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WAC NOT GETTING SAME NOTICE IT DID A YEAR AGO

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One year after having three football teams finish the season in the CNN-USA Today's top 15, the WAC can hardly earn a vote in one of the major polls this year.

League coaches insist the WAC is getting better and that there are more quality teams this year than ever, but the pollsters aren't buying it.BYU, after beating defending champion Colorado State, received one point in this week's A.P. poll, which would give it a 39th ranking overall. No other WAC team got a single vote.

Three WAC teams were among the "others receiving votes" in the CNN/USA Today poll this week - but none of the three were close to entering the top 25. BYU had seven points, which put it 40th in the nation, followed by four points for Fresno State (42nd) and three points for Utah (44th).

A couple of computer generated rankings aren't favorable to WAC teams either. Utah, despite beating UTEP last week on the road, went on a free fall in the Scripps Howard computer ratings, dropping No. 25 a week ago to 38th this week.

According to the Scripps Howard computer, Air Force (30th in the nation) is the top WAC team, followed by Utah (38th), Colorado State (43rd), BYU (46th), Wyoming (49th), Fresno State (56th), San Diego State (60th), New Mexico (62nd), Hawaii (90th) and UTEP (152nd).

Utah is the top WAC team according to the Sagarin Football Computer Ratings at 39th, followed by BYU (41st), CSU (46th), Fresno State (48th), Wyoming (52nd), Air Force (54th), SDSU (56th), New Mexico (74th), Hawaii (83rd) and UTEP (137th).

NON-LEAGUE GAMES: The main reasons the WAC doesn't have teams in the national rankings this year is that they haven't earned it against non-WAC competition. WAC teams simply don't have the impressive non-conference wins of a year ago.

The WAC was a combined 25-14-1 in non-league games last season with a 7-3 mark against Pac-10 teams. So far this year WAC teams are 11-10 (.524) in non-conference contests, but just 2-5 against the Pac-10.

Last season WAC teams had road victories over nationally ranked teams like Oregon, Arizona and Notre Dame. None of the 11 non-league wins this season has come against a nationally ranked opponent. WAC teams are 0-8 against clubs presently in the Top 25 in either of the two major polls. In fact, Utah's two seven-point losses to Oregon and Stanford are the only games in which a WAC team has been relatively close to upsetting a ranked team.

PREDICTIONS: Three WAC games and two more non-league contests involving WAC teams are on tap Saturday. BYU and Hawaii have the weekend off.

The top WAC game will be at Rice Stadium where the league-leading Utes (3-0, 3-2 overall) face San Diego State (0-1, 2-2), one of the seven teams in the league with just one WAC loss. The teams are about even in talent level. The Aztecs need a victory more, but the homefield advantage will push the Utes over the top . . . Utah 27, SDSU 24.

UTEP (0-2, 1-4) is at Air Force (3-1, 3-2). The Falcons will continue to put the pressure on the Utes . . . Air Force 38, UTEP 13.

New Mexico (0-2, 2-2) really may not be that bad of a team, but the Lobos will still be looking for their first WAC win after Fresno State (0-1, 3-2) gets through with them . . . Fresno State 45, New Mexico 21.

In non-league games it will be Wyoming 33, Tulsa 18 and Colorado State 28, Utah State 12.