WHAT'S ON TAP IN THE WAC - After a 4-2 season-opening weekend that saw the two new schools earn wins, the WAC features all seven teams in action this weekend. Utah State hosts Utah on Friday night in a game that will be shown on ESPN2. On Saturday, Louisiana Tech begins its season with a road game at Houston after having its opener postponed last week due to Hurricane Isaac. Idaho and New Mexico State both travel to the state of Ohio to play Bowling Green and Ohio, respectively.
OF THE WEEK
OFFENSIVE - New Mexico State wide receiver Austin Franklin, a sophomore from Dallas, Texas (Kimball HS), set career highs with eight receptions for 236 yards and two touchdowns in New Mexico State's season-opening win over Sacramento State, 49-19. The 236 yards are the third most in school history and the most by a WAC receiver since 2006.
DEFENSIVE - UTSA free safety Triston Wade, a sophomore from Tyler, Texas (John Tyler HS), made a career-high 11 tackles (5 solo), forced a fumble on a 48-yard kickoff return and intercepted a first-and-goal pass in the end zone with the Roadrunner's trailing 7-0 in the game at South Alabama. UTSA scored touchdowns following both turnovers to take a 14-7 lead after the first quarter. Wade also had one tackle for a loss of seven yards that helped hold South Alabama to a field goal in the third quarter.
SPECIAL TEAMS - UTSA place kicker Sean Ianno, a sophomore from Pflugerville, Texas (Pflugerville HS), made a career-long 51-yard field goal with 16 seconds remaining to give UTSA a 33-31 win at South Alabama. Ianno was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, including a 47-yarder in the second quarter, and extended his PAT streak to 34 with three more in the game.
Others nominated on offense:
Eric Soza, Jr., QB, UTSA - completed 18-of-30 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the win at South Alabama. He also rushed four times for 19 yards.
Marcus Curry, Sr., RB, Texas State - rushed for a career-high 131 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in the win at Houston. He also caught two passes for 23 yards and another touchdown. He had one touchdown run that went for 73 yards and was named ESPN's No. 8 Play of the Day.
Chuckie Keeton, So., QB, Utah State - set a single-game school record by completing 88.0 percent of his passes (22-25) in the win over Southern Utah. He threw for a career-high 304 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
Also nominated on defense:
Trashaun Nixon, Jr., LB, New Mexico State - tallied a career-high 15 tackles, including two for a loss, in the win against Sacramento State.
Brian Lilly, Sr., LB, Texas State - recorded two tackles including one for a sack of five yards, and recovered a fumble that set up a touchdown to give the Bobcats a 24-10 lead in the second quarter.
Connor Williams, Jr., DL, Utah State - had four tackles, including a sack, in the win over Southern Utah.
Additional special teams nominations:
Cayle Chapman-Brown, Jr., P, New Mexico State - punted six times for a 50.5-yard average in the win over Sacramento State.
Will Johnson, So., PK/P, Texas State - hit three of his four field goat attempts and averaged 35.8 yards on six punts with two inside the 20-yard line in the game at Houston.
Chuck Jacobs, Sr., KR/PR, Utah State - returned two punts for 40 yards and a kickoff for 21 yards in the game against Southern Utah.
NATIONAL LEADERS - After the first weekend of play, a couple of WAC players lead the nation statistically. New Mexico State quarterback Andrew Manley is first in passing efficiency with a 248.8 rating. His teammate, wide receiver Austin Franklin, is at the top in receiving yards per game with 236.0. A pair of running backs lead the nation in scoring with 18.0 points per game as both Utah State's Joe Hill and Texas State's Marcus Curry each scored three touchdowns last week.
NEW ERA - The WAC begins a new era this year with the additions of Denver, Seattle, UT-Arlington, UTSA and Texas State with only the latter two competing in football. The WAC will consist of a total of 10 schools for the 2012-13 season, but just seven will play football. Both UTSA and Texas State are eligible to compete for the WAC championship, but neither are eligible for a postseason bowl game in 2012 due to the two-year process of transitioning from FCS to FBS. Texas State began the process last year and becomes eligible for bowl games in 2013, while UTSA must wait until 2014 as it begins the transition process this season. For their opponents, wins against Texas State this year count toward bowl eligibility while those against UTSA do not.
ALL COACHES RETURN - The WAC is the only FBS conference to return all of its head coaches from a year ago. Idaho's Robb Akey is the senior member of the group going into his sixth year with the Vandals. New members UTSA and Texas State have coaches that are in their second year with the school though Texas State's Dennis Franchione coached an additional two years with the Bobcats in 1990 and 1991. Franchione had two previous stints in the WAC with New Mexico and TCU and his 59 wins as a WAC head coach are the 11th most in conference history. UTSA's Larry Coker won a National Championship in his first year with Miami (Fla.) in 2001.
PRESEASON FAVORITES - Defending WAC champion Louisiana Tech was picked as the favorite by both the media and coaches for the 2012 season. Utah State was second in both polls and San Jose State was third. As selected by the media, Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton was voted the preseason Offensive Player of the Year while San Jose State defensive end Travis Johnson was picked as the Defensive Player of the Year. Patton, a senior, was a first-team all-WAC selection last year after catching 79 passes for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season with the Bulldogs. Johnson, a senior, earned first-team all-WAC honors after finishing second in the WAC with 9.5 sacks last year. He enters this season with 19 career sacks, the third most of any active player in the country.
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL - The WAC continues its affiliation with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl this year. The WAC champion (unless its UTSA or Texas State) will play an opponent from the Mid-American Conference. The WAC has played in the bowl game every year since 2000.
BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES - Since 1997, the WAC has been an official part of the Bowl Championship Series. The WAC's champion will receive an automatic berth in one of the five BCS bowl games if ranked in the top 12 of the BCS Standings (and is the highest ranked team from a conference without an automatic bid) or if ranked in the top 16 of the BCS Standings and its ranking is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls. The BCS Standings are determined by a formula involving polls and computer rankings. Next year's National Championship Game will be played in Miami on Jan. 7, 2013.