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Weekend rewind: Non-AQs

10/17/2011

Taking a look some of the top stories among the non-AQs in Week 7.

The turnaround kids: Bravo to Louisiana-Lafayette (6-1) for becoming bowl eligible after a 30-10 win against North Texas, continuing a remarkable turnaround under first-year coach Mark Hudspeth. Not only have the Ragin’ Cajuns doubled their win total from a season ago, they are the first Sun Belt team to ever win six of its first seven games. They already have beaten preseason favorites FIU and Troy en route to a 4-0 league mark, and are hoping for their first bowl appearance since 1970.

But Louisiana-Lafayette is not the only team that has doubled its win total from a season ago.

Eastern Michigan: In 2009, the Golden Eagles finished the season 0-12. Today they are 4-3 after Alex Gillett scored on a 30-yard run with 37 seconds left in a 35-28 win against Central Michigan 35-28. Eastern Michigan racked up 350 yards rushing and all five of its touchdowns came on the ground. This is the first time it is above .500 in October since starting 3-2 in 2005. It finished that season 4-7.

San Jose State: The Spartans were one of the worst teams in the country last season, finishing 1-12 after injuries decimated the team. But now they have equaled their win total from the past two seasons combined and sit at 3-4, very much in the thick of the too-hard-to-predict WAC race after a wild 28-27 win against Hawaii on Friday night. Fans stormed the field, and coaches and players danced in celebration, too. After so many dark years, San Jose State is 2-1 in WAC play.

Conference shenanigans: If you want great examples of parity, take a look at the MAC West and the WAC. Five teams are at 4-3 in the MAC West, including Eastern Michigan and Ball State, two of the worst teams in the nation last season. Toledo leads the division with a 3-0 mark in league play. Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Ball State and Northern Illinois are all at 2-1 in league play.

The WAC is having a tough time without Boise State this season. No team is above .500. Fresno State (3-4), which went winless in league play and got smoked 57-7 by Boise State, sits atop the conference at 2-0. Hawaii, the preseason favorite, has had two ugly losses to San Jose State and UNLV. Nevada, which lost one game a year ago, is 3-3. New Mexico State, one of the worst teams in the country the past several seasons, is 3-3 with one league win. Just about every team has a shot at the league, maybe save Idaho (1-6, 0-3).

Let's hear it for the Chandlers: Chandler Jones, WR, San Jose State. Jones scored three different ways in a 28-27 upset win against Hawaii on Friday night. His 20-yard run on a reverse got the Spartans on the scoreboard. Next, a 23-yard fumble return off a fumbled kickoff return gave San Jose State a 20-7 second-quarter lead. Finally, he caught the game-winning 37-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds to go. Incredibly, his longest play going into the game was a 16-yard reception against Nevada in September.

Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois: Harnish became the 10th player in FBS history to rush for 200 yards and pass for 200 in a single game, after he accomplished the feat in a 51-22 win against Western Michigan. Harnish ran for a career-high 229 yards, including runs of 51, 29, 45, 40. He also passed for 203 yards. And oh by the way, he only played three quarters. Denard Robinson was the last to pull the 200-200 double -- doing it twice last season.

Helmet stickers

Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State. Hillman ran 27 times for 172 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-27 win at Air Force. It was the Aztecs' first victory in Colorado Springs since 2004, and Hillman's fifth 100-yard rushing game this season.

Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU. Hoffman had nine catches for 162 yards and a touchdown in a 38-28 win against Oregon State.

J.J. McDermott, QB, SMU. McDermott went 20-of-31 for 358 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a 38-17 win against UCF.

Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State. Moore went 26-of-30 for 388 yards and four touchdowns in a 63-13 win against Colorado State. He started the game with 18 straight completions. It is the second time this season he completed more than 80 percent of his passes. Teammates Tyler Shoemaker (180 yards receiving) and Doug Martin (200 yards rushing) deserve mention as well.

Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple. Pierce ran for 152 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-0 win against Buffalo, breaking four school records in the process. He now has 44 touchdowns (43 rush, one receiving) in his career, passing Paul Palmer (1983-86). Pierce re-wrote his own single-season record for touchdowns and now has 18 (previous record was 16 from 2009). He also re-wrote his own season record for points scored (96, which he shared with Brandon McManus in 2009) and now has 102 points this season.