MWC? College football lives here
The way we've always split our college football writing duties here at The Tribune is I cover the national scene while co-worker Jay Drew focuses on the Mountain West Conference.
It was a fairly easy line to draw until, oh, Utah beat Oregon State last year and declared itself a legitimate Bowl Championship Series contender.
Ever since, the MWC and BCS have been tied together, first as some sort of weird scientific experiment as the college football powers that be put a MWC team up against an SEC powerhouse to see if those boys who live somewhere between the Big 12 and Pac-10 can REALLY play football.
Yes, the Utes proved they indeed could. While the BCS, lawmakers and conference leaders were arguing over what should be done about the BCS in the aftermath of that Utah win, many of us looked ahead to 2009 and thought, "Wouldn't it be huge if BYU could pick up right where the Utes left off and score another one for the conference when it plays Oklahoma?"
Score the Cougars did and, more importantly, score the Sooners did not.
I have no doubt MWC commissioner Craig Thompson was working his cellphone and filling the voicemails of MWC naysayers with "I told you so's."
Suddenly now the center of the college football world is the MWC, who would have thought that realistic?
Sure, there are some decent games to watch this week, USC at Ohio State, South Carolina at Georgia, Notre Dame at Michigan, and UCLA at Tennessee, but those who really know college football will tune in to see how the MWC fares again.
Can Wyoming make Texas regret its agreement to visit Laramie? What if TCU embarrasses Virginia at home or Air Force wins at Minnesota?
Those teams should be more than wary of those games because the "what ifs" sure seem to be playing into the MWC's favor the last two seasons. If a bad Wyoming team can win at Tennessee, you have to give the Cowboys a glimmer of hope against the visiting Longhorns.
During his weekly press conference Tuesday, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said it was "ridiculous" for there to be any talk of the BCS a week into the season.
That isn't exactly true -- for the MWC right now, it's of national importance. Who would have thought ...
Solid hits or penalties
One of the noticeable difference in the opening week of the 2009 season was the emphasis of sportsmanship. While the year-long suspension of Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount, who decked Boise State's Byron Hout, seemed to be an easy call for penalizing a lack of sportsmanship, there were some other calls that were much more controversial.
The emphasis of cracking down on hits above the shoulders had some coaches, including Whittingham, concerned defenders were going to be penalized for "just football" shots.
Flipping from game to game Saturday, I saw more than a couple calls that seemed questionable. Here is hoping referees allow defenses to maintain their aggressiveness without compromising safety.
1. Florida (1-0)
Plays Tory, which at least we know has a football team
2. Texas (2-0)
Can Wyoming score another for MWC?
3. USC (1-0)
Softened up San Jose State for Utes
4. Alabama (1-0)
Impressive opener vs. Virginia Tech
5. Oklahoma State (1-0)
Defense earned respect in opener
6. Ohio State (1-0)
Survived scare, now must survive Trojans
7. Penn State (1-0)
Could be a defensive battle with offenses suspect
8. LSU (1-0)
Conference play begins against Vandy
9. Cal (1-0)
E. Washington's defense is in for a long day
10. BYU (1-0)
Loss this week would turn giddiness to sorrow
USC at Ohio State
Both teams had issues in their season openers, but that is what those supposedly easy, non-conference opponents are scheduled, to allow teams to work out some of their issues before the real season begins. That "real" season begins with this classic matchup.