Karson Roberts spent part of his Tuesday going to class and walking around the Air Force Academy with an ESPN crew following his every move.
It wasn’t the quarterback’s launch to stardom that prompted the move – though he certainly has played well as the Falcons have won four of five to earn bowl eligibility – but rather a launch he’ll be part of in September at Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Roberts is among a group of cadets working on a capstone project that will culminate in placing a satellite in orbit. Outside military and civilian personnel are also involved, but the day-to-day testing and preparation largely fall on Roberts and his group.
When ESPN decided to take its set to the academy in honor of Veterans Day on Wednesday, the combination of Roberts’ prestige as the quarterback of the football team and out-of-the-ordinary work as a cadet made him a natural pick for a special segment.
“It’s cool that they get to come and film and see a day in the life of what we do,” Roberts said. “It’s a cool opportunity.”
The ESPN exposure also comes at a pivotal part of the season for the Falcons.
At 6-3, 4-1 Mountain West, Air Force still controls its fate in the conference. In fact, if Boise State beats New Mexico this week and the Falcons can earn their 12th straight home victory by beating Utah State, then next week’s trip to Boise, Idaho, would determine the Mountain Division champion.
Air Force follows the games against Utah State and Boise State with a trip to New Mexico, which has won four of six.
“We look forward to playing these three really good teams here on the back half,” Roberts said.
Next game: vs. Utah State, 11 a.m. Saturday (ESPN3)
Notable: Air Force’s defense hasn’t surrendered a touchdown in 11 quarters, with the only opposing touchdown in that span coming on a kickoff return in a 58-7 victory at Hawaii.
The (Colorado Springs) Gazette
Fresno State (2-7, 1-5) – Inside (Mike) linebacker Nela Otukolo, who did not play in the loss to Nevada because of a knee injury, likely will miss the final three games of the season.
With the freshman sidelined, Fresno State will have redshirt freshman walk-on George Helmuth from Clovis North High School in a backup role behind senior Kyrie Wilson.
Helmuth had one tackle in the loss to the Wolf Pack, giving him nine this season.
Otukolo is ranked 11th on the team with 25 tackles, including 16 solo, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks.
Next game: at Hawaii, 8 p.m. Saturday (KSEE-24.1)
Notable: Fresno State is 0-4 on the road, losing at Ole Miss before conference defeats against San Jose State, San Diego State and Air Force. The Bulldogs, who play at Hawaii on Saturday and at BYU next week, have not gone winless on the road since 1976 in a 5-6 season.
The Fresno Bee
Hawaii (2-8, 0-6) – The coaching change did not change the Rainbow Warriors’ fortunes.
Six days after Norm Chow was dismissed, the Warriors lost 41-21 to UNLV. It was their seventh consecutive loss, and sixth in six road games this season. The Warriors, at least, produced three touchdowns. The offense was held scoreless in four road games this year.
“I challenged those guys,” interim coach Chris Naeole said. “They didn’t meet the challenge this week.”
There were five dropped passes and two lost fumbles. The defense was burned for two 75-yard-plus touchdown passes and, during a UNLV drive late in the fourth quarter, the Warriors were assessed two unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties.
“That’s bull,” Naeole said of the Warriors’ frustration. “That’s very undisciplined.”
Next game: vs. Fresno State, 8 p.m. Saturday (KSEE-24.1)
Notable: Ikaika Woolsey started in place of Max Wittek last week and is expected to make his third start at quarterback against Fresno State. ... The Warriors, who were on the road six of the past nine weeks, play their final three games at Aloha Stadium.
Nevada (5-4, 3-2) – Nevada’s senior day celebration Saturday won’t take very long.
The Wolf Pack has only 12 seniors on its roster (including former Edison High standout Rykeem Yates), the eighth-fewest in the nation. But coach Brian Polian, in his third year at Nevada, said the seniors have been instrumental in the development of his program.
“I appreciate this class a great deal,” Polian said. “They’ve been through a lot of transition. The vast majority of these guys weren’t recruited by us. These guys have had to buy in and they’ve been terrific. There’s been great leadership even though this class has been small.”
