By J. Darin Darst
1. We are in for a great battle in the Mountain West between Utah, TCU and Air Force. Is their any doubt that this conference is better than the Big East? It's very easy to say TCU is the best team because it is ranked the highest in the polls, but I'm not so sure about that. And I'm not so sure anybody comes out of the this conference undefeated. Utah has looked just as good as TCU this season and absolutely destroyed Iowa State on Saturday night. TCU hosts Air Force on Oct. 23 and then travels to play at Utah on Nov. 6. Air Force hosts Utah on Oct. 30. That's quite a three-week stretch for three Top 25 teams. I'll take any three of those teams over anybody from the Big East.
2. Army looks like it is headed to a bowl for the first time since 1996. Sure, the Black Knights only beat Tulane, but this team is 4-2. They have also scored 194 points this season, 10 more than all of last year. It only needs to come up with two more victories to play in the Armed Forces Bowl. It plays VMI on Oct. 30, which will most certainly be a win, so Army just needs to find one more victory -- at Rutgers, Air Force, at Kent State, at Notre Dame or at Navy. You know most of the nation will be rooting for them.
3. Northern Illinois might be the frontrunner in the MAC, not Temple. The Owls looked like the team to beat until today as Northern Illinois defeated them 31-17. Chandler Harnish threw two touchdown passes and Chad Spann rushed for 100 yards and a score in the victory. Northern Illinois is 4-2, 2-0 in the conference and has victories over Minnesota (not a huge accomplishment, but its still a BCS team) and barely lost to Illinois 28-22. The biggest game left on its schedule is probably at road trip to Western Michigan on Oct. 30. Stay tuned.
4. Troy is by far the best team in the Sun Belt. Many, including myself, thought Middle Tennessee would win the conference. But even with Dwight Dasher back for MTSU, Troy blasted the Blue Raiders 42-13 on Tuesday night. Since the Sun Belt gets two bowl bids, the bigger question is -- who is the second-best team? It's up for grabs, but Louisiana-Lafayette looks to be up for the challenge. Despite starting the season at 0-4, Florida International could be the second-best team. It hung with Rutgers and Texas A&M in non-conference play.