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CSU, TCU can save the conference

September 21, 2009

Top to bottom, college football is a lot closer than most people think. That’s why we love it.

This was very apparent over the weekend when two top ten schools lost to unranked opponents, helping to lower the number of unbeaten teams in the FBS to 27 (and yes, CSU is one of them).

In addition to No. 3 Southern California and No. 7 BYU being shell-shocked on Saturday, three other schools in the AP Top 25 were forced to add a one in the loss column this weekend.

For college football fans as a whole, this weekend is one of the reasons we love to wake up on Saturdays and turn on College Football Gameday. We love the upsets. We love seeing the seven-time defending Pac-10 champions (USC) fall to a school who went 0-12 in 2008 (Washington).

While that’s all good and dandy, for the majority of you reading this column, you are also fans of the Mountain West Conference, a conference that took an unfortunate step back on Saturday thanks to two of its three undefeated and top 25 schools losing to – I’ll say it again – unranked opponents.

After following the MWC closely for a few years now I have learned that it has a very unique aura surrounding it and fans of its institutions. During non-conference play, fans of MWC schools root for other conference teams, even if that means cheering for a rival; Air Force for CSU, CSU for Wyoming, Utah for BYU, etc. Where I’m from, this is a foreign concept.

My parents both went to Oklahoma State, thus I was taught to root against the Oklahoma Sooners on a weekly basis. I grew up a big Kansas fan; therefore, I always rooted against Kansas State and Missery.

My freshman year of college I attended the University of Arkansas, so it was LSU we hated. But here at CSU, as long as the Rams aren’t playing Wyoming, go Pokes! And the reason this is the case is thanks to three little letters.

B. C. S.

While I’m aware that everyone, even those idiots in Congress, likes to hate on the BCS, for the most part, it is the best available system (a playoff system is not fiscally possible, especially in an economy like this, but I’ll discuss that on another Oprah). Granted, there should be some tweaks including giving the MWC an automatic bid, but until at least 2012 that’s not going to happen.

The BCS is why we as MWC fans root for the other institutions, hoping that one can go undefeated and follow in the footsteps of our original BCS buster, Utah. We want that automatic bid to help solidify the conference’s legitimacy.

It’s assumed that in order for a non-BCS school to reach one of the five coveted bowl games, that university would need to go 12-0 during the regular season, which thanks to the upsets caused by the ACC’s Florida State and the Pac-10’s Oregon over the weekend against BYU and Utah, respectively, the chances of seeing the MWC playing in a “real” January bowl game are dwindling.

Dwindling, not dead.

Both Colorado State and TCU, who were picked to win the MWC season, are both still undefeated. They’re two teams with a lot of talent and incredibly strong defenses, especially against the run. The Rams rank 24th in the country in rush defense while the Horned Frogs are third.

CSU’s Elijah-Blu Smith is tied for third in the country with three interceptions, Alex Williams ranks second in forced fumbles and third in fumbles recovered with two in each category. As a unit, the Rams rank third in the nation with 10 turnovers gained, giving them a margin of +7, good for second in the country.

As far as sacks go, TCU’s defense, led by defensive end Jerry Hughes, leads all of college football with 11 total sacks in only two games played (Hughes has 4.5 of those).

On Saturday, CSU and TCU have tough games on the road against BYU and Clemson. The Cougars are going to be mad after their embarrassing loss over the weekend and the Tigers of Clemson have CJ Spiller, one of college football’s best running backs. These two Mountain West teams need to step up on the road this week, because if neither does, it’ll be another year of nay-sayers calling the MWC a fluke.

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