Mountain West Report: Boise State, UNR endure trying seasons


boise state, unr endure trying seasons

UNR’s 34-31 overtime upset of Boise State was one of college football’s most memorable moments in the 2010 season, two teams that would finish in the top 11.

Now the programs face considerably different circumstances, with Boise State playing far below its usually high standards and the UNR staring at an even more shaky future.

For both programs, the slide began almost the moment that 2010 season ended.

Boise State, which is known for finding hidden gems, had such a disappointing recruiting class in 2011 that more than a third from that group no longer is on the roster. The Broncos also have been damaged by suspensions and injuries over the past year as well as NCAA sanctions that took away nine scholarships over three years, a period that ends after this academic year.

Injuries caused six starters to sit out Friday’s 37-20 loss to Brigham Young, including quarterback Joe Southwick, the first Broncos quarterback to miss a start because of injury in 11 years. That defeat dropped the Broncos to 5-3, their worst record at this point in a season since 2001.

Whether Boise State ever returns to the days when it competes on a national level is uncertain, but the trend downward doesn’t appear to be permanent. For a little perspective, Boise State and UNLV possess the same record, but Broncos fans are panicking, and those who follow the Rebels are starting to get excited.

UNR’s issues might be longer term, not a good sign for first-year coach Brian Polian, who recently said, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal that “there is a myth out there that I inherited a well-oiled machine.” Polian should ask Rebels coach Bobby Hauck about taking over a tough job.

The Wolf Pack’s 27-22 loss to UNLV on Saturday underscored the problems. They were undisciplined (13 penalties for 105 yards) and outplayed in falling to 3-5.

That might only be the beginning of the problems, with defensive tackle Jordan Hanson telling the Gazette-Journal: “I just hope that (the loss) proves to guys that everything that happens in practice and stuff that happens off the field ends up repeating itself on the field.”

Hard to imagine such a quote emanating from a Chris Ault-coached UNR team.

It might be time for a reality check in Reno. A Gazette-Journal columnist claimed in Sunday’s paper that despite the loss the Wolf Pack had better talent than UNLV, and that might be true if you don’t count quarterback, running back, receiver, both lines, linebacker and the secondary.

UNR’s special teams clearly were better, and that advantage allowed the Wolf Pack to be in position to keep the game close down the stretch.

So the long-proud program is in an unfamiliar situation, and Ault and Colin Kaepernick aren’t walking through the door.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Air Force has lost seven games in a row, its longest skid since 1979. … Fresno State is 4-0 in games decided by seven points or fewer. … Hawaii is 0-7 for the first time since going 0-12 in 1998. … San Jose State linebacker Keith Smith leads the nation with 14.4 tackles per game. … Wyoming, which gave up 52 and 51 points in consecutive losses to Colorado State and San Jose State, fired defensive coordinator Chris Tormey on Tuesday. Defensive line coach Jamar Cain was named the interim coordinator.

POWER RANKINGS

1. No. 16 Fresno State (7-0, 4-0 MW). Last game: Defeated San Diego State 35-28 in overtime. Next game: vs. UNR, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 52-36 in 2012.

2. Boise State (5-3, 3-1). Last game: Lost to Brigham Young 37-20. Next game: at Colorado State, Saturday. Won 42-14 in 2012.

3. San Jose State (4-3, 3-1). Last game: Defeated Wyoming 51-44. Next game: at UNLV, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 55-48 in 1997.

4. Utah State (4-4, 3-1). Last game: Defeated New Mexico 45-10. Next game: vs. Hawaii, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 35-31 in 2011.

5. Colorado State (4-4, 2-1). Last game: Defeated Hawaii 35-28. Next game: vs. Boise State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 42-14 in 2012.

6. San Diego State (3-4, 2-1). Last game: Lost to Fresno State 35-28 in overtime. Next game: vs. New Mexico, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 35-7 in 2011.

7. UNLV (5-3, 3-1). Last game: Defeated UNR 27-22. Next game: vs. San Jose State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 55-48 in 1997.

8. Wyoming (4-4, 2-2). Last game: Lost to San Jose State 51-44. Next game: vs. Fresno State, Nov. 9. Last meeting: Lost 42-14 in 2012.

9. UNR (3-5, 2-3). Last game: Lost to UNLV 27-22. Next game: at No. 16 Fresno State, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 52-36 in 2012.

10. New Mexico (2-5, 0-3). Last game: Lost to Utah State 45-10. Next game: at San Diego State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 35-7 in 2011.

11. Air Force (1-7, 0-5). Last game: Lost to Notre Dame 45-10. Next game: vs. Army, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 41-21 in 2012.

12. Hawaii (0-7, 0-5). Last game: Lost to Colorado State 35-28. Next game: at Utah State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 35-31 in 2011.

GAME OF THE WEEK

San Jose State (4-3, 3-1 MW) at UNLV (5-3, 3-1). The Rebels become bowl eligible with a victory, and San Jose State comes within a win of bowl eligibility if it prevails. The winner also remains alive in the West Division race.

MARK ANDERSON/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

 

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