aren't conquered overnight.
Through three games, UNLV, under first-year coach Bobby Hauck, has struggled to find the end zone, scoring just three touchdowns. In Hauck's seventh and final season at perennial FCS power Montana last year, the Grizzlies scored 35 or more points in a game nine times.
"Transition is hard, especially when you transition from one style (of offense) to another," said Hauck, whose team will be looking for its first win in this week's matchup with New Mexico. "Our players have had to learn new (terminology) on both sides of the ball. I have to give our players a lot of credit; they've had a great attitude about it. But it's not easy."
Truth or Dare
ESPN's weekly Conference Power Rankings, released Monday, lists the Mountain West at No. 5. The Western Athletic Conference, fueled by Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State, is ranked No. 6. All three schools are future MWC members.
The MWC and the WAC are both ranked ahead of the ACC (No. 7) and the Big East (No. 8).
Which prompts this question, meaningless to college football's aristocracy though it may be: If, as the ESPN article states, the ACC will not overtake the WAC unless it gets a team ranked near the AP top 10, how is it that the ACC and Big East are still in line to receive two of the six BCS automatic-qualifying bids?
In the AP poll, Miami is the highest-ranked ACC team at No. 19. Boise State, meanwhile, is No. 3 in the AP poll, while MWC members TCU and Utah rank No. 4 and No. 13, respectively.
Of course, why let performance skew the discussion? Why let truth get in the way?
After all, with the ACC's and the Big East's unbeatens --- North Carolina State, Boston College, Rutgers and West Virginia --- having run roughshod over the likes of Western Carolina, Weber State, Kent State, Coastal Carolina, Marshall and Florida International (a combined 3-12), and West Virginia being the only ranked team among the four (No. 22 AP poll), surely an automatic-qualifying bid is justified.
Of course, in this instance, so is banging your head against the wall until you can equate inanity with sound logic.
The Upside of the Downside
San Diego state freshman running back Ronnie Hillman became the first Aztecs player to be named the MWC's Offensive Player of the Week two weeks in a row in the conference's 12-year history.
In Saturday's game at No. 25 Missouri, Hillman carried 23 times for 228 yards (9.9 ypc) and two touchdowns . He became the first SDSU player to run for over 200 yards in a game in seven years. The 228 yards rank fourth nationally in 2010 and represent a MWC single-game freshman record.
Hillman scored on runs of 75 and 93 yards, the longest rushing play in the nation this season and third all-time in conference history.
Unfortunately, SDSU was unable to follow Hillman's lead, falling 21-20 when the Tigers scored with 51 seconds left.
"We gotta win these games," Hillman told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "We can't lose this. It hurts. We have to earn our respect."
No Passing Fancy
TCU quarterback Andy Dalton completed 21-of-23 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in Saturday's 45-10 win over Baylor. He set a TCU single-game record for completion percentage (91.3). He opened the game with 11 straight completions.
The 91.3 completion percentage set TCU and MWC single-game records.
Dalton's 91.3 completion percentage tied Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) and Jared Zabransky (Boise State) for the highest by an FBS passer in a single game (min. 20 attempts) since 2004.
Dalton, whose 32 wins lead the nation for active quarterbacks, has completed 74.6 percent (53-of-71) of his passes on the season.
"He is good," said Baylor coach Art Briles. "He was in rhythm and he had a lot of confidence. Every time he went out on the field, he knew he was going to work for it every time. We were never able to get him out of rhythm."
Here We Go Again
BYU, which hasn't opened the season 1-3 since 2005, will be tested by one of the nation's premiere quarterbacks again this week in Nevada's Colin Kaepernick. Already, the Cougars have faced Washington's Jake Locker, Air Force's Tim Jefferson and Florida State's Christian Ponder.
In Kaepernick, the Cougars will be facing a quarterback who single-handedly accounted for 329 yards total offense in the Wolf Pack's 52-31 demolition of No. 24 Cal last Friday. Kaepernick rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 181 yards and two more scores.
"I'm seeing him in my sleep," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. "This quarterback is very good. What's interesting is you'll see an offense that is very similar to Air Force but with a downfield throwing game and a drop back passing game that is exceptional. There are a lot of moving parts to it, but the quarterback at any point can rush for 100 yards and make it look effortless. He's fast, he's big and he throws it well. Between Locker, Jefferson, Ponder and him, it's kind of the who's who of quarterbacks this year."
Utah quarterback Terrance Cain completed 20-of-passes in Saturday's win at New Mexico, a school-record .869 completion percentage. He bested the previous record of .857 (18-of-21) set by current Utah assistant Brian Johnson against Utah State in 2005.
Cain threw for 248 yards, his first 200-yard passing game of the year and the fifth of his career. He threw a career-high three touchdown passes.
"He was almost perfect," said Utes coach Kyle Whittingham. "He has played exceptionally well in two games. His pass efficiency rating (204.0) is off-the-charts good. He had great protection from the offensive line, the receivers were running good routes, so he has a lot of support around him. Terrance was good in his decision making and went through his reads very well. He did a great job running the offense."
Meanwhile, Whittingham said sophomore quarterback Jordan Wynn, who has not played since suffering a thumb injury in a Week 1 win over Pittsburgh, will resume throwing this week. Center Zane Taylor (back) is probable for this week's game against San Jose State.
The Utes moved up one spot in both polls to No. 13. It is their highest ranking since the Utes finished the 2008 season ranked No. 2 in the nation.
No More, Thank You
If anyone remains unconvinced about the potential of this year's Air Force team, take a peek at the stat sheet from Saturday's 27-24 loss at No. 7 Oklahoma. The Falcons, who rank No. 1 in the nation in rush offense, leveled the Sooners with 351 yards on the ground, the most ever allowed by a Bob Stoops-coached Oklahoma team. The Sooners defense has been ranked in the national top 20 in rush defense nine consecutive seasons.
Air Force pulled within three points with 3:39 remaining but couldn't get the ball back.
"I never want to see this kind of offense again," Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis said of the Falcons' triple option. "I love Coach Stoops and the way he schedules our nonconference, the tough ones. But not this one."
Muscular Dystrophy Awareness
More than 5,000 coaches at more than 350 NCAA schools, including all nine MWC institutions, will be wearing a Coach to Cure MD patch during games on Saturday. The goal is to raise money and awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which is the most common fatal genetic disorder among boys worldwide. Fans can text the word CURE to 90999 to donate $5 to Duchenne MD research. The charge will be shown on their phone bill. Fans are also encouraged to make donations on www.CoachtoCureMD.org.
Price is Right
UNLV Athletics is offering more than 115 free entertainment opportunities for children 12-and-under throughout the 2010-11 school year. Admission to six different UNLV sports' home games is free to children 12-and-under during the entire season. The ticketed sporting events -- free to kids -- are the home games for men's soccer, women's soccer, women's volleyball, women's basketball, softball and baseball. Adult tickets are usually just $7 per game for the above programs, with season tickets available at greatly discounted rates.
Men's and women's soccer, as well as women's volleyball, are currently in the midst of their respective seasons. While tickets are required for children attending both UNLV football and men's basketball games, members of the Rebel Kids Club are eligible to attend most football and men's basketball games for free. For more information on joining the Rebel Kids Club, visit UNLVRebels.com and click on Rebel Kids Club.
A Sign of Things to Come
TCU football standout Tejay Johnson's challenging past has shaped the course of his future...and his career path
It's one of the most recognizable gestures in college football, the ring and middle fingers tucked into the palm, held fast by the thumb, the index and pinkie fingers extended skyward, symbolizing a pair of horns.
In Austin, Texas, home to the University of Texas Longhorns, the gesture is particularly popular. In Fort Worth, Texas, home to the TCU Horned Frogs, not so much.
Tejay Johnson, TCU's standout senior free safety, is familiar with the gesture. A major in the school's habilitation of the deaf program, he is in his third semester of learning sign language. Offered an opportunity to gain extra credit last year by working with students with speech disorders, Johnson offered his assistance. The young man to whom Johnson was assigned was in the midst of a vocabulary lesson using words associated with football.
"It really helped me out, because he could use sign language," Johnson said. "He would sign and I was able to sign back, so I think I was getting just as much out of it as he was. But then he signed that his favorite team was the Longhorns. I couldn't believe it."
It's a story that leaves Johnson laughing, and only more committed to succeeding in a career chosen by few males and a whole lot fewer football players. Johnson, in fact, is the only male currently enrolled in the habilitation of the deaf program, his motivation fueled by a deaf cousin, LaQueena Johnson.
"Because of her, I've always been interested in learning sign language," Johnson said. "She would always sign with her friends, but it was hard for our family to communicate with her. Her mom never learned sign language. She's the last of five girls in her family, and none of her sisters learned sign language.
"I'll never forget when I first told her that I was learning sign language and how excited she got. She would be in a family setting where everyone else would be sitting around laughing and she would get really frustrated with us because she wanted to know what was going on. With the little signing that I could do, I would try to tell her. "
If you listen to TCU football coach Gary Patterson, it's simply the way Johnson approaches life: See problem, attack problem. It's why Patterson entrusts Johnson with making every call in the secondary of a defense that has ranked No. 1 in the nation each of the past two seasons.
It's why Johnson is a candidate for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented to the nation's top defensive player. It's why he is on preseason watch lists for the Jim Thorpe Award, an honor bestowed on the nation's top defensive back, and the Lott Trophy, presented annually to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. IMPACT is an acronym for integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity. Rest assured, if tenacity was the sole qualification, Johnson might be in line to win it on annual basis.
The oldest of 11 children, he has long shepherded his siblings through times that saw them passed from one family member to another, his father absent, his mother dealing with personal struggles. Meals purchased for him by his high school football coach would ultimately be shared with his siblings. Money made from odd jobs would be applied not to his own needs, but to those of his brothers and sisters.
Said Johnson: "I never really had a father figure, so when I saw that I could maybe make a difference in somebody else's life, to be a positive role model that they could look up to, I just jumped on it."
"The thing that people don't know about Tejay is that Tejay was head of the house," Patterson said. "He'll never tell anybody this, but as a freshman, when he got his financial aid check, he went home the first weekend he could and bought school clothes for his brother and sister. He doesn't know any other way.
"One of the biggest reasons I wanted Tejay with me is because he's one of those unique kids who thinks they can make a difference in somebody else's life, one of those people who thinks they can make a difference in the world. He's one of those guys who makes going to the office everyday worthwhile. That's why he's chosen the major that he has. He wants to make a difference."
Proof? Aside from serving as secretary and historian for the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the nation's first African-American fraternity, Johnson mentors middle school students, volunteers at a homeless shelter and is a regular participant in events sponsored by Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the March of Dimes. When there are problems at home, the native of Garland, Texas, responds without delay, ready to play the authoritarian with his siblings in a role he describes as "good cop, bad cop."
Two of his siblings, Jalarrica and Keith Johnson, a pair of high school juniors, have followed big brother's lead and are learning sign language. Tejay Johnson hopes to become an interpreter for the deaf.
"Tejay has a high degree of commitment, and it all revolves around his desire to be of service to others," said Teresa Dennett Gonzalez, an instructor in TCU's habilitation of the deaf program. "Having a deaf cousin in his family has allowed him to see the need for communication, to help her be accepted and be part of the family, as opposed to being on the sidelines. That's very important to him. It's really struck a nerve with him in terms of the passion he has to help others.
"I'm so glad he's chosen this major, because all of our deaf students need a role model like him, someone who is successful and willing to help them. We need more males in this major, and with his willingness and passion, he's going to make a big difference in the lives of his future students."
Johnson, a preseason first-team All-Mountain West Conference pick, has one semester of sign language remaining. He must also complete 75 hours of clinical practicum, working one-on-one with a deaf student for two semesters before student-teaching at an area elementary school. He will be put in a demonstration classroom where he will be under the mentorship of a certified teacher, teaching 52 hours per semester or four hours a week.
But what of the NFL? Johnson, a three-year starter, is a preseason All-American and an almost certain NFL draft pick.
