Week 2 M-West - Utah St at Air Force & More

Posted Sep 6, 2013

Week 2 M-West Fearless Predictions - Utah State at Air Force & More

UT Martin (1-0) at Boise State (0-1) Sept. 7, 3:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Boise State has lost season openers, but this was something different. Washington might be good, but the Broncos were thoroughly dominated in a 38-8 stomping, and now it's time to right the ship in a hurry with Mountain West play starting next week against Air Force. UT Martin started out the season well with a 31-21 win over Chattanooga, but now it's about to face a very, very motivated team looking to get back on track.

Why UT Martin Might Win: The Skyhawks are full of veterans on both sides of the ball and probably won't be fazed by being in a bigger environment. The offense was fantastic on the ground against Chattanooga with D.J. McNeil and Trent Garland each going for over 100 yards with a score to help the offense crank up 289 yards of rushing offense. Washington went wild on a suddenly-soft Boise State defensive front that got ripped apart by UW's Bishop Sankey.

Why Boise State Might Win: The UT Martin secondary is going to be a problem. There's experience and upside, but it gives up midrange plays and has to hope to generate even more pressure than it did against Chattanooga's Jacob Huesman, who came up with a solid 226 yards and three passing scores. Boise State didn't show it against the Huskies, but it has a balanced attack that should move the ball at will.

Who To Watch Out For: 6-0, 215-pound sophomore Jay Ajayi is the next man up in the Boise State backfield, but he didn't find much room to move in the opener pushing for 93 yards on 23 carries. A strong, pounding back, the Texas native won't do much as a receiver, but he has wheels to go along with his bulk and could turn into another Doug Martin-like runner.
What Will Happen: UT Martin isn't all that bad, but Boise State is going to quickly take care of this to put the trip to Seattle in the past. This won't be pretty.
Prediction: Boise State 52 … UT Martin 10
Line: Boise State -35 o/u: 57.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1

San Diego State (0-1) at Ohio State (1-0) Sept. 7, 3:30, ABC

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Not so fast, Ohio State. Sure, considering San Diego State just got whacked at home by Eastern Illinois out of the FCS, it seems like a layup of a week. Yes, the offense was humming against Buffalo in the 40-20 win, and all appears to be right with the world. However, this is a very, very good Aztec team that had a very, very bad day in the 40-19 loss to the Panthers of EIU, and now this might be a trap game.

The AP poll doesn't matter, but style points do, and Ohio State dropped a slot in those rankings, while staying No. 2 in the ones that matter – the Coaches Poll. The 40-20 win over UB might not have been enough of a blowout, and now, after the Aztec problems, anything less than complete annihilation will do. However, the defending co-Mountain West champs could provide a surprising push.

Why San Diego State Might Win: The Ohio State secondary is about to be tested. Buffalo was able to make things interesting for a little while in the second quarter because of a decent passing game that was able to do just enough to get by. It also helped that the Buckeyes kept making mistakes, with a key fumble and nine penalties working to keep it close, but there's still a wee bit of a question mark about the revamped defense. Adam Dingwell and the Aztecs have the ability to stretch the field far better than Joe Licata and the Bulls did.

Why Ohio State Might Win: Who said there's a concern with the Buckeye defense? Buffalo's Branden Oliver has NFL potential, the OSU kept him to a tough 73 yards on 26 carries. San Diego State star running back Adam Muema ran for just 17 yards against EIU on ten carries before leaving with an ankle sprain. The Aztecs need as many weapons as possible to keep up in a firefight, and they might not have enough. EIU's Jimmy Garoppolo bombed away at will for 361 yards and three touchdowns. This week, the stars could be …

Who To Watch Out For: … in the receiving corps. Braxton Miller makes everyone look better, but the SDSU focus and concern might be on RB Jordan Hall, he rumbled against UB for 159 yards and two scores. That should open things up that much more for a receiving corps that hit big play after bit play. Devin Smith averaged over 20 yards per catch, while Chris Fields caught two touchdown passes and averaged 17.7 yards per pop.

- Dingwell is still the starting quarterback for the Aztecs. He threw 63 times for 318 yards against EIU, but he also killed the team with four picks. He's too good of a veteran to not play night-and-day better.
- Ohio State All-America corner Bradley Roby is expected to come back from his one game suspension and be a key playmaker. He might not start, but he'll be in right away. Also returning from an ankle injury is safety C.J. Barnett, who could be even more important than Roby against an Aztec team that'll try to get physical with the ground game.
- San Diego State held the ball for close to 38 minutes, but the five turnovers, seven penalties, and a key special teams breakdown late proved too costly. It also didn't help that the offense couldn't close out drives with touchdowns; Wes Feer hit four field goals.

