There was some major separation between the top-three and the rest of the conference this week and last. With Colorado State now wrapping up its toughest stretch of conference play with an 0-3 record, you can pretty much put the kibosh on them contending for the championship.
That leaves Air Force, who plays Utah Saturday. The Falcons' lone loss in conference play came against TCU two weeks ago and if they go down to defeat again this week, they're most likely stuck with the Rams at the middle of the pack.
Beyond those two, the Cowboys are actually at 2-1 in conference play. But it's hard to envision them finishing higher than fifth and even fifth might be a stretch with a tough roadie against Colorado State to end the season.
Of course, all eyes are on TCU-BYU this week. This is essentially an elimination game for the Mountain West title - especially for BYU. If the Cougars lose, at home, to TCU, I don't imagine them bouncing back to win the conference championship. The Frogs have a better path to at least a share of the title if they fail to win, but that's only because they host Utah later next month.
That means this is a big week for the conference, especially the top-three. For Utah, if they're going to continue to grow the gap between the top-three and the middle-two, they'll need to beat Air Force. If they don't, it could provide the Falcons an opening and maybe the Utes will be stuck on the outside looking in.
Team of the Week: TCU. The Frogs were tested early against the Rams, but rolled to an impressive 44-6 victory. It was probably their most complete win of the year and suggests TCU might be putting it all together at just the right time.
Team of the Weak: Colorado State. They were listless for much of the game and though TCU is good - I'm not sure they're that good. Especially when you consider their offense isn't much dominant and yet, they still managed 499 yards of total offense. Yikes.
The rankings are after the jump...
|1||I've had some doubts about TCU, but maybe they're starting to put it together out there in Fort Worth. They completely trashed a semi-decent CSU team and now have a chance to make a huge statement against the BYU Cougars. A win there and they're probably looking at a BCS bid - with only Utah proving to be the lone roadblock. A loss, however, could derail their season.|
|2||Utah didn't look too hot in the second half against UNLV, but they really didn't need to, right? I don't know if their second half performance was because they relaxed a bit or more indicative of some real troubles. But I think we'll find out Saturday, as they face a really good defensive team in the Falcons. This is pretty much a must-win for Utah if they want to keep their conference title hopes alive.|
The Cougars also didn't look so hot in their game against San Diego State. This is a team they normally dominate and there were some concerns, especially on the offensive end. Of course, all that will be moot if they go out and upset the Frogs this weekend. A win there probably won't be enough to position BYU for the BCS, but it will certainly put them in the driver's seat for the conference championship.
|4||Air Force got an ugly defensive victory over Wyoming last week and now enter a pivotal conference road game against the Utes. If the Falcons are going to have an outside shot at the title, this is a must-win. But it's not just about conference championships - this game could be the difference between a bowl berth and their first losing season in two years.|
|5||When you hold a team to ten-points on the road, you generally win. That wasn't the case Saturday and because of this, the Cowboys will need an improbable run down the stretch to gain enough victories for bowl eligibility. They have a week off to regroup and then face another tough test in Utah on Halloween. Spooky.|
|6||San Diego State is here because they didn't get embarrassed like the bottom three. The Aztecs actually played BYU well and maybe this is a sign things are turning around there. If they can beat Colorado State on the road this weekend, it might just solidify this belief.|
|7||CSU is in dire need of a victory. They've dropped three straight against the perceived top-three in the conference and are on the verge of losing this season. A 3-5 start, even with TCU, Utah and BYU in the rearview mirror, won't bode well for them down the stretch. That means they can't afford a loss to the Aztecs Saturday.|
|8||Wow. UNLV has unraveled faster than any team in the nation. It wasn't that long ago they were actually looking like a bowl team. But that isn't going to happen again for the Rebels after getting pasted, at home, by the Utah Utes. Now what? Well they can gain a much-needed win this week on the road against the worst team in the conference...but a loss there and you've got to think it's officially over not only for the UNLV season, but for their head coach.|
What's your take on the Mountain West at essentially the halfway point?