NCF Nation: Bowling Green

Lunchtime Links

November, 11, 2010
11/11/10
12:00
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Almost nailed the Miami (Ohio)-Bowling Green score right yesterday. More mid-week non-AQ football coming up tonight: East Carolina at UAB. My pick: East Carolina 41, UAB 35.

Now on to some links:

Rose Bowl officials have discussed the possibility of choosing between Boise State and Stanford as an at-large selection.

The Alford brothers will be on opposite sidelines once again Saturday when Utah plays Notre Dame.

How does anyone know who the best team in the country is on eyeballs alone, asks Jennifer Floyd Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Nevada offensive lineman John Bender plays on the edge.

San Diego State coach Brady Hoke says he's not looking to bail out after two years with the Aztecs. His name has surfaced on the Minnesota wish list.

Rice athletic director Rick Greenspan has given coach Dave Bailiff a vote of confidence.

Marshall's Donald Brown won't live down "The Slide."

Arkansas State is ready for Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey.

Louisiana Tech's Phillip Livas is back to making big plays.

Northern Illinois stays grounded after its win against Toledo.

Miami (Ohio) becomes bowl eligible

November, 11, 2010
11/11/10
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Miami (Ohio) has made one of the best turnarounds in college football this season, and it continued on a foggy Wednesday night in Bowling Green.

The RedHawks became bowl eligible for the first time since 2005 after winning the game on the final play. Kicker Trevor Cook returned from a knee injury to boot a 33-yard field goal with no time left, lifting Miami to the 24-21 victory. Miami is in a three-way tie atop the MAC East with Temple and Ohio. Those two teams play next Tuesday. Miami (6-4, 5-1) already lost to Ohio, but plays Temple to close out the season on Nov. 23.

[+] EnlargeThomas Merriweather
Andrew Weber/US PresswireThomas Merriweather rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Miami went 1-11 last season and was picked to finish fifth in the MAC preseason poll. The RedHawks have not played in a bowl game since 2003. Going into the game, they were tied with Maryland for the most improved team in the country. Both had a four-game improvement over last season. Maryland was 2-10 in 2009.

After jumping out to a 21-7 lead against Bowling Green, Miami saw the Falcons tie the game. The RedHawks set up their final scoring drive when D.J. Brown got his first interception. Cook had missed the last two games with a knee injury, and missed a 41-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. But he redeemed himself in a big way with the final kick.

As for the other Miami playmakers, receiver Nick Harwell has come on strong in the last few games. He had 10 catches for 125 yards against Bowling Green and now has 43 catches for 600 yards in the last five games. In his first five games, he had just two grabs for 15 yards.

As for Bowling Green (2-8, 1-5), this has been a season to forget. A year removed from going to the Humanitarian Bowl, the Falcons have struggled through youth and inexperience. They have lost four games this season on the final play of the game.

Lunchtime Links

November, 10, 2010
11/10/10
12:30
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More midweek MAC football coming up. Tonight: Miami (Ohio) at Bowling Green. I will take Miami, 24-20.

Now on to some links:

Boise State's defensive line has been key this season.

Gary Patterson is in demand, and that's good for TCU.

Utah linebacker J.J. Williams finally makes his return from a lingering foot injury.

Nevada wide receiver Rishard Matthews is hitting his stride.

There is a chance Southern Miss wide receiver DeAndre Brown could play against UCF.

Is running the football the best option for UAB against East Carolina?

Houston linebacker Matt Nicholson suffered another knee injury, ending his season and career.

The WAC could add Texas-San Antonio, Texas State and Denver as early as today.

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun deflected talk about the Colorado opening.

FAU is not proud of its poor offensive production.

Injuries have hit Middle Tennessee -- both starting cornerbacks could be out Saturday.

Non-AQ bowl look

November, 9, 2010
11/09/10
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You saw my bowl projections from Sunday. Now here is a breakdown of the teams that have a shot at becoming bowl eligible this weekend.

Conference USA

Already eligible: UCF, Tulsa, Southern Miss, UTEP.

Vying for a spot: East Carolina, SMU and Houston each have five wins. The Pirates are hoping to bounce back after an embarrassing 76-45 loss to Navy at UAB. Houston hosts Tulsa in an important West division game, while SMU is off. SMU, Houston and Tulsa each have two league losses. SMU already beat Tulsa but lost to Houston. If there is a three-way tie atop the division when the season ends, the first tiebreaker is overall record to determine who plays in the Conference USA title game.

On the other end of the spectrum: Tulane (3-6), Marshall (3-6) and UAB (3-6) have to win out. Rice (2-7) and Memphis (1-8) have been eliminated.

Guaranteed bowl spots: Six.

MAC

Already eligible: Temple, Toledo, Ohio and Northern Illinois.

Vying for a spot: Miami (Ohio) is 5-4 and has a great shot at becoming bowl eligible in the next two weeks with games at Bowling Green (2-7) on Wednesday and at Akron (0-10) on Nov. 17. Kent State (4-5) needs to win two of its final three against Army (5-4), Western Michigan (3-6) and Ohio (7-3).

On the other end of the spectrum: Western Michigan has to win out. Buffalo, Central Michigan, Bowling Green, Akron, Eastern Michigan and Ball State are out.

Guaranteed bowl spots: Three.

Mountain West

Already eligible: TCU, San Diego State, Air Force, Utah.

Vying for a spot: BYU (4-5) plays at Colorado State in a critical must-win before closing against New Mexico and Utah.

On the other end of the spectrum: Colorado State, Wyoming, UNLV and New Mexico have been eliminated.

Guaranteed bowl spots: Five.

Sun Belt

Already eligible: No one.

