The 2nd edition of 1st and 10, with the wrap up on week 10 and the 10 hottest new stories BYU / UNLV: Did anyone see it coming? Coming off a huge emotional win over Air Force to take control of the Mountain West, The Cougars fell into a trap as the UNLV Rebels upset the heavy favorites 48-45. Previous to this week, the only Cougar loss came in an embarrassment in the hands of Colorado State. The team's other 6 games they have outscored opponents 41-24 on average. UNLV on the other hand had a close win to open the season against Louisville and found themselves on the losing end against two conference matchups against Wyoming and Utah. The Rebels have been very inconsistent all year but seems to play their best games in the toughest moments. From what I was able to see, it looks to me like UNLV came more prepared for this matchup. I think couch Fuzzy came in with a good gameplan but his players found themselves looking lost at times. The lack of pressure on Barnhill allowed him to complete 71% of his passes and go off for 575 yards and 6 TDs. He also used the lack of a pass rush to scramble around when the receivers were not getting open and added another 83 yards on the ground. In fact, the complete lack of balance in the Rebels offense appeared to have worked in their favor even with calling roughly 48 pass plays of 59 total. Cornett was not ready to handle the Cougar defense but the Cougar defense was not ready to handle such a heavy dose of air attack. Barnhill wasn't the only QB with success today. BYU's Heaps completed 76% of his passes while going for 364 yards and 5 TDs on his own. The Cougar offense had a good balance but relied too heavily on the big plays in this game. Everyone expected BYU to have their way with the Rebel defense, and they did, but UNLV has a history of putting up a lot of points too and they proved their win over Air Force was not a fluke. No, most people didn't see the upset coming but looking at the numbers, UNLV deserved to be in this game. I don't know if I can say BYU was out coached, but the players on the field for UNLV took more pride and came out ready. Mountain West Conference: Who really is the frontrunner? If BYU had won over UNLV, the MWC would be all but finished. But with the loss, a whole new can of worms is opened up. The top 5 teams all find themselves with 2 conference losses after this week. With wins over BYU and Air Force, UNLV may be the lead dog but still has a huge matchup over Colorado State later in the year, who has a win over BYU but a loss to Air Force. Air Force has only lost to UNLV and BYU while BYU has only lost to UNLV and CSU. In case you are lost already... There is a never ending cycle of tiebreakers. With still a lot of football remaining, teams will continue to knock each other out of contention but it appears the winner of the UNLV/CSU matchup on November 15th may determine the conference leader unless SDSU can knock off the Rams the week before. If everything comes down to the polls for a tiebreaker, surprise! Air Force puts themselves in perfect position to claim another conference crown. Bottom line, this year is easily the most competitive year the Mountain West has ever seen and it is good for the conference and good for college football. MWC: Does Utah or Wyoming have a chance? Entering the week, there were six teams all still very much in the hunt for the division championship. With Utah and Wyoming facing off, I find it hard for Utah to come back from the loss to still believe they have a realistic chance. But still having BYU on the schedule, if they can manage to win out and hope for a few other losses at other campuses, their is a chance at a large tie. For Wyoming, it's a little simpler, but not much. And by simpler, I don't mean easy. the remaining schedule could consist for all four opponents being ranked. With BYU and Air Force both still on the schedule, they will control their destiny but only UNLV can say they have defeated both giants. With a loss already to Colorado State and a win over UNLV, the tiebreakers would again be a mess. With the talent level at Wyoming, it may be hard to win either of the four games remaining but a good coach can always get his players ready and in position to compete. BYU: Can they avoid another let down at Wyoming? It's not often enough that a buzz is coming out of Wyoming but this week is an exception. Coming off the tough loss to UNLV, BYU is on the road looking to redeem themselves and prove they still may be the top team in the conference. But don't just assume another blowout. Wyoming has made a habit of playing solid offense and defense and not turning the ball over. Any team that can win the turnover battle has a chance to win any game. And BYU has a habit of some sloppy possessions that could result in short fields and easy points for the Cowboys in this one. BYU is probably going to look for the big plays. Their receivers have a definite skill advantage on the Wyoming defensive backs but if they can get any pressure on Heaps, force him to make throws before he is ready, there is always a possibility. With all that said, Wyoming just doesn't matchup to the depth of BYU. I find it hard for the Cowboys to win this game. Air Force: Can they sneak into another BCS Bowl game? With BYU losing from the #8 ranking this week, they will take a fall in the polls. But how far should they fall? UNLV was already sitting just outside the top 25 and had already proven it could be a giant killer. Even after beating Air Force the previous week, the Cougars only jumped 1 spot up as they passed the Falcons. Air Force only fell to 12th with that loss and now sits just ahead of Colorado State by nearly 2 hundredths. The BYU loss could force a fall down to the 12th ranking as Air Force and Colorado state get the bump. The Rams may find themselves too far back and may not be lucky enough to pass up the Cougars even with a head to head victory. 