Stephen Vilardo’s 2022 Mountain West Championship Notes


Posted on December 2, 2022

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

Fresno State and Boise State doing battle to decide the Mountain West is becoming old hat. This is the fourth time in the 10 Mountain West Football Championships that these two teams have met.

The Blue Turf will play host to the Bulldogs for the third time in those four matchups. Counting this season, the MW title tilt has featured at least one of these teams in seven of the ten occurrences.

In 12 trips to Boise since 2001, the Bulldogs have left with a win just once and it happens to be the last time the Bulldogs visited for the Championship, a 19-16 overtime win in 2018.

On the season, Boise State rushed for 190.4 yards per game ranking 37th in the nation and was led by George Holani’s 1,059.

Altogether, 316 of the Broncos’ season rushing total came at the expense of Fresno State in the first meeting. In that one, Holani and Ashton Jeanty both topped the 100-yard mark on the ground.

It was a week after Holani was joined by Taylen Green with 100 yards on the ground, giving the Broncos a pair of 100-yard rushers in consecutive games for the first time ever.

Boise State running back George Holani | Brian Myrick/Idaho Press

Holani has obviously had an impressive season for Boise State, but when you look at his short-yardage running, he has been particularly impressive.

He has carried the ball 17 times on third down and three yards or less to gain and has successfully converted a first down on 13 of those carries.

His 76.5% success rate in those situations is the third-best in the nation among ball carriers with at least 17 attempts.


The run game is the engine that drives the Bronco offense as they are 13-0 under second-year head coach Andy Avalos when rushing for at least 140 yards in a game, something they accomplished seven times this season.

This year, the Broncos have topped 250 yards on the ground in four games, the most times in a single season since 2015.

One thing that will be different this time around from the October 8 meeting is the man under center for the Bulldogs.

It was Logan Fife filling in for Jake Haener in that one, but this time around Haener is back for Fresno State.

Haener averaged 304 passing yards per game. On third and long this season, with 10+ yards to gain, the Bulldog signal caller converted on 36.8% of his pass attempts, the 16th-best rate in the nation.

His conversion rate of 58.3% of his completions on third and 10+ to go ranks 19th in the nation.

A reliable third-down target has been Erik Brooks. The senior has caught 34 balls for 355 yards on the season with 13 of them coming on third down with 155 yards coming on the money down.

Ten of his 13 receptions on third down have moved the sticks for the Bulldogs. That conversion rate of 76.8% on third-down receptions is the 38th-best mark in the nation.

The main target for Fresno QBs has been Jalen Moreno-Cropper, who is 16 yards away from becoming the first 1,000-yard receiver for the Bulldogs since KeeSean Johnson went over the mark in 2018.

Fresno State WR Jalen Moreno-Cropper | Gary Kazanjian/AP

Already topping the 1,000-yard plateau is RB Jordan Mims who has 1,024 yards rushing on the season.

Should Moreno-Cropper get his 16 yards, it will be the first time since 2014 that the program had a rusher and receiver with 1,000 yards.

Mims, like his counterpart in the Boise State backfield, has been solid on third and short with a 75% conversion rate on his 24 rushing attempts.

His 18 first downs gained on third and three yards or less to gain are the fourth most of any runner in the nation.

Boise State has been stout on defense this season, not allowing more than 23 points to a conference opponent this season and finishing the regular season eighth in the nation with an opponent third-down conversion rate of just 29.2%.


On the third and short yardage plays that Mims has been successful at the Broncos have allowed conversions on 66.7% of run attempts, ranking 99th in the country.

The Bulldogs opened the year 1-4 but have rebounded to win seven in a row, tied for the sixth-longest active win streak in the nation.

The Broncos’ eight straight Mountain West wins stand as the nation’s sixth-longest conference win streak.

Looking at money numbers in this one, the folks in the know have listed Boise State with a three-point edge on their home field and predict a total of 54 points scored.

The last 20 times these two teams have met it has been Boise State beating the oddsmakers spread 14 times.

During the Bulldogs’ seven-game win streak they have posted a 5-2 mark against the spread.

Fresno State has seen the point total go over in five of their last six games played and four of the last six games they have played in December.

Boise State has seen the total go under in 13 of their last 19 games over the past two seasons and in each of the last five, the Broncos have played in the month of December.

Boise State has posted a 6-2 mark against the spread in their last eight games.

While Boise has seen the under the majority of the time in the last two seasons, their last five at Albertsons Stadium have seen the total go over.

Don’t get too excited about that though as six of the last seven between these two have been under the total.

—More from Stephen Vilardo—

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