San Diego State cemented itself as the top football program in the Mountain West, while upstart Wyoming established itself as a program that will have to be reckoned with in the future.
Rashaad Penny rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and Donnel Pumphrey added 110 yards and one TD as San Diego State beat Wyoming 27-24 on Saturday for its second consecutive Mountain West championship.
“That’s the way the championship should be — two teams playing their hearts out until the end,” San Diego State coach Rocky Long said. “The Mountain West got the type of championship like it should.”
Penny also gained 113 yards on two kickoff returns and 13 receiving yards for a total of 243 all-purpose yards for the Aztecs (10-3).
Penny, who is Pumphrey’s backup on offense, gained his rushing yards on just 16 carries, averaging 7.3 yards per carry.
“When you’ve got the best offensive line in the league, you can’t thank them enough,” Penny said. “I love these guys. It’s just an awesome feeling to get this win.”
San Diego State’s defense forced three Wyoming turnovers and held the Cowboys (8-5) to 2-of-14 on third down and 0-of-3 on fourth down. The Aztecs also recorded six sacks.
“We had tons of third downs and longs,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “And whenever you have a third down and long and you’re chasing the sticks, that’s always an advantage to the defensive coach.”
Josh Allen led Wyoming with 248 yards passing and three touchdowns. But he also was picked off twice and lost a fumble.
▪ San Diego State: The Aztecs avenged a 34-33 regular season loss to Wyoming two weeks ago. Their win Saturday also snapped a two-game losing streak. The conference title was San Diego State’s third in the past five years. San Diego State won its 10th game of the season and now has back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time while being a member of a conference in its Division I history since 1969.
“We have a great group of seniors,” Long said. “They came to our program when we weren’t very good and I told them we were going to be pretty good and they believed and they’ve worked hard this whole time and they deserve everything they get.”
▪ Wyoming: The Cowboys and third-year coach Bohl, who signed a contract extension Friday, surprised everyone by winning their conference division after finishing 2-10 last year. It was Wyoming’s first Mountain West title game and the first postseason game ever at its 67-year-old War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys last played in a conference title game back in 1996, when they lost to BYU in the inaugural WAC championship.
“The real problem for the rest of us is that Wyoming is just going to get better and better, and that’s a problem for all the rest of us,” Long said.
PUMPHREY: NCAA RUSHING LIST
Pumphrey passed Ricky Williams for second place on the NCAA career rushing list with 6,290. He is now 108 yards from surpassing all-time rushing leader Ron Dayne, who had 6,397.
▪ San Diego State: Bowl game to be determined, likely the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 17 against Houston.
▪ Wyoming: Bowl game to be determined, likely the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 21 against BYU.