Posted 09/07/2010 at 06:29 PM
It was a big week for the Mountain West last week with the top three teams winning marquee games as TCU, Utah, and BYU all beat formidable major conference opponents. It was a week that started out with some bad news for most of the league with BYU announcing its plan to leave the conference but this year the top contenders look like serious threats in the major bowl mix with resume building wins last week. While the final scores ended up relatively tight, all three teams had yardage edges and none of the three teams won the turnover battle, adding to the impressive nature of the wins. It also should be noted that all three teams were favored and only BYU covered, which is a clear signal of the level of respect the league has gained in the last few years.
Another major story of the week was the struggles of a couple of national title contenders. Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma are three very popular and prestigious programs that figure to be in contention for BCS bowl spots at the end of the season. All three survived without a serious upset scare but none of the three came close to covering spreads that were north of 30. 34 points was actually the most points scored among the three teams as Florida and Oklahoma failed to even score as many points as they were favored by. For Florida and Oklahoma looking ahead to this week’s game was a possibility as both teams draw more serious threats on the schedule so overreacting to the lackluster efforts would be a mistake. Focus should be back this week and things could get ugly for those opponents if these top teams are really as good as they project to be.
Every year there is a couple of FBS teams that fall to FCS opponents and the opening weekend gave us two heavyweight upsets with fairly prominent programs losing. Temple nearly lost to Villanova for the second straight year but the Owls managed to sneak out a narrow victory to avoid being on that list this season. The SEC took a major blow with Ole Miss falling to Jacksonville State in overtime. The Rebels were expected to backtrack a bit this season but after back-to-back 9-4 seasons this was a huge upset. Lines of the non-rotation games are difficult to come by but several off-shore books listed the line closing at -29. The distraction of the Jeremiah Masoli appeal process certainly does not seem to have helped the focus as the Rebels allowed an early lead to slip away. At Kansas new coach Turner Gill will face some early heat as the Jayhawks lost his debut in an ugly 6-3 home loss to North Dakota State. The Bison beat Minnesota a few years ago so this shouldn’t have been a complete shock but where available off-shores listed the line at -27.5. Similar to the elite teams struggling; an FCS loss is not always an indication of the weakness of the team and can often serve as a clear wake-up call for an inspired performance with a light line the following week.
With a few more big college games on deck this week we also have a great opening week NFL schedule. Parity may not be in play as much as people think even though the highest opening week line will be around just -7. It looks like half of the games this week will feature home underdogs which is a fairly shocking number given the long-time historical edges for home teams in the league. Those paying attention have noticed that in the recent era of new stadiums home field edge has been greatly diminished so be careful if blindly backing a home underdog goes through your mind. Best of Luck, and on to this week’s slate…