A difficult season for the Falcons (2-9) continues to take its toll physically, as three more players are dealing with the aftermath of concussions.
Last week in a 41-21 loss to UNLV, Air Force defensive end Nick Fitzgerald, linebacker Connor Healy and wide receiver Alex Ludowig each left with head injuries.
That continues a season-long trend that has seen, among others, fullback Broam Hart, receiver Ty MacArthur, cornerback Chris Miller, quarterback Karson Roberts and receiver Sam Gagliano each miss time with concussions.
It’s the most concussions coach Troy Calhoun has seen in his seven seasons with the Falcons. He contributes at least part of it to bad luck – Fitzgerald’s injury, for example, occurred when he flew over a defender and rammed head-first into the turf – but also to the growing size disparity between Air Force players and their opponents.
“If a Volkswagen runs into a big truck or if two big trucks collide, there’s a little bit of difference in terms of impact,” Calhoun said.
Next game: at Colorado State, noon MT Saturday (ESPN3)
Notable: Air Force needs a win in Fort Collins on Saturday to avoid what would be its first winless conference season in program history. The Falcons have played in conferences continuously since joining the WAC in 1980. … Senior tailback Anthony LaCoste needs 144 rushing yards in the finale to reach 1,000 yards this season. LaCoste has averaged 137 yards over his past five games.
— Brent Briggeman, The Gazette (Colorado Springs)
The Broncos’ Mountain West title hopes took a major hit with an overtime loss at San Diego State on Saturday.
It was the third straight year that the Broncos lost a Mountain West game in November by three points or fewer. Now at 5-2 in the Mountain West, they’ll need Wyoming to beat Utah State to have a chance to reach the championship game.
The Broncos have lost to the four best teams they’ve played this season — Washington, BYU, Fresno State and San Diego State, all on the road.
“It’s kind of heartbreaking because we had a lot of excitement about this year,” sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi said.
The Broncos are learning about the potential pitfalls of divisional play. They are 4-0 against the Mountain Division, with a game Saturday at home against New Mexico, and haven’t lost to a team in the division since 1997.
But in part because the Broncos played at Fresno State and San Diego State, and Utah State didn’t play either of them, they are in second place in the division.
“There’s no perfect system,” coach Chris Petersen said. “Yeah, certain guys get the luck of the draw. … We’ve just got to go play and win.”
Next game: vs. New Mexico, 8:21 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2)
Notable: QB Joe Southwick, who missed all but one snap of the past five games because of a broken ankle, is expected to start Saturday on Senior Day. However, he might not last long. “I expect for him to play, and that’s all I know,” Petersen said. “We’ll kind of see. … This week in practice will tell us a lot. We don’t want to put a guy out there … who can’t defend himself.” … Leading receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes left last week’s game with a leg injury and is questionable. … RT Rees Odhiambo has missed four of the past six games because of injury. … Of the 16 outgoing seniors, 10 are starters or co-starters. The offensive line will be the hardest-hit position, losing the left tackle, left guard and center.
— Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman
Record-breaking running back Kapri Bibbs is expected to miss the Rams’ regular-season finale Saturday against Air Force, with a bowl bid on the line, because of an injury.
Colorado State (6-6 overall, 4-3 Mountain West) needs to beat Air Force (2-9, 0-7) to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2008.
Bibbs was injured during the Rams’ 13-0 loss Saturday at Utah State.
“Kapri Bibbs is probably out. He won’t practice,” coach Jim McElwain said at his weekly news conference.
McElwain wouldn’t disclose the nature of Bibbs’ injury, saying only, “it’s a lower-extremity injury.” The CBS Sports Network broadcasters who televised the game said the injury was to a toe. The running back could be seen limping at times during the game.
“It happened early in the game, and he never was able to recover,” McElwain said.
Bibbs, who had run for 603 yards and 10 touchdowns in the previous two games, had 54 yards on 18 carries at Utah State and was held without a rushing touchdown for the first time in six games, ending a school-record run of scoring three or more touchdowns in five consecutive games.
Bibbs ran for a school-record 312 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-17 win over Nevada on Nov. 9 and for 291 yards and a school-record six touchdowns Nov. 16 in a 66-42 win at New Mexico.
