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Mountain West considering two best teams for conference title game

The Mountain West is discussing a deregulated championship game that matches the league's two best teams.

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

The Mountain West spring meetings began on Sunday in Phoenix and one of the first topics that is being brought up is the idea of deregulating the conference title game to allow the two best teams participate instead of having the two division winners squaring off.

Currently all conference title games need to have conferences with 12 teams in its conference and a pair of divisions, but the ACC is wanting to make changes to have their best teams and the Big 12 wants a title game with just 10 teams.

It is still a very early conversation but the league is broaching the topic.

"We were talking about that," Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson told CBSSports.com. "It's absolutely a topic."

If there is to be any changes to how a conference title could be hosted those would not take place until the 2016 season, and deregulation is expected to pass.

The reasoning behind matching up the two best teams is to have the best possible matchup to help give a strength of schedule boost. This would help the winner get a boost in schedule strength and maybe edge out another Group of Five conference champion for the automatic bid for a New Year's Day Bowl from the non-power conferences.

This past season Boise State won the Mountain Division and had a 10-2 overall recording heading into the game where they played a rematch against Fresno State who was just 6-6 and won the West.

Boise State won that game and was picked to play in the Fiesta Bowl where they defeated Arizona, 38-30. Had deregulation taken place, the Broncos would have played Colorado State who lost Boise State earlier in the year but also won 10 games. Who knows if the Rams upset the Broncos if they would have earned a spot in a coveted New Year's Day Bowl game. Colorado State would have also had an 11-2 record.

"We're having the game at the risk of a $6 million New Year's Bowl," Thompson said. "There is no easy solution."

The Mountain West already gives the better team of the division winners to host the title game, but Thompson wonders if there is anything else that can be done to boost the leagues chances for a big time bowl game.

"Here's where is stands today," Thompson said. "Our best team has an advantage by playing a game at home [in the MWC champ game]. Is that enough? Should it be enough?"

It has been proven that an undefeated Mountain West team, and in the case last year a two-loss Boise State team, has earned a spot in a prestigious bowl game. So, there is also the other end of the spectrum where the loser in the title game could knock the conference out of a big payday if the format remains the same. Just look at the history of the Big 12 title game to see their loses for hosting a title game.

The idea of changing the format to the two best teams in the conference could then be the game which will determine what team gets to a New Year's Day bowl game. That puts the Mountain West in a possible win-win scenario in many years with knowing the winner goes to a big time bowl game and reaps the rewards that come with it.