2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 11, Mountain West
Mountain West Fearless Predictions &
- FREE EXPERT COLLEGE FOOTBALL SELECTIONS
- Get Tickets For This Game
Game Preview TCU at Boise State
Nov. 12 Wyoming 25 … at Air Force 17
(AP) AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Brett Smith wasn't about to let a whipping wind get in the way of a much-needed win.
Wyoming's freshman quarterback ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, lifting the Cowboys to a 25-17 victory over Air Force in a howling wind that gusted to 60 mph Saturday.
"Was it 60? That's it?" Smith said. "I swear I've never played in something like that."
It didn't show. The more it gusted, the better he got.
Smith finished with 75 yards rushing and threw for another 139 as the Cowboys (6-3, 3-1 Mountain West) snapped a five-game skid against the Falcons (5-5, 1-4), who lost starting quarterback Tim Jefferson to a concussion in the first quarter.
"After what happened last week, I wanted to try to win this for the seniors," Smith said.
Smith had the Cowboys on the verge of an upset against TCU last weekend, before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter after taking a hard hit. That ate at him all week.
"I try to make it a point to never come out of a game," Smith said. "I was upset, felt like I let the team down. ... I was happy to come back."
Even if the wind did at times confound him.
"I wanted to get acclimated to it in warm-ups as best as I could, because it was crazy," Smith said. "I've never played in that."
It was so blustery at Falcon Stadium that the goal posts were teetering, tents in the parking lot were toppled and the traditional fighter jet flyover was scrubbed.
The wind also affected the kicking game, as Wyoming's Daniel Sullivan missed an early extra point when the wind took it wide right and Air Force punter David Baska had a kick travel just 12 yards.
Trailing 17-12 early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys went on a 16-play drive that ended with Smith's 2-yard TD run. He had kept the drive going by hitting Mazi Ogbonna over the middle to convert a big fourth-and-10.
Given the wind, Wyoming decided against the extra-point attempt and went for a 2-point conversion. But Smith's pass attempt failed, making it 18-17.
The Falcons drove deep into Wyoming territory, but Mike DeWitt's fumble was recovered by Mike Purcell with 1:47 remaining. Air Force got the ball back by spending all of its timeouts and forcing Wyoming to punt. The Falcons moved the ball to the Wyoming 34 in the closing minute only to be pushed back by an intentional grounding penalty.
On fourth down, Brandon Hirneise caught a pass and tried to lateral it to a teammate. The ball bounced around the turf before defensive back Marqueston Huff scooped it up raced 48 yards for a score.
Huff also had an interception on Air Force's final offensive play, a last-ditch attempt down the sideline.
Although the Cowboys won their sixth game, they aren't bowl eligible yet because two of their wins are against Football Championship Subdivision teams. Wyoming will host New Mexico next weekend.
"Was it big? Yeah, (the win) was huge," Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. "We turned the ball over a couple times and gave away some opportunities to score some points, but in the end, our kids won the turnover battle and found a way to win the football game."
Backup Connor Dietz did an effective job of leading Air Force in place of Jefferson. Dietz topped the Falcons in rushing with 85 yards, but only attempted five passes -- completing two for minus-1 yard -- in the gusting wind.
Asher Clark ran for 84 yards, while DeWitt scored twice.
"It's very disappointing, and I take full blame in the loss," said Dietz, whose team had four turnovers in the second half. "We've just got to be better with the ball."
The Falcons have been to four straight bowls under coach Troy Calhoun, a streak that's now in jeopardy. The Falcons have two wins over FCS teams, so they need to beat UNLV next weekend and Colorado State on the road to extend their bowl run.
"I hope we step up," linebacker Alex Means said. "This is must-win, and if we lose, we go home. If we want a bowl game, it's go time. There's no more fooling around. This is a serious time."
Neither team mustered much offense in the first half, with the Falcons only passing once in the opening 30 minutes.
The Cowboys were more willing to put it in the air, with Smith completing 12 of 20 passes for 90 yards. He found receiver Chris McNeill for a 6-yard score with 26 seconds left before halftime to put the Cowboys up, 12-7.
