Good day for BYU and the rest of the Big Three in the MWC; the Cougars won big at UNLV, TCU held off Air Force in Colorado Springs, while the Utes also endured the big chill on the front range with an impressive comeback win.
Home losses by both Air Force and CSU pretty much relegate Falcons and Rams to lower-echelon league status once again, meaning the "power trio" remains untouched.
BYU, TCU and Utah are a combined 14-2 on the season (4-0 in the MWC), while the bottom six teams are a combined 14-21 (4-8 in league). The only team in the bottom six with an overall winning record is Wyoming at 4-2, with the Cowboys' four wins coming against Weber State, UNLV, Florida Atlantic and New Mexico.
In updated NCAA stats, BYU QB Max Hall is one of only six quarterbacks ranked in the top 15 in pass efficiency (6th), passing yards per game (12th), and total offense (13th).
Other individuals of note:
Harvey Unga is 21st nationally in rush yards per game (98.8 ypg)
Unga is 16th in scoring (9.6 points per game)
BYU leads the nation in 3rd down conversion, and in dominant fashion. BYU's conversion rate of 61.97% is a full 6.23% better than the second place team; the gap between BYU and second place is greater than the gap between second place and 16th place.
No team has more red zone touchdowns than BYU's 23 on the season. Overall, BYU has scored points on 26 of 28 trips inside the 20--the only two misfires were O'Neill Chambers fumbles (Oklahoma and Florida State). BYU's red zone conversion number of 93% is 13th nationally.
Other national rankings of note:
Rushing Offense - 50th
Passing Offense - 13th
Pass Efficiency - 6th
Total Offense - 13th
Scoring Offense - 8th
Rushing Defense - 36th
Passing Defense - 73rd
Pass Efficiency Defense - 66th
Total Defense - 50th
Scoring Defense - 43rd
With a zero turnover, plus-three day against UNLV, BYU's turnover margin number improved from 106th last week to a slightly better 89th this week.
This week's opponent, San Diego State, is unlikely to keep pace with the peaking Cougars. The Aztecs are 104th running the ball, 101st in total offense, 85th in scoring offense, and 102nd in turnover margin. SDSU's best numbers are on defense (allowing the 11th fewest passing yards, for example) and special teams (9th in net punting and 20th in punt returns).
Of the 30 main team sta categories tracked by the MWC, BYU leads the league in seven; TCU leads in eight, with Air Force leading in six and Utah leading in four. No other team leads in more than two categories (SDSU), with Wyoming, UNLV and CSU each leading in a single category.
New Mexico is dead last in a league-high 12 categories.
UNLV head coach Mike Sanford was very complimentary of BYU in his postgame comments last night. He was quick to add that he thought injuries to two linebackers contributed to the setback, as did three turnovers, which he called the "difference in the game."
On the first point, in his fifth season, it's Sanford's responsibility to ensure that the backups are competent and capable, and he seemed to indicate that was not the case. Personnel and depth are coaching issues, and neither the talent nor depth appear to be what UNLV needs to turn a corner.
As for the turnovers, they were not the difference in the game. Even had UNLV scored touchdowns on its three possessions that ended in giveaways, BYU still would have won by three scores, all other things being equal.
The difference in the game was the fact UNLV can's stop anyone, and with Utah and TCU remaining on the Rebels' October agenda, things don't appear likely to improve. Clearly, Sanford is a "dead coach walking," and the school administrators can point to last night's game as a microcosm of the problems that never got solved during Sanford's remarkably unsuccessful tenure.