Last week the Mountain West Conference failed to impress on a national stage with only Utah and TCU pulling out wins. That poor record, especially with 3 of those losses coming to WAC teams, has not done anything to bolster the Mountain West's images as the best non-BCS conference in the country. This week should not be nearly as difficult, however there are some key conference games.
Utah, San Diego State, Wyoming and Air Force begin conference play this week, while New Mexico and TDS will wrap up their out of conference schedule for the year. The Lobos play host to rival UTEP and Utah State, fresh off an embarrassing loss to Utah, travels down to Provo to face TDS. Utah kicks off their conference schedule with a road trip against San Diego State -- an important game for both programs -- and Air Force faces Wyoming at Wyoming. Air Force has only played one game the entire season, having a bye week in week one and week three.
Here's a quick breakdown of each game and my prediction for the final outcome. Last week I went 7-1 with my picks and am 21-3 on the season.
Here's the picks...
Utah State @ TDS
Utah State has still failed to score an offensive touchdown this season and were blanked by the Utes last week in Logan. TDS will be looking for a bit of payback after their double OT loss to Boston College last week, however may without starting quarterback John Beck. With all the intangibles, and the fact it's an instate rivalry, this game can be close, but realistically it won't. I expect Utah State to play better against TDS than they did against the Utes, but I would be shocked if TDS did not win by 14 or more. TDS wins 42-10
Air Force @ Wyoming
Air Force has had two bye weeks already this season and haven't played since week two when they nearly shocked Tennessee on the road. Wyoming however is coming off a tough loss to high scoring Boise State, a team they held to only 17-points at home. This game will be tough for both teams and could possibly set the tone for the entire season. I think Air Force will struggle a bit with all the time they have had off. Wyoming's defense should contain the Falcons' difficult wishbone offense, while their offense should put up more points against Air Force's fickle defense. It will be a battle, but Wyoming is a tough team at home and I'm still not sure Air Force is any better than they were last year. Wyoming wins 28-24
UTEP @ New Mexico
The Lobos have played fairly well since their loss to D1-AA Portland State in week one, though they are still 1-2. A close loss to Missouri is nothing to scoff at, but UTEP might just be better than the Tigers. New Mexico is not a very good team this season and while they will improve as the year goes on, I just don't see how they can shut down UTEP's passing attack. It will be a good game, as most rivalry games are, but the Miners have the weapons necessary to rock the Lobos. UTEP wins 31-21
Utah @ San Diego State
This is an important game for the Utes and a must win if they're going to reclaim the conference crown. Last year San Diego State walked into Rice-Eccles Stadium and defeated Utah, an embarrassing loss to a losing team. Now Utah needs to repay the favor and pummel the Aztecs. San Diego State has solid defense, but their offense does not look good at all. If Utah can contain running back Lynell Hamilton, they have a good shot at winning. A game against SDSU is never a given, but Utah should win. Utes win 35-21
Conference play is here, now let's hope Utah can climb to the top of the Mountain...West that is.