Thursday September 15th, 2011

The week in lesser FBS luminaries:

TCU 35, Air Force 19: This week, pollsters can rank the Horned Frogs without feeling quite so justifiably ashamed. Down a starter on each side of the ball and still breaking in new quarterback Casey Pachall, TCU recorded two passing scores from Pachall and two rushing scores from Matthew Tucker, who was pressed into service for the injured Ed Wesley. The Falcons actually outgained the Horned Frogs 416-410, but Gary Patterson has two weeks to shore up his usually ballyhooed defense against nonentities like Louisiana-Monroe and Portland State, and two months until his team must travel to Boise State for the non-AQ game of the year.

 FIU 24, Louisville 17: The Golden Panthers' first win over an AQ team in the program's nine-year history is almost a week old at this point, but we're still celebrating. (Coach Mario Cristobal celebrated by hitching a little piggyback ride.) With 9:28 remaining in the second quarter, T.Y. Hilton had 157 yards and two touchdowns. On two (2) receptions. Remaining Golden Panther opponents might want to put a body on that guy.

Oregon 69, Nevada 20: Nevada had the good fortune to land a rare (and usually unfortunate) first-week bye, giving Chris Ault two weeks of the season to prepare his team to face Oregon on the road. It did not save them from a horde of swarming Ducks eager to avenge Week 1's image-bruising loss to LSU. Nevada treated this game as a scrimmage, and now must "forget about it while learning from it." More than one SI.com Crystal Ball predictor posited that even absent Colin Kaepernick, the 'Pack could ring up some serious wins this season. And as loaded as Oregon is, it's easy to say we haven't even seen what Nevada's made of yet. There's a tuneup date with San Jose State this Saturday, the second of the Wolf Pack's four consecutive road dates, before more serious trips to Texas Tech and No. 4 Boise State.

Ohio State 27, Toledo 22: Lamented here on Saturday:

The Buckeyes struck a scant three minutes into the first quarter with a repeat of last week’s classic hookup, Joe Bauserman-to-Jake Stoneburner, but Toledo had doubled up OSU by the end of the period thanks to two touchdown receptions by Eric Page. Ohio State responded in kind with 14 second-quarter points, and two touchdowns were traded in the third. The fourth quarter was a scoreless grind that might have ended very differently had Toledo’s pocket protection not broken down. Austin Dantin’s three sacks over the course of the afternoon boded ill for quarterback Terrance Owens, who took over full-time for the Rockets’ final drive and was stymied on his final three pass attempts. Toledo made it as far as OSU’s 16-yard line before failing to convert a fourth-and-five with 0:52 to play.

Nebraska 42, Fresno State 29: After taking a 17-14 lead into the locker rooms in Lincoln, Fresno State's short supply of cosmic goodwill petered out. Nebraska came back out and played like Nebraska in a 21-point fourth quarter; the Bulldogs ended up losing, and they'll lose defensive back Terrance Dennis to a one-game suspension for a flagrant personal foul. If there's a bright spot, it's that a welfare fraud scandal implicating two dozen Bulldog players may not count as an NCAA violation! Hang your hats on that.

Profiles in ownage

FIU, recording its first win over a BCS team.

UCF, holding Boston College to 141 yards of total offense, and permitting the Eagles just one field goal five and a half minutes into the game. Twenty-one points were scored with showmanship style in the fourth quarter, and all belonged to the Knights, who turned a sleepy 9-3 first half into a 30-3 romp in Orlando. Time to rank these guys, y'all.

Rice, which beat an AQ team for the first time since 2001, even if it was just Purdue.

• Finally, daps to New Mexico State, which had Minnesota beat before Jerry Kill's alarming sideline collapse late in the fourth quarter. And to Coach Kill himself, so recently a mid-major fixture and forever one of our favorite football guys. Kill is reportedly on the mend and could be back on the sidelines as soon as this weekend's game.

Exposed to the world's derision

FAU, with one passing yard, 48 total yards and one first down against Michigan State.

UNLV, which somehow managed to lose to Washington State worse than it lost to Wisconsin.

Air Force, which kicked a field goal down 24 points in the fourth quarter against TCU ... from the four-yard line. What, is Tommy Bowden consulting in Colorado Springs?

Not sure if serious

Hawaii lost to a Washington team that barely beat Eastern Washington in Week 1? The what, now?

BYU almost lost to an Ole Miss team whose awfulness has not yet been plumbed, then actually lost to a Texas squad whose ceiling we can't yet see. And there's a big hurdle in front of the Cougars early: By virtue of conference separation, the Utah game falls in Week 3.