McNeill would later leave the game with a season-ending left arm injury.
Wyoming took the opening drive and methodically marched down the field and scored on Smith's 1-yard plunge. Sullivan's point-after attempt into the teeth of the wind was pushed wide right.
Air Force answered with an impressive drive of its own, moving the ball to the Wyoming 1 before Jefferson was stuffed on fourth down. He was hurt on the play and spent the rest of the game on the sideline.
Dietz entered on the next possession and took the Falcons down the field in a drive that culminated in Dewitt's 9-yard TD run. Parker Herrington made the extra point through the wobbly goal posts to give the Falcons a 7-6 lead.
Former Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry was honored in a halftime ceremony commemorating his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame next month.
He coached the Falcons from 1984 to 2006, winning a school-best 169 games.
Lately, DeBerry's former team has been in the news as a possible fit for the Big East Conference.
"The only constant thing in football right now is change," DeBerry said. "It seems that the almighty dollar dictates a lot of what is being done and the considerations that are being made."
Wyoming (5-3) at Air Force (5-4) Nov. 12, 2:00, mtn.
Here’s The Deal … Is Wyoming in the hunt for the Mountain West title? It suffered a loss to TCU last week, but it’s coming up with one of the surprise seasons in college football with five wins and with New Mexico up next week to all but assure a bowl bid. The offense has been shockingly solid and the defense, while spotty, has had just enough moments to get by. Now it’s in the hunt to break a four-game losing streak to an Air Force team that’s been as disappointing as Wyoming has been impressive.
It’s not that Air Force has been bad, and it’s coming off two straight wins over Army and New Mexico, but it hasn’t been a challenger for the Mountain West title like it should’ve been. The defense has picked it up over the last few games, but it hasn’t been a positive and the offense hasn’t been the normal killer on the ground it usually is. It’s all relative, averaging 310 yards per game running, but it’s time to close out strong and make the season something positive record-wise. With UNLV and Colorado State to finish, this is the layup line of the slate and the Falcons need to take advantage. A nine-win season is a success no matter how it happen, and Air Force can get there.
Why Wyoming Might Win: The Air Force run defense continues to be a problem with a line that can’t get into the backfield and isn’t doing anything behind the line. 119th in the nation in tackles for loss, and with just 12 sacks, the defensive front isn’t doing nearly enough to be disruptive. Army ran for 340 yards last week, and while the Knights only attempted two passes, it was the fourth game in the last five without a sack. Wyoming is tremendous in pass protection this year and shouldn’t let quarterback Brett Smith get touched.
Why Air Force Might Win: The Air Force run defense might be a problem, but the stats make things look a bit worse than they are after playing Army and Navy. Wyoming’s run defense has been miserable, and stat-wise, it has the break of getting a ton of sacks to take down the total. Anyone who can run the ball effectively has been able to roll without a problem, including TCU, who tore off 390 yards and four scores last week making it the fourth time in five games the Cowboys have run for 292 yards or more. Air Force leads the Mountain West and is fourth in the nation in rushing. It’s going to be another 300+ yard day allowed by the UW run defense, guaranteed.
What To Watch Out For: Air Force senior linebacker has been a tackling machine. He made 23 stop against Navy several weeks ago, and over the last four games he cranked out 47 stops with 14 last week against Army. He has taken a shine to a bigger role this year, and while he’s not getting into the backfield and he doesn’t come up with a ton of big plays, he makes all the average ones and has been the star against the run.
Also stepping up his game is Wyoming safety Luke Ruff, who went from being a decent reserve last year to a tackling machine with 11 last week against TCU and ten against UNLV. He’s not doing enough against the pass – he doesn’t have a pick and he has just two broken up passes – but he should be a lock for at least 12 stops against the Air Force ground game.
What Will Happen: Air Force will control the game and the clock with its running game – which isn’t a lock like it should be this year. Wyoming has the offense to keep up the pace, but the defensive front is about to get gouged. Badly.
