Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 9

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 9 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (6-1 overall, 2-1 MW): The Rams remain at the top having won five in a row. They are second in the MW in scoring offense (31 ppg) and scoring defense (21.4 ppg). Once again, the most complete team in the league right now. This week: vs. Wyoming, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (ROOT). The Rams should keep rolling in the 106th Border War. Colorado State 38, Wyoming 20.

2. Boise State (5-2, 3-1): The Broncos are ahead of the Rams in the Mountain Division by a half-game, and based on their win over CSU back in early September. Boise State has the league’s best offense in terms of scoring (32 ppg) and yards (485 ypg). The team also is about as healthy physically since the start of the season, so look out. This week: vs. Brigham Young, 7 p.m. MT Friday (ESPN). Boise State is 42-12 in non-Saturday games and 21-5 on Fridays. Boise State 34, BYU 17.

3. San Diego State (4-3, 2-1): The Aztecs move up two spots because they seem to have found their identity — give the football to sophomore running back Donnel Pumphrey and play good defense. The Aztecs are the only team in the league that allows fewer than 20 points per game (18.7) and Pumphrey is seventh nationally in rushing (141.3 ypg). This week: Off.

4. Utah State (4-3, 1-1): A drop of two spots after a narrow 16-13 loss at Colorado State. The Aggies lost another quarterback in Darrel Garretson, and now are down to their No. 3 guy. But the defense continues to shine and there are enough good players on the team where the quarterback won’t have to do too much … at least not this week. This week: vs. UNLV, 2 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNews). The Aggies will ride their defense and get a handful of plays from the offense to win. Utah State 27, UNLV 13.

5. Air Force (5-2, 2-2): A narrow home win over New Mexico last week was closer than many expected, but a win is a win. The defense continues to play well. Just a solid team that no one will want to play down the stretch. This week: Off.

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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 8

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 8 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (5-1 overall, 1-1 MW): The Rams keep rolling. They have the league’s longest winning streak at four, and are coming off a nice road win at Nevada last week. Colorado State leads the MW in scoring (33.5 ppg) and is second in scoring defense (22.8 ppg). Right now, the most complete team in the conference. This week: vs. Utah State, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). The two best teams — at least this week — in the MW face off. Going with the home team in one of the better games this season. Colorado State 33, Utah State 28.

2. Utah State (4-2, 1-0): The Aggies seem to have their swagger back after the season-ending knee injury to senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Sophomore Darell Garretson is making fans forget about Keeton, and sophomore Nick Vigil continues to play both linebacker and running back — and is good at both. This week: at Colorado State, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). The Aggies are more than capable of winning, but I’m going with the hot team at home. Colorado State 33, Utah State 28.

3. Boise State (4-2, 2-1): The Broncos move up one spot despite being off last week. There isn’t much of a gap between the top four teams in this week’s power rankings. The team will have to do without senior wide receiver Matt Miller (ankle) the rest of the season, which is a big blow. This week: vs. Fresno State, 6 p.m. MT Friday (ESPN). This looked like one of the games of the year before the season started, but now it’s just one the Broncos win fairly easily. Boise State 38, Fresno State 21.

4. Air Force (4-2, 1-2): The loss at Utah State wasn’t a big surprise last week, but the 34-16 margin was a bit of an eye-opener. Still couldn’t drop the Falcons too far this week based on the inconsistent play of the teams in the West Division. This week: vs. New Mexico, 1:30 p.m. MT Saturday (ROOT). Air Force should rebound in a big way in a game where both teams want to run the ball. Air Force 40, New Mexico 23.

5. San Diego State (3-3, 2-1): The Aztecs allow a MW-low 20.2 points per game, and have the nation’s ninth-leading rusher in sophomore Donnel Pumphrey (134.5 ypg). If the team can stabilize its quarterback situation, look out. This week: vs. Hawaii, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). Look for the Aztecs to notch another win thanks to their defense and Pumphrey. San Diego State 27, Hawaii 13.

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Lewis says he’s ready for larger role if needed for Cowboys

If the news is what the Wyoming football team expects, sophomore Xavier Lewis said he’s ready to step up his game.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said Monday it is doubtful senior free safety and co-captain Darrenn White will return this season after a knee injury late in the first half in the Cowboys’ 38-28 loss at Hawaii last Saturday night.

