Yet in terms of how they got there, last Saturday’s results in that league made those who have followed those teams all season sit up and scratch their hand, virtually across the board.
It all started with an early afternoon kick in Fort Collins, where host Colorado State was bet from a two-touchdown favorite down inside of 10 points against Air Force. The Rams led 21-14 midway through the second quarter, but the Flyboys were responsible for five of the last six scores in a 45-28 upset. The Falcons gashed CSU for 413 yards on the ground on 74 carries to move to 4-4 on the season and up to 3-2 in MWC play. Colorado State was cruising along and seemed to have one eye the Boise State matchup on Nov. 11 that should decide the Mountain division. They fell to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the league.
New Mexico traveled to Wyoming with just a 1-3 league record, while Wyoming was 2-1. Yet the Cowboys were laying less than a field goal, meaning the NCAAF oddsmakers thought that the Lobos were a slightly better team on a neutral field. But seven turnovers later, the Lobos were thrashed 42-3 in Laramie. All of the home team’s points were scored in less than 17 minutes spanning the end of the first quarter to the 58-second mark before halftime.
October was a lost month for Bob Davie’s team, as the Lobos were 3-2 on the season after mauling Air Force 56-38 on the last day of September. Now they sit at 3-5 and will have to win three of their last four to make it to a bowl game. Wyoming is 5-3 and appears poised to make it to a bowl game despite several underwhelming performances this season. But at 3-1, the Cowboys can still win the division if Boise State trips up.
But the Broncos didn’t trip up last week, and astute sports bettors got out ahead of that. The Broncos were bet up from 9-point favorites and ended up closing in the minus-13 range. They never struggled in handling Utah State in Logan, 41-14. Boise is now 4-0 in league play and 6-2 overall, having progressed nicely and winning four straight since a puzzling home loss to Virginia. Three of those Boise wins have been away from the vaunted blue turf. USU is now 4-5 overall and will need to win two of their last three to potential make a bowl game, but those three teams have combined for just eight wins.
San Diego State has had a couple of puzzling losses but got up off the mat to beat Hawaii in Honolulu, 28-7. That is one where the bettors who won with Boise gave it back on the Aztecs. That game opened around 11 points and was bet as low as minus-8 on Saturday. San Diego State still needs Fresno State to trip up three times to win the West division, but that number is now down to two.
In the biggest head-scratcher of all, UNLV went to Fresno as a 22-point dog and stunned the Bulldogs, 26-16. There was nothing fluky about it, as UNLV had more yards and scored the game’s final 10 points. Johnny Stanton played quarterback one week after making six tackles in a loss to Utah State. The Rebs were missing starting quarterback Armani Rogers to a concussion and his return is uncertain at this point. UNLV is now 3-5 and they’ll also need to win three of four to qualify for a bowl game.
While the talk in most college circles heading into this weekend is how things will play out now that the college football playoff rankings were released Tuesday, the non-power conferences have more modest goals. Despite all of the league’s mediocrity, 10 of the 12 league teams are still aspiring to get to a bowl game in the wacky Mountain West.