Come one, come all for your top 10 non-AQ storylines for Week 13:
1. Does Boise State finally pass TCU in the BCS standings? Ever since TCU had its less than impressive 40-35 win over San Diego State, experts and fans have speculated it was only a matter of time before the Broncos passed the Horned Frogs as the top non-AQ team in the BCS standings. This could be the weekend it happens. No. 4 Boise State plays No. 19 Nevada, while No. 3 TCU plays lowly New Mexico (1-10). Their computer average should be about the same, so watch for how the two line up in the human polls.
2. Does a non-AQ still have a national title shot? Tune in to Iron Bowl on Friday afternoon for your answer. No. 2 Auburn plays at rival Alabama, and many are predicting a win for the Tide. If that happens, either Boise State or TCU should move into that No. 2 position, but there are no guarantees. A one-loss SEC team could still be enough for voters to keep the Tigers ahead of both non-AQs. A lot depends on the final score, and then what happens in the SEC title game the following week. But losing late is never beneficial. Oregon hosts Arizona on Friday night, and there is an outside shot the Wildcats pull the upset.
3. Can TCU do anything to help itself? Win in a blowout. But that still may not be enough. Boise State plays Friday night, so the Horned Frogs will have a better idea of where they could stand when the BCS standings are released on Sunday. Boise State has all the momentum this weekend. Meanwhile, TCU coach Gary Patterson says there is no way his team will put up style points on the Lobos.
“Both sides have players and coaches who are human beings,” Patterson said. “Somebody wrote an e-mail: Oregon beat them 72-0. I can promise -- even if I had a chance to do that, that would never happen. Do I want to get an opportunity to play for a national championship? Yes, but not at the expense of teaching my young people a life lesson. I believe in doing things the right way. It’s not about teaching them the wrong message.”
4. Boise State D vs. the Pistol. The Broncos put on a dominating performance last week in a 51-0 win over Fresno State, but they face the trendsetting offense of the year: the Pistol. They are used to playing against this offense, so it will be easier for them to defend against it. Nevada ranks No. 3 in total offense, and Boise State ranks No. 2 in total defense. Colin Kaepernick had a terrific game in a four-overtime thriller his freshman year against Boise State, but since then has not posted a 100-yard rushing game against Boise State. The key here could be the running of Vai Taua, ranked seventh in the country in rushing, and whether Kaepernick is able to pass as efficiently as he has so far this season.
5. End of an era for BYU-Utah. The Holy War will have a different feel to it this season, simply because it’s the final one featuring the two teams as members of the same conference, and the final one scheduled to close out the regular season. The two teams will play in 2011 and 2012 in September, but have no future games scheduled after that. Both schools want to keep the game alive, and they should. This is one of the fiercest rivalries in all of college football.
6. C-USA race. All SMU and UCF have to do is win and they are in the Conference USA title game Dec. 4 in Orlando. The Knights would host the game based on their better record. UCF should be a shoo-in to beat Memphis (1-10). SMU will face a more difficult challenge at East Carolina. The Pirates have lost three of their last four, and gave up an average of 62 points in those losses. But they have only dropped one at home, and have a good offense behind Dominique Davis and Dwayne Harris that can go toe-to-toe with anyone.
7. MAC race. If Ohio beats Kent State on Friday night, the Bobcats punch their ticket to the MAC title game on Dec. 3 in Detroit for the second straight season. Consider the job coach Frank Solich has done this season -- he lost his best defensive player in Noah Keller and his best offensive player in LaVon Brazill for the season, along with Freshman All-America safety Gerald Moore. But the Bobcats have won seven straight and beat the two other East Division teams that are bowl eligible in Temple and Miami (Ohio).
8. Sun Belt race. FIU gets its first Sun Belt title game and first bowl appearance with a win over Arkansas State on Saturday. The Panthers have been one of the biggest surprises this season and have won three straight to take command of the league race. The last time these two teams played in Miami, FIU won 22-21 on a touchdown pass from receiver T.Y. Hilton to fellow receiver Junior Mertile.
9. Bowl eligibility. A few teams have hopes of getting to six wins this weekend: Houston (at Texas Tech), Western Michigan (at Bowling Green), Troy (at Western Kentucky), FIU and ULM (Louisiana). Louisiana Tech (4-6) and Idaho (5-6) have to win out to become eligible. Louisiana Tech has to beat San Jose State and Nevada; while Idaho needs to beat Fresno State and San Jose State.
10. Your waistline. Oh, forget about your waistline! Put on a pair of sweatpants, and enjoy all the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie you can as you feast on a terrific college football slate this holiday weekend. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!