Rough Start For Mountain West

When college football analysts broke down the first week of competition for Mountain West Conference football schools, the most impressive effort was registered by Wyoming in a loss at Nebraska, 37-34. The Big Red are picked by most to win their division of the Big Ten, and Lincoln is a very difficult place to play.

But elsewhere the conference ranged from fair to abysmal. Fresno State survived in overtime against Rutgers despite being a double-digit favorite. San Jose State and Air Force beat up on poor FCS teams in Sacramento State and Colgate. Utah State gave away its game against Utah, UNLV was shellacked by Minnesota, Hawaii couldn’t generate much offense in the loss to USC. Nevada was crushed at UCLA, Boise State suffered its worst loss under Chris Petersen (against Washington) and Colorado State was beaten by two touch-downs by hapless Colorado.

Abysmal came into play when New Mexico was downed at home by new FBS program Texas-San Antonio, and worst of all San Diego State was destroyed at home by a mediocre FCS opponent in Eastern Illinois, 40-19.

You can’t judge a team by one game or a conference by one week, but it was not a good indicator, and MWC schools will have to fare better in weeks two and three or be lumped in with the Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences.

* Around the country we are seeing the occasional freshman make an impact at quarterback. None had a more auspicious debut than Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Traveling to Pittsburg, Winston was hardly in awe of the road or the Panthers. He put together the highest passing percentage in Florida State history by going 25 of 27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns. That’s an outrageous 93 percent, and the last time a Seminole quarterback threw for four touchdowns in his first game it was Danny Kanell in 1993, and Florida State won the national championship. And Winston won’t be hard to market, either. He’s a two-sport star (baseball) and his nickname, Famous Jameis, is the best since, well, Johnny Football.

Another new quarterback to watch is California true freshman Jared Goff. In an opening loss to Northwestern, Goff went 38 of 63 for 445 yards and touchdowns, an astounding performance marred only by three interceptions, two of which were tipped. With Sonny Dykes as the new Cal coach, expect the Bears to throw the ball all over the lot and generate impressive numbers. Cal is picked last in the Pac-12 North, but it won’t be down for very long.

* It’s hard to imagine how UH will begin to replace Dave Shoji, the winningest coach in collegiate volleyball history. Shoji isn’t saying whether this year, his 39th as head coach, will be his last. It would be storybook time if he could win his fifth national championship as he heads off into retirement either after this year or in the near future. It’s unlikely that his record would be surpassed, as people don’t start that young as head coach anymore. The emergence of women’s volleyball has made the process of hiring a head coach more like football, where apprenticeship is mandatory.