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Mountain West

In last year’s StatFox Edge, we called for an unbeaten season from Utah and it delivered in stellar fashion, winning all 12 games by a margin of 45.3-19.5 while delivering the first BCS Bowl appearance and victory for the Mountain West Conference. The level of dominance conference play was even more staggering as the Utes won their league games by 29 PPG and at one stretch recorded five consecutive wins by 20 points or more. For the school, it was the second straight conference title, and they remain one of only three teams able to stake claim to a MWC Championship. Thankfully for the rest of the league, the loss of two key Utes, Head Coach Urban Meyer, and top NFL Draft Pick QB Alex Smith, immediately injects some parity back into the conference. Elsewhere in 2004, the remaining seven teams performed a virtual flip of the projections by most experts as New Mexico, BYU, and Wyoming turned in surprising seasons and perennial powers Colorado State and Air Force, as well as expected contender San Diego State, struggled.

A new wrinkle is thrown into the mix for 2005 as TCU joins the Mountain West. The Horned Frogs are a familiar foe to the current MWC representatives, having played one another from ’97-’99 in the old WAC. TCU has won 26 games over the past three seasons so should be an immediate factor in its new surroundings. Alongside of that, it was a fairly active offseason in terms of coaching changes, as three of the 9 teams start anew on the sidelines. As mentioned earlier, Utah’s Urban Meyer has departed for Florida, and is replaced by Defensive Coordinator Kyle Whittingham. At UNLV, John Robinson is out in favor of Mike Sanford, and finally, BYU turns to Bronco Mendenhall in place of Gary Crowton. On the field, Smith is the biggest departing standout from a league not exactly known for its star power. The 2005 standings are expected to be balanced, with Utah recognized as the favorite and upstarts BYU & Wyoming potential contenders if everything goes right for each.

Utah

Play On: San Diego State 10/15

Utah is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS against the Aztecs, with the average winning margin being 19 points per game. The straight up winner of this series is 15-1 ATS. Look for the Utes to make it 16-1.

Play Against: @Colorado State 10/8

Distinct possibility Utah could still be undefeated and a slight road favorite, if that was the case. Utah is 2-5 ATS against the Rams the last seven years and last year’s 63-31 blowout was the most points surrendered in the Sonny Lubick era.

Colorado State

Play On: San Diego State 11/12

Rams return 17 starters after first losing season in a decade. Colorado State has had great success against S.D. State with a 7-2 record both SU and ATS against the Aztecs.

Play Against: Air Force 10/1

CSU has monster revenge game with Utah next week, which makes Air Force easy to overlook. The favorite is 4-10-1 against the number in the MWC contests and the Rams are 0-8-1 in league openers.

San Diego State

Play On: @Ohio State 9/17

The offensive minded Aztecs catch Ohio State at the perfect time. The Buckeyes will be off colossal match-up with Texas. Two years ago San Diego State gave Coach Tressel’s team all it could handle with a narrow 16-13 win as -30 home favorites.

Play Against: @Air Force 9/10

Despite this being a Mountain West Conference game, this falls into the sandwich situation for the Aztecs. S.D. State opens at home with the Pac-10’s UCLA Bruins and has Big 10(11) power Ohio State after this contest. Coach Craft’s team has a long history of failure in road openers, with a 0-12 record and dismal 4-8 ATS mark.

BYU

Play On: Air Force 10/29

BYU will be off possible loss at Notre Dame, will resume MWC play with the knowledge the winner of the contest is an incredible 17-1 ATS.

Play Against: @Wyoming 11/12

Cowboys appear to have best team since 1999 with 17 returning starters. Possible All-Conference QB Bramlett might have field day against Cougars. BYU is 8-2 vs. Wyoming, with the exact reverse record being true against the spread. (2-8)

Texas Christian

Play On: Utah 9/15

This ESPN Thursday special will be TCU’s first game as a Mountain West member. This excited home dog is 8-2 ATS against teams with a >.600 record.

Play Against: @Wyoming 10/8

TCU allowed 304 yards passing per game and will square off against pass happy Wyoming. Has the making of another long day for the Horned Frogs with their first trip to Laramie.

Wyoming

Play On: @Colorado State 10/22

This “Border Warâ€Â

slam

posted by slam

Aug. 5 2005 1:13pm

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