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Mountain West rankings: West Division flexing its muscles in early going

Jake Haener
Jake Haener, shown in the Week 1 game against Oregon, accounted for six touchdowns in Fresno State's 61-10 win over Cal Poly. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

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, its next opponent and a brief comment.

1. Nevada

Rank last week: 1

Record: 2-0, 0-0 MW

Last week: Beat Idaho State, 49-10

This week: at Kansas State

Comment: The Mountain West had a strong week, going 8-3 with each of those losses coming against Power 5 opponents. The Wolf Pack didn’t have a big challenge, easily dispatching FCS foe Idaho State. Nevada gets a more difficult opponent this week when it travels to Kansas State, which will be without starting quarterback Skylar Thompson. Nevada looks to pick up two road wins over Power 5 foes in 15 days after winning just two such games in its first 29 seasons at the FBS level when it went 2-25.

2. Fresno State

Rank last week: 2

Record: 2-1, 0-0 MW

Last week: Beat Cal Poly, 63-10

This week: at No. 13 UCLA

Comment: Fresno State drubbed Cal Poly with the Bulldogs piling up 671 yards. QB Jake Haener threw for 380 yards and accounted for six touchdowns (four passing, two rushing). Fresno State threw for 475 yards and five touchdowns. The Bulldogs play at UCLA this weekend, its second crack against a Pac-12 opponent after almost beating Oregon in the season opener (the Ducks upset Ohio State last week).

3. Boise State

Rank last week: 4

Record: 1-1, 0-0 MW

Last week: Beat UTEP, 54-13

This week: vs. Oklahoma State

Comment: Boise State rebounded from its season-opening loss to UCF by walloping UTEP thanks to a 31-point second quarter. The Broncos forced six turnovers (three interceptions, three fumbles). Boise State hosts Oklahoma State this weekend and is a 4.5-point favorite. The Cowboys haven’t been dynamite this season – narrow wins over Missouri State and Tulsa – but this would still be a big win.

4. San Diego State

Rank last week: 7

Record: 2-0, 0-0 MW

Last week: Beat Arizona, 38-14

This week: vs. Utah

Comment: Kudos to San Diego State QB Jordon Brookshire, who rebounded from a poor Week 1 by playing well at Arizona. He completed 10-of-14 passes for 183 yards and accounted for three scores (two passing, one rushing). The Aztecs held Arizona to just nine first downs and 230 yards of offense. SDSU improved to 6-2 against the Pac-12 since 2016 and draws another Pac-12 foe this week in Utah.

5. San Jose State

Rank last week: 3

Record: 1-1, 0-0 MW

Last week: Bye

This week: at Hawaii

Comment: San Jose State was idle last week, but its 30-7 loss to USC in Week 1 doesn’t look so great after the Trojans got blasted by Stanford and fired their coach. The Spartans begin the defense of their Mountain West title this week with the conference opener at Hawaii, a must-win game given how difficult the West Division looks this season (four of the top five in these rankings are from the West).

6. Utah State

Rank last week: 5

Record: 2-0, 0-0 MW

Last week: Beat North Dakota, 48-24

This week: at Air Force

Comment: Utah State breezed past its FCS foe, North Dakota, which led 21-7 after the first quarter before the Aggies closed on a 41-3 run. Utah State quarterback Logan Bonner threw for 390 yards and four touchdowns, with two Aggies receivers – Deven Thompkins and Brandon Bowling – hitting the 100-yard mark. Utah State, which looks much improved, has a fun MW-opening matchup with Air Force.

7. Air Force

Rank last week: 6

Record: 2-0, 0-0 MW

Last week: Beat Navy, 23-3

This week: vs. Utah State

Comment: Air Force improved to 32-22 all-time against Navy and is 7-5 against the Midshipmen since Navy won seven straight games in this series from 2003-09. The Falcons’ offense wasn’t great, mustering 225 yards on 12 series, but Air Force’s defense was amazing. It held Navy to six first downs and 68 yards on 44 plays (1.55 yards per play). It next faces Utah State, which AFA is 5-1 against in the last six games.

8. Wyoming

Rank last week: 8

Record: 2-0, 0-0 MW

Last week: Beat Northern Illinois, 50-43

This week: vs. Ball State

Comment: After a ragged Week 1 performance against FCS opponent Montana State, the Wyoming offense took off in Week 2 and recorded its fourth 50-plus-point game in the Craig Bohl era (since 2014). The Cowboys led 42-16 before Northern Illinois scored 27 straight points to take the lead. Quarterback Sean Chambers scored the game-winning touchdown on a 9-yard run with 1 minute, 35 seconds left.

9. New Mexico

Rank last week: 10

Record: 2-0, 0-0 MW

Last week: Beat New Mexico State, 34-25

This week: at No. 7 Texas A&M

Comment: With its win over rival New Mexico State, the Lobos started the season 2-0 for the first time since 2005 when New Mexico won its first three games under Rocky Long (the team’s current defensive coordinator). Quarterback Terry Wilson threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns to help the Lobos overcome 12 penalties for 112 yards. Wilson’s 555 yards in two games is more than any Lobos quarterback threw for last year. The Kentucky transfer has been a nice addition.

10. Hawaii

Rank last week: 9

Record: 1-2, 0-0 MW

Last week: Lost to Oregon State, 45-27

This week: vs. San Jose State

Comment: Hawaii fell to 0-2 against the Pac-12 after losing to Oregon State. The Beavers built a 21-0 lead before Hawaii rallied, although it couldn’t complete the comeback. The Rainbow Warriors have allowed 41.3 ppg, and that includes a game with an FCS team. Hawaii must improve defensively if it’s going to compete with the top of the West Division. That challenge starts Saturday with the MW opener against SJSU.

11. Colorado State

Rank last week: 11

Record: 0-2, 0-0 MW

Last week: Lost to Vanderbilt, 24-21

This week: at Toledo

Comment: Colorado State dropped a narrow decision to Vanderbilt, an SEC team, which typically isn’t a bad thing. But Vanderbilt is more like an FCS team than an SEC team (the Commodores lost their opener to East Tennessee State, 23-3). CSU moved the ball well against Vanderbilt but struggled on third down (4-of-15) and were killed by penalties (11 for 115 yards). Next up a game with Toledo, which almost beat Notre Dame last week.

12. UNLV

Rank last week: 12

Record: 0-2, 0-0 MW

Last week: Lost to Arizona State, 37-10

This week: vs. No. 14 Iowa State

Comment: UNLV trailed only 14-10 to Arizona State at halftime before being out-scored 23-0 after intermission. The Rebels managed just 155 yards of offense, with 145 of those yards coming on the team’s first two drives. On its final nine possessions, UNLV gained 14 yards on 26 plays. That included just one first down, a 13-yard run by quarterback Doug Brumfield on a first-down play. That’s brutal.

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

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