Can Quinton Patton and Louisiana Tech shake off Johnny Football and bully through the WAC? (AP)
Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome:
We made the trek to Shreveport last week in the hopes of being on the scene when 2012's best chance for a BCS bust really took shape. We came perilously close to getting our wish; but for a blocked extra point attempt here and a successful two-point conversion there, America would be staring down the real possibility of another WAC team in a BCS bowl game.
Right now, it's hard to imagine that being the case. We said in our midseason Crystal Ball segment, and several of our colleagues agreed, that the odds for an upstart squad in a big-money game this season look grim, with Louisiana Tech and Boise State each carrying a loss from their highest-profile nonconference games and Ohio undefeated but eking out wins against the likes of UMass, Buffalo and Akron. Is there a spark of hope for any of our precious Profiteroles?
Maybe. The Broncos enjoy the benefit of name recognition after their last several seasons, and popped up at No. 22 in the first set of BCS standings released Sunday. It's their 38th straight such appearance, and the longest active BCS rankings streak in the FBS. Could they climb into that all-important No. 16 spot ahead of an AQ conference champion? Could Louisiana Tech, with a stronger nonconference schedule and blowouts the rest of the way, jump the Broncos?
Sonny Dykes, for the moment, is more concerned with getting his team healthy and spinning the lessons of the A&M loss forward than doing any grousing about rankings. "It was hard on everybody," he told SI.com Tuesday, "but I think we did learn a lot. I think we learned a lot about the character of our team, the way we fought back.
"I haven't been a part of many teams in the past that would've gotten back in that ballgame."
The Bulldogs are entering, by far, the cakiest stretch of schedule they'll encounter all season, with games against Idaho, New Mexico State, UTSA and Texas State to open WAC play, before wrapping in November with sterner conference foes Utah State and San Jose State. As Tech downshifts its expectations from an undefeated season to a conference championship, Dykes has two goals for his Bulldogs. The first is to encourage faster starts than they managed against A&M, even against the likes of the Vandals.
"The second thing," Dykes said, "is making sure that [A&M] game doesn't beat us twice."
Profiles in ownage
• Benny Cunningham, RB, Middle Tennessee State: It is a crime against football that the Blue Raiders' star runner has to undergo surgery on his left knee and will be lost for the season. Cunningham ranked 13th nationally in average yards per game (120) at the time of his injury and third nationally in scoring. Our very best wishes for a speedy recovery.
• Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech: He had 21 catches for 233 yards and four scores against Texas A&M. That catch number ties a school record, bests any number of catches by any other FBS receiver this season and falls one short of tying a conference record.
• Keenan Reynolds, QB, Navy: In his first start, replacing the injured Trey Miller, as a freshman, he threw three touchdown passes for the Midshipmen. This, in itself, counts as some sort of minor miracle. (The last Navy quarterback to accomplish anything so ostentation: Chris McCoy in 1997.)
• Bernard Reedy, WR, Toledo: Part of that Rockets-Eagles scoreboard frenzy, Reedy set a single-game program record with 237 receiving yards and two touchdowns, and tacked on an 89-yard kickoff return just to show off his wheels.
• Bronson Hill, RB, Eastern Michigan: On the other end of that fateful field, Hill set the 2012 FBS high mark for single-game rushing yardage with 283 yards on 28 carries and four touchdowns (three in that someday-storied third quarter).
• Jelani Woseley, LB, Ohio: 14 tackles (eight solo), a sack, 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup against Akron.
• Jake Fely, LB, San Diego State: 13 tackles, two sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, fumble recovery against Colorado State.
• DeAundre Brown, LB, Tulsa: 14 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, one pass breakup against UTEP.
• Marlon Moore, CB, Northern Illinois: Intercepted two passes in his first start for the Huskies (as a true freshman).
• Dri Archer, All-Everything, Kent State: Where to even begin? He scored an 89-yard touchdown run against Army, threw a 24-yard touchdown pass and finished with 222 rushing yards on 12 carries. Archer even caught the attention of Stewart Mandel's Overtime.
• Matt Hogan, K, Houston: Kicked six field goals and three extra points against UAB and remains perfect on the season from 50 yards and beyond.
Walking Dead Watch and the DJ Khaled Prize for Undefeated Excellence
Alone in undefeatedness: The 7-0 Ohio Bobcats, No. 25 in this week's AP Poll, and one of only a dozen lossless teams remaining in the FBS. Down in that old winless well, still: Southern Miss, UMass and Eastern Michigan, whom we called "the best 0-6 team in the country" on the Mandel Initiative podcast this week. Stop laughing. We see you.
Case Keenum Memorial Pinballin' Hi-Score
The third quarter of Toledo-Eastern Michigan, not seen by us, but detailed here in wonder by Bill Connelly.
Thing UTEP did this week
Introduced beer sales at home football games! From a school press release: "Adding football and basketball games to the list of UTEP events at which beer is sold has been under consideration for the past several years in response to expressions of interest from fans and supporters of UTEP athletics and a review of practices and trends at peer universities in Texas, in Conference USA, and across the nation. [...] 'UTEP’s extensive experience with beer sales at special events in the Sun Bowl and the Don Haskins Center assures us that we will be able to offer at athletic events the same safe and family-friendly environment that this community has come to expect,' said UTEP President Diana Natalicio."
Haves vs. Have-Nots Scoreboard
With LaTech's loss to A&M and BYU getting pantsed by a surging Oregon State, mid-majors were 0-2 for Week 7 against teams from power conferences and fell to 18-77 in the regular season.
Games we'll be following in Week 8, with varying degrees of interest: BYU-Notre Dame, ULM-Western Kentucky, Idaho-Louisiana Tech, Cincinnati-Toledo, MTSU-Mississippi State, San Diego State-Nevada and UNLV-Boise State, if only for the blackout unis