• What to make of East Carolina, which played South Carolina fast and furious in Week 1, only to trudge along in a grinder show that ended in a 17-10 scoreboard deficit against Virginia Tech? Is Beamerball some sort of airborne contagion? VPI's defense is formidable, of course, but after last week's shelling of Appalachian State I was sort of hoping to see similar fireworks against a similarly overmatched Purple Pirates defense. Alas, the Hokies seemed content with beating one FCS team to avenge a 2010 loss to another; if you like points, you can tune out disinterestedly for the remainder of the regular season.

 Did I imagine picking the Aztecs to upset either TCU or Boise State en route to a successful season? SDSU depended largely on fumbles (eight for the Black Knights; three of them lost) and the churning feet of Ronnie Hillman (117 rushing yards, two touchdowns) to stay ahead of Army, and only took the go-ahead score on a 42-yard field goal for a 23-20 win.

Mini-major medalists

Wofford, which led Clemson for all but two minutes of the first half and much of the third quarter, before falling behind for a final one-possession loss, 27-35.

• Maine, which scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes of play and scared the bejesus out of Pitt in a 35-29 loss.

Central Arkansas, which took Louisiana Tech to overtime.

Case Keenum Pinballin' Hi-Score of the week

Case Keenum being Case Keenum, no big deal:

While Keenum insists he's still readapting to the routine of preparing and then playing games, he threw for 458 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-23 victory at North Texas on Saturday night.

And C-USA being C-USA, Keenum won't face serious resistance to his war machine until mid-November and SMU, at the earliest.

This week in Mike Locksley Still Has A Job Theater

New Mexico served this week as a well-chosen punching bag for a ranked Arkansas team, and was frankly lucky to come away with only a 52-3 loss and its life. The Lobos host Texas Tech this Saturday, after which Mike Locksley will still make more money than you.

Thing UTEP Did This Week

Last week, in this space:

Almost losing to Stony Brook is perhaps the most UTEP thing the Miners could've gotten up to; look for them to follow it up with a win at SMU that's interrupted by swarms of giant bats. It is the UTEP way.

And the Miners came close, staying close enough to SMU to be terrifying. The 28-17 loss was only put away by the Mustangs with a fumble return less than three minutes from the end of the game. This team will be the death of degenerate gamblers everywhere.

Profiterole Player of the Week

It's Hilton, of course. Read his interview with Stewart Mandel and just try not to love him:

Now desperate for a juicy quote, I resorted to one of those cheesy, local TV-station questions: "Which do you like better: breaking a kick return or catching a long touchdown?" He paused. He struggled for a second. "Actually," Hilton said, "I'd go with throwing a block for one of my teammates to spring open downfield."

Honorable mention must be made of Rishaad Wimbley of SMU, for no other reason than that he is a 295-pound running back, and a freshman. This is something I would very much like to see succeed.

Violently Subjective Non-AQ Top 10

1. Boise State (1-0)

2. Houston (2-0)

3. UCF (2-0)

4. TCU (1-1)

5. FIU (2-0)

6. Toledo (1-1)


7. Navy (2-0)

8. BYU (1-1)

9. Rice (1-1)

10. Utah State (1-1)

Walking Dead Watch

We're going to have to start using "fiasco" as a verb to continue covering Memphis, which isn't the only 0-2 team on the board but was first out of the gate with a statement of support for its coach. Elsewhere in the oh-fer column are UAB, East Carolina, Army, Miami (Ohio), Kent State, Akron, UNLV, New Mexico, Troy, FAU, MTSU, Western Kentucky, North Texas, Nevada, Fresno State and San Jose State. All teams in the MAC West have wins, and Eastern Michigan leads its division. It's a world gone mad.


After two weeks of play, non-AQ teams are 10-37 against programs from BCS conferences. Conference USA leads the wins column with four victories. Each non-AQ conference, including the I-A independents, has at least one win against a Big Six school.

Games of the Week

Boise State at Toledo highlights Friday night, and UCF's defense vs. T.Y. Hilton is the show-me matchup of Week 3. All the Michigan schools play one another this week; we'll see if Eastern Michigan can hold onto that precious undefeated win column against the wounded Wolverines. Other have-haven't matchups with the potential to get interesting include Penn State-Temple, Navy-South Carolina, Utah-BYU and Oklahoma State-Tulsa. (Take the over there, and whatever you do, do not under any circumstances bet on Washington State-San Diego State.)

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