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Non-AQ What to Watch, Week 11

11/11/2010

Come one, come all for your top 10 non-AQ storylines for Week 10:

1. Let the jockeying continue. Now that TCU has passed Boise State in the human polls, the race is on to see whether the Horned Frogs can stay there -- and grow their lead. Both need to happen for TCU to solidify its spot ahead of the Broncos in the BCS standings. TCU plays San Diego State (7-2) while Boise State plays Idaho (4-5) so it is unlikely Boise State will move ahead after this week. But looking ahead, TCU has one game left against New Mexico (1-8), while Boise State has games remaining against Fresno State (6-2), Nevada (8-1) and Utah State (3-6).

2. Is a letdown in store for TCU? The Horned Frogs are coming off an emotional 47-7 win over Utah, but this is not a team that loses focus easily. They have given up a total of 23 points in six league games, and have given up one touchdown at home in three league games. This is Senior Day, where TCU will say goodbye to a group of players who have not lost in the regular season since 2008. San Diego State is much improved, so we will see how the Horned Frogs handle their emotions.

3. How does the Boise State-Idaho rivalry end? Boise State and Idaho have no future games set as the Broncos depart the WAC for the Mountain West. But this game has not proved to be much of a rivalry over the last several years. The Broncos have won 11 straight over the Vandals, and have won those game by an average score of 51-18.

4. Can Utah bounce back? The Utes are coming off an embarrassing loss at home to TCU and travel to play a beaten down Notre Dame team. As badly as the Irish need to win, so does Utah, which wants to avoid having its season go down the drain due to one loss. After losing 55-28 to TCU last year, Utah rebounded with a 38-7 win over San Diego State. But that one was at home. This is going to be a tough challenge.

5. Will we get clarity in Conference USA? There are several big games for the league this weekend as UCF hosts Southern Miss, and Tulsa travels to Houston. UCF is the lone team that is undefeated in league play in Conference USA and can clinch the East Division with a win over Southern Miss and an East Carolina loss to UAB tonight. Meanwhile, Tulsa, Houston and SMU each have two losses in the West. Whoever wins would remain in the hunt.

6. Will we get clarity in the Sun Belt? Who would have thought when the season started we would be saying Troy and FIU would be meeting with Sun Belt title chances on the line? Both teams have one loss in conference play and the winner here would be in the driver’s seat. Whoever wins out, wins the league. It’s as simple as that.

7. Bowl eligibility time. Here are your teams that have a shot to become bowl eligible this week: Army, East Carolina, Houston and Troy. Army plays at Kent State, while East Carolina is at UAB, Houston hosts Tulsa and Troy hosts FIU. SMU (5-5) is off.

8. What does Navy do for an encore? The Midshipmen racked up 76 points and 521 yards on the ground against East Carolina last week. So what happens against Central Michigan (3-7)? Quarterback Ricky Dobbs reportedly missed a few days of practice with a slight concussion. If he cannot go, Kriss Proctor would get the start. But even without Dobbs, Alexander Teich has played well since replacing Vince Murray in the starting lineup. He averaged 11.2 yards a carry last week against the Pirates, and had a 200-yard game against Notre Dame.

9. What does Nevada do for an encore? The Wolf Pack may not have scored as many points as Navy, but they had more yards -- 844 in a 63-17 win over Idaho. Nevada sits at No. 21, behind several two-loss teams from power conferences. The question is whether voters see Nevada as a great team or merely a good team from a bad conference. How it does against a good Fresno State team on Saturday is important for perception.

10. The future is now. True freshman quarterbacks Pete Thomas and Jake Heaps face each other when BYU travels to Colorado State. Thomas has thrown for 2,273 yards for the Rams and is second in the league in passing, mostly because he has been put in situations where his team has fallen behind. But still, he is progressing well and coach Steve Fairchild believes Thomas' future is bright. Heaps has not been as successful, struggling as much as the rest of the BYU offense. He had his first good game against UNLV last week, throwing for 294 yards and a touchdown. The play of the quarterbacks is the key to the game.