MWC Wrap Week #12

The Mountain West Conference has a new outright champion. The only jewel missing from BYU's crown is a perfect record in league play. The Cougs can match the previous two conference champs and claim that last bit of bling with a win in Salt Lake on Saturday. Also to be determined is who gets the final bowl slot and whether the MWC can end the regular season with two top 25 teams.

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BYU 45, New Mexico 17.

The final margin was not the closest of the year, but it was the toughest game the Cougars have played since beating TCU. Mistakes by New Mexico masked that fact, including an interception and a fumble deep in BYU territory. The Lobos, warming up to their new offense under OC Bob Toledo, laid 24 first downs and 418 yards of offense on the league's best defense. That won't get it done next week in Salt Lake City.

With the win, BYU clinched their 22nd conference title, this one outright, and accepted an invitation to the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl for the second year running. Curtis Brown became the Cougar's leading career rushing, and John Beck's 464 passing yards gained him admission to a club of two, with Ty Detmer being the only other to accumulate 10,000 career passing yards.

This was the first time in six years in this series that the home team won.

The defense needs to do some soul searching. On that side of the ball, it was BYU's poorest outing since the loss at Boston College.

Next up: For BYU, a grudge match in Salt Lake City. For New Mexico, a chance to go to the inaugural New Mexico Bowl by beating SDSU at home.

Utah 17, Air Force 14.

Utah scored on its second possession midway through the first quarter, and 30 minutes of boredom followed before both teams woke up. After forcing a three-and-out to start the fourth quarter, Air Force went 67 yards in six plays to tie the score at 7-7. Utah answered with a 63-yard drive to regain the lead, but he Falcons answered the answer with a 14-play drive of their own to knot it up again with 4:07 remaining. The Utes scratched out a 10-play, 60-yard drive to the Air Force 20, where Louie Sakoda hit the winning field goal as time expired. The Falcons missed field goals of 37 and 38 yards in the second quarter, which could have been the difference. With the win, Utah made a likely bowl trip guaranteed. Air Force fell to 4-6, and would need to win out to be bowl-eligible.

Next up: For Utah, BYU. For Air Force, at UNLV.

TCU 52, San Diego State 0.

It was not as close as the score indicated. Really. The Aztecs picked up all of five first downs and 88 yards of total offense. The Frogs pulled the plug midway through the third quarter, and nine different TCU players ran the ball.

Next up: For TCU, at Colorado State. For SDSU, at New Mexico.

Wyoming 34, UNLV 26.

In Las Vegas, the Cowboys appeared to be cruising, with a 34-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Rebels scored twice in the first six minutes, the latter on a blocked punt and lateral, and converted two-point conversions each time, to close the gap to eight points with 9:40 remaining. A three-and-out and a four-and-out were all UNLV could manage thereafter, however.

Next up: For Wyoming, its regular season ends at 6-6. A bowl is possible, but not likely, inasmuch as New Mexico would have to lose to SDSU at home. For UNLV, Air Force.

Bowl Watch:

BYU will visit Las Vegas to play the Pac-10 #4. If Oregon State, winners of five of their last six, can beat archrival Oregon at home next week, and Arizona, winners of three straight, can beat archrival Arizona state at home, that team will be Arizona.

TCU and Utah are in. If New Mexico beats SDSU, they're in. If not, Wyoming will visit the New Mexico Bowl.

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