Around the MTN: UNLV QB Jayden Maiava The Real Deal
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl warned you he was "excellent."
Jayden Maiava was all of that last Friday night in Las Vegas, rushing for a pair of touchdowns and adding one more through the air in a 34-14 victory over Wyoming.
For the second consecutive week, the UNLV quarterback was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Week.
Maiava, who turned down offers from Auburn, Louisville and Tennessee, instead chose the hometown Rebels. In that win over the Cowboys, he looked like the school's top-ranked QB recruit in history, connecting on 17-of-24 throws for 232 yards. He added 40 more on the ground to lead the Rebels in rushing.
UNLV will travel to Air Force this Saturday with first place in the conference on the line.
Here are some other news and notes from around the league:
- With two weeks to play in the regular season, five teams are within a game of first place in the Mountain West race.
- Four MW programs are bowl eligible and another four are still in contention to reach the threshold. Boise State and Utah State, both 5-5 overall, square off this Saturday, so one of them will join the ranks of bowl-eligible squads.
- Three MW squads are receiving votes in the national polls. UNLV and Fresno State are receiving votes in both the Associated Press and AFCA polls, while Air Force is receiving votes in the AFCA poll. Air Force and Fresno State have both appeared in the national rankings this year. The Falcons have been as high as No. 17 in both the AP and AFCA polls and were No. 25 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. Fresno State has spent three weeks in the national rankings, topping out at No. 24.
- The MW has four wins over Autonomous 5 programs this season, the most of any G5 conference.
- The MW is one of six conferences (AAC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) with at least three teams with two or fewer losses this season.
- The Mountain West has the No. 2 Schedule Strength Ranking among the Group of 5 conferences, according to SportSource.
- A first-place battle between Air Force and UNLV with major Mountain West Championship Game implications highlights the league’s Week 12 slate, which sees all 12 teams in action Saturday. The Falcons and Rebels are both 8-2 overall and 5-1 in MW play with two games to go in the regular season.
- San José State has won four straight games after an 0-2 MW start to keep its title-game hopes alive. The Spartans have outscored their last four opponents 171-63, handing Hawai‘i its first home shutout since 1998 and knocking off No. 25 Fresno State.
- Air Force Lieutenant General Richard M. Clark has been selected to succeed Bill Hancock as the executive director of the College Football Playoff.
- Boise State’s James Ferguson-Reynolds and San Diego State’s Jack Browning were both recently named semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, which honors the nation’s top punter. Also last week, Fresno State’s Dylan Lynch, Hawai‘i’s Matthew Shipley and UNLV’s Jose Pizano were named semifinalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Orange Bowl.
- Two other MW players took steps closer to national postseason honors last week, with Colorado State tight end Dallin Holker named a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award (outstanding tight end) and UNLV receiver Ricky White III added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List (outstanding receiver).
- Surging UNLV has won two straight and seven of its last eight. The Rebels continue to get solid play on offense and special teams. Quarterback Jayden Maiava earned his fourth MW Freshman of the Week citation Monday after accounting for three touchdowns in UNLV’s 34-14 win over Wyoming, while White had eight catches for 144 yards to push his season total to 1,028 yards. He is the first MW player to surpass 1,000 receiving yards this season and the first Rebel to do so since 2013. Pizano collected his third MW Special Teams Player of the Week honor after booting a pair of field goals and four extra points for a 10-point outing. Pizano is riding a streak of 17 consecutive field-goal makes and is tied for the UNLV program record with 21 overall this season. Maiava and Pizano have been honored by the MW in the same week on three occasions this season.
- At 8-2 overall, UNLV has reached eight wins for the first time since the 2000 squad went 8-5. The Rebels have not won nine games in a season since going 11-2 in 1984.
- Hawai‘i defeated league-leading Air Force by a 27-13 count in Week 11, holding the top rushing unit in the FBS to more than 80 yards below its seasonal average. Sophomore defensive back Peter Manuma played a big part in that effort, logging a career-high 12 tackles and his third interception of the season to pace the Rainbow Warriors and earn MW Defensive Player of the Week honors.
- Currently 8-2 overall, Air Force is aiming for a third straight 10-win season after going 10-3 in each of the previous two. The Falcons boast one of the top defenses in the FBS, ranking seventh in scoring defense (15.7 ppg), third in total defense (245.30), fifth in passing defense (159.30) and seventh in rushing defense (86.00).
