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Thursday, January 21, 2010
Top non-AQ programs of the decade

By Graham Watson

Looking at the top programs this decade, it would be tough to find a program that even comes close to the dominance Boise State has shown since joining the WAC in 2001.

And while Boise State is the headliner for the non-AQ, there have been several programs this decade that have made their marks on the coalition of five conferences and the Independents. Below are the top non-AQ programs of the decade:

1. Boise State: The Broncos joined the WAC in 2001 and have been building a dynasty ever since. They’ve won seven conference titles and two Fiesta Bowls, had two undefeated seasons, four one-loss seasons and haven’t lost more than four games in any year.

2. TCU: The Horned Frogs have had just one losing season this decade and seven seasons of 10 or more wins. They were undefeated this regular season and played in their first BCS bowl. They’ve won four conference titles and have been the nation’s top defense four seasons this decade.

3. Utah: The Utes are one of only two non-AQ teams to post two undefeated seasons and play in two BCS bowls. They’ve had just two losing seasons this decade and haven’t had one since 2003. Since 2003, the Utes have had double-digit wins four times.

4. Hawaii: Under head coach June Jones, Hawaii was one of the most consistent teams in the WAC. From 2001-07, the Warriors had just one losing season. It went undefeated in 2007 and played in the school’s first BCS bowl game.

5. Navy: After struggling during the first two years of this decade, Navy started a streak of at least eight wins in every season since. Included in that streak are two wins over Notre Dame, the first since 1963, and two of the school’s three 10-win seasons.

6. Louisville: The Cardinals were only a member of Conference USA during the first half of this decade, but they were dominant during that five-season stretch. They won three conference titles and never finished lower than third. They played in a bowl game every year in which they were a member of C-USA this decade.

7. Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles are currently in the midst of a streak of 16 consecutive winning seasons dating back to 1994. This decade, the Golden Eagles have gone to nine bowls, including a streak of eight straight, and have won two division title and one conference title.

8. BYU: The Cougars have had some rough stretches this decade, but they’ve also posted five double-digit win seasons, including each of the past four years. The Cougars also have two Mountain West titles and have finished in the top third of the conference every year since 2004.

9. Fresno State: The Bulldogs have had one losing season this decade and have posted wins against programs such as UCLA, Oregon State, Colorado and Cal. The Bulldogs motto of playing anyone, anytime, anywhere has given them national credibility.

10. Troy: The Trojans have been a member of the FBS since 2002 and in that time they have just two losing seasons. They've won each of the last four Sun Belt titles and have been to four bowl games, including three in the past four seasons. The Trojans marquee win is a 24-14 victory over No. 25 Missouri.