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September 28, 2009

MWC recap: Week four

With most schools wrapping up their out of conference schedules, week four was one of the last chances for the Mountain West Conference to make noise on the national stage. The conference performed well over the weekend, with wins over Big East and ACC programs and a 2-1 out of conference record overall. Utezone.com breaks down what happened in conference action over the weekend.

Mountain West breakdown for Week Four
Air Force: 3-1 (Week four: W 26-14 vs. San Diego State)
Positives: The Air Force defense was dominant, forcing six turnovers and returning two for touchdowns against the hapless Aztecs. Kicker Erik Soderberg kicked four field goals for the Falcons.

Negatives: The Falcon offense did very little to capitalize on the Aztec turnovers, only scoring 12 points in its own. In fairness, starting quarterback Tim Jefferson sat out with an injury, but this inconsistency has been plaguing the Falcon offense forseveral weeks.

Going forward: The Falcons head to Annapolis to square up against Navy.

BYU: 3-1 (Week four: W 42-23 vs. Colorado State)
Positives: The Cougars rebounded from their thrashing at the hands of Florida State by capitalizing on two early interceptions and a blocked punt, scoring 21 points in the first quarter and never looking back.

Negatives: The score was much more lopsided than the game indicated. After having scoring 21 early points on the heels of critical Colorado State mistakes, the Cougars hardly looked dominant against the Rams.

Going forward: BYU hosts in-state rival Utah State on Friday.

Colorado State: 3-1 (Week four: L 42-23 at BYU)
Positives: The Rams showed fight after going down early to BYU. Quarterback Grant Stucker was on fire, passing for 372 yards and two touchdowns.

Negatives: Early mistakes doomed the Rams, as they gave up 21 easy points to the Cougars in the first quarter. Receiver Rashaun Greer tipped both Cougar interceptions that allowed the game to get away from them.

Going forward: The Rams continue their tour of the WAC, traveling to Idaho on Saturday.

New Mexico: 0-4 (Week four: L 20-17 vs. New Mexico State)
Positives: Donovoan Porterie led a furious drive to give the Lobos a chance to go ahead in the final seconds of the game. Unfortunately for New Mexico, James Aho's 47 yard field goal attempt with two seconds remaining sailed wide.

Negatives: New Mexico blew their most winnable game on the schedule, and have cemented themselves as one of the worst teams in America.

Going forward: The Lobos travel to Lubbock to face Texas Tech in their last out of conference game of the year.

San Diego State: 1-3 (Week four: L 34-20 @ Air Force)
Positives: The Aztec defense was on its heels all night, trying to make up for offensive mistakes, and rose up to the challenge by giving up only 12 points with no touchdowns to the Air Force offense.

Negatives: Turnovers are killing the Aztecs. Quarterback Ryan Lindley threw another four interceptions in what was a brutal day for San Diego State.

Going forward: San Diego State hosts New Mexico State this Saturday.

TCU: 3-0 (Week four: W 14-10 at Clemson)
Positives: The Horned Frogs scored the go ahead touchdown midway through thefourth quarter in what turned out to be a terrific defensive battle. Clemson had a chance to take a late lead, driving to the TCU 16 with less than two minutes to play, but the Frog defense held strong, forcing a turnoveron downs and preserving the win.

Negatives: The offense struggled against a tough Clemson defense, but ended up doing just enough to win.

Going forward: The Frogs host rival SMU in their final out of conference game of the season.

UNLV: 2-2 (Week four: L 30-27 @ Wyoming)
Positives: For Rebel fans, it's hard to take any positives from a loss to a bad Wyoming team. UNLV is going to have to fight to get bowl eligible after dropping what was a must-win game on the road.

Negatives: So much for UNLV trying to be a contender in conference play. This loss to the Cowboys will likely seat coach Mike Sanford firmly in the hot seat.

Going forward: UNLV travels to Reno to face in-state rival Nevada. If UNLV has bowl aspirations, this game is looking like a must-win.

Utah: 3-1 (Week four: W 30-14 vs. Louisville)
Positives: The Utes returned to their winning ways against an overmatched Big East opponent. The Utes had terrific offensive balance, rushing for 214 yards and passing for 202. The defense was also dominant, allowing only 261 yards of total offense for the game.

Negatives: Losing star running back Matt Asiata for the season is going to be a huge hurdle for the Utah offense to overcome. Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin have big shoes to fill.

Going forward: Utah gets the week off with a badly needed bye.

Wyoming: 2-2 (Week four: W 30-27 vs. UNLV)
Positives: The Cowboys shocked the Rebels and the rest of the conference, beating UNLV in their MWC opener. True freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels capitalized in the first start of his career by throwing for three touchdowns and 234 yards. Carta-Samuels demonstrated poise in the fourth quarter, leading Wyoming to a come from behind win.

Negatives: Wyoming fans should relish this win, but should also keep in mind that UNLV has lost 20 straight conference road games.

Going forward: Wyoming takes a long road trip to Fort Lauderdale this week to take on Florida Atlantic.

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