Mountain West takes it on the chin
Air Force and Utah State met late Saturday night in the first Mountain West game of the season.
While this doesn't put an end to the non-conference schedule - Air Force still has games against Army and Navy remaining outside the league - it certainly marks a transition in the season. It's a transition the conference will certainly welcome.
Mountain West teams so far are 21-20, but that's not a complete picture. Eleven of those wins came against FCS teams, leaving the league 10-20 against FBS opponents - including a 1-5 showing on Saturday (pending a late game between UNLV and Idaho). Outside of unbeaten Air Force, Boise State and San Diego State, the conference schools are 5-21 against FBS teams and 0-13 against Power Five teams.
The most gut-wrenching loss of the day came when Fresno State blew a 31-0 lead in a loss to Tulsa.
As expected, cornerback Roland Ladipo returned for Air Force after missing the first two games with a knee injury.
The senior apparently suffered a setback during the week and wasn't added to the travel roster until late in the week. Ladipo, a returning first-team all-Mountain West selection, started the game. Senior Hayes Linn started at the cornerback spot opposite Ladipo.
Also in the starting lineup for Air Force was Ronald Cleveland, who made his first start at slot receiver over Tyler Williams.
Despite playing in the late time slot, Air Force planned to return to Colorado Springs as normal after the game.
The team had to return via bus to Ogden, Utah, after the game, a trip that takes about an hour. From there, it was set to fly charter to Colorado Springs.
The players were scheduled to check back in at the academy at 4 a.m.
Air Force's Steve Brosy averaged just 30 yards on three first-half points. His first one went just 21 yards and the second traveled 30. Both of those came against the wind.
Brosy entered the game with a 35.3 yard average on seven punts.
Luke Strebel put a kickoff out of bounds in the second quarter, the second time Air Force has done that this season.
BRENT BRIGGEMAN, THE GAZETTE