What Will Happen: San Diego State will play much, much better. The offense will click a little bit early, and the defense will come out steaming after last week's problems. It won't matter. The Buckeye defense will show for a second straight week that all is fine in the world, even if the opponent puts a few points on the board.
Prediction: Ohio State 34 … San Diego State 14
Line: Ohio State -28 o/u: 53.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 2.5

Utah State (0-1) at Air Force (1-0) Sept. 7, 3:30, CBS SN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Utah State battled hard against Utah but couldn't hold up late, giving up two late field goals in a tough 30-26 loss. The Aggies might not have come through in the first game in the Matt Wells era, but quarterback Chuckie Keeton put on a great performance and the defense did a decent job against the Ute rushing attack. It'll need to be even stronger against an Air Force ground game that needed a little while to get going against Colgate, but ended up rolling with 409 yards on the ground and 38 straight points for an easy win. With Boise State up next, the Falcons can't afford to lose the Mountain West home opener, while Utah State gets Weber State up next.

Why Utah State Might Win: What beats the Air Force ground game? A top linebacking corps, and despite a loose game against the midrange Utah passing game, it should come up with a nice afternoon against the Falcon runners. Jake Doughty lived up to his All-Mountain West potential in the opener with 16 tackles, while running mate Zach Vigil chipped in with ten. These two are good, smart, sound veterans who should combine for close to 30 stops while forcing Air Force to throw a bit.

Why Air Force Might Win: Is there any way Air Force can get the short-to-midrange passing game going? The Aggies are going to send everyone and the mascot at the ground game, and the opportunities will be there for Kale Pearson to dink and dunk to his heart's content. He completed 5-of-8 passes for 46 yards against Colgate, and while he's not Peyton Manning, if he can convert on third downs and channel his inner Utah quarterback Travis Wilson, who did a nice job of moving the chains last week, the Falcons might be able to control the action.

Who To Watch Out For: Chuckie Keeton was phenomenal. It was a good overall first weekend for quarterbacks, and Keeton's effort was ignored a bit despite completing 31-of-40 passes for 314 yards and two scores, and leading the Aggies with 85 yards and a touchdown. For Air Force, Jon Lee is coming off a big first day, rushing 11 times for 130 yards with scoring dashes from nine and 22 yards away. With great hands and tremendous strength, he has to power his way through the Aggies and make things happen when he gets a chance in the clear.
What Will Happen: The Utah State defense will be the big difference. The opportunities will be there for the Air Force passing game to take advantage of some openings, and it won't be able to do it.
Prediction: Utah State 27 … Air Force 20
Line: Utah State -9.5 o/u: 59
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 2.5

Idaho (0-1) at Wyoming (0-1) Sept. 7, 4:00, ROOT

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Each team lost its opener but in very, very different ways. Idaho scored first against North Texas, and that was it after the first drive allowing 40 unanswered points in a mistake-filled blowout loss. Meanwhile, Wyoming appeared to be just on the verge of getting its doors blown off by Nebraska, but Brett Smith and the passing game made things very, very, VERY interesting in the final moments in a fun 37-34 loss. The Cowboys showed that they might turn into a player in the Mountain West, and now they get a few tune-ups – with Northern Colorado up next – before going to Air Force. Idaho will try to find something that works before hosting Northern Illinois.

Why Idaho Might Win: Can the Vandals come up with any semblance of a running game? They don't have an Ameer Abdullah or Imani Cross like Nebraska does, but the Wyoming defense has to fight through some growing pains in the linebacking corps. For all the problems against North Texas, the ground attack had a few nice moments.

Why Wyoming Might Win: If Wyoming could rip through the Nebraska defense, as mediocre as it might be, it should have no problems against a soft Idaho secondary that didn't come close to slowing down anything UNT's Derek Thompson tried to do. The Mean Green starter completed 23-of-27 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns, partially because he had all day to throw.

