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Previewing week one of the MWC

Week one of the conference slate kicks off this Thursday with UNLV's game against Utah State. Of course that isn't the only game of the week, as every team except San Diego State kicks off their 2007 season. Of those eight games, five come against BCS conferences, including two against the Pacific Ten and Big 12. This means that most Mountain West teams will have a chance to make some noise in week one, though based on history, that isn't likely to happen.

A quick look at Week #1 in the Mountain West:

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Utah State has won three straight against UNLV and will look to push that record to four when these two teams meet in Logan Thursday night. The Aggies are coming off a 1-win season, while UNLV didn't do much better, only winning two games last year. If Mike Sanford is going to have a career saving season, it must start with a victory over the Aggies. If UNLV loses to USU, the Rebels could be flirting with a winless season.

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This is a big game for both teams, as it can set the tone for the season. If Utah can sneak out of Corvallis with a win, 2007 will easily be the best season Kyle Whittingham has had in his short career with the Utes. However, a loss might doom them to another 7-5 campaign.

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This is a huge game for both the Lubick and Hawkins coaching staffs. Neither can afford to lose this game and chances are the loser will limp to another losing season. Though I believe Colorado State can bounce back after losing to CU, but I'm not so sure that will happen for the Buffs if they lose to the Rams. That might set Hawkins on yet another devastating path and position himself as a coach on the hotseat.

For Lubick, a victory over CU doesn't mean much, since they defeated them last year, only to finish with 4-wins. But it could signal some resurgence for a CSU program that hasn't really been good since the 2002 season.

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The Troy Calhoun era kicks off in Colorado Springs with a fairly easy game. South Carolina State should be an easy victory for the Falcons, but if they struggle, it could mean fans at the Academy are in for a long season. It's imperative Calhoun open 2007, and his career, with a dominate vitory over a no-name D1-AA team.

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Last year the Cowboys barely lost to Virginia in Charlottesville. That was a game they should have won and it was the difference between a .500 season and one that ended with a bowl game. This year, they get Virginia in Laramie, but these Cavaliers are also better than last year's opponent.

This is an important game for both Al Groh and Joe Glenn, two coaches that have struggled recently raising expectations early on in their career. Groh has been listed by many as being on the hotseat, which means a loss in Laramie will most likely mean Virginia will be looking for a new coach come December. Glenn, though, could lose this game and still do enough to appease Wyoming fans, where expectations aren't nearly as high. This should be a good, low scoring defensive battle, but if Wyoming is going to return to the postseason, they will need to win this game, as it's one of their best shots at an out of conference victory.

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Revenge should be on the mind of the Cougars after last year's close loss to Arizona. As for Arizona, Mike Stoops needs a victory to start the season, or it's unlikely they'll have enough wins to become bowl eligible. Which means for Stoops, four straight years without a postseason and most likely an exit from Tucson. As for BYU, they should win this game, being it's played in Provo. A loss, though, could derail them from their hopes of having a successful follow up to last year's 11-2 season.

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TCU's possible dream season kicks off with instate rival Baylor in Fort Worth. Last year the Frogs defeated the Bears 17-7. That was a defensive battle and I expect the same again this season. Of course, will TCU be overlooking Baylor to their battle with Texas? If they are, don't be surprised if Baylor upsets them.

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Yet a new offense will be in store for the Lobos this season, as they replace former offensive coordinator Bob Toledo -- who left to coach Tulane -- with Dave Baldwin, who had spent the past four years at Michigan State. The new offense might need some time to adjust, as it did last year during the Lobos loss to D1-AA Portland State. With this being a rivalry game and the fact it's on the road, if the Lobos can pull out the victory, it could lay down the foundation for Rocky Long's best season yet in Albuquerque.

This is actually one of the better opening weekend schedules in recent Mountain West history. Realistically, every team can win their opener, of course that probably won't happen. With that said, the best chances for a victory are Air Force, UNLV and TCU. I think New Mexico, Utah, BYU, Colorado State and Wyoming can all lose their first games. As for predictions? Well I've already made them.