The first week of the Mountain West Conference's instant-replay system for reviewing controversial plays saw just fewer than two stoppages per game and one-third of the rulings on the field being changed by the officials in the replay booths.
Five games last weekend featured the MWC's new instant-replay plan — the four MWC home games and the Air Force at Washington game in which the Huskies agreed to use the MWC's system. In those games, replay was used nine times — five coaches' challenges and four booth stoppages by the officials. Three of those calls were overturned, including one on the second play of Utah's win over Arizona when it was initially ruled that Brian Johnson had fumbled the ball. The replay officials determined that Johnson's arm was moving forward so it was an incomplete forward pass.
Of the five coaches' challenges, only one was successful.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to replay is the extra time it takes during games that already routinely run long — often 3 1/2 to four hours. The MWC's average length of stoppage time to review plays last weekend was 2 minutes, 27 seconds.
TCU, just one game into being a MWC member, already has a conference record. The Horned Frogs set the league mark for beating the highest-ranked opponent when it downed No. 5 Oklahoma on the road. The league's previous best was Colorado State's 2002 victory over No. 6-ranked Colorado.
It was TCU's first win over a Top 5 opponent since it downed No. 1 Texas in 1961.
If the first week is any indication, it appears the MWC will have more star receivers this season than star running backs. Utah's Quinton Ganther was the only player in the league to rush for 100 yards in the opener. Ganther gained 127 yards on 24 carries against Arizona.
By contrast, four MWC receivers had 100-yard games. UNLV junior Donnell Wheaton led the way with 137 yards, followed by Air Force's Greg Kirkwood (134), New Mexico's Hank Baskett III (132) and Colorado State's David Anderson (119). Also, Wyoming senior receiver Jovon Bouknight had 194 all-purpose yards and is currently ranked sixth in the nation in that category.
While San Diego State and Utah have a series record that is nearly even — the Utes lead 12-11-1 — one has shown it can compete with teams from the Pac-10 and one, well, has been easy pickings.
Utah's win over Arizona was its fourth straight against Pac-10 competition dating back to Urban Meyer's first year as the Ute coach in 2003. But even before Meyer came to town the Utes, under Ron McBride, had proven it could hang with Pac-10 foes. Since 1990, in fact, the Utes are 12-12 vs. teams from that BCS conference.
The Aztecs, meanwhile, have been simply awful against the Pac-10. SDSU actually beat Cal in 1995, but since that time the Aztecs are 0-15 and have been outscored by an average margin of 17 points per game. Saturday was no different. UCLA whipped SDSU, 44-21.
Colorado State fullback Nnamdi Ohaeri and cornerback Darryl Williams are injured and will miss Saturday's game at Minnesota.
Ohaeri, a transfer from UCLA, suffered a high ankle sprain in last weekend's 31-28 loss at Colorado and will likely miss at least four weeks, the team said Tuesday. He will be replaced by Jimmy Green.
Williams suffered a concussion in the Colorado game, coach Sonny Lubick said. Two other projected starters are out with injuries. Safety Ben Stratton tore an anterior cruciate ligament in preseason practice and linebacker Luke Adkins' has not practiced because his surgically repaired knee is still painful.
New Mexico sits atop the MWC standings since it is the only team with a league win, a 24-22 decision over UNLV. But the Lobos are far from pleased with how they played Monday.
"It shouldn't be a happy locker room," Lobos quarterback Kole McKamey told the Albuquerque Tribune. "We got lucky. We should have lost that game."
Said linebacker Cody Kase, "We were expecting to do better."
Said center Ryan Cook: "I'm not that happy. As far as expectations, I think we let ourselves down."