Monday, Oct. 5, 2009 | 1 a.m.
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: The WAC
The Mountain West has made a name for itself in recent years by fattening up on and embarrassing BCS conference foes early in the season. It's not a stretch to say that the WAC is maybe a rung or two below the MWC in terms of overall clout — with the exception of Boise State — and with that said, the WAC struck back Saturday (sorry, I'm a sucker for cheesy rhymes).
WAC opponents went 2-2 against the MWC this weekend, including a resounding 63-28 beatdown laid onto UNLV by UNR, which totaled an unheard-of 773 yards of total offense.
A little further north, Colorado State lost for the second weekend in a row in the Kibbie Dome, as Idaho improved to 4-1 on the season.
Yes, Idaho is 4-1. That's no typo.
Also, Utah State deserves a nod for playing BYU to within 18 points, and for you gamblers, covered the spread against the Cougars for the second straight year.
Loser: UNLV's defense
Well, I mentioned the 773 yards allowed. But let's delve a little deeper ...
— The Wolf Pack ran for 559 yards.
— Three ball carriers picked up at least 170 yards.
— UNR was 7-of-7 on third downs and never had to punt.
In return, UNLV's defense now ranks (out of 120 FBS teams) ...
— 112th in total defense.
— 112th in rush defense.
— 97th in pass defense.
Should be interesting to see how the unit looks against BYU and Utah in the next two weeks.
Could the Cowboys rebound to land a bowl berth? Believe it or not, it's looking very possible at this point.
Dave Christensen's club parlayed its 30-27 victory over UNLV a week ago into a 30-28 road win at Florida Atlantic this weekend, improving his team to 3-2 with very winnable games remaining against the likes of New Mexico, San Diego State and Air Force.
Freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels was again outstanding in leading an offense that produced 421 yards of total offense. He was 29-of-38 for 223 yards and ran for 69 more.
Loser: TCU's national perception
Hear me out here.
Now is the time of the year where the pressure is really going to be felt by the Horned Frogs if they want in on the BCS this year.
In case you didn't notice, Houston — who along with TCU and Boise State was vying for this year's BCS Buster honors — was upset on Saturday at UTEP. This came after Houston had upset Big 12 foes Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to move up the polls into the No. 12 slot.
One loss, and they're out of the polls. Meanwhile, two-loss Oklahoma remains.
It means that no matter what, mid-majors are apparently getting less respect than ever.
TCU defeated SMU, 39-14, and needed a big fourth quarter to pull away late from the pesky Mustangs.
Not only does TCU need to simply continue winning and do nothing less to keep its BCS hopes alive, but it looks like the Horned Frogs will need to do so convincingly.
Stupid system. Can't say it enough.
OK, I feel bad tagging TCU as a 'loser.' Seriously, this team could contend in just about every BCS conference. It's only a matter of time before the rest of the nation picks up on this.
Loser: Air Force offense
Former high school rival quarterbacks Tim Jefferson (Air Force) and Ricky Dobbs (Navy) were pumped to face off in an emotion-filled showdown between service academies.
The Falcon offense was relatively punchless for the second time on the road in non-conference play, falling in overtime this weekend, 16-13.
Despite struggling to just 183 yards on 53 run plays, Air Force still ranks second in the FBS in rushing offense.
Still a favorite to land a postseason berth, the Falcons need to get their ground game going again ASAP, with a home game coming up this weekend against the No. 10 Horned Frogs, who rank seventh in the nation in total defense.