Dec 4, 2021; Carson, CA, USA; Utah State Aggies quarterback Logan Bonner (1) and defensive end Byron Vaughns (11) hold the champions trophy following the victory against the San Diego State Aztecs in the Mountain West Conference championship game at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Mountain West scrapping two-division format in 2023

The Mountain West Conference announced Friday that it will eliminate its two-division format beginning with the 2023 season.

The Mountain West will instead have the two teams with the top winning percentages play in the league championship game.

The move comes two days after the NCAA Division I Council changed policy to allow conferences to determine which teams compete in the title game. Prior to that, leagues with divisions were required to send the division winners to the championship contest.

“Our membership has been working on concepts since last summer, as part of our strategic planning for the future of the Mountain West,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a news release. “A single-division approach provides maximum flexibility to adapt the Conference schedule as the landscape continues to evolve, while also allowing member institutions to play each other more frequently.”

This season, the Mountain West will stick to the division format. The winner of the Mountain and West divisions will play Dec. 3 at the site of the team with the top record in conference play.

The Pac-12 announced it was scrapping divisions, beginning this fall, just minutes after the rule was relaxed on Wednesday. The two teams with the best winning percentages will meet in the Pac-12 title game.

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2021; Carson, CA, USA; Utah State Aggies running back Calvin Tyler Jr. (4) runs the ball against San Diego State Aztecs safety C.J. Baskerville (34) during the first half of the Mountain West Conference championship game at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Utah State annihilates No. 19 San Diego State to win Mountain West

Unranked Utah State kept San Diego State from its first 12-win season in dominating fashion, rolling to a 46-13 upset of the 19th-ranked Aztecs on Saturday afternoon in the Mountain West Conference championship game at the Aztecs’ temporary home in Carson, Calif.

Logan Bonner completed 29 of 42 passes for 318 yards, throwing four touchdown passes as Utah State took the lead after a scoreless first quarter and never trailed.

The Aggies (10-3) won their first Mountain West title in school history in their second appearance in the game. Brandon Bowling caught two touchdowns as part of his eight-catch, 154-yard afternoon, and Derek Wright and Justin McGriff each had a receiving touchdown for Utah State.

Utah State sacked San Diego State quarterback Jordan Brookshire four times, finishing with five sacks for the game. The Aggies blocked two punts, one for a safety in the third quarter that gave them a 23-3 lead.

Aztecs star kicker/punter Matt Araiza hadn’t had a punt blocked all season. Wide receiver Jesse Matthews caught San Diego State’s only touchdown pass and had eight catches for 82 yards.

On a first quarter possession, the Aggies stuffed the Aztecs (11-2) on fourth-and-1 from the Utah State 12-yard line.

Araiza’s second field goal of the game made the score 23-6, but Bonner found Bowling for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:54 to go in the third quarter, and the 23-point deficit was too much for San Diego State to overcome.

Bonner’s touchdown pass to Wright saw the wide receiver manage to keep one foot in bounds along the sideline in the end zone, and his first TD pass to Bowling was a backbreaker for the Aztecs, who trailed only 14-3 at halftime.

Bowling was wide open over the middle of the field for a 58-yard touchdown to cap off the Aggies’ first drive of the second half.

Calvin Tyler Jr. added a touchdown run for Utah State, and after he fumbled inside the 5-yard line late in the game, teammate Jordan Nathan recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown with 3:58 to play.

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; A general view of SoFi Stadium exterior prior to the NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LA Bowl latest bowl game called off

The inaugural LA Bowl was rescheduled for December 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bowl committee announced on Monday.

The game was to be played Dec. 30 at the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. — home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers — and feature the No. 1 team in the Mountain West Conference against the No. 5 team in the Pac-12.

“The inaugural LA Bowl has been postponed to 2021,” the game’s official Twitter account posted Monday. “While the Covid-19 pandemic has prevented us from having the game this year, we look forward to hosting teams from the Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences at SoFi Stadium next December.”

