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MWC: TIME TO STEP UP
September 1, 2004

The time is now for the Mountain West Conference. Itıs time for the teams and the players to step up and prove that this conference is not just a reformulated version of the WAC. Itıs time to prove that this conference is not content to just be considered as arguably the "best mid-major" conference. Itıs time to separate themselves from C-USA and the MAC. Itıs time to distance themselves from all of the other mid-majors, and not just by inches, but by miles. Itıs time to leapfrog the Big East and take whatıs waiting to be taken. Itıs time to stick a gargantuan, impossible-to-deny spear into the grotesque eye of the colossal, hideously ugly ogre named "Beeseus" (Pronounced B-c-S). Itıs time to slay the giant.

Since its inception in 1999, the MWC has not been shy about its desires to be included for consideration in conversations regarding the elite teams on the national college football scene. The conference has boasted several teams worthy of national recognition at the end of the year (namely Utah, CSU and BYU), but they have never had the breakthrough team that can stake a sincere claim for inclusion in a BCS bowl game. BYU came very close in 2001, only to be exposed for having no defense as they imploded in their final two games of the season.

In the 5 years since the league was formed, the MWC has compiled a record of 28-63 against BCS teams. While this record is not atrocious, itıs also not something to point to and rally around as a legitimate argument worthy of consideration by the media demagogues who spew forth their views on which teams merit inclusion in BCS bowl games.

The fact of the matter is that for the MWC to be taken seriously on a national level, they have to make a statement on the field that they can win more than one out of every three games they play against BCS competition. The MWC must win at least 50% of the games they play against BCS teams this year. It would be even better if they could win 60% of those games. It would be ridiculous if they won 70%. (Now Iım not saying this is gonna happen, Iım just saying a guy can dream, canıt he?)

But back to the point. MWC teams play 9 of 19 games against BCS competition at home this year. Thus, the MWC must win at least 10 games this year versus their BCS counterparts for it to be considered a success. Anything less and they will probably have to put their arguments on hold for another year.

But to their credit, the MWC teams are not playing the patsies of the major conferences. They are not playing the Baylors, the Vanderbilts, the Dukes or the Rutgers of the ³Big Six² conferences.

The MWC is playing arguably the most legitimate non-conference schedule of any conference in the country, with 19 of 32 games against BCS teams. And they are playing legitimate powers from among those conferences ­ both home and away.

Colorado State opens the season with three straight games against BCS teams ­ at arch-rival Colorado, at #1 USC, and hosting #23 Minnesota.

UNLV opens on the road at #15 Tennessee and at #22 Wisconsin.

New Mexico opens with three straight against Washington State, Texas Tech and at Oregon State.

This yearıs MWC non-conference schedule includes games against the following teams:

- at #1 USC (CSU) 9/11/04
- #1 USC (BYU) 9/04/04
- at #7 Michigan (SDSU) 9/18/04
- #14 California (AFA) 9/04/04
- at #15 Tennessee (UNLV) 9/05/04
- at #22 Wisconsin (UNLV) 9/11/04
- #23 Minnesota (CSU) 9/18/04
- Notre Dame (BYU) 10/30/04
- at Texas A&M (WYO) 9/11/04
- Texas A&M (Utah) 9/02/04
- at Colorado (CSU) 9/04/04
- Washington State (UNM) 9/03/04
- Texas Tech (UNM) 9/11/04
- at Oregon State (UNM) 9/18/04
- at UCLA (SDSU) 10/02/04
- Mississippi (WYO) 9/25/04
- North Carolina (Utah) 10/16/04
- at Arizona (Utah) 9/11/04
- at Stanford (BYU) 9/18/04

This is the year for the MWC to make a statement. This is the year to pierce and bloody the eye of the hideous ogre. This is the year to prod and poke ³Beeceus² into having a little respect for the conference that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

In order to make the ogre take notice and gain a level of respect for the MWC, a few things must happen.

The first is real victories. The MWC can no longer be satisfied with just moral victories. They must win 10 games against the BCS teams. 12 games would be great. Anything more and Iım on cloud nine.

The second is that one or two of the MWC teams need to make a real statement. At least two of the teams from among CSU, Utah, New Mexico, SDSU, UNLV or BYU must rise up and poke the ogre in the eye. At least two teams must win a majority of their games against the ³Big 6² conferences.

Finally, the team or teams that emerge at the top of the pack must win enough games so that at the end of the year, the MWC has one or two teams with a 10-1 or 9-2 record that will be worthy of BCS bowl consideration. While itıs unlikely that a team with a 9-2 record would merit consideration, what if that team happened to run the table in the non-conference schedule against high-ranked BCS teams, only to lose one or two games due to the strength and parity of the MWC schedule? And what if the other MWC teams also exceeded expectations in the non-conference portion of the schedule to give the MWC a winning record against the BCS? The answer is that there would then be a legitimate argument for the MWC to be included in consideration for a BCS bowl berth.

Yes, itıs possible that the MWC can wickedly skewer the ogre that is the BCS with a series of well-placed stabs so that the monster will stumble and trip into the corner of his cave, become covered in the slime of the BCS coalition, and be exposed for the havoc, evil and injustice that it reeks on the have-nots of the college football world.

Yes, itıs possible. This year is the year the MWC can to do it. This is the year the MWC should do it. This is the year the MWC must do it. This is the year to make that statement.

But they must do it on the field.

MWC Games for Week 1 - 9/4:
Utah def. Texas A&M
CSU def. Colorado
SDSU def. San Jose State
UNM def. Washington State
California def. AFA
USC def. BYU
Tennessee def. UNLV
WYO def. Appalachian State
GAME OF THE WEEK: CSU 31 def. CU 24

 > Talk about it in The College Corner...

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