What we learned from the Independents and non-BCS

October, 12, 2008
10/12/08
1:08
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

1. FIU could be a threat: I can honestly say that I didn't think I'd be writing this post this year, but Florida International's 31-21 win over Middle Tennessee might have been the most stunning outcome in the Sun Belt. That win by the Golden Panthers gives them three on the season, the most wins they've had since 2005, and more importantly it keeps them in a four-way tie with Troy, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette for Sun Belt supremacy. It also sets up a key game this weekend against Troy. The Golden Panthers have not beaten the Trojans since joining the FBS in 2005 and have lost by an average of 12 points.

2. Wyoming can score: Congratulations to Wyoming for scoring its first Mountain West Conference touchdown of the season. It's been four games, so it was a long time coming. Wyoming isn't exactly the team many hoped it would be this season. It's 2-5 on the year, 0-4 in conference, and a far cry from the team that was picked to finish fifth in the conference. It's not like the Cowboys can't move the ball. They actually outgained Utah by 10 yards on Saturday, but they had five turnovers to bring their total to 27 on the season. That's the most turnovers in the country.

3. Big game coming Thursday: Be it weather or looking ahead or whatever, neither BYU nor TCU was its usual dynamic self this week, but both teams did enough to get wins and set up a huge Mountain West game in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday. BYU extended its nation's best winning streak to 16 games while TCU's only loss this season is to former No. 1-ranked Oklahoma. This game could trip up the Cougars. TCU's defense was the best in the country coming into this weekend and held Colorado State to 11 rushing yards on Saturday while forcing three turnovers.

4. WMU not going down just yet: The race for the MAC title gets tighter and tighter each week, and Western Michigan proved with its overtime win over Buffalo that's it's around for the long haul. The Broncos lead the MAC West with a 4-0 start and set up a huge MAC tilt at 3-0 Central Michigan on Saturday. After a rough start to the season, the Chippewas are starting to come along, but they still haven't beaten a team with a winning record. Saturday's game will be the first non-BCS team the Chipps face with a winning record this season. And while these two teams are battling, Ball State, which moved to 7-0 and also sits near the top of the MAC West, will have a bye.

5. Boise State continues its run: Playing on the other side of the country, Boise State continued its undefeated run against Southern Mississippi. Although this game didn't live up to its original billing -- the Golden Eagles came into the game losers of their last three -- it still gave the Broncos yet another win in a hostile environment. With Nevada losing to New Mexico State, the only team that looks like it could give Boise State a challenge for the WAC title is San Jose State, which is 2-0 and atop the conference standings. The Spartans defeated Utah State easily on Saturday. The Spartans and Broncos meet in San Jose on Oct. 24.

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