The LA Bowl became the 11th bowl game canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2019; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Air Force Falcons offensive lineman Scott Hattok (61) against the Washington State Cougars during the Cheez-It Bowl at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mountain West unveils sked to begin Oct. 24

The Mountain West unveiled an eight-game schedule on Thursday that begins Oct. 24 and will scrap the division format for the 2020 season.

The league will have the two teams with the top winning percentages meet in its conference title game on Dec. 19. The 12-team conference typically uses a two-division format.

“We are excited to get our student-athletes back on the football field this fall,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement. “The shift away from a two-division format was necessary to optimize the schedule and allow for maximum flexibility given the various constraints which had to be considered.

“Inasmuch as the season begins with an uneven number of conference games, and the possibility exists additional games may be lost to COVID-19 challenges, the procedures for determining the participants in and location for the MW Football Championship Game were adapted to accommodate a range of outcomes in as equitable a fashion as possible.”

The uneven conference schedule allows Air Force keep its traditional military opponents on the slate. The Falcons host Navy this Saturday and play at Army on Nov. 7.

The Mountain West begins its conference slate with six games on Oct. 24.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; A detailed view of the pylon with San Diego State Aztecs and Mountain West Conference logos during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Mountain West will start 8-game football season Oct. 24

Following the lead of the Pac-12, the Mountain West Conference announced Thursday that it will start an eight-game football season on Oct. 24.

The conference championship game will be played Dec. 19, one day prior to the College Football Playoff revealing the four playoff teams.

The announcement came with the stipulation that the schedule is “subject to approval from state, county and local officials.”

The Mountain West, as with all major college football conferences, delayed the start of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd cited sources saying that the Mountain West was looking into administering COVID-19 tests three times a week.

The Pac-12 announced earlier Thursday that it will play a seven-game slate starting Nov. 6.

The Mountain West’s football schools are located in California (Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State), Colorado (Air Force and Colorado State), Nevada (Nevada and UNLV), Hawaii (Hawaii), Idaho (Boise State), New Mexico (New Mexico), Utah (Utah State) and Wyoming (Wyoming).

According to ESPN, San Jose State had yet to deliver its return-to-action plan to Santa Clara County officials as of Thursday. The protocol must be accepted by the local government before the Spartans can resume practice.

With the Southeastern Conference set to start Saturday and the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West all now planning to kick off their seasons later in the fall, the only Football Bowl Subdivision league without a planned return date is the Mid-American Conference.

ESPN reported Thursday that MAC presidents will meet Friday to consider a possible six-game schedule that would kick off in November.

–Field Level Media

Dec 21, 2019; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; A Boise Broncos fan in costume is pictured during the second half of the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Mountain West reconsidering fall football season

Presidents of schools in the Mountain West Conference will meet Thursday night to discuss the potential for a fall football season, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported.

Thamel tweeted news of the meeting and added that a vote is not scheduled but could be conducted that night.

The conference indefinitely postponed its football season and all fall sports on Aug. 10 due to safety concerns involving the coronavirus pandemic. At that point, the Mountain West became the second league, following the Mid-American Conference, to announce the postponement of their seasons.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 followed.

But now, the Big Ten already has announced its return to play, and the Pac-12 and MAC could do so this week.

Thamel said the Mountain West is targeting an eight-game schedule that would begin Oct. 24.

Mountain West teams are Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State and Wyoming.

–Field Level Media

Dec 7, 2019; Boise, ID, USA; Boise State Broncos running back George Holani (24) runs for the edge during the second half of the Mountain West Championship at Albertsons  Stadium versus Hawaii Warriors. Boise State defeats Hawaii 31-10.  Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Mountain West postpones football season

The Mountain West has indefinitely postponed its football season and all fall sports due to safety concerns involving the coronavirus pandemic, the conference announced Monday.

