Thursday September 29th, 2011

The week in lesser FBS luminaries:

• No. 4 Boise State 41, Tulsa 21. A definitely not-healed G.J. Kinne took the field for the Golden Hurricane in a game that was one of September's most intriguing matchups during preseason scouting. Took the field, and threw four picks. All credit to Boise State, who's proving week by week they're not the defenseless WAC pointsplosion machine of old, but what could have been a blazing shootout was already robbed of all potential for entertainment by some cruel luck for Kinne against Oklahoma State. Is it boring by now to point out that Kellen Moore threw four touchdowns and just six incompletions? It kind of is, isn't it?

No. 20 TCU 55, Portland State 13. The Horned Frogs came out of the first quarter trailing an FCS team at home, 3-0. Is Gary Patterson just toying with his prey this season? Can't blame him with that schedule. But don't expect him to really have to change his habits much before Nov. 12.

Mississippi State 26, Louisiana Tech 20 (OT). What fresh hell is Sonny Dykes constructing down in Ruston? Erase those two interceptions by true freshman LaTech quarterback Nick Isham and this one goes the other way, maybe.

North Texas 24, Indiana 21. A 21-point, fourth-quarter rally wasn't enough to prevent UNT's first win of the season. Can't let those peksy Hoosiers hang around like that, Mean Green!

Profiles in ownage

Bernard Pierce, who highlighted Temple's blowout win of Maryland with five (FIVE) rushing touchdowns, a school record. In fact, he scored the Owls' first four touchdowns, as Maryland steadfastly refused to put a body on him. Pierce's yards came dearly, 149 over 32 carries for an average of only 4.7 per touch, skewed by a long run of 44 yards (that was his FOURTH touchdown, in case you think Bernard Pierce gets tired.) Pierce, by himself, outgained the Terps' 45 rushing yards by a magnitude of 3.

Temple had other players, too! Chester Stewart was 9-9 for 140 yards, for a hilarious 230.7 QB rating.

• Louisiana. With Saturday's victory over our early-season show ponies at FIU, the Cajuns are 3-1, their best September record since 1988. Crowds are meeting the returning squad at the airport. It's getting real in Lafayette, y'all. Also, there's a receiver on the roster named Harry Peoples. Clearly, this is a team to watch.

• Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles have now beaten UVA twice in what was probably set up to be a gimme series for the Cavaliers. They have done it at home, and they have done it on the road. Everybody nurse your crushes on Larry Fedora while we still have him to fawn over in C-USA.

Florida Atlantic, scoring its first touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter of a 30-14 loss to Auburn. So gracious, that Ted Roof.

Western Michigan, at 2-2 still the pride of the 2011 crop of Directional Michigans, coming within a field goal of knocking off No. 24 Illinois on the road.

Exposed to the world's derision

• The officiating crew presiding over Toledo's "loss" to Syracuse, a factual inaccuracy that will not be overturned:

Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher announced yesterday that the final result cannot be changed, per NCAA rules.

"Since the conclusion of the Toledo-Syracuse game, I have been in communication with Big East commissioner John Marinatto along with Rogers Redding, secretary-rules editor of the NCAA football rules committee," Steinbrecher said in a statement. "By rule once the game is declared over the score is final and there is no recourse to reverse an outcome."

Saturday, Gennaro Filice called the Rockets the best 1-3 team, and the least lucky.

Two directional Michigans at the business end of  smarting freshly-beaten Big Six teams. Central Michigan got it worst, 45-7 from Michigan State, although they at least scored a touchdown, unlike Eastern Michigan, who fell to Penn State 34-6.

• Memphis, whose brand of football is moving the city's own sports columnists to apathy and apoplexy. No, it's cool. They can do both.

Hopefully, target="_blank">this Rice coach. No need to be unseemly, sir.

• New Mexico, recording an overtime loss to Sam Houston State, a team which doesn't sound familiar to you because it's not even in the FBS and yes, it's time to say goodbye to Mike Locksley Still Has A Job Theater. More on that below.

Not sure if serious

BYU has beaten what I'm pretty sure is a good football team in Central Florida. It was special teams that gave the Cougars the win, however, and those kinds of scoring opportunities aren't as easy to come by as they might be if BYU could field a reliable offense. Utah State awaits in Week 5.

• San Diego State has a problem, which centers around having Ryan Lindley on the team and nobody for him to throw to. Ronnie Hillman isn't going to get Denard Robinson yards all by his lonesome, and with the next closest backs getting two carries to his 21, the time has arrived for other teams to not need a whole lot of time to figure out who's got the ball.

