The week in lesser FBS luminaries:
• Bowltyme! We’ve kept score of non-AQ teams’ record against programs from Big Six conferences all season (final score: 18-92). But even in the postseason, where part of the attraction is seeing non-traditional opponents face off (I’ve gotten emails from Georgia fans who’re mad because they played Michigan State in the CapOne three years ago), have vs. have-not matchups are hard to come by. The New Mexico, GoDaddy, Potato, New Orleans, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Poinsettia, Hawaii, Military and Armed Forces Bowls will all feature two non-AQ conference teams or independents, although the GoDaddy.com pairing of Northern Illinois and Arkansas State might end up being the sleeper hit of the postseason. Four teams that will get to strut their stuff versus AQ squads: Western Michigan versus Purdue in the Little Caesars Bowl, Boise State versus Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl, Houston versus Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl and SMU versus Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Click here for our full bowl lineup and TV schedule.
Profiles in ownage
Let us sing one last time of Chandler Harnish, who’s hovered on the fringes of the national hive mind as a dark-horse Heisman candidate for a couple seasons now, and who put his personal stamp on a thoroughly satisfying season of MACtion by leading a 23-point second-half rally to return from an 0-20 deficit and knock off Ohio in the conference championship game. Harnish ends his final season in a Huskies uniform as one of the top 20 rushers in the FBS and ranked No. 8 nationally in total offense. You can see him suit up one more time on January 8, as NIU takes on Arkansas State in Mobile.
Exposed to the world’s derision
Bowl selectors. While harboring no fancies concerning what makes a football team attractive to people whose job it is to throw profitable, ratings-tickling football games on television, let’s just remind ourselves once again that after Houston plummeted out of the top 10 with a loss to Southern Miss in the C-USA title game, the Sugar Bowl took BCS No. 13 Michigan and BCS No. 11 Virginia Tech over BCS No. 7 Boise State and MWC winner TCU, which finished just outside of AQ consideration at BCS No. 18. That happened, but I don’t have to like it, and neither should you. Denard Robinson and Kellen Moore in a surface vs. air quarterbacks duel, with two underrated defenses tasked to contain them? We’re poorer as sports fans for not getting to see that unfold.
And LEST WE FORGET: Western Kentucky will be sitting at home at 7-5, its first winning record as a member of the Sun Belt, while two interim coaches put pale imitations of UCLA and Illinois football teams through their paces at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Gross.
Not sure if serious
UAB. For a little while on Saturday, while everybody was supposed to be prepping for one conference championship game or another, we all experienced the fun of getting a release from Arkansas congratulating Garrick McGee on taking the Blazers job while UAB insisted the coaching search was still open. McGee is apparently the Blazers’ man after all, though why he’d want that job is anybody’s wild, flailing guess.
Case Keenum Pinballin’ Hi-Score of the week
Houston’s golden boy fell just short of taking the Cougars to a BCS bowl, but he also wraps his career with UH as the NCAA’s first-ever three-time 5,000-yard passer. So many hyphens, for one so young. Add that to his NCAA all-time records for passing, total offense and touchdown passes, and it’s not a bad little career he put together down there.
Profiterole Player of the Week
Bobby Rainey didn’t play this week, and we won’t see him in a Hilltoppers’ uniform again thanks to the postseason politicking detailed above, but let’s just celebrate, one more time, his back-to-back 1,500-yard seasons and the work he did to get a team painfully new to I-A ball to a winning record. Rainey finishes his career as the NCAA’s second-leading rusher of 2011, trailing only some guy named “LaMichael James.”
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers aren’t the hatchling chicks on the block anymore — particularly not now that they finished 7-5. SI followed the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners through their program’s inaugural season.
The regular season isn’t technically over; though the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy has been claimed again by Air Force and neither team is bowl-bound, the Army-Navy game remains an all-American spectacle. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET; the game will be broadcast on CBS.
Thanks for reading Profiles in Profiteroles this season, Internet. I’ve been writing this in some form on one outlet or another since 2008, and it’s always gratifying to see it find an audience. The column will return prior to the start of the 2012 season.