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This Week in WAC Football-Dec. 4
Courtesy: Associated Press
WAC SENDS TWO TO POSTSEASON BOWLS – The WAC is sending its top two teams to bowl games.  WAC champion Utah State opens the bowl season for the WAC when it faces Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 15.  It is the second straight appearance in that bowl game for the Aggies.  San Jose State will take on Bowling Green in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27.  The Spartans are making their first appearance in the postseason since the 2006 New Mexico Bowl.

– Texas State quarterback Shaun Rutherford, a senior from Bay City, Texas (Blinn College), rushed for a career-high 138 yards on 17 carries and completed 8-of-17 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown in Texas State’s 66-28 win over New Mexico State.  The 138 rushing yards were the most by a Bobcat all season.

DEFENSIVE – Texas State linebacker Joplo Bartu, a senior from Waller, Texas (Waller HS), made a career-high 17 tackles (12 solo), including eight tackles for a loss of 34 yards (4 sacks), in the win over New Mexico State.  He also forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown to give the Bobcats a lead they would never relinquish.  Bartu came into the game with a total of four tackles for loss on the season.

SPECIAL TEAMS – Texas State placekicker Will Johnson, a sophomore from Bryan, Texas (Rudder HS), matched a career-high with 12 points in the game against New Mexico State.  Johnson broke a school-record with a 54-yard field goal in the third quarter and made a career-high nine extra points in the game.

UTAH STATE WINS OUTRIGHT WAC TITLE – Utah State beat Idaho, 45-9, in its regular season finale to win the WAC title with a 6-0 conference mark.  It was the first outright title for the Aggies in football since winning the 1936 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship.  It was also the 10th win for Utah State, setting a new single-season school record. 

WAC INDIVIDUAL AWARDS – As voted upon by the WAC’s seven head coaches, Louisiana Tech’s Colby Cameron was named the Offensive Player of the Year, San Jose State’s Travis Johnson earned Defensive Player of the Year honors, and Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon was named the Freshman of the Year.  Utah State’s Gary Andersen was voted the WAC’s Coach of the Year.

ALL-WAC TEAMS – Louisiana Tech and San Jose State led the league with nine first-team all-WAC honorees each, while WAC champion Utah State placed eight on the first team.  A total of six first-team all-WAC players were repeat selections from last year: Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton, San Jose State tight end Ryan Otten, Louisiana Tech offensive lineman Stephen Warner, Utah State offensive lineman Tyler Larsen, San Jose State defensive lineman Travis Johnson and Louisiana Tech punter Ryan Allen.  San Jose State placed a WAC-high seven players on the second team while Utah State had six, Louisiana Tech five and New Mexico State and UTSA with four apiece.

WAC TOP NON-AQ CONFERENCE – Going into last weekend, the WAC was the top non-automatic qualifying conference according to the ESPN Stats & Information College Football Conference Power Rankings.  The WAC had a rating of 31.5, trailing the ACC (44.1), but ahead of the MAC (28.3), Big East (27.3), Mountain West (20.7), Sun Belt (18.3) and Conference USA (15.2).  The ratings take into account the AP poll and various computer rankings.

TWO TEAMS IN BCS RANKINGS –  In the final BCS rankings of the season, Utah State moved up two spots to 22nd while San Jose State jumped up one slot to 24th.

TOP TWO RANKED – In this week’s polls, Utah State moved up two spots to 18th in the AP poll, two spots to 20th in the USA Today poll and one spot to 21st in the Harris poll.  San Jose State made its first appearance in the polls this year at 24th in both the AP and USA Today coaches’ polls.  The Spartans also received votes in the final Harris poll.  San Jose State is ranked in the AP poll for the first time since Nov. 24, 1975 (20th).  The last time San Jose State had a coaches poll ranking was at the conclusion of the 1990 season when the Spartans finished 20th after a 9-2-1 record.  Louisiana Tech is receiving votes in the USA Today and Harris polls.

ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT – Six WAC football student-athletes were named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District teams.  To be eligible for the teams, a player must have at least a 3.20 GPA and play in 50 percent of his team’s games.  Student-athletes on All-District first teams are placed on the national ballot for Academic All-America consideration.

