Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome.
Soooo remember last week, when we were all “Robbie Rouse is 79 yards away from becoming Fresno State’s all-time leading rusher, isn’t that swell?” We all know by now what happened next. So while we’ve got Mighty Mouse up on a pedestal, let’s put some of his teammates up there with him.
Video game football doesn’t begin to cover what Fresno State did to Colorado in Week 3; this was more akin to watching a cartoon. Were you aware …
• Rouse’s 94-yard touchdown run, the one that made him Fresno State’s all-time leading rusher, wasn’t even the Bulldogs’ longest scoring play of the game? On Fresno State’s prior possession, Derek Carr and Isaiah Burse combined for a 97-yard pitch-and-catch touchdown run.
• Carr recorded his 300 passing yards and five touchdowns all in the first half?
• Fresno State’s defense recorded four interceptions and four sacks?
• Safety Phillip Thomas was responsible for three of those interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns?
• Even the Bulldogs’ punter, Andrew Shapiro, got in on the rout with a career-long 69-yard punt?
The Bulldogs have garnered only two AP Poll votes for their troubles and none from the athletic department employees voting in what we continue to insist on calling the “Coaches’ Poll.” But this was, after all, Colorado. Faring better in Week 4′s rankings: Boise State, back up to No. 24 in the AP Poll. Still lurking: Ohio, receiving 20 votes from AP voters and five from SIDs. The 3-0 Bobcats faced a real, live challenge to their undefeated hopes in Week 3, requiring a late field goal and an interception to hold off Marshall. Ohio meets Norfolk State this weekend before settling down to mow through the MAC.
Profiles in ownage
• The Sun Belt’s swag-o-meter. Look at these Sun Belt coaches, perfectly embodying the concept of “act like you’ve been there before.”
Louisiana-Monroe’s Todd Berry, in defeat: ”Obviously, would’ve liked for this one to come out different. It’s on me, all the way on me. I did not manage this game as well as what I needed to, and so this is my fault. I wish I could have it over obviously for the kids’ sake, but I think this group’s got a lot of character and they’ll battle back.” The fact that losing to an SEC team is now a disappointment and not an inevitability speaks volumes.
And Western Kentucky’s Willie Taggart, in victory, Monday: “We had practice yesterday. You would think it would be crazy after a win over Kentucky. It was just like any other Sunday practice. It was great to see. Our guys were locked in and asking questions about what Southern Miss look likes. That was a really good sign to show that our players are growing up and that the win against Kentucky wasn’t about just going out to win that game. We have bigger goals.”
• Chris Jones, DT, Bowling Green. Four tackles, two sacks, two and a half tackles for loss and a forced fumble against Toledo.
• Jordan Lynch, QB, NIU. A performance that consisted of 467 yards of total offense against Army, 342 passing and 125 rushing, with five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing). And the Huskies needed every bit of it in a 41-40 win.
• Raymond Maples and Larry Dixon, RB, Army. Twenty-three carries for 159 yards and a touchdown for Maples; 28 carries for 136 yards and three scores for Dixon.
• Montese Overton, LB, East Carolina. Ten tackles (four solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a defensive touchdown on a fumble return in his first start for the Pirates.
• Tourek Williams, DE, FIU. Nine tackles (six solo) against Central Florida, including four for loss and a 17-yard sack, for the Sun Belt’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
• D.J. Harper, RB, Boise State. Four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) and a two-point conversion against Miami (Ohio) to go with 162 rushing yards on just 16 carries.
• Tevin King and Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech. In two games, these two true freshmen have racked up a combined 519 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. They rank first and second, respectively, in ground yardage in the WAC.
• Willie Taggart, in particular, for calling this play.
Not sure if serious
• Utah State’s finishing moves. There’s much for the Aggies to be proud of in their loss to Wisconsin, but Utah State plays to a lot of close finishes, and it loses more than is reasonable. It’s a trend that has to change if the Aggies hope to top the WAC this year and contend in the Mountain West the next. [BOX | RECAP]
• NIU’s ground defense. It’s not like anybody goes into a game against Army thinking the Black Knights are going to air it out. After three weeks, Army ranks second nationally in rushing offense and dead last in passing yards. The Huskies’ ground defense was bad last year, but not “allow 486 yards and six touchdowns” bad. [BOX | RECAP]
Walking Dead Watch and the DJ Khaled Prize for Undefeated Excellence
Ohio, Louisiana Tech and UTSA are the only teams that have yet to lose after three weeks of action. No undefeated teams remain in C-USA, the Mountain West, the Sun Belt or among the non-Notre Dame independents.
Still winless and hoping: UAB, Memphis, Southern Miss, Houston, Tulane, Army, Navy, UMass, Eastern Michigan, UNLV, Wyoming and Idaho.
Case Keenum Memorial Pinballin’ Hi-Score
The entire Fresno State offense. This is the last time we’ll bring this up this week, probably, but take a gander at that box score and look at just how much worse Colorado could have had it: 516 of Fresno’s 665 yards of offense and 55 of its 69 points came in the first half.
Gold: Cal Poly, knocking off Wyoming! The Mustangs’ first score, a 65-yard run by Deonte Williams, occurred just more than a minute into the game. CP went the distance on the ground, totaling 325 rushing yards, and through its special teams, with a 51-yard fourth-quarter Bobby Zalud field goal turning out to be the game winner. [BOX | RECAP]
Silver: The Lamar Cardinals, providing us with our favorite box score of the week. Lamar answered seven touchdowns and two field goals from Hawaii with a fumbled PAT snap returned for two points. Final score: 54-2. [BOX | RECAP]
Bronze: Northwestern State, which gave merry chase to Nevada; North Dakota, which very nearly toppled San Diego State; and Sam Houston State, which traded leads with Baylor until midway through the third quarter.
Thing UTEP did this week
Lord have mercy, do we love this sentence from the Battle of I-10′s postgame notes (emphasis added): ”The Miners rushed for 105 yards in the first quarter, their second 100-yard quarter of the season. They ran for 108 yards in the third quarter versus Oklahoma on Sept. 1.” The brass spittoon and prospectors’ shovel are the Miners’ for the year.
Oh, and UTEP is about to play Wisconsin. Said Mike Price in a media appearance Monday: ”We’d like to get our guys 20 pounds heavier and get them to bench press 100 pounds more this week.” The way Wisconsin’s playing, they might not have to do that much.
After three weeks of competition, non-AQ teams are 10-55 against schools from power conferences and Notre Dame. This week’s big winners: Ball State, Fresno State and WKU.
If you’re into records and alliteration and watching a MAC team’s continued quest for an undefeated season, you are in luck! Tyler Tettleton is four touchdown passes away from becoming Ohio’s all-time career leader, and the Bobcats play Norfolk State this weekend. This week’s weeknight games: Kent State-Buffalo in Wednesday MACtion, BYU-Boise State on Thursday night and Baylor-ULM Friday. Saturday contests we’ll be watching with varying degrees of interest, in chronological order: UTEP-Wisconsin, East Carolina-North Carolina, Utah State-Colorado State, Louisville-FIU, Southern Miss-Western Kentucky, Akron-Tennessee, San Jose State-San Diego State, Louisiana Tech-Illinois, Fresno State-Tulsa and Nevada-Hawaii.