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Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Top non-AQ moments of the season

By Graham Watson

The 2009 non-AQ football season will be remembered for the many historical moments that occurred during the year. From teams breaking postseason droughts, to records falling, to the leveling of the playing field, the non-AQs made many strides this season.

With that in mind, it’s hard to pinpoint just 10 moments that made up the 2009 season, but here’s a look back at some of the moments that shaped the year.

1. TCU and Boise State both make the BCS: For the first time in the history of the BCS system, two non-AQ teams were selected to play in a BCS bowl in the same year.

2. BYU beating Oklahoma to open the season: The Mountain West needed a statement win after spending most of the offseason fighting for BCS equality. BYU's big win over the Sooners gave the conference a measure of validation.

3. The punch heard round the world: Boise State’s win over Oregon was exactly what the Broncos needed to start the season off right, but it was quickly overshadowed by Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount's sucker punch of Boise State defensive lineman Byron Hout.

4. Barnes makes history: Bowling Green receiver Freddie Barnes had been plagued with injuries most of his career, but had a breakout season that included 22 catches for 278 yards and three touchdowns against Kent State. Barnes went on to set the FBS single-season receptions record.

5. SMU ends 25-year drought: SMU defeated Tulane in the final regular-season game to secure the school’s first bowl berth since 1984. The Mustangs went on to defeat Nevada in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and notch eight wins for the first time since that 1984 season.

6. Hall lashes out: After defeating Utah in a dramatic overtime game, BYU quarterback Max Hall soured the win with a tirade that degraded Utah and its fans and added more fuel to an already tense in-state rivalry.

7. Idaho’s two-point conversion: Robb Akey’s call for Idaho to go for two and the win with a few seconds remaining in the Humanitarian Bowl gave the Vandals their first bowl win since 1998.

8. Navy beats Notre Dame -- again: The Mids’ 23-21 win over Notre Dame was the second in the past three seasons and might have been the final nail in the coffin of Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. Prior to the last two wins, Navy hadn’t beaten Notre Dame since 1963.

9. Nevada’s three 1,000-yard rushers: Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running backs Luke Lippincott and Vai Taua became the first trio in NCAA history to each rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

10. Houston beats three AQs: Houston was the only team this season to defeat three teams from automatic qualifying conferences during the nonconference season. It kept the Cougars in the national rankings almost the entire season.

Other notable moments: Fresno State offensive lineman catches a pass and scores a touchdown to beat Illinois; Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour sets passing and scoring records; Troy notches its fourth consecutive Sun Belt title; Middle Tennessee becomes the first Sun Belt team to win 10 games in a season; Temple wins nine consecutive games this season and goes to its first bowl since 1979; Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs sets record for touchdowns by a quarterback.