Nov 18, 2023; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Oregon State Beavers fans cheering during the fourth quarter against the Washington Huskies at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Washington State, Oregon State finalizing MWC alliance

Oregon State and Washington State are finalizing an agreement that would ally the two remaining teams of the Pac-12 conference with the Mountain West Conference for the 2024 football season, Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday.

The Mountain West would receive a fee of about $14 million under the one-year agreement, which has a renewal option for 2025, per the report. A formal announcement could be made this week.

Under the agreement, the Mountain West teams would play seven conference games, plus an eighth against either Oregon State or Washington State.

Oregon State and Washington State were left behind when the other 10 teams of the conference decided to leave the conference for the 2024 season.

The Mountain West consists of Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State and Wyoming. Hawaii is a participant in football.

Under the agreement, Oregon State and Washington State would not be eligible to play for the Mountain West title and they will play as “quasi-independents under the Pac-12 banner,” Yahoo reported.

At this time, the scheduling partnership would apply only to football. Talks are in progress for a potential scheduling agreement for men’s and women’s basketball, and the two Pac-12 schools are discussing affiliate memberships with leagues for other sports.

Oregon State finished the regular football season at 8-4 (5-4 Pac-12). Washington State began the season 4-0, which included a win over the Beavers, and concluded with a 5-7 (2-7) mark.

UNLV (9-3, 6-2 MWC) will host Boise State (7-5, 6-2) on Saturday in the Mountain West championship game.

–Field Level Media

Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson watches CSU take on San Jose State at Canvas Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.

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MWC commissioner Craig Thompson stepping down in December

Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson announced Wednesday that he’s stepping down in December after 24 years.

Thompson, 66, is the only commissioner the MWC has ever had since its creation in 1998. League play began in 1999. He will step down on Dec. 31.

“My one remaining priority was expansion of the College Football Playoff and viable access for the Mountain West,” Thompson said in a news release. “I take considerable pride in my committed engagement to this effort over the past two-and-a-half decades and look forward to the finalization of those details in the coming months.

“With CFP expansion accomplished and having invested almost a third of my life in the Mountain West, the time is now right for me to conclude my tenure and allow the conference to continue its momentum under new leadership.”

Per the release, the MWC negotiated nearly $600 million in television revenue under Thompson. MWC teams have participated in five Bowl Championship Series (BCS)/College Football Playoff (CFP) bowl games during his tenure.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2021; Carson, California, USA; San Diego State Aztecs quarterback Jordon Brookshire (4) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Boise State Broncos in the second half at Dignity Health Sports Park. San Diego State defeated Boise State 27-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

QB mystery lingers as No. 19 San Diego State vies for MWC title

No. 19 San Diego State can win a 12th game in a season for the first time in school history when it plays Utah State on Saturday in the Mountain West conference championship game at Carson, Calif.

The Aztecs (11-1) have notched 11 wins for the fourth time since moving up to Division I status in 1969. They are playing in the conference title game for the first time since 2016.

Utah State (9-3) has exceeded expectations under first-year coach Blake Anderson. The Aggies have gone 6-0 on the road while reaching the league title contest for the first time since 2013.

Utah State is just 2-13 all-time against San Diego State, however Anderson is just fine with the view of the Aztecs being favorites.

“We’ve been the underdogs in most of the games we’ve played this year and we’ve overcome that and found a way to win nine games and get to the title game,” Anderson said. “It’s been a fun ride.”

San Diego State’s lone loss this season came against Fresno State. The Aztecs responded with four straight wins and dominated Boise State in the second half of a 27-16 win over the Broncos on Nov. 26.

Now the focus is on earning the school’s third win in the Mountain West title contest.

“Really excited for this next step because this is what you play for,” said San Diego State’s Brady Hoke, who was named Mountain West Coach of the Year on Tuesday. “I think there’s a group of guys who want to have a legacy and part of that legacy is winning championships.”

Still to be determined is who starts at quarterback for the Aztecs.

Jordon Brookshire replaced banged-up and ineffective Lucas Johnson late in the second quarter versus Boise State and guided San Diego State to 24 consecutive points to overcome a 13-point deficit. He completed 11 of 15 passes for 192 yards and rushed for 46 yards on nine attempts.

Brookshire lost the starting gig to Johnson earlier this season.

“Adversity is part of the job, playing sports, any position,” Brookshire said. “It is adversity, hardships, and getting through it, and that is what makes players so good. If everything went well the entire time, who knows how good a player could be, but it is that adversity and fighting through things that makes people better.”

Johnson didn’t practice Monday, according to Hoke.

The Aztecs typically win games with defense and special teams and it was no surprise to see linebacker Cameron Thomas named the Mountain West’s top defender and punter/kicker Matt Araiza named the league’s best special teams’ player.

Thomas has recorded 20 tackles for loss, including 10.5 sacks, for a defense that held seven opponents to 16 or fewer points. Araiza is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award and leads the nation with a 51.5 average and is tied for first with 36 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. He is 15 of 24 on field goals.

Utah State figures to push the pace behind the combo of quarterback Logan Bonner and first-team All-Mountain West wideout Deven Thompkins.

Bonner, who followed Anderson from Arkansas State, has thrown for 3,236 yards and his 32 touchdown passes match the school record set by Jordan Love in 2018.

The 5-foot-8 Thompkins has 87 receptions for a school-record 1,543 yards. He leads the nation in receiving yardage.

“Obviously, he’s an elite player with elite ball skills,” Bonner said of Thompkins to the Salt Lake Tribune. “So I’ll take him any time no matter how big the corner is.”

–Field Level Media