"If there's no NFL career for me, that would be just fine," he said. "Going to the NFL wasn't a goal of mine when I got to college. Most guys who play college football, that's the first thing they think of. But I have other things I want to accomplish, people I want to help, other goals I want to try and achieve. That's why I've gotten involved in so many different organizations. There's a stereotype associated with football players that all they do is play the sport and halfway go to class."
When it comes to class, there is nothing halfway about Tejay Johnson.
"He's one of those kids who fought through it when the odds weren't in his favor," Patterson said. "I couldn't be more proud of him. He's one of those kids who's going to make it.
Note: Mountain West Conference fans get to vote on Facebook throughout the 2010 college football season for their "Game of the Week." Each Sunday, the MWC will create a poll on Facebook asking fans to choose which game should be highlighted as the "MWC Game of the Week." MWC Correspondent Mick McGrane will preview the game every Thursday, along with select talent from the conference's television partners, The Mtn., CBS College Sports and VERSUS. The rest of the week's football slate will be previewed here at "Inside the MWC," the official blog of the Mountain West Conference.
Click HERE to read more about the MWC Facebook Fans' Football Game of the Week.
BYU at FLORIDA STATE, 3:30 P.M. ET
The lowdown: Florida State has won all three meetings in the series, including a 54-28 win last year in Provo. The Seminoles' point total marked their highest ever against a ranked team. This is BYU's first trip to Tallahassee.
BYU: The Cougars struggled in the passing game in last week's 35-10 loss at Air Force. Junior Riley Nelson and true freshman Jake Heaps combined to throw for just 88 yards, the team's lowest total in seven years. Nelson has started BYU's first two games and will do so again this week. BYU has not started a season 1-2 since 2006. "I just see (this week's game) as the next juncture," said coach Bronco Mendenhall. "I knew at the beginning of the season with a relatively young team that there would be some things we would have to learn and grow from, and hopefully win along the way. But I am not putting any more stock in this game than I have the last two. It is the next chance for us to improve our team, and really no more than that. Hopefully, we play well enough to win. If we don't, there will be lessons we have to apply and apply quickly to get better for the next one. So I don't ever put more or less stock in a given game."
Florida State: The Seminoles took a national ranking of No. 17 into their game at Oklahoma last week and were taken to the woodshed, 47-17. FSU surrendered 487 total yards, including 394 yards passing. Said Seminoles wide receiver Bert Reed of the BYU matchup: "It is important, not because of our opponent, but because we have to respond. It's just going out there and doing what we do. If we go back to our basics of what we do, everything's going to be fine."
COLORADO STATE at MIAMI (OHIO), 3:30 P.M. ET
TV: Ohio News Network, ESPN Game Plan and ESPN3.com
The lowdown: Miami leads the series 1-0, winning 41-21 in Fort Collins in 2003 behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Colorado State: The Rams (0-2, 0-0 MWC), who are in the midst of an 11-game losing streak dating to last season, have played 17 freshmen this season. "I just think we are really young," said coach Steve Fairchild said. "These kids are eager to play. We'll get going here and put it behind us. I think we will get this program back in fairly good shape pretty quick. We're just young, and the more guys play, the better we will get."
Miami (Ohio): Redhawks senior running back Thomas Merriweather was named the Mid-American Conference's East Division Player of the Week after rushing for 150 yards and three touchdowns last week's 28-21 win over Eastern Michigan. "Merriweather is the type of player that really responds to hard coaching," said coach Michael Haywood. "The harder you coach him, the better he performs. Right now, Merriweather is getting all [the coaching] he can handle." The Redhawks, who lost at Florida 34-12 in their season opener two weeks ago, finished 1-11 last season.
BAYLOR at NO. 4/5 TCU, 3:30 P.M. CT
TV: VERSUS HD
The lowdown: The series is tied 49-49-7. In the teams' last meeting in 2007, TCU blanked the Bears 27-0. As a member of the MWC, TCU is 5-2 against Big 12 teams. The Horned Frogs have won 15 straight home games.
Baylor: Baylor is 2-0, having beaten Sam Houston State 34-3 in its season opener before defeating Buffalo 34-6 last week. The Bears are paced by sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin III, a world-class hurdler whose season was cut short last year when he suffered a knee injury in the third week of the season. Considered by many as the best running quarterback in college football, Griffin will be matched against a TCU defense that is allowing just 82.5 yards rushing per game. "For us, it is just another step," Bears coach Art Briles said of the TCU matchup. "We have got to keep improving as a football team. That is what our goal has been from day one, to go out and be better in Week three than we were in Week two, Week two than Week one. That will be our goal this Saturday. We will be a better football team than we were last week."
TCU: The last meeting between TCU and Baylor, a 27-0 Horned Frog victory in the 2007 season opener, marked the collegiate debut of Horned Frogs quarterback Andy Dalton. Then a redshirt freshman, Dalton completed 18-of-30 passes for 205 yards. Three years later, Dalton has 31 victories and is TCU's all-time winningest quarterback as well as the nation's leader in victories by an active quarterback. Since 1999, TCU is 57-6 (.905) in its last 63 home games at Amon G. Carter Stadium. In their last five home games, the Frogs have allowed just six touchdowns while outscoring their opponents 253-51. On preparing for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, TCU coach Gary Patterson said: "He can run around. Obviously, he's a great athlete. He's a guy who probably, one day, will be able to go to the Olympic trials in the hurdles. He has world-class speed. You have to worry about that. He can throw the football. He makes good decisions. The team plays with a lot more confidence when he's on the field than they did a year ago."
SAN DIEGO STATE at MISSOURI, 6 P.M. CT
TV: Missouri Pay Per View (check local listings)
The lowdown: Missouri leads the series 2-0, but the teams have not met since 1980. San Diego State is looking for its first win against a team from a current BCS automatic-qualifying conference since 1999 when it beat Kansas, 41-13. Missouri has won 19 straight regular-season nonconference games.
San Diego State: The Aztecs, who are coming off a 41-21 win at New Mexico State, are 2-0 for the first time since 1994. Although it's early in the season, SDSU has shown dramatic improvement under second-year head coach Brady Hoke. Through last Saturday, San Diego State ranked among the top 25 nationally in six major statistical categories - total offense (6th), scoring defense (14th), passing offense (14th), scoring offense (16th), total defense (20th) and rushing offense (21st). The Aztecs are looking for their first 3-0 start to a campaign since 1981. "You have to give them respect for what they've done," junior quarterback Ryan Lindley said of Missouri, which is ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches' poll. "We know they're a respectable opponent. But, really, it comes down to executing, whether we play an FCS team or the No. 1 team in the country. It's all about how you play the game and execute your assignments on Saturday."
Missouri: The last time the Tigers lost a regular-season nonconference game was against MWC member New Mexico in 2005. Missouri defeated Illinois 23-13 in its season opener before rolling past McNeese State 50-6 last week. ""Brady Hoke is a coach who I have great respect for, I've known him over the years," said Tigers coach Gary Pinkel. "You can see the footprint of his program in a couple years, building it through recruiting."
No. 14/14 UTAH at NEW MEXICO, 6 P.M. MT
TV: The Mtn. HD
The lowdown: Utah has won three straight in the series by an average of 17 points per game. However, each of the Utes' past two visits to Albuquerque have ended in 3-point wins. Utah is 3-2 against New Mexico when the Utes are nationally ranked. A ranked Utah team lost to New Mexico in 1994 and 2003. Utah's 45-14 win over New Mexico last year marked the first career start of Utes quarterback Jordan Wynn. In the best starting debut by a Utah true freshman quarterback, Wynn passed for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Also in the game, running back Eddie Wide set the Utah school record for consecutive 100-yard games with six. Wide's career-best 145-yard game included 122 in the third quarter. New Mexico is looking for its first win of the season following losses to Oregon and Texas Tech.
Utah: The Utes have held the upper hand in the series of late, but have had a tendency to struggle in Albuquerque, where they have won just 13 of the 26 games played at University Stadium. "Albuquerque has been a tough place to play for us," said coach Kyle Whittingham. "There's no answer as to why. Even in 2008 (when Utah finished undefeated), it was down to the wire (13-10). New Mexico has played us tough perennially and it's been a tough matchup. It's been a good series since I've been at Utah."
New Mexico: After managing only 107 total yards at Oregon a week earlier, New Mexico amassed 433 in Saturday's loss to Texas Tech. The Lobos also improved defensively (Oregon had 702 yards; Texas Tech finished with 462). Yet New Mexico was also plagued by a mountain of penalties. The Lobos were flagged 16 times (one fewer than the school record) for 145 yards, 17 shy of the school record. "I think our players have gone out and given great energy, (but) the part we've got to continue to correct is playing smart football," said Lobos coach Mike Locksley. "I'm very hopeful that we can put together a game in which we give ourselves an opportunity to win by playing smart."
NO. 3/3 BOISE STATE at WYOMING, 6 P.M. MT
TV: CBS College Sports HD
The lowdown: Future MWC member Boise State leads the series 4-0, with its most recent victory against the Cowboys coming in a 24-14 win in 2007. Wyoming, however, has outgained the Broncos in each of the past two meetings in 2006 and '07.
Boise State: The Broncos have been idle since knocking off then-No. 10 Virginia Tech in Landover, Md., in their season opener on Sept. 4. Boise State owns a 26-game regular-season win streak. Overall, the Broncos are in the midst of a 15-game win streak, with their last loss coming to TCU in the 2009 San Diego Credit union Poinsettia Bowl in 2009. "It's great, I think a lot of people were paying attention," coach Chris Petersen said of his team's win over Virginia Tech. "It's great for Boise State University, I think it's great for Idaho, but it really just makes us 1-0 and nothing more than that."
Wyoming: The Cowboys are facing a Top 5-ranked team for the second straight week after falling to Texas 34-7.
Nearly 1,000 people attended a memorial service on campus Monday for freshman linebacker Ruben Narcisse, who was killed in a one-car accident on Sept. 6. At Saturday's game, the university will distribute 5,000 T-shirts with Narcisse's number, 12, and the phrase "Ruben Narcisse: Always a Cowboy." The game is expected to be a sellout. Wyoming's last victory over a Top 25 ranked team came on Oct. 26, 2002, when the Cowboys defeated No. 22 ranked Air Force 34-26 in Laramie. "Boise's an unbelievable team," Cowboys quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels told the Idaho Statesman. "I'm one of those people who really doesn't like to put them in the underdog role at all. I'm sick of people thinking of them as an underdog. They've proven themselves to be a powerhouse. It's a great opportunity for us to play a team like that."
UNLV at IDAHO, 8:30 P.M. MT
The lowdown: UNLV leads the series 3-2, with the Rebels' last win coming in a 34-31 victory in Las Vegas in 2005. This is UNLV's first trip to Moscow, Idaho, since 1977. The Vandals went 2-0 in games against the MWC last season. This game completes a home-and-home series that began in 2005.
UNLV: Although he began the season as the team's starting quarterback after unseating incumbent Omar Clayton during fall camp, Rebels junior Mike Clausen has asked coach Bobby Hauck to be moved to safety. Clayton, who relieved Clausen in UNLV's season-opening loss to Wisconsin, played the entire game last week against Utah, completing 18-of-37 passes as the Rebels fell to 0-2. "Being on the sideline is not really helpful for the team if I'm a good enough athlete to play another position and help the team in another way," Clausen told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Idaho: The Vandals (1-1, 0-0 WAC), whose 8-5 season in 2009 marked the second biggest turnaround (Idaho was 2-10 in 2008) in the nation, are coming off a 38-17 loss against No. 6 Nebraska. "We have the makings of a good football team," said coach Robb Akey, whose team beat Bowling Green in last year's Roady's Humanitarian Bowl. "We have to have a great sense of urgency in what we do. We have to clean up things we weren't happy about from the previous ballgame. Everybody has to be accountable for what they're accountable for. That's the way you go about it."
Mountain West Conference women's soccer teams are a combined 31-22-8 through four weeks of non-conference play.