- San José State earned a 42-18 win over No. 25 Fresno State in Week 11, with senior running back Kairee Robinson rushing 19 times for a career-high 200 yards and two touchdowns. Robinson, the reigning MW Offensive Player of the Week, has scored in a program-record nine straight games and has 15 rushing TDs on the season, matching the Spartans’ single-season record. With 17 total TDs and 33 for his career, he is two back of the program records for both single-season and career TDs. The Spartans wrap up their home slate Saturday against San Diego State as they look for their fifth straight win and bowl eligibility.
- With 13,102 total offense yards in his career, San José State senior quarterback Chevan Cordeiro is just 382 back of MW career leader Brett Rypein of Boise State, who logged 13,484 in his career from 2015-18.
- New Mexico’s Jacory Croskey-Merritt ran for a pair of TDs in a 42-14 loss to Boise State in Week 11, pushing his season total to 14, which ranks fourth in the FBS.
- Nevada senior Brandon Talton hit a 38-yard field goal in a 41-24 setback to Utah State in Week 11, extending his MW record to 79 career makes.
- Boise State senior Jonah Dalmas connected twice in the Broncos’ 42-14 win over New Mexico to push his career total to 71, good for second in MW history. Dalmas is the league’s career leader with an 87.7 career field-goal percentage.
- With a sack in Colorado State’s 22-19 win over San Diego State, CSU defensive end Mohamed Kamara moved into second in MW history with 29.0 for his career. He is five back of MW career leader Curtis Weaver of Boise State (2017-19).
- On Monday, San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke announced his retirement, effective at the end of the season.
- Boise State enters Saturday’s game against Utah State under the leadership of interim head coach Spencer Danielson, the Broncos’ defensive coordinator.
San José State senior running back Kairee Robinson has been named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week, while Hawai‘i sophomore defensive back Peter Manuma has been tabbed MW Defensive Player of the Week. UNLV senior placekicker Jose Pizano earned MW Special Teams Player of the Week honors and Rebel quarterback Jayden Maiava was selected as the MW Freshman of the Week.
The weekly honor is the fourth of Maiava’s career, third of Pizano’s, second of Robinson’s and the first for Manuma.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
KAIREE ROBINSON, SAN JOSÉ STATE
Senior, Running Back, Antioch, Calif. / De La Salle
- Had 19 carries for a career-high 200 yards and two touchdowns in San José State’s 42-18 win over No. 25 Fresno State.
- Averaged 10.5 yards per carry in turning in his fourth 100-yard rushing game in a row and fifth of the season and the first 200-yard rushing game for the Spartans since 2015.
- Has scored in an SJSU-record nine straight games.
- Notched his 14th rushing TD of the season in the first quarter and added his 15th in the fourth quarter, matching the Spartans’ single-season record.
- Has 17 total touchdowns this year and 33 for his career, just two back of the school records in both categories.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
PETER MANUMA, HAWAI‘I
Sophomore, Defensive Back, ‘Ewa Beach, O‘ahu / Campbell HS
- Had a career-high 12 tackles, including seven solo stops, in Hawai‘i’s 27-13 win over league-leading Air Force.
- Added a fourth-quarter interception and returned it 20 yards.
- Has a team-leading three interceptions on the season, including one in each of the last two contests.
- Helped hold Air Force, which entered the game leading the FBS in rushing, to just 201 yards on the ground, more than 80 yards below its seasonal average.
- Also helped hold Air Force to just 13 points, a season low for a Hawai‘i opponent.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JOSE PIZANO, UNLV
Senior, Placekicker, Lehi, Utah / Lehi HS / Missouri State
- Accounted for 10 points in UNLV’s 34-14 win over Wyoming.
- Hit both of his field-goal attempts on the evening and was 4-for-4 on point-after attempts.
- Converted field goals from 39 yards and 43 yards, both in the fourth quarter.
- His 21 field goals this season match the UNLV single-season record.
- Ranks second in the FBS with 2.10 field goals per game and 104 total points scored.
FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
JAYDEN MAIAVA, UNLV
Redshirt Freshman, Quarterback, Las Vegas, Nev. / Liberty HS
- Went 17-for-24 for 232 yards and a touchdown through the air and ran for 40 yards and two TDs in UNLV’s 34-14 win over Wyoming.
- Led UNLV in passing and rushing in improving to 6-1 as a starter.
- Had two rushing TDs in the first quarter to stake the Rebels to a 14-0 lead before adding a 5-yard touchdown pass in the third.
- Went 7-for-9 for 79 yards on third down.
- Completed 70.8 percent of his passes on the day to increase his season percentage to 65.5, the second-best mark by an FBS freshman.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
Gallery Credit: 7220Sports.com
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players