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WEEK 8 RECAPDefense was the name of the game in Week 8 Mountain West Conference football action, as four of the league's defensive units forced a combined 16 turnovers to help Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico and Utah collect MWC victories. BYU, meanwhile, claimed its ninth straight home win with a non-conference rout of Eastern Washington.
On Thursday, Utah (5-3, 2-2 MWC) evened its Mountain West record at .500 with a 27-20 win over TCU (4-4, 1-3 MWC) in Fort Worth. The Utes, who picked off four passes in the contest, are enjoying a four-game win streak, the longest of head coach Kyle Whittingham's career.
Air Force (6-2, 5-1 MWC) is the first MWC squad of 2007 to become bowl-eligible following a 20-12 triumph over Wyoming (4-3, 1-2 MWC) Saturday in Colorado Springs. The Falcons, who are riding a three-game win streak for the second time this season, forced five turnovers while handing the Cowboys their second straight loss.
In Las Vegas, Colorado State (1-6, 1-3 MWC) forced four first-half turnovers and scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter on its way to a 48-23 win Saturday over UNLV (2-6, 1-3 MWC). With the victory, the Rams snapped a 13-game losing streak that dated back to October 12, 2006, while the Rebels suffered their fourth consecutive loss.
New Mexico (5-2, 2-1 MWC) scored a touchdown with 15 seconds remaining to rally for a 20- 17 victory over host San Diego State (2-5, 1-2 MWC) on Saturday. Trailing 17-10 midway through the third quarter, the Lobos pulled within four on a 38-yard field goal with 13:04 left to play, then later forced an Aztec turnover that set up the game-winning drive.
BYU (5-2) extended its win streak to four games with a 42-7 win over Football Championship Subdivision opponent Eastern Washington (4-3) Saturday in Provo. Holding a 14-7 edge with 10:15 to play in the second quarter, the Cougars scored the game's final 28 points to collect their ninth consecutive victory at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS (OCT. 18 & 20)
Thursday, October 18
Utah 27, TCU 20 (Fort Worth, Texas; Attendance - 25,391)
Saturday, October 18
New Mexico 20, San Diego State 17 (San Diego, Calif.; Attendance - 20,205)
Air Force 20, Wyoming 12 (Colorado Springs, Colo.; Attendance - 41,531)
Colorado State 48, UNLV 23 (Las Vegas, Nev.; Attendance - 19,266)
BYU 42, Eastern Washington (Provo, Utah; Attendance - 64,522)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (OCT. 22, 2007)
Offensive Player of the Week
GARTRELL JOHNSON, COLORADO STATE
Junior, RB, Miami Springs, Fla./Miami Springs
Gartrell Johnson rushed for a career-high 162 yards on 25 carries (6.5 avg.) and two touchdowns in Colorado State's 48-23 victory at UNLV. The win snapped a 13-game losing streak for the Rams. In the first quarter, Johnson put Colorado State on the scoreboard with a career-long 45-yard run. In the second quarter, he carried the ball eight times for 50 yards and capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
Defensive Player of the Week
BOBBY GIANNINI, AIR FORCE
Senior, Free Safety, Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Stevenson
Bobby Giannini recorded a career-high 15 tackles, including 11 solo stops, in Air Force's 20-12 win over Wyoming. Giannini also had a career-high three tackles for loss, forced two fumbles and returned a fumble for 85 yards for a touchdown. His fumble return for a touchdown came early in the fourth quarter when Giannini tackled Wyoming running back Wynel Seldon, forced the fumble and returned it 85 yards for the score to give Air Force a 14-9 lead.
Special Teams Player of the Week
LOUIE SAKODA, UTAH
Senior, Place Kicker, San Jose, Calif./Branham
Louie Sakoda connected on field goals of 41 and 32 yards in Utah's 27-20 road victory at TCU. Sakoda also averaged 44 yards on seven punts, including two 50-plus efforts (52 and 56).
|**WEEK #9 SCHEDULE**|
|**Air Force (6-2, 5-1)**||**New Mexico (5-2, 2-1)**||Thurs., Oct. 25/7 p.m. MT||VERSUS/SIRIUS|
|**UNLV (2-6, 1-3)**||**Wyoming (4-3, 1-2)**||Sat., Oct. 27/12 p.m. MT||The Mtn.|
|**Utah (5-3, 2-2)**||**Colorado State (1-6, 1-3)**||Sat., Oct. 27/3:30 p.m. MT||The Mtn.|
|**BYU (5-2, 3-0)**||**San Diego State (2-5, 1-2)**||Sat., Oct. 27/6:30 p.m. PT||The Mtn.|
WEEK 9 PREVIEW
Four conference tilts highlight the Week 9 schedule, with TCU taking the week off. On Thursday, Air Force visits New Mexico for a VERSUS-televised contest, beginning at 7 p.m. MT. Saturday's action will feature a tripleheader on The Mtn.-MountainWest Sports Network, beginning with a 12 p.m. MT match-up between UNLV and host Wyoming. Utah and Colorado State follow in a 3:30 p.m. MT kickoff in Fort Collins, while BYU travels to San Diego State for the nightcap at 6:30 p.m. PT.
