Oct 082002
Authors: Jason Graziadei

Buckle up, Mountain West Conference football has arrived. This weekend will begin the most intense MWC action of the season, with all eight teams playing in-conference games around the league.

The Air Force Academy has raced out to lead the MWC with a 2-0 record thus far, but several teams, including CSU, have yet to play within the league.

Several schools around the league have survived brutal non-conference schedules and are looking to continue their success, while others have suffered from their difficult lineup of opponents and hope to start anew in the MWC. Among those still standing is No. 21 Air Force (ranked No. 19 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll), CSU with a 4-2 record, and Brigham Young at 3-2 after a nail-biting come back against Utah State last week.

The four games between MWC teams this weekend promise to have huge implications within the conference, and for the teams looking to claim one of the four bowl games allotted for the top four teams in the MWC.

Brigham Young at Air Force, Saturday 8 p.m., ESPN2

The BYU Cougars take their high-flying offense on the road this week, traveling to Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs. The Cougars take on an Air Force team that is 5-0 and has garnered national attention and respect.

“Air Force is just playing outstanding right now,” BYU Head Coach Gary Crowton said. “We need to play well and execute because they do a good job of doing that. They’re very disciplined and they play hard to the end of the game.”

In BYU’s dominating season one year ago, the Cougars humiliated Air Force 63-33 in Provo. The Falcons’ coaches and players have not forgot that demoralizing loss.

“If you’re a competitor, to have 63 points scored against your team, that hurts your pride a little bit,” Air Force Head Coach Fisher DeBerry said. “Certainly we face a real challenge this week with BYU. Their football team has got to have a lot of confidence and momentum.”

Wyoming at Colorado State, Saturday 1 p.m., ESPN+Plus

In the 94th installment of the annual Border War between CSU and Wyoming, two very opposite teams will do battle for the Bronze Boot.

At 4-2, the Rams are coming off a difficult loss to Fresno State, while the Cowboys won their first game of the season last week, a 34-30 victory over The Citadel in Laramie. However, Wyoming is 1-4 and head coach Vic Koenning is well aware of CSU’s offensive weapons.

“They’re going to be quite the challenge,” Koenning said. “Their players believe in themselves and have that confidence that comes with success. We’re going to have to play at a high level against CSU just to have a chance.”

Utah at San Diego State, Saturday 5 p.m.>

In a match up of two teams that are better than their records show, both Utah and San Diego State look to get back on track within the conference.

Utah is coming off a bye week, something that head coach Ron McBride said his team needed.

“We were able to concentrate on making our football team better and making some adjustments,” McBride said. “It was a very valuable week and something we needed.”

San Diego State is 0-5 despite leading the conference in passing offense and being second in total offense. The Aztecs are also coming off a bye week.

New Mexico at UNLV, Saturday 5 p.m.

Both the Lobos and the Rebels have struggled with 2-4 and 2-3 records, respectively. New Mexico won last year’s game 27-17, but UNLV is coming off a big win against in-state rival Nevada-Reno.

“It seems like we’ve been playing out of conference forever,” New Mexico head coach Rocky Long said. “So it will be interesting to play in conference this week.”

-Edited by Jon Ackerman and Josh Hardin

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