What to watch from the non-AQs, Week 7

October, 15, 2009
10/15/09
8:04
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson


1. Bowl eligibility: Idaho is one win away from its sixth win and its first potential bowl since 1999. But the task won’t be easy against a Hawaii team that has owned the Vandals for years. If the Vandals do notch that sixth win, they’ll be the first from the WAC to do so.

2. The rest of the best: Boise State’s win over Tulsa didn’t seem to win over the voters who have Twitter accounts, so the Broncos will need a little help this weekend if they want to keep their spot in the top 5. Three of the four teams ahead of the Broncos in the AP poll all play ranked teams, which could give the Broncos an opportunity to either keep their place or move up.

3. The Gansz Trophy: SMU and Navy will battle for the inaugural Gansz Trophy, which will honor late SMU coach and Navy player Frank Gansz, who passed away in April after complications from knee replacement surgery. Navy has defeated SMU five of the last six times they’ve played. SMU’s only win came in 1998.

4. Back on top: With both Marshall and UAB playing nonconference games this weekend, East Carolina has an opportunity to get back atop Conference USA East with a win over Rice. Rice has yet to win a game this year and the Owls' smallest margin of defeat has been 17 points.

5. Playing for place: Colorado State might be 3-3 this season, but it’s still regarded as one of the better teams in the Mountain West. TCU, much like Boise State, is going to be judged on style points. The Frogs took a bit of a hit with a close win against Air Force last week, but could pick up significant ground in the BCS standings with a solid win over CSU.

6. Winning in the conference: Houston has been able to topple every nonconference automatic qualifying giant it’s faced this season, but within its own conference it’s 0-1. The Cougars travel to Tulane this week and the Green Wave’s offense might give the Houston defense some trouble. Still, Tulane doesn’t have the weapons to go score-for-score with the Cougars.

7. Ready Freddie: Bowling Green receiver Freddie Barnes has set the bar pretty high. After catching 22 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns in a come-from-behind win over Kent State last week, it’s possible he could put up similar numbers against a struggling Ball State team. The Cardinals have struggled against the pass this year.

8. Running man: This week’s game between Marshall and West Virginia will pit two of the nation’s top three rushers in Marshall’s Darius Marshall and West Virginia’s Noel Devine. Both players average more than 120 yards per game and both players will be vying for the title of the best running back in the state of West Virginia.

9. Heisman hopeful: Yes, I’m the one who keeps voting for Ryan Mathews on my ESPN.com Heisman ballot, but that’s because he deserves some recognition. Mathews has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game this season and has put up great numbers against ranked teams such as Boise State and Cincinnati. That strong rushing trend should continue this week against San Jose State.

10. Tightening the Belt: Troy has found some new competition in the race for the Sun Belt title after Louisiana-Monroe’s big win over Arkansas State on Tuesday. The Trojans need a win over Florida International this weekend to keep pace with the Warhawks and set up a pivotal showdown in Troy, Ala., at the end of the month.

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