Next game: vs. San Jose State, 1 p.m. Saturday
Notable: On the field, a lot is on the line when Nevada plays SJSU on Saturday. A win would make Nevada bowl eligible for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons. ... Nevada’s leading tackler, Asauni Rufus (Bakersfield High), is suspended for the first half against San Jose State after he was ejected against Fresno State for targerting the Bulldogs’ Jamire Jordan.
San Diego State (6-3, 5-0) – Junior Donnel Pumphrey rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 47 yards and a score in the Aztecs’ victory at Colorado State.
It was his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game, and he surpassed 1,000 yards for the second consecutive year (one of five players in school history with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons). He passed Larry Ned into second place in school history with 3,650 career rushing yards (Marshall Faulk, 4,589).
Up next: vs. Wyoming, 7:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network)
Notable: Pumphrey (offense), junior cornerback Damontae Kazee (defense) and senior Donny Hageman (special teams) swept the MW weekly awards – just the sixth time in the conference’s 17-year history a team has swept the weekly awards (excluding co-players).
Bee news services
San Jose State (4-5, 3-2) – It’s showdown week in the Eastern Sierra where the Spartans’ season probably will be decided Saturday at Nevada.
San Jose State is in a predicament after failing to make a two-point conversion with 45 seconds left Friday in a 17-16 loss to BYU. The loss amplifies the importance of the conference game in Reno because San Jose State needs to win two of its final three games to become bowl eligible.
“This is a great battle for second place in the West,” Spartans coach Ron Caragher said. “We know a lot’s on the line.”
Next game: at Nevada, 1 p.m. Saturday
Notable: The Spartans, who have lost six in a row in November, have won only once in the past 11 games against Nevada. It gets worse: San Jose State hasn’t won in Reno since 2000.
San Jose Mercury News
UNLV (3-6, 2-3) – Winning three games isn’t a big deal to most teams.
It is to the Rebels.
That’s because hitting that mark hasn’t been easy for UNLV, which finished eight of the previous 11 seasons stuck on two victories.
But with Saturday’s 41-21 victory over Hawaii, UNLV reached that key third victory.
“We’ve been in search of it and close to it for a long darn time,” UNLV first-year coach Tony Sanchez said. “That’s a benchmark. It’s not the goal by any means. Now we can show it on paper because we’re improving.”
Next game: at Colorado State, 4 p.m.
Notable: Against Hawaii, UNLV lost just its second fumble of the season, which ties 13 other teams for the national lead. Both lost fumbles were by quarterbacks, and UNLV is one of nine teams without a lost fumble by a running back.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Boise State (7-2, 4-1) – The Broncos allowed 505 rushing yards in a win last year at New Mexico – an ugly defensive performance that became a hot topic this week with the Lobos visiting Boise on Saturday.
New Mexico runs the triple option and baffled Boise State last year, particularly in a 42-point first half.
“Not fond ones,” Broncos linebacker Ben Weaver said of his memories of that game. “Ones I don’t like to remember but stuff we definitely reflect on and use to get better this year.”
New Mexico scored on offensive plays covering 75, 49 and 75 yards that day. The Lobos also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
The Lobos rank 13th in the FBS this year with 235.4 rushing yards per game. They’re coming off a win over Utah State and are one win from bowl eligibility.
Their win last week put Boise State back in control of its destiny in the Mountain Division.
Next game: vs. New Mexico, 7:15 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU)
Notable: True freshman quarterback Brett Rypien leads the MW with 286.1 yards of total offense per game. Nevada quarterback Tyler Stewart is second at 212.6.
(Boise) Idaho Statesman
Colorado State (4-5, 2-3) – While Rams players have struggled to adjust to new offensive and defensive schemes and a new coaching staff, the coaches have had to adapt their thinking, too.
Coach Mike Bobo and his assistants have had to learn what their players do well and what they don’t do well and create and adjust their game plans accordingly.
It’s one thing to see that an opposing team is vulnerable to a draw play or the deep pass and another to figure out how your team can take advantage.
“Anybody can take a pen and a greaseboard, and say, ‘They’re lined up in this front and this coverage,’ and say, ‘This is how we’re going to attack it.’ It can work,” Bobo said. “But you’ve got to be able to do what you can do. We’re a work in progress on that.”
