Tom Pennington, File, Associated Press
In this Nov. 14, 2009, file phot, TCU head coach Gary Patterson, left, greets Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, right.

Saturday marks the final Mountain West Conference game for both Utah and BYU. The Utes are headed to Pac-12 next fall while the Cougars will become an independent in football.

TCU coach Gary Patterson, whose team can wrap up back-to-back MWC outright championships Saturday at New Mexico, was asked this week about the BYU-Utah rivalry and the two teams' imminent departure from the MWC.

"Well, No. 1, I wish the fans got along a lot better. They're both great, storied programs that have done an unbelievable job for the Mountain West," he said. "They will continue to win a lot of football games. They've meant a lot to us. They've both been on the national scene, they both have good head coaches, they've had great players and they have great fan bases. Obviously, it's a big loss for the Mountain West not to have them part of what we're doing. Everybody does what they have to do to make sure their program is better. We'll miss both."

On the BYU-Utah rivalry, Patterson said, "Just listening to all the things that I read about both sides using the 'hate each other,' you hate to see that in college football. I understand the competitive spirit, but the bottom line is, it's still about the student athletes, and it is a great game. Hopefully the rivalry will stay up, but it will be more about what's going on on the field rather than what's going on off the field."

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SAN DIEGO STATE'S UPRISING: The MWC's biggest surprise this season has been San Diego State, which is 7-4 overall and is bowl eligible for the first time since 1998. The Aztecs are expected to play Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.

But second-year SDSU coach Brady Hoke said this is only the beginning for his program.

"Believe me, we're not even close to where we need to be," Hoke said. "We're not a championship football team. That is the goal. We have a lot of work that we have to do. Our kids have played hard and they understand the expectations we have. They have to continue that if we're going to make the strides we want to make."