The week in lesser FBS luminaries:
• Case Keenum repays: From Friday: “Tune into Marshall-Houston, if you have the time, just to see how badly Case Keenum runs the score up on a pack of defenders who think bragging about knocking starting quarterbacks out of games makes up for losing four games in seven weeks.” How badly Case Keenum ran up the score: 376 yards on 24 completions, six touchdown passes (that’s two more touchdowns than incompletions), no picks and, perhaps most crucially given the pregame storyline, no sacks. Keenum’s backup, Cotton Turner, was in the game long enough to throw for over 100 yards himself. Big week for the Cougars all around, with perhaps some more to come. [BOX | RECAP]
• Florida International 23, Troy 20 (OT): Kicking off the college component of the season’s first seven-day football week, the Panthers edged the Trojans last night for their first conference win and evened their Sun Belt record to 2-2. With T.Y. Hilton contained to 62 yards on four receptions, FIU depended on the feet of Kendrick Rhodes, who dashed for 172 yards on 30 carries. [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 5 Boise State 37, Air Force 26: Back to Saturday action, where a rare challenger emerged for the Broncos. Kellen Moore tied Colt McCoy for career wins and the Broncos never trailed, despite being pressed throughout the game. [BOX | RECAP]
• Bowling Green 13, Temple 10: Bernard Pierce recorded more than 100 ground yards and scored the Owls’ only touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a rare overmatching for Temple. This week marked the first angry emails I’ve ever seen regarding Steve Addazio’s playcalling as a head coach. I’m forwarding them all to Gainesville, where I think y’all might find some like minds. [BOX | RECAP]
• Comings and goings in the All-Name Team: As mentioned this morning, Trent Steelman’s school record starting streak will be snapped thanks to a leg injury sustained against Vanderbilt.
Profiles in ownage
• Ranked non-AQ teams! Houston hops up two spots in this week’s BCS standings to No. 17, joining No. 4 Boise, while Southern Miss cracks the Coaches’ Poll Top 25 in a rare laudable decision for the Coaches’ Poll.
• Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles’ appearance in the polls is decidedly deserved, as they contained a June Jones team to mere whimpers on offense for a 27-3 victory. Just don’t go doing something crazy like losing to UTEP or anything, y’all. Stranger things have happened in El Paso this close to Halloween. [BOX | RECAP]
• The mighty Toledo Rockets, who might be the best three-loss team in the nation (a title bestowed with sincere love) and who’ve won every game on their schedule not played against an AQ team or guys with “Boise State” on their jerseys. The Rockets racked up 35 first-half points en route to a 49-28 win over Miami (Ohio). [BOX | RECAP]
• Nevada: Now this is more like what we were hoping to see when several SI staffers pegged the Pack to run away with the WAC in the preseason. Redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Fajardo rolled up 382 all-purpose yards in the 45-28 shootout win over Fresno State. [BOX | RECAP]
Exposed to the world’s derision
• Utah State, again: If these Aggies played the Aggies of the Texas A&M variety, who would blow a second-half lead faster? Utah State fell to a late rally by Louisiana Tech’s backup quarterback to turn a 17-14 lead into a 24-17 loss. Do what you love, guys.
• Central Florida, again: Once a sure bet for division title contenders, the Knights continued a mid-season clown show with a 26-24 road loss to theretofore winless UAB, a team that lost to Tulane by 39 points just a few weeks ago, if you need a more upsetting frame of reference.
• Buffalo, which capped off a 20-point fourth quarter resurgence with a missed extra point following a literal last minute touchdown that would have sent the game to overtime, and fell to Northern Illinois, 31-30.
• Tulane: The Green Wave’s attendance problems are secondary in shame only to the fact that they lost 33-17 to Memphis.
• Is it possible for New Mexico to sink any lower? Kinda, yeah! The Lobos featured on the losing end of TCU’s record-setting 69-0 win in Week 8.
Not sure if serious
• Louisiana: Way to cede sole ownership of first place in the Sun Belt to a team whose wins since joining the FBS can be counted on one hand, Cajuns. Barely into bowl eligibility isn’t the time to get cocky, or to let even a back as talented as Bobby Rainey rush for 200 yards. Let Western Kentucky having cause to rush the field against your team serve as a dire warning.
Case Keenum Pinballin’ Hi-Score of the week
As if personally hanging six touchdowns on Marshall wasn’t enough, Houston’s stately sixth-year star broke Timmy Chang’s record for total career offense. In the first quarter. Chang finished at Hawaii with 16,901 yards; Keenum now has 17,173 with as many as seven games of college ball left to play.
Thing UTEP Did This Week
Profiterole Player of the Week
It’d be Keenum, or perhaps the big-mouthed, pass coverage-averse Marshall defenders who riled him, but they’ve got their own section, so raise a glass for East Carolina’s Dominique Davis. The Pirates’ senior quarterback set two NCAA passing records in Week 8 against Navy’s flailing aerial defenses.
Violently Subjective Non-AQ Top 10
1. Boise State (7-0)
2. Houston (7-0)
3. Southern Miss (6-1)
4. TCU (4-2)
5. SMU (5-2)
6. Toledo (5-3)
7. BYU (6-2)
8. Arkansas State (5-2)
9. San Diego State (4-2)
10. Louisiana (6-2)
Hovering somewhere just out of sight, reminding me this is why I don’t ever do serious polls, and deserving of mention: Temple’s feast-or-famine Owls.
DJ Khaled Prize For Excellence in Victory
BYU and Southern Miss join Boise State, Houston and Louisiana as bowl-eligible non-AQ teams following Week 8 victories. Seven of eight SI college football pundits have the Broncos projected as the at-large selection for the Sugar Bowl; the eighth staffer, Bill Trocchi, has them in the Orange. Teams with a possibility of reaching bowl eligibility this week with a sixth win include: TCU (vs. BYU), Ball State (vs. Western Michigan), SMU (vs. Tulsa) and Arkansas State (vs. North Texas).
Walking Dead Watch
Three winless teams entered Week 8; two stayed down, but the lone victor was not the team we expected. UAB’s two-point victory over Central Florida vaults the Dragons out of the well, leaving Florida Atlantic (38-14 loss to Middle Tennessee State) and New Mexico (69-0 loss to TCU) as the only oh-fer teams in the FBS. The Owls have a bye in Week 9; New Mexico gets Air Force at home, so look for both W-L columns to stay right where they’re at for the time being.
With the Army-Vanderbilt game serving as the week’s only showdown between mid-majors and AQ teams, non-AQ schools drop slightly to 17-85 on the season.
The first unbroken football week of the 2011 season continues Thursday with Rice-Houston in primetime; Friday features BYU-TCU. Saturday, in descending order from “actual interest in the football to be played here” to “tune in out of morbid curiosity,” don’t miss: Navy-Notre Dame, SMU-Tulsa, San Jose State-Louisiana Tech, Ball State-Western Michigan, Western Kentucky-Louisiana Monroe, Southern Miss-UTEP and Hawaii-Idaho.