The week in lesser FBS luminaries:
• No. 5 Boise State 57, Fresno State 7: From Friday: "This is not one of the good games on Boise’s schedule. Not this Fresno team, not this year." Indeed, the Bulldogs are playing more like San Jose State, while the Spartans are off recording back-to-back wins against conference competition and putting together close losses to superior opponents. Kellen Moore had a nice easy night of it, with 254 yards on 23 completions, three touchdown passes and no picks. Four Boise State running backs recorded touchdowns, while large Dutchman Geraldo Boldewijn, back from an NCAA-mandated benchwarming, proved handy in red-zone yardage with two touchdown catches inside the 20. Fresno State committed four turnovers, lost 85 yards to penalties, and had just nine first downs to Boise State's 22.
• Houston 56, East Carolina 3: The Cougars are the first bowl-eligible team to emerge from the swamps of non-AQ no-man's-land (and the second may surprise you, but more on that in a little bit). As such, they are afforded a measly 25th-place slot in the AP poll, and are ranked 22nd by a platoon of disinterested SIDs voting for coaches.
The score itself was something of a surprise; though not the swashbuckling raiders of offenses past, this year's Pirates hung 37 on South Carolina in Week 1 and were held under 20 points only once, by Virginia Tech in Week 2. Houston's defense this year could be charitably characterized as disinterested, but here it was, stifling ECU's offensive output at every turn, intercepting Dominique Davis and Rio Johnson a combined total of four times and recording nine sacks. The Cougars' attention to their ground game continues to pay dividends, with five rushing touchdowns recorded Saturday, four of them by running backs and one by backup quarterback Cotton Turner.
Profiles in ownage
• Louisiana:A steady performance from backup quarterback Chris Masson (Blaine Gauthier went down in the first series with an ankle injury) has the 5-1 Ragin' Cajuns within one win of bowl eligibility. If you were around the last time Louisiana participated in some sort of postseason invitational contest, you would have had to attend the 1970 Grantland Rice Bowl in Baton Rouge.
• Southern Miss: My oh my, have we been underrating the Golden Eagles thanks to the opponent quality of their early schedule? Their best win to date was a 30-24 scrape with Virginia, and that Week 2 loss to Marshall looked bad. But Navy had a perfectly middling defense heading into Week 6, allowing just over 364 yards and just under 23 points per game; Southern Miss put up 584 yards and nine touchdowns. (No two-point conversions were attempted, though the Eagles did convert their one fourth-down attempt. Larry Fedora, you are wound a little too tight to be healthy, bro.)
• Utah State: So not only did the Aggies not fritter away a big lead late, they shut out Wyoming entirely in the second half while adding three additional touchdowns to their first half total en route to a 63-19 win.
• Florida International's 27-17 win over Akron isn't terribly impressive on paper, particularly following back-to-back losses to Duke and Louisiana, but T.Y. Hilton and Darriet Perry set school records for individual game catches and career rushing touchdowns, respectively. With six entirely winnable games remaining on the schedule, some sort of bowl bid is entirely within the Golden Panthers' grasp.
• Western Michigan, whose only losses in the 2011 regular season have come to currently-ranked Big Ten teams, and which boast a top 20 passing offense and is allowing an average of less than 20 points per game after Saturday's 45-21 romp over Bowling Green.
• Bernard Pierce: The speedy Owl became Temple's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns during Saturday's 42-0 blowout of Ball State, in just his third year as a starter and after missing several games due to injury last season. He'll blow by his season total for 2010 some time during the next game, in all likelihood.
• Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens: Toledo's quarterbacking tandem put on quite the Saturday airshow against Eastern Michigan, with spookily similar stat lines: Dantin completed 14-of-16 attempts for 156 yards and two scores, while Owens went 13-of-14 for 146 yards and two scores. Just to keep things lively, look for the two to operate as a true tandem this weekend against Bowling Green, with Owens sitting atop Dantin's shoulders while wearing an oversized trench coat.
Exposed to the world's derision
• Air Force: That Asher Clark fumble on the Falcons' first play really set the tone for the afternoon, didn't it? Notre Dame has put together a streak of two turnover-free games, and it turns out the Irish are pretty good at scoring points when they're not dropping the ball into the outstretched hands of opponents. The Irish first discovered this at the expense of Purdue, and again at the expense of the thoroughly manhandled Falcons.
• Central Florida, and unfairly, because one look at the conditions explains the score of the Knights' 16-6 slog over Marshall. It was one of those nasty Florida squalls, and Jeff Godfrey still managed to throw his first touchdown pass of the year in it, so breathe regular and expect a return to actual football this Saturday when UCF travels to SMU.
• Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe, each of which committed three interceptions and a lost fumble in a 24-19 Red Wolves win.
