Earlier last month, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall suggested the Cougars-Frogs game would decide the Mountain West. There wasn't even a hint of Utah anywhere in his words. That was the definitive title game - or so he thought.
This Saturday, Utah and TCU will meet in Fort Worth for essentially a conference championship game. The winner will at least lock up a share of the title and the loser will probably be theoretically eliminated from title discussion (though TCU has a slim chance at claiming a tie due to the fact the Utes still take on BYU down in Provo).
Which means, for the second year in a row, the conference title does not run through Provo. Which is a surprise, because two years ago it appeared BYU was well on their way to claiming control of the top-spot in the Mountain West.
Prior to the 2008 season, the Cougars had not lost a conference game since 2005 (their final of the season, against Utah) and had won two consecutive outright conference titles. They were poised for not only a third, but possibly the BCS. That came crashing down in Fort Worth and since, it's been a Utah/TCU league.
It's interesting how fast the landscape changed. In BYU's last season atop the conference, they were an impressive 11-2, while the Utes and Frogs were a combined 17-9. Not entirely impressive.
Since, BYU has gone 17-5 and the Utes and Frogs are a combined 24-3 and more importantly, undefeated in conference play (18-0 over the last two seasons; BYU is 10-3). Oh the mighty have fallen - though I'll give the Cougars some credit for not entirely slipping into irrelevance.
What's also interesting is that I think most people thought TCU and Utah would be playing for the conference championship prior to the season. The Utes weren't just going to fall off due to losses on offense and TCU was by far the clear favorites to dethrone Utah. Bronco, obviously, had different thoughts.
Then BYU beat Oklahoma and everything changed. Well changed up until their game against Florida State and they quickly fell back to reality. Yet, even after that loss, they still felt this team was capable of beating TCU. They weren't. Which makes Bronco's statement that much more laughable.
I had a feeling back in October the title would not come down to that game and it won't. Utah and TCU will once again decide who wins the Mountain West - not BYU.
That must suck for the Provo faithful who, three years ago, thought they were too good for the Mountain West.