The eight teams of the Mountain West completed their first week of battle in impressive fashion, as seven of the eight teams began the season with a win. Though CSU was the only team in the conference to record a loss, the Rams played tough and impressed opposing coaches around the league. BYU had the most impressive victory of the holiday weekend defeating a solid Georgia Tech team 24-13. This week though will be the big test for the Mountain West as all eight institutions are on the road facing teams from BCS conferences, with two games versus the Big Ten (Air Force at Northwestern and San Diego State at Ohio State), two against the Pac-10 (Brigham Young at USC and CSU at California) and four featuring Big 12 competition (New Mexico at Texas Tech, UNLV at Kansas, Utah at Texas A&M and Wyoming at Oklahoma State).
A closer look at each team:
Last Week: Beat Wofford 49-0
Game Notes: The Falcons open the season shutting out head coach Fisher DeBerry’s alma mater 49-0. The Air Force defense played a near perfect game allowing only nine first downs and 175 yards of total. The offense ran for 380 yards and totaled 469 yards for the day.
Key Player: (RB) Dan Shaffer returned from an ACL injury that cost him his season last year in impressive fashion carrying the ball 12 times for 69 yards and three touchdowns for the Academy.
This Week: At Northwestern (1-0)
Game Preview: Last year the Falcons hammered Northwestern 52-3 at home in the opening game of the year. This year Northwestern is coming off a 28-20 victory over Kansas. Northwestern will be looking for revenge this year in their back yard.
News and Notes: Last weeks victory marked the 150th win for DeBerry. After the win he said that winning 150 games is a sign of getting old, but 150 wins are still 150 wins.
Last Week: Beat Georgia Tech 24-13
Game Notes: BYU opened the season with an impressive victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. Trailing 13-7 at halftime, the Cougars came out in the second half and scored on their first drive and never looked back.
Key Player: (TE) Daniel Coats: Coats, a freshman, had an impressive debut hauling in six balls for 93 yards and two touchdowns for the Cougars.
This Week: At No. 5 USC (1-0)
Game Preview: BYU played a solid game last week, but run into a much better team in USC. The Trojans, fresh off an impressive 23-0 victory against then 6th ranked Auburn, presents a defense that could dominate the BYU offense.
News and Notes: During halftime of last week’s game, BYU retired former quarterback and NFL great Steve Young’s jersey. Young’s number, though, is still active, currently being worn by starting quarterback Matt Berry.
Last Week: Beat Southwest Texas State 72-8
Game Notes: New Mexico scored on all six of its first half possessions, scoring three rushing touchdowns in the first quarter alone on it’s way to a very one-sided victory.
Key Player: (K) Katie Hnida: Hnida became the first female football player in Division-I history to score in a game, when she made her first of two extra points late in the game.
This Week: At Texas Tech (1-0)
Game Preview: Both teams step up the level of competition. Last week Tech defeated SMU 59-10, but New Mexico brings a tougher defense to the table. In the end the passing game of Texas Tech should carry them to victory, but it will be closer than last year’s 49-0 Texas Tech victory.
News and Notes: Hinda’s two extra points late in the game makes her 2-for-3 in her career in extra points. Last year she had an extra point blocked in the Lobos’ bowl game.
San Diego State
Last Week: Beat Eastern Washington 19-9
Game Notes: San Diego State lost a major part of their offense when last year’s MWC passing champion Adam Hall went down with a high ankle sprain. That injury played part in why the Aztecs only won by 10.
Key Player: (RB) Lynell Hamilton: Hamilton, a freshman, had a solid debut for the pass happy Aztecs, running for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
This Week: At No. 2 Ohio State (1-0)
Game Preview: Last time these two teams met, the Aztecs gave Ohio State all they could handle. This year however, the Aztecs, without their star quarterback, will not be as lucky. Ohio State looked tough last week against then No. 19 Washington without star halfback Maurice Clarett, so the Buckeyes should handle the Aztecs.
News and Notes: This game was originally scheduled to be a home game for the
Aztecs, but it was sold back to Ohio State and now SDSU must hit the road to play the defending National Champions.
Last Week: Beat Toledo 28-18
Game Notes: (QB) Kurt Nantkes threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to tight end Greg Estandia within 30 seconds of each other to rally the Rebels to a 28-18 victory. Penalties were a problem for the Rebels in their opener as they were penalized 13 times for 104 yards.
Key Player: (QB) Kurt Nantkes: The senior quarterback completed 27 of 41 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns. Nantkes was able to keep his cool and lead his team back to a victory in the fourth quarter.
This Week: At Kansas (0-1)
Game Preview: The Rebels defeated Kansas last year 31-20 at home in Week two. Kansas lost to Northwestern last week, and hopes to rebound against the Rebels. This game should be a battle, but with the newfound passing game, thanks to first year starter Nantkes, the Rebels should be able to defeat Kansas at home.
News and Notes: Head coach John Robinson is on the hot seat this year. For the first four years of his tenure at UNLV, Robinson was also the school’s Athletic Director. Robinson gave up the position in hopes of focusing more on football matters.
Last Week: Beat Utah State 40-20
Game Notes: The Utes racked up 202 yards on the ground and held the ball for 36-plus minutes in their victory of Utah State. Head coach Urben Meyer made his coaching debut Thursday, and watched as quarterback Brett Elliott emerged as the team’s starter.
Key Player: (RB) Brandon Warfield: Warfield carried the ball a tiring 33 times accumulating 173 yards and one touchdown in the season opener.
This Week: At Texas A&M (1-0)
Game Preview: A&M struggled in its season opener against Arkansas State defeating them 26-11. This game matches two first year coaches as Meyer comes from Bowling Green and A&M first-year coach Dennis Franchione comes to the Aggies from Alabama. The environment at College Station will be too much for the Utes to handle.
News and Notes: Utah’s three-man quarterback race became a two-man rotation as Brett Elliott emerged as the starter with sophomore Alex Smith something of a surprise back-up. Senior Lance Rice was left on the bench, where he spent the second half of last season.
Last Week: Beat Montana State 21-10
Game Notes: The Cowboys defense forced five turnovers and their special teams scored on a blocked punt. While the ‘Pokes offense struggled to get going, those units were able to pick up the slack against their Division 1-AA opponent. The 11-point victory was head coach Joe Glenn’s first as he made his Wyoming coaching debut.
Key Players: Austin Hall and Derrick Martin: Hall came up with a blocked punt, and Martin was the player who picked it up on the six yard-line and dove into the end zone for a touchdown.
This Week: At Oklahoma State
Game Preview: This will be the first time since 1995 that the battle of the
“Cowboys” takes place. Oklahoma State is down after a disappointing loss to
Nebraska, but should bounce back and pass all over Wyoming. The Cowboys are favored in this one, Oklahoma State that is.
News and Notes: Wyoming, which won five games in the last three years, got off to a good start for new coach Glenn. Glenn who earlier in his career claimed two Division-II National Titles with Northern Colorado is just four wins away from topping the Cowboys five wins in the past three years.