Air Force head football coach Troy Calhoun, whose Falcons host No. 8 Utah on Saturday, isn't hiding the fact that he's impressed with the Utes.

So much so that he thinks they might be even better than the 2008 squad that went undefeated, busted the BCS and thrashed Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

"It's probably, maybe, the best team they have ever had there," Calhoun said Tuesday. "Two years ago, they were outstanding and, at the end of the season, they very easily should have had an opportunity to play for a national championship, or even a vote for the national championship.

"This squad is better. They are much faster and more athletic, especially at the skill positions and defensively. They are an excellent football team. What is impressive is you can pick any game in the last month and they have been dominant across the board."

Air Force has lost two straight games, including a 38-7 setback at No. 4 TCU last week.

What sets this Utah team apart, according to Calhoun, is its speed and athleticism.

"They move as well as some teams you recall in the NFL ... They are an excellent football team," he said.

SHOWDOWN LOOMING: No. 4 TCU visits beleaguered UNLV on Saturday, one week before its big matchup at No. 8 Utah. But, of course, Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson isn't looking ahead to that contest.

"Once you get into the grind of things, it's really hard to look ahead," he said. "If you want to win championships, you have to win on the road. That starts this week at UNLV."

TCU is currently No. 4 in the BCS standings while Utah sits at No. 8. The MWC and the Southeastern Conference are the only two leagues with more than one team in the top eight of the BCS rankings. The MWC is one of four conferences with at least one team ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings for at least 17 consecutive weeks, along with the Big 12, Big Ten and the SEC.

AZTEC UPRISING: San Diego State is 5-2 and off to its best start since going 5-2 to open the 1996 season.

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SDSU needs just one victory to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1998. The Aztecs, who are receiving votes in the Associated Press poll, visit Wyoming on Saturday. But SDSU coach Brady Hoke said going to a bowl game isn't on his team's mind right now.

"We don't really talk about it," he said. "Whatever we did in the first six games of the season, we forgot about it. We're 1-0. We're on the road again this week. How we prepare is important when it comes to how we perform this week."

One of SDSU's losses this season came at the hands of Missouri, which is 7-0 and knocked off then-No. 3 Oklahoma last week.

e-mail: jeffc@desnews.com