Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Western Athletic Conference wrap
By Graham Watson
Prior to the start of last season, most of the WAC coaches lauded Boise State and used them as the model the rest of the conference could follow. Who could blame them? The Broncos have been dominant during their time in the WAC and for the second consecutive season, they’ve completed an undefeated campaign and continued to be the team that every other WAC program is chasing.
Steve Conner/Icon SMI
Boise State Bronco quarterback Kellen Moore led his team to their second consecutive undefeated regular season.
But no team has quite caught up. Despite good seasons by Fresno State, Nevada and Idaho, none of those teams were able to play with Boise State and the Broncos were nearly kept out of the BCS because of their weak conference schedule.
However, there’s no denying that the conference is moving in the right direction.
This season, the WAC has more teams with eight or more wins this year than last year and those have come prior to the bowl season. The combined winning percentage of the bottom four teams is higher than it’s ever been with the current WAC teams. And this is the second consecutive season that the conference did not have a one-win team. Conference USA is the only other non-AQ conference to boast that stat, but it also had two two-loss teams while the WAC had just one.
Boise State’s dominance in the WAC doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon, but it’s good to see the other eight teams beginning to get a little more competitive, which will only help the conference in the long run.
Moore has been one of the most consistent players, not only in the WAC, but across the country. He leads the nation in passing efficiency with a 167.35 rating while completing 64.7 percent of his passes for 3,325 yards and 39 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
Defensive MVP: Nevada defensive end Dontay Moch
Moch has helped Nevada become the nation’s top rushing defense. He leads the WAC and is eighth in the nation in tackles for loss with 19.5. He has 57 total tackles (35 solo), including 6.5 sacks. He's also broken up three passes and forced two fumbles.
It’s hard to be a top receiver on a rushing team, but Wimberly managed to shine. He caught 46 passes for 653 yards and five touchdowns to lead Nevada and rank 10th in the WAC among receivers.
Coach of the Year: Boise State’s Chris Petersen
What else can you say about Petersen that hasn’t already been said? His teams are a model of consistency and that’s a tribute to the coaching and the recruiting. This year, Boise State becomes the first WAC team to play in two BCS bowl games.
Biggest Surprise: Idaho
The leagues coaches picked Idaho last in the preseason and the media had it second-to-last, but the Vandals shocked the country by winning six of their first seven games and now they're on its way to their first bowl game since 1998.
Biggest disappointment: Nevada
A lot of people thought the Wolf Pack would give the Broncos a run for their money for a spot in the BCS. But an 0-3 start doomed those dreams quickly. The Wolf Pack did rebound to win eight straight, but they still couldn’t find a way to get past Boise State, which continues to be the mountain the Wolf Pack has yet to conquer.
Game of the Year: Boise State 45, Louisiana Tech 35, Nov. 6
In one of the most unlikely upset bids, Louisiana Tech forced the Broncos into one of their toughest games of the season and came extremely close to knocking the Broncos out of the BCS. The Bulldogs came back from a 27-7 halftime deficit to get within three points in the fourth quarter. No team gave Boise State more of a scare than Louisiana Tech.