Utah will win the conference because...
They'll have the best offense in the conference and one of the better defenses. Utah might even lose to TCU and still win the conference, even if it's a tie for the championship. The Frogs have proven over the past few years that they're not capable of an undefeated season and if Utah doesn't pull out a win in Fort Worth, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Frogs were knocked out of a chance for an outright conference championship by another team.
The Utes success will come from the fact two teams that beat them last year must play Utah in Salt Lake City (New Mexico and Wyoming), while CSU and UNLV will not be imposing conference road games. Utah also has home games against San Diego State and Air Force, which both should be wins. If Utah can go undefeated at home, which they should be capable of doing in conference play, that should set up for conference defining games against TCU and BYU. And as I already stated, the Utes could realistically lose to TCU and still win the championship. The BYU game however will play a pivotal role in Utah's ability to claim at least a share of the championship. But with Utah's recent success down in Provo (only one loss since 1993), I don't think i'm going out on a limb in predicting a Utah victory.
Utah should have no more than 2 losses in conference play and realistically can have one loss, or none, if their offense kicks it into gear. Though Utah's defense could be a concern, the offensive power might be enough to position the Utes at the top of the conference, much like it helped BYU last season.
So while TCU will be the preseason favorite, Utah will win the conference because they have an easy break when it comes to their schedule and the offensive power needed to go undefeated in conference play or have no worse than one loss.
That sounds good, right? Well I'm not so sure I buy that entirely, so I'll add a counter argument and then you can vote which option is more realistic.
Utah won't win the conference because...
Consistency. Since Whittingham took over the Utes have been good, but not necessarily good enough to win the conference. Which means, like the past two years, Utah will finish in the top-half, but out of the first place. Probably because they'll lose a game they shouldn't and probably lose to TCU too. They might beat BYU, but that victory will only be countered with a loss to either New Mexico or Colorado State. And even though Utah has the talent to win this league, the fact both TCU and BYU are on the road severely hampers their chances. Utah also needs to prove they can win in Fort Collins, a place they haven't faired well recently.
The Rams might not be great, but they could be good enough to upset Utah, much like in '05. Most Utah fans remember that game because of the way it ended, with a goal line stand by Colorado State that ended Utah's hopes of winning the game. That was a painful loss, because it really sent Utah into a tailspin and it nearly cost them their season, as they barely rebounded enough to get to .500 with a near improbable win over BYU down in Provo.
Then there is New Mexico, who Utah's beaten only once since 2002. That's not a good record against a team that hasn't won a conference championship, or a bowl game, since the Taft administration. Utah's chances of winning the conference will be abruptly ended with two excruciating losses to the Rams and Lobos at the end of the season. Couple that with a probable loss to TCU and a possible loss to BYU, and the Utes might even be looking at a below .500 record. But even if Utah is consistent enough to stay above .500, it won't be enough to win the conference. Mostly because TCU should roll and if Utah can't win in Fort Worth, they're probably destined for two or more conference losses.
Which one is more realistic? Will the Utes win the MWC, or not? If they don't, will it be a result of a below .500 record or most likely a 2nd or 3rd place finish? If Utah does win the conference, do they do so outright, or share it with another team?