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Mountain West rankings: Another week of big wins leads to big shakeups

Hawaii
Hawaii's JoJo Ward caught four touchdown passes in a win over Oregon State. (Eugene Tanner/AP)

Each week, Nevada Sports Net’s Chris Murray will rank the Mountain West football teams. Here are this week’s rankings, with each team’s overall record, its ranking last week, its result last week and next opponent and a brief comment.

1. Boise State

Rank last week: 1

Record: 2-0

Last week: Beat Marshall, 14-7

This week: vs. Portland State

Comment: Boise State’s caliber is still a little in doubt after a close win over Marshall coupled with Florida State needing overtime to beat Louisiana Monroe, which missed an extra point to give the Seminoles the win. That devalued Boise State’s season-opening win in Tallahassee quite a bit. Still, Boise State deserves to be atop the power rankings, but the first two wins don’t look quite as strong as we originally thought.

2. Utah State

Rank last week: 3

Record: 1-1

Last week: Beat Stony Brook, 62-7

This week: Bye

Comment: Utah State destroyed Stony Brook, torching the FCS Sea Wolves. The Aggies’ three quarterbacks combined to complete 35-of-45 passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns, with 14 players recording a catch. Utah State also rushed for 325 yards. It’s not very often you throw for and rush for 325-plus yards in the same game, and Stony Brook has made back-to-back FCS playoffs, so it’s a solid team.

3. Hawaii

Rank last week: 6

Record: 2-0

Last week: Beat Oregon State, 31-28

This week: at Washington

Comment: Hawaii overcame a 14-point first-half deficit to beat its second straight Pac-12 foe. Cole McDonald threw for 421 yards and four touchdowns and MW offensive player of the week JoJo Ward caught 10 passes for 189 yards and four scores. This is a dangerous team as long as McDonald limits his turnovers (he has six in two games). The Pac-12 challenge is tougher this week with a game at Washington.

4. Wyoming

Rank last week: 5

Record: 2-0

Last week: Beat Texas State, 23-14

This week: vs. Idaho

Comment: Wyoming was down 14-3 before scoring the final 20 points of the game to upend Texas State. The Cowboys were out-played for most of the contest as Texas State held a massive edge in yards (444-293) and first downs (27-16). But Wyoming was plus-two in turnovers and the Bobcats missed two field goals. With its game against Idaho this week, Wyoming goes for its first 3-0 start to the season since 2011.

5. San Diego State

Rank last week: 7

Record: 2-0

Last week: Beat UCLA, 23-14

This week: at New Mexico State

Comment: Since 2016, SDSU has more wins over Pac-12 opponents than Oregon State, which is funny because the Beavers actually play in the Pac-12 and SDSU does not. Still, the Aztecs are 5-1 against Pac-12 opponents the last four seasons while the Beavers are 4-23. The Aztecs' latest win was over UCLA, which could be a dumpster fire, but it’s still a win over a Power 5 foe, so the Aztecs get a nice little bump.

6. Nevada

Rank last week: 4

Record: 1-1

Last week: Lost to Oregon, 77-6

This week: vs. Weber State

Comment: Nevada has played eight quarters of football this season and three of them have been good – the second half versus Purdue and first quarter versus Oregon. Nevada has been out-scored 94-10 in the other five quarters. Adding some consistency will be key. This upcoming four-game stretch is critical for the Wolf Pack. Nevada should go 3-1 at minimum against Weber State, UTEP, Hawaii and San Jose State.

7. Fresno State

Rank last week: 2

Record: 0-2

Last week: Lost to Minnesota, 38-35 (2OTs)

This week: Bye

Comment: I still have Fresno State as the team to beat in the West Division, but the Bulldogs are 0-2, so it’s hard to justify a higher ranking at this stage. In the loss to Minnesota, the Bulldogs allowed a touchdown to tie the game with 46 seconds left before loses when Jorge Reyna was picked off in the end zone in double overtime. With close defeats to USC and Minnesota, I still believe Fresno State will right the ship, but 0-2 is 0-2.

8. Air Force

Rank last week: 8

Record: 1-0

Last week: Bye

This week: at Colorado

Comment: After its season-opening with over Colgate, Air Force had a bye. The Falcons draw Colorado this week, and the Buffs have gotten off to a good start with wins over rival Colorado State and ranked Nebraska. We’ll learn a lot more about Air Force from this Colorado game as the Falcons aim to become the sixth MW team to score a victory over a Power 5 opponent this season.

9. Colorado State

Rank last week: 10

Record: 1-1

Last week: Beat Western Illinois, 38-13

This week: at Arkansas

Comment: CSU scored its first win of the season over FCS school Western Illinois. Collin Hill looked good for his second straight outing, which is encouraging as he’s now two years removed from tearing his ACL twice. In two games, Hill has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 738 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. I trust him more than UNLV’s Armani Rogers, which gives CSU the edge on UNLV.

10. UNLV

Rank last week: 9

Record: 1-1

Last week: Lost to Arkansas State, 43-17

This week: at Northwestern

Comment: The 26-point loss to Arkansas State was a disappointing result for UNLV, which romped over Southern Utah in its season opener. UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers had about as poor a game as you can have. He completed 8-of-23 passes for 42 yards while throwing a pick-six and rushed 17 times for 4 yards. That’s 40 plays from scrimmage (23 passes, 17 rushes) totaling 46 yards. UNLV can’t win with that.

11. New Mexico

Rank last week: 11

Record: 1-0

Last week: Bye

This week: at Notre Dame

Comment: New Mexico plays its first FBS opponent of the season this week, and it is against a top-10 team. The Lobos won’t have coach Bob Davie, who is not traveling to South Bend to face his former team Notre Dame, as he recovers from a “serious medical incident.” Davie, who turns 65 later this month, is doing the right thing by not rushing back to the sideline.

12. San Jose State

Rank last week: 12

Record: 1-1

Last week: Lost to Tulsa, 34-16

This week: Bye

Comment: San Jose State’s defense wilted in the loss to Tulsa, which threw for 283 yards, rushed for 256 more and didn’t have a turnover. After a bye, SJSU plays at Arkansas looking to snap its 19-game regular-season losing streak to FBS non-conference opponents.

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.

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