Can't wait to see these things this fall

Updated: May 3, 2006, 6:26 PM ET
By Ivan Maisel and Pat Forde |

Three Things I Can't Wait To See This Fall In the Mountain West
Ivan Maisel
Pat Forde
1. TCU entered the league and dominated last season, finishing 11-1. I want to know if, the second time around, the league begins to catch up to the Horned Frogs. History and common sense would tell you yes. But the gap is so large that, even with TCU having to replace nearly its entire offensive line, it would be a surprise if the Frogs didn't repeat.

2. BYU is back. The Cougars went 6-6, with two overtime losses and two other losses by a TD or less, under rookie coach Bronco Mendenhall. QB John Beck has given himself a chance to join the long list of great BYU passers, if he survives the first month. BYU must play at Arizona, at Boston College and at TCU before Oct. 1.

3. In the win-or-else era, Rocky Long has lasted eight seasons at New Mexico without an MWC championship. Long has won just enough -- between six and eight victories in each of the last five seasons. The Lobos have only 11 returning starters this season and must replace tailback DonTrell Moore. The leading returning tailback, Martelius Epps, had three carries last season.

Aaron Brown1. Can anybody beat TCU? The Horned Frogs took the league by storm in their debut season and return enough talent to earn the favorite's role again for 2006. Running back Aaron Brown looks like a budding superstar.

Fisher DeBerry2. Will Fisher DeBerry bounce back? The sensational Air Force coach has had diminishing returns on the field and got himself into a tight spot last year with some un-savvy racial comments. DeBerry needs to convince gridworld he's still the coach he used to be.

3. Utah or BYU -- which one flies higher? Each program showed encouraging signs in '05 under a first-year coach. The battle for second best in the league looks wide open, and it says here that one of these two will fill that spot.

Ivan Maisel | email

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