During the offseason, much of the preseason "Bowl Championship Series-buster" hype surrounded BYU and Utah of the Mountain West Conference and Fresno State of the Western Athletic Conference.

But two weeks into the season, Conference USA's East Carolina, which has already vanquished a pair of nationally ranked teams — Virginia Tech and West Virginia — is looking like a legitimate BCS-buster. BYU, Utah and Fresno State are also unbeaten thus far while TCU is also looking strong.

In a year with so many seemingly worthy candidates, is it conceivable that two non-BCS teams could break into the BCS this year?

"There's been a lot of focus on everybody's nonconference schedule," said MWC commissioner Craig Thompson. "But I think in order for there to be two, and I don't really know the idea of the probability of two being eligible, it comes down to conference play. It always does. That's the great equalizer."

BYU, Utah and TCU all play each other in conference, of course.

Fresno State has to play Boise State in the WAC while East Carolina must travel to Central Florida.

In other words, Thompson said, it's way too early to make any projections.

"There's so much that has to be played. If we get wrapped up projecting what's going to happen at the end of November, 10 games from now, we'll all go nuts."

TOUGH-LUCK AZTECS: A week after falling to Cal-Poly, San Diego State traveled to one of the nation's most storied venues, Notre Dame Stadium, and nearly upset the Fighting Irish.

The Aztecs, a 21-point underdog, were knocking on the door of an upset early in the fourth quarter with the ball on the Notre Dame 4-yard line. However, Brandon Sullivan fumbled on a hit by Irish safety David Bruton just before crossing the goal line and Bruton recovered the ball. The Irish responded by driving for a touchdown on the ensuing possession and they later scored another TD to seal the win.

"It was a tough loss at Notre Dame. But I'm proud of our team's effort," coach Chuck Long said. "We had a chance to win the game in the end, but we didn't close the deal. It's a tough pill to swallow. We need to learn how to finish."

Despite his team's 0-2 start, Long is optimistic about the future.

"We feel we're right around the corner," he said. "We're better off than we were two years ago."

ROAD WARRIORS: Of the three MWC games that have been played to date, two were won by the road team. TCU knocked off New Mexico in Albuquerque in the opening week while Air Force defeated Wyoming in Laramie, 23-3, last weekend.

"Effort-wise, we laid it on the line (at Wyoming)," said Falcon coach Troy Calhoun. "We've still got a ways to go, but it was a complete team effort."

Wyoming coach Joe Glenn called it "a horrible day" and expressed disappointment in his team.

"We hit a brick wall last weekend," he said. "It was devastating, but then again, one game does not make a season."

EXTRA POINTS: TCU has won 17 consecutive games when rushing for more yards than passing. The Horned Frogs ran for 320 yards and passed for 205 yards in their 67-7 romp over Stephen F. Austin. TCU has won 23 consecutive games when rushing for at least 167 yards ... Three MWC teams are allowing opponents under 100 yards rushing. TCU ranks No. 3 in the nation (29.5 yards per game); Air Force is No. 26 (73.5 ypg); and Utah is No. 30 (82.5 ypg) ... New Mexico has lost 11 straight games when the opponent scores first ... Lobo running back Rodney Ferguson rolled up 135 yards on the ground last week in a loss to Texas A&M.


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