Scaling the Mountain West

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By Jon Gold, Kourosh Safavi & Simon Samano (No. 14) Utah Utes (4-0): 49

Air Force Falcons (2-2): 35

For the first time in this short season, the Utah Utes wereactually tested. That the exam came from Mountain West Conferencerival Air Force bodes well for the conference.

Running back Marty Johnson tied a school record with fourtouchdowns – his longest coming from only 8 yards out, and theUtes are off to their first 4-0 start in 10 years.

The game turned out to be a showcase of two top-flightmultidimensional quarterbacks. Falcons’ QB Shaun Carney bested Utahhurler Alex Smith on the ground with 95 yards and three touchdowns(compared to 84 yards and one score for Smith), but Smith proved tobe the more efficient passer.

Smith finished the contest 13-of-23 for 260 yards and twotouchdowns, and found wide receiver Paris Warren six times for 137yards.

Wyoming Cowboys (2-1): 37

Ole Miss Rebels (1-3): 32

For the first time in Joe Glenn’s tenure, the Cowboys got abenchmark victory over a renowned opponent. Wyoming had been 0-8against Southeastern Conference opponents, though it must be notedthat the Rebels are off to their worst start since 1988.

Cowboy Josh Barge had an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown, andthe Wyoming defense teamed for four interceptions on the night. Theloss overshadowed two spectacular nights for Ole Miss players:running back Veshon Pearson had 139 yards on the ground, and widereceiver Mario Hill had eight catches for 140 yards.

Boise State (4-0): 28

BYU (1-3): 27

After a heartbreaking 28-27 loss to Boise State, BYU’s recorddropped to 1-3 on the season. The Cougars had an opportunity to winthe game, but kicker Matt Pyne missed a 38-yard field goal attemptwith 23 seconds remaining in the contest. BYU quarterback John Beckhad a monster game, completing 20-of-35 passes for 390 yards and twotouchdowns, but it was all for naught. Wideout Tyler Jones alsofinished with gaudy numbers, hauling in nine catches for 211 yardsand a touchdown. Boise State continues to boast the nation’s longestwinning streak and is now up to 15-straight victories.

Colorado State Rams (1-3): 39

Montana State Bobcats (1-2): 14

Quarterback Justin Holland and the Colorado State Rams tookadvantage of their Division I-AA opponent Montana St.ate Saturdaynight, downing the Bobcats by a score of 39-14. Holland threw for 311yards and two touchdowns and was the main catalyst in the Rams’victory. The win marks CSU’s first of the season and got the 1-3 Ramsback on track after they were off to their worst start since 1987.Despite the win, CSU still gave up 308 yards of total offense and hasa long way to go on defense if it hopes to be a Mountain Westcontender in 2004.

Utah State Aggies (2-2): 31

UNLV Rebels (0-4): 21

Turnovers were the deciding factor in Las Vegas as Utah Statesnapped a nine-game road losing streak against UNLV 31-21. Rebelquarterback Kurt Nantkes completed 20 of 35 pass attempts for 283yards but also threw four interceptions – two of them to Aggiedefensive back Robert Watts. One of Watts’ picks proved to beespecially costly when, in the third quarter, he returned it 90 yardsfor a touchdown.

UNLV running back Dominique Dorsey rushed for 189 yards on 18carries in the losing effort. The Rebels also dominated in totaloffense with 500 yards to Utah State’s 291, but also had those fourturnovers to Utah State’s none.

New Mexico Lobos (2-2): 38

New Mexico State Aggies (1-3): 3

New Mexico had no trouble beating its in-state rival as it pummeled New Mexico State, 38-3.

Lobo running back D.D. Cox rushed for 110 yards and threetouchdowns, and New Mexico’s defense shut down the Aggies’ offense.Before this game, Cox had 50 yards rushing. He took turns against NewMexico State, running through holes with DonTrell Moore. Moore leftthe game in the third quarter with a strained ligament and had 92yards on 17 carries before the injury. His status was unknown atpresstime.