The 5-foot-11, 203-pound sophomore from Plainfield, Ill., is No. 2 on CSU’s all-time list for rushing yards in a season with 1,493 — 108 shy of Cecil Sapp’s 2002 school record. He’s the fifth-leading rusher in the nation and the second-leading scorer with 25 touchdowns and 150 points, trailing only the 26 touchdowns and 156 points of Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.
Chris Nwoke, who ran for 1,130 yards in 2011 but has just 349 yards on 90 carries this season, will get the start in CSU’s one-back offense on his Senior Day, McElwain said, with sophomore Donnell Alexander sharing the load. Alexander has missed the past two games with a knee injury but is expected back this week. He has run for 364 yards on 61 carries this season.
“The way I look at it is here’s the opportunity; step up and take advantage of it, and let’s go,” McElwain said.
Next game: vs. Air Force, noon MT Saturday (ESPN3)
Notable: Linebackers Aaron Davis and Cory James, two of the Rams’ leading tacklers, and backup DE Joe Kawulok also suffered injuries at Utah State that likely will keep them from playing this week, McElwain said. The coach declined to say what the specific injuries to each player were, fearing Air Force players might target those areas should any of them be able play. Davis is the Rams’ second-leading tackler with 105, including six tackles for lost yardage. James has 54 tackles, including 10 tackles for lost yardage and six quarterback sacks. … K Jared Roberts bounced a 24-yard field goal try into the wind at Utah State off the left upright. It was just the third miss on 19 attempts this season for Roberts and only his fourth in 28 career attempts. … McElwain let most of the out-of-state players not on the Rams’ 64-man travel squad go home for Thanksgiving break, leaving his team with about 75 players for practices this week — about 33 fewer than the Rams had on the field for practices when fall-semester classes began.
– Kelly Lyell, Fort Collins Coloradoan
In 1991, Bob Davie was the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M. That year, the Aggies led the nation in total defense and held opponents to an average of just under 13 points per game.
Last week, Davie’s New Mexico Lobos gave up an all-time program-worst 820 yards of total offense to Fresno State in a 69-28 defeat.
For Davie, the Bulldogs’ onslaught wasn’t merely an assault on UNM’s record book. It was an assault on his sensibilities.
“How do you stop the madness?” he asked this week, as the Lobos (3-8, 1-6) prepared for their season finale Saturday at Boise State (7-4, 5-2).
Answering his own question, he noted — Fresno State’s huge advantage at the skill positions not withstanding — that the Bulldogs bludgeoned UNM on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
“You just look at the body types out there,” he said. “The teams that are the real teams, compared to our body types. That has to change.
“The young players we have here now, they have to mature. There’s no other way around it than they have to mature.”
But, he said, there’s a schematic piece to the cure as well. While there may be no defensive equivalent to the option-based, pistol-formation attack that has served the Lobos so well on offense, that won’t stop Davie and his staff from looking.
“We’ve got to do as much (as possible) schematically on defense to try to be as unique as we are on offense,” he said. “But at the end of the day, regardless of what scheme you are, it still comes down to how you match up. That’s the first thing we have to address, and that’s what we’ve tried to do.”
Next game: at Boise State, 8:21 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPN2)
Notable: New Mexico is a physically battered team. The Lobos played their nickel defensive package throughout the Fresno State game because they didn’t have enough healthy linebackers to play a 3-4 front. The defensive and offensive lines also are depleted, and running back Crusoe Gongbay, who started against Fresno State in place of Kasey Carrier (concussion symptoms) is questionable with knee and hip injuries. … Junior quarterback Clayton Mitchem, who started at Fresno State in place of Cole Gautsche (concussion symptoms), again will start at Boise State. He was 8-of-11 passing for 157 yards and ran for a 24-yard touchdown against the Bulldogs. But he was sacked three times, and UNM converted on just 2 of 13 third-down plays.
— Rick Wright, Albuquerque Journal
On Monday, the Aggies were all in good spirits, but also holding a little bit back.
There will be time for celebration, they said, but it’s not this week. Not yet.
“The finality of what you’re doing hasn’t really hit you yet, but you know you’re on a roll and doing things well, but that you have to line up and play again next week,” coach Matt Wells said. “You’ve got a single-minded focus and that’s Wyoming. They’re going to come in here playing for bowl eligibility. We’re going to have to put the emotions on the line one more time.”
One more time. All Utah State (7-4, 6-1) needs to do this weekend is beat Wyoming (5-6, 3-4) and it will earn a ticket to the Mountain West championship game at Fresno State. The Aggies have been adamant this season that a conference championship is the one goal that has mattered to them.
But Utah State will be wary headed into their final home game of a potentially explosive offense. The Cowboys, who poured 59 points on Hawaii last weekend, could be a tough team to get in a shootout with.
All things considered, the Aggies would rather have the game go more like Saturday’s 13-0 shutout against Colorado State.
Run defense was key in the program’s first shutout in 10 years, as the Aggies allowed the Rams only a 1.1-yard-per-carry average. After a while, when it was clear Kapri Bibbs wouldn’t get another big game, Colorado State had to start throwing in an exceptionally windy game.
“They kind of turned away from the run, it seemed like, and started going with a little more passing,” said linebacker Jake Doughty, who had 12 tackles. “But with those windy games it’s hard to throw the ball in those circumstances. Luckily for us it wasn’t real great for them.”
This week, Utah State can’t afford to leave its fate in nature’s hands. Cowboys quarterback Brett Smith draws some comparisons to the Aggies’ own injured Chuckie Keeton. Doughty said it would help to have experience playing a quarterback with scrambling ability in practice, but Wells said Smith presents his own challenges. In the spread scheme, he can do damage with his arm, or he can tuck and run.
“I think he’s a very tough-minded individual,” Wells said. “I think he’s a very disciplined quarterback with his eyes, and he’ll hurt your tail if he’s out in space.”
Next game: vs. Wyoming, noon MT Saturday (ROOT Sports)
Notable: The Aggies sustained two serious injuries against Colorado State, losing cornerback Rashard Stewart and receiver Travis Reynolds. Wells did not officially comment on the injuries Monday, except to say news about Stewart, who had to be taken off the field on a gurney by medical personnel, was positive over the weekend. Reynolds, the team’s leading receiver, indicated through social media that his right knee injury will keep him out for at least the weekend, if not longer. … Running back Joey DeMartino is 88 yards away from reaching 1,000 yards for the season. Utah State has had a 1,000-yard back in three of its last four seasons. The last two backs to reach that plateau — Robert Turbin and Kerwynn Williams — both play in the NFL.
— Kyle Goon, The Salt Lake Tribune
The Cowboys are hoping to get bowl eligible for the third time in coach Dave Christensen’s five seasons, but they face one of their most daunting tasks when they play at Utah State on Saturday.
Utah State (7-4 overall, 6-1 Mountain West) leads the conference in seven defensive categories and is seventh nationally in scoring defense (17.6 points per game), 10th in third-down conversion defense (31.5 percent) and tied for 12th in total defense (333.4 yards per game).
The Aggies are coming off a 13-0 home win over Colorado State last Saturday.
Wyoming (5-6, 3-4) is 13th in total offense at just under 500 yards of total offense per game. It is coming off a record-setting day with 793 yards of total offense in a 59-56 overtime win at home over Hawaii last Saturday.
However, Christensen knows it won’t be nearly that easy for his offense this week.
“Most people haven’t had a lot of success that has played them,” he said. “Every single player plays extremely hard the entire play for every single play. They’re very talented players that have great motors. They have a lot of experience. They can get great pressure on the quarterback. They are tight as can be in man coverage. They pressure, they blitz and they get there. They definitely are the best defense we’ve played this year.”
Wyoming is 0-5 against teams with a .500 or better record this season. Against two of the better MW teams — No. 16 Fresno State and Boise State — it was outscored 96-17 and posted season lows in terms of total yards (fewer than 300 in both games) and offensive plays.
Next game: at Utah State, noon MT (ROOT Sports)
Notable: Junior quarterback Brett Smith was the Co-Offensive Player of the Week with Fresno State senior quarterback Derek Carr. Smith set a MW and school record with 640 yards of total offense (498 passing, 142 rushing), his seven touchdown passes tied a MW record and his eight touchdowns responsible for also was a new conference record. … Junior center Albert Perez will miss his second consecutive game with an injury. Redshirt freshman Chase Roullier is expected to make his second straight start there, and Wyoming has started three different centers this season. … The Cowboys played the majority of the Hawaii game with four backup offensive linemen due to injuries. … The Wyoming-Utah State game will be called “Bridger’s Battle” from now on in honor of mountain man Jim Bridger. The two teams will play for a .50-caliber rifle that Wyoming had custom-made, and the score will be etched in the maple stock.
— Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune Eagle
The Heisman Trophy polls are now open, voting running through Dec. 9. And with a field of candidates with a lot of question marks, Fresno State is again pushing quarterback Derek Carr, sending out an email blast to national media, producing another highlight video and lining up radio and TV interviews.
And on Monday, during his weekly press conference, coach Tim DeRuyter provided a long-winded but pointed answer when asked why the Bulldogs’ record-setting quarterback deserves the award.
Inadvertently or not, he set Carr apart from other quarterback candidates in terms of how he conducts himself off the field, his leadership, his winning percentage — all without ever mentioning another player.
“I think when you look at that award it’s who impacts their team the most?’’ DeRuyter said. “I’ve said this before, the No. 1 stat for a quarterback is leading a team to wins and the way he’s led us, especially in those close games, to find ways to win games when we’re tied or down at the end of the game … To put up the numbers that he’s put up – I think he’s set just about every Fresno State record as well as Mountain West record – and I think part of what he does off the field, who he is as a person in the community should give people some (comfort) in voting for a guy like Derek Carr.
“He’s a guy who’s a poster child. He’s a National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete. He’s a guy that any time there’s a request from anyone in the community to meet with any group, he’s out there doing it. He’s a father and a husband. He went through a bit of a trauma early during training camp, it didn’t ever affect him. He just leads our team the way you want him to lead and he outworks probably everybody on our team. There’s not much more I can say about him. I don’t know how many other players in the country, let alone quarterbacks, can match those things.’’
Carr later said he actually had a dream that he was invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation ceremony in New York, which he chuckled about.
“It was crazy, I had a dream last night that everything like opened up and we got to go and stuff like that,’’ he said. “I woke up and I was telling Heather about it and she was laughing and stuff because she knows I don’t think about those things. We were laughing about it. Again, that’s another thing, I can only control what I can do and that’s just preparing and trying to work hard, work through the soreness of the end of the season, all those good things.
“It would be so cool. I tell everybody, I would just love to see the community’s faces if we could bring that thing here. I would love to see my teammates to bring it the locker room and take pictures with it. That’s the kind of things that fire me up.’’
Fresno State was passed in the BCS standings by Northern Illinois, the Huskies getting a huge bump from the computer ratings to move up two spots to No. 14.
DeRuyter said he was surprised – with both teams winning last week, he thought the standings would remain close to what they were the previous week.
“It’s the same as every week,’’ he said. “We don’t worry about things we don’t control and that’s clearly something we don’t control. Things we do have control over is going 1-0 this week. We have our last regular-season game, we’re excited that we clinched the West, but we have a chance to finish this thing the way we’re supposed to. We have a great rivalry with San Jose State and our guys are excited about the challenge this week. That’s all we worry about.
“I think it will all work itself out. The people that I’ve heard from, the computers at the end of the year kind of even out and we’ll see. If at the end of the year things don’t work out maybe I’ll have an opinion on it, but right now we’re still in that mix where we had that off week two weeks ago and we move up, we play a game and we win big we go down. It’s nothing we can control.’’
Next game: at San Jose State, 1:30 p.m. MT Friday (CBS Sports Network)
Notable: Carr and Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith tied the Mountain West Conference record for touchdown passes in a game last week – Carr in a blowout victory over New Mexico and Smith in an overtime victory over Hawaii. Max Hall of Brigham Young set the record in 2008 against UCLA. So, which one had the most productive game? It’d be tough to do more damage with 27 completions than Carr did against the Lobos. Carr: 27 of 37 (73%) for 522 yards with seven TDs, no interceptions and an efficiency rating of 255.0 Hall: 27 of 35 (77.1%) for 271 yards with seven TDs, one interception and a rating of 202.5. Smith: 29 of 48 (60.4%) for 498 yards with seven TDs, no interceptions and a rating of 195.7. The NCAA record for touchdown passes in a game is 11, set by David Klingler of Houston in a 1990 game against Eastern Washington. The Cougars won 84-21. … With Davante Adams already past the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards, Josh Harper within 16 yards of joining him with three more games to play and Isaiah Burse 236 yards from also hitting that milestone, the Bulldogs have a chance to become only the fifth team in Division I history with three 1,000-yard receivers. The first was Texas Tech in 2003, then Hawaii and Tulsa in 2007 and Houston in 2009. Adams has 1,213 yards on 100 receptions. Harper has 984 yards on 78 catches. Burse has 764 yards on 67 receptions.
— Robert Kuwada, Fresno Bee
Despite the worst start since going 0-12 in 1998 — Hawaii is 0-11 entering Saturday’s regular-season finale against Army — Norm Chow is all but guaranteed to return for the third season of a five-year contract. Athletic Director Ben Jay has endorsed Chow publicly and in meetings with Na Koa, the football program’s booster club. Chow, meanwhile, said the focus is solely on Army this week. “It takes every bit of every day of every hour to get ready for a game, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Chow said.
The UH policy is that every assistant coach is on a one-year contract. Defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer, who earns more than $200,000 annually, has accepted blame for his unit’s poor play in a 59-56 loss to Wyoming this past Saturday. The Cowboys amassed 793 yards. Asked if any of his coaches were on the hot seat, Chow said: “We can’t worry about that right now. We have to prepare for Army.”
Chow added: “Obviously, we’re all concerned about job security, if you will, but you can’t (dwell on) that. As a coach, all you can do is go to work, and coach your team, and that’s what we do every week.”
Hawaii’s offense, which had struggled earlier in the season, was at its best against Wyoming, rolling up a season-high 624 yards. Sean Schroeder passed for 499 yards and six touchdowns. Joey Iosefa rushed for 91 yards, increasing his total to 432 yards in the three games since recovering from a foot injury.
Scott Harding continues to be the Warriors’ most valuable player. Not only is Harding the team’s most prolific receiver, he also punts and returns punts. Against Wyoming, Harding averaged 44.1 yards on seven punts. Two of his rugby-style squib kicks struck Cowboys and were recovered by UH. This season, five punts have resulted in lost fumbles. Opponents are averaging 0.75 yards in returns on Harding’s punts. Only 10 of Harding’s 53 punts have been returned; none of his punts resulted in touchbacks.
Next: vs. Army, 9 p.m. MT (MW Digital Network)
Notable: The Rainbow Warriors traveled the world, and more, this season. For six road games, the Warriors traveled 27,387 miles. (The circumference around Earth’s equator is 24,901 miles. They have played games in the Hawaiian, Pacific, Mountain and Eastern time zones. They have played at sea level and at Laramie’s 7,220-foot elevation.
— Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
The Wolf Pack had a bye, but at least it got some good news for its future when it learned that running back James Butler of St. Francis High in Wheaton, Ill., had given Nevada a verbal commitment. The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder might be the impact type of running back that coach Brian Polian has said he needed moving forward.
Butler sat out his junior season after transferring, and his high school coach said that if he had junior film Big Ten schools would have been on him. He was on the Wolf Pack’s radar because running backs coach Lester Erb recruited Butler when Erb was at Iowa last season.
Nevada is coming off its most complete effort of the season in a 38-16 victory over San Jose State at Mackay Stadium on Nov. 16. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak, and it was exactly what the team needed going into a two-week break.
BYU opened as a 14-point favorite against Nevada and comes into Saturday’s game following a 23-13 loss at Notre Dame. The Cougars have played a strong schedule. The other three losses were against Virginia, Utah and Wisconsin. They also have victories over Texas and Georgia Tech, as well as Boise State and Utah State before USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton was lost for the season with a knee injury. BYU is very likely one of the best four-loss teams in the country.
The Cougars are known for their defense, led by McQueen High (Reno) product Kyle Van Noy, a linebacker who is considered one of the top defensive players in the nation and a likely high NFL draft pick next May. BYU has allowed more than 23 points only twice, in a 47-46 win at Houston and in a 27-17 loss at Wisconsin. The Cougars have struggled offensively in recent years, but sophomore dual-threat QB Taysom Hill has brought stability to the offense. His passing numbers are average (53 percent, 17 TDs, 13 interceptions), but he’s third in the nation in rushing among quarterbacks (1,057 yards, 5.6 yards per carry, eight TDs).
Next game: vs. BYU, 1:05 p.m. MT Saturday (CBS Sports Network)
Notable: Freshman starting guard Jeremy Macauley is questionable after suffering a sprained ankle and knee in the San Jose State game on Nov. 16. Two other starters who sat out the SJSU game, linebacker Jordan Dobrich (concussion) and Aaron Bradley (hamstring), are probable. … Wolf Pack coaches spent a good part of the bye week out recruiting.
– Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette-Journal
SAN DIEGO STATE
At the start of the year, the biggest area of concern for SDSU on defense centered on whether its inexperienced cornerbacks would hold up in the pass-heavy, offensive-oriented Mountain West.
Juniors J.J. Whittaker and King Holder, and backups David Lamar and Damontae Kazee, had one start among them.
No one knew how they would perform, and the Aztecs’ early losses to Eastern Illinois and Ohio State didn’t do much for anyone’s confidence.
But the Aztecs’ cornerbacks have matured as the season has progressed, and last week’s 34-31 OT win over Boise State exemplified their development from rookies to seasoned veterans.
Whittaker finished with two tackles, two pass breakups and two picks, and he now leads the Aztecs with three interceptions this season.
On the right side of the field, King Holder was second on the team with eight tackles. Backup cornerback Damontae Kazee continued his streak of good play with a clutch pass breakup in the third quarter.
Put together, the body of evidence suggests that SDSU no longer has a problem at the cornerback position.
“I thought the corners have improved dramatically from our first three to four games,” Aztecs coach Rocky Long said. “I think both corners are doing a good job covering and getting their hands on the football some.
“We’ve had faith in their athletic ability. It was just a matter of how soon they would get the experience to play well.”
But the cornerbacks say they never doubted themselves.
“We’ve had confidence all year long,” Whittaker said. “Being a young group, we have to have confidence. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”
Next game: at UNLV, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNU)
Notable: LG Zach Dilley is out with a strained PCL ligament, senior Japheth Gordon will start in his place; PK Seamus McMorrow is out with a low ankle sprain, senior Wes Feer will kick field goals and handle kickoffs.
— Stefanie Loh, U-T San Diego
SAN JOSE STATE
It all comes down to this for San Jose State. The Spartans must beat rival and undefeated No. 16 Fresno State on Friday to have any hopes of returning to a second straight bowl game,
It’s a position SJSU (5-6, 4-3 Mountain West) could have and should have avoided. The Spartans at one time were riding a four-game winning streak and had an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter on San Diego State.
A blocked field goal turned the tide and now SJSU is facing a three-game losing streak, the last loss in that slide coming in triple overtime to Navy. That was after quarterback David Fales, in perhaps his finest moment as a Spartan, directed a perfect two-minute drive with no timeouts that led to a touchdown pass to Kyle Nunn with no time left. He followed that with a two-point conversion pass to Chandler Jones to tie the game.
But that’s unlikely the memory Fales will carry with him from that game. On his final pass, in the third overtime, he was intercepted and Navy scored a touchdown on the next play to win it.
So now it’s up to SJSU to knock off Fresno State and effectively end the Bulldogs’ BCS hopes, which are already in question after they fell behind Northern Illinois in the latest BCS standings. A victory would make the Spartans 6-6 and at least place them in the bowl conversation.
With five Mountain West teams already eligible and two others — Colorado State and Wyoming — in position to get there with wins this weekend, nothing is guaranteed. But Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier likes SJSU’s chances if it beats Fresno State.