Xavier Lewis

Xavier Lewis

UW is still waiting for results on a MRI on White, but it is not optimistic about White’s return. If that’s the case, it is Lewis’ chance to be the guy to play the position that is often like the quarterback on offense in terms of getting the defensive calls and making sure other guys in the secondary are lined up correctly.

“I feel very comfortable with the defense,” Lewis said Monday. “We’ve been repping it heavy since spring ball. We go over our fits over and over. There may be a few slip ups here and there, but as a defense I know it pretty well. I’m excited to help conduct it now.

For more on Lewis, other options UW may look at at free safety and the possible return of a veteran player at strong safety, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Bohl held his weekly news conference with the media Monday. Here is most of that via video:

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Numbers aren’t pretty for Cowboys at midway point of season

For those who stayed up and watched Wyoming’s 38-28 loss at Hawaii, I commend you.

For all the coverage from the game, go to wyosports.net.

No need to rehash a lot of the bad from that game, which saw the Cowboys give up 513 yards of total offense and be outscored 28-7 in the second half.

At the midway point of the season, UW is 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the Mountain West. If certain numbers don’t improve, the Cowboys will be hard-pressed to win many more games in the second half of the season.

The Cowboys are tied for 120th in sacks with four in six games. San Jose State, Kent State and Navy are the only teams with fewer sacks than UW. Three of UW’s four sacks are by its linebackers. One is by a defensive lineman — senior defensive tackle Patrick Mertens — and none by the defensive ends.

UW also allows 31 points, 202.3 rushing yards and 421.3 total yards per game, and teams have converted 49.5 percent of their third downs. All areas that need to improve, but will they? First-year coach Craig Bohl said after the Hawaii game there is plenty to improve upon, but can the Cowboys do it?

Offensively, UW needed to play its sixth game to score more than 20 points in a game, and one of its four touchdowns against Hawaii was scored by the defense. Its 18.3 points per game is 116th in the country.

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UW-Hawaii key to the game; other notes and quotes

Here is WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s top key to the game for the Wyoming Cowboys in their game tonight at Hawaii, which kicks off at 10 p.m. MT at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

Offensive line: Wyoming will be using its third different starting lineup in as many games along the offensive line, including a true freshman at left tackle in Ryan Cummings. That group has to play well, and the Cowboys need to do a good job of play-calling to give the offense a chance to be successful. Pass protection will likely be the biggest concern, or key, for the line tonight.

Do you agree, disagree or think Gagliardi is completely off his rocker?

Here is Gagliardi and WyoSports editor Scott Nulph previewing today’s game with Hawaii:


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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 7

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 7 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (4-1 overall, 0-1 MW): The Rams are tied for the longest winning streak in the MW at three, and concluded their nonconference schedule with a 42-17 pasting of Tulsa last week. CSU is one of the more well-rounded teams so far in the league, and also does a good job of flipping field position — leading the MW in net punting (41.9 yards per punt). This week: at Nevada, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). It’s all MW play from here on out for the Rams, and a tricky road game at Nevada will see how well-rounded this team is. Going to go with the Rams in this one. Colorado State 34, Nevada 26.

2. Air Force (4-1, 1-1): The Falcons haven’t lost since at Sept. 6 setback at Wyoming, and also have won three straight. Air Force’s defense has been the biggest surprise this season, as it allows just 116 rushing yards per game, and has allowed the fewest points in the MW (106). This week: at Utah State, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNU). Air Force already owns a conference win over Boise State, but let’s see what it can do on the road against — all of a sudden — a much improved Utah State squad. I am going to go with the home team in this one. Utah State 27, Air Force 23.

3. Utah State (3-2, 0-0): A big jump up for the Aggies after they dismantled No. 18 BYU on the road last week. A game like that could be the one that starts a big run for the Aggies. And, how about going a little old school with sophomore Nick Vigil playing both ways at running back and linebacker? This week: vs. Air Force, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNU). Will the Aggies still be up after the big win over BYU or will there be an emotional letdown? Going with the first scenario. Utah State 27, Air Force 23.

