Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome.
It is time. The Ohio Bobcats are 6-0, bowl eligible and unranked and likely to stay that way for a little bit while AQ teams above them take losses and are dropped in the polls accordingly. They’re also not making a great case for Big Important Bowl Inclusion, having allowed three non-AQ teams (Marshall, UMass and Buffalo) to play them closer than their Week 1 opponents at Penn State. Six MAC teams remain on the schedule, not one of which finished 2011 with a winning record and only one of which (Kent State) is currently above .500 in 2012. If the Bobcats plan on ascending into the national Top 25 before the year is out, they’ll have to stage some blowouts.
This week, national spotlights will be trained on Louisiana Tech, a team less likely to go undefeated but more likely to impress the BCS if it does. A matchup viewed as a high-stakes Week 1 upset possibility has only seen its stakes increase since Hurricane Isaac forced a six-week delay, as both LaTech and Texas A&M went and got themselves ranked. Tech’s No. 23 AP ranking is just the second AP nod in program history and its first since 1999. A&M has rattled off four straight wins since dropping its first SEC game to Florida in Week 2, with the final scores ranging from the predictable (70-14 versus South Carolina State) to the uncomfortable (30-27 at Ole Miss).
A win in Week 7 and only WAC games remain for the Bulldogs, all of which are winnable and two (Utah State and San Jose State) that could conceivably be labeled Quality Wins (by WAC standards) if November goes well. With victories over teams from the Big Ten, ACC and (hypothetically) SEC, what does coach Sonny Dykes think of his team’s chances at scoring a major bowl invite?
“Anytime you play and you are in the situation we are in, every game is big,” said Dykes in this week’s press conference. “Not from the BCS, because that is so far away and that is so far removed from even entering our minds. I mean I do not even know how to spell BCS. That is like miles and miles away from our thoughts. Our thoughts are just about trying to win football games and have a program that people think is significant.”
We thought the Bulldogs had a pretty good shot at knocking off a freshly hatched A&M outfit back in Week 1. Can they do it now that the Aggies have formed a recognizable offensive identity on the field? We don’t know. But we’ll be there to find out. See y’all in Shreveport!
Profiles in ownage
Our unofficial but heartfelt non-AQ players of the week:
• Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois. A balanced offense in a one-player package. Lynch had a career day against Ball State, rushing for 207 yards on 29 carries, scoring three rushing touchdowns and throwing for another 195 yards and a score to seal the win.
• Trent Steelman, QB, Army. Broke a program record for career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with his 22-carry, 141-rushing yard, three-touchdown performance against Boston College. Steelman also completed 5-of-12 passes for 79 yards, the most aerial attempts in an Army game since Steelman’s bizzaro-for-the-Knights 20-attempt game against Navy in December 2010. Also, his name is TRENT STEELMAN.
• Charles Sims, RB, Houston. Ranks as the nation’s No. 10 rusher after six weeks of play, capped by a career day against North Texas. Sims racked up 265 all-purpose yards, 210 of which came on the ground, and two touchdowns in a 44-21 win.
• Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State. Tied for No. 1 in in the nation in interceptions with six picks in six games, and credited with eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Colorado State. All this after missing all of 2011 with a broken leg.
• Qushaun Lee, LB, Arkansas State. Twelve tackles (nine solo), an interception and a pass breakup against Florida International.
• Randall Joyner, LB, SMU. Fourteen tackles and two interceptions against UTEP. Leads the team in both categories.
• Bernard Reedy, WR/KR, Toledo. Tallied 293 all-purpose yards against Central Michigan, including a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown.
• Dri Archer, KR, Kent State. Leads the nation in kickoff return average and all-purpose yards per game, and now is just showing off: Archer had a 98-yard kick return for a score, a five-yard touchdown reception and a 64-yard rushing score against Eastern Michigan.
Not sure if serious
• Wyoming vs. Nevada, in which both starting quarterbacks were lost (one to injury, one to suspicious ejection) and Stefphon Jefferson was all but a non-factor. Aroo?
Walking Dead Watch and the DJ Khaled Prize for Undefeated Excellence
Still undefeated heading into Week 7: Ohio, No. 23 Louisiana Tech and UTSA, idle in Week 6. (Don’t laugh: The way the Owls are playing, Rice could hand the Roadrunners a sixth win Saturday.)
Down in that old winless well, still: Southern Miss, Tulane, UMass and Eastern Michigan.
Case Keenum Memorial Pinballin’ Hi-Score
Miami (Ohio) QB Zac Dysert, who surpassed 10,000 career passing yards after a 303-yard outing against Cincinnati.
Thing UTEP did this week
Mike Price, speaking at his weekly media lunch, on the Miners’ quick turnaround between a Saturday loss to SMU and a Thursday trip to Tulsa: “The thing that’s good about playing so quickly is we get to go on another trip, which is great because I’m collecting mileage points. We’ve been in four different cities in 20 days. It’s just a very unique schedule. If we were winning, it would be lots of fun. The game is this Thursday. It’s unbelievable how quickly we put away the SMU game. Let’s drag it through the mud a couple more seconds with some of your questions.” Live forever and coach forever and a day, Mike Price.
With the FBS settling into conference play, interleague games are growing scarce. Non-AQ teams went 1-1 against programs from BCS conferences this week: Army beat Boston College and Miami (Ohio) lost to Cincinnati. Non-AQ teams now have a record of 18-75 through six weeks of play.
• Rivalry game of the week: The Battle for the Fremont Cannon! Nevada and UNLV will play both for this large weapon and as part of the newly minted Governor’s Series, because if there’s one thing they love in that part of the country, it’s handing out more than one trophy for the same game.
• Weeknight action: A non-AQ doubleheader Thursday night, with Western Kentucky-Troy at 7:30 p.m. ET and UTEP-Tulsa at 8:00 p.m. Navy plays Central Michigan Friday night at 8:00 p.m.
• Vaguely uncomfortable upset watches: Can Akron’s potent offense put a scare into Ohio’s bid for a perfect season? Can UTSA stay undefeated against a 1-5 Rice team, or would losing here be the most WAC-appropriate outcome in the program’s young history? Can Boise State defend Derek Carr and Robbie Rouse?
• Quality WACtion advisory: Utah State at San Jose State. 4:00 p.m. ET kickoff. ESPN3.
• Are we men or are we mice? In haves-on-have-nots action that’s not in Shreveport: Oregon State at BYU. 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff. ABC.
• The nightcap: THE LORD OF ALL NIGHTCAPS! An 11:59 p.m. Hawaii kickoff. The Warriors host New Mexico for the first time since 1998.