Monday, Nov. 2, 2009 | 1 a.m.
Each week during the 2009 football season, we'll take a look at the winners and losers from the weekend in the Mountain West Conference.
Winner: TCU (yet again ...)
Getting sick of reading about TCU to lead off this blog each Monday?
Well, I hope not, because it's looking like you should get used to it from here on out.
The Horned Frogs, a week after thumping BYU, 38-7, in Provo in a fashion that was surprising to most outside of Mountain West Conference country, added another jewel to their sparkling BCS resumé: A shutout. It was the Horned Frogs' first goose egg in two years.
After holding UNLV to 160 total yards of offense in a 41-0 victory in Fort Worth on Saturday, TCU now ranks first out of 120 FBS programs in total defense, as the unit is allowing 235.75 yards per game. For reference, ranking second, third and fourth are Florida, Texas and Alabama, respectively. Those three programs, in order, lead the current BCS ranks.
Boise State, meanwhile, remained one spot behind TCU in the BCS rankings at No. 7 after defeating San Jose State, 45-7. Still, the shutout helped the Horned Frogs in keeping the Broncos at arm's length.
UNLV is getting ready to close out 2009 facing the same do-or-die scenario it took on in 2008.
Three games to go, three wins needed to attain bowl eligibility.
Last season, however, the Rebels faced downtrodden Wyoming, New Mexico and San Diego State teams in those three weeks, winning the first two before stumbling at the finish line.
This time, the climb is much steeper. First comes Colorado State — more on the Rams later — who have lost six straight since starting the season 3-0 — then Air Force — a bowl team on the road — and the Aztecs, who are all of a sudden thinking postseason.
Best of luck, fellas.
Winner: SDSU WR DeMarco Sampson
Right now? The San Diego State fifth-year senior receiver is the nation's best-kept secret.
Last week, we documented a career that never took off due to injuries and inconsistency, but the 6-foot-2 Sampson is maybe the nation's hottest receiver at the moment.
After catching one touchdown pass in his first three seasons as an Aztec, Sampson has seven in the team's last three games — two wins and a 10-point loss to BYU.
On Saturday at home against New Mexico, he had seven grabs for 56 yards and two scores, including the game winner midway through the fourth quarter.
In SDSU's last three games, he has 27 catches for 390 yards and the aforementioned seven scores.
It also doesn't hurt that sophomore QB Ryan Lindley is equally hot right now. The sophomore is flourishing in Brady Hoke's offense, with 12 touchdown passes and only one interception in the last three weeks. He's also tied for fourth in the FBS this season with 20 TD passes.
Loser: New Mexico ... in a new fashion
The Lobos' run toward a winless 2009 campaign continued with a 23-20 setback at San Diego State.
However, on paper, it's evident that the Lobos found a new way to snatch defeat from the hands of victory.
In a game that improved the upstart Aztecs to 4-4, the New Mexico outgained SDSU on offense, 386-303, won the turnover battle, 1-0, and even had the ball for more than half of the game.
And what do the Lobos get in return for a gritty showing in defeat? Three games against ranked foes (Utah, BYU and TCU) and a home date with Colorado State to close out the season.
Winner: Air Force QB Tim Jefferson/Utah QB Jordan Wynn
After being benched earlier this season in favor of sophomore Connor Dietz, Jefferson got a second chance to win over his team when Dietz broke his hand last week in an overtime loss to Utah.
Jefferson — also a sophomore — came through huge in a must-win for Air Force, which improved to 5-4 and moved within a step of bowl eligibility with the 34-16 triumph on the road at Colorado State.
His two touchdown passes in an offense not traditionally known for airing it out were a season high. They came on 7-of-12 efficiency, which was good for 11 1 yards.
He also tied a season high with 35 yards on the ground.
With back-to-back home games coming up against Army and UNLV, one out of two will do in the long run.
As for a guy getting his first crack at it, Utah freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn might have made his permanent presence felt after leading a fourth quarter comeback in a 22-10 victory over Wyoming.
Wynn replaced the inconsistent Terrance Cain and went on to complete nine of 14 passes for 82 yards and a go-ahead touchdown pass to Jereme Brooks with the Utes trailing early in the fourth quarter, 10-9.
Don't be shocked if he gets called upon to start next Saturday at home against punchless New Mexico.
Loser: Wyoming QB Austyn Carta-Samuels
Well, after leading the Cowboys to three consecutive wins, you knew Austyn Carta-Samuels had to look like a freshman at some point.
That "some point" extended into a second week, as Wyoming fell in Salt Lake City.
He caught a 30-yard touchdown pass on a trick play, but in the last two weeks — both Cowboys losses — he's posted quarterback ratings of 38.8 and 57.8, respectively, with no touchdown passes and two interceptions.