CFN Prediction: Air Force 34 … Wyoming 23
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Air Force -15.5 O/U: 60.5
Nov. 12 San Diego State 18 … at Colorado State 15
(AP) FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Abelardo Perez kicked a 37-yard field goal with 5:49 left and Ryan Lindley threw for 154 yards and a touchdown on a record-setting night as San Diego State defeated Colorado State 18-15 Saturday night.
Lindley improved to 11,494 career passing yards to pass former BYU quarterback Max Hall's 11,365 for the Mountain West Conference record and Todd Santos' 11,425 for the San Diego State mark.
Ronnie Hillman, the nation's second-leading rusher, ran for 80 yards on 24 carries for San Diego State (6-3, 3-2 Mountain West). But Colorado State's Chris Nwoke had better numbers, rushing 22 times for 232 yards and a touchdown.
Colorado State (3-6, 1-3) lost quarterback Pete Thomas to a strained left knee early in the second quarter. The Rams have lost five straight.
The game was tied 15-15 before Perez, who had missed from 22 and 44 yards earlier, was right down the middle.
San Diego State (5-3) at Colorado State (3-5) Nov. 12, 6:00, mtn.
Here’s The Deal … San Diego State has one more week before it finally gets it’s showcase moment of the season. After the inexplicable home gaffe to Wyoming, making it three losses in four weeks, the Aztecs made the putt beating New Mexico 35-7 to potentially turn things back around. Now it’s time to get bowl eligible before dealing with Boise State at home, with the college football world possibly watching, and then come the layups against UNLV and Fresno State to close out. The offense has been solid, the defense has been strong, and the team has kept on rolling after Brady Hoke left for Michigan, but consistency has been a bit of a problem.
Colorado State has been a disappointment since starting out the year winning three of the first four games, losing four straight including a must-win date at UNLV last week. A team good enough to be challenging for a bowl game doesn’t lose at home to San Jose State and doesn’t lose to UTEP and UNLV in back-to-back weeks, but if the Rams can come up with the upset at home, it’ll still have a shot to get a 13th game. With a trip to TCU next week, though, a losing season is all but certain with a loss this week.
Why San Diego State Might Win: If UNLV and UTEP can run the ball on a defense, then anyone can run the ball. The Rams have been great this year at coming up with sacks and a few tackles behind the line, but the front line hasn’t been close to holding up over the last few weeks getting destroyed by Boise State for 383 yards and five scores and allowing 340 yards to UTEP and 244 to UNLV. San Diego State has the nation’s No. 2 rusher in Ronnie Hillman, who should fire away behind the line that should be able to do whatever it wants. The Ram line lives on sacks, but the Aztecs have allowed just 6.5 sacks so far.
Why Colorado State Might Win: It’s not like San Diego State is stopping the run, either. The defense did a great job against New Mexico’s sad attack, but it struggled mightily against the pass, allowing close to 800 yards over the previous three weeks with six touchdowns. The run defense can be worked on by teams that can stick with it. The Ram secondary gives up a ton of big plays, but it hasn’t been too bad in total yards, allowing over 300 yards just twice and giving up just 13 touchdown passes.
What To Watch Out For: Ronnie Hillman ran wild on Colorado State last year and was the difference maker in the 24-19 victory with 151 yards and a score on a season-high 31 carries. This year he’s been the steadying force for the offense with close to 1,200 yards with 13 scores and 100 yards in every game other than the loss to TCU, being held to 55 yards on 20 carries. Colorado State doesn’t have the linebackers to take the right angles to get Hillman before he gets to the second level.
Colorado State needs even more out of Chris Nwoke, who has taken over the offense over the last few weeks running for 93 yards against UTEP and tore off a season-high 156 yards and a score against UNLV last week. He’s a strong, powerful runner with good hands for the passing game, catching 19 passes for 107 yards. With Pete Thomas and the passing attack floundering, Nwoke will still get fed the ball. He has proven he can handle it.
What Will Happen: San Diego State will get 150 yards out of Hillman and should have an almost perfect offensive balance. The Rams won’t be able to keep up the pace after getting down early, and they’ll have to abandon the running game. The mistakes will come, and the Aztecs will turn a good game into a blowout.
