It went from bad to worse this week as the Mountain West continued to struggle in its out of conference schedule. After a decent showing last week, the Mountain West Conference was clobbered by the WAC, ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 -- going a terrible 2-6 on the week.
The game of the week came from TDS and Boston College, where TDS had a decent showing on the road against a solid ACC team. The game itself was rather close, however it was also very sloppy with both teams turning the ball over and failing to convert on field goals all day long. The struggles would eventually push the game into double overtime, where TDS' quarterback John Beck threw an interception that sealed the Eagles victory. This was TDS' second close loss to a BCS team this season and puts head coach Bronco Mendenhall at 1-5 in games decided by 7-points or less. TDS should have no trouble next week, as Utah State rolls into Provo for the instate showdown.
In a defensive struggle, Texas Christian defeated #24th ranked Texas Tech 12-3. Neither team could find any offensive movement and the Frogs nearly shot themselves in the foot with 12 penalties. But a win against a top-25 BCS team is nothing to scoff at and TCU still looks like the class of the league. The only other win by a Mountain West team came from Utah's 48-0 drubbing of instate rival Utah State. The Utes completely dominated the Aggies, getting their largest margin of victory over USU in school history.
Wyoming stood their ground against a tough Broncos team, holding Boise State to only 17-points on Saturday. While Colorado State was humiliated by Nevada 28-10. Both losses came to teams that won a share of the WAC Championship last season, with Nevada avenging a blowout loss to Colorado State from 2005. Both teams have one more game against a Mountain West Conference team. Nevada has yet to play their rival UNLV and Boise State meets the Utes in Salt Lake City in two weeks. Hawaii, another WAC team, poured it on an overwhelmed UNLV team, defeating the Rebels 42-13.
Both New Mexico and San Diego State were respectable in their losses to BCS teams. The Lobos hosted Missouri and their defense gave the Tigers fits. Only leading by a score of 13-10 to start the fourth, Missouri pulled away late to win 27-17. San Diego State on the other hand held Wisconsin to 14-points on the road, but failed to score and were shutout for the first time in 8 years.
Air Force, a week after nearly upsetting Tennessee on the road, had a bye week. They open conference season against Wyoming next week.
While most teams at least showed up to play, that can't mask the fact Mountain West teams failed to make national noise with some impressive wins. It also does not help that the conference struggled against the WAC -- a rival conference. However it's becoming more and more clear which teams will compete for the conference championship and which teams won't. And next week will make it even clearer, as Wyoming plays Air Force and Utah plays San Diego State. Utah will get its first big test since the UCLA game and it's pretty much a must win if they want to win the conference. The out of conference schedule has New Mexico hosting UTEP, while TDS plays Utah State in Provo. UNLV, Colorado State and TCU all have a bye week.
Until next week, here's my weekly conference power rankings.
- TCU: They're still here until they lose. There are a lot of questions on offense, however TCU may have the best defense in the league so it may not matter how well their offense plays. TCU lucks out, as they get a week off to prepare for their big conference opener against TDS.
- Utah: Two impressive blowout wins where Utah's won by a score of 93-7. Granted the competition was nothing and they were expected to roll over both teams, but 2-1 is still 2-1. Next week Utah gets its first test and a victory over SDSU might position the Utes for a great season.
- TDS: A near upset victory over Boston College is impressive, however it's still a loss. Take it from a Utah fan, near shockers against BCS teams can get you only so far. Sooner or later, you'll need to start winning these games and that's something TDS has failed to do over the years. John Beck has yet to lead his team to a win of importance and TDS' drought of 7-straight years without beating a ranked team continues. Maybe that'll change on the road against TCU, though with their track record I wouldn't count on it.
- Air Force: They're here by default and their near loss to Tennessee doesn't hurt, either. It's tough to gauge their season after only one game, but when the Mountain West sucks this badly, it isn't irrational to think they deserve this spot. Next week we'll see if Air Force is ready for their return to dominance, or if the Tennessee game was just a fluke.
- Wyoming: Two close losses in a row and one to a respectable team. Not bad for Wyoming, but they'll need to step it up if they're going to have any success this season. While the Pokes' defense looks solid, their offense isn't and that may hurt Wyoming if they face solid defensive teams. Wyoming has a difficult conference game against Air Force next week, though they should be aided by the home crowd. A loss however would put Wyoming at 1-3 with a tough road game against Syracuse. This may be a must win game, or it could prove to be too difficult for the Cowboys when it comes to salvaging their season.
- CSU: A solid win over Colorado and an embarrassing loss on the road against Nevada. I still don't know how good of a team Colorado State is, however if they continue to play like they did against Nevada they may not be a very good one. Next week it could get much worse, as the Rams play at Fresno State -- a team that most likely will be hungry for a victory after losing to Washington Saturday.
- San Diego State: They're 0-2, but holding Wisconsin to 14-points is impressive, doing it while on the road is even more so. But the Aztecs may have the worst offensive line in the conference and their offense doesn't look to be much better than that line. This could prove to be very difficult for the Aztecs, especially against some of the more high explosive offensive teams in the conference. If Chuck Long is going to have a successful debut with the Aztecs, he needs to win this Saturday against the Utes. An 0-3 start for San Diego State most likely will mean another losing season.
- UNLV: They played well against Iowa State and got completely rolled against Hawaii Saturday. This loss was bad and set Mike Sanford and his Rebels back a few weeks. The Rebels have a week to toil in their loss, as they don't play until the 30th against Nevada.
- New Mexico: They looked better Saturday against the Tigers, however they're still here until they can prove that loss to D1-AA Portland State was a fluke. The Lobos face a tough Miners team next week and a win against them could shoot them up in the rankings. A loss on the other hand will most likely keep them at the bottom.
These are not conference standings or predictions on what the final rankings will be. Rather they're power rankings of a team's performance and it will most likely dramatically change over the next week when more games are played.