Make no mistake, that second place spot could be quite valuable by the time the final BCS standings are announced on December 2nd. As mentioned last week, Boise State's chances of gaining an automatic BCS bid remain strong, even if the talking heads on the four-letter network don't think so. The Broncos moved up just one spot to #21 in the most recent BCS Standings (even after three teams - including Big East member Cincinnati - ranked just ahead of them lost...go figure) but the prospects for eight more of the teams that stand between the Broncos and the coveted #12 spot in the final standings falling (several more than once) remain very good. And if the less than imposing Big East leaders, Rutgers and Louisville both stumble, all the Broncos have to do is reach #16 to get an automatic bid.
So if Boise State wins out, they have a great shot at getting into the BCS.
If that happens, then the league's second place team would get that nice trip to Las Vegas to serve as host for the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. Not too shabby.
Who will it be? Everyone's smart money was on Nevada - then the Wolf Pack blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead and got ambushed by San Diego State in OT at home on Saturday night. Now Nevada has a conference loss (3-1 in MW play) and still has to play Boise State when they host the Broncos on December 1st. Meanwhile, the Aztecs at 3-1 in conference play also must play at Boise State as well as traveling to Air Force.
What about the Falcons? They found some way to overcome a record-setting 338 rushing yards from New Mexico's Kasey Carrier to hold off Bob Davie's Lobos and also move to 3-1 in conference play. Air Force hosts Nevada this week and still has trips to San Diego State and Fresno State on their flight plan, but they don't play Boise State this season.
Which brings us to Fresno State. The Bulldogs looked powerful in routing Wyoming on Saturday to join the group at 3-1 in the MW, and they've already beaten the Aztecs. Derek Carr and company can't look past New Mexico this weekend in Albuquerque, and they still have Air Force at home as well. That number two spot in the final standings could very well come down to the Fresno State at Nevada game on November 10th.
Including Las Vegas, the Mountain West has some excellent bowl destinations - like San Diego and Honolulu. There will be no "losers" when it comes time to go bowling. If Boise State is able to crack the BCS and give the MW an addition bowl spot, then six MW teams could get a post-season shot. Soon we could be trying to identify which conference teams are most likely to join the five we've already mentioned as a post-season participant. Keep this in mind: At 4-4, New Mexico - as downtrodden as a program could be the past few years - needs three wins in its final five games to get bowl eligible (the Lobos play 13 games this season so they need to win seven games.) Those final five games include dates at Colorado State and UNLV, as well as a home game with Wyoming.
Like we said last week, stay tuned. It's only going to get better.