What we learned from the Independents and non-BCS, week 8

October, 19, 2008
10/19/08
2:10
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

The best of the non-BCS: BYU was supposed to be the best of the non-BCS, but that theory was proven wrong on Thursday after the Cougars were thoroughly beaten by TCU. That leaves Utah, Boise State, Ball State and Tulsa as the remaining unbeatens and TCU in an interesting spot considering its only loss was to Oklahoma. There could be even more upheaval on the horizon with Boise State still to play San Jose State, Utah still to play TCU and BYU, Ball State still to play Central Michigan and Western Michigan, and Tulsa still to play Arkansas. The cream of the non-BCS crop will rise to the top over the next few weeks.

Tulsa is better than people think: With the exception of last week's close game against SMU, Tulsa has dominated every team it has played. Saturday's game against UTEP was supposed to be its best game to date and Tulsa just ran away with a 77-35 victory. The win finally moved the Golden Hurricane into the polls. The game was tied at 28 after the first quarter and that was as close as it got. Tulsa senior quarterback David Johnson has been sick so far this season. He threw for more than 400 yards for the third time this season and threw for five touchdowns. He has not thrown for fewer than three touchdowns this year. The Golden Hurricane has beaten its opponents by an average of 29.4 points per game.

Spartans continue to impress: I know it's Boise State's WAC title to lose, but San Jose State is not going to let the Broncos run away with it without a fight. The Spartans easily handled a New Mexico State team that had been held to fewer than 24 points just once -- a loss to Nebraska. The Spartans are winning because of their defense. Against New Mexico State, they had three interceptions, two that were returned for touchdowns, and 17 tackles for loss, including six sacks and three quarterback hurries. San Jose State leads the WAC in total defense, pass efficiency defense, interceptions and turnover margin. San Jose State and Boise State, the top two teams in the WAC, clash this weekend in San Jose.

Sun Belt gets clearer: After starting the weekend with four teams locked at the top of the Sun Belt standings, Troy and Louisiana-Lafayette emerged as the two teams to beat for the Sun Belt title. Troy handled FIU as it has every other time the Trojans have played the Golden Panthers and the Ragin' Cajuns got by Arkansas State with a touchdown with 42 seconds remaining. The most intriguing thing about Louisiana-Lafayette's win was that it came without the help of quarterback Michael Desormeaux, who missed the game with a knee injury. Desormeaux and running back Tyrell Fenroy comprise the nation's most potent rushing backfield.

CMU still the MAC's best: Central Michigan has won the MAC each of the past two seasons and it made a strong case for a third bid after a win over rival Western Michigan. Ball State is still in the mix since it was idle this week. But the Cardinals are gearing up to go through their toughest stretch of games here in the final quarter of the season. They still have to play Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois. However, there's little doubt that the winner of the MAC, and probably all its bowl teams, will come from the West Division.

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