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September 2, 2014

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MWC Winners and Losers: Week 7

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AP PHOTO

Boise State tailback Jeremy Avery barely escaped the Tulsa defense on this run in the Broncos’ 28-21 victory on the road on Wednesday night. The victory wasn’t as impressive as TCU’s 44-6 victory over Colorado State over the weekend, but as the two compete for a potential at-large BCS berth at season’s end, Boise State’s national exposure certainly isn’t hurting its reputation with voters and national opinion-makers.

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: Boise State

Yes, Boise State is in the WAC. But its success — and the league's television deal with ESPN — is hurting the Mountain West's shot at a BCS berth this season as the weeks go by.

While No. 10 TCU was in the process of drilling Colorado State this weekend in Fort Worth, 44-6, No. 6 (and equally undefeated) Boise State was watching on TV after barely escaping a marginal Tulsa team on the road three days earlier, 28-21.

But in the end, despite having the lesser of the two victories to its credit, Boise State comes out ahead, as the Broncos' effort was seen by millions on ESPN, as the only football game you'd find on your television at the time.

TCU played its game on Versus, competing with multiple other games on Saturday afternoon. And the Horned Frogs won't sniff an appearance on the ESPN family of networks during this regular season, nor will they have spotlight to themselves in a mid-week, primetime game due to the Mountain West's janked-up television deal.

If both win out — keep in mind that Boise State's remaining schedule includes one foe with a winning record (6-1 Idaho) and six opponents with a combined record of 19-25, while TCU still has BYU (next weekend) and Utah — then the Broncos certainly have a leg up for an at-large BCS bid.

Is TCU's overall schedule stronger than Boise State's? Yes, pretty much.

But does the fact that Boise State plays six games in all during the week on ESPN help the Broncos keep a leg-up with voters and national opinion-makers, keeping them more visible in the public eye? Absolutely.

Then again, this is all contingent on both teams winning out before it becomes a major issue. But for now, speculation is fun.

Also, as it stands, Boise State is fourth in the initial BCS standings, while TCU is ninth.

Loser: Colorado State

The Rams' fourth consecutive loss since starting the season 3-0 was by far the team's most humiliating.

A week ago, CSU blew a golden opportunity to make up for back-to-back losses when it let a fourth-quarter lead at home against Utah slip away, ultimately falling 24-17.

This week, after going up 6-0 early on TCU, the Horned Frogs rattled off 44 unanswered points.

But fear not, Rams. You weren't the first foe that TCU has sliced and diced this season, and you certainly will not be the last.

Winner: TCU

44 points unanswered?

I don't care who you're playing, but that's how great teams respond to 6-0 deficits early in games to teams they shouldn't lose to.

And if you can't tell by now, I'm completely nipping at the TCU kool-aid.

6-0 and counting ...

Loser: Wyoming's offense

Of course, in this blog, I've been all over Wyoming's coat tails in recent weeks, and I'm still pretty certain that at 4-3, the Cowboys will attain bowl eligibility by the time it's all said and done this season.

But a prime shot at inching one step closer to that goal got away from the 'Pokes on Saturday in Colorado Springs.

Granted, Air Force doesn't throw the ball very much, but the Wyoming defense had its best showing of the season, holding the Falcons to two yards through the air and just 4.5 yards per carry on 59 rushing attempts.

And the offense let it go to waste. Austyn Carta-Samuels finally looked like a freshman at the helm of the Wyoming offense, completing just 14 of 31 pass attempts for 74 yards and a pick.

With San Diego State and Colorado State still on the schedule, I'm still predicting 6-6.

Winner: New Mexico

Hey, at least the Lobos didn't lose this weekend, right?

Loser: UNLV

How's this for pressure?

After UNLV lost 35-15 at home to Utah on Saturday night — the Rebels' fourth consecutive setback — Mike Sanford's 2-5 club now heads back on the road.

Aside from having sole possession of the nation's longest road losing streak in conference games on its shoulders — 20 in a row — UNLV now is favored by 2.5 points to start the week as it prepares to go face New Mexico in Albuquerque.

That game will be televised, in case you're interested.

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