The week in lesser FBS luminaries:
• Bowltyme! As reviewed Saturday, natural non-AQ predators Houston, Boise State and TCU are all hovering at proper cruising altitude to finish the season ranked in the BCS standings. Where will this land them in the postseason? According to SI.com’s latest bowl projections, the Cougars will grab the brass ring of an at-large bid to the Sugar Bowl, and with Oklahoma State’s loss bumping Alabama up to BCS No. 2, their newest extrapolated opponent in New Orleans would be … Michigan! Denard Robinson and Case Keenum would make an interesting pair. By land or by air, scoreboards will quail.
These projections have the Broncos and Horned Frogs relegated to the first week of December bowls, with Boise in the Las Vegas versus Arizona State (intriguing, actually) and TCU versus Nevada in the Poinsettia (not at all intriguing; not this year).
Profiles in ownage
• TCU: Remember at the beginning of the year when we were all, “Wouldn’t it be LOLsome if the Horned Frogs took one last Mountain West title on their way out of the conference; too bad they’re replacing Andy Dalton”? Such mirth has come to pass. With Week 12′s win TCU will have at least a share of the title before breaking camp for AQ territory and has only to get past UNLV to secure the entire thing for itself.
• Toledo: If they had a shred of respectable defense, I swear the Rockets would be ranked. With a nasty nonconference schedule (they took on Ohio State, Boise State and Syracuse all in September) and a competitive MAC made for tough space-sailing in 2011, UT could still take the division with a win against Ball State and some luck.
Exposed to the world’s derision
• Southern Miss: Theirs is the Clemson problem, sort of, writ small, although ’tis better to lose to NC State than to UAB in any scenario. They’ll still make their own conference title game without a near-identical faceplant against Memphis, but lordamercy, what a plummet.
• Akron: We should probably still be counting the 1-10 Zips as winless, seeing as how their only 2011 win came against VMI. This week, they served as a soft landing for a spiraling Buffalo team, which put up a season-high 51 points, 44 of them in the first three quarters.
Not sure if serious
• Utah State: The Aggies secured a win in double overtime over a lowly Idaho team. Is it wrong at this point to expect better from the merry band that played Auburn so close in Week 1? Once again, second-half lapses were the culprit (yes, like certain other Aggies; perhaps it’s something in the name). The Vandals scored 10 points in the first two quarters and 18 in the third alone, and one touchdown came thanks to a 78-yard interception return and successful two-point conversion.
• Nevada: Picked by us to win the WAC in our preseason roundtable, despite the loss of Colin Kaepernick, the Pack’s first conference loss will hand the conference title to the victorious Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech instead, assuming they skate past 4-7 New Mexico State without hiccuping.
Case Keenum Pinballin’ Hi-Score of the week
Our non-AQ show pony broke another NCAA passing record. Just another day at the office.
Thing UTEP Did This Week
Almost kept pace with the blistering Tulsa offense, 443 yards to 500, while managing to score half as many points, 28 to 57.
Profiterole Player of the Week
• Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky, who torched North Texas with a 214-yard performance that vaulted the Hilltoppers into the heretofore unexplored territory of bowl eligibility. He’s already getting love from some of our heavy hitters, with Mandel noting:
If he gains 32 yards in WKU’s season finale against Troy, Rainey will become just the eighth player since 2000 to post back-to-back 1,500 yard seasons, a feat previously achieved by LaDainian Tomlinson, Steven Jackson, Ray Rice, DeAngelo Williams, Garrett Wolfe, Darren McFadden and James.
Violently Subjective Non-AQ Top 10
1. Houston (11-0)
2. TCU (9-2)
3. Boise State (9-1)
4. Tulsa (8-3)
5. Arkansas State (9-2)
6. Northern Illinois (8-3)
7. BYU (8-3)
8. Toledo (7-4)
9. Wyoming (7-3)
10. Southern Miss (9-2)
Hovering beneath: Louisiana, Ohio, Nevada, Louisiana Tech
DJ Khaled Prize For Excellence in Victory
With the Golden Eagles’ little Icarus number knocking them right back out of the polls, your remaining non-AQ teams ranked in the BCS standings are No. 7 Boise State, No. 8 Houston and No. 20 TCU.
Walking Dead Watch
The Florida Atlantic Owls are the lone winless team left in the FBS. They’ve got two good chances left to fix that, with UAB this week and Louisiana-Monroe the week after, but the Blazers are on a bit of a hit streak, having just knocked off a ranked Southern Miss squad.
This Friday is just replete with football, with Eastern Michigan and NIU sharing an 11:00 a.m. ET kickoff slot to open the day’s action. Houston and Tulsa square off at noon, Toledo and Ball State at 2:00 p.m. and UTEP-UCF at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, in descending order from “actual interest in the football to be played here” to “tune in out of morbid curiosity,” don’t miss: Wyoming-Boise State, Nevada-Utah State, Rice-SMU and Louisiana-Arizona.