- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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There are only a few marquee games on the schedule for this week. Air Force vs. Narvy tops our top 10 non-AQ storylines to watch:
1. Air Force defense vs. Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs. In the biggest game of the week featuring the non-AQs, Air Force has a good shot at beating Navy for the first time in eight seasons. Dobbs has not returned to his 2009 form, and part of the reason is because he has been hobbled with a sprained ankle. Teams are keying in on him and forcing him to pitch the ball out. Air Force did a good job against him last year, holding him to less than 100 yards. But the Falcons lost a heartbreaker in overtime.
2. Is BYU or Utah State the second-best team in the Beehive State behind Utah? We will get our much-anticipated answer in a nationally televised game Friday night. This has not been a competitive game in the past, but BYU is struggling now, having lost three straight. It has experience going against running quarterbacks. The Cougars allowed Colin Kaepernick and Nevada a big first half last week, but adjusted well in the second half. That should give them some confidence going into the game against Diondre Borel.
3. Welcome to conference play Boise State and TCU. Let us introduce you to your opponents -- two of the worst teams in college football. Boise State gets winless New Mexico State, while TCU gets one-win Colorado State. This is why a lot of people have a hard time buying their rise to the top of the polls.
4. How much will Boise State miss Winston Venable? The starting safety is suspended for a half after a helmet-to-helmet hit gave James Rodgers a concussion last week. The Broncos are playing offensively challenged New Mexico State so the answer here is easy. They could have afforded to have him suspended the entire game, which is what WAC commissioner Karl Benson initially ruled before an appeal.
5. Will TCU give up almost 200 yards on the ground again? Considering Colorado State is the worst rushing team in the country, averaging 59 yards on the ground, the answer is no. But the way Pete Thomas can throw the ball, the Rams may be able to get their yards through the air.
6. Will there be a Top 25 meltdown for Nevada in its big rivalry game with UNLV? No. That win last week for UNLV was really nice and all, but it came against New Mexico. The Rebels have a long way to go if they want to catch up to the way Nevada is playing right now. The Wolf Pack are deserving of that No. 25 ranking.
7. Will a fourth starting quarterback make a difference for Louisiana Tech? The Bulldogs are going with Tarik Hakmi, who threw for 262 yards in a narrow loss to Southern Miss last week. But he is going to have a hard time trying to keep up with the Hawaii offense. Bryant Moniz has 1,337 and 11 touchdowns already this season.
8. Will two of the top running backs in the MAC be available on Saturday? Temple coach Al Golden says Bernard Pierce (ankle) is a game-time decision against Army after getting hurt against Penn State. Kent State coach Doug Martin didn’t sound as optimistic about Eugene Jarvis (groin), who has missed the past two games.
9. Can SMU bounce back against Rice? This will be the 88th meeting between the two Texas schools and former Southwest Conference rivals, making it the most-played rivalry in Conference USA. SMU has the edge in this one. The Mustangs played valiantly in their loss to TCU. Zach Line ran the ball well, but coach June Jones would like to see more consistency out of his passing game.
10. Any of the six winless teams remaining have a shot to win? Five are playing this weekend -- Eastern Michigan, FIU, Akron, New Mexico and New Mexico State. I would not say any have a realistic shot, but watch for FIU against Pittsburgh and Eastern Michigan against Ohio. The Bobcats have not played up to their potential yet, at 1-3, and are still juggling quarterbacks.
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
4dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney