The week in lesser FBS luminaries:
• One stage of your journey is over; another begins: Friday night, I lamented the loss of both Boise State and TCU from BCS contention. But rather than regretting the Horned Frogs dragging the Broncos down into the morass of one-loss teams, let’s celebrate what happened next: TCU’s return to the BCS Top 25. With one “good” loss and one of questionable quality, it’s where the Frogs deserve to be, and where they certainly would be were they already in an AQ conference. And they’ll both get to go out on garish high notes if they end up in the postseason where Stewart Mandel is projecting them: TCU against Nevada in the Poinsettia Bowl and Boise against UCLA in the Las Vegas both bode well for bitter blowouts.
Profiles in ownage
• Western Kentucky! Sure, the Hilltoppers lost 42-9, but they lost to the No. 1 team in the country, recorded a safety against the Bayou Bengals (a first against LSU this season) and scored a rushing touchdown (with their No. 3 back), the first time anybody’s managed that against the Tigers since Onterio McCalebb punched one in in garbage time for Auburn back in Week 8. Not bad for the newest full members of the FBS.
Exposed to the world’s derision
• There are years when I feel like the Bones Trophy should be stripped from UAB and Memphis and given to a rivalry that plays enough good football to deserve such a magnificent totem. After watching the Blazers first fall behind 21-3, then trade scores to 35-17, then seeing Memphis give the game right back by allowing three unanswered UAB touchdowns and a field goal … right, who else makes good barbecue and wants a bronzed rack of ribs to brighten up Rivalry Week?
Not sure if serious
• Louisiana Tech, but this might be very serious before too long. The Bulldogs beat an SEC team and beat it decisively, even if it was just Ole Miss. And while they have four losses to their name this season, only one (Hawaii) wasn’t completely understandable. Sonny Dykes is in his second year in Ruston, and it will be very, very interesting to see what kind of Air Raid reindeer games they’ll get up to playing once he gets all the personnel he wants. Might this be the emergence of a WAC program that’s not just a reliably pesky nonconference opponent for big teams to schedule wins against, but a legit non-AQ power?
Case Keenum Pinballin’ Hi-Score of the week
The show pony took it easy, meaning he threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns before ceding control to Cotton Turner. Yes, that’s his third-lowest output of 2011.
Thing UTEP Did This Week
Came within a win of bowl eligibility thanks to a 22-17 scrape against East Carolina. Remaining hurdles to postseason play: Tulsa and UCF. [gulp]
Profiterole Player of the Week
Why, hello, Casey Pachall. The sophomore TCU quarterback led the upset of Boise State with a 473-yard, five-touchdown performance. It’s his most prolific performance since taking over for Andy Dalton, by close to 70 yards, and against the country’s 13th-ranked defense, no less. Honorable mention, on the other end of the spectrum, to 336-pound Southern Miss offensive lineman Lamar Holmes, who caught what would turn out to be the winning two-point conversion pass from Austin Davis at the tail end of a rip-roaring game against UCF.
Violently Subjective Non-AQ Top 10
1. Houston (10-0)
2. TCU (8-2)
3. Boise State (8-1)
4. Southern Miss (9-1)
5. Tulsa (7-3)
6. Arkansas State (8-2)
7. NIU (6-3)
8. BYU (7-3)
9. Nevada (6-3)
10. Toledo (6-4)
DJ Khaled Prize For Excellence in Winning
Four non-AQ teams in this week’s BCS standings: No. 10 Boise, No. 11 Houston, No. 19 TCU, and No. 20 Southern Miss.
Walking Dead Watch
New Mexico! With the win! Lookit that! The Lobos topped lowly UNLV, 21-14, which is convenient, as it was their last realistic chance for a win in 2011. Wyoming and Boise State round out their regular season schedule. Left all alone in the oh-fer cellar: 0-9 Florida Atlantic, staring down Troy this Saturday afternoon.
After 11 weeks of play, non-AQ teams are 18-91 against AQ programs. The lone Week 11 win belongs to Louisiana Tech against Ole Miss.
One MAC game is already in the books for Week 12, and two more are on tap for tonight: Ohio-Bowling Green and Western Michigan-Miami. Thursday, pick your poison: No. 22 Southern Miss whacking UAB, or Marshall and Memphis flailing at one another ineffectually. Friday night features Toledo presumably tearing up Central Michigan. Saturday, in descending order from “actual interest in the football to be played here” to “tune in out of morbid curiosity,” don’t miss: SMU-Houston, Tulsa-UTEP, Boise State-San Diego State, Louisiana Tech-Nevada and Colorado State-TCU.