4. Boise State (4-2, 2-1): A crazy 51-46 win at Nevada last week showed the Broncos are still formidable and dangerous. When the Broncos don’t turn it over they can beat anyone. Kind of a simplistic statement, but Boise State is just one of a handful of good and intriguing teams in the Mountain Division moving forward. This week: Off.

5. Fresno State (3-3, 2-0): After a rough start, the Bulldogs have won two straight and are 2-0 in league play. I don’t think they are as good as past years, but in a year like this you don’t have to be spectacular to be solid in the MW. This week: at UNLV, 8 p.m. MT Friday (CBSSN). Fresno State should make it three straight wins against the worst team in the conference. Fresno State 38, UNLV 13.

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VIDEO: WyoSports previews Wyoming-Hawaii football

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi and editor Scott Nulph preview the University of Wyoming’s football game at Hawaii Saturday.

UW (3-2 overall, 1-0 Mountain West) play at Hawaii (1-4, 0-0) for the first time since 1997. Kickoff is at 10 p.m. MT and the game will be televised on ROOT Sports.

For more on UW football and UW sports, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and check back to wyosports.net.

Cowboys put bye week to good use

There may not have been a game, but that doesn’t mean the Wyoming football team didn’t get a lot of work done last week.

Yes, the Cowboys used the bye week for some guys to rest and recover mentally and physically from their first five games. But the team practiced four times, including a Saturday afternoon practice after the coaches returned from recruiting.

“It was definitely a work week,” junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough said. “(This coaching staff) do their bye weeks a lot different than other programs. They let us get our bodies back, but we also grinded because we have a game with Hawaii coming up.”

First-year coach Craig Bohl said he felt it was important to practice and keep the players’ focus on football because everything is still new in terms of offense, defense and special teams. Bohl felt if the players got too much time off that it would be a lot like starting from scratch in terms of getting them back to the task at hand, which is getting better and preparing for Saturday’s game at Hawaii.

“It was a lot like game-mode,” offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said.

Here is video from Bohl’s news conference with the media Monday:


Added junior running back Shaun Wick: “It was definitely a hard bye week. We got a lot done in the weight room. Practice-wise, it was just hard. It was a grind, even though we did get time for recovery and maintaining strength.”

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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 6

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of his Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 6 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Nevada (3-1 overall, 1-0 MW): The Wolf Pack didn’t jump from No. 2 to No. 1 just because of its 21-10 road win at San Jose State, but it also has allowed the fewest points of any MW team this season (77). Throw in dual-threat quarterback Cody Fajardo and, at least right now, Nevada is at the top. This week: vs. Boise State, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). We should see how good Nevada is this week. Boise State is will be mad and motivated after a road loss at Air Force. Going to go with the road team in a close one. Boise State 24, Nevada 21.

2. Colorado State (3-1, 0-1): An impressive 24-21 win at Boston College last week. The Rams lead the conference in total offense (492 ypg) and are second in scoring (32 ppg). A couple of key starters a banged up this week — including quarterback Garrett Grayson, but it won’t matter much this week. This week: vs. Tulsa, 1 p.m. MT Saturday (MW Network — online only). The Rams’ impressive offensive numbers should climb and they will win their third straight game. Colorado State 38, Tulsa 16.

3. Air Force (3-1, 1-1): One of the biggest moves up this week. Not many saw the Falcons’ 28-14 home win over Boise State coming. Air Force leads the MW in scoring (33.2 ppg) and is third in scoring defense (21.2 ppg). Maybe the biggest surprise is it is seventh nationally in rushing defense (82.2 ypg). This week: vs. Navy, 1:30 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). This game should decide the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy winner this year. Again, going with the road team here in a close one. Navy 27, Air Force 23.

4. San Diego State (2-2, 1-0): An expected 34-17 home win over UNLV last week, but let’s see if the Aztecs can go on the road this week in league play and win. SDSU also will start a true freshman quarterback in Nick Bawden. Its stay in the top four may not last long — or could it? This week: at Fresno State, 8 p.m. MT Friday (CBSSN). For some reason I like road teams this week. I think the Aztecs will play good enough defense to make Fresno throw the ball more, which is not a good thing. San Diego State 28, Fresno State 20.

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