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Mountain West Gets Off to Great Start

The Mountain West has a really unique opportunity this bowl season to prove it should be elevated into AQ status along with the Big 10, Big XII, ACC, Big East, SEC, Pac 10 & Notre Dame. Whereas the WAC didn’t draw many good bowl games against AQ schools and Boise St. didn’t get a boost from taking on a Florida or Georgia Tech, the Mountain West has a pretty good shot at claiming quite a bit of bowl momentum. The MWC bowl matchups are:

Wyoming (MWC) v. Fresno St. (WAC)
BYU (MWC) v. Oregon St. (Pac 10)
Utah (MWC) v. California (Pac 10)
TCU (MWC) v. Boise St. (WAC)
Air Force (MWC) v. Houston (CUSA)

A couple of things can happen here. The MWC can show it’s further ahead of the curve than the WAC. The other thing the conference can show is that it is just as good as some of the bigger football schools in the Pac 10. Oregon St. was a win over Oregon away from the Rose Bowl. If BYU comes into the Las Vegas Bowl and beats the Beavers, then credibility for the MWC goes up. The same for Utah if it is to beat California. Beating Boise St. gives TCU a top-5 victory and does lend itself to the argument that the Horned Frogs are truly the best team in Texas.

Last night Wyoming got the conference off to a great start with a win over Fresno St. At 6-6, the Cowboys were the 5th place team in the MWC, while Fresno St. at 8-4 was the 3rd place team in the WAC behind both Boise St. & Nevada.

Despite being down 28-17 in the 4th quarter, Wyoming rallied to get a 35-28 victory in OT! This certainly gives the MWC a boost heading into its bigger games against the bigger opponents. If Fresno would have won the game, then certainly congratulations are in order for the WAC, but a Wyoming win really means a lot more to the MWC than a Fresno St. win to the WAC. Even more impressive is the resumes:

Wyoming 6-6 (Best Case: 6-6, Worst Case 1-11, Total Offense: 109th, Total Defense: 81st)
Fresno St. 8-4 (Best Case: 9-3, Worst Case 5-7, Total Offense: 22nd, Total Defense: 98th)

From this perspective alone it would have seemed like Fresno had an advantage. Granted, neither defense had much success at stopping anyone with a pulse, but Fresno’s offense is pretty good while Wyoming’s offense didn’t have the offensive pulse that Fresno was unable to stop. Except Wyoming rallied with a flurry of points Fresno had no answer to and then couldn’t get a score in overtime which led to Wyoming winning in double OT!

I thought Fresno also came in with a little more hype surrounding standout RB Ryan Matthews who got some All-American consideration. Matthews had a good game rushing for 144-yards & 2TD, but Wyoming freshman RB Alverster Alexander saved his best game for last as the youngster rushed for 137-yards & 1TD on only 12 rushing attempts.

Wyoming/Fresno St. certainly wasn’t a bowl that was important on a national level by any stretch, but the one thing about bowls that I think isn’t noticed enough in the mainstream is the conference battles between the teams. It’s certainly a great win for the Cowboys going foward into 2010 and gives the team certain momentum. But what it also does is tell us that the 5th best team in the MWC was better than the 3rd best team in the WAC. Given the resumes, the hype, the records it should have been a Fresno victory. Instead Wyoming pulled it out in stunning fashion and we have our first example of inter-conference blood shedding.

I think that’s meaningful.

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December 20, 2009 - Posted by | Wyoming

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