UW at San Diego State football: Notes, quotes and video

My top key for Wyoming Saturday at San Diego State; kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. MT at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

Good start: Something Wyoming hasn’t done much of this season. During their three-game losing streak the Cowboys have fallen behind 17-0 after the first quarter twice, and allowed 48 points in the first quarter in all three contests. UW needs to play its best game from start to finish to have a chance to win, but another poor start will lead to yet another double-digit loss. By the way, all of the Cowboys’ nine losses this season have been by double digits.

More keys and more preview stuff right here:

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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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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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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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MW Football Media Day notes and thoughts

The 16th Mountain West Football Media Day concluded Wednesday here at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, Wyoming and the other five teams from the Mountain Division did their interviews. Wednesday were the six teams in the West Division.

First, some more notes on Wyoming after the story I wrote on senior receiver Dominic Rufran and junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough. Here is the link to that story:

–Senior defensive end Sonny Puletasi was named to the inaugural Polynesian Award watch list by ESPN Big 12. Puletasi had 47 tackles last season, and tied for second on the team in tackles for loss (10) and sacks (4.5).

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Final MW football power rankings

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi gives his final power rankings for Mountain West football in 2012:

1. Fresno State (9-3 overall, 7-1 MW): As stated numerous times this season, this is the most complete team in the conference. That was evident in the all-conference selections as junior quarterback David Carr was the Offensive Player of the Year, senior safety Phillip Tomas was the Defensive Player of the Year and receiver Davante Adams was the Freshman of the Year. In all, the team had a league-high first team all-conference players. The Bulldogs were the highest scoring team in the MW (40.2 ppg), was second in scoring defense (22.2 ppg) and intercepted the most passes (20). Despite a 10-point loss at Boise State, the nod goes to the Bulldogs as the top team in the league this year.

2. Boise State (10-2, 7-1): Head-to-head play doesn’t mean much in these rankings (you can weigh in on that if you want) because San Diego State won at Boise State this season. The Broncos have been nationally ranked all season. Their strength was on defense as they finished in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense (14.9 ppg), total defense (304.7 ypg) and in turnover margin (+18). The offense was OK, and improved as the season went on.

3. San Diego State (9-3, 7-1): Not a lot of separation with these first three teams. The Aztecs won their final seven games of the season, and did it mostly with a powerful run game. What’s even more impressive is San Diego State did a lot of its work with sophomore backup quarterback Adam Dingwell after senior starter Ryan Katz suffered a season-ending leg injury in the eighth game. Coach Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense improved as the season went on, thanks in large part to the play up front. That enabled Long to be named the MW Coach of the Year.

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MW football power ratings

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi rates all 10 Mountain West football and why.

1. Fresno State (8-3 overall, 6-1 MW): The Bulldogs remain at the top and end the regular season with a home game with Air Force Saturday. As stated before, this is the most complete team on both sides of the ball in the conference this season — and the most athletic from top to bottom.

2. San Diego State (8-3, 6-1): Has the longest winning streak in the MW at six, and like Fresno State was off last week. After a 2-3 start the biggest turnaround for the Aztecs has been the play of both their offensive and defensive lines. San Diego State has not won a conference title since 1998, when it won the Pacific Division title in the WAC.

3. Boise State (8-3, 6-1): The Broncos are still ranked in most polls, but I can’t put them ahead of San Diego State based on their home loss to the Aztecs a few weeks ago. Boise State has allowed a league-low 158 points. The next lowest is 252 by Fresno State. Both of its losses were by a combined six points. This is still a very good team, despite where it is in these rankings.

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UW-UNLV Q&A swap

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer swap with Mark Anderson, who covers UNLV football for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Anderson answers five questions Gagliardi gave him about UNLV, and then Gagliardi answers five questions Anderson had about Wyoming.

Look for Q&As with writers who cover the opponents of the University of Wyoming football program every Friday.

Question: This will be UNLV’s final home game but will it be the final home game for coach Bobby Hauck, who is 6-30 in nearly three full seasons?

Answer: No, Bobby Hauck will return next season. Athletic director Jim Livengood said two weeks ago he had seen enough progress, despite the record, that warrants sticking with Hauck.

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MW 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. No. 19 Boise State (7-1, 4-0): The Broncos continue to be the best defensive team in the MW, and the offense isn’t bad, either. They’ve  made it look easy the last two weeks against UNLV and Wyoming. But they’ll be tested Saturday against San Diego State in Boise. The Broncos have won seven straight since a season-opening loss at Michigan State.

2. Fresno State (6-3, 4-1): The Bulldogs trailed New Mexico 21-0 last week, but came back and won 49-32. This is the most explosive team in the league both offensively and defensively. I don’t see them losing any of their last three games against Hawaii, Nevada and Air Force.

3. San Diego State (6-3, 4-1): The Aztecs have won four in a row and seem to be getting better defensively. We will see how good and how far the team has come when it plays at Boise State Saturday. San Diego State must play the rest of the season with backup quarterback Adam Dingwell.

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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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