Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 14

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his final regular-season installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks.

1. Colorado State (10-1 overall, 6-1 MW): Tough to move the Rams (ranked No. 21 in both the AP and Coaches polls) down after winning nine straight games, including by 38 last week against New Mexico. Still, Colorado State needs to win this week and hope Boise State loses if it wants to play in the MW Championship Game. This week: at Air Force, 1:30 p.m. MT Friday (CBSSN). A tough game against a good team on the road. Rams have a lot on the line, and will play like it. Colorado State 27, Air Force 23.

2. Boise State (9-2, 6-1): The Broncos are the highest-ranked team among the non-power five conferences at No. 23. If they win their season-finale they will play in the MW Championship Game and has a good chance at New Year’s bowl game. Boise State has scored more points (440) than any MW team. This week: vs. Utah State, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPN2). The Broncos have lost only four games at home in … well, forever. Too much on the line for that fifth loss to occur. Boise State 28, Utah State 20.

3. Utah State (9-3, 6-1): Winners of five straight and with the best scoring defenses in the conference (18.3 ppg). Matt Wells should get strong consideration for Coach of the Year in the MW having to use four different quarterbacks this season. This week: at Boise State, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPN2). In a battle of the league’s best offense and best defense, the offense will have the edge at night on the blue turf. Boise State 28, Utah State 20.

4. Air Force (8-3, 4-3): Despite a 30-14 loss at San Diego State last week, the Falcons stay at No. 4. They remain one of the best stories in the league having gone 2-10 last season. This week: vs. Colorado State, 1:30 p.m. MT Friday (CBSNN). Air Force is 5-0 at home, but will drop a close game in its finale. Colorado State 27, Air Force 23.

5. San Diego State (6-5, 4-3): One of two teams in the West Division with a winning overall and conference record. The home win over Air Force moved the Aztecs up. San Diego State needs to win this week and have Fresno State lose to win the division. This week: vs. San Jose State, 1:30 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). The Aztecs will cruise in this one. San Diego State 33, San Jose State 10.

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Cowboys high on what they will get from Aka Gorski

One of the more highly-anticipated debuts for the Wyoming men’s basketball team came Wednesday night when true freshman guard Alexander Aka Gorski saw his first playing time since he fractured the tip of his finger on his left and non-shooting hand in preseason practice.

Alexander Aka Gorski

Alexander Aka Gorski

Despite a large splint on that middle finger, Aka Gorski played eight minutes and finished with four points three rebounds and two turnovers. His lone basket was a 3-pointer.

“It was just nice to get out there in front of the crowd, make my first bucket and be part of the team,” Aka Gorski said. “It’s hard to grab the ball (with the split) and bounce the ball with my left hand, but it didn’t hurt too bad tonight so I’m really excited moving forward, now.”

Aka Gorski, who turns 20 on Dec. 5, is from Lund, Sweden and played last season for Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kansas. He’s also played 45 games for the Swedish national team at several levels. At Sunrise Academy, he averaged 14 points, four rebounds and four assists per game playing point guard. Aka Gorski also shot 44 percent from 3-point range.

At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Aka Gorski gives UW what it has needed for a while — a big wing player. That size should help the Cowboys (5-0) in their next game when they host New Mexico State (3-3) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Arena-Auditorium. New Mexico State averages close to 40 rebounds per game, and had 62 in an 88-68 win over Stetson earlier in the week.

“He’s a smart player, is a good shooter, makes the right passes and knows where to be,” UW senior forward Larry Nance Jr. said. “He played a lot older than he is, and we appreciate that for sure.”

For more UW men’s basketball and sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

UW-New Mexico football Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Rick Wright, who covers New Mexico football for the Albuquerque Journal, about Saturday’s season-finale with the University of Wyoming. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Follow on Twitter: @Burquerick

Now in his third season, coach Bob Davie is 10-26. In your opinion, is the building and development of the program going in the right direction? Is Davie the right guy for the job, and what are the major issues that still must be dealt with?

