Mountain West Ladder: Boise, Fresno en route to title game

Andy Avalos believes his Boise State Broncos football team got what they really deserved last Saturday.

“I’m a firm believer that if you live a certain way and with a certain purpose and live with grace, you’re going to make mistakes,” said Avalos, whose Broncos are ranked #1 in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings. “But eventually good things will happen to you.”

Last weekend, a lot of good things happened to the Broncos in Laramie, Wyo: Boise State defeated the No. 3 Wyoming Cowboys 20-17 to take the Mountain Division title and a championship game berth from Mountain West. The Broncos will make their sixth Mountain West title game appearance on December 3 when they host the West Division Champion Fresno State Bulldogs.

“I say it to young people all the time,” said Boise State wide receiver Billy Bowens. “There is nothing better than hosting and winning this championship.”

The Broncos, who last hosted and held the title in 2019, went 20-17 against Wyoming 7-20 on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Taylen Green to Bowens. Wyoming took a 10-0 lead in the first half with a 2-yard touchdown run from Wyatt Wieland and a 53-yard field goal from John Hoyland.

Boise State (8-3, 7-0) seemed on course to end the game with the ball at Wyoming’s 39-yard line in third place, less than a minute into the game. Boise State running back George Holani, who had 132 yards, then fumbled the ball away. The fumble, forced by nose tackle Gavin Meyer, was recovered and returned 44 yards to Boise State’s 21-yard line, 45 seconds before DeVonne Harris’ play at defensive end. It seemed like the game was likely going to overtime as Hoyland leads the Mountain West with 20 field goals this year.

Wyoming coach Craig Bohl, usually one of the more conservative coaches in the conference, then had an idea.

“I said to Tim (offensive coordinator Tim Polasek), ‘Let’s take a shot to get a touchdown,'” Bohl said.

That shot — a pass from quarterback Jayden Clemons to wide receiver Joshua Cribbs in the end zone — was intercepted by Boise State’s JL Skinner. Skinner also intercepted another Clemons pass at the Wyoming 44 with less than two minutes to play on Wyoming’s previous possession, giving him interceptions on two consecutive Wyoming plays.

“I want to get that straight,” said Bohl, whose Cowboys are 7-4, 5-2. “I gave the green light to this piece. Well, was it executed the way we wanted? Of course not. But if you want to be critical, then criticize me.”

A win over Boise State would have put Wyoming in the driver’s seat for the Mountain Division title as both teams would have been 6-1 in league play and the Cowboys would have owned the tiebreaker.

“That’s a slap in the face,” said Bohl. “I’m disappointed in Jayden. he hurts But we fight back. We are an aspiring football team.”

And Boise State is back in the Mountain West title game.

Boise’s opponent in the title game in two weeks didn’t have nearly as much trouble winning the West Division on Saturday night. No. 2 Fresno State (7-4, 6-1) demolished No. 11 Nevada 41-14 in Reno and led by 17 or more points in the last 47 minutes. Quarterback Jake Haener completed 29 of 42 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Nevada has now lost nine straight games to fall to 2-9 overall and 0-7 in league play.

“It was really nice to get an overall team win,” said Jeff Tedford, Fresno State coach.

“I came here in 2019 and every year my goal was to win a Mountain West championship,” said Haener, who signed on the transfer portal after last season before deciding to stay at Fresno State . “Now I finally have the opportunity.”

Fresno State had an unlikely run to the division title. The Bulldogs fell 1-4, 0-1 with a lopsided 40-20 loss at Boise State on Oct. 8. The Bulldogs have won six straight games since losing to Boise to win a rematch with the Broncos 3 .dec

“After the Boise game when we were 1-4 and things weren’t looking good, the guys in that (locker room) stayed balanced and confident,” Haener said.

No. 4 Air Force (8-3, 4-3) got past No. 10 Colorado State (2-9, 2-5), 24-12 at home. The Air Force sacked Colorado State quarterback Clay Millen seven times (four times by Vince Sanford) and controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes. Brad Roberts led the Air Force with 184 rushing yards and a touchdown.

