San Jose State football: Mountain West primer
07/22/2013 08:00:43 AM PDT
07/22/2013 08:00:45 AM PDT
LAS VEGAS -- San José State begins play this fall in the Mountain West Conference, which features many familiar faces from the Spartans' days in the Western Athletic Conference.
Each of the 12 teams in the Mountain West are former WAC members. Nine of the current MW teams were part of the 16-team WAC that existed for three seasons beginning when SJSU joined the conference in 1996. That superconference broke up in 1999 when several schools left to form the Mountain West.
Here's a look at the Spartans' new conference foes.
Air Force Coach: Troy Calhoun (seventh year, 47-31) 2012 record: 6-7, fourth place, lost to Rice in Armed Forces Bowl All-time vs. SJSU: 1-1 Last meeting: 1997, SJSU won 25-22 Notes: The Spartans won't face the Falcons until the 2015 season, when they'll travel to Colorado Springs. Air Force comes to Spartan Stadium in 2016. The Falcons' last visit to San Jose came in the inaugural Silicon Valley Classic in 2000 and they beat Fresno State 37-34. In their only other trip to Spartan Stadium, the Spartans knocked off the then-No. 24 ranked Falcons in 1997 when the teams were both members of the WAC.
Boise State Coach: Chris Petersen (eighth year, 84-8) 2012 record: 11-2, Mountain West tri-champions, beat Washington in Las Vegas Bowl All-time vs. SJSU: 11-0 Last meeting: 2010, No. 3 Boise State won 48-0 Notes: SJSU has been outscored 168-30 in its past four meetings against the Broncos, although they've historically played Boise State tough at Spartan Stadium (the 2010 meeting being an exception). The Spartans lost in double overtime in 2004 and on a field goal as time expired in 2006. The Broncos are the winningest program in the country over the last 11 years, going 129-15, and will be the favorite in the Mountain Division. They won't appear on the Spartans' schedule until 2015, but could be an opponent if SJSU reached the conference championship game. Boise State's quarterback is senior Joe Southwick, from San Ramon Valley High in Danville.
Colorado State Coach: Jim McElwain (second year, 4-8) 2012 record: 4-8, tied for sixth place All-time vs. SJSU: 3-3 Last meeting: 2012, SJSU won 40-20 at Spartan Stadium Notes: The Spartans have faced the Rams in nonconference play the past two seasons and won both games, including a 38-31 win in Fort Collins, Colo., in 2011. CSU is part of SJSU's schedule rotation for its first two seasons in the MW and the Spartans travel to face the Rams on Oct. 12. SJSU quarterback David Fales had his first career 300-yard passing game when he completed 27 of 34 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns in last season's win over CSU.
New Mexico Coach: Bob Davie (second year, 4-9) 2012 record: 4-9 All-time vs. SJSU: 4-11-1 Last meeting: 2006, SJSU won 20-12 in New Mexico Bowl Notes: The Spartans' .719 winning percentages against the Lobos is their best against any of the current MW teams and the most recent meeting was a memorable one. The victory in the inaugural New Mexico Bowl, played in the Lobos home stadium, snapped a 16-year postseason drought for SJSU. New Mexico's coach at the time was current San Diego State coach Rocky Long, who is 0-3 all-time as a head coach against SJSU.
Utah State Coach: Matt Wells (first year) 2012 record: 11-2, WAC champions, beat Toledo in Famous Idaho Potato Bowl All-time vs. SJSU: 14-20-1 Last meeting: 2012, Utah State won 49-27 Notes: Utah State, like SJSU, begins its first season of MW play after moving over from the WAC. SJSU has lost four straight to the Aggies, with its last win coming in 2008. The Spartans' loss last season prevented them from capturing the WAC title, which may have been enough to send the Spartans to a BCS bowl game (SJSU's resume, had it beaten Utah State, would've been comparable and arguably better than BCS-busting Orange Bowl participant Northern Illinois). For the second straight season, the Aggies travel to San Jose and will serve as the Spartans' opponent for their conference opener. They meet in a Friday night contest on ESPN on Sept. 27.
Wyoming Coach: Dave Christensen (fifth year, 22-28) 2012 record: 4-8, tied for sixth place All-time vs. SJSU: 6-1 Last meeting: 1997, Wyoming won 30-10 Notes: The Spartans' .167 winning percentage against the Cowboys is their worst among 2013 opponents. The only victory came in 1992 when Joe Nedney kicked a 60-yard field goal as time expired in a 26-24 win in Laramie, Wyo. That 1992 season is also significant for featuring a win over Minnesota, another opponent on this season's schedule. The Cowboys hold a place in the long, winding tale of Fales' journey to SJSU. After his first season at Monterey Peninsula College, Fales briefly attended Wyoming and was set to walk on with the promise of a scholarship in 2012. He changed his mind, returned to MPC, and eventually landed with the Spartans.
