As a "non-BCS" conference, the Mountain West is always looking to garner nationwide respect and credibility. Winning big games and producing a quality champion are the two biggest ways to increase respect and credibility.
Here are the top 10 games for the MWC conference this season:
10. Colorado State vs. Colorado, Sunday, Aug. 31
The last six meetings between these teams were all decided by seven points or less. The Rams aren't expected to make much noise this year, but it would be a great start for new head coach Steve Fairchild to pull off the upset in this bitter rivalry.
9. Wyoming at Tennessee, Saturday, Nov. 8
A rare SEC match-up, the Cowboys will go into Neyland Stadium hoping to carry the same magic that earned them a surprise victory against the Virginia Cavaliers last year in Laramie.
8. Utah at New Mexico, Saturday, Nov. 1
The Utes' conference title hopes may be dashed by a New Mexico team that has played very well against them in recent history, winning four of the last six.
7. BYU at Washington, Saturday, Sept. 6
Bronco Mendenhall has a long list of accomplishments as BYU's head coach, but winning a non-conference game on the road is not among them. He will get his first chance at Husky Stadium against Jake Locker and the Huskies in what may be BYU's biggest roadblock to BCS bowl aspirations until November.
6. TCU at New Mexico, Saturday, Aug. 30
Thanks to a scheduling quirk, one of these second-tier title contenders will be behind the 8-ball after the first week.
5. TCU at Utah, Thursday, Nov. 6
In a game that could very well determine the conference champion, the Horned Frogs and the Utes renew what has become a competitive series in the three short years TCU has been a member of the conference.
4. BYU at TCU, Thursday Oct. 16
BYU's in-conference win streak should be at 18 games when the Cougars go into Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs have every reason to believe they can end it there.
3. Utah at Michigan, Saturday, Aug. 30
There's been a lot of hype surrounding the Utes during the off-season, and there's no better litmus test than The Big House and the Michigan Wolverines. Under Rich Rodriguez, they face some early growing pains because of graduation and defections, including implementing a new offense with few returning starters.
The defense will still be very good, though. Expect a tight defensive struggle that will be won in the trenches.
2. TCU at Oklahoma, Saturday, Sept. 27
TCU scored one of the biggest upsets of the 2005 season when they began what turned out to be a magical season with a 17-10 victory over the then-No. 7 Sooners in Norman.
1. BYU at Utah, Saturday, Nov. 22
One of the most intense and passionate rivalries in the nation, it will have more than bragging rights riding on the result this season. The MWC title and even a BCS bowl bid could be awarded to the Holy War victor.
Over the last 10 meetings, only the 2004 match-up wasn't decided in the fourth quarter, and this year promises to provide the same excitement.