CFN Prediction: San Diego State 38 … Colorado State 17
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: San Diego State -13.5 O/U: 53.5
Nov. 12 at New Mexico 21 … UNLV 14
(AP) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Demarcus Rogers scored a 2-yard touchdown with 1:15 left Saturday as New Mexico defeated UNLV 21-14 for its first victory of the season.
Rogers' run capped a 34-yard drive set up by Jaymar Latchison's fumble recovery with 1:58 remaining.
New Mexico (1-9, 1-4 Mountain West) opened the game with an 80-yard touchdown catch-and-run from wide receiver Deon Long, then Rogers added a 1-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter as the Lobos topped their first-quarter scoring output for the entire season.
Crusoe Gongbay had a career-high 93 yards on 13 carries for New Mexico, while quarterback B.R. Holbrook was 15 of 23 for 274 yards.
UNLV's Dion Bradford rushed for a career-high 152 yards on 20 carries, but the Rebels (2-7, 1-3) could only manage 61 yards through the air.
UNLV (2-6) at New Mexico (0-9) Nov. 12, 10:00, mtn.
Here’s The Deal … UNLV is trying. It came up with a stunning win over Hawaii earlier in the year, and it played well in a victory over Colorado State and wasn’t awful in the loss to Boise State. Bobby Hauck’s team has 15 miles to go to merely be mediocre, but at least it’s showing signs of life. The offense is starting to put up points and is starting to move the ball a bit, but the defense continues to be a disaster.
However, UNLV looks like LSU compared to New Mexico. The Lobos were bad under Mike Locksley, and they’ve been worse under interim head man George Barlow, scoring just two touchdowns over the last four games getting outscored 195 to 14, and this is the last hones shot of breaking an ugly losing streak with road games at Wyoming and Boise State to close. This is the final home game of a year that can’t end soon enough.
Why UNLV Might Win: The Lobo offense can’t find anything that works. The running game has checked in with fewer than 75 yards in two of the last three games, the passing game hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in the last four games, and October 1st was the last time the team threw for more than 100 yards. The air show has been under the 100-yard mark in three of the last four games. The offensive line has been a wreck, not giving the backfield any time to work, and the mistakes won’t stop coming with 33 penalties and ten turnovers in the last four games. However …
Why New Mexico Might Win: Yes, New Mexico has been beyond miserable over the last month, but that’s because the schedule quickly got tough. With three road games at Nevada, TCU, and San Diego State, and a home date against Air Force, it’s not like the team has had much of a breather. UNLV is supposed to be that break. The Rebel defense couldn’t stop Colorado State’s awful running game, got rolled by Nevada and Wyoming, and gave up five passing scores to Boise State. If the New Mexico offense was ever going to show up, this would be the week.
What To Watch Out For: Crusoe Gongbay has the best name in college football, and he’s starting to have the game to match. It takes a lot to wear No. 22 at New Mexico – Dontrell Moore’s old number – and he’s starting to show the game to match. Recruited from the Maryland pipeline under Locksley, he’s a slip speedster who can tear off yards in chunks. The true freshman has been a part of the offense from the start, and over the last two weeks he has been the main man for the ground game with 63 yards against Air Force and 68 yards and a touchdown against San Diego State. If he can get the ball in space, he’ll finally be able to do more.
UNLV’s backfield is back at full force. Quarterback Caleb Herring has had problems staying on the field, taking some huge shots and getting knocked from the game last week. He’s back, while running back Tim Cornett is back after missing the Boise State game after getting suspended. He’ll have to fight for time now with Dionza Bradford doing more, but he’s still the team’s leading rusher and he’ll be a big part of the mix.
What Will Happen: New Mexico will score more points this week than it did over the last month, and it still won’t be enough. UNLV’s offense will be just effective enough to get by, but it’ll benefit from a few key takeaways from the defense to pull off a second win in the last three weeks.
CFN Prediction: UNLV 34 … New Mexico 17
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: UNLV -7 O/U: 54
- Get Tickets For This Game
- FREE EXPERT COLLEGE FOOTBALL SELECTIONS