Who To Watch Out For: Brett Smith had himself a game against the Huskers, but he had some help. The Cowboy veteran passer bombed away for 383 yards and four scores, but it was Dominic Rufran who helped steal the show with 11 catches for 120 yards. All of a sudden last year, he went from a decent possession receiver to a big play target, and now he appears ready to take on the role as the main man for the receiving corps.
What Will Happen: Idaho will turn some of the decent drives into points, something it couldn't manage to do well last week, but Wyoming will go on a scoring binge to put the game away fast.
Prediction: Wyoming 48 … Idaho 17
Line: Wyoming -28 o/u: 65.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 2

Colorado State (0-1) at Tulsa (0-1) Sept. 7, 7:00, CBS Sports Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Having suffered through demoralizing losses in Week 1, Colorado State and Tulsa are both approaching this week with a greater sense of urgency. An 0-2 start could create a ditch that's difficult to escape over the final 10 games. The Golden Hurricane is coming off its worst outing in years, a 34-7 loss to Bowling Green in a game that was considered a toss-up in the preseason. The Rams on Sunday were a microcosm for the Mountain West's opening weekend woes, bowing to rival Colorado, 41-27, in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown.
Why Colorado State Might Win: The Rams showed a little pop on offense in Denver, an indication that the offense may be ready to turn the corner in head coach Jim McElwain's second season. Garrett Grayson is an emerging quarterback, who'll be looking to exploit a rebuilding Tulsa defense. The Hurricane had particular problems slowing the Bowling Green ground game last Thursday.
Why Tulsa Might Win: Colorado State has its own defensive woes after getting torched through the air by Buffs QB Connor Wood and WR Paul Richardson. Can erratic Hurricane QB Cody Green match the aforementioned numbers? No, but he should be able to put WR Keyarris Garrett in a position to make a few big plays. Oh, and backs Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas can't possibly be as ineffective as they were against Bowling Green.
Who To Watch Out For: Colorado State is likely to be without its best offensive player, RB Donnell Alexander, who injured his hand. The Rams really need you to step up this week, Chris Nwoke.

- Green is a leader and the undisputed starter for Tulsa. However, a couple more games like last week will get him benched at some point in favor of redshirt freshman Dane Evans.

- Each side houses a playmaking 250-pound linebacker who'll be looking to make a statement this week. Tulsa's Shawn Jackson and Colorado State Shaquil Barrett are both capable of imposing their will on this game.
What Will Happen: Tulsa, the defending Conference USA champ, isn't as sharp as last season, but it can't possibly be as bad as it looked a week ago. Two extra days of preparation and a return home will help get the Golden Hurricane back on track. Watts and Douglas will lead the way on the ground, combining to rush for 175 yards and a couple of scores.
Prediction: Tulsa 31 … Colorado State 20
strong> Line: Tulsa -10 o/u: 53.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 2

Hawaii (0-1) at Oregon State (0-1) Sept. 7, 8:00, Pac-12 Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It was a solid opening week in the Pac-12 … unless you reside around Corvallis. Oregon State suffered arguably its lowest point in the Mike Riley era, falling to Eastern Washington of the FCS on a touchdown with 18 seconds left. The Beavers were in the same position two years, losing to Sacramento State, and never recovered in what would become a 3-9 campaign. Riley needs to avoid a repeat with a swift recovery in September. Hawaii will be playing its second straight game against a Pac-12 opponent, dropping last Thursday's opener to USC, 30-13.
Why Hawaii Might Win: The Warriors showed a lot of heart and grit against the Trojans, keeping things competitive into the second half. Their defense, led by LB Art Laurel and DT Siasau Matagiese, prevented Troy's quarterbacks and skill players from taking the game over. Hawaii now faces an Oregon State team whose defense and psyche are in shambles.
Why Oregon State Might Win: Okay, deep breath. Yeah, it was bad, but the Beavers aren't as futile as they looked on Saturday. This is a program with plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, and a chance to regroup. Lost in the final score was the performance of the passing. QB Sean Mannion went 37-of-43 for 422 yards, three touchdowns and no picks, hitting three different receivers at least eight times.
Who To Watch Out For: Oregon State couldn't stop athletic EWU QB Vernon Adams. Hawaii QB Taylor Graham doesn't present the same problems.

- The Beavers are getting back one of the Pac-12 top centers, Isaac Seumalo, who missed the opener with an injury.

- Mannion to Brandin Cooks is going to be one of the most dynamic pitch-and-catch combos all season long. Cooks was unstoppable last week, making 13 grabs for 196 yards and two scores.

- LB Michael Doctor was everywhere for the Beavers last weekend, but where was DE Scott Crichton? Oregon State needs more production from its best pass rusher.
What Will Happen: Oregon State is set to restore some order after the opening week debacle at Reser Stadium. The good news is that Hawaii presents fewer challenges for the Beavers D than Eastern Washington did. Mannion and the offense will take care of the rest, strafing the Warriors with an array of pretty passes to the wide receivers and tight ends.
Prediction: Oregon State 45 … Hawaii 17
Line: Oregon State -27 o/u: 53.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 2