Around The MTN: ‘Dogs Bite the Big Ten, Beat Purdue
* Mountain West Conference press release
LARAMIE -- No Jake Heaner, no problem.
Mikey Keene connected on 31-of-44 throws for 366 yards and tossed four touchdown passes in his Fresno State debut as the Bulldogs knocked off Purdue 39-35 Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette.
The UCF transfer capped his weekend being named the Mountain West Player of the Week.
The defending Mountain West champions, along with Wyoming, were the lone Mountain West programs to knock off Power-5 opponents last weekend. Both teams received Top-25 votes in the Coaches and AP poll.
New Mexico, San Jose State, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah State and Boise State all fell to ranked teams. Colorado State suffered a 50-24 drubbing at home courtesy of Washington State.
- Eleven Mountain West teams are in action Saturday, with nine squads at home, UNLV visiting No. 2/2 Michigan and Air Force taking on Sam Houston at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
- Boise State and San Diego State both host Autonomous 5 opponents Saturday, as the Broncos entertain UCF and the Aztecs welcome UCLA.
- MW squads will face seven FCS opponents Saturday, including five from the Big Sky Conference in Cal Poly (at San José State), Eastern Washington (at Fresno State), Idaho (at Nevada), Idaho State (at Utah State) and Portland State (at Wyoming). Hawai‘i hosts Albany out of the Coastal Athletic Conference and New Mexico welcomes Tennessee Tech of the Big South-OVC Football Association.
- A pair of wins over Autonomous 5 opponents highlighted the Mountain West’s Week 1 results, as Fresno State downed Purdue on the road and Wyoming outlasted No. 24 Texas Tech at home in double overtime.
- Wyoming overcame a 17-0 first-quarter deficit en route to its 35-33 win over the Red Raiders. Preseason All-American John Hoyland got the Cowboys on the board with a 56-yard field goal to lead off the second quarter and then added a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter to cap a 20-0 Wyoming run and gave the Cowboys their first lead of the night. Hoyland’s 56-yard make was a career long and tied for the third-longest in MW history. He earned his fifth career MW Special Teams Player of the Week award in helping the Cowboys to their first win over a ranked opponent since 2016.
- Cowboy quarterback Andrew Peasley threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns, including the tying strike in the face of a blitz on fourth-and-7 in the second overtime. Peasley also ran for 68 yards and a score, with his 5-yard rushing TD coming in the first OT. Linebacker Shea Suiaunoa had 12 tackles, including eight solo stops and one tackle for loss.
- Defending MW champion Fresno State saw quarterback Mikey Keene go 31-for-44 for 366 yards and four touchdowns, while linebacker Levelle Bailey had five tackles, a forced fumble and two pass breakups in the Bulldogs’ 39-35 win at Purdue, with the duo earning MW Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors, respectively. The win was Fresno State’s first road win over a Big Ten opponent since 2009. The Bulldogs, whose last loss came on Oct. 8, 2022, at Boise State, will be seeking their 11th consecutive win Saturday when they host Eastern Washington.
- Keene was named to the Davey O’Brien Award’s Great 8 List for Week 1, meaning he is now on the watch list for the award and eligible to win the 2023 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.
- After opening the Barry Odom era with a 44-14 win over Bryant, UNLV heads to the Big House to take on second-ranked Michigan, matching the highest-ranked opponent the Rebels have ever faced. UNLV got five rushing touchdowns from four different players in its season-opener, with freshman Jai’Den Thomas running for 60 yards and two scores. Quarterback Doug Brumfield threw for 86 yards and a score and ran for 49 yards and a TD.
- Air Force cruised past Robert Morris to open the season, rushing for 374 yards – tied for second-most in the FBS in Week 1 – in the 42-7 win. Quarterback Zac Larrier led the way with 99 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in addition to throwing for 95 yards and a touchdown on just two completions. The Falcons, who will be meeting Sam Houston for the first time in program history, will be playing the first of two games in NFL stadiums this season. Air Force will also take on Army at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado, on Nov. 4.
- A 36-28 winner over Idaho State in Week One, San Diego State hosts UCLA to cap a season-opening three-game homestand. The Aztecs intercepted the Bengals three times, giving them six picks in their first two games of the season, while Jalen Mayden rushed for 132 yards, a program record for a quarterback, and reached the end zone twice on the day. SDSU is 7-4 against Pac-12 teams since 2016 and topped UCLA 23-14 in 2019 in the squads’ last meeting. The Aztecs, who beat Ohio 20-13 in Week 0, are off to their fourth 2-0 start in the last five seasons.
- Boise State led No. 11/10 Washington 6-0 after the first quarter but could not hold on, as the Huskies picked up the 56-19 win in Week 1. Sophomore tailback Ashton Jeanty had a career-best 109 yards receiving and a TD catch and added 44 rushing yards and a touchdown run to pace the Broncos. Boise State now turns its attention to new Big 12 Conference member UCF as the Broncos open their home slate.
- Hawai‘i wide receiver Pofele Ashlock earned his second straight MW Freshman of the Week honor to open his career after catching eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns in the Rainbow Warriors’ 37-24 setback to Stanford in Week 1. Ashlock is the first Hawai‘i player to surpass 100 yards receiving in the first two games of the season since 2018.
- Utah State hung tough with No. 25 Iowa in Week 1, falling behind 14-0 after the first quarter but outscoring the Hawkeyes 14-10 the rest of the way and outgaining Iowa (329-284) in a 24-14 loss. Quarterback Cooper Legas completed 32-of-48 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown, which went to wide receiver Terrell Vaughn, whose 12 catches and 93 yards were both game highs. Inside linebacker MJ Tafisi Jr. paced the Aggie defense with 12 tackles, including eight solo stops and 3.0 tackles for loss for 17 yards. He also forced a fumble.
- Nevada dropped a 66-14 decision at No. 6/6 USC to open its season. The Wolf Pack got a 3-yard scoring run from Sean Dollars in the first quarter to tie the game early, but the only other score came on a 77-yard TD pass from freshman AJ Bianco to Jamaal Bell in the fourth quarter on the first throw of Bianco’s career. The rookie QB finished with 129 yards on 4-of-5 passing in relief of starter Brendon Lewis, who was 18-for-29 for 182 yards. Senior place-kicker Brandon Talton remains the Mountain West’s career leader in field goals made with 68. He needs five more to become the Wolf Pack’s career leader.
- San José State faced its second straight ranked Pac-12 foe to open the season, falling 42-17 to No. 18/18 Oregon State on Sunday. The Spartans saw preseason MW Offensive Player of the Year Chevan Cordeiro throw for 143 yards and run for 26, while backup quarterback Jay Butterfield went 7-for-9 for 80 yards and a touchdown in late-game action. Sam Olson led the Spartans with 60 receiving yards and recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. SJSU posted its first sellout since 2003 and the attendance of 20,337 was the highest since 2013.
- New Mexico dropped a 52-10 decision to No. 25/23 Texas A&M in Week 1 after trailing just 7-0 after the first quarter. The Lobos got a 27-yard touchdown run from Jacory Croskey-Merritt early in the second quarter, but that was the last time they reached the end zone. Kicker Luke Drzewiecki’s 27-yard field goal in the third quarter accounted for UNM’s final points on the afternoon. Defensively, safety Tavian Combs had a game-high 11 tackles and blocked a Texas A&M field-goal attempt just before the half.
- Colorado State opened its season with a 50-24 setback to Washington State. After the Rams opened the scoring with a 38-yard field goal by Jordan Noyes in the first quarter, the Cougars scored 36 straight points before Kobe Johnson’s 98-yard kickoff return for a score early in the fourth quarter. CSU added TD passes of 75-yard and 20 yards by Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi later in the fourth. The Rams are idle this week before returning to action against at newly ranked Colorado on Sept. 16.
- Three Mountain West programs are receiving votes in the AFCA Coaches Poll: Fresno State (30 points), Wyoming (eight) and Air Force (seven). Fresno State and Wyoming also received three votes each in the Associated Press Top 25.
Fresno State sophomore quarterback Mikey Keene has been tabbed the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week, while Bulldog senior linebacker Levelle Bailey has been named MW Defensive Player of the Week. Wyoming junior placekicker John Hoyland earned MW Special Teams Player of the Week honors, while Hawai‘i wide receiver Pofele Ashlock was selected as MW Freshman of the Week.
The honor is the fifth in Hoyland’s career, the second for Ashlock and the first for both Keene and Bailey.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MIKEY KEENE, FRESNO STATE
Sophomore, Quarterback, Chandler, Ariz. / Chandler HS / UCF
- Went 31-for-44 for a career-high 366 yards and four touchdowns in a 39-35 win at Purdue.
- Became the first Bulldog quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards in his debut since at least 1997.
- Completed 70 percent of his passes on the day, the best mark in a Fresno State debut since 2017.
- Was 6-for-6 for 76 yards on Fresno State’s go-ahead fourth-quarter drive, hitting Erik Brooks for a 22-yard score with 59 seconds left.
- Helped the Bulldogs to their first win over a current Big Ten school since 2013, their first road win over a Big Ten team since 2009 and their first season-opening win on the road since 2008.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LEVELLE BAILEY, FRESNO STATE
Senior, Linebacker, Sacramento, Calif. / Luther Burbank HS
- Had five tackles, including four solo stops and half of a tackle for loss.
- Forced a fumble and recorded two pass breakups.
- Was responsible for a fourth-and-goal stop in the fourth quarter, recording a solo tackle at the 1-yard line for no gain.
- Had a pass breakup on Purdue’s final offensive play to seal the win.
- Helped Fresno State to its first win over a current Big Ten school since 2013, its first road win over a Big Ten team since 2009 and its first season-opening road win since 2008.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JOHN HOYLAND, WYOMING
Junior, Placekicker, Broomfied, Colo. / Broomfield HS
- Hit both of his field-goal attempts and was 3-for-3 on point-after attempts to score nine points in Wyoming’s 35-33, double-overtime win over No. 24 Texas Tech.
- Got the Cowboys on the board with a career-long 56-yard field goal five seconds into the second quarter.
- That kick surpassed his previous best of 55 yards set last year and is tied for the third-longest field goal in MW history.
- His 31-yard field goal with 8:58 left in regulation capped a 20-point comeback for Wyoming, giving the Cowboys their first lead of the day at 20-17.
- The Cowboys’ win was their first over a top-25 opponent since 2016.
FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
POFELE ASHLOCK, HAWAI‘I
Redshirt Freshman, Wide Receiver, Euless, Texas / Trinity HS
- Earned his second straight weekly honor after making eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-24 setback to Stanford.
- Became the first Rainbow Warrior to surpass 100 yards receiving in the first two games of the season since 2018.
- Caught a 7-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter that tied the game at 7-7.
- Also hauled in a 16-yard score in the fourth quarter.
- Had a 38-yard catch in the third quarter, his third catch of 30-plus yards on the young season.
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