Vying for a spot: Troy (5-3) is the only team with five wins. A home win against FIU on Saturday gets the Trojans bowl eligible. ULM (4-5) and Arkansas State (4-5) have to win two of three. The Warhawks have LSU, North Texas and Louisiana. Arkansas State has Western Kentucky, Navy and FIU.

On the other end of the spectrum: FIU, Middle Tennessee and FAU are each 3-5. The Blue Raiders may have the easiest road with games against North Texas, Western Kentucky, FAU and FIU remaining. FAU has Troy and Texas on its schedule. FIU also has tough games against Troy, Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee. North Texas, Louisiana and Western Kentucky have been eliminated.

Guaranteed bowl spots: Two.

WAC

Already eligible: Boise State, Hawaii, Nevada, Fresno State. Hawaii has accepted an invite to the Hawaii Bowl.

Vying for a spot: Idaho (4-5) has to win three of four against Boise State, Utah State, Fresno State and San Jose State. Since the Vandals have a 13-game schedule, they have to get to seven wins. Louisiana Tech and Utah State are both 3-6 and have to win out. The Bulldogs have New Mexico State, San Jose State and Nevada. Utah State has San Jose State, Idaho and Boise State.

On the other end of the spectrum: New Mexico State and San Jose State (1-8) have been eliminated.

Guaranteed bowl spots: Four.

Independents

Navy (6-3) became eligible for the Poinsettia Bowl. Army (5-4) needs one more win with games left against Kent State, Notre Dame and Navy. Army does not have an automatic bowl tie-in this year, but has backup agreements with the Armed Forces Bowl and Military Bowl. Notre Dame (4-5) needs two more wins with games remaining against Utah, Army and USC.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

November, 1, 2010
11/01/10
4:49
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Here are the non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each conference:

Conference USA

Offense: UAB running back Pat Shed, UCF running back Ronnie Weaver. Shed ran for a career-best 176 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 50-49 double overtime win against Southern Miss. He finished with 235 all-purpose yards as the Blazers posted their first win in Roberts Stadium. Weaver ran for a career-high 180 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns in a 49-35 win against East Carolina.

Defense: Tulsa linebacker Shawn Jackson. His interception with 37 second left in the first half gave Tulsa the momentum in its 28-27 win against Notre Dame. He also had six tackles, a sack and two quarterback hurries.

Special teams: Tulsa punt returner Damaris Johnson. Had a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown, the second of his career in the win. He is 25 yards shy of tying the Conference USA all-time kickoff return record.

MAC

East Division

Offense: Miami receiver Nick Harwell. Had eight receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-9 win at Buffalo.

Defense: Bowling Green defensive tackle Chris Jones. Had six tackles, five tackles for loss, three and a half sacks and recovered a fumble in a 17-14 win at Central Michigan.

Special Teams: Kent State punter Matt Rinehart. Averaged 52 yards on four punts as the Flashes posted a 43-yard net in a 33-14 win against Ball State.

West Division

Offense: Western Michigan receiver Jordan White. Had a career-high 14 receptions for a career-high 180 yards and one touchdown in a 28-21 loss to Northern Illinois.

Defense: Northern Illinois defensive end Jake Coffman. He had four tackles and the game-saving interception on Western Michigan’s final offensive play to seal the win.

Special Teams: Toledo punter Vince Penza. Averaged 40.6 yards on five punts in the Rockets' 42-7 win at Eastern Michigan.

Mountain West

Offense: San Diego State receiver DeMarco Sampson. Had seven receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-38 win against Wyoming. He has three straight 100-yard games.

Defense: Utah safety Brian Blechen. Had a career-high nine tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery in a 28-23 win at Air Force.

Special teams: San Diego State punter Brian Stahovich. Kicked the longest punt in San Diego State history at 89 yards in the second half against Wyoming. It was his only punt of the day.

Sun Belt

Offense: North Texas running back Lance Dunbar. Ran for a season-high 215 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-6 win at Western Kentucky. The 215 yards was the most by any player in the Sun Belt this season and the third-highest rushing total in the nation this week.

Defense: ULM Darius Prelow. Had six tackles and an interception in a 28-14 upset win against Troy. The defense held Troy to its lowest point total in a Sun Belt game since 2006.

Co-Special Teams: Louisiana kicker Brett Baer, North Texas kicker Zach Olen. Baer made a field goal and four extra-point attempts, and had two perfectly placed onside kicks in a loss at Ohio. Olen made two field goals, including a 48-yarder, the longest by a North Texas kicker since 2005.

WAC

Offense: Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz. Went 27-of-38 for 326 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-10 win against Idaho. He also rushed seven times for 43 yards and another score. Moniz is the first quarterback in the nation to reach 3,000 yards this season (3,247).

Defense: Hawaii S Mana Silva. Had nine tackles (six solo), including one for a loss of 13 yards, and intercepted a pass in the win against Idaho.

Special teams: New Mexico State kicker Tyler Stampler. Went 3-for-3 on field goal attempts in a 29-27 win against San Jose State. He made a 42-yard field goal as time expired in the first half and then added a 25- and a career-long 43-yarder in the fourth quarter of a tight game.

Non-AQ Tricks and Treats

October, 29, 2010
10/29/10
10:00
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Halloween time means we get to take a look at some of the tricks and treats the non-AQs have delivered so far this season. Have fun with this, and come up with some of your own in the comments section.

[+] EnlargeB.R. Holbrook
AP Photo/Rick BowmerNew Mexico did little right when it suffered a horrifying 72-0 loss against Oregon this season.
Scary movie: The worst loss of the season has to go to New Mexico, falling 72-0 to Oregon. The Lobos had eight first downs, 108 yards of total offense and trailed 59-0 at halftime. Did we mention that Oregon racked up 720 yards of total offense? The 72-point win for Oregon stands as the largest in school history over an FBS school. Not even FCS Portland State gave up that many points or yards to Oregon this year (though it did come close in the 69-0 loss).

