Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome.
Tis the season for car commercials with big-ass bows and conference math. We attempted to explain, in bewildering detail, how the MAC races could shake out from here in our Wednesday night MACtion preview. We are here to inform you (with some glee, as we adore late-season chaos) that the MAC has far from the most convoluted conference race situation at the moment. Very quickly, the current states of the remaining non-AQ conference races, as teams not named Navy or BYU begin to prettify themselves for postseason suitors:
• Conference USA: Two teams with perfect 6-0 league play records top the two divisions: Central Florida in the East and Tulsa in the West. After Saturday, one squad’s record will bear some blemish when the two clash in Tulsa, but don’t expect that to affect the race. The Knights have only UAB to clear after that in the regular season, and hold a head-to-head advantage over East Carolina, the only other team in the division with fewer than three conference losses. Tulsa’s championship game aspirations could still be spoiled with a loss tonight and another at SMU November 24, assuming the Mustangs (4-2 in league play) beat Rice in the meantime.
• Mountain West: San Diego State and Fresno State lead the pack at 6-1, with Boise at 5-1. The Aztecs have beaten the Broncos and lost to the Bulldogs already, and are on a bye this week with only Wyoming remaining as a regular-season opponent. The Bulldogs have beaten the Aztecs and lost to the Broncos, are also off this weekend and still need to get past Air Force in Week 13. The Broncos, you can deduce at this point, hold a Bulldogs loss, an Aztecs win and have Colorado State and Nevada still ahead on the schedule. Assuming Boise wins this weekend, we’ll have a legit three-way tie for first place in the Mountain West. A loss by any of the three over the next two weeks would solve this, but it’s not at all far-fetched to imagine all three squads winning out.
It gets inkier from there: Since there’s no conference championship game, the Mountain West doesn’t break ties, meaning all three teams would be crowned co-champions. The conference’s tiebreaking procedures are used for bowl selection purposes only, and even those are mainly cosmetic as the Las Vegas Bowl, which gets first crack at the conference, is not contractually bound to select the designated No. 1. But just for kicks, here’s the relevant passage from the conference handbook:
If three or more teams tie for a position, the combined record of each of the tied teams against the other teams involved in the tie shall be compared until an advantage is gained. If the multiple tie still exists, each of the tied teams’ records against the team occupying the highest position in the standings shall be compared, continuing down through the standings until the tie is reduced to a two-team tie, at which time the procedure shall revert to the two-way tie breaking procedure, until the tie is broken. [...] In the event none of the above procedures resolves the tie, the teams involved in the tie shall be considered equal.
• Sun Belt: Up top: Arkansas State at 5-1 in conference play and Middle Tennessee State at 4-1. And if the Red Wolves beat Troy this weekend and the Blue Raiders stroll past South Alabama and beat the Trojans themselves the week after, there’s quite a neat solution to this particular race: a red-on-blue battle in Jonesboro for the regular-season finale, December 1. Very neatly done.
• WAC: Two perfect conference records remain, held by Louisiana Tech and Utah State, with San Jose State at 4-1 and every other team in the league dinged with at least three conference losses. In an emerging theme for this season that we absolutely love, the best teams are all coming together to settle conference supremacy in late November. The Aggies and Bulldogs play in Ruston this Saturday afternoon, and LaTech closes out the regular season at San Jose State. Utah State has what we can safely call a virtual bye against Idaho in Week 13; the Spartans have the steepest climb, hosting BYU Saturday night before the Bulldogs come to town.
Profiles in ownage: Week 11
• Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State: Even for the Mighty Mouse, 261 yards on 36 carries is a haul. Rouse averaged more than seven yards per attempt against Nevada.
• Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech: He broke conference and NCAA records for touchdowns scored by a freshman with his 158-yard, five-touchdown performance against Texas State.
• Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas State: Posted 378 yards of offense, 334 of them passing yards, and three touchdowns in an all-important win over Louisiana-Monroe.
• Dri Archer, RB, Kent State: Had a pretty Dri Archer day against Miami, with 205 offensive yards, three touchdowns and five plays of more than 20 yards.
• Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB: 184 yards rushing and two touchdowns against Marshall; also caught six passes for 37 yards. He has 573 yards and seven touchdowns in his past three games.
• Jake Dooley, DE, Kent State: Three sacks and four tackles against Miami.
• Bene Benwikere, DB, San Jose State: Six tackles (five solo), two tackles for loss, an interception and a 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown against New Mexico State.
• Dan Molls, LB, Toledo: 16 tackles and an interception against Ball State.
• Freddie Bishop, DE, Western Michigan: Seven tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble against Buffalo.
• Cory Dorris, DE, Tulsa: Two sacks, a fumble recovery and a pick-six against Houston, all dedicated to one very special viewer.
• Emeka Onyeneku, DL, Louisiana: Eight solo tackles, 2.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss against Florida.
Walking Dead Watch: VIGIL ENDED
UMASS HAS A WIN. UMASS HAS A WIN. The Minutemen’s first recorded victory in FBS play, a 22-14 victory over Akron, came with just two weeks to spare. The lone winless team in FBS: The Southern Miss Golden Eagles, who we are compelled to remind you won 12 games in 2011.
Thing UTEP did this week
Came tantalizingly close to knocking off division frontrunner UCF, losing by just a touchdown margin. El Paso at night has unknowable powers.
After 11 weeks of play, including last week’s losses by Army at Rutgers and Louisiana at Florida (soooo close, Cajuns), non-AQ teams are 22-85 for the season against teams from BCS conferences.
Weeknight action, Week 12: Ohio at Ball State and Toledo at NIU (Wednesday), FIU at FAU and Hawaii at Air Force (Friday). Saturday games of varying degrees of interest, in chronological order: UCF at Tulsa, Kent State at Bowling Green, Arkansas State at Troy, Utah State at Louisiana Tech, Western Kentucky at Louisiana and BYU at San Jose State.