Mountain West Game of the Week
Why to watch: If the unlikely happens and someone other than BYU or Utah wins the Mountain West, that team will come from winner of this game. Ultra-consistent and well-coached, TCU and New Mexico will be looking to get a jump on the rest of the league. The Horned Frogs never evolved into a BCS-buster last year, but did win a bowl game for a third straight year and could surprise if the passing game and pass rush step up. Does anyone get overlooked more than Lobo coach Rocky Long? All he's done is quietly guide the program to five bowl games in six years, despite not attracting top-shelf talent. He and his staff will have to work extra hard rebuilding a team that was gutted by graduation on both sides of the ball. TCU has won the last three meetings in the series, including last year's game, 37-0.
Why TCU might win: The biggest mismatch of the night will be in the trenches when the Frogs have the ball. While TCU boasts a veteran offensive line led by C Blake Schlueter, New Mexico is trying to piece together a front that loses all four starters. When Aaron Brown and Joseph Turner take handoffs, the Lobo line will already be pushed back a yard or two. When Brown is healthy, he's one of the league's most dangerous weapons. He's healthy.
Why New Mexico might win: TCU won't be the only team sporting depth in the running game. New Mexico features 1,000-yard rusher Rodney Ferguson and his reliable understudy, Paul Baker. The difference between the two offenses is that the Lobos also have a quarterback who can keep defenses from stacking the box. Unlike counterpart Andy Dalton, Donovan Porterie has played well since becoming a starter in 2006, throwing nearly twice as many touchdowns as picks. DeAndre Wright and Glover Quin are a couple of lockdown cornerbacks, who should add to Dalton's woes. Who to watch: With the outside routes shut down, Dalton will spend most of the night looking for playmaking TE Shae Reagan, who's averaged almost 20 yards a reception during his career. With something to prove to NFL scouts, he'll be a load for the rebuilt Lobo linebackers to handle.
What will happen: It'll be a tough, physical game that'll be controlled by the running backs. In other words, exactly what you'd expect from TCU and New Mexico. The difference in a competitive game will be the Frogs' superiority along the lines and perennially salty D. Even at home, the Lobos are adjusting to too much turnover up front to win a tough opener.
CFN Prediction: TCU 27 … New Mexico 20 ... Line: TCU -6.5
Must See Rating:(5 90210 - 1 90210, at least what you'll say among your friends) … 3.5