5 of the nations top teams will find themselves losers of at least one more contest based on matchup up against each other which could be enough to land Air Force as high as another top 5 ranking and result in another BCS game. Win Streaks: Who is the hottest team in the MWC? With losses to BYU and Air Force recently and Utah and Utah losing in week 8, both Colorado State and San Diego State both sit with 4 game win streaks each. After 3 touch losses early in the year to Air Force, BYU, and UNLV, the Aztecs have been rolling; taking down #7 Georgia Tech, Utah, New Mexico and TCU. The Rams have also taken down New Mexico and TCU along with Wyoming and the then #5 BYU Cougars. Each team has taken down a giant while handling business against conference opponents. The past three weeks, Colorado State has outscored opponents 36-28 while the Aztecs stand at 33-23. After starting the season on fire, the Rams defense has looked leaky at times in the recent weeks while the offense still has the power to get the job done. The Aztecs defense has constantly been playing very good all year even though the scoreboard does not always show it off. There is no doubt Colorado State is the better team, but San Diego State may be the hotter team of the moment. Week 11 will prove all speculation. CSU/SDSU: Who Wins and Why? As we just stated, the Rams and Aztecs are two of the hottest teams in the conference, both playing good ball. Their week 11 rivaly matchup for the Battle for the golden pickaxe has traditionally been a tremendous matchup even with nothing on the line. This year, though the Aztecs may not have a realistic shot at the conference title, they would love nothing more then to end all hopes of a Rams title. The Rams can not afford to lose any more games this year including this matchup or the UNLV matchup. This years Rams team appears to be more heavily focused on the passing attack then in years past. While Williams and Drake can both go off and carry the team to victory on the ground, Grayson is putting together a good year through the air, completing nearly 70% of his passes. The defensive speed of the Aztecs believes they can lock down the running game while hoping to slow down the passing game. The only weakness this year of the defense is giving up the big plays. Each matchup someone is found out of place and the opposing teams have capitalized for easy points. If they can avoid any mistakes, they will get their turnovers and have a good shot at keeping the game low scoring. Low Scoring may be the only way the Aztecs can win this game however. Though Andrews has thrown the 3rd most TD passes in the conference even while not starting the first 3 games, he is very sporatic. While Grayson leads the conference in completion percentage, Andrews sits at the bottom, 20 percentage points below. While the Rams rushing offense has been weak, the Aztecs is no better. Hudson is only averaging 4.1 YPC and the Rams will probably be able to contain him to make the offense one dimensional and force Andrews to beat them. The Aztec Defense may be able to force enough turnovers to help put points on the board but The Rams teams is too balanced to be held to nothing all game. I predict the Rams come out on top 24-14. Heisman: Callahan still rolling? After what is considered a career day for many receivers, TTU WR Rodney Callahan considers a bad game as he only managed 15 receptions for 194 yards and no scores in the win over Texas. UNLV TE Jordan Sparkman continued his historic career with another monster 221 yard game with a touchdown while Buckeye WR James Louis bumped up his own resume with huge 4 TD, 160 yard performance. The tro of pass catchers now seem to be in a 3 horse race for the award over the QBs. In the more balanced Buckeye offense, Louis is putting together a great year reaching 1000 yards this past game on less then half the receptions of Callahan. Louis also adds an explosive return game to his team and has taken a punt back for a score along with multiple other good returns. But Callahan just appears to be too dominant this year for Louis to realistically have a chance. Sparkman is a different story. For a TE, he is doing things unheard of by most standards. Averaging over 165 yards per game and leading the nation with 15 TD catches. No other TEs are near the production at yards and TDs this year. But the key word may be tight end. Receivers don't win this award, which only makes it even more difficult for a TE. Sparkman is a great story but it may end at that. Unless Callahan gets injured, the award is strongly in his grasp at this point. Award Season: Who may be the early front runners? The official watch lists for every award coming out in the next few days, there is already a buzz generating from some campuses in the Mountain West. Sparkman has Heisman buzz and has a chance to compete for top offensive player award while he should be the easy front runner for TE of the year. Sparkman's QB Taylor Barnhill is putting together a good season as well and may be a sleeper candidate for the top QB list but the 15 interceptions may hurt his chances. For the first time in a while, there appears to be no standout HBs this year in the conference. SDSU WR Marcus Russell should be in position to land on the Bilitnikoff watch list and may even have a shot at being a finalist. Defensively, SDSU freshman has a chance to land on the Thorpe watch list as well as one of the nations top defensive players. TCU DT David Johnson leads the nation in sacks and should be the frontrunner for top interior D-linemen with NMU's Calvin Smith a close second. BYU's Amir Montgomery and SDSU's Evenrett Beed are both in contention for the nations top rush end. Along with Vaughn, CSU's Shaquelle Bell will be in contention for the Thorpe award with his nation leading 6 interceptions. We can elaborate more on the lists after they are announced shortly. Erik Hill: Pennsylvania Bound? The nation's second best WR Erik Hill has options. Being as talented as he is, he could probably attend any school he chooses. Already in week 10 he is not in a hurry to make the wrong move. Although the Nittany Lions have been the heavy favorite of Hill since last year he isn't willing to commit to the cross country move out of California. If Erik wants a Championship, Penn State and Alabama give him the best opportunity to win immediately, but both would result in long distance moves and no lock to be an instant impact. Those are two promises the San Diego State Aztecs are able to hand Hill. The Aztecs are a young team on the rise but have never experienced a recruit the caliber of Hill committing to their program. It could be the start of a trend to send the Aztecs towards the top half of the conference and get them over the hump to finally win a conference title. After visiting San Diego during week 8, Hill was excited with what he saw but has visits set up for Penn State and Alabama in the near future that could finalize his future plans.