R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find out what it means to MWC

By By Tye Smith

By Tye Smith

The football teams of the Mountain West Conference want respect. They deserve respect…don’t they?

This past weekend’s games seem to indicate that the respect is deserved.

The U (need I remind you?) played a memorable game against a team that is ranked by some polls as a top-25 team. In a hostile stadium with more than 75,000 crazed Aggie fans, the Utes battled heroically, defying all odds to make a last-second comeback that fell just short. All of this was accomplished without star wideout Paris Warren.

At game time, the spread in Las Vegas favored A&M by 10. The U covered by eight, which is a lot in the betting world. The U wasn’t the only team from the Mountain West bidding for national respect over the weekend.

BYU went to the L.A. Coliseum to face perennial powerhouse USC (now ranked No. 5). The Y entered the game as 22-point underdogs, but the game was closer than the experts had predicted. The Cougars actually had a chance to win going into the fourth quarter, and though they lost, they did cover the spread easily.

Elsewhere in the MWC, San Diego State was on the verge of shocking the world with an upset of Ohio State, the defending national champions. Currently ranked No. 3 in the country by every major poll, OSU came into the game favored by 32.5. In losing by just three, the Aztecs covered the number by an astonishing 29.5 points.

The other notable Mountain West story from the weekend was Colorado State’s defeat of California. Underdogs by three, the CSU Rams delivered a strong performance on the road with a two-point victory.

The evidence is pretty clear. The Mountain West Conference does deserve respect. But, like Rodney Dangerfield, it gets none.

The most recent Sportsline 117 poll, which ranks all 117 Division 1 A football teams (the same poll that ranked Utah State as preseason No. 117) has completely dismissed the Mountain West Conference as a competitive football league.

CSU is No. 29 (which is unfair in and of itself after barely losing to Colorado and beating Cal on the road) and they are the only team from the MWC in the top 50!

That’s right-the MWC has only one team in the top 50 teams in the nation.

No. 51 is Air Force (2-0), which reflects a drop from the previous week. It doesn’t make sense that Air Force drops a place after winning a close game, but Ohio State didn’t drop a spot after nearly losing to SDSU.

No. 52 is BYU. Just to give you an idea of how unfair this ranking is: Auburn was shut out at home against USC in week one, and lost again last week to Georgia Tech 17-3, yet it remains ranked well above the Y at No. 42.

New Mexico is ranked No. 66-not worth commenting on.

The next one deserves comment because it hurts-the Utes are ranked No. 70. Out of 117 teams, the Utes are a lowly 70. It must hurt Urban Meyer the most, though, because Bowling Green is currently ranked No. 30. I guess the pasture isn’t really always greener. (Get it? Bowling Green?)

Bad puns aside, can the Utes really be only the 70th-best team in the country? I doubt it.

The final blow to the conference is the ridiculously low ranking given to San Diego State: No. 77. They took the No. 3 team in the country to the final play and lost by only three! Does that mean that the other 74 teams ranked before SDSU, but after Ohio State, would have an even better chance at beating the Buckeyes? If so, I don’t like the chances of a repeat national championship.

The bottom line is that the MWC is undervalued. For the betting man, this information can be invaluable, but for the average fan just looking for some national respect, keep on looking because you’ll find none at the Sportsline 117. Nothing short of an undefeated season will generate the type of national credibility this region is yearning for.

If it’s any consolation, the WAC (remember it?) is worse than it has ever been, and teams from that conference are ranked, on average, far lower than the MWC in the Sportsline 117.

The WAC boasts an impressive seven of the bottom 21 teams. This can be comforting to those of us who are shallow enough to wallow in the misery of others. On the other hand, the weak league gives Boise State a chance to go undefeated and suck up all of the mid-major conference publicity.

To end on a positive note, I should mention that the U is favored by three against Cal in the upcoming game. CSU was a three point underdog just last week, so somebody in Vegas must be paying attention to the MWC. Maybe they should get in touch with the morons at Sportsline 117.

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