For the first time in the brief history of the conference, the Mountain West finds itself with three teams in the AP Top 25 football poll.
Texas Christian (No. 24) entered this week’s poll for the first time this season, joining Brigham Young (11th) and Utah (17th).
Meanwhile, the Big East, which has a BCS automatic bid, has just one team in the rankings.
That fact is not lost on UNLV coach Mike Sanford.
“When all this was decided about who gets the direct bid, I thought at that time our conference was better than the Big East,” Sanford said Monday.
This season, few could argue which conference is better. The Big East is mediocre at best, but the league does have some good programs that figure to rebound in the not-too-distant future.
All three teams are also ranked in the coaches poll.
It marks the first time since the BCS was formed that a non-BCS conference has had three teams ranked at the same time in both polls.
Speaking of national respect, the Rebels were mentioned by USA Today columnist Mike Lopresti in Monday’s editions.
He wrote: “Let’s hear it for UNLV. When does 3-1 feel like a winning lottery ticket? When you’ve won two games in each of the last four seasons.
"With overtime wins against Arizona State and Iowa State, the Rebels have beaten BCS-conference teams consecutively for the first time. And that’s being done with a former walk-on at quarterback, Omar Clayton, who has not been intercepted in 139 passes.”
USA Today wasn’t the only national media outlet taking notice of the Rebels’ recent success.
UNLV was listed as a bowl team by the two ESPN college football writers who do projections each week.
Mark Schlabach has the Rebels taking on Louisiana Tech in the New Mexico Bowl, and Bruce Feldman foresees a UNLV-Connecticut matchup in the Poinsettia Bowl.
There was a representative from the Poinsettia Bowl in the press box at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night.
Johnson says sorry
During one UNLV drive on Saturday night, Iowa State freshman safety Leonard Johnson committed two blatant personal fouls.
He was ejected for the second one, a hit on Omar Clayton that happened well after the quarterback had scored a touchdown.
Mike Sanford said on Monday that he witnessed a third infraction that was not called, when Johnson took a swing at Casey Flair.
Well, at least he regrets his actions.
Iowa State’s athletic department on Monday sent out a statement in which Johnson apologized for his actions.
“I want to apologize to the UNLV coaches, players and fans for my conduct during our game Saturday. I take full responsibility for my actions. I take full responsibility for the consequences of my actions. I don’t want people to think less of my school, my coaches and my teammates because I did not represent Iowa State in a positive way. I also want to apologize to the Iowa State fans, our coaching staff and my teammates. This is embarrassing for me personally. I will work hard in the future to represent Iowa State University and Cyclone football in a positive way.”
Future opponent weakened
New Mexico quarterback Donovan Porterie tore the ACL in his right knee during Saturday’s 56-14 loss to Tulsa and will miss the rest of the season.
Freshman Brad Gruner replaced Porterie in the lineup and completed 7 of 12 passes for 98 yards and a score, but he threw three interceptions.
New Mexico visits Sam Boyd Stadium on Nov. 8.