Academic All-District Members
DB-McKade Brady, Utah State, Sr., Human movement science
RB-Ray Holley, Louisiana Tech, Gr., Counseling
DL-Travis Johnson, San Jose State, Sr., Kinesiology
OL-Nate Leonard, UTSA, So., Physical Education
OL-Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, New Mexico State, So., Biology
OL-Stephen Warner, Louisiana Tech, Sr., Civil engineering

– Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron has been named the winner of the prestigious Sammy Baugh Award presented to college football’s top passer by The Touchdown Club of Columbus.  Cameron is the 10th WAC quarterback to win the award.

ALLEN NAMED RAY GUY FINALIST – Louisiana Tech punter Ryan Allen has been named a finalist for the Ray Guy Award.  This marks the second consecutive year Allen has been named a finalist for the award honoring the nation’s top punter.  Allen currently leads in the nation in punting, averaging 48.0 yards per punt this season. That average is more than a yard better than any other punter.  Allen won the 2011 Ray Guy Award becoming the first punter from a non-AQ school to be named the nation’s top punter. No punter has ever won the Ray Guy Award more than once.  This year’s winner will be revealed on ESPN during The Home Depot College Football Awards airing live on Thursday, Dec. 6.

ANDERSEN FINALIST FOR EDDIE ROBINSON COACH OF THE YEAR – Utah State’s Gary Andersen is one of nine finalists for the 2012 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. Andersen has led the Aggies to a 10-2 record and the WAC’s outright title with a 6-0 mark.

MACINTYRE SEMIFINALIST FOR COACH OF THE YEAR – San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre is one of 16 semifinalists for the 2012 Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year Award. MacIntyre has led the Spartans to a 10-2 record, exceeding the program’s combined win total from the 2009 (2), 2010 (1) and 2011 (5) seasons.

LA TECH LEADS NATION IN SCORING – In the most recent NCAA statistics report, Louisiana Tech remains first in the nation in scoring with 51.5 points per game.  Oregon is second in the nation at 50.8 points per game.  Since 2002, WAC teams have led the nation in scoring five times.  Boise State was the last team to accomplish this in 2009 with 42.2 points per game.  The WAC record is 48.9 points per game set by Boise State in 2004.  The Broncos were second in the nation behind Louisville(49.8 ppg) that season.  Louisiana Tech is second in the FBS in total offense with 577.9 yards per game.  Baylor is first at 578.8 yards per contest.  The last time a WAC team led the country in total offense was in 2006 when Hawaii averaged 559.2 yards per game.  The WAC record is 584.2 set by BYU in 1983.

DIXON SETS NCAA FRESHMAN RECORDS – Kenneth Dixon broke three NCAA and WAC single-season records earlier this year.  He holds the NCAA records for most rushing touchdowns in a season by a freshman (27), most touchdowns in a season by a freshman (28) and most points scored in a season by a freshman (168), all three of which had been previously set by San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk in 1991.

JOHNSON ALL-TIME WAC SACK LEADER – San Jose State senior defensive end Travis Johnson is the all-time sack leader in the WAC with 31.0.  Johnson is the NCAA’s active leader in sacks and is also tied for fourth all-time in WAC history in tackles for loss with 46.5, tied for fourth in the nation among active players.

WILLIAMS NEARING WAC CAREER RECORD – Utah State senior running back Kerwynn Williams has 6,659 yards of all-purpose yards during his career.  He is second all-time in WAC history, 32 yards behind career leader Terance Mathis of New Mexico (1985-87, 89).  Williams is the WAC’s active leader in rushing yards with 2,280.  He also has 836 career receiving yards, 135 punt return yards and is the WAC’s all-time career leader in kick return yards with 3,408.

NATIONAL WEEKLY AWARDS – Texas State linebacker Joplo Bartu was named the National Defensive Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards.  New Mexico State’s Austin Franklin was one of two Kick Returner Performers of the Week while Texas State’s Craig Mager was one of two Punt Returner Performs of the Week.  Other honorable mention CFPA winners were Trevor Walls, New Mexico State (TE); Will Johnson, Texas State (PK); and Blake McColloch, Texas State (DL).

NEW MEMBERS FEATURE TOP COACHES – New members UTSA and Texas State have coaches that are in their second year with their respective schools 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.  His 62 overall victories are tied with Utah’s Ron McBride for the ninth most in conference history and his 39 conference victories as a WAC head coach are the 10th most.  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.
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