Fresno State Coach: Tim DeRuyter (second year, 9-4) 2012 record: 9-4, Mountain West tri-champions, lost to SMU in Hawaii Bowl All-time vs. SJSU: 39-34-3 Last meeting: 2011, SJSU won 27-24 Notes: The Spartans have played more games (76) against the Bulldogs than any other program. Last year was the first time since 1995 that the teams hadn't faced each other, but they renew their rivalry with SJSU's move to the MW. The Spartans' 34 wins against the Bulldogs is the second most against any school, trailing only the 41 against Pacific. The 39 losses is also the second most behind the 50 defeats to Stanford. The 2011 meeting was something of a turning point for SJSU. It was the first win in Fresno in 24 years and helped close that season with some momentum and on a two-game winning streak. Including that win and a victory the week before against Navy, the Spartans have won 13 of their past 15 games. The rivals meet in the final regular season game, a Friday afternoon affair the day after Thanksgiving. The showdown should feature two highly-regarded quarterbacks in Fales and Fresno's Derek Carr and could help determine the West Division title.
Hawaii Coach: Norm Chow (second year, 3-9) 2012 record: 3-9, tied for ninth place All-time vs. SJSU: 17-17-1 Last meeting: 2011, SJSU won 28-27 Notes: The Spartans and Warriors first played in 1936 and the series produced several intriguing games during their mutual time in the WAC. During Hawaii's Sugar Bowl season in 2007, SJSU took the Warriors to overtime before losing a 42-35 heartbreaker. The Spartans' earned an emotional homecoming victory in 2011 that including a blocked PAT being returned for two points by Duke Ihenacho. SJSU scored the winning touchdown with 36 seconds left. The Spartans make the trip to Hawaii this year Oct. 5 for their first MW road game. Teams that play at Hawaii are permitted to schedule a 13th game to help offset travel costs, but SJSU chose not to this year.
Nevada Coach: Brian Polian (first year) 2012 record: 7-6, fifth place, lost to Arizona in New Mexico Bowl All-time vs. SJSU: 16-8-2 Last meeting: 2011, Nevada won 17-14 Notes: SJSU had held its own with its neighbors to the north before beginning a stretch in 2002 that saw it lose nine of 10 to the Wolf Pack, a fellow WAC member until 2011. Fales spent the 2009 season as a redshirt at Nevada before realizing the Pistol offense created by then-coach Chris Ault wasn't a good fit for him. The Wolf Pack are in a bit of transition period with Ault having retired and coming off a somewhat disappointing 2012 season. It started strong with a win over Cal in the debut of the new Memorial Stadium, but finished with Nevada just a game over .500. The Spartans haven't beaten the Wolf Pack since 2007, when SJSU finished a disappointing season of its own with a 27-24 home victory.
San Diego State Coach: Rocky Long (third year, 17-9) 2012 record: 9-4, Mountain West tri-champion, lost to BYU in Poinsettia Bowl All-time vs. SJSU: 15-19-2 Last meeting: 2012, SJSU won 38-34 Notes: The Spartans have won three straight against the Aztecs and last year's win might be the game that provides the most hope for SJSU's chances of competing this year in the MW. The road win in San Diego -- its first in 60 years -- came against an SDSU team that went on to beat Boise State on the road and earn an MW tri-championship. The Aztecs were later crushed 23-6 on their home turf in the Poinsettia Bowl to BYU, another team the Spartans defeated last season. The teams haven't met with enough regularity to form a huge rivalry, but being reunited in conference play should help trigger that. At one point in this series, from 1938-64, San Jose State was unbeaten in 14 straight meetings. The Spartans shut out the Aztecs in nine of those games, including six straight to start the run.
UNLV Coach: Bobby Hauck (fourth year, 6-32) 2012: 2-11, eighth place All-time vs. SJSU: 5-11-1 Last meeting: 1997, SJSU won 55-48 Notes: The Rebels were fellow members of the Big West Conference from 1992-95 and then in the WAC through 1998 before UNLV joined the MW. Among West Division foes, the Spartans' .676 winning percentage against the Rebels in their best. Their meeting on Nov. 2 will be SJSU's first against a West Division opponent this season. The Spartans and Rebels had four common opponents last year (Colorado State, San Diego State, Utah State and Louisiana Tech). SJSU went 3-1 in those games, UNLV went 0-4. Hauck would seem to be on the hot seat with only six wins in four seasons.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.