© Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Aztecs Title Hopes Take a Hit With 27-24 Loss to UNLV

They can still win the conference, but need some help.

November 11, 2018 - 7:46 am

The Aztecs have struggled to pull away from teams this year, and Saturday night was no different. Shockingly, the Aztecs lost to one of the teams at the bottom of the Mountain West conference.

The UNLV rebels came into SDCCU Stadium and shocked everyone with a 27-24 win. The Aztecs move to 7-3 on the year with a 4-2 conference record. The Rebels move to 3-7 on the year with a 1-5 conference record. Yep, that was the first Rebels conference win this year.

Now some may think that the season is lost, but it's not. Not yet. The Aztecs still have a chance for their season-long goal of winning a Mountain West title, they're just going to need a little help.

On Friday night Boise State beat Fresno State, so coming into the game a lead in the Mountain West West was up for grabs with a win.

Here's how the Aztecs get to the championship game. The Aztecs have to win out. Lose one of the two remaining games and the conference title hopes are dashed.

Win 2 games, and get yourself into the Mountain West title game. Not so fast. The Aztecs need a little help from a team that beat them just a few weeks ago.

The Nevada Wolfpack have to lose one of their last two remaining games or else the Aztecs are out. For a second straight year.

Again, I know that coach Rocky Long has more football knowledge than I'll ever forget. I am not going to question the man about football. However, I can see things that happened on the field and wonder.

When he is asked about playing down to the level of other teams he says he doesn't feel it's that way. He feels that the team is young and inconsistent. But week after week the Aztecs play down to the level of the team that they're playing, even if that team hasn't won a conference game like the Rebels coming in to last night's game.

This game should have been nowhere near close. The Rebels' defense comes in giving up some of the most points in college football, and the Aztecs just couldn't do the same thing that other teams have been doing every week to the Rebels. Put up points.

One of the biggest reasons for that I think is that the Aztecs' coaching staff can't seem to choose a quarterback. Last week Ryan Agnew started the game and Christian Chapman came in. This week Christian Chapman started of the game and Ryan Agnew came in. They go with the hot hand.

Ryan Agnew seemed to have the hotter hand in the game, but in the end when it mattered most, he threw an interception and pretty much sealed the win for the Rebels.

Why keep switching up the quarterbacks? Why not pick one and go with them? I understand you have two good quarterbacks, but the Aztecs pride themselves on consistency. The quarterback position right now is not consistent. I don't fault the quarterbacks for this one. The coaching staff needs to make a decision and stick with it for continuity purposes. If they keep saying they're a young team, don't you think you provide a young team with stability?

Sure, the Aztecs moved the ball through the air, but the identity of this team is the run game. And through the first quarter Juwan Washington had negative yards in the game.

The Aztecs defense did their thing and held on as long as they could, but the Rebels’ Lexington Thomas busted a 75-yard touchdown run late and gave the Rebels the lead. The Rebels then converted on a two-point conversion and took a 3 point lead, 27-24.

The Aztecs had one more chance putting the ball in Ryan Agnew's hands. The offense was moving the ball down the field, and all they needed was a field goal by their great kicker John Baron. Things were setting up for the Aztecs to do what they do and provide late-game dramatics. This time that wouldn't happen.

Ryan Agnew threw an interception with less than two minutes to go and even though the Aztecs got the ball back for one last chance, they didn't really have a chance. The desperation play didn't work and the Aztecs saw themselves losing at home to an inferior team.

Again, all is not lost for the Aztecs. They still have a shot to get to the Mountain West title game, and if they do get to that title game then this conversation will be null and void. Their goal was to win a title and anything else in the middle is just noise.

Next Saturday the Aztecs travel to Fresno to take on the Bulldogs of Fresno State. I don't think anyone needs to tell the Aztecs players how important this game is to their season hopes. They just have to go out and execute.