Air Force won the Catamount Classic last weekend, defeating tournament host Western Carolina (2-1) and Mercer (1-0). Including those two wins, the Falcons now have five victories on the season, their most since winning seven matches in 2003.
Falcon forward Stephanie Patterson earned MWC Offensive Player of the Week and Air Force Athletics Athlete of the Week honors for her performance last weekend. Patterson tallied a combined three points, recording an assist against Western Carolina on Friday night and scoring the team's lone goal against Mercer on Sunday afternoon. She leads Air Force with eight points and four assists through eight matches.
BYU (6-0-1) is ranked ninth and 10th in the latest Soccer America and NSCAA Top 25 polls, respectively. The Cougars are off to their best start since beginning their 2005 campaign 9-0-0.
BYU forward Jennie Marshall leads the Cougars with six goals, while forward/midfielder Kassidy Shumway has three to her name this season.
In five home matches, BYU is averaging 2,556 fans per contest. Only No. 3/3 Portland holds a higher overall home attendance mark (3,190) than the Cougars.
New Mexico goalkeeper Kelli Cornell has an MWC-leading five shutouts this season following the Lobos' 0-0 double-overtime tie with Baylor last Friday.
San Diego State has played three top-10 teams this season in No. 9 Santa Clara, No. 9 Florida and top-ranked North Carolina.
Aztec senior defender/forward Britney Bennett was named MWC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in her career. Bennett scored the game-winning goal vs. San Jose State (W, 2-1) and was a part of a defensive group that limited both SJSU and No. 1/1 UNC (L, 0-1) to just one goal apiece.
San Diego State limited the Tar Heels to their lowest shot output (7) since Oct. 14, 2007, when UNC had 10 vs. Wake Forest.
Through four weeks of action, TCU leads the Conference in points (51) and goals (19).
UNLV's Jennifer Klein is the youngest head women's soccer coach in the nation, as she was hired at the age of 25 and coached her first game at the age of 26.
After scoring a program-record low 15 goals in 2009, the Rebels have already topped that output this year with 16 scores through the first seven matches of the 2010 season.
Utah secured its first win of the 2010 season last Thursday, picking up a 3-2 victory at in-state rival Weber State.
Wyoming posted two consecutive shutouts last weekend, defeating Montana (1-0) and Eastern Washington (3-0) on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Cowgirls own a three-match win streak and have won five of their last six matches overall.
The Week Ahead
Air Force heads to Flagstaff, Ariz., for a pair of matches. The Falcons take on Northern Arizona on Friday and face Southern Utah on Sunday. Northern Arizona is 1-3-2 on the season after defeating Cal State Fullerton (3-2) and losing to USC (3-1). Southern Utah is 2-2-1 after tying Northern Colorado (1-1) and falling to Idaho State (4-3) in its two matches.
BYU looks to remain unbeaten when it travels to Rice and No. 24 Texas on Saturday and Monday, respectively. The Owls are 3-4 on the season and are coming off a 1-0 loss to Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. last Sunday. The Longhorns are 5-1-1 following a 4-0 victory over William & Marry last weekend.
New Mexico is set to take part in the Montana Tournament at South Campus Stadium in Missoula, Mont. The Lobos will match up with North Dakota on Friday before concluding the weekend with Boise State on Sunday.
San Diego State will take on a pair of Pac-10 institutions at the Oregon State Nike Invitational. The Aztecs will face Oregon on Friday in a neutral site contest at Paul Lorenz Field, before playing the host Beavers on Sunday.
In its last 10 matches vs. Pac-10 opponents, SDSU owns a 2-7-1 record, going winless in its last five meetings (0-4-1). The Aztecs tied Oregon State last season, 1-1, at the SDSU Sports Deck, and posted their last victory over the league back on Aug. 31, 2008, when they defeated Arizona State, 2-1.
Looking to bounce back from a 4-0 home loss to No. 14/16 Oklahoma State, TCU will encounter its second consecutive ranked opponent, No. 18/17 Memphis, on Friday. The Horned Frogs will conclude their weekend with a road match against Mississippi on Sunday.
UNLV hosts the UNLV Rebel Classic, marking the second home tournament in as many weeks for the Rebels. UNLV will take on Long Beach State on Friday, before closing out the fourth week of non-conference play on Sunday vs. UC Davis.
Utah heads to the Santa Clara Tournament, where the Utes will face a pair of top-10-ranked teams. Utah will face No. 2 Stanford Friday, then match up with host Santa Clara on Sunday. Coming off an NCAA finals appearance in 2009, Stanford is unbeaten on the year and is riding a three-match win streak. Santa Clara is 4-1-2 on the season and is coming off a 2-1 victory over Pacific and a 1-1 draw against George in last weekend's Stanford/Nike Invitational.
Wyoming concludes it five-match road trip this weekend. The Cowgirls will travel to Creighton on Friday, before wrapping up their trip on Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa, against Drake. Creighton has won two matches in a row to improve its record to 4-2-2 on the season. Drake is 3-2-2 on the year, having lost its last two matches by a combined five goals.
Despite early-season injuries and key losses to graduation from last season's 10-3 team, Utah has forged ahead, utilizing its depth to earn a ranking of No. 14 in this week's Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls.
With projected starting linebacker linebacker J.J. Williams having yet to play because of a foot injury, junior Chaz Walker has filled in admirably. A former walk-on, Walker leads the team with 27 tackles. Terrance Cain stepped in for starting quarterback Jordan Wynn (thumb) against UNLV last week and guided the Utes to a 38-10 win, completing 13-of-20 passes for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Sophomore wide receiver DeVonte Christopher, a former quarterback who had two receptions last season, ranks third in the conference with an average of 18.1 yards per catch. True freshman starting strong safety Brian Blechen earned MWC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 1 for his interception in overtime against Pittsburgh that led to the Utes' game-winning field goal. In all, Utah, which had six players drafted off of last year's team, has played six true freshmen this season.
"We're always looking to upgrade the entire program," said coach Kyle Whittingham. "I don't think you ever get to the point where you think you've arrived and have everything solved. I think the recruiting our assistant coaches have done over the past five years has been very solid, and that's manifested in our roster right now. We have a lot of depth at a lot of positions. It's a good sign when you have a guy go down that you have other people behind him who are ready to go."
Learning On the Run
If it weren't enough that a team that lost nine straight games to end the 2009 season had to open with three straight road games, Colorado State (0-2) is also battling the trials associated with inexperience. On offense, the Rams' starting lineup includes a true freshman quarterback, a freshman guard and a sophomore wide receiver. Both players behind starting fullback Zac Pauga are freshmen. On defense, CSU starts a pair of sophomore defensive ends.
All told, 17 freshmen have played thus far for the Rams.
"We just go out and coach hard like we've been doing and practice hard with good tempo," said coach Steve Fairchild. "It's a matter of slowly getting better in every area, and I see that happening. We're certainly a lot farther along with (quarterback) Pete Thomas than we were in the spring and a lot farther along with the (offensive) line than we were in the spring. We've still got a long way to go, but if you keep going to practice and be productive, you'll get there."
Air Force May Be Without Tew
Though it was feared that Air Force senior fullback Jared Tew may have suffered a broken bone in his hand in last week's win over BYU, Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said Tuesday that X-rays proved negative. However, Calhoun said Tew has extensive swelling in his hand and is wearing a splint. While saying Tew would "not be involved for awhile," Calhoun did not rule Tew out of this week's game at No. 7/9 Oklahoma.
Aztecs to Continue RB Rotation
While highly-touted freshman running back Ronnie Hillman has accounted for 46 percent of San Diego State's 480 rushing yards and 51 percent of the team's 72 carries, coach Brady Hoke said he has no immediate plans to scrap the practice of rotating Hillman with senior Davon Brown and sophomore Walter Kazee.
Hillman, named the MWC Offensive Player of the Week, carried 22 times for 150 yards and scored four touchdowns in last week's win at New Mexico State.
"I think we've got a decent combination in there," Hoke said. "Davon gives you a lot, especially in terms of protection and he can make some good things happen on the ground. Walter Kazee is a guy who, pound for pound, may be the toughest guy on our football team. And then you have Ronnie. (But) at this time, I think we kind of like the rotation that we have."
As for Hillman, who became the first SDSU running back to score four touchdowns in a single game in nine years, Hoke said: "I think he's got really good vision, and he's a lot stronger than you think. When you look at him, he's not the biggest guy in the world (5-10, 185), but he has a good burst when he finds an opening. He has the ability to become a special kind of running back."
No Strain On the Travel Budget
TCU, which hosts Baylor on Saturday, will have played a third of its regular-season schedule in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex before visiting Colorado State on Oct. 2.
The Horned Frogs, ranked No. 4 in the AP poll and No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches' poll, opened the season with a win over Oregon State at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Following consecutive home games against Tennessee Tech and Baylor, TCU will face SMU in Dallas next week.
"If we win, it's great, because recruits get a chance to come to the ballgames, we don't have to travel and neither do our fans," said coach Gary Patterson. "Our game (against Baylor) is a standing-room-only sellout, and we had almost 40,000 (Amon G. Carter Stadium capacity is 44,358) last week for (Tennessee Tech). For our kids, I think it allows them to get into a routine. The thing that worries me is that the first time we're really going to be on the road it's going to be a conference game, which is always a tougher ballgame."
Hundreds Remember Narcisse
Nearly 1,000 people attended a memorial service on campus Monday for Wyoming football player Ruben Narcisse, who was killed in a one-car accident on Sept. 6. At Saturday's home game against No. 3 Boise State, the university will distribute 5,000 T-shirts with Narcisse's number, 12, and the phrase "Ruben Narcisse: Always a Cowboy."
"I think we're in a much better place than we were a week ago," said coach Dave Christensen. "We're moving forward, but we're not trying to move on, because we're going to be thinking of Ruben every day for the next 4 1/2 years."
Better Early Than Late
If your football team is going to stumble after making a leap into the national polls, it's probably best to get things corrected early before its too late. Such is the thinking of BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, whose team dropped a 35-10 decision to Air Force last week after earning a ranking of No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches' poll.
"If you are to learn valuable lessons and have all the weaknesses exposed, hopefully you can have those exposed early on," Mendenhall said. "I think we got many of our weaknesses -- if not all of them -- exposed in Week 2. The test now is to see whether we can get that resolved in a timely manner."
Mendenhall said junior Riley Nelson will make his third straight start at quarterback this week at Florida State. Nelson and true freshman Jake Heaps combined for 88 yards passing against Air Force, the team's lowest total in seven years.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
After facing such heavyweights as Oregon, Texas Tech and Utah to open the season, New Mexico coach Michael Locksley was asked if there could be any positives to the experience gained by playing quality competition.
"I'm hoping there's going to be an upside," said Locksley, whose team entertains Utah this week after being outscored 124-17 in its first two games. "Obviously, we've got our conference opener this week, but as we work further into conference play I'm hoping that the experience we've gained from playing three very tough opponents will benefit us in the long run."
If there's hope, it could come a week from Saturday at UNLV. The Lobos have won seven of the last nine in the series.
No Place for Losers
If one thing is obvious in the way UNLV first-year coach Bobby Hauck does business, it's that losing would appear to rank somewhere between despised and abhorrent. Preaching patience is not easy considering the Rebels are 0-2 after facing two Top 25 teams (Wisconsin and Utah) and will ultimately face nine teams this season who went to bowl games last year. But preaching patience to Hauck is another matter.
"To me, it comes down to winning and losing," Hauck said when asked if his team will be better for its early season trials. "When you don't win, all you get out of it is a loss."
Falcons Keeping Fingers Crossed
With a visit to No. 7/9 Oklahoma looming on Saturday, Air Force is awaiting word on fullback Jared Tew, who may have suffered a broken bone in the back of his hand during last week's 35-15 win over BYU.
"I think (Tew's ability to play) would be a stretch, if it's indeed broken," Falcons coach Troy Calhoun told the Colorado Springs Gazette.
If Tew, a first-team preseason all-Mountain West pick, is unable to play, his spot in the lineup would be taken by Nathan Walker, who scored a touchdown against BYU and had 218 yards on 42 carries last year.
