Profiles in Profiteroles: The Final Four
• State of the
states tenuous confederations: With one sort-of week of the regular season remaining, three of the conferences covered in this space already have champions all but coronated. Four Mountain West games are slated for Week 14, including contests featuring TCU and Boise State, but none will impact the top of the conference standings -- the Horned Frogs lead the pack with a 6-0 league record and can't lose the lead at this point. The Sun Belt still has three games to play, with Arkansas State also holding a perfect conference record and insurmountable advantage. (Trailing the Red Wolves, improbably, is ... Western Kentucky?) Over to the WAC: Four games to go, with none featuring conference leader Louisiana Tech, untouchable at 6-1. Among the independents, Air Force has already secured the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy with wins over Army and Navy, who'll meet in Washington on December 10 to slug it out for second place.
To the still-competitive larger leagues: Ohio and Northern Illinois will compete Friday night for MAC supremacy at Ford Field, while Houston and Southern Miss will play Saturday in Houston for the Conference USA title.
• Bowltyme! As mentioned yesterday, five non-AQ programs have already accepted postseason bids. In chronological order:
- Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Utah State
- New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana
- Poinsettia Bowl: Louisiana Tech
- Armed Forces Bowl: BYU
- GoDaddy.com Bowl: Arkansas State
Case Keenum Pinballin' Hi-Score of the week
Houston's generation engine dispatched the most formidable regular-season opponent with relative ease, completing 33-of-46 pass attempts for 457 yards and five touchdowns. Just Case Keenum, doin' Case Keenum things. The latest record he helped set this week was one for the program: It's the school's first-ever 12-0 season and ties its longest-ever win streak.
Profiterole Player of the Week
He doesn't suit up in pads on Saturdays, but let's give it up for Howard Schnellenberger, y'all. He's retiring after a whimper of a final season at Florida Atlantic, but he finally got himself a win last Saturday with the Owls' victory against UAB, and he could snap up a conference win to wrap things up if his guys come out hard against Louisiana-Monroe this Saturday. The guy has a statue of himself on display in a public space while still alive, which is never easy for those of us not blessed with Tim Tebow's cheekbones, so salute him already.
Violently Subjective Non-AQ Top 10
1. Houston (12-0)
2. TCU (9-2)
3. Boise State (10-1)
4. Southern Miss (10-2)
5. Arkansas State (9-2)
6. NIU (8-3)
7. Tulsa (8-4)
8. BYU (8-3)
9. Toledo (8-4)
10. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
Hovering just out of reach: Ohio 8-3, Wyoming 7-4, Louisiana 8-4, San Diego 7-4
DJ Khaled Prize For Excellence in Victory
Four non-AQ teams are ranked in the latest BCS standings, each with one game remaining: No. 6 Houston, No. 7 Boise State, No. 18 TCU and No. 24 Southern Miss.
Louisiana kept pace with Arizona for three quarters of its season finale Saturday, scoring first and last and merrily trading touchdowns most of the way. A second-quarter breakdown that allowed the Wildcats to score 21 points to the Ragin' Cajuns' seven put the game tantalizingly just out of reach. With this lone matchup, non-AQ teams will finish the regular season 18-92 against Big Six programs.
The MAC title game kicks off Friday night at 7:00 ET, with television coverage on ESPN2. C-USA's is Saturday at noon on ABC. If you'd like to watch the other two ranked non-AQ teams chow down on season-ending creampuffs, you'll have to find either Versus (for UNLV @ No. 18 TCU, 2:30) or the MTN (New Mexico @ No. 9 Boise State, 6:00.)