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September 16, 2014

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MWC Winners and Losers: Week 3

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AP PHOTO

UNR running back Brandon Fragger, with mouthpiece, watches the final seconds tick off the clock during the Wolf Pack’s 35-20 loss to Colorado State in Fort Collins on Saturday afternoon. He appears just as surprised as many around the Mountain West that the Rams are one of two undefeated teams remaining in the league after three weeks of play.

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: Colorado State

If I were to have told you three weeks ago that the two remaining undefeated teams in the Mountain West through three weeks would be TCU and Colorado State, well, let's just say that that information could have served you well at any local sports book.

No, not the TCU part.

Second-year coach Steve Fairchild looks like he's truly building a program. His team's 35-20 victory over a super-disappointing UNR squad was sound in several ways, as two Wolf Pack scores late made it somewhat respectable.

The Rams — or the 'Rammies' as Sun sports writer and CSU grad Brett Okamoto likes to call them — racked up 369 yards of total offense, but more impressive was how they kept UNR dual-threat QB Colin Kaepernick to just 24 yards on seven carries.

But the real challenge now comes for CSU, as it heads to Provo to face a potentially deflated BYU club next Saturday.

Oh, speaking of which ...

Loser: BYU

It's hard to call BYU one of the MWC's losers, considering how that opening night victory over then-No.3 Oklahoma will live on for awhile.

But a 54-28 loss on Saturday to Florida State — in the Cougars' home opener, mind you — looked really bad.

The 'Noles exposed one area where Oklahoma simply could not against BYU — Bronco Mendenhall's lack of team speed.

Then you can add in the fact that BYU simply helped them along.

One play that will stick out to me was in the closing moments of the first half, with FSU leading 23-14. They kicked it off short to BYU, and senior defensive end Jan Jorgensen took the squibbed kick, then instead of falling on it, tried to run back and hurdle someone.

Keep in mind, he's 6-foot-3 and 259 pounds.

He fumbled it away, Florida State punched in another touchdown before the break, and it was all but done at that point.

Looks like TCU is this conference's last legitimate shot for a BCS participant this year.

Winner: UNLV

Consider the Rebels' season saved ... for now.

A 34-33 nail-biter against Hawaii, including junior quarterback Omar Clayton playing the best half of his UNLV career to finish things off, kept UNLV relevant for at least another week. He went 19-of-26 for 221 yards and two touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters combined, also adding in an 11-yard TD run.

The fact that Mike Sanford's club didn't let one last-second loss snowball into two and beyond is the biggest sign so far in 2009 that this year's UNLV squad is different than that of a year ago.

Loser: Wyoming's offense

The Rebels have a chance to really get it rolling, as Wyoming's offense is about as dangerous as Glass Joe from Mike Tyson's Punch Out.

Once the Cowboys' 24-0 loss at Colorado was all said and done on Saturday, Wyoming's streak without an offensive touchdown had reached nine quarters.

It ain't rocket surgery, folks: It's a spread offense without spread offense weapons.

If UNLV loses, I'd be shocked.

Winner: Utah

I know the Utes lost at Oregon, 31-24, in Eugene, but they deserve a hand for carrying a 16-game winning streak into that one. Consider this the curtain call.

I don't care what FBS conference you're in, that's impressive.

Loser: The BCS ... still

I'm sure they're elated that Utah and BYU are already pretty much now out of the running for one of their prestigious bowls.

But it still doesn't make the system currently in place right.

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