• UNLV: Despite the Rebels being bad at football and the Wolf Pack being recently not-bad, the boys from Reno have never before shut out the boys from Las Vegas. The score might have been even higher had it not been for five 'Pack turnovers. UNLV recorded 110 total yards of offense to Nevada's 699, and quarterback Caleb Herring got the worst of it, completing one pass on 14 attempts, throwing a pick and sustaining five sacks. For those of you scoring at home, that's good for a QB rating of -2.3.
• Florida Atlantic: Howard Schnellenberger deserves better on his farewell leg, but this team ... this team does not. Saturday's might have been the nastiest 2011 loss for the Owls thus far. What's worse than falling to this year's North Texas team? Losing by a margin of 14 points, the precise worth of two Mean Green touchdowns scored on back-to-back pick-sixes. And I mean back-to-back as in "on consecutive plays."
• Kent State: Even ranking dead last nationally in total offense, the Golden Flashes were averaging 191 yards per game before meeting Northern Illinois Saturday. Their offensive output against the Huskies: 70 yards.
Not sure if serious
• San Diego State: It's not easy to make this TCU defense look stalwart. Four turnovers will do the trick, however, and the Horned Frogs remain undefeated in conference play. Don't put all the blame for Ryan Lindley's three interceptions on him, either. He has his boneheaded moments, but the guy's got almost nobody to throw to.
• Ohio: Defensive injuries are starting to pile up for the Bobcats, who've now lost two winnable games after Saturday's hangnail defeat at the hands of un-mighty Buffalo. They're dealt a much-needed break this weekend, however, and are favored by more than two touchdowns against Ball State.
• Army & Navy: Ranked third and first nationally in rushing offense, respectively, the Black Knights and Midshipmen aren't making up enough ground on defense, and it's starting to cost them. At this rate, the final game in the Commander-in-Chief's Cup series will be 80 minutes long and feature not a single pass, and both teams will score at least 40 points.
• San Jose State: "You got San Jose State in my Fresno State!" You got Fresno State in my San Jose State" [clown horn] The Spartans' too-rare two-game win streak was not destined for three-peatdom, but they hung with a physically superior BYU outfit in a late-night field goal-off.
The hatching South Alabama Jaguars, who have only existed since 2009, sustained their first loss in team history on September 17 falling (kinda inevitably) to North Carolina State. This was followed by the Jags' second loss, a week later, to their second FBS opponent of the season, Kent State. But a bye week and a return to FCS play has put all to rights, and with Saturday's 30-27 overtime win over fellow mid-major aspirants at UTSA, USA has staged its first comeback from a skid.
Case Keenum Pinballin' Hi-Score of the week
Time to bust out the correction fluids in your home copies of NCAA all-time offensive records. With Saturday's win, Keenum has passed Graham Harrell in the career passing yards column, and is now second to only Timmy Chang in that category. He still trails Harrell on the career touchdowns list, but there's half a season to go yet.
Thing UTEP Did This Week
The Miners were on a bye in Week 6, but as they'll be facing a Tulane team in Week 7 that's lost three in a row, look for them to struggle despite having two weeks to prepare against a bad program.
Profiterole Player of the Week
This week's honoree is of the four-legged variety. If you're not aware of the legend behind the origins of the Louisiana Tech mascot, well ... for snuffly inbred critters, bulldogs can be pretty metal.
Violently Subjective Non-AQ Top 10
1. Boise State (5-0)
2. Houston (6-0)
3. SMU (4-1)
4. Southern Miss (4-1)
5. Temple (4-2)
6. TCU (4-2)
7. Louisiana (5-1)
8. Western Michigan (4-2)
9. FIU (4-2)
10. Toledo (3-3)
Hovering somewhere just out of sight,reminding me this is why I don't ever do serious polls, and deserving of mention: UCF, BYU, San Diego State
DJ Khaled Prize For Excellence in Victory
Our winsome twosome, Boise State and Houston, continue on to Week 7 with unblemished records. Boise State's already had a bye, and needs just one more win to cross the bowl eligibility threshold. The other team with the potential to reach six wins Saturday? Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns. North Texas should provide easy pickin's.
Walking Dead Watch
Western Kentucky scrabbled out of the winless well with a double-overtime weeknight win over Middle Tennessee State, and Miami (Ohio) upset Army. That leaves Florida Atlantic, UAB and New Mexico in the oh-fer W column. Of the three, FAU has the best chance to tack on a win in Week 7 with a visit from Western Kentucky; the Lobos and Blazers face Nevada and Tulsa, respectively.
After six weeks of play, non-AQ teams are 16-83 against squads from Big Six conferences. Conference USA has the most wins, with a 6-15 record.