Fresno State Football

September 2, 2014

Mountain West Review: Tough opening week starts with UNLV

There was a, 'Whoa, that's not good.' Then woe, which is never good. And now much of the Mountain West Conference including Fresno State and Utah State, last season's division champions, have some explaining to do after absorbing blowout losses to open the season.

Not quite as much as UNLV, though.

In an opening week in which Mountain West teams went 1-5 against Power Five opponents and 1-6 against bowl subdivision opponents -- the six losses by an average of 24.2 points -- no team was taken apart like the Rebels in what was one of the worst opening losses by a team in conference history.

UNLV gave up 32 first downs.

It gave up 21 plays of 10 or more yards and eight of 20 or more yards.

It allowed 787 yards of offense.

It lost 58-13.

And it could have been worse.

"We missed a few, too," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said of quarterback Anu Solomon. "He had 425 yards, but he could have had 700 if we didn't miss a few things."

The Rebels did at least make the Wildcats punt, three times -- which is more than Fresno State could do while getting drilled by USC in the worst season-opening loss in program history.

Fresno State gave up 37 first downs.

It gave up 26 plays or 10 or more yards and seven of 20 or more yards.

It allowed 701 yards of offense.

It lost 52-13.

And it could have been worse.

"I know there's a few things we'll want back," USC coach Steve Sarkisian said. "All in all, first game together in a new system, I couldn't have asked for more."

These are lists that no team wants to be anywhere near the top line, but here goes ...

Most points allowed by a Mountain West team in a season-opening game:

72: New Mexico in 72-0 loss at Oregon on Sept. 4, 2010
58: UNLV in 58-13 loss at Arizona on Aug. 29, 2014
58: Nevada in 58-20 loss at UCLA on Aug. 31, 2013
56: Air Force in 56-14 loss to Cal on Sept. 4, 2004
52: Fresno State in 52-13 loss at USC on Aug. 30, 2014
51: UNLV in 51-17 loss at Wisconsin on Sept. 1, 2011
51: UNLV in 51-23 loss at Minnesota on Aug. 29, 2013
51: Fresno State in 52-51 OT victory vs. Rutgers on Aug. 29, 2013

Most yards allowed by a Mountain West team in a season-opening game:

787: UNLV in 58-13 loss at Arizona on Aug. 29, 2014
720: New Mexico in 72-0 loss at Oregon on Sept. 4, 2010
701: Fresno State in 52-13 loss at USC on Aug. 30, 2014
654: San Diego State in 45-17 loss at Washington State on 2007
647: Nevada in 58-20 loss at UCLA on Aug. 31, 2013
606: New Mexico in 41-6 loss at Texas A&M on 2009

The fewest yards allowed by a Mountain West team in a season-opening game is 86 when Colorado State had the good fortune to open against Weber State in 2006.

The good thing for the Bulldogs and the Rebels is that they can bounce back, and they aren't likely to see anything like USC or Arizona in conference play.

UNLV has a lot of practice at it -- the loss at Arizona was its fifth in a row to open a season and it has allowed an average of 46.2 points in those games, giving up 50 or more three times.

For Fresno State, the track record is a bit different. Under coach Tim DeRuyter, the Bulldogs are 4-0 following a regular-season loss and have won those games by an average of 25 points.

FINALLY, A FIELD GOAL FOR SDSU

San Diego State's Donny Hageman made a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter of a 38-7 victory against Northern Arizona, snapping a long streak of misses for the Aztecs that might have started to impact the way they navigated in and around the red zone.

That was their first make since Sept. 28, 2013, against New Mexico State. They went nine games without a made field goal, the only FBS team without at least one in that stretch. And it's not as if the misses were that tough. San Diego State kickers missed from 40, 39, 37, 40, 37, 35, 38 and 44 yards.

Toward the end of the middle to the end of last season, San Diego State lost possession on downs rather than attempt field goals from inside an opponent's 30-yard line 10 times, and the Aztecs finished the season ranked last in the Mountain West and 120th in the bowl subdivision with a red-zone conversion rate of 71.2% with 37 scores (31 touchdowns) in 52 attempts.

THIRD-AND-SHORT

New Mexico turned over the football three times in the final 4:33 of a 31-24 loss to UTEP, but the flip side of that is even more startling. The Lobos have not forced a turnover in eight games going back to an interception in the fourth quarter of a 66-17 victory against New Mexico State last season.
• Is Boise State is going backward? A 35-13 loss to Mississippi alone doesn't prove that, but that loss was the Broncos' fourth by double-digits in their past 14 games. Last season, they lost 38-6 at Washington, 37-20 at Brigham Young and 38-23 to Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl. Boise State had a total of four double-digit losses from 2005 through 2012.
Colorado State had two running backs rush for more than 100 yards in its victory over Colorado -- Dee Hart led the Rams with 139 yards on 22 plays and Treyous Jarrells added 121 yards on 17. That is the first time the Rams have done that since a 1996 victory over Tennessee-Chattanooga.
San Jose State beat North Dakota 42-3 in its opener and has now scored 156 points over its past three games, including a 58-52 loss to Navy in triple overtime and a 62-52 victory over Fresno State. That is the most ever in a three-game span for the Spartans. They had scored 151 over three games in 1948 in victories over Pepperdine (61-6), Cal Poly (47-7) and UC Santa Barbara (43-13).
• The four interceptions that Fresno State threw in its loss at USC (three by Brandon Connette, one by Brian Burrell) were the most it has had in a game since a 24-14 loss at San Jose State to end the 2006 season when Tom Brandstater was picked off four times.
Fresno State also did not have a touchdown pass in a game for the first time since a 57-7 loss to Boise State on Oct. 7, 2011.
Colorado State had the conference's only win against a Power Five opponent, beating Colorado 31-17. The Mountain West did go 5-0 against championship subdivision opponents, but Nevada beat Southern Utah by nine points and Wyoming beat Montana by only five. Last year, the Mountain West went 1-7 in the opening week of the season against bowl subdivision opponents.
Air Force has an eight-year winning streak in the opening game of the season, and it is clear why: Since a 31-30 loss at Tennessee in 2006, the Falcons have opened against South Carolina State, Southern Utah, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, South Dakota, Idaho State, Colgate and Nicholls State again.

TURNOVER OVER

In a 38-7 loss at Tennessee, Utah State had a streak of 23 consecutive games with at least one turnover forced snapped. It was the fourth longest streak in the nation, now gone.

Nevada, which ranked 76th in the bowl subdivision in fumble recoveries last season with eight and 82nd in interceptions with 10 now has the longest turnover forced streak in the conference.

And the Aggies have a lot of company starting from zero ...

Nevada: 14 straight games with a turnover; last game without a turnover: Dec. 1, 2012, vs. Boise State
Boise State: 6 and Oct. 23, 2013, at Brigham Young
Fresno State: 4, and Nov. 23 2013, vs. New Mexico
San Diego State: 2 and Nov. 30, 2013, at UNLV
San Jose State: 2 and Nov. 22, 2013, vs. Navy
Air Force: 0 and Aug. 30, 2014, vs. Nicholls State
Colorado State: 0 and Aug. 29, 2014, vs. Colorado
Hawaii: 0 and Aug. 30, 2014, vs. Washington
New Mexico: 0 and Aug. 30, 2014, vs. UTEP
UNLV: 0 and Aug. 29, 2014, at Arizona
Utah State: 0 and Aug. 31, 2014, at Tennessee
Wyoming: 0 and Aug. 30, 2014, vs. Montana

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