San Jose State wins first title in Mountain West

San Jose state’s dream season will include a conference championship.

SJSU was one of the best stories of the 2020 season. The Spartans took the lead 8:29 in Brent Brennan’s first three years running the program. In 2020 they are now 7-0 and the Mountain West champions after beating the mighty Boise State (34:20) on Saturday night.

It is the first Mountain West crown for the state of San Jose and the program’s first conference title since 1990 when it was played in the Big West.

San Jose State were the home team for that game, but it wasn’t a true home game. The Spartans haven’t played since November 14th. Local COVID-19 regulations put SJSU on the streets for weeks and that game was played in Las Vegas.

It didn’t matter where the game was played. San Jose State outperformed Boise State, a team that played in their fourth straight title game at Mountain West.

The Spartans dominated on both sides of the ball in the first half. Nick Starkel, the well-traveled quarterback with stops at Texas A&M and Arkansas, opened the scoring with a 55-yard touchdown pass for Tre Walker. Walker did most of the work, catching a pass just over the border before covering the distance. But it was Starkel who carefully read the corner flash and found the wide-open man.

That was SJSU’s only touchdown in the first half, but Matt Mercurio scored four field goals and put his team 19-6 ahead at halftime.

San Jose state head coach Brent Brennan speaks to his players during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Boise State for the Mountain West Championship on Saturday, December 19, 2020 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo / John Locher)

Boise State made things interesting in the second half. The Broncos shortened the lead twice to only one possession – 19-13 for a punt return touchdown and 27-20 for a Hank Bachmeier touchdown with 10:51.

But the Spartans wouldn’t wither under the pressure. After Bachmeier TD’s run, San Jose State added another touchdown to Derrick Deese, a Starkel one-yard throw on third-and-goal to bring the game out of reach at 3:48.

Starkel finished the game with a 453-yard pass and three touchdowns, while the Spartans’ defense limited the Boise State’s offense to 224 yards. It was an emphatic achievement for Brennan’s program, which now has the opportunity to end an undefeated season at the Arizona Bowl against MAC champion Ball State on December 31st.

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