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University of Wyoming junior running back Titus Swen carries the football during the Cowboys' 44-17 victory over Utah State on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, at Maverick Stadium in Logan, Utah. Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal

Each week, University of Wyoming beat writer Josh Criswell offers his take on the current status of each Mountain West football team. Here are this week’s power rankings:

1. San Diego State (Last week: 1)

San Diego State enters the final week of the regular season with a one-game lead in the West Division after escaping a scare from UNLV, but the Aztecs still have some work to do to clinch a spot in the Mountain West title game. SDSU can clinch a berth with a win this weekend or a Fresno State loss, but neither is close to a guarantee. Boise State is on a four-game winning streak heading into this week’s game against the Aztecs, while the Bulldogs have a matchup looming against a San Jose State team that’s currently on a two-game skid.

2. Boise State (Last week: 4)

Preseason Mountain Division favorite Boise State’s season once appeared lost, falling to 3-4 after a loss to Air Force on Oct. 16. Ever since standout running back George Holani returned from injury, however, the Broncos are on a four-game winning streak and averaging 190.75 rushing yards a game. Boise State is now in a three-way tie atop the division, and will clinch a title game berth with a win over SDSU and an Air Force loss to UNLV.

3. Air Force (Last week: 6)

The Falcons almost had their MW championship hopes derailed by a near collapse against Nevada, but they were able to rebound and secure a 41-39 win in triple-overtime. As a result, Air Force enters this week with the best odds in the division to advance to the title game. Not only do the Falcons have the advantage of all three first-place teams win, but they can also secure a berth with a victory over two-win UNLV and an Utah State loss to New Mexico.

4. Nevada (Last week: 3)

Nevada watched its MW championship hopes die with its loss to Air Force, as the preseason West division favorite fell to 4-3 in league play. The Wolf Pack will attempt to halt a two-game losing streak Saturday at Colorado State.

5. Utah State (Last week: 2)

All Utah State had to do was win its final two games against a pair of teams that were a combined 2-10 in conference play, and the Aggies would be playing in the MW title game. After taking a 44-17 beating from Wyoming, though, they’ll now need some help to play for the championship. Utah State needs a win over last-place New Mexico and a Boise State loss to SDSU for this to happen.

6. Fresno State (Last week: 5)

Fresno State was in the driver’s seat in the West Division just a couple weeks ago after back-to-back wins over SDSU and Nevada, but a blowout loss to Boise State altered this outlook. The Bulldogs bounced back to beat New Mexico on Nov. 13, and will now need a win over San Jose State and an SDSU loss to Boise State to reach the MW championship game.

7. Wyoming (Last week: 8)

Four consecutive losses to start MW play put a damper on the Cowboys’ first 4-0 start this century, but UW has a chance to close out the season on a high note after blowing out Colorado State and Utah State in two of its past three games. The Pokes compiled over 600 total yards in a 44-17 rout of the Aggies last week, and can essentially clinch a bowl invitation with a win over Hawaii on Saturday.

8. San Jose State (Last week: 7)

After having its previous four games decided by a touchdown or less, San Jose State was rocked 48-17 by Utah State on Nov. 13 to fall to 5-6 and cast doubt on its bowl chances. The Spartans will need to beat a Fresno State team that’s playing for a hopeful conference title game spot on Thursday to reach six wins on the year.

9. UNLV (Last week: 10)

UNLV’s disastrous start has been somewhat salvaged by a respectable finish to the season. After losing their first eight games, the Rebels beat New Mexico and Hawaii by two touchdowns, before playing West Division leader SDSU to within one score last week. They’ll have an opportunity to play spoiler at Air Force on Friday, as they go up against a Falcons squad that is still fighting for a chance to play in the title game.

10. Hawaii (Last week: 11)

The Rainbow Warriors have reason to feel optimistic after beating Colorado State 50-45 – a score that was made notably closer by a 28-point fourth quarter from CSU. Hawaii will have a challenging test Saturday at Wyoming considering its 1-5 record away from home this season.

11. Colorado State (Last week: 9)

Colorado State’s roller coaster season has been headed downhill ever since holding a brief Mountain Division lead early in conference play. The Rams have lost their past five games, dropping second-year head coach Steve Addazio to 4-11 during his time in Fort Collins.

12. New Mexico (Last week: 12)

New Mexico received a glimmer of hope as a result of its 14-3 upset win over UW on Oct. 23, but that quickly vanished. The Lobos have lost their 9ast three games by a combined 78 points, and could be in store for another ugly performance against Utah State on Friday.

Josh Criswell covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at jcriswell@wyosports.net or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @criswell_sports.

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