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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Mountain West football power rankings and picks – Week 1

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his first weekly installment of his Mountain West football power rankings and picks for the Week 1 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Utah State: The defending Mountain Division champs get senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton back from a knee injury, and it may be a stretch to put the Aggies this high not knowing how good Keeton will be. But there is a proven backup behind him and a lot of good players on defense. This week: at Tennessee, 5 p.m. MT, Sunday (SEC Network). Of all the MW teams playing big-time programs this week, Utah State may have the best chance to win. But I am still going with the Vols in a close one. Tennessee 27, Utah State 24.

2. Fresno State: Not only do the Bulldogs have to replace quarterback Derek Carr, but they also lost some really good receivers. Still, there are players in the pipeline that can fill the void. This team will still be good. This week: at USC 5:30 p.m. MT, Saturday (FOX). Even with Carr and Co., Fresno State was blown out by USC in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl. USC has a new coach and has a mess on its hands with the Josh Shaw saga, but it still has enough to win. USC 31, Fresno State 20.

3. Boise State: The Bryan Harsin era begins, and one has to wonder if the Broncos will remain among the MW’s powers. They will, thanks to Harsin’s new wrinkles and what was built by former coach Chris Petersen. There are too many good players on that roster not to. This week: vs. Ole Miss, 6 p.m. MT Thursday (ESPN). The Broncos will go to Atlanta and pick up the league’s best win over a nonconference foe. Boise State 30, Ole Miss 23.

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UW-Hawaii notes and quotes

Here are some tidbits for Saturday’s football game between Wyoming and Hawaii at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at noon.

–UW (4-6 overall, 2-4 MW) is on a four-game losing streak, which is tied for the second-longest in coach Dave Christensen’s five seasons. The longest is six back in 2010. UW also had a four-game slide last season.

The new Paniolo Trophy awarded to the winner of the Wyoming-Hawaii football game.

The new Paniolo Trophy awarded to the winner of the Wyoming-Hawaii football game.

–The winner will receive a replica of the Paniolo Trophy. The old trophy was lost after the series between the two schools ended after the 1997 season. But a new trophy was constructed. UW leads the series 12-8 and has won five straight. Hawaii is 3-5 in Laramie, with its last win in 1991.

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UW-Hawaii Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Stephen Tsai, who covers Hawaii football for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about Saturday’s with the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Follow on Twitter: @StephenTsai

Look for Q&As with beat writers that cover UW football opponents every week throughout the season.

Even though Hawaii is 0-10 it has been competitive in a lot of games. Is its record indicative of how the team has played — at least at times — this season?

Injuries, inexperience and inconsistency have added up to Hawaii being one of five winless FBS teams this year. Misfortune began during the summer, when running back Joey Iosefa suffered a fracture in his left foot while training. He was limited to two carries in the first eight games. Taylor Graham, the No. 1 quarterback the first three games, suffered an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder, ceding the job temporarily and then permanently to Sean Schroeder. The Rainbow Warriors have had close games – they rallied from a 42-3 deficit against Fresno State and held late leads against UNLV and San Diego State – but have had trouble finishing.

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MW football power rankings

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi rates all 10 Mountain West football and why. Look for his ratings on a weekly basis as the season continues.

1. Fresno State (8-3 overall, 6-1 MW): Remains a solid No. 1 this week after a 52-36 win at Nevada last week. Junior quarterback Derek Carr leads the league with 3,290 yards and 32 touchdowns. The defense has recorded at least one interception in nine straight games, and has forced the most turnovers in the league (30).

2. San Diego State (8-3, 6-1): The Aztecs remain ahead of Boise State this week based on their win in Boise and their impressive 28-9 home win over Air Force last week. Coach Rocky Long’s defense continues to improve, especially up front. San Diego State is off this week and ends the regular season at Wyoming next week.

3. Boise State (8-2, 5-1): The Broncos are still the only ranked team in the conference, and there’s not a big difference between the top three teams in the conference. The regular-season finale at Nevada could be tricky. Special teams and a lack of offensive production has the Broncos down a notch or two from the past.

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Ranking the MW football coaches

The Sporting News recently ranked the 10 Mountain West football coaches. Here’s the link to the rankings:

http://aol.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/story/2012-05-03/college-football-coach-rankings-mountain-west-chris-petersen-chris-ault-troy-cal

What do you think?

If it were me I would have the same top four, although I would have swapped Air Force’s Troy Calhoun and Nevada’s Chris Ault at 2 and 3. But I see why Ault was second. He’s been there a long time and won a lot of games. But Calhoun has done nothing but win

I think Wyoming’s Dave Christensen is on the rise, and will continue to be if he consistently produces winning seasons and bowl games.

No. 5 is a little high for Colorado State’s Jim McElwain simply because he’s not been a head coach before. Not saying he’s a bad coach, but it’s different being the head man and CSU in not Alabama. I would have bumped San Diego State’s Rocky Long to No. 5 and put McElwain at No. 6, or even put New Mexico’s Bob Davie at No. 6 or No. 7.

Hawaii’s Norm Chow has been around for a long time, but like McElwain, has never been a head coach. No. 7 may be a bit high for him right now.

I also think Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter could move up the list fast. Another guy who is a head coach for the first time, but he knows his stuff and has been in the MW before with Air Force. If Frenso State stays healthy and adapts to his staff’s new systems, watch out for the Bulldogs.

Fun topic to talk about. Would love to hear what you think.

MW football news and notes

The Mountain West held a teleconference with its 10 football coaches Tuesday to talk about spring football and the upcoming season. For my story on that, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang.

Here are a few things that didn’t make my story:

–Air Force returned this week from a trip to the White House to receive the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. It’s the second straight year and trip for the Falcons.

–Nevada coach Chris Ault enters his 27th year at the school, and has always called the plays and coached the quarterbacks. But this year he brought in former Nick Rolovich to coach the quarterbacks an impliment more of a run-and-shoot aspect to the Wolf Pack’s Pistol offense. Ault said one Rolovich, who was a quarterback at Hawaii, gets comfortable calling plays, he will hand that duty off to him.

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