Meanwhile, senior cornerback Reggie Rembert, who was carted off the field after being injured in the season opener against Northwestern State, returned to the lineup and contributed n interception. Rembert, also a first-team preseason all-conference selection, underwent went tests for a spinal cord injury but the tests proved negative. Rembert told the Gazette that the injury was a concussion.
Backfield in Motion
San Diego State, which ranked 117th and 116th, nationally, in rush offense the past two seasons, currently sits at No. 21 among the nation's 120 FBS schools. The Aztecs have rushed for at least 200 yards in back-to-back games for the first time since 2005, when they had 210 yards vs. San Jose State and 265 yards vs. BYU.
In the Aztecs' 41-21 win over New Mexico State on Saturday, freshman running back Ronnie Hillman became the first SDSU running back to score four rushing touchdowns in the same game since Larry Ned did so at Wyoming on Nov. 17, 2001. Named to MWC Offensive Player of the Week, Hillman carried 22 times for 150 yards on Saturday. Although senior Davon Brown started the first two games, Hillman has accounted for 46 percent of the Aztecs 480 rushing yards and 51 percent of the team's 72 carries. He has scored five of SDSU's 11 touchdowns.
On the Rise
Utah jumped up six spots from No. 20 to No. 14 in this week's AP poll following Saturday's 38-10 win over UNLV. The Utes are also ranked No. 14 in the USA Today/Coaches' poll.
Utah first-team preseason all-conference center Zane Taylor (knee) is doubtful for this week's game at New Mexico, while quarterback Jordan Wynn is day-to-day and punter Sean Sellwood is probable.
"Zane Taylor is going to be OK," said coach Kyle Whittingham. "It's nothing major, and optimistically he would be back this week, but I wouldn't say that's likely. But he should be back in the next few weeks."
Searching for Answers
After Reily Nelson and Jake Heaps combined to throw for only 88 yards in Saturday's loss at Air Force, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said the quarterback situation for this week's game at Florida State is still being developed. The Cougars' passing total on Saturday marked their lowest in seven years.
Nelson, a junior, and Heaps, a true freshman, have been sharing the quarterback duties.
"We met as an offensive staff (on Monday) morning, which is something I never do," Mendenhall said. "I can't give you a definitive answer right now, but most likely when a plan does come into place we'll probably move away from (rotating them) every other series to see it becoming more situational, but it's too early to give you a definitive answer on that one."
Oklahoma threw for 394 yards in its win over Florida State on Saturday. Asked if that might affect which of his quarterbacks get the most reps this week, Mendenhall said: "It might. We need to throw the ball more effectively than we currently are. If you looked at the Air Force game in particular, we ran the ball effectively but had very little success throwing the football. The Washington game (BYU's season-opening win) was more representative of the balance I think we're hoping to get. In order to beat FSU, it'll have to be more toward the first plan than the second plan and we're still in the early stages."
Rams Hoping to Find Their Feet
Colorado State will be attempting to stop an 11-game losing streak dating to last season when it visits Miami (Ohio) on Saturday. The Rams suffered a 51-6 loss to Nevada over the weekend.
Said coach Steve Fairchild: "I told them this, and I believe this to be true. I think we're going to be a very good football team. We've obviously got to make up some ground and grow up in some areas. We've got to get going, but right now it's just about staying positive, getting back to work. We've got a game Saturday (at Miami of Ohio), and it's winnable. Let's get back to work."
With nine tackles in Saturday's 34-7 loss to Texas, Wyoming sophomore linebacker Ghaali Muhammad is averaging 10.5 tackles a game this season. Sophomore defensive back Shamiel Gary is also averaging 10.5 tackles, while senior defensive back Chris Prosinski is averaging 10.0.
Prosinski moved into 10th place on Wyoming's all-time career tackles list on Saturday and now has 285 tackles in his career. He moved ahead of Aaron Kyle, who had 275 tackles between 1972-75. Prosinski has recorded double-figure tackle totals in nine of UW's last 10 games. In his career, he has reached double-figure totals 14 times.
No Consolation Prize
UNLV senior quarterback Omar Clayton, who started Saturday's game at Utah after coming on in relief in the Rebels' season opener against Wisconsin, moved into fifth place on UNLV's all-time passing yards list, pushing his total to 5,041 yards after his 217 yard performance against the Utes. He is 54 yards from moving into fourth place.
Not that it serves as a great deal of consolation in relation to Rebels' 0-2 start.
"We haven't arrived anywhere because we were able to move the ball some on Utah," Clayton told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Utah won the game. I've played enough to know that I stopped believing in what-ifs. I don't care about what-ifs. What if we won the game? We didn't."
Another Day at the Office
Senior quarterback Andy Dalton became TCU's career leader in pass completions in Saturday's win over Tennessee Tech. Dalton has 635 completions in his career, surpassing the Horned Frogs' previous mark of 622 by Max Knake (1992-95).
Dalton has 31 career victories and is TCU's all-time winningest quarterback as well as the nation's leader in victories by an active quarterback. In his first collegiate start in the team's 2007 season opener, Dalton, then a redshirt freshman, completed 18-of-30 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown in a 27-0 win over Baylor. TCU hosts Baylor this week.
One Step Forward...
After managing only 107 total yards at Oregon a week earlier, New Mexico amassed 433 in Saturday's loss to Texas Tech. The Lobos also improved defensively (Oregon had 702 yards; Texas Tech finished with 462).
The downside? The Lobos had 16 penalties (one fewer than the school record) for 145 yards, 17 shy of the school record.
"We take two steps forward and one step back," quarterback B.R. Holbrook told the Albuquerque Journal. "It just seems like every week it's something. This week it was penalties."
Holbrook completed 30-of-50 passes for 323 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Shooting Down the Doomsday Theory
Gary Patterson and Chris Petersen must be ecstatic to know that their respective football seasons have been allowed to move forward. Whew. And here I thought that if either team lost its season opener -- Patterson's TCU Horned Frogs to Oregon State or Petersen's Boise State Broncos to Virginia Tech -- that pulling a helmet over their heads in preparation for Week 2 would serve as little more than a dress rehearsal for 2011.
For weeks leading up to the start of the college football season last week, and for endless weeks to come, we will routinely be reminded that should either TCU or Boise State lose a game from this day forward, their seasons will be rendered meaningless, their BCS bowl game aspirations dead and buried.
Oh, really? If we're actually expected to swallow that lump of far-fetched logic, one must also conclude that Oregon State's season is over and that Virginia Tech can safely stow its gear until August. Clearly, Pitt's loss to Utah in Week 1 has left the Panthers with little reason to climb out of bed.
Who knew? Where once there was an outcry for a playoff system in college football, now potential participants are being eliminated before the leaves turn. Just how is it that one team's season be defined as purposeless after a single game while the other remains a viable candidate for a BCS bowl?
Because the system needs tinkering, preferably through the employment of a sledgehammer.
"It's difficult, but look at a school like Boise State," Bill Hancock, executive director of college football's Bowl Championship Series, said prior to the start of the season. "One could make the case that the BCS is the best thing to ever happen to them. They came out of nowhere to become a power in college football."
Just a hunch here, but I'm guessing Boise State didn't become a power in college football solely because of a system that relies on a combination of polls and computer selection methods to determine a champion. Boise State and TCU have become powers in college football because of their coaching staffs, their student-athletes and the respective support systems in place at each institution.
And don't look now, but who happens to be 1-2 in this week's Sagarin Ratings, so critical to the BCS? Why, it's Boise State and TCU, both undoubtedly honored to know the remainder of their seasons may have some semblance of meaning after all.
Asked this week if he would be OK with a non-automatic qualifying team playing in the national championship game, Texas coach Mack Brown told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "The way the [BCS] rules are, absolutely. If you don't like it, change the rules."
Now there's a starting point. Might even make Week 2 of the 2010 college football season worth playing.
Other News From Around the Conference
With Nai Fotu out for the season and J.J. Williams nursing a foot injury, Utah's group of unsung linebackers is making a name for itself.
Ruben Narcisse left behind a smile at Wyoming that won't be forgotten. The Cowboys face Texas on Saturday mourning the loss of Narcisse, who was killed Monday in a one-car accident.
Air Force has suffered some painful losses to BYU over the years, but the residual heartache from this defeat took some time to fade away.
New Mexico has a history of bouncing back from lopsided losses. On Saturday, the Lobos will try to rectify matters against Texas Tech.
UNLV at T20/20 UTAH, 2 P.M. MT
TV: THE MTN.
UNLV: The Rebels struggled on offense in the first half of last week's loss to No. 12 Wisconsin. UNLV was limited to just 15 plays, managing 12 total yards and two first downs. Coach Bobby Hauck wants to see more consistent play from his offensive line this week: "The consistent theme was we had breakdowns by different people at different times," Hauck told the Las Vegas Sun. "All it takes is one of five to have a breakdown and a play breaks down. We have to shore that up and it has to be better."
Utah: Sophomore wide receiver DeVonte Christopher was named the MWC Offensive Player of the Week after catching eight passes for a game- and career-high 155 yards and a touchdown in last week's 27-24 overtime win against No. 15 Pittsburgh: "We knew he was a talented kid when we recruited him, and we always believed in his ability," Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said of Christopher, a Las Vegas native. "Last year he was stuck behind some good receivers and there was not a lot of opportunity for him. He got that opportunity and made the most of it in the last game."
TENNESSEE TECH at No. 4/5 TCU, 6 P.M. CT
Tennessee Tech: The Golden Eagles (0-1) are in the Ohio Valley Conference, the same league as Jacksonville State, which pulled off a double-overtime victory last week at Ole Miss. Tennessee Tech is coming off a season-opening 44-3 loss at No. 14 Arkansas, but did not have a turnover in the game and led 3-0 after the first quarter: "We've got to do it all again this week," said coach Watson Brown. "I think our team got better. We didn't get anybody hurt seriously in the game -- just some bumps and bruises. Now, we go and play a team that's even better than the one we played. If we can come out of it healthy, we will be a better team."
TCU: Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson knows what it's like to be ambushed by an underdog. In his first home game as TCU's head coach in 2001, the Horned Frogs suffered a 27-24 overtime loss to Northwestern State of the Southland Conference. "I still remember what I felt about that one," Patterson said. "I thought I was going to be cleaning my office out that Sunday." Since the loss to Northwestern State, TCU has breezed against FCS teams in home openers, beating UC Davis 46-13 in 2006; Stephen F. Austin 67-7 in 2008; and Texas State 56-21 last season.
WYOMING at No. 5/4 TEXAS, 6 P.M. CT
TV: FOX SPORTS NET
Wyoming: The Cowboys head to Austin with heavy hearts after teammate Ruben Narcisse, a freshman linebacker, was killed in a one-car accident early Monday morning. Freshman cornerback Trey Fox, freshman wide receiver C.J. Morgan and freshman linebacker J.J. Quinlan were injured in the crash, which took place on Highway 287 between Laramie and Fort Collins, Colo., where they had gone to visit high school friends. A memorial service for Narcisse is tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday on campus. Coach Dave Christensen said the team will wear a decal on its helmets to honor Narcisse. A different player will wear his No. 12 jersey in a game the rest of the season. Sophomore safety Shamiel Gary will wear it against Texas. There will be no last name on the jersey: "He always had a smile on his face," senior receiver and co-captain David Leonard told the Laramie Boomerang. "He was a tremendous guy and had a tremendous work ethic. ...We know that he's with us, and we know we're missing a great person."
Texas: The Longhorns will hold a pregame tribute for Narcisse. Texas coach Mack Brown said the tribute will include a moment of silence, as well as a photograph of Narcisse on Texas' scoreboard video screen. The Texas band will also play a song for the Wyoming team: "It's such a sad day to see a life taken so early," Brown said. "Our thoughts go out to Ruben's family, and we pray for them and the families of the injured young men."
