October 4, 2006

MWC recap - Week 5


Mountain West breakdown for Week 3

Air Force 24, New Mexico 7





The Falcons (2-1, 2-0) pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points in the first three minutes of the stanza. Air Force whittled away New Mexico

(2-3, 0-1) on the ground, running the ball 62 times for 262 yards. They only attempted six passes, and had a whopping 19 yards passing. The Lobos couldn't

get much going offensively aside from a 58-yard touchdown pass from Chris Nelson to Rodney Ferguson in the second quarter. The Lobos had 41

yards on the ground.


What this means for the Utes: It means the Falcons, who were predicted to be in down year, are going to be a big pain in the conference race again,

and competition for a bowl bid down the road. The Utes head to Colorado Springs late in the season, the week after the Falcons host Notre Dame. So they might

be able to catch Air Force in a bit of a lull. But who knows, that's a ways away. New Mexico is an enigma so far.


BYU 31, TCU 17





John Beck and the Cougs (3-2, 1-0) finally won the big one. After all the grousing about TCU (3-1, 0-1) having a bye and the Cougars having a short

week, Beck's inability to walk, etc., BYU just came out and worked the Horned Frogs on the road. They put away TCU when it counted, with 14 points in the

fourth quarter to stretch their lead to 31-10, something BYU has not done for the last couple of years in the tight contests.


What this means for the Utes: Well, it means Cougar fans aren't going to shut up until Utah beats them. It also means that TCU is now only a loss to

the Utes away from being essentially out of the MWC race. So if Utah can take care of business (a huge if after Saturday) it could be the Utes and Cougars

battling for the conference crown in November.


Colorado State 35, Fresno State 23




It's hard to tell how they are doing it, but the Rams (3-1, 0-0) continue to win, with Saturday's convincing road victory their best performance yet. Fresno

State (1-3) doesn't have a gaudy record, but with very close losses to Oregon and Washington, they aren't a bad squad. CSU came in and took the game over,

with a late blocked punt for a TD helping the Bulldogs keep the score looking respectable. Caleb Hanie had his best game of the year, completing

15-of-23 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns. The big negative for CSU continues to be the running game. They only had 54 yards on the ground on

Saturday, averaging 1.2 yards per carry.


What this means for the Utes: The Rams are a squad that could pose problems for the Utes. They have some big play threats, like receiver Damon Morton,

and Hanie is a very capable passer. The yearly game will be at Rice-Eccles, but it is now obvious that CSU can go into a hostile environment and thrive.



San Jose State 31, SDSU 10




Looks like it will be a long season for Chuck and the boys on the Mesa. The Aztecs (0-4, 0-1) were outscored 17-0 in the second half, as the upstart Spartans

put on the rout. The news only got worse as the game went on, as SDSU lost another quarterback to injury, this time Darren Mougey to a dislocated

shoulder. That means freshman Kevin Craft is now the man. He went 3-for-7 for seven yards and an interception. When you are down to your third

string quarterback-who just happens to be the son of the recently-fired ex-head coach-four games into the season, you can probably kiss a bowl bid goodbye.


What this means for the Utes: Utah has already had their fill of Aztec meat, but at least they know they can tuck SDSU to the back of teams they have

to worry about in the conference race.



Nevada 31, UNLV 3




UNLV could barely muster a point in their home rivalry game, as Nevada's Brandon Fragger rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Nevada (3-2) is

red-hot, but the Rebels (1-3, 0-0) are supposed to be the better program, and had some high hopes heading into 2006. Rocky Hinds was picked off twice by the

Wolfpack, as the highly touted transfer continues to struggle. He was sacked five times, and couldn't get free to use his excellent scrambling ability.

Sophomore Rebel running back David Peeples ran for 106 yards on 15 carries, so while the team is struggling now, Peeples and fellow-sophomore Hinds

provide a nice foundation.


What this means to the Utes: A nice foundation won't help the Rebs out much this season. They should give Utah a nice breather in late October before

the Utes finish the season with a tough CSU, @ Air Force, BYU stretch.



Syracuse 40, Wyoming 34, 2OT




Another week, another confounding close loss for the Cowboys. Wyoming (1-4, 0-1) outgained the Orange (3-2) 522-276 and had double the first downs, but left

the Carrier Dome with a loss. Wyoming has now lost four in a row, all by a touchdown or less. Jacob Doss was replaced at quarterback by Karsten

Sween in the second half. The freshman threw for two touchdowns and looked like a solid young player. With four losses already, it might be a good plan

to let the youngster play.


What this means for the Utes: After four devastating losses, the Cowboys could quite possibly crumble as the season hits the backstretch. The Utes

travel to Laramie in two weeks, where they will face either a desperate or a downtrodden Cowboy team. Hopefully for them it's the latter. But remember, the

Cowboys nearly beat the same Boise State team that creamed the Utes.


Boise State 36, Utah 3




The Utes (3-2, 1-0 MWC) had their worst home loss in 17 years, as the Broncos (5-0) thoroughly dominated at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The biggest reason why the

score was so lopsided was the ineptitude of Utah's quarterbacks. Combined, Brett Ratliff and Tommy Grady were intercepted four times, while

only completing eight passes between them. There wasn't much positive to take from this game, unless perhaps you took odds on Kevin Dunn starting at

quarterback sometime this season.


What this means for the Utes: It means they are 1-0 in conference, with a chance to get a big hurdle out of the way on Thursday when TCU comes

calling. If Utah can keep that mentality and forget about the BSU game like they did the UCLA game, there is still a good chance they will have a nice

season.



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