Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 11

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 11 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (8-1 overall, 4-1 MW): Got to stick with the Rams as they won their league-leading seventh straight game last week at San Jose State. However, senior quarterback Garrett Grayson and sophomore receiver Rashad Higgins got banged up. This week: vs. Hawaii, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNU). The Rams should keep rolling, but keeping Grayson healthy has to be a concern moving forward. Colorado State 33, Hawaii 20.

2. Boise State (6-2, 3-1): One of four bowl eligible teams in the conference, and maybe the best team right now based on its win over Colorado State in Week 2. Since his benching in a loss at Air Force, senior quarterback Grant Hedrick has been on fire. He’s completing 72.5 percent of his passes this season. This week: at New Mexico, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). The Broncos should roll, but the Lobos will put up a fight. Boise State 42, New Mexico 21.

3. Utah State (6-3, 3-1): The Aggies continue to be one of the more amazing stories in of college football. On their fourth different starting quarterback due to injuries, but still winning games. Heck of a program there in Logan, and a heck of a defense that is tops in the MW in rushing defense (90 ypg), turnovers forced (25) and sacks (37). This week: at Wyoming, 6 p.m. MT Friday (ESPN2). Even though the Aggies play on a short week after playing at Hawaii, it’s hard not to pick them. Utah State 24, Wyoming 13.

4. Air Force (6-2, 2-2): Won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy last week against Army. A great comeback story after winning only two games last year. One of the better defenses the Falcons have had in a while. They’ve allowed 96 points in four conference games. This week: at UNLV, 2 p.m. MT Saturday (MW Network — online). Air Force can’t afford a letdown, but it usually handles these games well. Air Force 28, UNLV 20.

5. Nevada (6-3, 3-2): The Wolf Pack’s home win over San Diego State was its biggest of the season — conference-wise — and puts it atop the West Division. Nevada also is the only bowl-eligible team in that division right now, and only one with a winning streak (three). This week: Off.

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UW-Frenso State key to the game; other notes and quotes

Here is WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s top key for the Wyoming football team in tonight’s game at Fresno State, which kicks off at 8:45 p.m. MT at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, California.

Better middle quarters: Wyoming has been outscored 151-62 in the second and third quarters this season. The Cowboys need to play a complete game to have a chance tonight, but they must do a better job in the middle two quarters offensively and defensively.

What do you think, folks? For more keys and more on today’s game, see today’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to

Gagliardi and WyoSports editor Scott Nulph preview with their weekly video blog on tonight’s game:

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UW-Fresno State notes and quotes

Here are some notes and quotes about Wyoming’s football game against No. 17 Fresno State at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

— UW coach Dave Christensen and Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter went against each other as assistant coaches in the Mid-American Conference. Christensen was at Toldeo and DeRuyter at Ohio.

— “They’re averaging over 500 yards a game, and the thing that’s impressive is they’re doing it both in the running game and throwing game. That’s a tough combination.” — DeRuyter of UW’s offense.

— “I think if you’re in good shape, it can be a factor if you allow it to be. If you’re not in good shape, it will kill you. … I think our guys will be fine.” — DeRuyter on playing at 7,220 feet of elevation Saturday.

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Young ready to help UW defense any way he can

Bill Young, Wyoming’s new quality control staff member in football, got to Laramie Sunday and was quickly put to work.

“I was up at 3:45 a.m. (Monday morning) because Jamar is a worker,” Young said with a laugh about interim UW defensive coordinator Jamar Cain.

The uniform combination for Wyoming's home game with Fresno State Saturday, which UW is promoting as a "white out" game. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

The uniform combination for Wyoming’s home game with Fresno State Saturday, which UW is promoting as a “white out” game. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

Part of the reason Young was up that early is because UW practices during the morning hours this season. The long-time defensive coach and defensive coordinator at the college level attended UW’s Monday morning practice.

So what exactly does a quality control staff member do?

First, Young is not a full-time staff member. NCAA rules allow colleges to have nine full-time assistant coaches. Even though UW fired defensive coordinator Chris Tormey last week, it promoted graduate assistant Dwain Crawford to full-time status for the rest of the season to help cornerbacks coach Renaldo Hill with UW’s defensive backs.

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Targeting rule concerns MW coaches

One of the biggest rule changes this year in college football involves targeting, where a player hits a defenseless player.

This could involve a defender hitting a receiver over the middle, a defender hitting a quarterback, and even a running back lowering his head to a defender down field.

MW logoThe NCAA wants to eliminate players using the crown of their helmets leading into hits. They also don’t any defender hitting anyone above the shoulders in a blatant manner.

Most Mountain West coaches like the merits of the rule, but are leery of how it will be called since most of those plays happen so fast. And, they are leery of the punishment.

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UW-Fresno State Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Bryant-Jon Anteola, who covers Fresno State for the Fresno Bee. Look for Q&As with writers who cover the opponents of the University of Wyoming football program every Friday:

What’s the biggest difference in the program with Tim DeRuyter as coach after a long run with Pat Hill? As much as Hill accomplished in his 15 years, especially with raising Fresno State’s profile on the national stage with his tough scheduling philosophy, the program was declining and losing appeal locally toward the end. In comes Tim DeRuyter, essentially this defensive guru and Texas A&M’s defensive coordinator the past two seasons, and he revamped the defense like few could have imagined. Fresno State’s gone from ranking among the five worst programs in the nation in creating turnovers in each of the previous six seasons, and already, with DeRuyter having switched Fresno State’s scheme from a 4-3 to 3-4 base, the Bulldogs are in the top three in turnovers (19 going into this week). DeRuyter also has given Fresno State a makeover offensively, going from a conventional pro-style system now to a no-huddle, spread. The Bulldogs still haven’t accomplished the up-tempo play DeRuyter desires. But Fresno State’s offense is no longer a run-first, oriented system.

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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:

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.