Nightmare in Bronco Stadium: Yes, Boise State never loses at home, but watch out for Hawaii next week as a game that poses a threat to a contender. The Warriors are playing lights out football, and the Broncos have been less than impressive in the secondary this season. This one could impact the race for the national championship. On the other hand, the last time Boise State lost at home was to Washington State 42-20 on Sept. 8, 2001.

Boo (Boo): San Jose State and North Texas have been hit with major injuries, each losing at least 10 significant contributors for the season. But there is no bigger injury than the one Houston has had to overcome. Heisman Trophy candidate Case Keenum tore his ACL in the third game of the season and is out for the year. Backup Cotton Turner went out for the season in the same game. Houston has gone 2-2 without them and still stands atop the West Division of Conference USA. But it has been trying to deal with the huge loss of Keenum, who was poised to break the NCAA career passing record.

Night of the living dead: BYU is so not playing like BYU this season. The Cougars are 3-5 and are on the brink of failing to make a bowl game for the first time since 2004. The offense has looked like the living dead, ranking No. 106 in the nation. Spooky stuff in Provo.

Jigsaw team: San Diego State has put the pieces of the puzzle together in the second season under coach Brady Hoke and is one win away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 1998. The running game is working with Ronnie Hillman, and that has allowed the play-action to work with Ryan Lindley, DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown. The defense has played well, too. The Aztecs (5-2) have matched their best start in the past 14 seasons. To think they are two blown calls from being undefeated. Enough to make you scream, right Aztecs fans?

Halloween costumes: Time to play dress up. What would some of these guys go dressed up as on Halloween?

TCU coach Gary Patterson as Oregon coach Chip Kelly. Because seriously, those guys look so much alike with their visors on, they could have been switched at birth.

Boise State coach Chris Petersen as a scarecrow. You know, because he scares off teams from power conferences.

Utah punt returner Shaky Smithson as Zorro. You have to love the way he slices and dices through punt return units.

Temple coach Al Golden as a zombie. Nothing like bringing a program back from the dead.

FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger as Colonel Sanders. Anybody else see the resemblance?

Eastern Michigan coach Ron English and Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart as conquering heroes. Hey, they both ended long losing streaks this year.

Twilight Zone: You know Bowling Green would love a do-over. A year after going bowling, the Falcons are 1-7. Three of their losses are by three points or less. Quarterback Matt Schilz has been banged up, and the young team has not been able to come together. Of course, Akron (0-8) and New Mexico (0-7) probably wish this nightmare of a season would end. Now.

Non-AQ Picks: Week 9

October, 28, 2010
10/28/10
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Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

My picks in Week 8 were back to being decent, and I got one of my two upset specials right. Navy beat Notre Dame to help me get to 7-3, but did anyone expect the Midshipmen to win that decisively? Not I said the cat.

With a 50-34 overall record, I am ready for what Week 9 has to bring. I think.

On to the picks!

No. 4 TCU 41, UNLV 3. The Horned Frogs keep on rolling in their first road game since Oct. 2 against Colorado State. Keep in mind they won that game 27-0 after some struggles on offense. Andy Dalton is going to have to play well on the road for TCU to have any shot at staying undefeated. TCU has outscored its Mountain West opponents 141-10.

No. 8 Utah 31, Air Force 13. This game is usually really tight, but not this year. After a good first quarter, Air Force struggled to move the ball against TCU last week and had its lowest rushing output of the season. Utah has one of the more unheralded defenses in the nation, and ranks in the Top 10 in the nation in scoring D, total D and rush D.

No. 24 Nevada 35, Utah State 13. The Wolf Pack return to the field after a week off, hoping to erase the sting of their first loss of the season. Colin Kaepernick had four turnovers in that loss to Hawaii, and is going to have to be mistake-free for Nevada to have a shot at winning the rest of its games. Coach Chris Ault said his team had physical practices leading up to this game, and is eager to see how it responds. Utah State has scored 13 points in its past two games.

UCF 27, East Carolina 24. The Pirates own this series, having won four straight and eight of nine. But UCF gets the edge here because it’s at home and has the best defense in Conference USA. The Knights haven’t faced an offense quite as potent as this one, but the defensive line is playing outstanding and should be able to pressure Dominique Davis into making mistakes.

Hawaii 45, Idaho 17. Hawaii is playing lights out football, and should clinch a bowl berth into the Hawaii Bowl with a win over the hard-to-read Vandals, who have alternated wins and losses this season. They won last week, so a loss must be in the stars. The Warriors have scored 40-plus points in four of their past five games, and present a big challenge to Boise State on Nov. 6.

UPSET SPECIAL Tulsa 33, Notre Dame 30. Yup, two weeks in a row I am going to pick Notre Dame to lose in my upset special. No, Tulsa doesn’t run the triple option, but the Golden Hurricane have an offense capable of racking up yards and points. Notre Dame is going to have to find an answer for the trio of Damaris Johnson, Trae Johnson and Charles Clay.

Central Michigan 33, Bowling Green 17. Talk about disappointment. Both teams made bowl games last season and are now floundering. The Falcons have already been eliminated from bowl contention. Meanwhile, the Chippewas have lost five straight, but get the edge behind Ryan Radcliff, Kito Poblah and Nick Bellore.

Western Kentucky 30, North Texas 28. Can it be true? Two in a row for the Hilltoppers? After breaking their 26-game losing streak last week, Western Kentucky returns home to play a team that just fired its head coach and is on its fourth-string quarterback (though there is hope Riley Dodge can play). They came awfully close to a win earlier this month, so the improvement is there for the Hilltoppers.

FIU 24, FAU 20. One thing you have come to expect from the “Shula Bowl” -- an FAU win. The Owls lead the series between the rivals 7-0, although the lone FIU win in 2005 was vacated due to NCAA sanctions. FIU is flat out better this season. FAU has lost five straight, and its lone win came in the opener on the final play of the game.

Colorado State 44, New Mexico 20. The Rams have shown glimpses of an offense this season behind true freshman quarterback Pete Thomas, although he has been on his back more often than he probably likes. The Rams have given up 29 sacks this season, but should be able to do enough to protect Thomas against one of the worst teams in the country.

Lunchtime Links

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
12:30
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It's Tuesday, so that means it's game day. Louisiana Tech travels to No. 3 Boise State in a game that will air on ESPN2. Who you got? Give me Boise State 49, Louisiana Tech 17.

Now on to some links:

Idaho senior linebacker JoJo Dickson broke his leg against New Mexico State and is out for the season, ending his college career.

Brandon Burton is a lockdown corner for Utah.

Fresno State is gearing up for a tough stretch.

The race is on for the second guaranteed bowl berth in the Sun Belt.

The numbers don't tell the full story for East Carolina.

A loss to East Carolina would likely knock UCF out of the Conference USA race.

Western Michigan defensive backs Damond Smith and Doug Wiggins say their on-fight disagreement was blown out of proportion.

Bowling Green and Central Michigan are desperate for a win.

Hawaii punt returner Ryan Henry is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Since joining FBS in 1987, Akron has never gone winless. The Zips are 0-8 with four games left.

UNLV has reinstated WR Phillip Payne.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

October, 25, 2010
10/25/10
2:00
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Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 8.

The good: Pollsters might not have noticed, but Utah is on an incredible tear. The Utes are No. 3 in the nation in scoring offense, having scored more than 50 points in four of their wins. They are outscoring opponents 183-36 in league play – the latest a 59-6 win against Wyoming that was one of their most complete games of the season. People have slammed the Utah schedule, but the Utes did beat Iowa State 68-27 – the same Cyclones team that just beat Texas.

TCU is on a tear, too, outscoring its opponents 141-10 in four Mountain West games.

[+] EnlargeGee Gee Greene
AP Photo/Rich SchultzRunning back Gee Gee Greene and Navy dominated Notre Dame, 35-17.
You have heard all about Navy’s impressive 35-17 win against Notre Dame. Those Navy seniors are now the third class in Academy history to beat Notre Dame three times, joining the classes of 1937 and 1964.

Meanwhile, the past two weeks have seen two winless teams win. Western Kentucky became the latest on Saturday in a 54-21 win against Louisiana. One interesting nugget from the win -- the victory was the first career coaching win for head coach Willie Taggart. It came on the same field where he played his last collegiate game, in 1998, when the Toppers dropped the season finale.

Say what you will about the WAC, but the league has five teams that are .500 or better right now.

The bad: Two MAC bowl teams from last season are having a difficult time of it in 2010. Bowling Green, which went 7-6 last season with a trip to the Humanitarian Bowl, has been eliminated from bowl contention after a 30-6 loss to Kent State. The Falcons have dropped five straight and are 1-7, including 0-4 in the MAC. Injuries have hurt, but so has the loss of several key players from last season. Bowling Green has struggled to run the ball, averaging 1.9 yards a rush, and has had trouble stopping the run, too. “We’ve got to find a way to play much better than we’ve been playing,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said.

Defending West Division champion Central Michigan is at 2-6 and needs to win out to even be bowl eligible, but that would give it no guarantees for getting into a game. The Chippewas went 12-2 last season and have made four straight bowl games. But they have a new head coach in Dan Enos and are without quarterback Dan LeFevour, one of the best players in school history.

Meanwhile, Utah State has been outscored 69-13 in its past two WAC games. … Winless Akron has failed to score more than 17 points in its four MAC losses.

The heartache: UAB has read through this script before, and the Blazers have got to hate the results. Yet again, they came oh so close to upsetting an SEC team before coming up just short. UAB pulled ahead of Mississippi State 24-23 with 10 minutes to go in the game, but failed to hold on. The Bulldogs kicked two field goals to squeak out a 29-24 victory. No need to relive the 32-29 overtime loss to Tennessee earlier in the year that featured five missed field goals. Oh, wait. We just went there.

The off-balance: BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said his team would go with a power run game more in the final part of the season. He wasn’t kidding. The Cougars had a season-low 81 yards passing in a 25-20 win against Wyoming, while racking up 217 yards on the ground. This is not necessarily good news, considering Cougars fans probably want to see more out of true freshman Jake Heaps. Is he not developing or does he not have playmakers around him? BYU has to win three of its final four to become bowl eligible. With games against UNLV, Colorado State and New Mexico, that remains a possibility.

A few more helmet stickers: Kent State receiver Tyshon Goode had a career-high 12 receptions for a season-high 158 yards and two touchdowns in a win against Bowling Green. … Western Kentucky quarterback Kawaun Jakes’ 262 passing yards and 290 yards of total offense in a win agaist Louisiana were the most for him since his first career start when he passed for 276 yards and posted 320 offensive yards at Navy last year.

A few injury items to note: San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman has a hip pointer, but isn’t expected to miss any games. … Air Force isn’t going to get any of its injured players back this week for Utah. Jared Tew (leg) and receiver Kevin Fogler (knee) are still out, and nose tackle Ryan Gardner (groin) and receiver Zack Kauth (ankle) won’t practice this week.

