What did we learn after Week 8?
1. The non-AQs are still very much in contention for a BCS national championship. We may say this every week, but this is a continuing story and one that is history in the making. Every week that another No. 1 team loses is another week that Boise State, TCU and Utah can keep its hopes up that this could be the year that a team from outside the power conferences makes it into the title game for the first time. The No. 1 team in the country has lost for three straight weeks -- the first time that has happened since 1960. That ought to tell you about the season going on right now in college football. Argue about strength of schedule all you want. But with the way no dominant team has emerged, it is becoming more realistic to think anything can happen. These schools need help to make it in, but this is not pie in the sky. I know some people are already dreaming of TCU versus Boise State in the BCS title game just to bust the system.
2. Only two winless teams remain. Kudos to Western Kentucky for breaking the nation’s longest losing streak at 26 games and beating Louisiana 54-21. That leaves Akron and New Mexico as the only winless teams in the country, vying for the title of “Worst Team in America.” The vote here still goes with the Lobos, though they showed some fight in a 30-20 loss to San Diego State. Akron got totally dominated in a 56-10 loss to Western Michigan.
3. Can anyone figure out Houston? There are a lot of Jekyll and Hyde teams out there, and Houston has to fall into that category. The Cougars have been perplexing since Case Keenum got hurt. They handed SMU its first conference loss of the season, 45-20, on Saturday night to remain atop the West Division at 3-1. But this is the same team that lost the week before to Rice, 34-31. Said Rice team just got embarrassed 41-14 at UCF on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Knights and East Carolina have been the two most consistent teams in C-USA play with a showdown looming in Week 9.
4. Hawaii might be the biggest threat to Boise State. Maybe that should have been clear after the win last week over Nevada, but the Warriors throttled Utah State 45-7 and are 4-0 in WAC play for just the third time in school history. Hawaii has won its past seven WAC games dating back to last season, and the defense has 12 interceptions in its last five games. Hawaii plays at Boise State on Nov. 6, the same day TCU travels to play Utah.
5. Northern Illinois and Temple officially became bowl eligible. Both teams are at 6-2 after big wins Saturday. Northern Illinois beat Central Michigan 33-7 while Temple beat Buffalo 42-0. The MAC only has three bowl tie-ins, so if they want to make it into one of the bowls, their best shot is to play for the conference title. Meanwhile, Hawaii is one win away from becoming bowl eligible. UTEP blew its second straight chance to become bowl eligible and is 5-3. UCF, East Carolina, Southern Miss, San Diego State, Air Force and Navy are all one win away from clinching bowl eligibility.