MW Notebook: Lobos shake up Mountain Division race

The Sports Xchange

November 15, 2015 at 7:48 pm.

Nov 14, 2015; Boise, ID, USA; New Mexico Lobos running back Teriyon Gipson (7) scores during second half action against the Boise State Broncos at Albertsons Stadium. New Mexico beat Boise State 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 14, 2015; Boise, ID, USA; New Mexico Lobos running back Teriyon Gipson (7) scores during second half action against the Boise State Broncos at Albertsons Stadium. New Mexico beat Boise State 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

New Mexico on Saturday completed a stunning two-weekend sweep of the Mountain Division’s top contenders, Boise State and Utah State.

The Lobos beat the Broncos 31-24 on the blue turf in Boise — just the fifth time since 2000 that Boise State has lost at home.

The win gives New Mexico — a program that has been one of the worst in college football in recent years — control of the Mountain Division race. If the Lobos can win at home against Colorado State and Air Force, they win the division.

If the Lobos lose a game, the division likely will go to the winner of Friday’s Boise State-Air Force game. Air Force also controls its destiny because of the finale at New Mexico.

San Diego State can clinch the West Division by winning this week at UNLV.

New Mexico led Boise State by two touchdowns twice in the second half Saturday night — 17-3 in the third quarter and 31-17 late in the fourth quarter. Still, the game came down to the final play. The Broncos ran a hook-and-lateral and wide receiver Austin Cottrell reached the 4-yard line before safety Markel Byrd made a one-on-one tackle in the open field.

New Mexico has won five of its past seven games, including a 14-13 win against Utah State that put the Lobos into the division race.

“We’d probably be kidding you if we thought we would be 6-4 after Utah State and Boise State,” coach Bob Davie said. “Maybe if you said we beat somebody earlier in the season and lost to Utah State and Boise State, maybe. But the scenario the way it has played out, it’s pretty amazing.”

AIR FORCE (7-3, 5-1)

Game: Air Force 35, Utah State 28. The Falcons unleashed their passing attack and held off a last-gasp drive by the Aggies for a critical conference win. Wide receiver Jalen Robinette made a 74-yard TD catch and finished with 210 receiving yards, the most by a Falcon since 1978.

Takeaway: Air Force earned its school-record 12th straight home win. But to win the Mountain Division, they’re going to have to do something about their road woes. The Falcons are 1-3 on the road. They play Boise State and New Mexico on the road to finish the season and likely need to win both games to win the division.

Next: at Boise State, Nov. 20

BOISE STATE (7-3, 4-2)

Game: New Mexico 31, Boise State 24. A slew of dropped passes and red-zone failures led to the Broncos’ first home loss in three years. Quarterback Brett Rypien threw three interceptions but all were catchable balls that hit his receivers. The Broncos lost despite 638 yards of offense and stopping all 10 of the Lobos’ third-down tries. New Mexico scored its four touchdowns thanks to four explosive plays.

Takeaway: Boise State has shown a habit the past three seasons of turning in a stinker a few times per season. This was the second time this year that the Broncos dug a huge hole with a series of mistakes. That’s also what happened at Utah State.

Next: vs. Air Force, Nov. 20


Game: Colorado State 49, UNLV 35. Star wide receiver Rashard Higgins caught three touchdown passes and running back Dalyn Dawkins rushed for 151 yards as the Rams’ offense clicked against the Rebels.

Takeaway: The Rams’ passing attack has been wildly inconsistent this season. Saturday was a good day, with quarterback Nick Stevens going 13-for-19 for 209 yards and four touchdowns.

Next: at New Mexico, Nov. 21

FRESNO STATE (3-7, 2-5)

Game: Fresno State 42, Hawaii 14. Quarterback Zack Greenlee, back in charge of the Bulldogs’ offense, threw six touchdown passes to lead the Fresno State rout. Greenlee also set career highs with 20 completions, 35 attempts and 285 passing yards.

Takeaway: The Bulldogs’ revolving door at quarterback stopped on Greenlee against Hawaii. It was a rare game in which the Bulldogs received quality QB play this season.

Next: at BYU, Nov. 21

HAWAII (2-9, 0-7)

Game: Fresno State 42, Hawaii 14. The Warriors generated 437 yards of offense but four turnovers, 11 penalties and six touchdown passes allowed to Fresno State’s anemic passing attack were more than enough to cause their eighth straight loss.

Takeaway: Competitive early in the season, the Warriors have become pushovers lately. They’ve lost their last three games by 51, 20 and 28 points.

