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October 1, 2014

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MWC Winners and Losers: Week 11

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Wyoming freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels (5) and his teammates celebrate on the sidelines during the closing moments of the Cowboys' 30-27 victory at San Diego State. Sparked by a 24-0 scoring run in the fourth quarter, Dave Christensen's club improved to 5-5 and kept its postseason hopes alive.

Each week during the 2009 football season, we'll take a look at the winners and losers from the weekend in the Mountain West Conference.

Winner: Wyoming

For the second time this season, the Cowboys have been on the very brink of letting their season slip completely out of control. And for the second time this season, they've pulled something ridiculous out of their bag of tricks to salvage the first campaign under coach Dave Christensen.

In a 30-27 victory at San Diego State on Saturday evening, Wyoming outscored the Aztecs 24-0 in the fourth quarter. Yes, that means the Cowboys trailed 27-6 heading into the final stanza, seemingly looking at yet another installment in their second major offensive drought of the season.

Three scores later — including both a TD run and a scoring pass by up-and-down freshman QB Austyn Carta-Samuels — and Wyoming is still alive in the hunt for a bowl game.

At 5-5, clinching a postseason berth might be darn near impossible next weekend, as the pain train known as No. 4 TCU heads to Laramie. But a week later on the road against lowly Colorado State? Well, Wyoming needs to not only win that one for itself, but also to help the league save some face. Here's why ...

Loser: Mountain West bowl tie-ins

Coming into the 2009 season, the Mountain West Conference got itself a fifth guaranteed bowl tie-in by acquiring an annual spot in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise.

It seemed like a perfectly timed move, since the league was poised to be as deep as ever. Sure, the likes of Utah, BYU, TCU and Air Force would be as solid as always, but others — namely Colorado State and UNLV — were poised for a jump.

Now the league might not be able to fill its guaranteed bowl slots.

Actually, it probably won't be able to.

UNLV's 45-17 loss to Air Force secured a losing season for the Rebels — and also sealed the fate of coach Mike Sanford.

SDSU's wrenching loss to Wyoming dropped the Aztecs to 4-6, and with Utah coming up next, winning out seems unlikely for first-year coach Brady Hoke.

Wyoming is the league's last hope to get another bowl eligible program.

If it can't, and TCU heads to the BCS, the Mountain West will leave two openings blank.

While the Horned Frogs potentially give the MWC a second consecutive appearance in the bowl game holy land, the rest of the conference needs to pick things up next year to help out the overall reputation.

Winner: New Mexico

Yes, the Lobos are still winless.

But they haven't quit, and given the fact that heading into Saturday's tilt against BYU they'd been outscored 309-138, that's saying something.

Senior quarterback Donovan Porterie threw for 272 yards and was responsible for all three Lobos touchdowns, and despite losing, 24-19, New Mexico made a statement around the league even in defeat.

Loser: San Diego State

Someday, maybe someone will come up with a good explanation as to how the Aztecs collapsed like that in the fourth quarter.

For real. If you've got one, send it this way.

Winner: TCU

Despite wearing those goofy Nike Pro Combat uniforms, the Horned Frogs just continue to mow down the rest of the Mountain West Conference, no matter what their opponents are ranked.

Everyone knew that with a shaky list of results this season and a freshman quarterback making his second career start, Utah had the look of a house of cards entering Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday evening.

But a 55-28 slamming at the hands of No. 4 TCU might put the Utes off of the radar for a bit.

With only Wyoming and New Mexico remaining on the Horned Frogs' schedule, the BCS now seems all but certain. So, from this guy, an advanced congrats.

Loser: UNLV

Another losing season, but the immediate future could present some pretty troubling waters.

Under a first-year coach next season, whoever that may be, UNLV will face a loaded 13-game schedule. Within there are home games with Wisconsin and TCU, plus road trips to Idaho, BYU, Utah, Hawaii and West Virginia.

If the program's going to turn around, don't bank on it happening right away.

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