Mountain West continues its conference with this weekend with four league games. Here is an overview of the 11th week of the college football season from WM's perspective, with seven questions to be answered this week.
1. Will the state of Fresno or the state of Utah exceed the .500 mark?
Few people thought that the states of Fresno and Utah would both sit at 4-4 after eight games this season. In the preliminary poll, the Bulldogs were chosen to win the West Division, while the Aggies were selected to finish second in the mountain. The two teams were expected to compete for the titles of their divisions and although each team still has the opportunity to do so, none of them are in an excellent position. The state of Utah lost two games in a row and struggled in attack as Fresno State has hovered between wins and losses in its last five games. The teams will face Fresno this weekend. The winner will maintain his division hopes and the loser will fall below the .500 mark and risk missing a bowl match.
2. Can Hawaii and SJSU rank among the top 100?
I do not expect a lot of defense when San Jose State will play in Hawaii on Saturday. The Rainbow Warriors have allowed 187 points in their last four games (46.8 per game) and the Spartans have conceded 208 points in the last six games (or 34.7 per game). Although these defenses experienced difficulties, both offensives seemed excellent for a good part of the year. Hawaii and the state of San Jose rank first and second respectively in the pass (and third and seventh of the nation). The over / under is expected for 76.5 points, but would you be surprised to see the teams total 1000 yards and 100 points? It may be a bit exaggerated, but it's going to be a very successful affair.
3. Will SDSU improve the attack?
In contrast, Nevada-SDSU has 39 points, the lowest for a Pack match since at least 2000 (and probably the lowest of all times). It's a miracle. SDSU is one of the top 25 teams given the difficulties of his attack. It also reflects the strength of the defense and the special teams of the Aztecs, both elites. But for SDSU to remain in the Top 25 and win the Mountain West, its offensive needs to improve. This week's game with Nevada is a perfect opportunity. The Wolf Pack allows 34.6 points per game, although the unit has been stronger in the last month. SDSU has scored more than 27 points just once this season (31 points vs. 0-8 New Mexico State).
4. Will Boise State keep pace with the AAC?
The American Athletic Conference had four teams in the first College Football Playoff ranking released Tuesday while the MW only had one (Boise State). In the AAC, Cincinnati (20th), Memphis (21st), Marine (24th) and SMU (25th) took Boise State (22nd). The Broncos will face Wyoming this weekend and, faced with a defeat against BYU, Boise State has no room for error. If the Broncos lose again, they will not get the New Year's split at the Group 5. Even running the table might not result. The first thing is the first, however. Boise State must win the Mountain Division, and a loss to the Cowboys this weekend would leave the Broncos behind Wyoming, given the decisive situation.
5. How will Tyler Vander Waal behave?
Wyoming lost quarterback Sean Chambers for the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury during the win against Nevada two weeks ago. After a leave from last week, Tyler Vander Waal, a sophomore, takes over the position he has held since last season after Chambers broke his leg. Vander Waal has therefore experience, even if he had trouble throwing the ball. Vander Waal has only completed 4 passes on 16 this season while he completed 47.3% of his career attempts. He has an average of only 5.3 yards per attempt (an exceptionally low number) and is far from the current threat of Chambers. Vander Waal's first test (at Boise State) is not easy, although the Broncos have allowed 39 points per game in his last three outings.
6. Will Nevada score on SDSU?
The Nevada-SDSU match pits MW's best defense (SDSU) against its worst attack (Nevada), according to ESPN's Football Power Index. The Wolf Pack has not been laundered since September 5, 2009 at Notre Dame, a series of 136 consecutive games with at least one point. It is the third longest sequence of MW behind the states of Boise (287) and Utah (150). Nevada has been close to a white game three times this season, scoring three points against Wyoming and Hawaii and six against Oregon. The defense of the Aztecs is of a similar caliber to that of the Oregon group. It will be difficult for Nevada to move the ground ball against SDSU, although the Wolf Pack has had decent success against the Aztecs defense in recent seasons.
7. Hope that New Mexico will come out?
New Mexico had to face Air Force this weekend, but the game was postponed to November 23 following the death of defensive lineman Nahje Flowers. No cause of death has been unveiled and New Mexico has provided grief counselors to its players and staff. It's the third time that a student-athlete from New Mexico has died in four years after the death of footballer Mark Byrd in a car accident in December 2015 and the death of baseball player Jackson Weller in last May. It's far too tragic for a sports department in this time frame.
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