The return of our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome. (Not you, Notre Dame; more on that at the bottom.)
• Time chasers. We mentioned this last week, but games we would most like to see played in other times: Boise State-Michigan State at the end of last year and Arkansas State-Oregon at the end of this one. The Broncos’ opening-week win streak was snapped, but not for a lack of effort on the part of Boise’s almost entirely rebuilt team. That Sept. 20 date with BYU is looking like appointment television about now. And we’re eager to see how Ryan Aplin and the Red Wolves develop offensively under Gus Malzahn as the season progresses against competition that’s more on their level. (Not included in this category: Memphis in Week 2. What do y’all reckon that score will look like?)
• ALL HAIL THE LORDS OF EARLY SEPTEMBER. Great show, Ohio. Now do it again, 11 more times. The Bobcats’ remaining regular season schedule, we remind you, consists of New Mexico State, Marshall, Norfolk State and eight MAC teams that finished with losing records in 2011. But this is MACtion, where accidents happen with a frenzied glee.
• HOUSTON. LOOK AT YOUR LIFE. LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES. We liked Houston. We really, really did. We agreed with noted football robot Paul Myerberg that the Cougars looked like a good bet to take the West, and look where that got us. Either Dennis Franchione has quietly built a program capable of winning in its first year of FBS competition, or Houston is flailing its way to a 2012 face plant. Or, heavens forfend — both. We know, at least, what Tony Levine thinks.
• Welcome, freshmen. UTSA’s and South Alabama’s first FBS game resulted in a flurry of scoring activity (three touchdowns and two field goals in the fourth quarter) and a 33-31 Roadrunners win. [BOX | RECAP]
Profiles in ownage
• Kent State’s and Towson’s The Fumble Return That Wasn’t. Posting this video again? Goshdang right we’re posting this video again. PLAY OF THE WEEK:
• Nevada. Nevada! Two wins over Cal in three years! And this one on a last-minute touchdown! And maybe it would’ve gotten away with more had it not fumbled the ball SIX TIMES. A little shout-out to WACtion there, from one of the lucky squads to escape to the Mountain West. We like it. [BOX | RECAP]
• BYU, stifling the glory of Mike Leach’s return to coaching with a defensive performance that prevented the visiting Cougars from scoring a single touchdown and an offensive performance that out-gained Wazzu 426 yards to 224. [BOX | RECAP]
• UCF’s second quarter. Twenty-eight points in less than 15 minutes is a lot of fun to watch, even if it’s only Akron on the receiving end of the indignity. Beyond excited to see UCF try this against a real football team next week. Quarterback Blake Bortles scored the first points of the 2012 FBS season in his first career start earlier in the game, on a five-yard touchdown pass to Chris Martin. We can see the WELCOME TO BORTLESBALL billboards now. [BOX | RECAP]
• San Jose State. We think it’s more that San Jose State is better than that Stanford is bad. The most valiant loss of the weekend. We probably won’t find out next weekend with UC Davis on the schedule, but on Sept. 22 the Spartans travel to San Diego State. Pay attention to that one. [BOX | RECAP]
Not sure if serious
• Tulsa scored 16 points in half a quarter against Iowa State to get us all real excited for an all-bad weather battle. Then it came unglued. The Golden Hurricane didn’t manage to put up any more points until an early fourth-quarter touchdown and went on to lose 38-23. [BOX | RECAP]
• UMass, which has yet to score a point in an FBS game and recorded just 59 yards of offense and three first downs against UConn. But the Minutemen get Indiana at home next week, so you never know! [BOX | RECAP]
Walking Dead Watch and the DJ Khaled Prize for Undefeated Excellence
As the season progresses, we’ll track the teams that look like they might emerge winless in 2012, and, conversely, those that look like they might make an undefeated run. Florida Atlantic and Memphis are the early frontrunners for the former, Ohio for the latter, but we’ve been surprised before. More on this next week when most of these teams have two games in the books.
Case Keenum Memorial Pinballin’ Hi-Score
Gold: The Youngstown State Penguins, which never trailed to Pitt after recording their first score Saturday, just more than six minutes into the first quarter, and went on to win 31-17 on the road.
Silver: The McNeese State Cowboys, whose 27-21 victory over Middle Tennessee State only looks as close as it does because of a 15-point fourth-quarter Blue Raiders rally.
Bronze: The Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks, who edged out Memphis 20-17 on a 43-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining on the clock.
Aluminum or something: Eastern Washington beat Idaho 20-3, and Vandals football is just too sad for us to contemplate right now.
Thing UTEP did this week
Satisfactorily fulfilled our June prophecy that “something goofy will happen, something to make you glad you stayed up for the whole thing,” by heading into halftime tied with then-No. 4 Oklahoma and entering the fourth quarter trailing by only three points. The Miners then allowed the Sooners to put up a deceptively respectable 24-7 margin of victory. We have guessed correctly about UTEP football for the first time in our lives, which means it is also the last.
Annual Housekeeping Notes
Frequently asked questions addressed: Please note that for our purposes Notre Dame will not be covered as a Profiterole team, given its BCS tie-in powers. Boise State will remain in this section until it leaves the Mountain West, while TCU is no longer under our purview since it jumped to the Big 12.
And everybody can stop their arguing over what to call the Ragin’ Cajuns. If the school calls itself “Louisiana,” that’s what we’re calling it. There is absolutely nothing you can say to make us care about this more than we do right now, which is not at all. We’re going to start calling you all “Lulu” indiscriminately if you make a bother about it. Thank you for your attention to this matter. Onward!
After one week of game action, non-AQ programs are 4-23 against AQ teams. Non-AQ independents have the most favorable record at 1-1 (BYU’s win and Navy’s loss), while the Mountain West recorded the most wins (Colorado State over Colorado and Nevada over Cal).
The most intriguing contests of Week 2, for us, are Utah at Utah State in Friday prime time and Louisiana Tech at Houston on Saturday night. Other contests we will take in with varying degrees of interest, in chronological order: UCF at Ohio State, East Carolina at South Carolina, Indiana at UMass, Air Force at Michigan, South Florida at Nevada, Texas Tech at Texas State, UTEP at Ole Miss and Kent State at Kentucky. Highly nonscientific upset pick that will make us look very silly next week: Golden Flashes over Wildcats, 2-0.