Week 9 look-ahead: Plenty of big games ahead this weekend. No. 8 Utah begins the tough stretch of its schedule with a trip to Air Force. East Carolina travels to UCF for a big Conference USA showdown. Western Kentucky might even be able to put together a two-game winning streak as it hosts North Texas. The Mean Green will be playing their first game since coach Todd Dodge was fired.

Lunchtime Links

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
12:35
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Here are a few links to help you make it through another day. But hey! There is football on tonight. Join me and Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller for a live chat during the UCLA-Oregon game, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

TCU coach Gary Patterson reportedly berated a team doctor for concluding RB Ed Wesley had suffered a concussion against SMU. Dr. Sam Haraldson told amednews.com he was "verbally accosted by the coach." Patterson said he was never contacted for the story, and couldn't go into details because of privacy laws.

The Utah starting offensive line gave up its first and only sack of the year last week against Wyoming, and it's not happy about it.

Kyle Whittingham appears to have made the right choice when he decided to coach Utah over BYU, writes Kurt Kragthorpe of the Salt Lake Tribune.

Nevada RB Courtney Randall is a student of the game, and last May became the first person in his family to graduate from college. He is in graduate classes and wants to become a sports psychologist.

Bowling Green is going to be thin at cornerback Saturday against Kent State. Starter Robert Lorenzi was dismissed from the team and Cameron Truss is out with injury.

Rice will also be missing several players for its game at UCF.

Former Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower is considered a leading candidate to replace Todd Dodge at North Texas.

UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe had the walking boot off his ankle, but the Miners aren't saying whether he will play Saturday against Tulane.

Western Michigan is trying to avoid what happened the last time it played Akron -- a wild finish that ended with a Zips win.

UAB backup quarterback David Isabelle has an injured hand, and that might force Joe Bento into action if anything happens to Bryan Ellis.

Purdue is not pleased that Kent State dumped its game in favor of one against Alabama to open 2011.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
2:00
PM ET
Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 7.

[+] EnlargeTCU
AP Photo/Jeffery WashingtonTCU (No. 5) is one of three non-AQ teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings.
The good: The non-AQ teams made history in the BCS standings with three teams ranked in the Top 10. Boise State is No. 3, TCU is No. 5 and Utah is No. 9, but the big unknown is whether any of them will have a shot at the BCS national championship game. Boise State has scored 48-plus points in three straight games. Meanwhile, TCU has allowed just one field goal in its past three games. The last team to score a touchdown on the Horned Frogs was SMU in Week 4, when Zach Line ran in from 29 yards out at the 11:24 mark. … Miami (Ohio) is en route to one of the best turnarounds from the non-AQs. The RedHawks had a thrilling 27-20 comeback win against Central Michigan and are now 4-3 after going 1-11 last season. They have a critical game at home against Ohio this Saturday, then winnable games against Buffalo, Bowling Green and Akron before closing the season at home against Temple. At 3-0, Miami is on top of the East in the MAC. … Eastern Michigan won its first game of the season. … Rice won its first conference game with a 34-31 win against rival Houston to not only grab a hold of the Bayou Bucket, but to avenge a 73-14 loss to the Cougars last season – one of the most embarrassing losses in school history.

The bad: A week after picking up its first win of the season, New Mexico State lost to Fresno State 33-10 in part because it went 1-of-13 on third downs. … Akron dropped to 0-7 after a 38-10 loss to Ohio. The Zips had six penalties, two interceptions and failed to get their run game going once again. The Zips are averaging just 15.9 points a game, ranked No. 114 in the nation. … Idaho gave up 683 yards of total offense in a loss to Louisiana Tech in yet another inconsistent performance for the Vandals. In three losses, Idaho has given up 450-plus yards of total offense. In two wins against FBS teams, Idaho is allowing 145.5 total yards a game.

The heartache, Part I: Bowling Green has lost three games this season on the final possession. The latest heartbreaker happened Saturday in a 28-27 loss to Temple. Coach Dave Clawson decided to go for the 2-point conversion and the win with no time remaining. But Matt Schilz’s pass for Calvin Wiley was broken up on the goal line. The Falcons also lost the season opener 30-27 to Troy when the Trojans kicked a field goal to win with 4 seconds left. In a 28-26 loss to Buffalo, Bryan Wright missed a 40-yard field-goal try on the final play of the game.

“There’s really two ways of looking at it,” Clawson said Monday morning on the MAC coaches call. “We’ve lost three games this year on the last play of the game. From a positive -- with as young a football team as we are and with all the new starters, we’re not that far away. On the other hand, there’s certainly a frustration level when you get in that many close games you need to find a way to win your share. A year ago we did.” Last season, the Falcons won two games by one point.

The heartache, Part II: Western Kentucky took a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter at home against ULM. What could go wrong? Well, when you have lost 25 straight games, plenty. The Hilltoppers allowed 28 unanswered points and lost 35-30 to extend the nation’s longest losing streak to 26 games. They had a similar chance to win in the 2009 finale, but blew a 20-3 lead late in the third quarter and lost 24-20 to Arkansas State.

One more helmet stickers: Colorado State nose tackle Guy Miller had a truly dominating performance in a 43-10 win against UNLV. Miller set a school record with 4 sacks, breaking the mark of four shared by 1995 WAC Defensive Player of the Year Brady Smith and Mike Bell, a consensus All-American and the No. 2 overall selection in the 1979 NFL Draft. He also broke the Mountain West record of four. Miller has started 20 straight games for the Rams and has 6 sacks on the season the most at the school since Bryan Save had seven in 2003.

