Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 12.
The good: TCU and Boise State are still in the national title hunt, keeping the non-AQs as one of the hottest topics of the college football conversation as we get into the final parts of the season. The two will continue to jockey for position, especially if they both win out. … Congrats to BYU for become bowl-eligible following a 1-4 start to the season. It has won five of its last six and has outscored its opponents 144-24 in the past three games. OK, the Cougars have beaten up on the bottom feeders in the league, but so has everyone else. … Wyoming closed its season with a 44-0 win over rival Colorado State for its first Mountain West win. Air Force also finished its season with a win over UNLV to finish 8-4. The Falcons await their bowl assignment. … SMU is also headed to a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1983-84. … Northern Illinois is headed to the MAC title game for the first time since 2005 and has won eight straight.
The bad: Fresno State was shut out for the first time since 1998 in a 51-0 loss to Boise State. The Bulldogs managed 125 total yards of offense. Ryan Colburn was sacked four times, had three turnovers and completed just six passes. … East Carolina continues to struggle, this time giving up 62 points to a Rice team that had two wins going into the game. The Pirates have given up 40-plus points in eight of their 11 games this season, including two games of 60-plus points. They have the worst defense in college football. … Army was held to just three points and a season-low 165 rushing yards in a loss to Notre Dame, and also lost the turnover battle. The Black Knights had been averaging 273 yards on the ground, and were one of the nation’s best in turnover margin. Since the start of 2006, Army is 7-35 when the margin is negative or even.
The uplifting: Southern Miss played truly inspired football in a 59-41 win over Houston. Coach Larry Fedora wondered how the events of last week would affect his team going into the game. Three players were shot after a fight inside a club spilled out into the parking lot. Linebacker Martez Smith is paralyzed from the waist down, but he was at the game for Senior Day, and in an emotional moment, was allowed onto the field in his wheelchair before the game. Tim Green, shot in the neck and unable to speak, watched from his hospital room, while Deddrick Jones watched from Fedora’s office. Defensive end Cordarro Law, who wore Jones’ No. 91, had two sacks and played with extra motivation. Green and Smith are his roommates.
The heartache: It seems we are always writing about Western Kentucky in this space. The Hilltoppers blew yet another fourth-quarter lead, dropping a 27-26 game to Middle Tennessee. Rod Issac returned a fumble 99 yards in the fourth quarter to spur the comeback. The Blue Raiders scored the final 17 points of the game. Western Kentucky has won two games this season -- both on the road. … Meanwhile, the Aztecs blew a 27-10 second-quarter lead to Utah and lost for the fourth time this season. Each loss has come to a bowl-eligible team. Each loss has been by five points or less.
500 club: Two non-AQ quarterbacks went over 500 yards this weekend: Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz set a new school record with 560 passing yards in a 41-7 win over San Jose State, breaking the old record of 559 by Colt Brennan against Arizona State in the 2006 Hawaii Bowl. San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley went 36-of-54 for a career-high 528 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions -- but his two INTs late made the difference in a 38-34 loss to Utah. He did become the first Aztecs player to post back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons since Dan McGwire in 1989-90.
A few more helmet stickers: Western Kentucky LB Bar’ee Boyd. As a team, the Hilltoppers had not blocked a punt in over two years. In the first quarter against Middle Tennessee, Boyd did it twice. His second block was recovered by Derrius Brooks in the end zone for a touchdown. … Wyoming DE Josh Biezuns had a career-high 3.5 sacks, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup in a 44-0 win over Colorado State.
Week 13 look ahead: The big one Friday night is in Reno, when No. 4 Boise State plays No. 19 Nevada with not only WAC title hopes on the line, but BCS hopes on the line for the Broncos as well. This weekend could clear up the national championship picture as well. … There also is a big game in the MAC on Tuesday night between Miami (Ohio) and Temple. Miami needs a win and an Ohio loss at Kent State to clinch the East. … And of course, there is BYU at Utah, in a game that is no sure thing for the Utes anymore. The Cougars actually have a semblance of an offense, but this will be their biggest test since the last time they lost -- at TCU. Their opponents are a combined 8-37 in their four-game winning streak.