Mountain West football outlook

Eric Wolf

The Colorado State Rams open up Mountain West conference play this week against Wyoming in the Border War. The Rams went 5-3 in the Mountain West in 2015, losing conference games to San Diego State, Boise State and Utah State. Here is a look at how CSU’s conference opponents faired through the first month of the season:

Utah State Aggies: (3-0, 0-1 MW)

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9/1 Weber State: 45-6

9/10 @USC: L 45-7

9/16 Arkansas State: W 34-20

9/24 Air Force: L 27-20

Even with the loss of NFL linebackers Kyler Fackrell and Nick Vigil, the Aggies still boast a stout defense. The team currently ranks 31st in the country in total defense, giving up just over 337 yards per game. On offense, junior dual-threat quarterback Kent Myers returns at the helm. For the season, Myers has run for 109 yards to go along 800 yards passing and six touchdowns. Running backs Devonta Mays (234), Tonny Lindsey (200) and Justin Hervey (118) join Myer to round out the Aggie rushing attack as four players have at least 100 yards rushing this year.

Boise State Broncos: (3-0)

9/3 @ Louisiana-Lafayette: W 45-10

9/10 Washington State: W 31-28

9/24 @ Oregon State: W 38-25

The explosive offensive trio of sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien, junior running back Jeremey McNichols and senior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck lead the Broncos again this year. McNichols earned Mountain West offensive player of the week honors after his 204 yard, four touchdown rushing performance last week against Oregon State. McNichols leads the conference in total scoring, with nine total touchdowns.

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UNLV Runnin’ Rebels: (1-3)

9/1 Jackson State: W 63-13

9/10 @UCLA: L 21-42

9/17 @ Central Michigan: L 22-44

9/24 Idaho: L 33-30 (OT)

The Rebels suffered a setback last week when dual-threat juco transfer quarterback Johnny Stanton was injured in the loss against Idaho. Redshirt freshman quarterback Dalton Sneed takes over an offense with playmakers in running back Lexington Thomas and dynamic junior wide receiver Devonte Boyd. Thomas ranks third in the Mountain West with 453 rushing yards to go along with six touchdowns, while Boyd, a preseason first team All-conference selection, has caught 15 balls for 283 yards and 3 scores through four games.

Fresno State Bulldogs: (1-3)

9/3 @ Nebraska: L 43-10

9/10 Sacramento State: W 31-3

9/17 @ Toledo: L 52-17

9/24 Tulsa: L 48-41 (2OT)

The non-conference slate has not been too kind to the Bulldogs, whose lone win came against an FCS foe in Sacramento State. The team actually held a 31-0 lead in the game against Tulsa before the Golden Hurricane came back and won the game in double-overtime. Fresno State’s defense ranks as one of the worst statistical groups in the country, currently sitting 112th in scoring defense (36.6 points-per-game) and 105th in total defense (456.8 yards-per-game).

Air Force Falcons: (3-0, 1-0 MW)

10/3 Abilene Christian: W 37-21

10/10 Georgia State: W 48-14

10/24: @ Utah State: W 27-20

The Air Force rushing attack has been rolling to start the season, and the team ranks second in the nation in rushing yards-per-game at 359.3. Running back Jacobi Owens leads the team in rushing yards with 202, but it’s a communal approach in Colorado Springs as six players have ran for over 100 yards through the first three games. It’s not just the offense from the Falcons though. The defense leads the Mountain West in scoring defense, giving up just over 18 points-per-game.

New Mexico Lobos: (1-2)

9/1 South Dakota: W 48-21

9/10 @ New Mexico State L 32-31

9/17 @ Rutgers L 37-28

The Lobos potent ground attack once again leads the way for this team. Through three games, the Lobos are averaging 314 rushing yards per game, good for 6th in the nation. Five different players have run for over 100 yards through three games this season. The group is led by senior running back Teriyon Gibson whose run for 243 yards on 20 carries this season. Good for a 12.5 yards-per-carry average. Senior linebacker Dakota Cox (20 tackles) is on his way to leading the team in tackles for the fourth straight season.

San Diego State Aztecs: (3-0)

9/3 New Hampshire: W 31-30

9/10 California: W 45-40

9/17 @Northern Illinois: W 42-28

The defending conference champions are off to a hot start, ranked 19th in AP poll through the first four weeks. Returning Mountain West offensive player of the year in senior tailback Donnell Pumphrey entered the Heisman trophy conversation after posting 599 rushing yards through four games to lead the country in the category. Pumphrey has also scored six touchdowns on the ground. Returning Mountain West defensive player of the year, senior cornerback Damontae Kazee, has two interceptions through three games, while 2015 first team all-conference linebacker Calvin Munson leads the league in tackles with 34.

Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eric_Wolf5