A few injury items to note: Air Force has lost running back Jared Tew for six weeks with a broken fibula, putting a serious hurting on the team. Tew had been a huge part of the success of the triple-option, with 540 yards and three touchdowns this season. ... San Jose State has now lost 12 starters for the season after several more injuries in a 48-0 loss to Boise State. Leading rusher Lamon Muldrow is out after tearing his ACL, and linebacker Ryno Gonzalez (foot) is also out. LB Wade O’Neill suffered a concussion, but won’t be out for the season.

Week 8 look ahead: Plenty of good matchups this weekend from the non-AQ teams. Air Force continues its tough four-game stretch with a game at No. 5 TCU. Houston travels to SMU in a game that could shift the balance of power in the Conference USA West Division. Meanwhile, Notre Dame plays Navy. The Midshipmen have won two of the past three games against the Irish.

Non-AQ What to Watch: Week 7

October, 14, 2010
10/14/10
10:15
AM ET
Come one, come all for your Top 10 non-AQ storylines for Week 7:

1. What will the first BCS standings reveal? The first rankings come out on Sunday, but they were a big topic of discussion this week, when ESPN BCS guru Brad Edwards projected that No. 3 Boise State would be ranked No. 1. Nobody expects that to last should everybody else remain undefeated, but it serves as a validation for the schedule the Broncos have played thus far. They have San Jose State this Saturday, but keep in mind their future opponents have a combined record of 21-19. Virginia Tech and Oregon State are also looking pretty strong.

2. Can Nevada handle a big test at Hawaii? This is a classic reverse matchup -- a team that loves to run in the Pistol offense versus a team that loves to pass in the run 'n' shoot offense. Which wins? You have to give the edge to the team that runs. Nevada will be able to chew up clock and get pressure on Bryant Moniz, but there is no question this is going to be a tough game. Nevada has not beaten the Warriors in Hawaii since 1948.

3. Can Air Force keep its winning streak going against San Diego State? The Aztecs struggled against the run last week in a loss to BYU, as the Cougars had 62 carries and held the ball for 45 minutes. San Diego State defensive coordinator Rocky Long said his team missed way too many tackles, and that led to way too many yards after contact. That is going to have to be corrected and fast against the No. 1 rushing offense in the country. The triple option is a different run game to handle, and Tim Jefferson had made a huge difference. The Aztecs cannot afford to make many mistakes.

4. Style points this week for TCU? Coach Gary Patterson made headlines for telling BYU to be careful what it wished for when it came to independence. Now the two schools play for the final time as Mountain West conference rivals. There probably is no love lost here, as Patterson said there is no shot TCU would play an independent BYU. But Patterson has been adamant that he will not roll up style points on anyone. Perhaps the better question to ask is whether TCU can get is third straight shutout.

5. More offensive fireworks for Utah in the second quarter? You may not have heard this yet, but Utah is outscoring teams 101-7 in the second quarter this season. Coach Kyle Whittingham has no explanation for the outburst. Can the trend continue Saturday against Wyoming?

6. Tougher start to the season -- Wyoming or San Jose State. The Cowboys are facing Utah, the fourth team to be ranked in the Top 10 at the time they played -- more than any other team in the country. The Utah game follows losses to Texas (No. 5 at the time), No. 3 Boise State and No. 4 TCU. Utah is No. 10 in the coaches’ poll. San Jose State comes close. The Spartans are playing their fifth ranked team in Boise State after having played Nevada, Utah, Wisconsin and Alabama.

7. Can Middle Tennessee quarterback Dwight Dasher find his rhythm? His season debut last week against Troy was less than spectacular, going 22-of-37 for 172 yards with an interception, and gaining 27 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns. There is not much relief this week as the Blue Raiders go on the road to play Georgia Tech.

8. Can Temple rebound? The Owls lost 31-17 to Northern Illinois last week, and coach Al Golden ripped his team afterward for showing no passion or sense of urgency. He also said he was going to have lineup changes, playing guys who showed the heart and effort he wanted to see out of his starters. He also sounded frustrated with the slow recovery of running back Bernard Pierce, who has been hampered with a sprained ankle. Matt Brown has done well in his place. Temple plays Bowling Green on Saturday in a game it should win.

9. Can Houston quarterback David Piland win his first game as a starter? Coach Kevin Sumlin is sticking with Piland, after initially starting Terrance Broadway when Case Keenum went out for the season with a torn ACL. Piland and Houston lost to Mississippi State last week and face in-city rival Rice on Saturday. Piland is going to need more help from the run game. The Cougars only had 47 yards rushing against the Bulldogs.

10. How much longer can Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore stay atop the ESPN.com Heisman hunt? As long as Boise State keeps winning, Moore will most likely get an invite to New York. He appeared at the top of an ESPN.com straw poll after Denard Robinson slipped last week in a loss to Michigan State. Moore has 14 touchdowns and just one interception this season.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

October, 4, 2010
10/04/10
2:00
PM ET
Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 4.

The good: Air Force is ranked for the first time under coach Troy Calhoun, joining the AP poll at No. 25 after its big 14-6 win against Navy. There are now five non-AQ teams ranked and three in the Top 10, with Boise State at No. 4, TCU at No. 5 and Utah at No. 10.

Miami of Ohio (3-2) is 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2007. The Red Hawks are one of the youngest teams in the country. Coach Mike Haywood estimates he had between 45 and 48 true freshmen, redshirt freshman and sophomores on his 65-man roster in its 27-21 win against Kent State last Saturday. “When you have a young team you don’t take anything,” Haywood said.

