The latest Top-25 rankings have San Diego State moving yet again into uncharted territory, at least in one poll. The 11-0 Aztecs are listed at No. 10 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll (No. 11 by the Associated Press), marking the program's first foray into the Top-10. BYU (10-0) climbed to No. 16 and 18 in the AP and Coaches' polls, respectively, while UNLV (9-1) slipped to No. 23 in the AP and No. 22 in the Coaches' rankings. The Mountain West is one of four conferences (Big 12, Big East, Big Ten) to have at least three teams ranked in both polls.
Pride Cometh Before a Fall
The Pac-10 is no longer in position to look down its nose at the Mountain West Conference. In addition to going 5-7 against MWC teams in football over the course of the last three seasons (1-5 in 2008), the Pac-10 is 1-4 in men's basketball this season vs. the Mountain West. No. 16/18 BYU (10-0) posted the latest win, pounding Arizona 87-65 on Saturday, four days after No. 11/10 San Diego State dispatched defending Pac-10 champion Cal 77-57 in Berkeley.
Down to the Wire
With the top four men's basketball teams in the MWC --- San Diego State, BYU, No. 23/22 UNLV and New Mexico having posted a combined record of 37-2 thus far, ESPN college basketball analyst Andy Katz writes:
"The Mountain West is going to be a sensational four-team race. San Diego State has the look of a potential second weekend NCAA tournament team. The Aztecs are off to a sensational start, regardless of venue. BYU dismantled Arizona and remains undefeated as well. UNLV did lose at Louisville over the weekend, but the Runnin' Rebels had been impressive up to that point with wins over Wisconsin and Virginia Tech. And New Mexico has only one loss (at Cal)."
Katz also says not to be surprised if the MWC, which sent a conference-record four teams to the NCAA Tournament last season, receives more bids than the Pac-10 for the second straight year.
What's Old is New Again
While many of the players may not be cognizant of the fact, BYU and UTEP squared off on a regular basis in football for more than 30 years as members of the Western Athletic Conference. The two schools will meet for the first time since 1998 on Saturday in the fifth annual New Mexico Bowl.
Keeping Up With the Joneses'
When Air Force meets Georgia Tech in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 27, a pair of brothers, Falcons tailback Darius Jones and Yellowjackets "A-back" Roddy Jones will give new meaning to the phrase "sibling rivalry."
The Same, But Different
While one might be inclined to believe that scheming for Air Force's triple option on an annual basis would give San Diego State an advantage against Navy in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23, Aztecs coach Brady Hoke isn't so sure.
Said Hoke: "What makes (Navy) so effective and efficient --- they're (fifth) in the country in rush offense --- is that they believe in the option game. They recruit to it and do a great job. They're different than Air Force, which has those elements but will also be more conventional in what they do with some two-back stuff and the passing game. Air Force had 163 formations that we had to look at; Navy has eight or nine. They're more committed to the triple option series, so they've gotten better at it. Their kids are disciplined in what they're doing; they're the least penalized team in the country."
The Other Side of the Story
While No. 20 Utah is fully aware that its opponent in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22 is more than capable of matching any team in the nation touchdown for touchdown, it's the other facet of No. 10 Boise State's game that has the attention of Utes coach Kyle Whittingham.
"That is the most overlooked phase of their game," Whittingham told the Salt Lake Tribune. "Their defense is outstanding. They've got 45 sacks and are giving up 13 points a game. It's probably the phase of the game that is the primary reason for their success."
The Utes will be without starting quarterback Jordan Wynn, who recently underwent season-ending surgery on his left shoulder. Backup Terrance Cain is 9-1 as a starter.
Going, going, gone
According to the Dallas Morning News, TCU has sold its additional allotment of Rose Bowl tickets and is unlikely to receive more. The school's initial allotment of 20,000 tickets sold out in four days.
"We're very grateful to the Rose Bowl for allowing us to take care of our fans that didn't get tickets during the original allotment," said athletic director Chris Del Conte. "We are completely sold out. We have exhausted all of our options."