The week in lesser FBS luminaries:
• Boise State 35, Georgia 21: For the 50-somethingth week, let us all repeat together: Boise State is legit. That this is even still a discussion is most upsetting. Now, down to business: First hurdle over, the Broncos have to push past whatever insults may have been hurled in the Georgia Dome and become the Dawgs’ biggest cheerleaders. Georgia’s fortunes from here on out, fairly or not (and it’s not, make no mistake), will go a long way toward determining the Broncos’ national prowess. Nobody cares if you beat an SEC team that turns out to go the way of Ole Miss.
• Baylor 50, TCU 48: And we come to the Broncos’ second problem. That game we worried last week would overshadow the entire season? The one in November between the Horned Frogs and Broncos? The problem, as it turns out, is still strength-of-schedule-based, and bear-shaped. And good grief, based on Robert Griffin’s performance Friday night, it may not be entirely fair to write off TCU just yet, or any team with the misfortune to face Baylor this season.
• Oklahoma State 61, Louisiana 34: The Ragin’ Cajuns performed a public service Saturday in proving to the world that no, the Cowboys do not care one red fig about playing defense (especially when their offense is pressed into service in that capacity; the Cajuns had interception returns of 38 and 50 yards), no matter who’s on the opposite sideline. The over-under for points in Week 3′s date with Tulsa is set at approximately “one billionty.”
Exposed to the world’s derision
The aforementioned game aside, this was a weekend of so-close and never-was:
• Rice looked to be keeping pace with a napping Texas early … before Texas remembered it’s Texas and that this is what it does with Rice in September.
• East Carolina mounted a 17-0 lead over South Carolina … before the Gamecocks remembered they still had Stephen Garcia on the bench.
• FCS teams weren’t immune to the near-miss fever sweeping the nation. Eastern Washington, an outfit known primarily for its hideous red-turfed home field, went and got its quarterback intercepted en route to an upset of Actual Washington that was never meant to be. Northern Iowa’s late 80-yard touchdown bomb couldn’t keep it ahead of Iowa State until 00:00. And Eastern Kentucky “lost” to Kansas State, 10-7. I dare you to behold that box score without weeping.
Profiles in ownage
Wrecking shop for non-AQ pride:
• Hawaii, which mauled Colorado on the strength of Bryant Moniz’s … feet? Bryant Moniz has feet! A Hawaii quarterback! Who knew?
• FIU, the only team in the Sun Belt with a winning record after a 41-16 shellacking of North Texas.
• Ball State, upsetting Indiana 27-20 in a battle of first-year head coaches (yes, Indiana’s technically still in the Big Ten).
• Utah State, because scoreboard be damned, that was a wildly entertaining on-field display against the defending national champs, and Kerwynn Williams’ hair is already the stuff of legends.
Not-ready-for-primetime (football) players
The shame. The shame:
• Memphis. “Backup quarterback Tyler Russell completed 5-of-9 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a 26-yard touchdown.” That’s Mississippi State’s backup quarterback they’re talking about there, and the starter wasn’t hurt.
• Tulsa, which doesn’t have the look of a BCS buster even with G.J. Kinne lighting up the scoreboard, but which might look a sight better when not playing teams named “Oklahoma.”
• Akron, which could’ve at least put up some sort of resistance against an Ohio State team missing a handful of star players and its legendary coach.
• UNLV, which had to suffer the ignominy of a primetime defeat to a team expected to contend for a BCS bid, but whose coach at least leads the league in badass sunglasses.
• Western Michigan, which fell victim both to Actual Michigan and the wrath of an angry God in a loss cut short by lightning delays.
• Wyoming had to execute a literal last-minute touchdown pass to survive a brush with mighty Weber State.
• Middle Tennessee State, which had Purdue in the bag before falling to a literal last-minute touchdown itself.
• Villanova, which displayed perfect Big East potential at the wrong end of a rout from Temple.
• SMU, which showed the limp, pliant side of a defense that was supposed to be a C-USA stalwart, for Texas A&M and visiting dignitary Craig James.
• And just weep for San Jose State, which had to play Stanford.