[+] EnlargeGary Anderson
AP Photo/Jim UrquhartCoach Gary Andersen and Utah State have reason to be excited after beating BYU.
Utah State beat BYU for the first time since 1993, and even though BYU is down, coach Gary Andersen will take it. Fans stormed the field afterward, and he said the victory is a huge boost for recruiting and fan support for the Aggies. “For us to get a win over BYU is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz keeps putting up video game numbers for the Warriors. Hawaii is No. 1 in the country in passing offense, averaging 431 yards per game. Moniz had a career-high 532 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-21 win over Louisiana Tech last Saturday. He has over 300 yards passing in all his games but the opener against USC. That is because he left the game in the third quarter with a head injury.

The bad: Meanwhile, the Cougars dropped to 1-4 for the first time since 1973, and fired defensive coordinator Jamie Hill over the weekend. Coach Bronco Mendenhall will resume his coaching duties. BYU has been unable to do anything on offense and defense this season. BYU ranks No. 96 in total offense and No. 101 in total defense. The Cougars are also last in the country in rushing defense, giving up an average of 259 yards a game. Hill told the Deseret News he was surprised the decision came in the middle of the season, but one former player said Hill had some personality conflicts with players.

None of the six non-AQ winless teams won this past weekend. Western Kentucky was idle, but Eastern Michigan, Akron, FIU, New Mexico State and New Mexico all lost.

The heartache: You have got to feel for North Texas, which played Louisiana a day after freshman walk-on wide receiver Josh Rake died from injuries sustained in a car accident. This had already been a tough season, losing 10 starters to injury. Before Rake died, receiver Tyler Stradford got hurt when he tried to run from a pit bull at his apartment complex. Stradford leaped over a fence but landed on a lawn chair and had a bar stuck four inches into his chest, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.

North Texas came back from a 28-14 fourth-quarter deficit, scoring with 31 seconds left to make it 28-27. But the extra point attempt was blocked, and Louisiana won. The Mean Green have now lost eight games by seven points or less in the last two seasons. Now comes word that starting quarterback Riley Dodge has a fractured wrist and may require surgery, the third starting quarterback to get hurt for North Texas this season. Coach Todd Dodge is now preparing Chase Blaine to start.

A few more helmet stickers: Hawaii WR Kealoha Pilares set a new school record with 18 catches against Louisiana Tech, passing the previous mark of 16 set by Greg Salas last year against New Mexico State. Pilares also finished with a career-high 217 receiving yards, the seventh best performance in school history. … Arkansas State LB Javon McKinnon recorded a career-high 16 tackles against Louisville. … Ball State DE Robert Eddins had a career-high 4.5 sacks and seven total tackles in Ball State's 31-17 win at Central Michigan.

A few injury items to note: Bowling Green quarterback Matt Schilz missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury, and coach Dave Clawson sounded unsure whether his player would be able to go at Ohio on Saturday. Schilz hasn’t thrown since last Wednesday. If he can’t go this week, Clawson said he would open up the quarterback competition. Aaron Pankratz went 12-of-37 for 167 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in a loss to Buffalo. … Ohio WR LaVonn Brazill has a broken hand and is out. … Central Michigan linebacker Nick Bellore (ankle) is day to day. ... Utah State RB Michael Smith (turf toe) is out indefinitely and Andersen said he would see whether Smith is eligible for a medical redshirt.

Week 6 look ahead: Plenty of big conference games this week. It starts Tuesday night with Troy at Middle Tennessee in the return of Blue Raiders quarterback Dwight Dasher. On Wednesday, UAB travels to UCF. The Blazers have had three of their games come down to the final play, losing two. Big MAC showdown between Temple and Northern Illinois. San Diego State travels to BYU, and there also is the winless bowl: New Mexico against New Mexico State. Someone has to win. Right?

Utah headlines non-AQ mailbag

October, 1, 2010
10/01/10
3:00
PM ET
My mailbag is bursting this week! So I will try to answer as many as I can. At this rate, I may even start doing a few editions a week, so keep your questions coming!

Kyle from Des Moines, Iowa, writes: What are the chances that, if Boise stays unbeaten and Utah runs the table (including a huge win over TCU in November) that the BCS will once again choose two non -AQ teams? Or will this be like the Utes' Sugar Bowl year of '08-'09 when both Boise and Utah were undefeated and Boise was left out due to a lower (but still qualifying) BCS ranking?

Andrea Adelson: Great question, Kyle. Since it happened last season, I am not sure whether that means it would be more likely to happen or less likely to happen. I think it all depends on the other teams eligible. Say there are a bunch of marquee one-loss teams sitting there waiting for an at-large bid. Those bowls will do what is in their best interest to get fans into the seats and ratings on TV. I will say I do not think it is ever a shoo-in for two non-AQ teams to make it into the BCS.


Sean Harlow of Salt Lake City writes: Hey Andrea. My question for you is this: if Utah gets past Air Force and TCU undefeated, do you think the Utes have a clear shot at going undefeated the rest of the season, and possibly leapfrogging Boise State in the rankings? I honestly think that if Utah finishes the season undefeated, the Utes would have a better shot at getting into the BCS National Championship game than Boise State would. I just want your thoughts on this.

Andrea Adelson: Lots of Utah fans writing in this week! Great to hear from you. First, I think it is going to be exceedingly difficult for Utah to finish the season undefeated. The stretch of games starting Oct. 30 at Air Force is difficult. You forgot to mention road games at Notre Dame and San Diego State. I know Notre Dame is struggling and Utah should win that game, but that has to count as a tough one. The Aztecs are much improved. There is also the rivalry game with BYU. That being said, if it does happen, I am not sure whether Utah will be able to leapfrog Boise State because it has the disadvantage of starting the season ranked so low in the polls. I can see voters dropping Boise State for Oregon or a team like that. I cannot see it happening for Utah. If Pittsburgh and Notre Dame continue to be bad, that is going to hurt, too. At this point, I think it would be hard for the Utes to do it if both teams are undefeated.