TEXAS TECH at NEW MEXICO, 6 P.M. MT
TV: THE MTN. HD
Texas Tech: Asked this week if his players would have difficulty taking the Lobos seriously following their 72-0 loss at No. 11 Oregon last Saturday, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville admitted it could be a problem: "Sure it is. But as I told them all along, we didn't worry about SMU (a 35-27 win last week). We worried about ourself, and I thought they handled that pretty good. New Mexico got off to a slow start, but they're playing their home opener. We'll get a much different team. I'm not going to have to sell that to our players."
New Mexico: The last time the teams met in Albuquerque (2004), the Lobos snapped an 11-game losing streak against Texas Tech. New Mexico coach Mike Locksley this week referred to his players as "resilient." Said Locksley: "I really believe in this team. These guys have worked really hard. They've prepared well. They've given great effort. The missing ingredient is playing with the discipline that we need to play with as a team, (avoiding) turnovers and being efficient in all three phases of our team. That's the missing link for us and that's something we've got to get corrected. I have no doubt in my mind that this team will bounce back."
SAN DIEGO STATE at NEW MEXICO STATE, 6 P.M. MT
TV: ESPN3.COM, CHANNEL 4 SAN DIEGO
San Diego State: The Aztecs rushed for 218 yards in a 47-0 win over Nicholls State last week, their highest total since recording 226 against Colorado State on Oct. 25, 2008. SDSU also scored four rushing touchdowns, something it hadn't done since Oct. 1, 2005, against BYU: "It shows that we can be more dynamic and we can have a two-dimensional offense," said senior wide receiver Vincent Brown, a first-team All-Mountain West Conference preseason pick. "We don't want to just be able to pass the ball. We don't want to just be able to run the ball. We want to be able to do both and attack defenses from both sides, and that's something we were able to show during the game."
New Mexico State: While San Diego State, a 34-17 winner over New Mexico State last season, was able to find more offensive balance in its season opener, Aggies coach DeWayne Walker knows that the Aztecs' strong suit is still the passing game: "(Last season) we were scared to death of their wide receivers and the quarterback (junior Ryan Lindley). When I look at them offensively, it's the same offense from a year ago. They got the same guys. I'm sure they think they're better; we think we're better, too. From an offensive standpoint, we're going to have to do a good job defensively to try to contain them, because I know Rocky (SDSU defensive coordinator Long) is going to get after us pretty early, to try to harass our quarterback and try to really discourage our offense."
COLORADO STATE at NEVADA, 7:30 P.M. PT
Colorado State: The Rams face the challenge of trying to slow Wolf Pack senior Colin Kaepernick, one of the nation's premiere quarterbacks. Kaepernick entered the season needing roughly 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing to become just the second player in NCAA history to rush for 4,000 yards and throw for 8,000 yards (Brad Smith, Missouri): "Not only can he run, he can explosively run," said CSU coach Steve Fairchild. "Then you add that he's a talented guy that can throw the football around, and he's hard to defend. He generates a lot of total offense. We have to do a good job; obviously they are going to make plays. They run the ball effectively and they run some numbers up, but limiting the big plays is huge, controlling the ball offensively is huge. There are a lot of aspects to it; it's obviously a team game. But he is an impressive player."
Nevada: The Wolf Pack are hoping to avenge last year's 35-20 loss to CSU, their second-worst loss of the season. Nevada turned the ball over five times, with Kaepernick being intercepted twice: "They beat us soundly," coach Chris Ault told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "They physically handled us. Not kind of handled us. They completely handled us. It was just that simple."
Air Force Asking Fans to Arrive Early
Fans attending Saturday's BYU-Air Force game at Falcon Stadium are urged to be in their seats by 1:30 p.m. The day will begin with 20,000 mini American flags and 10,000 US Constitutions being handed out at the stadium gates. In addition, a giant flag covering the entire field will be unveiled at halftime. The cadet march-on will have special guests, and will be followed with a special 9-11 video tribute. In addition, a steel girder from the World Trade Center will be on display on the east side of the stadium in front of the flag pole before the game.
NYPD detective Steve Hayden and FDNY firefighter Kenny Haskell will serve as honorary game captains for Air Force and will take part in the pregame coin toss. Several members of the Academy family who have recently deployed will also be on hand and will honored with local firefighters and police. Finally, the Wings of Blue will jump with an American flag that was recently flown over the World Trade Center site and presented to the Academy at last week's game.
Mountain West Conference women's soccer teams are a combined 23-17-6 through three weeks of non-conference play.
No. 11/10 BYU posted back-to-back wins over Top 25 teams last week, recording a 2-1 victory over No. 14 Northwestern on Tuesday and downing No. 21 Washington State, 3-1, on Friday.
At 5-0-0, the Cougars are off to their best start since 2005. That year, they began the season 9-0-0.
BYU is ranked 10th and 11th in the latest Soccer America and NSCAA Top 25 polls, respectively.
UNLV's 4-1-0 record ties for the best start in program history.
New Mexico (4-0-2) is still unbeaten in 2010 after defeating New Mexico State (1-0) and tying North Texas (1-1) last weekend.
UNLV has scored 15 goals this year, which ties last year's total goal output. The Rebels have scored four or more goals on three occasions this season.
BYU junior forward Jennie Marshall recorded three goals in two matches for the second week in a row. Marshall, who received Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors, has a team-high six goals this season.
Air Force freshman goalkeeper Kelly Stambaugh earned several accolades for her play last weekend. She was named MWC Defensive Player of the Week, made the AFA Fall Classic All-Tournament team and was named the Air Force Athletics Athlete of the Week. In over 200 minutes of action, Stambaugh allowed one goal and recorded eight saves to earn a 0.45 goals against average.
San Diego State enters the weekend unbeaten in its last 10 home games. The last time the Aztecs suffered a defeat at the SDSU Sports Deck was back on Aug. 23, 2009, when they fell to Cal State Northridge, 3-1.
The Aztecs are 8-1-2 in their last 11 matches against unranked opponents.
Through three weeks of action, TCU leads the Conference in points (51), goals (19) and assists (13).
Utah junior goalie Hannah Turpen is averaging 5.33 saves per contest, ranking No. 1 in the MWC in that category.
Since starting the season 0-2, Wyoming (3-3-0) has won three of its last four matches.
New Mexico senior midfielder Rachel Fields netted two goals last weekend, including the game-winner against New Mexico State on Friday night. Fields is pacing the Lobos' offensive attack, leading UNM with a career-high four goals after just six matches.
UNLV sophomore Colette Jepson scored on both of her shot attempts in UNLV's 4-2 victory over Colorado in the consolation game of the Denver Invitational last Monday. It marked the first two-goal performance of her career.
The Week Ahead
Air Force heads to Cullowhee, N.C., to take part in the Catamount Classic. The Falcons take on Western Carolina on Friday night and face Mercer on Sunday afternoon. Western Carolina is 2-3 on the season after dropping matches at UAB and Auburn last weekend. Mercer is 1-3-1 entering the weekend after losses to nationally ranked Georgia and Florida State last weekend.
BYU hosts two matches this week at South Field, matching up with LSU on Thursday night before taking on Marquette on Saturday. Thursday's game will air live on BYU-TV The Cougars are looking to avenge road losses to both programs last season.
New Mexico will look to stay unbeaten when it travels to the state of Texas to take on Baylor and SMU on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
After posting two ties last weekend, San Diego State will look to secure its first home wins of the season when San Jose State and top-ranked North Carolina come to town. SDSU and San Jose State will meet for a fourth consecutive season on Friday. The Aztecs are 5-1 all-time vs. the Spartans and have won four straight in the series. SDSU's match against the Tar Heels on Sunday marks the Aztecs' third match vs. a top-10 team this season. The meeting also marks the first time the nation's No. 1 women's soccer team has played at San Diego State. SDSU is meeting North Carolina for the first time in school history.
TCU takes on No. 14/16 Oklahoma State at Garvey-Rosenthal Soccer Stadium on Saturday. The match will air live on The Mtn. starting at 3 p.m. MT.
Head coach Jennifer Klein's Rebels host the UNLV Nike Classic this weekend. The Rebels will take on Oregon on Friday night before closing out the fourth week of non-conference play with a Sunday afternoon meeting with Cal State Northridge.
Utah plays a pair of matches this week and is in search of its first win of the 2010 campaign. The Utes head to Ogden, Utah on Thursday to take on in-state rival Weber State, then return home to host Colorado College on Sunday at Ute Field. Weber State is in the midst of a seven-match losing streak that extends back to last season. Colorado College is coming off a 1-1 double-overtime tie at Oklahoma. The Tigers' only loss of the season came at home to Boise State, 3-1.
Wyoming will travel to Missoula, Mont., for two games against Montana and Eastern Washington. On Friday, the Cowgirls take on the winless Grizzlies (0-5-1). Wyoming returns to the field on Sunday to take on the Eagles, who also enter the weekend winless at 0-3-1 on the young season.
Wyoming Begins Process of Regrouping
Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen can draw on his 21 years of college coaching experience to pinpoint weaknesses in opposing defenses and defuse opposing offenses. He can take raw recruits and transform them into a major talents. He can find ways to win where others might not.
But nothing in his coaching repertoire could have prepared him for this.
As the Cowboys ready themselves to face Texas this week, they are also mourning the loss of teammate Ruben Narcisse, who was killed in a one-car accident early Monday morning. Narcisse, a native of Miami, was a freshman linebacker. Freshman cornerback Trey Fox, freshman wide receiver C.J. Morgan and freshman linebacker J.J. Quinlan were injured in the crash, which took place on Highway 287 between Laramie and Fort Collins, Colo., where they had gone to visit high school friends.
"We're going to try to stay as close to normalcy as well can," Christensen said. "We think it will help get the kids get their minds on something different. There's not a manual on how to do these things. It's something we're going to take one day at a time and make the best of an awful situation."
The Cowboys will wear a decal with Narcisse's initials on its helmets on Saturday. A number of players have asked to wear Narcisse's jersey (No. 12) and will be allowed to do so.
"I'd be lying if I said I knew how we were going to react," Christensen said. "I'm hoping this will pull us together, make us stronger. I don't know; we'll find out."
Skye's the Limit
In Jeremy Kerley, Jimmy Young and Antoine Hicks, TCU has a deep and talented receiving corps. But in last week's showdown with Oregon State, it was sophomore Skye Dawson who led the way with four catches for 69 yards. Dawson was on the receiving end of quarterback Andy Dalton's first four passes.
A sprinter on the TCU track team, Dawson has run a 10.29 in the 100 meters. He won the MWC indoor championship in the 60 meters with a time of 6.69 and is a member of the Frogs' 4x100 relay team that was ranked among the NCAA's top five for most of the 2010 season.
But lest one think Dawson is simply fleet afoot, take a peek in the weight room.
"He's a football player who runs track," said coach Gary Patterson. "When I recruited him, I thought he was going to be just the opposite. But he got pushed around a little last year and he didn't like it. I think he bench-pressed 350 or 360 pounds coming into the season. He doesn't want to be thought of a guy who can't block or do some of the other things we ask our receivers to do."
Meanwhile, TCU moved up two spots to No. 4 in this week's AP poll and to No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches' Top 25. The Horned Frogs have their highest ranking this early in the season since 1956, when they were also fourth in the AP poll.
Easing the Learning Curve
Opening the season with a pair of inexperienced quarterbacks can test a coach's resolve. But when those quarterbacks are operating behind a large and talented offensive line, the maturation process can be greatly excelled.
In last week's win over Washington, neither of BYU's two quarterbacks --- junior Riley Nelson or true freshman Jake Heaps -- was sacked. Nor did either throw an interception while attempting a combined 40 passes.
"When young quarterbacks have a chance to survey the field, it lends to their confidence and helps them feel more secure," said coach Bronco Mendenhall. "Obviously, it's much different then when they're scrambling and trying to avoid pressure, when they're trying to read out a play. It makes it much more difficult for them to grow and develop."
The Cougars entered the USA Today Coaches' Poll released Tuesday with a ranking of No. 24.