Next: vs. San Jose State, Nov. 21

NEVADA (6-4, 4-2)

Game: Nevada 37, San Jose State 34 (OT). Tyler Stewart tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jarred Gipson in overtime to defeat the Spartans and get Nevada to bowl eligibility. Nevada forced overtime with a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Don Jackson’s TD run with 36 seconds left and Ahki Muhammad’s blocked field goal on the final play of regulation.

Takeaway: Nevada’s offense has shown nice balance recently. QB Tyler Stewart threw for 174 yards and three TDs and the ground game produced 235 yards and two TDs.

Next: at Utah State, Nov. 21

NEW MEXICO (6-4, 4-2)

Game: New Mexico 31, Boise State 24. Running back Jhurell Pressley busted a 74-yard TD run, wide receiver Delane Hart-Johnson made an 81-yard catch, tailback Teriyon Gipson had a 42-yard catch and running back Daryl Chestnut made a 30-yard catch — four plays that allowed the Lobos to score touchdowns without a single third-down conversion in the game. The victory put the Lobos in position to win the Mountain Division.

Takeaway: Coach Bob Davie’s reclamation project has started to produce results. The Lobos are bowl-eligible after wins against Utah State and Boise State and are two home wins away from the Mountain West championship game.

Next: vs. Colorado State, Nov. 21

SAN DIEGO STATE (7-3, 6-0)

Game: San Diego State 38, Wyoming 3. The Aztecs used their usual combination of a potent ground game and suffocating defense to improve to 6-0 in league play. Chase Price and Donnel Pumphrey combined for 292 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with each hitting the 140-yard mark.

Takeaway: San Diego State has won 18 straight games when rushing for 200 yards. The Aztecs have reached that mark in every conference game this season. With the way their defense is playing, that’s a recipe for success.

Next: at UNLV, Nov. 21

SAN JOSE STATE (4-6, 3-3)

Game: Nevada 37, San Jose State 34 (OT). San Jose State settled for a field goal on its overtime possession and gave up a touchdown pass on Nevada’s drive to lose. The Spartans led by a touchdown late in regulation but allowed a 75-yard touchdown drive. Then they set up a potential game-winning field goal, from 51 yards, but it was blocked.

Takeaway: The Spartans’ bowl hopes are in serious jeopardy. They have to win at Hawaii and beat Boise State in San Jose to get to six wins.

Next: at Hawaii, Nov. 21

UNLV (3-7, 2-4)

Game: Colorado State 49, UNLV 35. The Rebels lost QB Blake Decker late in the second quarter for the second time this season, which hampered their ability to keep up with the Rams’ offense. Decker was 13-for-19 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Backup Kurt Palandech rushed for a TD immediately after Decker left, but he was 9-for-24 in the game.

Takeaway: Decker’s injury hurt but the Rebels’ defense was the biggest issue. They allowed 325 rushing yards and four touchdown passes.

Next: vs. San Diego State, Nov. 21

UTAH STATE (5-5, 4-3)

Game: Air Force 35, Utah State 28. The teams traded touchdowns for three quarters but the Aggies couldn’t get the tying score in the fourth quarter. They drove inside the Air Force red zone late in the game. Utah State QB Kent Myers threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Hunter Sharp. The four TD passes covered at least 39 yards each.

Takeaway: The Aggies have gone from Mountain West favorites to possibly missing a bowl game in less than a month with three losses in four games. They’ll need to beat Nevada or BYU in Logan to get bowl-eligible.

Next: vs. Nevada, Nov. 21

WYOMING (1-10, 1-6)

Game: San Diego State 38, Wyoming 3. The Cowboys generated just 191 yards of offense while allowing 293 rushing yards. They converted one third down in 13 tries.

Takeaway: Even with QB Cameron Coffman back under center, the Cowboys were in over their head — just as they have been all season against the Mountain West’s top teams.

Next: vs. UNLV, Nov. 28


1. Bob Davie, coach of the year? New Mexico has beaten Utah State and Boise State this season, a stunning development for a team that was expected to do little. Davie, the former Notre Dame coach, has turned around the Lobos program.

2. San Diego State looks untouchable. The Aztecs have completely dominated on their way to a 6-0 Mountain West record. Their closest conference game was decided by 14 points. The most points they’ve allowed in those games is 17.

3. Nevada is going bowling. The Wolf Pack picked up their third straight win since an ugly loss at Wyoming to get bowl-eligible. The Wolf Pack still have a chance to win the West Division if San Diego State loses this week.

4. Blake Decker is one of the Mountain West’s most important players. UNLV has had to play two games and two halves without its quarterback this season. The Rebels lost the two full games and one of the games in which Decker missed the second half.

5. Watch out for Air Force. The Falcons beat top contenders Boise State and Colorado State last year but didn’t win the Mountain Division. This year, they’re in first place at 5-1.