A week after a poor performance to start the college football season has forced a few conference teams into must win situations. Especially if the conference is going to gain back any of the credibility lost during the waning seconds of Portland State's pounding of New Mexico in Albuquerque. This week the schedule gets considerably tougher for some programs, but also considerably easier for others.
Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV and Wyoming will all face opponents from BCS conferences. Only Colorado State has the luxury of playing their game at a neutral site, the other three must go on the road. These games might prove to be a big challenge for the Mountain West, as past history has shown the conference does not fair too well against BCS opponents, particularly on the road.
Here's a quick breakdown of each game and my prediction for the final outcome. It's important to realize that I'm not very good at forecasting games and I think that will be made more clearer as the college football season goes on. Though I'll admit, I didn't do too bad in my week one conference predictions. I went 6-2 (.750), missing only the Utah and New Mexico games. Let's hope Utah does not mess me up again this week. As for the Lobos, well you're on notice.
With all that said, here are the picks...
UNLV @ Iowa State
The Rebels are coming off one of their biggest margins of victory in recent history. Yet it's hard to get too excited over defeating a D1-AA opponent. I'll give UNLV credit though, in years past bad teams have given them tough games and that wasn't the case last Saturday night. Yet, UNLV is probably not going to go on the road and defeat a solid Big 12 team. Iowa State last week had a shootout with a solid Toledo team, winning in 3OTs -- the first time in school history that the Cyclones won an OT game. This week, the victory for ISU won't be nearly as dramatic. I think UNLV puts up points, but not nearly enough to make it competitive. ISU wins 42-28
Wyoming @ Virginia
The Cowboys put the beat down on a lackluster Utah State team, scoring 28 second half points. This week, the Pokes have a much tougher test, but another fairly bad opponent as they play Virginia Cavaliers on the road. Virginia is coming off a blowout road loss to Pittsburgh last week and looks pretty unimpressive. However it's tough traveling cross-country to play a game, even against a mediocre opponent. Wyoming does look good, but I don't think they're good enough to beat Virginia on the road. Virginia wins 35-21
Colorado @ CSU -- Neutral Site
Whoa, Nelly! Talk about instate bragging rights if the Rams can knock off the Buffs this week. Not only would they get a solid victory against a hated rival, it would send Dan Hawkins' new team reeling. Last Saturday Montana State pulled one of the biggest upsets in recent college football history, stunning the Buffs 19-10 in Boulder. While Colorado has been nursing a massive hangover from the Gary Barnett regime, many felt they would compete for the Big 12 North Division. I doubt many people expect that now. Yet I'm nervous for Colorado State because it is a rivalry game and I'm sure Colorado would love nothing more than to show the world that last week was a fluke. Colorado State looked weak in their own win against D1-AA Weber State, but they at least won, something Colorado failed to do. This will be a difficult game that most likely stays close throughout, but Colorado State gave the Buffs all they could handle last year and I think they win it this year. Colorado State wins 28-24
California-Davis @ TCU
TCU struggled during 3 quarters of play against Baylor last week, but got it together and gutted out a 17-7 win. It's interesting to note that when quarterback Jeff Ballard went down, the Frogs offense kicked into high gear under the control of Marcus Jackson. Yet Ballard will play against Division II California-Davis. This game should easily be won by TCU, but UC Davis did stun Stanford on the road last year, so nothing is a guarantee. With that said, TCU has little trouble dispatching of the Aggies and the game is pretty much in the bag pretty early. TCU wins 55-10
Air Force @ Tennessee
Is there any doubt the Vols are back? After demolishing a solid Cal team last week, Tennessee gets a lighter opponent this time around. That doesn't bode well for Air Force, a team that's been marred in mediocrity over the past few years and they show no sign of improvement. This will be Air Force's first game of the season, while Tennessee already has one under their belt. I think that spells trouble for the Falcons and don't see them competing with Tennessee. Tennessee wins 42-17
Tulsa @ TDS
TDS' offense looked rather tepid against Arizona last week and if they're going to have any chance of beating Tulsa -- a solid offensive team -- they will need to step up their performance. TDS does benefit from the game being played down in Provo and I'm not completely sold on Tulsa just yet. I think the game will be high scoring and very close, but TDS should pull out a victory. TDS wins 45-42
NAU @ Utah
This week should help rid the sour taste left in many Ute fans mouths after last week's debacle. Northern Arizona played tough in their season opening loss to Arizona State, but I do not expect that kind of game this week. Utah will struggle early, but will pull away in the second half, defeating the Lumberjacks by a hefty margin. Utah wins 52-13
New Mexico @ New Mexico State
The Lobos are in a world of hurt right now and it might get a bit worse if they don't upset New Mexico State. Coming off a loss to Portland State, New Mexico now needs to go on the road and defeat their instate rival, a team fresh off a season opening win. A week ago I would have thought there was no chance that New Mexico would lose, especially when you consider that NMSU had a 13 game losing streak and was coming off a winless season. Now I'm not so sure. This is a must win for the Lobos and a loss would definitely put New Mexico on the trail toward their first losing season 6 years. The game will be close, but I think New Mexico does just enough to squeak by with the win. New Mexico wins 23-21
An important week for Mountain West teams, now they just need to get it done, especially Utah!