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October 17, 2006

MWC wrap-up

Mountain West breakdown for Week 7
Wyoming 31, Utah 15
Nothing went well for the Utes (4-3, 2-1 MWC) in this one, as Wyoming (3-4, 2-1) scored the first 31 points and cruised the rest of the way. Brett Ratliff continued to struggle, as his protection completely broke down. He was sacked six times, fumbled once and threw two interceptions, one of which went back for a touchdown. The running game couldn't take any heat off the quarterback, as the Utes had 33 net rushing yards. Yeesh. For their part, Wyoming looked very strong. Freshman quarterback Karsten Sween was sharp and Michael Ford gave even Eric Weddle problems, hauling in a 24 yard strike from Sween near the end of the first half.

What this means for the Utes: Is it time to shake things up? Tommy Grady and RJ Stanford have talent to spare, and maybe the coaches hould see what they can do in starting roles. What's the worst that can happen? They get blown out? With five conference games remaining, Utah will almost certainly have to win out to take the MWC crown. Wyoming is suddenly back in the bowl picture. They still have some tough games ahead of them, but their confidence is sky high.

Air Force 24, CSU 21
If Air Force (3-2, 3-0) wins the conference, they'll look back at this one as a big reason why. The Rams (4-2, 1-1) jumped out to a 21-3 lead at the Academy, which included a potentially backbreaking 83-yard pass right before halftime that resulted in a touchdown the next play. But like he's been doing all season, Shaun Carney led the Falcons back, with two touchdown passes in the second half. The Rams couldn't start the option running attack. Carney had 106 yards on the ground and Chad Hall had 102. In all, the Falcons rushed for 318 yards. Air Force gets a breather at San Diego State before heading home for a potentially MWC-deciding showdown with BYU in Colorado Springs.

What this means for the Utes: Well, it isn't good. Both of these teams look good, and given the way the Utes played at Wyoming, it's hard to see them going into Air Force at the end of the season and winning there.

New Mexico 39, UNLV 36, OT
This was a well-played game considering the season-long struggles of both teams. Lobo (3-4, 1-2) freshman quarterback Donovan Porterie was just good enough in his first start to offset an out-of-nowhere performance from UNLV's backup quarterback Shane Steichen. In overtime New Mexico kicker Kenny Byrd nailed a 39-yard field goal, and on the first play for the Rebel (2-4, 1-1) offense, the Lobos recovered a fumble to seal the deal. The Rebels now have a bonafide quarterback controversy. The ultra-talented Rocky Hinds was yanked after another poor start, and Steichen came in and threw for five touchdowns. Steichen's no newbie either, so it will be interesting to see how Mike Sanford deals with this development.

What this means for the Utes: The Lobos host the Utes on Thursday after a quick turnaround for both squads. Utah will be facing a freshman quarterback who is making his second career start and coming off a big road win. Hmm... that sounds familiar. The Rebels proved they can actually do something offensively. Now its just a matter of stopping teams and cutting down on mistakes.

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