MWC Wrap: Week #10

For the first time in five weeks, the Mountain West Conference has a ranked team. The weekend also produced a second bowl eligible team for the conference, and three schools sit at five wins on the year. During the last four weeks of the season, two main storylines will play out in the MWC: will BYU allow anyone to catch them in the title chase, and how will the bowl picture shape up?

BYU 23, Colorado State 3.

It was one of the Cougars' best defensive showings of the year, in which they held their hosts to only 26 rushing yards and 125 passing yards and sacked their quarterback five times, to boot. The offense was machine-like, if not spectacular, scoring in every quarter and forcing the Rams to play catch-up all night long. 402 yards of offense was more than enough for an outmanned Colorado State team.

For a dose of perspective, however, remember that these Rams lost one of the league's best running backs before the season started. Due largely to that hardship, the Colorado State has only beaten three division I-A teams this year: Colorado, Fresno State, and UNLV. Those three teams have a combined record of 3-25 this year, and only two of those wins came against division I-A competition.

Q: So what are you saying. That the Cougars aren't really very good? After all, they're 7-2.

A: They are good. The question is how good, and the answer is hard to determine. Only two of their wins (Tulsa and TCU) came against teams with winning records at this point in the year. They lost to a bad Arizona team, but it was a road opener. They lost to a good, but not great, Boston College team. Both were games featured self-inflicted wounds, which cost BYU. The Cougars have definitely improved all season long. An interesting match up at this point in the season would be Oklahoma, Wake Forest, or Oregon, all teams with quality players who would test BYU, but who would also be beatable if BYU played well.

Q: Do they deserve their #25 AP ranking?

A: Yes. If you think not, name a team not ranked by the same poll which deserve to move ahead of them. Nebraska? Maybe. But the Huskers are 7-3, with three of those wins coming against Lousiana State, Nicholls State and Troy State, and did not they just lose last week by a dozen to a 5-4 Oklahoma State squad? How about giant killers Oregon State? Could be. Anybody who beats the undefeated #2 team in the country is worth a look. On the other hand, the Beavers 6-3 record was accomplished in part by drubbing Eastern Washington and Idaho, and they were blown out by Boise State. Clemson? Might be the best argument of all. The Tigers had a great start, going 7-1 with the sole loss being by a single point in double OT at Boston College, but again, three of those wins came at the expense of Florida Atlantic, Lousiana Tech, and Temple, and now Clemson has lost two straight.

Q: Can BYU climb higher in the polls?

A: Sure. All they have to do is keep winning. Of the teams ranked 17 to 24, all but two have at least one more game in which they face other ranked teams. There are sure to be several losses in there. But in all likelihood, it would take some major upsets for the Cougars to end the regular season higher than #21.

Q: Who's a likely bowl opponent?

A: Aren't we getting a little ahead of ourselves here? After all, Wyoming and New Mexico are capable of beating you if you don't pay attention to them, and don't forget that date in Salt Lake City.

Q: Okay, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Now, answer the question.

A: If the game were played today, it would be BYU versus Oregon, an interesting reunion of sorts for any who remember the name Gary Crowton.

Next up: for BYU, Wyoming, on Thursday night, 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time. For Colorado State, at Utah.

Wyoming 27, SDSU 24.

In windy Laramie the Aztecs actually forged a 14-point lead, but gave it up in the second half. Managing only 10 first downs to Wyoming's 23, SDSU hung in the game with big plays, including a 60-yard bomb on their second play from scrimmage, a fumble returned 23 yards for a score, and 66-yard pass with 102 seconds left to give the visitors a glimmer of hope. The Cowboys recovered an onside kick to snuff that hope and stay all alone in second place.

Next up: for Wyoming, at BYU Thursday night. For SDSU, the one everybody's been waiting for: The 1-7 Aztecs host the 1-8 Rebels of UNLV. Resistable force meets movable object.

TCU 25, UNLV 10.

The homestanding Rebels surged to double digits. The visiting Horned Frogs strolled to a win. TCU tried to make it interesting; honest, they did. After UNLV scored to make it 25-10 with over nine minutes left, the Frogs gave their hosts the ball on their own three yard line. Two plays later the Rebels gave it back. Game, set, match.

Next up: for TCU, at New Mexico. For UNLV, at SDSU.

Air Force 43, Army 7.

Army had little chance, and six turnovers did not really improve their odds. It started with Army marching to the Air Force two-yard line after a shanked punt, then giving up a fumble that was returned 98 yards for a touchdown. After that, the Army punter got a rest, as his teammates went fumble-interception-fumble-interception-interception thereby handing the Falcons 36 second quarter points. It does not get much worse than that, folks.

Next up: #9 Notre Dame comes to town.

New Mexico did not play. Next up: TCU

Utah did not play. Next up: Colorado State.


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