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April 20, 2014

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MWC Winners and Losers: Week 13

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AP PHOTO

Wyoming freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels runs against Colorado State in the Cowboys’ 17-16 victory in Fort Collins on Friday afternoon. The frosh ran for two scores and the defense held serve late as Wyoming got to 6-6 to cap an up-and-down regular season, achieving bowl eligibility under first-year coach Dave Christensen.

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

Yes, the Mountain West Conference can now tout more than half of its ball clubs as bowl eligible with the dust settled on the 2009 regular season.

Wyoming was the final piece of the puzzle, and is more than likely headed for the New Mexico Bowl.

The Cowboys may be the strangest 6-6 team in all the land, having overcome two severe offensive droughts over the course of the season before attaining bowl eligibility after beginning the year picked to finish dead last in the league.

The sixth win was earned the tough way, squeaking out a 17-16 victory over Colorado State in Fort Collins on Friday afternoon.

Freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels had two touchdown runs in the effort, and the defense held strong to a one-point lead over the game's final 13:33.

A congrats goes out to first-year coach Dave Christensen, who truly has this program headed toward stable ground at the very least over the next several years.

Plus, the league benefits from having at least one program outside of the 'Big Four' getting into a bowl game. Keeps anyone from, you know, stereotyping.

Loser: Colorado State

Three straight wins to open up the season, followed by nine losses.

Wow. Just wow.

Winner: TCU

With a 51-10 blowout of New Mexico, which was to be expected, the Horned Frogs pretty much made sure that the Mountain West will have a presence in the BCS holy land for the second year in a row.

But it could get even better.

Believe it or not, TCU could still get a shot at the National Championship.

Basically, the winner of next weekend's SEC title game between No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama gets a trip to the BCS championship contest. If Texas beats Nebraska in the Big 12 title game, the Longhorns will be there, too.

If Texas loses? Well, based on the current BCS standings, it could potentially happen. It's a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless. A Cincinnati loss to Pittsburgh wouldn't hurt TCU's chances, either.

Loser: The Holy War

The annual showdown between BYU and Utah, which again matched ranked teams, was unfortunately lost in the mix this weekend with everything else going on in the college football world.

Based on the fact that it was tough for much of the nation to find on TV and TCU was still the focus within the league for many outsiders, a great game went widely unnoticed.

P.S., in case you weren't watching, BYU won, 26-23 in overtime, thanks to a 25-yard touchdown pass from Max Hall to Andrew George.

Winner: UNLV

Down 24-7 in the third quarter in front of maybe 5,000 fans at Sam Boyd Stadium, no one could have faulted UNLV for throwing in the towel.

With 16 seniors making their final collegiate appearance in an otherwise meaningless game and a coach on the sidelines as the program's leader for the last time, the Rebels shocked everyone in attendance.

Scoring 21 unanswered points to finish it off — including Phillip Payne's game-winning TD catch in the final moments — UNLV ended 2009 at 5-7 and on a positive note.

Who knew?

Winner or Loser ... yet to be determined: The Maaco Bowl Las Vegas

So what does Tina Kunzer-Murphy do?

She'll have first choice of who to invite to Las Vegas for the December contest against the Pac-10's fifth-place finisher.

Obviously, behind TCU, 10-2 BYU is at the top of the heap.

But the Cougars have been in the Vegas Bowl four straight years, and last year in a loss to Arizona, looked the part of a team that wanted to be anywhere but Sam Boyd Stadium.

Utah's fans will travel just as well as BYU's. But the Utes are behind the Cougars in the league standings, finished 9-3 and lost two of their final three games. Granted, their three losses came to BYU, TCU and Oregon.

Personally, I'd think Utah would be the choice. Now we'll have to wait and see.

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