Rick Wright

Rick Wright

Progress is being made, but slowly — too slow to suit a disgruntled and shrinking fan base. Davie knew coming in that roster attrition was going to be a big problem in 2013 and 2014, but obviously was hoping to win more games regardless. I thought Davie had a solid plan coming in, and still think so. The triple option out of the pistol formation has been successful, though the passing game has lagged badly. But there’s no equivalent of the triple option on defense, and that remains the burning question. The defense must improve, vastly, if Davie’s vision for the program is to succeed.

How would you explain the Lobos’ run game, which is among the top four in the nation? How have teams stopped it or slowed it down this season?

Only San Diego State has basically shut it down for four quarters. Rocky Long crossed the Lobos up; UNM prepared for Long’s 3-3-5 blitzing defense and instead got a conservative four-down look. New Mexico generally has not run the ball as well in the second half as in the first as opponents adjusted to the speed with which it runs the triple option. I know that when (Wyoming coach) Craig Bohl was at North Dakota State, his defense stuffed the Sam Houston State offense — which is what New Mexico runs under offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse, who came to New Mexico from Sam Houston State.

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VIDEO: Players give tour of newly renovated Arena-Auditorium

Six University of Wyoming men’s basketball players will take you on a tour of the many new features in the recently renovated Arena-Auditorium.

Check out everything from the new locker room, team room, training room and weight room. Also, the players will say why these changes have and will benefit the team.

The Cowboys (3-0) have three home games this week, starting at 7 p.m. Monday against Florida A&M. They also host Stetson at 7 p.m. Wednesday and New Mexico State at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

For more UW sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Run game could be even more vital for Cowboys in finale

We all know that first-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl wants to be a run-first offense that is tough and physical.

At times UW has shown that, at other times it hasn’t gone according to plan. But if the Cowboys can do that in their season-finale Saturday at New Mexico, that will go a long way to help make up for what could be an inexperienced quarterback — and possibly end the season with a victory.

New Mexico has the nation’s fourth-best rushing offense, but it allows 278.1 rushing yards per game, and Colorado State’s Dee Hart ran for 230 yards and five touchdowns last week in the Rams’ 58-20 victory.

Rafe Kiely

Rafe Kiely

“It’s an exciting thought,” said UW junior center Rafe Kiely on the chance the Cowboys will try to run the ball even more against New Mexico. “We along the offensive line is much more physical this year, and take a lot more pride in our run blocking than in the past.

“This year there so much more of an emphasis on getting on guys and getting them to the ground. I know a lot of guys are licking their lips to go out (to New Mexico) and pound the ball on the ground.”

UW true freshman running back Brian Hill leads the Cowboys with six rushing touchdowns, and had two in last Saturday’s 63-14 home loss to Boise State. He had his string of three straight 100-yard games snapped against Boise State. Hill has 639 rushing yards, and trails junior Shaun Wick by 66 yards to take the team lead.

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A day of extremes for Cowboys

It was a day-night doubleheader of men’s basketball and football in Laramie Saturday for Wyoming, and the outcome of both was like a night-and-day contrast.

Let’s start with the good.

The Cowboys were impressive in a 56-33 victory over Colorado in hoops. UW (3-0) held Colorado (2-1) to nine second-half points and to only two baskets. The offense was unselfish, and I don’t think I’ve ever covered a game where there were assists on all 22 baskets.

And, this wasn’t against some no-name team. Colorado was ranked 27th in the AP poll last week and was picked to finish third in the Pac-12.

And, the lob pass junior guard Josh Adams threw to senior forward Larry Nance Jr. was pretty cool, and earned the top play on ESPN SportCenter’s top 10 plays Saturday night.

“Sigh of relief. It was awesome and it felt great just to be back up there,” Nance said of the dunk.

Here’ what the players and coach Larry Shyatt said after the game:

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Adams looks to attack basket more today vs. Colorado

Wyoming junior guard was 4 of 6 from 3-point range in the Cowboys’ season-opening win over Northern Colorado last weekend. Adams showed good range, and said he worked a lot in the offseason on his shot.

Josh Adams

Josh Adams

But in the Cowboys’ next game, a 61-46 win over Division II Western State on Tuesday, Adams was 1 of 4 from the field and 0 of 2 from 3-point range.

In UW’s game today against Colorado, which tips off at 4 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium, Adams said he wants to get to the basket more.