BYU and New Mexico have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season. BYU (14th-90.4) and New Mexico (16th-94.7) also are ranked in the Top-20 nationally in rush defense and are allowing less than 100 yards rushing per game. Only three teams in MWC history have finished the year allowing less than 100 yards rushing per game (2006-TCU-76.8; 2003-UNM- 88.6; 2001-UNM 87.4).
BYU currently has a nine-game road win streak in MWC contests. The current streak breaks the old MWC mark of eight held by Utah from Nov. 16, 2002 through Nov. 13, 2004. BYU's streak started with a 27-24 win at New Mexico during the 2005 season.
BYU SETS CONSECUTIVE MWC WINS RECORD
BYU has set a Conference record for most consecutive wins in MWC games (11). The Cougars have not lost since dropping a 41-34 overtime decision to Utah on Nov. 19, 2005.
* Air Force WR Chad Hall has recorded 592 yards rushing in his last three games which is the second-most in school history for a three-game span and most since Beau Morgan set the school record of 618 yards in three straight games in 1996 (Notre Dame, Hawai`i, Colorado State). Hall recorded his third straight 100-yard game and sixth of his career with 167 against Wyoming. Hall is the fifth player in Air Force history to record three or more consecutive 100-yard games. He is the first to do it since quarterback Beau Morgan in 1996 and the first non-quarter to do it since Brian Bream in 1970.
* Air Force CB Carson Bird recorded his sixth interception of the season in the game against Wyoming. His six interceptions tie as the fourth-most for a single season in Air Force history and are the most since Brian Watkins had six in 1994. The interception is the eighth of his career which is tied for 10th all-time in Air Force history and is the most since Tim Curry record nine from 1996-98. Bird has eight takeaways this season (five interceptions, three fumble recoveries).
* UNLV LB Beau Bell has recorded double-figure tackles in six of eight games this season. He currently leads the MWC and ranks tied for 19th in the NCAA in tackles per game with 10.5. Bell also is tied for third nationally and leads the MWC with four forced fumbles.
* Utah RB Darrell Mack gained 131 yards on the ground on 32 carries in the 27-20 victory at TCU. Mack has recorded four consecutive 100-yard games and has five total on the season. Utah is 5-0 when Mack rushes for 100 yards this year.
AIR FORCE'S HALL RUSHES INTO RECORD BOOKS
Air Force WR Chad Hall set a new MWC record for single-game rushing (256 yards vs. Colorado State) in a conference contest (previous record was 242, set by New Mexico's DonTrell Moore against CSU on Nov. 7, 2003). Hall's rushing total also broke the Academy record of 249 yards by quarterback Dee Dowis vs. San Diego State in 1989. It's also the third-highest rushing total in league history and is currently the third-best single game rushing performance in the Bowl Subdivision this year. Hall is the first MWC player to rush for more than 200 yards since New Mexico's Rodney Ferguson rushed for 210 yards against San Diego State on Nov. 25, 2006. Hall also is the first Falcon with 200-plus yards rushing since Beau Morgan had 217 yards against Fresno State in 1996.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
* San Diego State's Kevin O'Connell and Air Force's Shaun Carney continue to trade places on the league's all-time list for total offense yardage. O'Connell now ranks fourth (7,305 yards) while Carney is fifth (7,149 yards). Meanwhile, Caleb Hanie has moved into ninth on that same list (5,598 yards).
* UNLV's Sergio Aguayo moved into eighth place on the league's all-time list for points scored (205 points). SDSU's Garrett Palmer remains in fifth, now with 226 career points.
* UNLV's Aguayo moved into third place on the league's all-time list for field goals made (43), while SDSU's Palmer moved into a tie for fourth on that same list (42).
* CSU's Hanie moved into a tie for seventh place on the league's all-time list for pass completions (423). SDSU's O'Connell ranks third on that same list with 541 completions. Hanie also moved into seventh place on the league's all-time list for passing yardage (5,372 yards), while O'Connell ranks third (6,206 yards).
* AFA's Carney moved into a tie for ninth place on the league's all-time list for touchdown passes (35). SDSU's O'Connell is tied for fourth on that same list with 38.
* New Mexico's Travis Brown moved into 10th place on the league's all-time list for receptions (152). CSU's Johnny Walker ranks ninth on that same list with 153.
* TCU's Brian Bonner moved into sixth place on the league's all-time list for punt return yardage (675 yards). Wyoming's Hoost Marsh is second on that same list with 883 yards. Marsh is also second on the league's all-time list for number of punt returns (88), while Bonner is tied for 10th (51).
* CSU's Damon Morton has moved into seventh place on the league's all-time list for kick return yardage (917 yards), while New Mexico's Marcus Smith is in eighth (893 yards). Smith is fifth on the league's all-time list for number of kick returns (48), while Morton is seventh (46). CSU's George Hill is 10th on that same list with 41 returns for 813 yards.
