For the first time on this platform this season, where are my Mountain West football power rankings heading into this week’s games. The rankings have been running in our four-page wrap that goes around the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang for every Wyoming game. With no game this week for the Cowboys, there is no wrap. But from now on I will post these rankings on the blog — along with my picks for the week.
Here we go.
1. Boise State (2-1 overall, 0-0 MW): The Broncos came back to earth, and fell out of the national rankings, with their 44-21 loss at now 15th-ranked Oklahoma State. Special teams were their demise with two blocked punts. Boise State still has a shot at New Year’s 6 bowl game, but for a team not used to losing, this had to have been a humbling blow.
2. San Diego State (2-1, 0-0): The Aztecs vault back up to near the top of these rankings after their 28-21 home victory over then No. 23 Arizona State. They did it with their typical style — a strong running game and good defense. They also did it with a backup quarterback.
3. Fresno State (2-1, 0-0): The Bulldogs did what they were supposed to do last week — go on the road and easily beat an undermanned UCLA team from the Pac-12. Senior Marcus McMaryion showed why he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the league. All seems right with San Diego State and Fresno State after both lost the previous week.
4. Utah State (2-1, 0-0): The Aggies hung 60 points on New Mexico State and 73 against a bad Tennessee Tech squad in back-to-back home games. This team might just be for real, but beating up on patsies will only get you so far. A home game with Air Force Saturday will tell us a lot more.
5. Hawaii (3-1, 1-0): A road loss at Army isn’t anything to be ashamed of, but this was a game Hawaii could have won. Despite the slight dip in these rankings, the Rainbow Warriors remain the surprise team in the conference.
6. UNLV (2-1, 0-0): Wins over UTEP and Prairie View A&M have the Rebels riding high. They also have a two-headed rushing monster with running back Lexington Thomas and quarterback Armani Rogers. Here’s a stat for you — thanks to UNLV sports information director Mark Wallington: UNLV has defeated consecutive foes by four touchdowns or more for the first time since it went Division I in 1978, and for the first time overall since 1975. UNLV gets a bigger test Saturday at Arkansas State.
7. Wyoming (2-2, 0-0): A come-from-behind home win over FCS foe Wofford may have salvaged the season for the Cowboys after losing two straight to Washington State and Missouri prior to that. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Vander Waal showed some guts and abilities in the rally. This team is beat up physically and has a lot of improvements to make, so a bye week came at a good time.
8. Nevada (2-1, 0-0): A two-point home win over Pac-12 foe Oregon State was what the Wolf Pack needed after being hammered at Vanderbilt the week before. I still think this could be a sneaky-good team in conference play this season.
9. New Mexico (2-1, 0-0): A convincing road win at in-state rival New Mexico State was good for the Lobos, although the Aggies have proven to be no match in their three games with Mountain West teams. Still, New Mexico was without its starting quarterback. A good win to get some confidence back with the squad.
10. Air Force (1-1, 0-0): The Falcons were off last week and searching for some answers at quarterback and on defense. Deep down, I don’t think the Falcons are really 10th out of 12 teams in this league, but for now, until I see more, this is where they are at.
11. Colorado State (1-3, 0-1): The Rams lost by 38 points at Florida last week, and have allowed 41.3 points per game so far this season. The offense has some weapons, but the defense has had no answers for anything thus far. I got to think Colorado State wins at home Saturday over FCS Illinois State.
12. San Jose State (0-3, 0-0): The Spartans scored 22 points at No. 20 Oregon last week, so there is that. And, they only lost by 13 points. Got to crawl before you can walk.
Predicted winners bolded
All times MT
Nevada at Toledo, 10 a.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Illinois State at Colorado State, 1 p.m. (AT&T SportsNet)
UNLV at Arkansas State, 5 p.m. (ESPN3 — online)
Air Force at Utah State, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
Eastern Michigan at San Diego St., 8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Duquesne at Hawaii, 10 p.m. (Spectrum Cable/Stadium)