Nevada has recorded a predictable blowout loss to Oregon, a nastily close scrape with San Jose State, and now a one-point loss to Texas Tech in the month of September. Wolf Pack, if you have a coherent defense lurking somewhere on your football team, now would be the time to show it off, preferably sometime shortly after landing in Boise this Saturday.

Mini-major medalists

• Big weekend for FCS-on-FBS upsets, with Sam Houston State beating New Mexico, Southern Utah whipping UNLV, and North Dakota State besting Minnesota and claiming a special jury prize for hilarity in gridiron antics.

Case Keenum Pinballin' Hi-Score of the week

Our pinball wizard actually caught a bit of a breather this week, with Cotton Turner and Crawford Jones spelling him at the end of a 56-0 rout of patsy Georgia State. Keenum was relieved midway through the third quarter, at which point he had thrown for 415 yards.

This week in Mike Locksley Still Has A Job Theater

I don't even know what to say about this section, now that its yearlong run is at an end. Begun at SB Nation last September, Mike Locksley Still Has A Job Theater has gleefully chronicled the on- and off-field exploits of a man who punched one of his own assistant coaches, got in a public spat with the editor of the student newspaper, was hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit by a departmental assistant, and still got to coach D-I ball. Mike Locksley is the living, brawling embodiment of the American dream, and I miss him already. Mike Locksley Still Has A Job Theater, adieu.

Thing UTEP Did This Week

• Lost to a good team, which in itself is sort of weird for UTEP. The Miners fell 52-24 to No. 16 South Florida, but one wonders what they might have done for themselves had three turnovers not been a factor. 

Profiterole Player of the Week

Bryant Moniz, who embodied everything there is to love about the WAC with seven consecutive passing touchdowns against UC Davis in the first half of Saturday's nightcap game. "But Holly, you ignoramus, Hawaii was playing UC Davis!" But Hawaii lost to UNLV week before last, gentle readers, so we're grading on a curve. Nothing is certain, except that this week's trip to Louisiana Tech is gonna be one hell of an airshow. I have plans and credentials and a hotel reservation that says I'm supposed to be in Athens this Saturday, and now all I want to do is torch it all and make fast tracks for Ruston.

Violently Subjective Non-AQ Top 10

1. Boise State (3-0)

2. Houston (4-0)

3. Temple (3-1)

4. TCU (3-1)

5. Navy (2-1)

6. Louisiana (3-1)

7. FIU (3-1)

8. SMU (3-1)

9. Southern Miss (3-1)

10. Colorado State (3-1)

DJ Khaled Prize For Undefeated Excellence

A month into the season, every last mid-major squad has at least one loss, save Houston (my Crystal Ball BCS-buster pick) and Boise State (the rest of the staff's BCS-buster pick).

Walking Dead Watch

Out of the winless, windowless basement: North Texas with the aforementioned pillaging of Indiana; East Carolina, with a 28-23 win over fellow well-dweller UAB; Troy, with a similarly close 38-35 victory over also-hapless Middle Tennessee State; Kent State, who topped mighty FCS newcomer South Alabama 33-25; Akron, drubbing VMI 36-13; and San Jose State, in a real surprise win over New Mexico State, 34-24. Winless after Week 4 are: UAB, Miami (Ohio), New Mexico, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky. With Memphis and now UNT out of the pool, who's your pick to finish 0-12 in '11? WKU's a classic choice, but UAB is plumbing new lows of bad-being.


• After four weeks of play, non-AQ schools are 14-71 against teams from Big Six conferences. Non-AQ independents maintain the best win-loss ratio at 2-3, by virtue of having only played five games. Conference USA remains atop the wins board with five victories over major-conference teams. 

Games of the Week

Houston and UTEP will provide an oddly entertaining alternative to the  Thursday night main event of South Florida at Pitt, and Utah State pays a return visit to a BYU outfit that has to still be smarting from last year's upset. Saturday, in descending order from "actual interest in the football to be played here" to "tune in out of morbid curiosity," don't miss: Toledo-Temple, Air Force-Navy, Nevada-Boise State, SMU-TCU, Duke-FIU, Hawaii-Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss-Fresno State, Western Michigan-UConn, Idaho-Virginia, Marshall-Louisville, UNC-East Carolina, and New Mexico-New Mexico State. And I can't be there in person, but the first person to make a "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" banner and hang it in Neyland Stadium will receive homemade cookies in the mail. I'm not even kidding. Send photo evidence to the Twitter address at right. Make me proud.

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