* Air Force's Carson Bird has moved into a tie for fifth place on the league's all-time list for interceptions (8). New Mexico's DeAndre Wright and Wyoming's Julius Stinson are tied for eighth on that same list with seven INT's apiece.
* San Diego State LB Russell Allen had 22 tackles at Utah, tying the league record for most tackles by a junior, and tying for the second-highest total in league history.
* TCU senior DE Chase Ortiz has taken over third place on the league's all-time list for total sacks (17.5). The record is 20.0, held by BYU's Brady Poppinga (2000-04). New Mexico's Michael Tuohy ranks fourth on that list (17.0), followed by TCU's Tommy Blake, who is tied for seventh (15.0).
* The three longest field goals in MWC history have all been kicked at Air Force's Falcon Stadium. Wyoming's Billy Vinnedge kicked a 57-yard field goal this past Saturday, matching Air Force's Ryan Harrison, who kicked a 57-yarder earlier in the season in a home game against TCU on Sept. 13, 2007. The two 57-yard field goals are tied for the second-longest in MWC history, behind Air Force's Joey Ashcroft, who kicked a 59-yarder at home against Army on Nov. 8, 2003.
* Air Force's Harrison registered an 81-yard punt against Wyoming, marking the season's longest punt for any MWC player, and the third-longest punt in MWC history overall.
* TCU's Bonner tied an MWC record for punt returns in a game with seven against Utah for 81 yards. Prior to this season, the last time an MWC player had seven punt returns in a game was December 31, 2003, when Utah's Paris Warren had seven returns in a 17-0 win over Southern Mississippi in the Liberty Bowl.
* Colorado State's Zac Bryson had a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown against UNLV, marking the longest interception return this season, and the second-highest in MWC history behind a 100-yard INT return by Wyoming's Jacque Finn at BYU on Nov. 9, 2002. Bryson's 99-yard return set an MWC record for longest return by a senior, breaking the previous mark of 88 yards by New Mexico's Quincy Black at BYU on November 18, 2006.
* With 45 passing attempts against Utah, TCU's Andy Dalton has tied the MWC freshman record for most passing attempts in a game twice. He first tied it with 45 pass attempts against Air Force on Sept. 13, 2007.
* TCU's Andy Dalton became the third MWC quarterback this season to throw four interceptions in a game, with four passes picked off against Utah. This marks the first time in league history more than two quarterbacks have thrown four or more INT's in a single season. The previous high was two, when Wyoming's Casey Bramlet and New Mexico's Casey Kelly threw six and five picks, respectively, on the same day (November 17) in 2001.
* Air Force improves to 3-0 in October. Air Force's three wins are the most in the month of October since going undefeated at 4-0 in 1998. The threegame October winning streak is also the longest since 1998.
* Air Force improved to 4-1 in Mountain West Conference play. The 4-1 start is the best-ever for Air Force in MWC play and best overall since starting 4-1 in 1998 in its final year in the WAC. The four wins are the most in conference play overall since 2002, when the team finished third with a 4-3 record.
* BYU RB Harvey Unga became the first running back in BYU history to turn in four 100-yard rushing games during his freshman season after racking up 145 yards on 21 carries in the Cougars' 42-7 win over Eastern Washington.
* Colorado State set a MWC record for interception return yards in a single game with 147 yards at UNLV. The previous record was also held by the Rams (129 yards against Wyoming on November 16, 2000). Two of CSU's three interceptions in the UNLV game were returned for touchdowns, tying a league mark for most INT returns for TD.
* New Mexico WR Travis Brown caught seven passes for 119 yards in the win at San Diego State. Brown went over 100 yards receiving for the fifth time in his last six games and the seventh time in his career.
* New Mexico has its best start under 10th-year head coach Rocky Long. The last time the Lobos started MWC play 3-1 was 2002.
* San Diego State QB Kevin O'Connell scored his 13th and 14th career rushing touchdowns and fifth and sixth of the year. O'Connell equaled the Aztec career record for most rushing scores by a QB held by Matt Kofler, who also had 14 from 1980-81. O'Connell needs one more TD to equal Kofler's season record of seven, which Kofler posted in both of his years at SDSU.
* TCU recorded a season-high six sacks against Utah. The Frogs have 24 sacks in their last six games.
* TCU TB Aaron Brown has recorded five career 100-yard rushing games. The Frogs are 5-0 in those contests.
* UNLV walk-on QB Omar Clayton accounted for all five of the Rebels' turnovers (three interceptions) against Colorado State, but also became the first player in school history to pass for at least 300 yards (304) and rush for at least 100 yards (135).
* Utah QB Brian Johnson is 4-1 as the starter in 2007 and 9-6 in his career. He got the loss at Oregon State on the opening weekend of the season even though he left the field in the first half with a shoulder injury.