• Sacramento State takes the podium this week for a 29-28 overtime upset of a Rodgers brothers-less Oregon State. And what a beautiful ending: After the Beavers converted a successful two-point attempt to tie the game at 21-all, the final score in regulation time, a two-point strike from Jeff Fleming to Brandyn Reed gave the Hornets their one-point victory in the last play of overtime.
• Silver medal honors to Richmond for knocking off Duke, 23-21. That might not seem like any great feat these days, but do recall the Spiders just lost their head coach two weeks ago, when Latrell Scott resigned following a DWI arrest. And a bronze medal of commiseration to Appalachian State, which had to know it was walking into the lair of a Virginia Tech team determined to obliterate the memory of its 2010 home loss to JMU, and showed up anyway.
Case Keenum Pinballin’ Hi-Score of the week
Mischief managed: Consider Case Keenum’s ACL avenged, and Cotton Turner’s collarbone, too — and by Keenum’s own hand. Houston’s stately gunslinger was 30-of-40 for 310 yards and a touchdown, with no picks, in the Cougars’ victory over UCLA Saturday afternoon. The Bruins, as might be expected, came in keyed up for Keenum, but the difference maker turned out to be the ground game Houston had to rely on last year in the absence of its top two quarterbacks; three of UH’s five touchdowns were rushing plays. Expect the scoreboard to smoke next weekend when the Cougars travel to North Texas.
This week in Mike Locksley Still Has A Job Theater
Pinch me: New Mexico almost beat somebody. The Lobos staggered into Colorado State’s red zone down four points before a forced fumble on Tarean Austin sealed a 14-10 loss. Mike Locksley still makes more money than you, and probably always will.
Thing UTEP Did This Week
Needed overtime to knock off the Stony Brook Sea Wolves, which is a real football team. Almost losing to Stony Brook is perhaps the most UTEP thing the Miners could’ve gotten up to; look for them to follow it up with a win at SMU that’s interrupted by swarms of giant bats. It is the UTEP way.
Profiterole Player of the Week
Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State. Last year’s first-team All-WAC tackler led Boise State in tackles and sacks against Georgia Saturday night, and draft analysts are taking notice.
Violently Subjective Non-AQ Top 10
This will shake all up and make a lot more sense next week, in theory, but for now, our bourbon-soaked tea leaves say:
1. Boise State (1-0)
2. Houston (1-0)
3. Hawaii (1-0)
4. TCU (0-1)
5. FIU (1-0)
6. BYU (1-0)
7. Toledo (1-0)
8. Northern Illinois (1-0)
9. UCF (1-0)
10. Utah State (0-1)
Walking Dead Watch
As the season progresses, we’ll be tracking the teams that look like they might emerge winless from 2011. Memphis is the easy, early bet, if you’re into free money. More on this next week when teams have had more than one chance to get out of the zero-win column.
After one week of competition, non-AQ teams are 6-22 against teams from AQ schools. The independents have the best record by virtue of BYU’s win over Ole Miss. Down at the bottom of the well, we have the Sun Belt, which currently boasts one (1) team with a winning record. Hands up, FIU!
Games of the Week
The best mid-on-mid action in Week 2 can be found in Colorado Springs, with TCU paying Air Force a call. This early in September, there’s still plenty of would-be cupcake games on the menu before teams settle into the thick of conference play. Here’s hoping last week’s too-close heartbreaks pan out in the form of some honest-to-Football-God big-time upsets.
Squads with the least chance of embarrassing themselves this weekend include Nevada (vs. Oregon), FIU (vs. Louisville), Hawaii (vs. Washington), Northern Illinois (vs. Kansas), BYU (vs. Texas) and UCF (vs. Boston College). Toledo vs. Ohio State and East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech seem a little farther-fetched, but could get interesting.
And in the “decidedly uninteresting, and probably a little depressing” column, we have FAU-Michigan State, Central Michigan-Kentucky, Purdue-Rice, UNLV-Washington State, New Mexico State-Minnesota, UAB-Florida, Fresno State-Nebraska, Georgia Tech-MTSU, Ball State-USF, Arkansas-New Mexico and San Jose State-UCLA.