What Did We Learn From Our First Week of Mountain West Conference Football?

What an opening salvo from the Mountain West, huh? So much offense. I’ll have to start planning on a lot more #MountainWestAfterDark if this pace keeps up.

Hawai’i is going to run and shoot their way to a bowl game

The calendar just rolled over to September, but the Rainbow Warriors are already 2-0.

I’m not really sure which result was more surprising; hanging 43 points on Colorado State on the road, or racking up 59 at home against Navy? Two games into the season, Cole McDonald has already thrown for 846 yards and nine touchdowns, plus two more scores with his feet.

The offense has had its struggles, certainly. In both games, the ‘Bows nearly blew 30 and 28-point leads respectively because as good as they have been the offense has had some issues with sustaining their rhythm.

That is something that will get better as the season goes along, and the schedule gets easier before it gets harder. Already with two wins, Hawai’i will welcome Rice and Duquesne while traveling to face Army and San Jose State in the next month, and Army is the only opponent there who won’t be a heavy underdog.

We’ll say it now; Wyoming could be heading to the Big Island on the first Saturday of October to face a Hawai’i team that is already bowl eligible. I personally don’t think they quite will be, but it’s an interesting thought.

Speaking of Wyoming

The Cowboys defense dominated New Mexico State in a lopsided victory, and then…well, they played three really good quarters at home against Washington State before the Fightin’ Leaches pulled away with a 21-0 fourth quarter.

Nico Evans had another strong week running the ball, and the fact that the Pokes were still in this game heading into the fourth quarter despite Tyler Vander Waal finishing the night 8-for-20 for 67 yards and an interception says many good things.

We’ll find out just how good against a video game offense at Missouri next week.

The rest of the conference held serve…

Boise absolutely dominated Troy from wire to wire and Brett Rypien barely broke a sweat picking apart Troy’s defense. The humidity presented little challenge, and neither did the Trojan pass rush or secondary as Rypien went 20-for-26 for 305 yards and four touchdowns in the first three quarters.

Sure they’ll face tougher defenses as the year goes on, but this was a great way to get out of the gate.

Fresno State pounded the heck out of Idaho, and Air Force and Nevada did the same to Stony Brook and Portland State, respectively.

Utah State just missed a massive upset on the road against Michigan State, making it all the way to midfield on a potential game-tying drive before a turnover sealed the deal. Jordan Love looks like he is the real deal.

Sure, you could bring up Matt Wells’ atrocious record in one-score games right here, but I personall will give him a pass on the road against a Big Ten opponent.

New Mexico and San Jose State, though.

We can have a debate about the merits of a 62-30 win over an FCS opponent in Incarnate Word. On the one hand, you could easily argue that a 62-30 win is about the same in the end as a 32-0 win, and the former is a whole lot more interesting for the folks watching the game.

But if the defense gave up five pass plays of 20+ yards and a 90-yard touchdown run in the first half to Incarnate Word, there are at least 6 other offenses on the Lobos schedule that are much better.

San Jose State opened at home against an FCS opponent, and while UC Davis is improving and has offensive guru Dan Hawkins as their head coach, they’re still an FCS opponent.

The Spartans lost 44-38 but it was more like 47-31 since UCD missed a field goal on their last offensive drive, and the Spartans scored with 1:24 to create some false hope. I know that SJSU isn’t expected to do much this season, but starting the year giving up 589 yards and 44 points to an FCS opponent, even a good one, is not doing anyone any favors.

What to look for next week

A lot of ugly games.

Boise and San Diego State are going to have little issue with UConn and Sacramento State.

New Mexico, Colorado State and San Jose State are likely to get waxed by Wisconsin, Arkansas and Washington State, and the same is likely true of Nevada at Vanderbilt.

So what’s left that’s interesting?

The rematch of last year’s Arizona Bowl could be intriguing, because Utah State moved the ball well against Michigan State and are unlikely to get the same shootout against New Mexico State.

It will also continue to be very interesting to watch Hawai’i’s offense against Rice, as well as to see if Fresno State can keep their momentum against a good but young and beatable Minnesota squad.

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