No Longer a Nobody
Chaz Walker walked on at Utah two years ago and was considered a safety before being moved to linebacker last season. He made his first career start at middle linebacker in last week's win over No. 15 Pittsburgh and posted a team-high 11 tackles. Walker has been playing in place of junior J.J. Williams, who continues to be bothered by a foot injury.
Walker was named the team's Defensive Player of the Week.
Upon Further Review
Colorado State ran the ball 25 times in Saturday's loss to Colorado, managing just 49 yards. In his post-game press conference, Rams coach Steve Fairchild cut to the chase.
"There's not a lot to say about the way we played offensively," he said. "If we cannot establish a run game, which we didn't do at any point this afternoon, or if we don't convert on third downs, then we're gonna struggle offensively."
After watching the game film, however, Fairchild said the performance of the team's offensive line and running backs may not have been as subpar as first thought.
"We probably didn't play as poorly in the offensive line as I thought we did," Fairchild said. "Our (blocking) technique at tight end was a little poor; we got too high at times. Our tracks and points of entry from the running back spot we're not as clean as they need to be. But they're all fixable errors. I think we'll run the ball better as things get going. Obviously, we're going to have to if we're going to have any chance offensively."
For the record, CSU's offensive line entered the season with a combined 30 career starts.
In other news from Fort Collins, Adam Klingenberg, a 2006 Evergreen High School graduate who delayed a college football career to join the U.S. Marines, has enrolled at CSU this semester and walked onto the football team. Klingenberg has done two tours in Iraq and remains on active duty until October. Added just Tuesday, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound lineman played nose tackle on the Rams' scout-team defense on his first day. He is a 22-year-old true freshman.
Air Force's Calhoun says Rembert is "Long Shot"
Paired against one of the MWC's top passing units this week, Air Force is likely to be without senior cornerback Reggie Rembert in its game at Falcon Stadium against BYU.
Rembert, a first-team All-Mountain West Conference preseason pick, suffered an injury in the lower neck area above his right shoulder in the first quarter of last week's win over Northwestern State.
Asked if he expected Rembert to play against BYU, Calhoun said, "It's a long shot."
"He's a good player and he's a ways off from being able to play," Calhoun said. "We don't know exactly when that's going to be. Only time will tell. There are still some neuro tests that have to be completed."
In the event Rembert is unable to play, junior Josh Hall would make his first career start.
Up and Running
San Diego State's 218 yards rushing in its 47-0 win over Nicholls State last week marked its highest total since recording 226 against Colorado State on Oct. 25, 2008. The Aztecs scored four rushing touchdowns last week, a feat not matched since Oct. 1, 2005, against BYU.
"I think there were some yards left on the field, and I wasn't really excited about the way we finished some drives, but I think (senior running back) Davon (Brown) has worked really hard and he made some good things happen early on," said coach Brady Hoke.
SDSU is currently rotating three running backs with Brown, sophomore Walter Kazee and freshman Ronnie Hillman. Hoke said he expects that rotation to continue.
"I don't see how we can't continue doing that until we settle on one guy," Hoke said. "Davon will be the starter, but there will probably be four guys (including senior Brandon Sullivan) getting their hands on the ball."
Picking Up the Pieces
With a visit from Big 12 member Texas Tech looming, New Mexico has little time to dwell on its season-opening 72-0 loss to No. 11 Oregon, the fifth-worst defeat in school history.
New Mexico had five turnovers and surrendered 720 total yards.
"As I told our team (Monday), when you have five turnovers in the second quarter and they all result in touchdowns and you have two punts (returned for touchdowns), you won't beat a good high school team," said coach Mike Locksley. "Things like fumbles and interceptions can be corrected. If I thought we were outmanned or just physically beat, then I'd be really concerned. It all has to go back to us not beating ourselves."
Meanwhile, junior middle linebacker Carmen Messina, who led the nation in tackles last season, is listed as day-to-day after suffering a high ankle sprain last week.
"Anyone who knows Carmen knows he's going to try and play," Locksley said. "But if he's unavailable to us, someone else is going to have to step up."
Rebels Look to Get Offense in Sync
Although UNLV coach Bobby Hauck was pleased with his team's tenacity in last week's loss to No. 12 Wisconsin, he also knows that unless his offense can sustain drives, it will get no easier this week at Utah.
The Rebels converted just 4-of-14 third downs against the Badgers and finished with 217 total yards.
"We need to get first downs," Hauck said. "When we have third down, we need to move the chains. Wisconsin, on both sides of the ball in the first half, really dominated third down. We need to get off the field on defense to get the ball back to our offense and move the chains. We only had 15 plays on offense in the first half, and that just won't get it done."
Wyoming is mourning the loss of student-athlete Ruben Narcisse, a member of the university's football team
who was killed in a single-car accident on Monday. Three other members of the team were injured.
Rembert's Status in Question for BYU
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said that senior cornerback Reggie Rembert, a first-team All-Mountain West Conference preseason pick, could miss this week's home game against BYU.
Rembert was carted off the field during the first quarter of Saturday's 65-21 win over Northwestern State. Calhoun said Rembert, who was taken to a hospital for examination and released Saturday night, suffered an injury in the lower neck area above his right shoulder.
"I don't want to say it's impossible (that Rembert plays against BYU), but he's got a long way to go, progress wise," Calhoun told the Colorado Springs Gazette.
In the event Rembert is unable to play, junior Josh Hall would make his first career start.
Air Force's point total on Saturday was its sixth highest in school history. The Falcons' 616 yards of total offense ranked as the 11th highest total in school history and were the most since Air Force amassed 670 yards vs. San Diego State in 2007.
Utah QB Wynn is Day-to-Day
Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn, who suffered a sprained thumb on his throwing hand in last week's 27-24 overtime win against No. 15 Pittsburgh, is considered day-to-day in advance of the team's MWC opener against UNLV this week. Wynn completed 21-of-36 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns against the Panthers and was intercepted once.
Converted quarterbacks made big contributions for the Utes at their new positions against Pitt. DeVonte Christopher, now a receiver, had a career-high eight receptions for 155 yards; linebacker Chad Mannis had four tackles and a pass breakup; and true freshman strong safety Brian Blechen made five tackles and contributed an interception in overtime that led to Joe Phillips' game-winning 21-yard field goal.
While Utes linebacker J.J. Williams (foot) remains questionable for the UNLV game after being held out of the season opener, his replacement, Chaz Walker, led the Ute defense with 11 tackles against Pitt. Running back Sausan Shakerin (concussion) will not play against UNLV.
Lobos Not Looking Back
Despite his team suffering its worst season-opening defeat and fifth worst defeat in school history in Saturday's 72-0 loss at No. 11 Oregon, New Mexico coach Mike Locksley is moving on.
"To those who want to judge us based on one week, I think is wrong," Locksley told the Albuquerque Journal. "It is a long season. There is a lot of football left to be played. To say can we get everything fixed in one week ... well, those type of questions will be answered to all those who have doubts."
Meanwhile, the status of junior middle linebacker Carmen Messina, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the first quarter against the Ducks, has yet to be determined. Messina is a first-team all-Mountain West Conference pick who led the nation in tackles last season.
Fifteen players, including true freshman quarterback Tarean Austin, made their debut for the Lobos.
"We got in a lot of young guys, first-time players, so hopefully this experience will help us in the future," Locksley said. "We've got to find a way to grow up fast."
In its 23-17 win over Washington on Saturday, BYU alternated at quarterback with junior Riley Nelson and true freshman Jake Heaps. The two ended up with identical passing yardage, as Heaps finished 13-of-23 for 131 yards and Nelson, who started the game, went 11-of-17 for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Nelson also added 45 yards on rushing.
"The idea is to let them kind of sort it out," said Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall. "But we have enough confidence in both. I don't ever think that this year it will be one or the other. It might shift one way or the other, based on how and whom we are playing, but they have earned the right to continue on."
In addition to Heaps, 16 players saw their first career action for BYU. Freshman wide receiver Joshua Quezada contributed a 9-yard touchdown catch, while freshman tight end Richard Wilson had three catches for 45 yards.
CSU Coach Won't Blame Loss on Youth
Seven true freshmen made their debut for Colorado State in Saturday's 24-3 loss to Colorado. To put that into perspective, CSU used only three true freshmen in 2009. In 2006 and 2007 combined, the Rams used just two. The last time CSU used as many as five true freshmen in an entire season was six in 2004.
All told, 13 freshmen played for CSU on Saturday.
"Our youth will never be an excuse," said Rams coach Steve Fairchild. "We're putting those guys out there because they give us the best chance to win, and it's my job to get them ready and it's my job to get them prepared to win the football game."
True freshman quarterback Pete Thomas completed 24-of-33 passes for 196 yards with three interceptions. Thomas began with an incompletion, then completed four straight and eight of his first 10.
"I felt real comfortable out there," Thomas said. "The game seemed pretty slow to me. I felt like I was very well prepared. I just had too many mistakes on those interceptions. ... I was obviously nervous. I think there is something wrong if you are not nervous. I felt like I was pretty level-headed and calm and I felt like I had the right mindset going into the game."
Frogs Facts and Figures
TCU starting strong safety Tyler Luttrell could miss 1-2 weeks after injuring his left hamstring in the first half of Saturday's 30-21 win over No. 24/22 Oregon State. Colin Jones replaced Luttrell and will likely start this week against Tennessee Tech.
TCU, ranked No. 6 in the AP poll, ran 81 plays to the Beavers' 51. The fewest snaps a team ran against the Frogs last season was 51 by Virginia. TCU also won its 32nd straight game when rushing for more yards (278) than passing (175). The Horned Frogs are 46-2 under coach Gary Patterson when totaling at least 200 yards on the ground.
"For us, you've heard me say it, it was a like a blind date," Patterson said of the win. "You don't know what you're going to get. The second touchdown (Oregon State scored), I told the secondary what the play was. I guess what I need to do is tell them a different play. Then we'll cover the one we're supposed to."
Andy Dalton recorded his 30th victory as TCU's starting quarterback, breaking Sammy Baugh's school record of 29 from 1934-36. Dalton leads the nation among active quarterbacks with 30 wins.
Long Time Coming
With its 47-0 win over Nicholls State on Saturday, San Diego State won its first season opener since beating Idaho State on Sept. 4, 2004, a span of 2,164 days.
This week's SDSU-New Mexico State game can be seen nationally online at ESPN3 and will be televised locally on Channel 4 San Diego. Later in the season, Channel 4 San Diego will simulcast all three of SDSU's road Mountain West Conference games airing on The Mtn. The three road games are at BYU (Oct. 9); at New Mexico (Oct. 23); and at Wyoming (Oct. 30). The game at TCU on Nov. 13 will be shown on VERSUS.
Meanwhile, SDSU has unveiled a supplemental character -- "Zuma" -- to pair with their Aztec Warrior mascot. Zuma is a jaguar that will be seen at Aztec home football and basketball games. According to Aztec mythology, Tezcatlipoca (tes-cat-lee-poh-ka) was considered the god of magic and darkness. The animal most closely associated with Tezcatlipoca was the jaguar.
Wyoming senior wide receiver Zach Bolger had a big night in the team's 28-20 win over Southern Utah on Saturday with a career-high five catches for a career-high 134 yards. He also caught two touchdown passes, marking his first career multi-touchdown game. Bolger is the first Wyoming player to have over 100 receiving yards since Brandon Stewart had 132 against San Diego State on Nov. 1, 2008. Bolger has now had a reception in 13 straight games.
Sophomore quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, last season's MWC Freshman of the Year, also had a night to remember, throwing for a career-high 319 yards. He completed 26-of-32 passes, including completions on his first eight attempts. He also threw for three touchdowns for the fourth time in his career. The last time a Cowboy quarterback threw for over 300 yards was Karsten Sween at Syracuse in 2006.
Despite seeing an eight-game streak of 10 or more tackles come to an end, Wyoming senior safety Chris Prosinski moved within one tackle of the school's all-time top-10 career tackle leaders. His 274 tackles are just one shy of Aaron Kyle (1972-75).
Back to Drawing Board?
