Monday, November 14, 2011
Weekend Rewind: Non-AQs
By Andrea Adelson
Let's take a look back at the non-AQs in Week 11:
QB Casey Pachall and TCU stopped Boise State's 65-game regular-season home win streak en route to a third straight Mountain West title.
Boise goes down. In all the debates about Boise State last week, the questions always surrounded what had to happen for the Broncos to get into the national championship game. But one thing was taken for granted: Boise had to win out. That was a given, right? Not in the world of college football, where excruciating heartbreak has replaced unbending optimism for the second straight season in Boise. The Broncos are not only beatable, they are beatable at home. TCU proved that Saturday in a 36-35 win on the blue turf, handing Boise State its first conference loss at home since 1998. TCU and Boise State always play tight games, and this was no exception. It was first-year TCU starting quarterback Casey Pachall who made the big plays for his team, throwing for 473 yards, five touchdowns and the game-winning 2-point conversion on a defense that was without its top three cornerbacks. Boise State had its chances to win, but missed them just like last season. In a loss to Nevada, Boise State blew a 24-7 halftime lead. In the loss to TCU, Boise State had a 35-28 lead in the fourth quarter and could not hold on. Championship teams find ways to win. For two years in a row now, Boise State failed. For all the problems TCU had early in the season, the Horned Frogs are now in control of the Mountain West in their final season in the league. TCU is now 4-1 in its last five games against top-5 opponents.
If you like offense ... Houston is averaging a whopping 54.7 points a game and has scored more than 70 twice in the past three games. Is it an understatement to say the offense is really clicking with Case Keenum in charge? The thing is, the Cougars can actually run the ball, too. They showed that in a 73-17 win over Tulane, in which Charles Sims had 207 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Toledo has been involved in back-to-back shootouts in games against Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. The Rockets have both scored and given up 60-plus points. Toledo went 1-1 in those games, which featured 252 points and 2,560 yards of total offense.
Game of the week. Southern Miss 30, UCF 29. The Golden Eagles played a wild fourth quarter against defending league champion UCF. After taking a 19-9 lead early in the fourth, Southern Miss watched as UCF backup quarterback Blake Bortles led an improbable rally. Bortles threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Ronnie Weaver to put the Knights up 23-22. Southern Miss answered when Austin Davis threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Chris Briggs to go up 30-23 with 5:52 remaining. But Bortles was not done, throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Worton with no time left. Coach George O'Leary made the same decision as Gary Patterson -- he elected to go for two. But Southern Miss safety Jacorious Cotton got a hand on the pass attempt and the Golden Eagles escaped with the win.
Conference race update. Here is where things stand for the five non-AQ conferences.
Conference USA: Southern Miss (9-1, 5-1) is in control of the East. One more win clinches the division for the Golden Eagles. Houston (10-0, 6-0) and Tulsa (7-3, 6-0) are tied atop the West, setting up a huge showdown in Tulsa in the regular-season finale. If both win this weekend (Houston vs. SMU, Tulsa at UTEP), the team that comes out on top next week goes to the C-USA title game.
MAC: If Ohio (7-3, 4-2) wins out, the Bobcats go to the MAC title game. They have games remaining at Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio). If Northern Illinois (7-3, 5-1) wins out, the Huskies go back to the title game. They have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Toledo (6-4, 5-1).
Mountain West: TCU (8-2, 5-0) wins out against Colorado State and UNLV and wins the conference.
Sun Belt: Arkansas State (8-2, 6-0) came from behind to beat ULL 30-21 to take control of the conference race. Win out, the Red Wolves are the league champions.
WAC: Nevada (6-3, 4-0) and Louisiana Tech (6-4, 4-1) play in Reno on Saturday with the conference championship on the line. The Wolf Pack win out and win their second straight WAC title, in their final year in the league.
Casey Pachall, QB, TCU. Pachall completed 24 of 37 passes for a career-high 473 yards and five touchdowns in a 36-35 win over Boise State, snapping the Broncos' 35-game home winning streak. It was the second-highest single-game passing total in school history.
Brandon Joiner, DL, Arkansas State. Joiner tied an Arkansas State and Sun Belt Conference record with four sacks, and he also tied his personal career high with a team-best eight tackles in a 30-21 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette.
Charles Sims, RB, Houston. Sims had 10 carries for 207 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Tulane.
Adonis Thomas, RB, Toledo. Thomas had 30 carries for 216 yards and two touchdowns in a 66-63 win over Western Michigan.
Taveon Rogers, WR, New Mexico State. Rogers had 10 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown in a 48-45 win over Fresno State as the Aggies beat the Bulldogs for the first time in 18 games.