“A win over Fresno State would go a long way,” Bleymaier said. “I’m optimistic.”
Bleymaier’s optimism also comes from the fact that SJSU is fresh off playing an entertaining game vs. Navy on national television that was the only college football game of the night. The Fresno State game is also on national TV, so a win there would create a buzz. Plus, there’s the star power of Fales and, if it comes down to it, Bleymaier’s 30 years at Boise State could be enough to sway folks at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to offer an invitation.
But before the Spartans can worry about that, they have the tall, tall task of beating Fresno State. SJSU hasn’t beaten a ranked team since No. 9 TCU in 2000, but is 2-0 all-time at Spartan Stadium against ranked Fresno State teams. That won’t be much help Friday, but it’s something for the Spartans to cling to in hopes that history repeats.
Next game: vs. No. 16 Fresno State, 1:30 p.m. MT Friday (CBS Sports Network)
Notable: The Spartans used No. 3 quarterback Joe Gray on their scout team to better simulate the arm strength and quick release of Fresno State’s Derek Carr. Gray, who has the strongest arm on the SJSU roster, normally rotates in with the regular offense but volunteered to run the scout team so he could help the team. … Wide receivers Tim Crawley and Hansell Wilson, both of whom should play Friday, also spent time with the scout team to give a better look at the speed of the receivers SJSU expects to see against the Bulldogs. K.C. Pearce, a reserve who normally works in with the second-team offense, also joined scout team work. The Spartans have been short on scout team receivers all year after Tyler Winston and Thomas Tucker were pulled from their redshirt seasons and activated, and in Tucker’s case switched from receiver to running back. … Fales became the school’s all-time leader in career passing yards and touchdowns with his performance vs. Navy. He now has 7,835 yards and 60 touchdowns in two years with SJSU. Jones became the all-time leader in receptions with 240, passing good friend and injured teammate Noel Grigsby, who hasn’t played since the second game of the season with a torn meniscus and likely won’t suit up again for the Spartans.
— Jimmy Durkin, San Jose Mercury News
UNLV once again must show whether it can handle success.
The last time the Rebels recorded a major victory, 27-22 at Nevada on Oct. 26, they returned home and fell behind 24-3 at halftime to San Jose State. UNLV nearly came back in the second half before losing 34-24.
Now the Rebels come off a 41-21 victory at Air Force to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2000. But that game was on Thursday, giving the Rebels an extra two days to come down from their high.
“I think extra time this time of year helps for sure, if nothing else to get freshened up,” coach Bobby Hauck said. “We’ve played a lot of games, and just to get an extra couple of days rest and freshened up to play the game, I think, is productive. It’s really got to be about our approach this week and getting ourselves ready to go play our best game of the season because that’s probably what it’ll take to get a win.”
UNLV (6-5, 4-3 MW) certainly has a challenge Saturday in facing San Diego State (7-4, 6-1), which has won seven of its past eight games.
This week also will involve some scoreboard watching.
To ensure a spot in a Mountain West-affiliated bowl, the Rebels need Fresno State to beat San Jose State on Friday and for Utah State to defeat Wyoming on Saturday. Fresno State and Utah State are significant favorites, so the odds are in the Rebels’ favor.
As for facing San Diego State, expect a focused Rebels team from the moment the ball is kicked off.
“We all enjoyed our win after the game Thursday and Friday, but we came back and gathered the team Saturday,” linebacker Tim Hasson said. “We’ve got to let that one go and get ready for next week.”
Next game: vs. San Diego State, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNU)
Notable: Tim Cornett rushed for 220 yards at Air Force, giving him 3,639 career yards and moving him three spots to second on the Mountain West’s list. New Mexico’s DonTrell Moore rushed for 4,973 yards in 2002-05. Also, Cornett’s four touchdowns rushing against the Falcons tied the school record, and his 36 carries were one off the UNLV mark. … Cornett and wide receiver Devante Davis are the only players in UNLV history to record a 1,000-yard rushing and receiving season at the same time. They also were high school teammates at Houston’s North Shore. … UNLV appears for the third week in a row on ESPNU after having appeared on the network just twice before.
— Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal