Mountain West Football Weekly Release - Championship Edition
|SPORTS AUTHORITY MOUNTAIN WEST FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME|
|Saturday, December 6||TV/Web||Time||Satellite Radio|
|Fresno State at 22/22 Boise State||CBS||8 p.m. MT||SIRIUS 108 / XM 201|
COUNTDOWN TO THE SPORTS AUTHORITY MW CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Mountain Division preseason favorite Boise State will host defending MW champion and West Division preseason pick Fresno State in the 2014 Sports Authority Mountain West Football Championship Game. For the second straight year, CBS will televise the contest on Sat., Dec. 6 from Albertsons Stadium beginning at 8 p.m. MT.
The Broncos (7-1 MW, 10-2 overall), led by first-year head coach Bryan Harsin, clinched the Mountain Division with a 50-19 victory over Utah State last Saturday. The Broncos are looking for their second Mountain West title since joining the league in 2011 after sharing the 2012 crown with Fresno State and San Diego State.
The Bulldogs (5-3 MW, 6-6 overall) captured the West Division for the second straight season after defeating Hawai‘i 28-21 on Saturday. Under third-year head coach Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State will attempt to become the second-ever team to win three straight Mountain West titles, joining TCU (2009-11). Last season, the Bulldogs won the inaugural MW championship game, 24-17, over Utah State.
Boise State and Fresno State met earlier this season with the Broncos coming out on top 37-27 in Boise on Oct. 17. Boise State leads the overall series 12-5 and has won seven of the eight meetings in Albertsons Stadium.
A LOOK AT THE PRESEASON PREDICTIONS
Since the Mountain West began play in 1999, only seven teams chosen by the league media to win the Conference crown have actually done so, and only twice has the title been shared by multiple teams. In addition, only once in the league's 16-year history has the Conference champion posted more than one loss in MW play. In 1999, Utah, Colorado State and BYU each earned the Mountain West title with identical 5-2 marks in league games.
Below is a look at how the preseason poll favorite has fared in regular-season play.
|Year||Predicted Champion||Predicted Champion Finish||Actual Champion||Bowl Game|
|2014*||BSU (M) / FS (W)||BSU (1st M)/FS (1st W)||TBD||TBD|
|2013*||BSU (M) / FS (W)||BSU (2nd M)/FS (1st W)||FS||Las Vegas|
|*First season of MW divisional play and Championship Game|
MOUNTAIN VS. WEST
The Mountain Division holds a 13-5 (.722) advantage over the West this season. Air Force (at UNLV on Nov. 8, vs. Nevada on Nov. 15), Boise State (at Nevada on Oct. 4, vs. Fresno State on Oct. 17, vs. San Diego State on Nov. 15), Colorado State (at Nevada on Oct. 11, at San José State on Nov. 1, vs. Hawai‘i on Nov. 8), New Mexico (at UNLV on Nov. 1), Utah State (vs. UNLV on Oct. 25, at Hawai‘i on Nov. 1, vs. San José State on Nov. 21) and Wyoming (at Fresno State on Nov. 1) have posted the 13 wins for the Mountain Division, while the West's five cross-divisional wins have come from Fresno State (at New Mexico on Sept. 26), Hawai‘i (vs. Wyoming on Oct. 11), San Diego State (at New Mexico on Oct. 10, vs. Air Force on Nov. 22) and San José State (at Wyoming on Oct. 18).
The Mountain Division holds an all-time record of 20-17 (.541) against opponents from the West Division since divisional play was established in the Mountain West in 2013.
|Mountain Division||West Division|
|2014 Record vs. West: 13-5 (.722)
At Home: 6-3 (.667)
On Road: 7-2 (.778)
2013 Record vs. West: 7-12 (.368)
At Home: 4-5 (.444)
On Road: 3-7 (.300)
All-Time Record vs. West: 20-17 (.541)
At Home: 10-8 (.556)
On Road: 10-9 (.526)
Teams with eight or more wins in 2014: 4
Teams with eight or more wins in 2013: 3
MW Championship Game Record: 0-1
Bowl Appearances: 3
Bowl Record: 2-1
|2014 Record vs. Mountain: 5-13 (.278)
At Home: 2-7 (.222)
On Road: 3-6 (.333)
2013 Record vs. Mountain: 12-7 (.632)
At Home: 7-3 (.700)
On Road: 5-4 (.556)
All-Time vs. Mountain: 17-20 (.459)
At Home: 9-10 (.474)
On Road: 8-10 (.444)
Teams with eight or more wins in 2014: 0
Teams with eight or more wins in 2013: 2
MW Championship Game Record: 1-0
Bowl Appearances: 3
Bowl Record: 1-2
MW TIES LEAGUE RECORD WITH SEVEN BOWL ELIGIBLE TEAMS
Boise State (10-2), Colorado State (10-2), Air Force (9-3), Utah State (9-4), Nevada (7-5), San Diego State (7-5) and Fresno State (6-6) are all bowl eligible this season. It marks the second straight season the league has had seven teams qualify for the postseason, breaking the previous MW record of five from 2005-2012. The Mountain West has boasted at least five bowl-eligible teams 11 times since the league's inception in 1999.
With a 10-2 overall record, Colorado State is bowl eligible for the second straight year and became so at the earliest point of the season (seven games) since 2000. The Rams became the first MW team to earn bowl eligibility this season and were joined in Week 9 by Boise State after the Broncos' 55-30 victory over BYU. Boise State has played in a bowl game in each of the last 12 seasons, which is tied for the seventh-longest active streak in the country. Air Force has qualified for the postseason in seven of the last eight years, while the Aggies are bowl eligible for the fourth-straight season for the first time in program history. The Wolf Pack is bowl eligible for the ninth time in 10 seasons and the Aztecs qualified for their fifth straight postseason for the first time since 1989-93. Fresno State has made 13 bowl appearances in the last 15 years and 25 overall.
The Mountain West sent a record six teams into postseason bowl games in 2013, marking the seventh straight year that the MW has sent at least five teams to bowls. The league posted a 3-3 record, marking the eighth time in the last 10 seasons the MW has gone at least .500 in the postseason. Overall, the Mountain West has earned 62 bowl bids since 1999 and holds a 35-27 all-time record in those contests. Over the last 10 seasons, the Mountain West has captured the Bowl Challenge Cup four times and owns the second-best win percentage in bowl games among the 10 FBS conferences with a 28-19 mark (.596) during that span. The MW is the only conference to win the trophy four times since the award's inception in 2002-03.
If Boise State wins the 2014 Sports Authority MW Football Championship Game, it will most likely play in an Access Bowl. The Mountain West played in BCS bowls four times in seven years (2004-10) and had a team ranked in the final BCS Standings 12 of the 15 seasons. Since the composite computer rankings were compiled beginning in 2004, the Mountain West finished first in seven of the 10 seasons.
If Fresno State falls in the championship game, it is still eligible per NCAA and MW policy and will be placed at 6-7 ahead of any league team at 7-5.
BRONCOS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
After its 50-19 victory over Utah State last Saturday, Boise State moved up to No. 22 in both the Amway Coaches' and Associated Press polls, receiving 253 votes by the Coaches' panel and 265 by the AP voters. Fellow Mountain Division members Colorado State and Air Force also received votes in both sets of rankings.
The Broncos are also the first-ever MW team to be included in the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Rankings. Boise State, the only squad ranked from the Group of Five, enters Championship Week at No. 22.
BOISE STATE RIDING SEVEN-GAME WIN STREAK
Boise State's 50-19 victory over Utah State last Saturday marked the Broncos' seventh-straight win to tie Alabama, Oregon and Wisconsin for the third-longest active win streak nationally. Only Florida State (28) and Ohio State (10) boast longer streaks. It is also the longest win streak for Boise State since a seven-game stretch from Sept. 15 to Oct. 27, 2012. The Broncos have also won 13 straight at home, which is the fourth-longest active streak in the FBS trailing Alabama (16), Baylor (15) and Florida State (14). Boise State has also won 19 straight non-conference games at Albertsons Stadium and has not dropped a game to a non-conference foe at home since a 27-21 loss to Boston College in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl.
COLORADO STATE'S HIGGINS GRABBING THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT
Colorado State's Rashard Higgins, a finalist for the 2014 Biletnikoff Award, ranks first nationally in three receiving categories, including yards (1,640), yards per game (149.1) and touchdowns (17). The sophomore became the first player in the FBS to eclipse the 1,600-yard mark this season.
Higgins' 17 receiving touchdowns rank second on the MW's single-season chart, while his 1,640 yards rank third on the league list and first in the CSU record book. He also set the MW record for receiving yards in a Conference season (1,201), eclipsing the previous mark of 1,113 receiving yards held by former Fresno State Bulldog and current Green Bay Packer Davante Adams in 2013.
Higgins also has 23 career receiving touchdowns to set a new Ram record, passing the 21 by former CSU receiver Jeff Champine (1980-83). He has eclipsed the 100-yard mark 11 times in his career, including nine times this season and a current streak of seven straight games, which is a program record and ranks as the second-longest streak in MW history. BYU's Austin Collie holds the record for the longest streak of consecutive 100-yard receiving games with 11. Higgins' nine 100-yard receiving games in 2014 rank as the second-most in a single season in MW history behind Collie (11 in 2008).
As a sophomore, Higgins ranks first and third, respectively, among the FBS active career leaders for receiving yards per game and receptions per game.
DEFENDING THE HOME TURF
Five MW teams are undefeated at home this season, including Air Force (6-0), Boise State (6-0), Colorado State (6-0) and Utah State (6-0) from the Mountain Division and San Diego State (6-0) from the West.
BOISE STATE AND COLORADO STATE IN ELITE COMPANY
The Mountain Division's Boise State and Colorado State, which each own overall records of 10-2, are two of 16 teams nationally to amass 10 victories this season. The Mountain West is one of six conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) with multiple 10-win squads, and the only one from the Group of Five.
Two MW running backs now rank on the league's top-five chart for most rushing yards in a single season. San Diego State sophomore Donnel Pumphrey has totaled 1,761 rushing yards on the year to rank second in Conference history behind Stefphon Jefferson's 1,883 yards for Nevada in 2012. Boise State junior Jay Ajayi checks in at fifth on that list with 1,619 rushing yards entering the 2014 Sports Authority MW Football Championship Game.
MW RECEIVERS LEAD NCAA IN CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A CATCH
The Mountain West is home to two of the nation's top three players in consecutive games with a reception. Wyoming senior Dominic Rufran leads the list with 49 consecutive outings with a catch, followed by Boise State senior Matt Miller in third with 44. Miller was injured in Week 5 and will miss the remainder of the season. The MW is the only FBS league with three players to have recorded a reception in 39 or more consecutive games, and four to have done so in 34 straight outings, as Fresno State senior Josh Harper is tied for eighth on the list with 39 straight and UNLV senior Devante Davis is 16th with 34.
TWO MW QUARTERBACKS ECLIPSE 3,000-YARD PASSING MARK
Colorado State's Garrett Grayson became the first MW quarterback and fifth in the FBS this season to surpass the 3,000-yard passing mark. His 278 passing yards against Hawai‘i on Nov. 8 helped the senior tally the second straight 3,000-yard passing season of his career. Grayson, who had 3,696 yards in his junior season, has 3,779 in 2014 and is the sixth MW quarterback with consecutive 3,000-yard passing seasons.
Boise State's Grant Hedrick joined Grayson in the 3,000-yard club this season after throwing for 246 yards at Wyoming on Nov. 22. The senior currently now has 3,232 yards on the year to become just the fifth Bronco QB with a 3,000-yard season, joining Kellen Moore (2008-11), Ryan Dinwiddie (2001, 2003), Bart Hendricks (2000) and Taylor Tharp (2007).
3,000 PASSING/1,000 RECEIVING YARDS
The Colorado State duo of QB Garrett Grayson and WR Rashard Higgins has registered 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards receiving, respectively, becoming the first Ram tandem to do so since 2005 and just the second since the league's inception in 1999. Overall, it is the 15th time in MW history that a team has boasted a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard receiver in the same season.
Six MW players are members of the 1,000-yard rushing club this season, including San Diego State sophomore Donnel Pumphrey, Boise State junior Jay Ajayi, Fresno State junior Marteze Waller, Air Force sophomore Jacobi Owens, Colorado State junior Dee Hart and New Mexico junior Jhurell Pressley. Pumphrey became the second sophomore in the FBS this season, and the first player in the Mountain West, to hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the year, accomplishing the feat in the first eight games of the 2014 campaign. He has 1,761 rushing yards, including 1,319 yards in SDSU's eight Conference games, giving the Aztecs a 1,000-yard rusher for the fifth straight season and setting a new MW record for rushing yards in a MW season. Ajayi accomplished the feat on Nov. 8 at New Mexico and now has a season total of 1,619 yards. Boise State has touted a 1,000-yard rusher in six straight seasons. Waller also rushed past the 1,000-yard mark on Nov. 8 with 145 yards in the first half against San José State. With 1,269 yards this season, he became Fresno State's 21st 1,000-yard rusher, including 11 since 2000 and two since the Bulldogs joined the league in 2012. Owens, who is sidelined due to a foot injury, rushed for 66 yards against Nevada on Nov. 15 en route to becoming the seventh Falcon to reach the 1,000-yard mark in a single-season since joining the Mountain West in 1999. He also became just the third sophomore in Academy history to rush for 1,000 yards, joining Dee Dowis (1987) and Pat Evans (1984) and the first Falcon sophomore tailback. In his first season as a Ram, Hart has totaled 1,254 rushing yards to become the seventh CSU player to rush for 1,000 yards since the MW's inception in 1999. Pressley became the 18th Lobo ever to hit the 1,000-yard mark in a single season, finishing the season finale against Wyoming with 101 yards on 11 carries to bring his 2014 total to 1,083 yards. It marks the third straight season that UNM has had a 1,000-yard rusher (Kasey Carrier, 2012-13).
Pumphrey, Ajayi, Waller, Owens, Hart and Pressley are six of 48 players in the country to have eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark this year, making the Mountain West one of four FBS leagues (Big Ten, Pac-12, CUSA) with at least six players to accomplish the feat this year.
Ajayi becomes the 10th player in Conference history and the first Boise State player to post consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons since the Broncos joined the Mountain West in 2011. He is also the seventh Boise State player in program history with multiple 1,000-yard seasons.
1,000 RECEIVING/1,000 RUSHING YARDS
Colorado State sophomore Rashard Higgins and junior Dee Hart have combined to become the 15th MW pair to combine for 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season. It also marks the second time the Rams have accomplished the feat in league history and the first since 2005.
PICKING OFF PASSES
Boise State junior Darian Thompson registered his seventh interception of the season and 14th of his career last week against Utah State. Thompson's 14 career picks are tied for second on the league's all-time list, joining Fresno State senior Derron Smith.
Thompson and Utah State senior Frankie Sutera each have seven interceptions this season to tie for the second-most ever by a MW player in a single season. Both Thompson and Sutera are one pick shy of the Conference single-season record, held by Fresno State's Phillip Thomas (2012). Five others have totaled seven interceptions in a single season since the inception of the MW in 1999. This marks the first season since the league's inception in 1999 that multiple MW players have intercepted at least seven passes in the same season.
3,000 PASSING/1,000 RUSHING YARDS
Two MW duos, including Boise State's Grant Hedrick and Jay Ajayi and Colorado State's Garrett Grayson and Dee Hart, have registered 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing, respectively. Overall, 16 tandems have combined to accomplish the feat since the league's inception in 1999, and this season marks the fifth time in MW history, and the third time in four years, that multiple squads have done so. This is also the second straight year and third time in Conference history that Colorado State has accomplished the feat, and the second time for Boise State since the Broncos joined the league in 2011.
ALL EYES ON BOISE STATE'S AJAYI
Boise State's Jay Ajayi has rushed for multiple touchdowns in seven straight games, amassing a total of 19 during that span. He has a total of 24 rushing TDs in 2014, which ties for the second-most in a single season in MW history. Colorado State's Kapri Bibbs holds the league's all-time single-season record with 31 rushing TDs in 2013.
Ajayi has racked up a total of 51 touchdowns over his career, which ranks second on the league's all-time list for total touchdowns, while his 28 total TDs in 2014 also rank second on the league's single-season chart. Ajayi's 46 rushing TDs rank second on the league's list for career rushing TDs and his 306 career points rank scond on the league's all-time list for non-kickers, while his 168 points in 2014 rank third on the league's single-season chart.
Ajayi has topped the 100-yard rushing mark nine times this season, including seven straight games, which ties BYU's Luke Staley for the longest streak in MW history. It is also the longest streak by a Bronco since Brock Forsey had six straight 100-yard performances in 2002. Overall, Ajayi has 16 career 100-yard rushing performances, which ties for second-most in MW history.
Ajayi has moved into the MW's top-five for single-season rushing attempts and yards, ranking fifth with 303 carries for 1,619 yards. He also ranks fourth on the Mountain West's all-time list for career rushing yardage (3,592). Ajayi ranks second on the league's all-time chart for most all-purpose yards in a single season with 2,155. He needs 528 yards in the Broncos' remaining two games of the year to tie current record-holder Chad Hall, who racked up 2,683 all-purpose yards for Air Force in 2007. Ajayi's 2,155 all-purpose yards are a new MW record for most by a junior, surpassing the 2,112 amassed by BYU's Austin Collie in 2008.
QUICK HITS FROM AROUND THE MOUNTAIN WEST
- Four MW players rank in the top 13 nationally in all-purpose yardage, led by Boise State's Jay Ajayi who is third nationally in all-purpose yardage. The junior has racked up 2,155 all-purpose yards this season, including 1,619 rushing and 536 receiving, to average 179.58 all-purpose yards per game. San Diego State sophomore Donnel Pumphrey ranks ninth with 1,879 all-purpose yards on the year for an average of 156.68, while Colorado State sophomore Rashard Higgins is 12th (1,640 yards, 149.09 ypg) and San José State junior Tyler Ervin is 13th (1,781 yards, 148.42 ypg).
- Boise State senior Grant Hedrick has completed 261 of 365 pass attempts this year for a percentage of 0.715 to rank first among all quarterbacks nationally in completion percentage.
- Three MW players are ranked among the top five of all FBS players in interceptions per game. Boise State junior Darian Thompson is tied for third among all FBS players with 0.6 interceptions per game, while Air Force sophomore Weston Steelhamer and Utah State senior Frankie Sutera are tied for fifth at 0.5. The Mountain West is the only league with three players in the top five for interceptions per game. Thompson and Sutera have seven interceptions apiece which tie for the third-most nationally, while Steelhammer has pulled in six picks to tie for sixth.
- Two MW quarterbacks rank in the top nine nationally in pass efficiency. Colorado State's Garrett Grayson has amassed a pass efficiency rating of 171.3 in 2014 to rank second in the FBS. The senior has completed 250-of-386 pass attempts this season, including 32 touchdowns, and has only thrown six interceptions in the regular season. Boise State senior Grant Hedrick has completed 261-of-365 passes this season, including 22 TDs and 13 interceptions, for a rating of 158.7 to rank ninth. The Mountain West is one of three conferences (C-USA, Pac-12) with multiple quarterbacks in the top nine nationally for pass efficiency.
- Two MW players rank among the top 10 nationally in rushing yards per carry. San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey ranks ninth nationally and third among all sophomores with 6.88 yards per carry, followed by Colorado State's Dee Hart, who is 10th among all running backs this season and sixth among juniors with 6.71 rushing yards per carry.
- Two MW players rank among the top five nationally in rushing yards this season, led by San Diego State sophomore Donnel Pumphrey, who has 1,761 rushing yards to rank third in the FBS. Boise State junior Jay Ajayi has 1,619 rushing yards in 12 appearances this year to rank fifth. Pumphrey also ranks fourth nationally in rushing yards per game (146.8), while Ajayi is seventh at 134.9. The Mountain West is one of three FBS leagues (Big Ten, ACC) with two of the top five for rushing yards and two of the top seven for rushing yards per game.
- Boise State junior Jay Ajayi, San Diego State sophomore Donnel Pumphrey, Colorado State junior Dee Hart and Nevada senior Cody Fajardo are four of 23 players in the FBS this season with at least 13 rushing touchdowns in 2014. Ajayi has 24 on the year to tie for second nationally, followed by Pumphrey with 19 to tie for sixth, Hart with 16 to tie for 11th and Fajardo with 13 to tie for 19th. The Mountain West is one of two FBS leagues (Big Ten) with at least four players to have 13+ rushing touchdowns this season.
- The Mountain West owns two of the seven performances in the FBS this season with at least five rushing touchdowns, both coming in the past two weeks. Boise State junior Jay Ajayi reached the end zone five times against Utah State last Saturday, while Colorado State junior Dee Hart accomplished the feat against New Mexico on Nov. 22. The MW is the only Conference in the country to have multiple players rush for five touchdowns in a single game this year. Overall, the MW has five performances this season with at least four rushing touchdowns, including two by Hart.
|MW FOOTBALL BY THE NUMBERS|
|1||Only once in the league's 16-year history has the Conference champion posted more than one loss in MW play. In 1999, Utah, Colorado State and BYU each earned the Mountain West title with identical 5-2 marks in league games.|
|2||Boise State junior Jay Ajayi and San Diego State sophomore Donnel Pumphrey are two of seven MW players all-time to tally at least nine 100-yard rushing games in a single season. The league record is 10, set by Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson in 2012.|
|4||Boise State junior RB Jay Ajayi has racked up 3,592 rushing yards in his career as a Bronco, which ranks fourth in Mountain West history. New Mexico's DonTrell Moore holds the MW record with 4,973 rushing yards from 2002-05.|
|5||Utah State sophomore LB Nick Vigil has forced five fumbles this season to tie for second in the FBS. He is one forced fumble shy of tying the national lead.|
|7||Boise State's Darian Thompson's first-quarter interception against Utah State was his team-leading seventh of the season, tied for the seventh-most in a single season in school history (Anthony Brown, 1990; Rashid Gayle, 1994). It was also his 14th-career interception, moving him into a tie for sixth with Marty Tadman (2004-07) and Ken Johnson (1968-70) on Boise State's career list.|
|7||Utah State senior Frankie Sutera has seven of the Aggies' 18 interceptions this season, the most by an Aggie in a single season since Ronald Edwards had seven in 1991.|
|10||After winning just eight games last season, the Broncos have once again reached the 10-win mark, the eighth time in nine seasons and the 13th time in 16 seasons.|
|17||Mountain Division members Boise State (10-2) and Colorado State (10-2) are two of 17 teams nationally that have two or fewer losses this season. The Mountain West is one of six leagues (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) with multiple squads that have dropped two or less games on the year, and the only conference from the Group of 5.|
|17||At 10-2 this season, Boise State has cemented a winning record for the 17th-consecutive year. The Broncos went 5-6 in 1997, the last season without a winning record and one of only five seasons with a losing record in school history.|
|18||As a team, Utah State has picked off 18 passes in 2014, which is one shy of the MW's top five for interceptions in a single season. TCU set the record in 2005 after pulling in 24 interceptions that year. In all, nine Aggies have recorded at least one interception this season.|
|27||The Mountain West's 27 non-conference wins this season are the most since the league had 28 in 2008.|
|165||With six successful PATs in last Saturday's 50-19 victory over Utah State, Boise State senior Dan Goodale ranks third on the league's career chart for most made PATs. He has 165 in his career, which trails record-holder Ross Evans of TCU (239) and BYU's Mitch Payne (193). Colorado State senior Jared Roberts ranks fifth on that same list with 143 career PATs.|
|200||The Mountain West has recorded nine 200-yard rushing performances this season, including two in Week 14 and four in the last two weeks. San Diego State sophomore Donnel Pumphrey notched 267 yards on the ground against San José State last Saturday, while Boise State junior Jay Ajayi had 229 vs. Utah State. It marked each running back's second 200-yard rushing performance of the season, after Pumphrey rushed for 246 yards at New Mexico on Oct. 10 and Ajayi collected 219 yards vs. Colorado State on Sept. 6. The duo is tied for fourth on the MW's single-season chart for most 200-yard rushing games, trailing three apiece by SDSU's Larry Ned (2001), Air Force's Cody Getz (2012) and Colorado State's Kapri Bibbs (2013). Ajayi also is the sixth MW player ever to record at least three 200-yard rushing performances in a career, tying for the third-most overall. In all, seven different MW players have rushed for 200 yards in a single game in 2014, including Pumphrey, Ajayi, Colorado State junior Dee Hart (230 against New Mexico on Nov. 22), Hawai‘i senior Joey Iosefa (219 vs. UNLV on Nov. 22), Wyoming freshman Brian Hill (281 at Fresno State on Nov. 1), Air Force sophomore Jacobi Owens (233 vs. Nicholls State on Aug. 30) and New Mexico sophomore Teriyon Gipson (205 vs. Boise State on Nov. 8.|
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- Boise State has scored 30 or more points in all 10 victories this season, including five contests with at least 50 points. In the Broncos' two losses they scored 14 or less points.
- Boise State has played nine bowl-eligible teams thus far in 2014. Fresno State will mark the Broncos' 10th bowl-eligible opponent - tied for the most in the country. Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and Syracuse are the only other schools in the country to face 10 bowl-eligible teams in 2014.
- Boise State has scored 121 points off 26 turnovers in 2014, the sixth-most points in the country. The 26 turnovers (17 INTs and nine fumbles) rank tied for 20th in the FBS.
- Bronco senior QB Grant Hedrick had five TD passes and nine INTs in the first four games of 2014. In the last six contests, Hedrick has 22 total TDs, including 17 passing and five rushing, and just five turnovers (four picks, 1 fumble).
- Jay Ajayi became just the third Bronco in school history to eclipse 20 rushing touchdowns (24) in a single season (Ian Johnson, 25, 2006; Brock Forsey, 26, 2002). His five TDs last week against Utah State marked his seventh three-plus-TD performance of the season (including receiving). Ajayi currently ranks second in the FBS in scoring with 14.0 points per game. The junior, who has 168 points on the season, is one of two players in the FBS with more than 120 points, joining Wisconsin junior RB Melvin Gordon (174 points, 14.5 ppg).
- Boise State has rushed for over 200 yards in six straight games and nine times overall this year.
- Bronco sophomore WR Thomas Sperbeck is averaging a team-best 101.4 receiving yards over the last five games (507 total), including 100-yard performances against BYU (148) and New Mexico (164).
- In the first four games of the season, Boise State was successful on 17-of-24 red zone trips (71 percent) - 12 TDs and five FGs. In the last seven games, the Broncos have scored on 42-consecutive trips inside the 20-yard line (34 TDs and 8 FGs).
- Fresno State has 13 players on its roster who started in last season's Mountain West Championship game, including safety Derron Smith who was the Defensive MVP.
- The Bulldogs enter the championship game having won three straight, their second three-game win streak of the season.
- This is the first time in school history that Fresno State has become bowl eligible after opening a season with three losses. The Bulldogs also become just the 21st FBS team out of 496 since 1980 that have started out 0-3 but went on to play in a bowl. San Diego State accomplished the feat last season.
- Fresno State senior S Derron Smith intercepted his first pass of the season last week versus Hawai‘i. That gives the senior 15 for his career, which is tied for the most among active players in the FBS.
- Fresno State totaled six QB sacks last week versus Hawai‘i, marking the eighth time this season it has recorded multiple sacks. It also was the most by the squad since having eight against Utah State in the inaugural MW Football Championship Game. Senior Tyeler Davison was responsible for three of the six sacks, marking his first game with multiple sacks and the most sacks in a single game by a Bulldog since Chris Carter had three against New Mexico State on Oct. 16, 2010.
- Before surrendering three fourth-quarter touchdowns to the Rainbow Warriors, the Bulldogs went five quarters (fourth quarter versus Nevada on Nov. 22 and first three quarters against Hawai‘i on Nov. 29) without allowing a point.
- Bulldog junior RB Marteze Waller has recorded seven 100-yard rushing games this season. In the first meeting with Boise State this season, he rushed 18 times for a career-high 164 yards and two touchdowns.
- Fresno State WR senior Josh Harper needs just 59 yards to become Fresno State's second wideout to ever record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons receiving and third player in Mountain West history. He would join Davante Adams (2012-13) in school annals and Jovon Bouknight of Wyoming (2004-05) in the conference record book.