“I haven’t done that much in the first two games because (opponents) gave me open shots outside, but I know that’s something I need to get back to doing in a game like this,” Adams said.

Riley Grabau

Riley Grabau

It also should be interesting to see how Adams and senior guard Riley Grabau play today. Both are from Colorado — Adams from the Denver area and Grabau from Boulder where CU is located. Both downplayed the fact they are playing a school from their home state who didn’t show a ton of interest in them in the recruiting process. In fact, both have done that since they’ve been at UW and in previous games with CU, in which UW has won two of the last three.

Grabau also struggled against Western State as he was 0 of 3 from the field — all from 3-point range and had two turnovers compared to no assists.

Safe to say that both Adams and Grabau must play a lot better today if UW has a chance to win.

For more coverage from the game, see Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net/

Wyoming vs. Boise State football: key to the game, notes and quotes

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s key to the game for Wyoming in its home-finale against Boise State. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. MT at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium:

Possess and finish: Wyoming’s offense must win the time of possession battle, and more importantly, finish drives with points. That may be the Cowboys’ best defense against Boise State’s league-leading scoring offense (37.7 points per game). UW did a decent job two weeks ago against Utah State of possessing the ball, but must do a better job of finishing and eliminate penalties and turnovers.

What do you think, folks? Yay or nay?

Here is Gagliardi and WyoSports editor Scott Nulph’s weekly video blog about the game:

Here are some notes and quotes from both UW and Boise State from this week:

Blair Burns

Blair Burns

–UW has never defeated Boise State (0-8) and has lost by a combined score of 148-43 in the four games played in Laramie. The Cowboys have scored no more than 17 points against the Broncos. But that doesn’t mean UW is intimidated by Boise State: “Boise State is a great team, but I wouldn’t say we are intimidated. We played at Oregon and Michigan State and we weren’t intimidated against those teams. Getting a win would be great. Why not now?” — UW senior cornerback Blair Burns.

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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 13

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 13 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (9-1 overall, 5-1 MW): Remains No. 1 coming off a bye week. Winners of eight straight and the only MW team ranked in the polls, yet needs a Boise State loss to win the Mountain Division (assuming the Rams win out). Senior quarterback Garrett Grayson was notified last week by the Heisman Trust that he is a candidate to win this year’s award. He’s good, but not sure he’s that good. This week: vs. New Mexico, 11:30 a.m. MT Saturday (ROOT). Rams will end their home season on a high note, but a big game at Air Force next week looms: Colorado State 45, New Mexico 22.

2. Boise State (8-2, 5-1): Still not far behind Colorado State in the rankings. The Broncos had to rally from first-half deficits in their last two games, but they lead the MW in scoring (37.7 ppg) and they find ways to win games. This week: at Wyoming, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPN2). Boise State is 8-0 all-time against Wyoming, and it will make it 9-0 in a game closer than some may think. Boise State 27, Wyoming 20.

3. Utah State (8-3, 5-1): Can still win the Mountain Division, but needs some help. The Aggies have allowed the fewest points in the MW this season (213), and just keep winning. This week: vs. San Jose State, 7:30 p.m. MT Friday (ESPN2). Perhaps the rest of the country will see why Utah State is one of the best stories in college football as they win their ninth game despite playing their fourth quarterback due to injuries. Utah State 30, San Jose State 14.

4. Air Force (8-2, 4-2): The fourth team from the Mountain Division with eight or more wins, and perhaps one of the more underrated teams in the country. A big test comes this week, but no matter what the Falcons do the rest of the season, the program has bounced back nicely after going 2-10 in 2013. This week: at San Diego State, 7:30 p.m. MT Friday (CBSSN). Should be a low-scoring game between two good defenses. Going with the home team, but not feeling overly confident with that. San Diego State 24, Air Force 21.

5. Nevada (6-4, 3-3): Leaders in the West Division and still the favorite to win that division despite an overtime loss at Air Force last week. Capable of beating any team in the league, but also capable of losing to them all. This week: vs. Fresno State, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNU). The division title is on the line in this one. Going with the home team and senior quarterback Cody Fajardo. Nevada 38, Fresno State 31.

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