Record: 8-3, 5-2 Mountain West
Coach: Sonny Lubick, seventh year (57-26; 78-47 overall)
Top Off. Player: RB Kevin McDougal (1,164 yards, 5.6 per carry)
Top Def. Player: S Erik Olsen (74 tackles, six INTs)
Despite a 41-14 thrashing of Colorado to open the season, CSU slumped out of the gate with a 3-3 start before winning their final five games and a share of the first Mountain West title. Included in that streak were impressive wins over co-champs Wyoming and Utah as well as arch-rival Air Force.
||Ex-Buffs RB Houston settling in at Colorado State||
Record: 8-3, 6-0 Conference USA
Coach: Jeff Bower, ninth year (64-46-1)
Top Off. Player: WR Todd Pinkston (977 yards, 20.4 per catch, 11 TDs)
Top Def. Player: DE Adalius Thomas (seven sacks, 14 tackles for loss)
Who knows what the Eagles' record might have been if it didn't like tough schedules? Their three losses were out-of-conference to Nebraska, Texas A&M and Alabama. QB Jeff Kelly has the luxury of two super receivers in Pinkston and Sherrod Gideon, as well as RB Derrick Nix, and Thomas and T.J. Slaugther anchor a menacing front seven.
||Blackwell returns to Southern Miss after troubled past|