The Mountain West Conference (MWC) has been on a roll the last few years with TCU and the Utah Utes going to BCS bowls. How do things look for 2010?
1. Who will win the conference? TCU Horned Frogs. Not only will TCU win the MWC, but they have a pretty clear path to another undefeated regular season and a second consecutive BCS bowl game. BYU and Utah will provide more of a challenge this year than last, but TCU should come out on top in the end.
2. Who is the top returning player? Carmen Messina, New Mexico. The Lobos linebacker led the nation in tackles (162) as a sophomore. He is going to give Brian Urlacher a run for his money as the best linebacker in New Mexico Lobos history if he posts similar numbers this year.
3. Which team will be the most improved? San Diego State Aztecs. Head Coach Brady Hoke brought competitiveness to San Diego last year, and this year they will take the next step and go bowling. They may even push Air Force for that number four spot in the conference.
4. What will be the biggest surprise? One of the "Big 3" (TCU, BYU, Utah) will lose to one of the other six members of the conference. No one has done it for a few years, but this year will be different. It could happen as early as September 11 when BYU and Air Force meet and Utah plays UNLV. Air Force usually plays Utah close, and the Cadets could trip up Utah on October 30 if the Utes are looking ahead to TCU the next week. Utah faces San Diego State after playing TCU and Notre Dame, back-to-back, and the week before rival BYU.
5. Which coach is on the hottest seat? Mike Locksley, New Mexico. After the disaster on the field (1-11) and the distractions off the field, Locksley is on a short leash. Even if everything off the field is in check, another one win season and he can expect to be canned.