UNLV coach Bobby Hauck told the Las Vegas Sun that he will evaluate the performances of quarterbacks Mike Clausen and Omar Clayton from Saturday's loss to No. 12 Wisconsin before naming a starter for this week's game at Utah.
Clausen, who unseated Clayton as the starter coming out of fall camp, completed 4-of-10 passes for 23 yards and a touchdown before being replaced by Clayton in the third quarter. Clayton finished 6-of-16 for 82 yards and also rushed for a team-high 59 yards.
"I kind of said all along we would probably play Omar some," Hauck said. "He came in and did a nice job. We'll go back and look at the tape, figure out who we're going to start (this) week."
Onward and Upward
While many have forecast that defending Mountain West Conference football champion TCU could conclude the regular season undefeated, one would be wise not to exclude Utah from that conversation.
Consider: Fresh off Thursday's 27-24 overtime win against No. 15 Pitt, the Utes now play, in order, UNLV, New Mexico, San Jose State, Iowa State, Wyoming, Colorado State and Air Force before facing TCU on Nov. 6.
Utah has lost once to UNLV since 1980 and has beaten New Mexico four times in the teams' last six meetings. The Utes are 5-1 vs. San Jose State, and while they are winless against Iowa State (0-4), the teams haven't met since 1976. Utah has beaten Wyoming nine times in the past 10 seasons and has won six of its last seven against both Colorado State and Air Force.
Consider, too, that Utah gets both TCU and BYU at home. The Horned Frogs have never won in Salt Lake City, while the Cougars have won once at Rice-Eccles Stadium since 2002.
Not to be ignored, of course, is a trip to Notre Dame on Nov. 13. The Utes and Irish have never met, but Notre Dame is 1-11 against ranked teams since 2006.
Big doings in "Big D"
When TCU meets Oregon State on Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, it will be just the second time in school history that the Horned Frogs (No. 6) and their opponent have both been ranked in a season opener. Oregon State is ranked No. 24 in the AP poll and No. 22 in the USA Today Coaches poll. The only other occasion was in 1952, when ninth-ranked TCU lost 13-0 at No. 17 Kansas.
What Can Brown Do For You?
Although much of the focus of San Diego State's fall camp centered around highly-touted freshman running back Ronnie Hillman, it will likely be senior Davon Brown who gets the start on Saturday against Nicholls State. Brown, who carried 15 times last season for 31 yards, would be making his first career start.
Said Aztecs coach Brady Hoke said of Brown: "He's had a heck of a camp."
Hillman and sophomore Walter Kazee are also likely see action against the Colonels.
Colorado State University's athletic department will attempt to set a mobile-giving record for a college football game when the Rams meet Colorado in the Cinch Jeans Rocky Mountain Showdown on Saturday at INVESCO Field at Mile High Stadium.
"Our student-athletes need support to continue competing for Colorado State," said Randy Kinder, the annual fund director for the athletic department. "Mobile giving has the potential to raise significant funds if enough people make $5 donations."
Numerous promotional items, from paddle fans to pompoms and fliers to Facebook, are directing fans to use their mobile phones to text the word RAMS to 90999 on game day to make a $5 donation to athletic scholarships.
Information from the mobile-giving industry indicates that the most donations raised at a college football game is $9,015 from 1,803 donors at the LSU-Auburn game in October 2009.
Under the Stars
Wyoming's season opener against Southern Utah on Saturday will mark only the seventh time that the Cowboys have played a night game at War Memorial Stadium. Wyoming will also face Boise State under the lights on Sept. 18.
The last time Wyoming hosted a night game was in 2004 against Utah. The first-ever night game played in War Memorial Stadium was in 1988, when the Cowboys hosted BYU and defeated the Cougars en route to their second consecutive WAC championship under former coach Paul Roach.
Air Force to Let it Fly
For the second consecutive year, Air Force will open the season against a team from the FCS Southland Conference. Last season, the Falcons beat Nicholls State, 72-0. On Saturday, Air Force will meet Northwestern State, which was beaten by Nicholls State last year and finished the season 0-11.
With BYU waiting in the wings next week, will Falcons coach Troy Calhoun ease up on the throttle?
"No way. No way, not a chance," Calhoun told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "We have a full-fledged game plan and we've game-planned this game as hard as any game we've ever prepared for."
Quote of Note
When New Mexico goes into Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday to face No. 11 Oregon, it will do so with an all-time record of 7-43 against ranked teams. The Lobos finished 1-11 last season. Oregon, meanwhile, has won 16 of 17 home openers dating to 1993 and has scored at least 38 points in five consecutive home openers, averaging 43.2 points per contest. The Ducks' preseason ranking of No. 11 is their highest since 2001.
Overmatched? Perhaps. Overwhelmed? Hardly.
"I don't believe in moral victories," New Mexico coach Mike Locksley told Richard Stevens of golobos.com. "I wasn't hired to get moral victories."
Other News From Around the Conference
TCU coach Gary Patterson's team is loaded with star power, but it might have its hands full against a group of 11 boys from Fort Worth's Tanglewood Elementary School
Raymond Carter may be a newcomer to the Colorado State-Colorado rivalry, but the Rams running back is getting up to speed on things in a hurry.
Former Wyoming coach Joe Glenn will get a look at the Cowboys from a whole new angle this season.
UNLV has grown weary of near misses against Wisconsin. The Rebels get another opportunity at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night.
Week 1 of the college football season isn't even in the books, but for basketball fans who want an early look at how the Mountain West Conference breaks down in 2010-11, this is some good stuff.
Something's Gotta Give
• Pitt heads into Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City Thursday night with its highest ranking (No. 15) since 2003, when the Panthers were ranked No. 10 in the AP and No. 11 in the USA Today Coaches polls. Utah, which shares a preseason ranking of No. 24 with West Virginia in the USA Today Coaches poll, has won 17 straight home games and three straight home openers against teams from BCS AQ conferences.
• No. 6/7 TCU, which faces No. 24/22 Oregon State at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, ranked third in the nation last year in rush defense (80. 2 ypg) en route to finishing No. 1 in total defense for the second consecutive year. Oregon State, paced by standout running back Jacquizz Rogers, has won 19 of its last 21 games when a rusher gains 100 yards.
Here We Go Again
Seems BYU can't avoid crossing paths with the nation's elite quarterbacks in season openers. After opposing Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, in last year's opener, the Cougars on Saturday get a test from Washington's Jake Locker.
Locker, whom many believe will be the NFL's top pick next year, passed for 2,800 yards, rushed for 388 and had a hand in 28 touchdowns last season.
"Anytime you face a player of that caliber, you get excited," BYU defensive end Vic So'oto told the Deseret News. "You want to play against the best, and he's obviously one of the best in college football. It's fun and exciting to have a measuring stick to see where you are as an athlete and as a defense."
Walk the Walk
San Diego State has added some new activities to home games this season, one of which is billed as the "Warrior Walk." Two hours prior to kickoff, the football team will be dropped off in the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot, providing fans with a chance to greet the team as it heads to the locker room.
"(Assistant coach and former Aztec quarterback) Brian Sipe has worked really hard," said SDSU coach Brady Hoke, who is in his second season after arriving from Ball State. "After the season a year ago, he asked if I knew what goes on during our games. He was speaking of some of the other things in terms of bringing back some traditions and starting some new ones. The Warrior Walk is a part of that; I had mentioned that it'd be something I'd be interested in.
"We started it at Ball State with the Cardinal Walk and it grew every game. It's another way for the community, our players and their families to all come together to support these kids. ...I remember the early ones at Ball State, there weren't many people there. It'd be our wives and our folks, as well as the kids. But that grew to be one of the most exciting things as you're walking in. There's nothing like college football."
For the unenlightened, Northwestern State, Air Force's opponent in the Falcons' season opener on Saturday, is located in Natchitoches, La. What the average fan may also be unaware of that the Demons have produced an above-average number of NFL players.
"If you look at guys who have been drafted in the first four rounds, Northwestern State's had 13, the Air Force Academy's had zero," said Falcons coach Troy Calhoun. "When you want to look at guys who've been drafted, period, Northwestern State's had 32; the Air Force is at five."
Said Demons coach Bradley Dale Peveto, whose team is looking to erase the memory of last year's 0-11 season: "We appreciate the compliment, but there's a footnote to that from the Air Force side. It's only recently that players from the service academies have gotten clearance to go into the NFL Draft. I'd have to believe through the years there were a lot of Air Force football players serving our country when otherwise they would have been playing in the NFL."
Free Tickets Available to Veterans
The University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Veterans Commission will provide 500 free tickets to Wyoming veterans in advance of the Cowboys' game against Air Force in Laramie on Sept. 25. Veterans can request two tickets by contacting the Wyoming Veterans Commission at (307) 265-7372. Veterans will be asked to provide their name, mailing address and proof of their veteran status. All ticket requests must be received by Sept. 8 and will be awarded on a first come, first served basis.
UNLV's Wallace Lost for Season
UNLV men's basketball senior Kendall Wallace will miss the 2010-11 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Wallace, a 6-4 guard, played in all 34 games for the Runnin' Rebels last season, helping the team to a 25-9 record and its third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four years. He was fifth on the team in scoring with an average of 6.9 points per game.
Wallace has played in 94 total games over the last three years for UNLV and has averaged 4.8 points per game during that span.
Other News From Around the Conference
• Utah will face serious test in standout Pitt running back Dion Lewis.
• The center-quarterback exchange is crucial to the success of every offensive play. Unfortunately, New Mexico doesn't have the luxury of exchanging its youthful center-quarterback combination for seasoned veterans in advance of its meeting with No. 11 Oregon on Saturday.
• Colorado State relishes underdog role in showdown with Colorado
• Wyoming quarterback Austyn-Carter Samuels, last season's MWC Freshman of the Year, isn't sold on the "sophomore jinx."
• Mountain West Conference women's soccer teams are a combined 17-13-1 through two weeks of non-conference play.
• No. 13/12 BYU (4-0-0) posted its first win over a ranked opponent on Tuesday night, recording a 2-1 victory over No. 14 Northwestern at South Field. The Wildcats came into the match undefeated on the season and fresh off a win vs. No. 3/5 UCLA.
• New Mexico (3-0-1) recorded a 1-0 overtime victory over No. 23 Marquette on Sunday to capture the Milwaukee Cup tournament title.
• UNLV remained perfect under first-year head coach Jennifer Klein by netting back-to-back home wins over Albany (5-2) and Louisiana-Monroe (4-0) at the Las Vegas Invitational. At 3-0-0 on the season, the Rebels have tied the 2003 squad for their best start in program history.
• The Cougars are ranked 13th and 12th in the latest NSCAA and Soccer America Top 25 polls, respectively. The Lobos are receiving votes in the NSCAA poll.
• UNLV senior forward Ashleigh Shoughro began the weekend by recording her first career hat trick, netting four goals in the Rebels' 5-2 victory over Albany. That mark ties an MWC single-game record and sets a new UNLV single-game high. Only four other players in Conference history have scored four goals in one match. BYU's Bobbi Tillotson was the last to accomplish that feat against Air Force in 2005.
• Shoughro, who scored two goals all of last season, capped off her weekend by recording two more goals in the Rebels' 4-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Sunday. For her efforts, she was named MWC Offensive Player of the Week.
• New Mexico sophomore goalkeeper Kelli Cornell was named MWC Women's Soccer Defensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in her career. Cornell produced a shutout against the Golden Eagles on Sunday afternoon. She faced 19 shots on the day and finished with 12 saves through 98 minutes of action, earning Milwaukee Cup Most Valuable Player honors for her play.
• Air Force rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Boise State in double overtime on Friday night. Freshman Megan Dozier tied the game up in the 83rd minute, and Air Force won the contest on Krystin Shanklin's successful penalty kick in the 105th minute.
• Through four matches, San Diego State goalkeeper Aubree Southwick has 22 saves, which leads the MWC, as does her 5.50 saves per game average.
