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Tuesday, January 12, 2010
What we learned from the non-AQ's, bowl edition

By Graham Watson

1. The MWC is still strong: The Mountain West has been all about making statements since the season’s opening game at Dallas Cowboys Stadium. And the conference continued that trend into bowl season with a 4-1 record, including two wins over teams from the automatic qualifying conferences. However, the Mountain West did lose the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl to Boise State, which means that while the conference as a whole is the best, the Broncos are the best non-AQ team.

2. Boise State reigns supreme: It’s time to party like it’s 2007! That’s the last time Boise State could claim non-AQ supremacy after a big win in a BCS game. The Broncos 17-10 win over TCU might have been criticized by some, but it’s clear that Boise State was the best team on the field that day and deserved to win the game. Now it will be interesting to see what this means to the future of the Broncos and the Mountain West. There have been rumors about Boise State joining the conference and it will be intriguing to see whether the win hurts or helps that cause.

3. Minor uprising: Three teams went to bowls this season after more than a decade drought and two came away with victories. Idaho and SMU both made the country sit up and take notice after their big wins in the their respective bowl games. SMU’s dominant win over Nevada has piqued interest because the Mustangs have not been relevant for 25 years. Coach June Jones is known for his ability to turn programs around, but what he’s done at SMU in such a short amount of time, has created a lot of optimism.

4. New coaches split bowl games: First-year coaches Dave Christensen and Dave Clawson split their respective bowl games with Christensen’s Wyoming Cowboys beating Fresno State in double overtime and Clawson’s Bowling Green Falcons losing to Idaho on one of the craziest plays of the bowl season. However, both coaches finish the season as the only new head coaches with winning records and there will be great optimism, especially in Wyoming, that both coaches can continue the winning trend.

5. Let the record show: Several non-AQ players set records during their various bowl games. Middle Tennessee quarterback Dwight Dasher became just the third FBS quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for 2,000 yards. Bowling Green receiver Freddie Barnes set the FBS single-season reception record. Navy’s Ricky Dobbs set the single-season FBS record for touchdowns by a quarterback. SMU quarterback Kyle Padron set the SMU record for passing yards in a game. And then there’s Houston quarterback Case Keenum, who has the unfortunate distinction of tying the bowl interception record with six.