Saturday, the Mountain West arguably had its best week in conference history. Not only did all but one team win, the conference was a crushing 4-0 against the supposed better Pac Ten. And it wasn't like these teams were playing probable bottom feeders, either.
Arizona was off to a fast 2-0 start, destroying Idaho and Toledo by a combined score of 111-16, yet lost to the Lobos in Albuquerque. UCLA two weeks ago surprised Tennessee in Rick Neuheisel's first game in Pasadena, yet their trip to Provo to play BYU turned into a nightmare when they left with a 59-0 loss. Stanford, who had defeated Oregon State -- Utah plays them soon -- in the opening week, were worn down in their game against TCU, before eventually rolling over in their 31-14 loss.
But the biggest surprise came late in the night when UNLV -- yes, UNLV -- shocked 15th ranked Arizona State in Tempe. Likely the biggest win in program history, it catapulted the Rebels to a 2-1 start and has positioned them for a nice run to six or more wins, which no one would have thought possible just a week ago when they were still licking their wounds from that 42-21 loss to Utah.
All of this when traditional BCS conference powers are slipping. The ACC is struggling, the Big East is back to its pre-2005 days and now the Pac Ten, often thought to be one of the deepest conferences in the country, looks like a one trick pony. Maybe that can change, especially with Oregon, but the Pac Ten is already 0-5 against the Mountain West and that could get worse, as the Utes take on Oregon State at home, while Cal hosts Colorado State -- though a win for them is unlikely.
So is this a fluke? Perfect timing? Or is the Mountain West really bridging the gap between their conference and the BCS? We probably won't know for a couple of years, but this is definitely turning out to be the best year in Mountain West history. There are four undefeated teams, BYU, Utah, TCU and Air Force, while two are ranked, with TCU on the cusp and most importantly, three legitimate BCS busters. Never before has that happened in any non-BCS conference and it's very possible the Mountain West has two top-ten teams later in the season, along with possibly two other ranked conference foes. It could be the 1994 WAC on steroids if that happens and if it does, it begs the question: can an undefeated Mountain West team play for this year's MNC? Maybe.
Ok, probably not, but if TCU can somehow manage to beat Oklahoma in Norman again, it could open the door to such a scenario. That won't be easy, as this looks to be one of Bob Stoops' best teams and while TCU is good, it's hard to see them walking into that stadium and getting another victory in a three year period, though stranger things have happened.
Regardless of that, though, last weekend was pretty amazing for the Mountain West and even though it may not be lasting, it helped bring the Mountain West back to the forefront, where it hadn't been since Utah's 2004 season. Over the past few seasons, the conference has consistently been ranked behind the WAC in quality, after Saturday's events, I don't think that will happen again for a while.