The Week Ahead
• Air Force plays host to the 2010 Air Force Fall Classic this weekend at Cadet Soccer Stadium. Friday's action pits the Falcons vs. The Citadel. On Sunday, Air Force plays Fairleigh Dickinson. The tournament will mark the Falcons' first encounters with both programs.
• BYU plays its third match of a four-match homestand on Friday, hosting Washington State at South Field. Washington State defeated BYU, 2-1, last season in Pullman, Wash.
• Unbeaten New Mexico returns home to host in-state rival New Mexico State on Friday at the UNM Soccer Complex. The Lobos then head to Denton, Texas for a Sunday afternoon encounter with North Texas.
• Fresh off the longest season-opening road trip in program history (four matches), San Diego State makes its home debut, hosting Detroit and Utah State at the SDSU Sports Deck on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Aztecs enter the weekend unbeaten in their last eight home games. The last time SDSU was defeated at home was back on Aug. 23, 2009, when the team was dealt a 3-1 loss by Cal State Northridge. The Aztecs will meet both Detroit and Utah State for the first time.
• TCU begins the third weekend of non-conference play by hosting Houston at Garvey-Rosenthal Soccer Stadium. The Horned Frogs finish up their weekend slate by traveling to Natchitoches, La. to take on Northwestern State.
• Looking to get off to its best start in program history, UNLV travels to Denver, Colo. to take part in the Denver Invitational. The Rebels will square off with Drake on Saturday and either Colorado or Denver on Monday.
• Utah plays its first home matches of the 2010 season this weekend as Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary's visit Ute Field. Utah holds an 0-1-2 all-time record against LMU. The Utes and Lions met last year on a neutral field in Los Angeles, playing to a 2-2 draw. Utah and Saint Mary's have clashed twice before, splitting the series 1-1, with each team capturing a win on each other's home field. In their last meeting, the Utes recorded a 2-0 road win on the Gaels' home field in 2003.
• Wyoming will finish up its three-game homestand on Thursday against Colorado College. The Tigers lead the all-time series with the Cowgirls, 6-0. Wyoming will then travel to the East Coast on Sunday to take on Kennesaw State. This will be the first-ever meeting between the Cowgirls and the Owls.
Ready or Not
When No. 24 Utah hosts No. 15 Pitt in the season opener for both teams on Thursday (Versus, 6:30 p.m. MT), Utes coach Kyle Whittingham will get his first true look at a defense with an abundance of new faces.
Utah has had to replace all three of its starting linebackers from last season. As if that hurdle wasn't challenging enough, two projected starters at linebacker -- Nai Fotu (knee) and J.J. Williams (foot) -- will not play. Fotu is out for the season.
In addition, the Utes lost three of their four starting defensive backs from last year. One of the newcomers, strong safety Brian Blechen, is a true freshman and a former high school quarterback.
"At linebacker, even though we have no returning starters, most all of them got a lot of reps under their belt last year in quality situations, not just in mop-up duty, so they're more experienced than they would seem at first glance," Whittingham said. "Our secondary has done very well in practice against our own guys, but we'll see what happens Thursday night when the bright lights are on. I'm anxious to see how they react."
By the way, the Pitt-Utah game is officially a sellout, including standing-room tickets.
Closing the Deal
Among Colorado State's shortcomings in 2009 was its inability to hold leads. The Rams surrendered a number of 14-point advantages and lost four games in which they outgained their opponent.
"When you look at my first year here (in 2008), in games that were decided by less than a touchdown, we were 4-1," said coach Steve Fairchild, whose team opens the season against Colorado on Saturday in the Rocky Mountain Showdown at INVESCO Field at Mile High Stadium. "In games like that last year we were 1-4. It's really just a matter of making a play at a critical time and getting that one stop defensively down the stretch.
"Hopefully, we're going to finish out games better. We're expecting to be in a lot of close games, and when you're fighting to win in the fourth quarter, we need somebody step up and make a big play on either side of the ball."
Out With the Old, In With the (Entirely) New
When Air Force opens the season at Falcon Stadium on Saturday against Southland Conference member Northwestern State, it will do so having replaced its entire starting offensive line from last year's 8-5 team. The only senior is left guard Tyler Schonsheck.
"That was an exceptional group," coach Troy Calhoun said of last season's offensive line. "If you look at the last three years, how well we ran the football and how few sacks we gave up, that was a direct reflection of that group, most of whom had been starters for three years.
"The guys we have going into those spots are going to be good players. I've mentioned a number of times that I think we'll have a quality offensive line by the month of November, and, 12 months from now, I think it will be a really good group. We're going to get them to move along, and, hopefully, get them to play at a higher level a little bit sooner."
While San Diego State's passing attack is recognized by many as the best in the Mountain West Conference, the Aztecs have some ground to make up where the running game is concerned. SDSU, which opens the season at home against Nicholls State on Saturday, averaged a MWC-low 78.3 yards per game last season. No other team in the conference averaged fewer than 100.
And while there may be help on the way with the addition of highly-touted freshman running back Ronnie Hillman, the Aztecs must first prove they can give Hillman room to run to establish a semblance of balance.
"There's no question that we were dreadful running the football (last season)," said second-year coach Brady Hoke. "We put a lot of emphasis in the offseason on getting our offensive line bigger and stronger. I also think that Ronnie Hillman may be capable of doing some things other guys can't.
"But our (offensive linemen) have done a good job in the weight room and they've competed very hard. Their movement is better because they know the offense better, and that's a big factor. I expect them to play better."
If You Can't Stand the Heat...
The Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility and Cox Field at TCU features an 80-yard field with a regulation 52-yard width and two full end zones.
But if you're looking for the Horned Frogs' football team when it's August and temperatures routinely exceed 100 degrees in Fort Worth, Texas, don't bother searching the indoor practice facility. Apparently, it's strictly for rainy days.
TCU coach Gary Patterson said his team endured a four-day stretch during the second week of fall camp where the temperature on the practice field ranged from 107 to 113 degrees.
The Horned Frogs, ranked No. 6 in the AP poll and No. 7 in the USA Today Coaches poll, host Oregon State on Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Beavers are ranked No. 24 in the AP poll and No. 22 in the USA Today Coaches poll.
"We use the Texas heat to our advantage, to get ourselves in shape and get us tough," Patterson said. "The kids fought through it. They know what they have to do."
A Good Backup Plan
While there was little chance that he was going to unseat last year's MWC Freshman of the Year Austyn Carter-Samuels as the starting quarterback at Wyoming, senior Dax Crum nonetheless gave a strong accounting of himself during fall camp.
While Carter-Samuels completed 28-of-53 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns during four scrimmages, Crum connected on 31-of-56 attempts for 312 yards and two touchdowns. The incumbent was intercepted once, Crum twice.
"Austyn has continued to get better and has a strong hold on that position," said coach Dave Christensen, whose Cowboys host Southern Utah in the season opener for both teams on Saturday night. "He performed well every day.
"(But) Dax Crum has improved drastically. He's a much better quarterback right now than he was last year, and we feel very confident and comfortable with him as our backup. Should he have to go into the game, I feel very confident that he can move the offense."
Asked if he thought there would come a time in 2010 when he would settle on a single quarterback, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said that junior Riley Nelson and true freshman Jake Heaps could share the team's quarterbacking duties for the duration of the season.
The Cougars open the season at home against Washington on Saturday.
"I'm not sure I'm ever going to reach the point where there will be just one (quarterback) this season," Mendenhall said. "I'm sure we'll know a lot more at the end of the day on Saturday in terms of how their roles expand or diminish or how they complement each other. It's a work in progress. I'm not taking it off the table that we could have just one (quarterback) this season, but at this point it's most likely going to be two."
Transfer of Power
When New Mexico opted to employ a four-man defensive front under first-year coach Mike Locksley last season, one of the first orders of business was identifying defensive tackles stout enough to hold their own at the point of attack. Enter Ugo Uzodinma and Reggie Ellis, a pair of University of Illinois transfers who check in at 6-4, 280 and 6-2, 285, respectively. Both have three years of eligibility remaining. Uzodinma will start on Saturday when the Lobos open the season on the road at No. 11 Oregon.
Add Uzodinma and Ellis to a group that already includes defensive tackle Peter Gardner, blue-chip defensive tackle Calvin Smith and standout defensive end Johnathan Rainey and the Lobos could present a formidable defensive front.
"We feel (Uzodinma and Ellis) give us some depth and some athleticism inside that we didn't have last year," Locksley said. "We feel real good about that group, especially in the fact that they're in Year 2 of our system on that side of the ball."
The Bright Side
No. 12 Wisconsin may be a heavy favorite when it visits Sam Boyd Stadium to take on UNLV in the season opener for both teams Saturday night, but the Badgers may want to recall their visit to Las Vegas in 2007. Then ranked No. 5 in the AP preseason poll, Wisconsin escaped, 20-13. The Badgers put the game away on a 29-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left.
Asked if his team might have any advantage in Saturday's matchup, Rebels first-year coach Bobby Hauck didn't hesitate.
"We don't have to travel," Hauck said with a laugh.
The Mtn. - Mountain West Sports Network will be made available to Comcast and other current distributors to place on their most popular package or widely distributed level of service as part of a Mtn. Preview Weekend from 12 p.m. MT on Friday, Sept. 3, through 12 p.m. MT on Monday, Sept. 6.
The Preview Weekend includes The Mtn.'s telecast of the Cinch Jeans Rocky Mountain Showdown on Saturday, Sept. 4 between the University of Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams at INVESCO Field at Mile High in Denver. Kickoff is 12 p.m. MT. Ram Pre-Game Live begins at 10:30 a.m. MT and is followed by a special one-hour live presentation of Xfinity Live at the Stadium at 11 a.m. MT. Ram Post Game Live follows the game.
James Bates (play-by-play) and Todd Christensen (analyst) will call the game with Roger Bailey working the sidelines. Anchors Marius Payton and Bill Doleman are joined on the set at INVESCO Field at Mile High with expert analysis provided by Beau Morgan and Ted Sundquist during Xfinity Live at the Stadium, as well as at halftime and after the game.
The game will be available throughout the state of Colorado on channel 411 (167 Colorado Springs/Pueblo) on Comcast's All Digital (AD) tier, meaning any basic subscriber with a digital box will be able to view the free preview. The Cinch Jeans Rocky Mountain Showdown is available in high-definition (HD) throughout the state on Comcast channel 948 (must subscribe to HD service) and on other partner cable providers taking the HD feed beginning at 11 a.m. MT with Xfinity Live at the Stadium.
DIRECTV will carry the game nationwide on channel 616 (CHOICE and above package in Colorado - SportsPack outside the MWC "footprint") with the HD game feed available on channel 616-1 (must subscribe to HD service).
Availability in other areas is determined by individual cable systems that carry The Mtn. Customers should check with their local cable provider for availability or visit www.themtn.tv for additional details and updated information.
Mick McGrane has covered the Mountain West since the league's inception in 1999. He spent 12 years at the San Diego Union-Tribune, where he served as the beat writer for San Diego State football and men's basketball. He currently represents the MW as a member of the Football Writers Association of America All-America Committee and is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. McGrane serves as senior writer to the Mountain West, providing readers with exclusive, in-depth information about the Conference by highlighting its 10 member institutions and contributing feature stories on student-athletes that participate in the league's 18 sponsored sports.
Have a question for Mick? E-mail him at mick@TheMWC.com or check him out on Twitter @MWCMick.
Mark Knudson is a Colorado State journalism school graduate and a 12-year veteran of professional baseball. During his playing career, Mark pitched for three major league teams, including the Colorado Rockies, where he was the first Colorado native to play for the hometown team. He recorded wins over three of the four legendary pitchers who make up the 4,000 strikeout club: Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. His win over Ryan came for the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day in 1991.
Since his retirement, Mark has been a feature writer and columnist for Mile High Sports, a radio talk show host and TV analyst for numerous sports media outlets. For the past six years, he was a columnist and baseball analyst for The Mtn., along with being one of Colorado's six Heisman Trophy voters.
Have a question for Mark? Visit him at ElevationSportsNetwork.com or check him out on Twitter @MarkKnudson41.