COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Mountain West Conference has three football teams ranked the Preseason USA Today Coaches' Top 25 poll. TCU is the MWC's highest-ranked team at No. 17, followed by Utah at No. 18 and BYU at No. 24. This is the first time in the Bowl Championship Series era that three teams from a non-automatic-qualifying conference have appeared in the preseason Coaches' poll.
TCU closed out the 2008 campaign with an 11-2 record and ranked seventh in the USA Today Coaches' poll after defeating nationally-ranked Boise State in the 2008 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. The season-ending ranking matched its highest since 1959 (No. 7 in AP poll). The Horned Frogs enter 2009 ranked 17th, marking their highest preseason ranking since 1960 when they started the year 11th.
Defending MWC champion Utah enters 2009 at No. 18 after defeating Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl to conclude the 2008 season as the nation's only unbeaten team at 13-0, and ranked No. 4 in Coaches' poll. The No. 18 ranking is the highest preseason start in the poll for the Utes, who enter the season with the nation's longest active overall (14) and bowl (8) win streaks.
BYU is No. 24 in the preseason poll, marking the second consecutive year the Cougars enter the season in the top 25. Last year, BYU ranked No. 17 in the preseason Coaches' poll. The Cougars finished 2008 with a 10-3 record and a No. 21 ranking in the Coaches' poll.