Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome.
We lamented, last week, the loss of the best hope for a BCS-busting scenario in 2012, but please don't think we're writing off five conferences and the independents. This entire series is a labor of love, constructed to avoid precisely that notion. Louisiana Tech probably won't make an appearance in the Orange Bowl, but the Bulldogs will be bowling somewhere. And after a week out of the national rankings, they're right back in following their 70-28 obliteration of Idaho. All any team can ever do is beat every opponent placed in front of it, and should it stumble along the path to postseason glory, the absolute best thing a team can do is what LaTech is doing right now.
Tech clocks back in at No. 24 in the AP Poll, trailing Boise State at No. 21 and Ohio at No. 23 and ahead of Toledo, Tulsa and NIU stuck under the "also receiving votes" category. Ranked this week in the actual BCS standings: the Broncos at No. 21 and Bobcats at No. 24. This week marks the Bobcats' first-ever appearance in the BCS standings.
First in votes also received, the Rockets really should've cracked the Top 25 this week, in our humble, unimportant opinion, after knocking off No. 21 Cincinnati. (If you missed it, this was one of the weirder games of the season, with Toledo recording a 29-23 victory without an offensive touchdown. Its scoring: A 75-yard interception return, a 91-yard kickoff return and five field goals.) Look for Toledo to make a for-real appearance in the polls next week if the Rockets can really pile it on at Buffalo this Saturday.
Blowouts aside, these teams' last best hopes for "statement wins" in the regular season are as follows: Boise's season finale at Nevada (where the 'Pack has already gone and lost to USF and San Diego State), Ohio's final regular-season game at Kent State (currently 6-1), Tech's mid-November home date with Utah State (6-2) and Toledo's Wednesday Week 12 trip to Northern Illinois (7-1).
Bowl-eligible non-AQ teams, after eight weeks of play: Tulsa, Kent State, Ohio, NIU, Toledo, Boise State, Nevada, Utah State and Louisiana Tech.
Profiles in ownage, Week 8
• Kolton Browning, QB, Louisiana-Monroe. Secured, for now, the Warhawks' hold on the top spot in the Sun Belt standings by leading the game-tying touchdown drive and then scoring the winning touchdown and two-point conversion in overtime. Browning finished 22-of-41 with 308 passing yards, 69 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
• Adam Dingwell, QB, San Diego State. Came on in relief of senior quarterback Ryan Katz, who broke his ankle early against Nevada, and managed to pull together an overtime win against a highly regarded Wolf Pack team. Katz went 14-of-23 for 177 yards and three touchdowns, all of which came in the fourth quarter or overtime.
• Jordan Lynch, QB, NIU. Racked up 131 rushing yards, 223 passing yards and four touchdowns against Akron. Y'know, typical Jordan Lynch stuff.
• Kasey Carrier, RB, New Mexico. Here is a list of Carrier's rushing totals this season. See if you can find the game that sticks out: 51 yards, 12 yards, 129 yards, 86 yards, 191 yards, 161 yards and 338 yards. That last entry is not a typo and happened just this past weekend in New Mexico's loss at Air Force.
• Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech. Ran for 232 yards and six touchdowns, all of which were scored before the six-minute mark in the third quarter, when Tech pulled all its offensive starters out of the Idaho game. Dixon needs six more touchdowns to tie the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a freshman, currently held by Marshall Faulk and Ryan Williams.
• Pat Moore, DE, South Alabama. Recorded three solo tackles, one sack and two blocked field goal attempts, the last coming in double overtime, to secure USA's first-ever Sun Belt football win over Florida Atlantic.
• Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State. Added a 20-yard pick-six against Wyoming to his rapidly expanding body of work, along with four solo tackles, one tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Thomas' three 2012 interceptions returned for touchdowns are a school record and tie a conference record.
• Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State. Had a career day against UTSA with 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a 30-yard interception return -- all in his second start of 2012.
• Freddie Cortez, K, Kent State. Has now tied Josh Cribbs atop the Golden Flashes' career scoring list after kicking 43- and 46-yard field goals against Western Michigan.
• Bernard Reedy, KR, Toledo. Responsible for the aforementioned 91-yard kickoff return against Cincinnati, the score that gave the Rockets the lead over the Bearcats for good. Reedy has recorded three special teams scores in three games. (Editor's note: We would like to see Toledo and Kent State play a game in which the teams kick off to Reedy and Dri Archer, again and again, for 60 consecutive minutes. Most special teams scores wins.)
Not sure if serious
What, besides Dave Christensen? THIS GUY (emphasis ours):
An East Carolina freshman has been arrested on charges that he and an unknown number of accomplices vandalized Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. [...] Investigators believe that the suspects broke into the stadium, took three Kubota utility vehicles and dug numerous doughnuts into the turf between the 30-yard lines. They also did damage to concession stands and two water fountains.
Banks became a suspect and was subsequently arrested after he returned to the stadium to look for a cell phone he allegedly dropped during the vandalism spree.
For real, this is almost identical to a recent plot point on the ABC primetime novela series Revenge. Let any similarities in your daily life to a show in which a plucky girl switches identities with a stripper in juvie to further her vengeance against the family who framed her father as a terrorist serve as a dire warning.
Walking Dead Watch and the DJ Khaled Prize for Undefeated Excellence
Ohio remains the lone undefeated non-AQ squad still in play, while Eastern Michigan's 48-38 win over Army leaves just UMass and Southern Miss without wins in this regular season. One of those teams has some semblance of an excuse, by way of being newly thrown into the rigors of FBS ball, and it's not Ellis Johnson's squad. Speaking after the Golden Eagles' 59-24 loss to Marshall, Johnson had this to say:
“I’m surprised, disappointed and we’re back to point zero. We’re going to have to start all over and find out who wants to play ball. Obviously they weren’t well prepared from a football standpoint and that’s my fault. We’ve got a situation where some guys will have to decide whether or not they want to play football."
Case Keenum Memorial Pinballin' Hi-Score
Awarded this week to the collective efforts of SMU and Houston.
Thing UTEP did this week
Mike Price's win over Tulane was achieved with the help of one of his sons, UTEP offensive coordinator Aaron Price, and against another Price son, Tulane offensive coordinator Eric Price.
Non-AQ teams went 2-2 versus power conference schools in Week 8, moving them to 20-79 for the year. This is due mostly to the efforts of the MAC, with seven wins over AQ schools, more than twice the amount that any other conference has managed. Earning wins this week: Toledo (over Cincinnati) and Navy (over Indiana).