“Against the Air Force, you know you’re going to have a limited amount of possessions and you’re going to be on the sidelines a lot,” said Millen, who served his freshman year in Nevada last season. “Every single possession has to count. We didn’t do that early in the game and it put us in a huge hole (17-0 at halftime).

Air Force has now won three straight games while Colorado State has lost its last four.

No. 5 San Diego State (7-4, 5-2) drilled No. 12 New Mexico, 34-10, in Albuquerque. San Diego State quarterback Jalen Mayden tossed Mekhi Shaw touchdown passes for 51 and 30 yards.

San Diego State has now won three straight games while New Mexico has lost eight straight. The Lobos were 0-of-11 on third down and had just nine first downs and 209 total yards.

No. 6 Utah State (6-5, 5-2) became bowl eligible and extended his winning streak to three with a 35-31 win over No. 7 San Jose State (6-3, 4-3). Elijah Cooks had touchdown catches of 36, 29 and nine yards for San Jose State. Spartans quarterback Chevan Cordeiro threw four touchdown passes (one to Jackson Canaan for a 31-28 lead with 6:42 left) in the loss.

Utah State took its final 35-31 lead on Calvin Tyler’s third touchdown run of the game. Tyler rushed for 125 yards with 30 carries.

No. 8 Hawaii (3-9, 2-5) defeated No. 9 UNLV, 31-25 in Honolulu as Brayden Schager rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns and Dedrick Parson rushed for 115 yards and a point.

UNLV (4-7, 2-5) lost for the sixth straight game and was eliminated from bowl consideration. The Rebels started the year 4-1, needing to win just two of their last seven games to qualify for the Bowl. Doug Brumfield rushed for 288 yards and a touchdown and rushed 55 yards for the Rebels against Hawaii.

“Frustrated is an understatement,” said UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo. “They played better than us. We just gave up.”

The Rebels will meet Nevada Saturday afternoon (3:00 p.m.) in the annual Battle for the Fremont Cannon. This is the first time in the rivalry’s 53-year history that both teams have gone into the game on losing streaks of six games or more.

The Nevada Appeal Mountain West soccer rankings for the week of November 28:

1. Boise State (8-3, 7-0). Last week: Boise State 20, Wyoming 17. This week: Utah State at Boise State, Friday. Dec. 3: Mountain West Championship Game: Fresno State at Boise State.

2. FRESNO STATE (7-4, 6-1). Last week: Fresno State 41, Nevada 14. This week: Wyoming at Fresno State, Friday. Dec. 3: Mountain West Championship Game: Fresno State at Boise State.

3 WYOMING (7-4, 5-2). Last week: Boise State 20, Wyoming 17. This week: Wyoming at Fresno State, Friday.

4. AIR FORCE (8-3, 4-3). Last week: Air Force 24, Colorado State 12. This week: Air Force at San Diego State, Saturday.

5. SAN DIEGO STATE (7-4, 5-2). Last week: San Diego State 34, New Mexico 10. This week: Air Force at San Diego State, Saturday.

6. UTAH STATE (6-5, 5-2). Last week: Utah State 35, San Jose State 31. This week: Utah State at Boise State, Friday.

7. SAN JOSE STATE (6-4, 4-3). Last week: Utah State 35, San Jose State 31. This week: Hawaii at San Jose State, Saturday.

8. HAWAII (3-9, 2-5). Last week: Hawaii 31, UNLV 25. This week: Hawaii in the state of San Jose, Saturday.

9.UNLV (4-7, 2-5). Last week: Hawaii 31, UNLV 25. This week: Nevada at UNLV, Saturday.

10. COLORADO STATE (2-9, 2-5). Last week: Air Force 24, Colorado State 12. This week: New Mexico, Colorado State, Friday.

11.NEVADA (2-9, 0-7). Last week: Fresno State 41, Nevada 14. This week: Nevada at UNLV, Saturday.

12. NEW MEXICO (2-9, 0-7). Last week: San Diego State 34, New Mexico 10. This week: New Mexico at Colorado State, Friday.

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