Next game: vs. UNLV, 4 p.m. Saturday
Notable: The Rams remain one of the most-penalized teams in the nation after being flagged 10 times for 101 yards at Wyoming. CSU averages 8.8 penalties a game, No. 125 among the nation’s 128 FBS teams, for an average of 80.4 yards. Bobo said the Rams might start paying for officials to attend practices to address the problem.
Fort Collins Coloradoan
New Mexico (5-4, 3-2) – The Lobos are 0-for-life against Boise State, and the games against the Broncos in Idaho’s capital have been particularly onerous.
The Lobos will line up on the blue turf again Saturday, hoping better things await. In three games at Albertsons Stadium, New Mexico is 0-3 — New Mexico is 0-6 against the Broncos overall — and has been outscored 110-26.
But energized by last week’s 14-13 upset of Utah State (a team that beat Boise State) and by the prospects of the program’s first bowl bid since 2007, the Lobos are feeling good about themselves.
“(The Utah State win) builds our confidence going into these last three games and going up to Boise,” linebacker Dakota Cox said. “I think we made a statement, definitely.”
Next game: at Boise State, 7:15 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU)
Notable: New Mexico’s five victories are the program’s most in a season since 2007, when the Lobos went 9-4 and beat Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl.
Utah State (5-4, 4-2) – The Aggies’ quarterback situation remains unchanged, according to coach Matt Wells.
Sophomore Kent Myers will start Saturday at Air Force, with fifth-year senior Chuckie Keeton as the primary backup. Sophomore Damion Hobbs will play, too, when Utah State uses a package of plays designed specifically for his ability to run the football.
All three quarterbacks played in last week’s 14-13 loss at New Mexico.
Keeton saw his first action since suffering a knee injury Sept. 19 at Washington after Myers was dazed on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Lobos linebacker Kimmie Carson in the second quarter. Carson was called for roughing the passer but was not ejected. On Sunday, he was handed a half-game suspension by the Mountain West.
Next game: at Air Force, 11 a.m. Saturday (ESPN3)
Notable: Kicker Brock Warren was 8 for 8 on field goals this season before missing a 41-yarder with 59 seconds left against New Mexico.
Salt Lake Tribune
Wyoming (1-9, 1-5) – For much of the season, and during their three-game losing streak, there’s been one common theme for the Cowboys – slow starts defensively.
Wyoming has allowed foes to score touchdowns on their first offensive possessions the last three games.
And things snowballed from there.
On Oct. 24 at Boise State, the Broncos scored on their first four offensive possessions. They led 17-0 after the first quarter and 24-7 at halftime and won 34-14.
Six days later at Utah State, the Aggies scored on their first six drives. They led 30-14 at halftime and won 58-27.
In Saturday’s 26-7 home loss to Colorado State, Wyoming allowed the Rams to score on their first four possessions. The Rams led 17-0 after the first quarter and 23-0 at halftime.
The Cowboys gave up 48 points in the first quarter in those games.
“That’s been frustrating,” coach Craig Bohl said. “We’re going to work hard defensively on starting faster and do some pin-pointed things in practice aimed toward that. Some of that is growing pains, even though it’s late in the year. We need to start better.”
Third down also has been an issue for the Cowboys. Even though Colorado State was 3 of 11 on third down, Wyoming has allowed foes to make 45.2 percent of their third-down conversions – 111th out of 127 teams in the FBS.
Next game: at San Diego State, 7:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network)
Notable: Bohl said he “would be surprised” if redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman doesn’t start Saturday. Coffman missed the last two games with a right shoulder injury. He was cleared to play against Colorado State but didn’t get a lot of practice time in the days leading up to the game. Said Coffman: “I’m 100 percent sure I am going to play this week.”
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
This week’s games
- Utah State at Air Force, 11 a.m.
- San Jose State at Nevada, 1 p.m.
- UNLV at Colorado State, 4 p.m.
- New Mexico at Boise State, 7:15 p.m.
- Wyoming at San Diego State, 7:30 p.m.
- Fresno State at Hawaii, 8 p.m. (KSEE-24.1)