The Mountain West Board of Directors said the decision was due to “ongoing challenges with the effective mitigation and management of the COVID-19 virus in conjunction with athletic competition.”

“Since the start of the pandemic, our membership and staff have been working diligently to prepare for a fall sports season,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement. “We were hopeful we could carefully and responsibly conduct competition as originally scheduled with essential protocols in place.

“However, numerous external factors and unknowns outside our control made this difficult decision necessary. I fully understand the impact of this outcome on our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff who work so hard daily to play the sports we all love, and I share in their disappointment. We will continue to navigate this pandemic together, overcome the obstacles and return to intercollegiate athletics at the earliest opportunity.”

The 12-team Mountain West joins the 12-team Mid-American Conference as Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) leagues that have postponed their football season and fall sports.

Counting independent Connecticut and Old Dominion of Conference USA — the latter announced Monday it was postponing football and fall sports — 26 FBS programs have opted out of the fall football season.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 could announce they won’t be conducting football seasons on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

The Mountain West said it will study rescheduling the different sports — such as volleyball and soccer — in the spring. The league said training activities will be evaluated as well to ensure they are consistent with NCAA legislation and guidance and state, local and campus parameters.

“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our students, student-athletes, coaches, faculty, staff and overall communities,” said Board Chairman Dr. Mary Papazian, the president of San Jose State. “Through the hard work of many over the past several months, the conference made every effort to create an opportunity for our student-athletes to compete, and we empathize with the disappointment this creates for everyone associated with our programs. The best interests of our students and student-athletes remain our focus and we will persist in our efforts to forge a viable and responsible path forward.”

UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois released a statement saying her university supports the decision.

“The health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and our entire community that supports them is our top priority and as it stands today, the conference determined that a safe enough path forward for competition could not be found,” Reed-Francois said.

San Diego State football coach Brady Hoke also said the decision was the right move.

“Although today is a difficult day, we know that we are making changes to the schedule for the safety and health of the players, and that is always the right thing to do,” Hoke said. “I am very disappointed for our student-athletes. They were excited in their commitment and preparation for the upcoming season. Now we are going to have to readjust.”

In addition to San Diego State and UNLV, the other football members of the Mountain West are Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, San Jose State, Utah State and Wyoming.

–Field Level Media

Dec 7, 2019; Boise, ID, USA; Boise State Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin hoist the trophy after defeating the Hawaii Warriors in the Mountain West Championship at Albertsons  Stadium.  Boise State defeats Hawaii 31-10.  Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Mountain West plans to hold 10-game football slate

The Mountain West announced Wednesday that it plans to go with a 10-game football season, starting the week ending Sept. 26.

The league said it would go with an eight-game conference slate, leaving teams able to schedule two nonconference opponents.

The Mountain West title game be held either Dec. 5, Dec. 12 or Dec. 19, depending on events involving the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have deliberated these issues fully as a Conference since the start of the pandemic, and I want to thank the Mountain West Board of Directors, Directors of Athletics and the MW Health and Safety Advisory Committee for their collaborative efforts during this unique time,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement. “The health and welfare of our student-athletes and campus communities continue to be paramount in our decision-making process.

“The modified fall structure as presently configured allows flexibility and time for our athletic programs to be in the best possible position to play collegiate sports this season. There is still a lot of work to be done and many important decisions to be made. Today’s announcement provides a path forward as we navigate the weeks ahead.”

San Diego State football coach Brady Hoke was pleased to know the projected starting date for the season.

“It is exciting to get some positive news about a football season, but the safety and health is the first thing,” Hoke said in a statement. “It gives us an opportunity to make sure our protocols are in place for the safety and health of the student-athletes, the staff, the athletic trainers and everyone associated with the program.

“We will continue to be smart as coaches and players on how we proceed. … Our guys want to play football and they know we can be a great example of how to follow procedures that are for the safety of everybody involved.”

In addition to the Aztecs, the other football members of the conference are Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State and Wyoming.

–Field Level Media