The Best/Case Worst Scenario will be a series of each team and the league leading up to Thursday nights opener with Utah State visiting Utah.
The Mountain West is coming off its best year in league history with sending Utah to their second BCS game and winning, three top 25 teams when the season ending, going 6-2 against the Pac-10, and went 10-6 against BCS teams. An encore could be difficult for the Mountain West.
However, the year starts off great with three teams ranked in the Coaches and AP top 25 poll; which is how the league finished last year. Also, the league plays 14 games against the BCS leagues in 2009.
Best Case Scenario:
It is obvious that the best case would be to send a team to the BCS and win that game. The top three BYU, TCU, and Utah are the most logical to make that leap, but in reality TCU is the team that can make the leap to a BCS game. Their schedule is not tough with the exception of two road games at BYU and at Clemson.
Winning the BCS bowl game is key, and also trying to avoid the Big East as well, because there is no cache in beating a potential 7-9 win Big East team that is on the fringe of the top 25. Now that is out of the leagues control, but avoiding the Big East is huge.
Getting the win total up for all teams is also a huge key, and there is a chance to have four ten win teams in the league. TCU, BYU, Utah, and Air Force have legitimate chances to win 10 games, now why include Air Force. Their 10 wins may need to include the bowl game, because they travel to Minnesota (a win in my opinion), at Navy who they have not beaten in five seasons, and then the TCU, Utah, and BYU match ups.
For the Falcons to accomplish 10 wins they must win their bowl game and then must beat at least one of Navy, Utah, BYU, and TCU. Three of the four are on the road, and the only home team is TCU, however in 2007 Air Force did knock off TCU at home. 10 wins is a little bit of a stretch, but it could happen and that is why it is listed under best case scenario.
Utah may have trouble with 10 wins, but if things break right they would get 10 or 11 and must beat one out of these three in Oregon, TCU, or BYU; all feasible games especially with the defense.
Bowl season is key as well the MWC now has five bowl games with the addition of the Humanitarian Bowl, and six if you include the BCS game that is projected in this scenario. Getting five bowl eligible teams has been the norm for the past three seasons, now getting six could be iffy. However there are four teams that are a lock for bowl games: Air Force, BYU, TCU, and Utah, then it is possible for Colorado State and UNLV, and a dark horse is New Mexico.
Worst Case Scenario:
No BCS bowl appearance, TCU wins the league (I could say Air Force, but do not see that in any scenario) and barely hangs on as the only team to be in the top 25 with a solid 10-2 record and the only team with ten wins. The bowl situation is a mess with only four teams qualifying for the five bowl games, and going 1-3 in those games.
There is a lot of parity in the league with all the teams beating each other up and end up with a lot of 5-7 win teams. Something the Big East would praise as parity, but would be a disaster in the Mountain West. The bottom teams in the league get maybe one to three wins a piece, coupled with losses to at least one FCS program, and then having a terrible record against BCS opponents.
The obvious is somewhere in between the worst case and best case scenario because the league in all reality may not be as good as last year and not as bad it used to be. Two or three teams in the top 25 is very reasonable along with at worst contending for an at-large BCS bowl game, and getting a winning record in the non-conference and BCS games.