Zach from Greenville, N.C., writes: What do you think about the ECU pirates? Do we have a chance to gain any sort of national spotlight? And what are your predictions for the Conference Championship?

Andrea Adelson: East Carolina has a great offense and a bad defense, and that is going to lead to an up and down season I think. The Pirates can score with anybody, and Dominique Davis is really fun to watch. But they have to stop people, too, and that has been a difficult task. My preseason pick for the conference champion was Houston, but that of course has changed. I think it is between SMU, Southern Miss and UCF at this point.


Brennan from Reno writes: What do you think about Nevada beating Boise St.?

Andrea Adelson: Can I get back to you in November?


Al James of Henderson, Nev., writes: Hi Andrea, love your columns! Have you heard anything on Bowling Green QB Matt Schliz, ready to go? Or are they sticking with Pankrantz?

Andrea Adelson: Thanks, Al! Last I heard, coach Dave Clawson was going to make a game-time decision on who starts.


Kyle of Madison, Wis., writes: Andrea, I've been following your bowl projections, and I noticed you had TCU in the Sugar Bowl vs Bama and Ohio state vs. Boise St in the NCG. I believe I read that the Rose Bowl is obligated to take a non-AQ team this year if one qualifies. If TCU qualifies, won't they be headed to Pasadena since, according to your projections, the Rose Bowl will have one slot to fill.

Andrea Adelson: Kyle, according to the rules, if the Rose Bowl loses a team to the national championship game, it would be required to take a non-AQ team that is an automatic qualifier. That would be Boise State in my bowl projections. Since TCU would be an at-large team, I do not believe the Rose Bowl is required to take the Horned Frogs.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

September, 27, 2010
9/27/10
2:00
PM ET
Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 4.

The good: Toledo is off to a 3-1 start after winning three straight road games for the first time since 2002. Its 31-20 win over Purdue Saturday gives the Rockets wins over teams from automatic qualifying in five straight seasons. Quarterback Austin Dantin is putting together a nice season in his sophomore year, and went 24-of-31 passing for 209 yards and two scores. He also ran the ball a game-high 17 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns -- including a career-long 58-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter. … Temple kept it closer against Penn State than it had in a really long time, falling to the Nittany Lions 22-13. That was the closest it came to a win since losing 27-25 team in 1985. …

Five winless teams picked up Victory No. 1 on the season: Colorado State, North Texas, ULM, Marshall and UNLV. The Rams had the longest losing streak among that group, breaking a 12-game skid with their last-second win over Idaho. Marshall beat Ohio after coach Frank Solich elected to go for two points with no time left to try to win the game. But Boo Jackson’s pass went incomplete. Solich said he elected to go for two because he didn’t have faith that his defense could stop the Herd.

[+] EnlargeTarean Austin
AP Photo/Julie JacobsonTarean Austin and the New Mexico Lobos have had an abysmal start to the season.
The bad: New Mexico has lost by an average of 46 points this season, and has shown no competitiveness. The Lobos had to start true freshman Tarean Austin because of an injury to B.R. Holbrook (knee). Austin became the first true freshman to start there since 1988, and went 17-of-40 for 177 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the 45-10 loss to UNLV. Perhaps most painful about that lopsided score –- UNLV came into the game winless as well. It is unknown how long Holbrook will be out.

Fresno State gave up 55 points to an Ole Miss team that struggled to score this season against FBS opponents, averaging 13.5 points in those games. But the Bulldogs defense seemed to revert to form against the Rebels, giving up 425 yards on the ground and 578 total yards.

The heartache: You have to feel for UAB and coach Neil Callaway. Two of its three losses have come on the final play of the game. In both, UAB outgained its opponent. Start with the season opener against FAU. The Blazers blew a 16-point third-quarter lead but had a chance to win on the last play of the game. Instead, their 28-yard field goal was blocked. Then against Tennessee this past week, UAB outgained the Vols 544-287 in the game and held them to only 147 yards after the first quarter. But four missed field goals spelled doom, and the Blazers lost 32-29 in overtime.

A few more helmet stickers: Colorado State freshman quarterback Pete Thomas went 29-of-37 for 386 yards and three touchdowns, both of which are career highs. … Middle Tennessee defensive end Jamari Lattimore had four sacks to go with a career-high eight tackles, a forced fumble, and two quarterback hurries against Louisiana. The four sacks also tied the Sun Belt Conference single-game record and goes down as the most in the FBS this season. … TCU punt returner Jeremy Kerley had a career-high 234 all-purpose yards against SMU, averaging 34.4 yards per kickoff return. That includes a career-long 83 yarder.

A few injury items to note: BYU junior defensive tackle Romney Fuga is out for the season after tearing his ACL and LCL against Nevada on Sunday. Fuga was apparently hurt by what BYU said was a cheap shot from Nevada offensive linemen John Bender. Coach Bronco Mendenhall called it “not a positive football play.” Fuga has started all four BYU games this season, with 15 tackles and a sack this season. … Kent State anticipates having running back Eugene Jarvis (groin) available this week against Miami (Ohio). …

Ohio linebacker Noah Keller is most likely gone for the season with a partially torn ligament in his toe, wide receiver Riley Dunlop is out two to four weeks, and wide receiver/punt returner LaVon Brazill (leg) is questionable after missing the game against Marshall. … The Bowling Green quarterback situation is up on the air. Matt Schilz (shoulder) sat out against Michigan, and it’s a matter of whether he can throw during practice this week. … Temple running back Bernard Pierce (ankle) is a game-time decision against Army. … Louisiana quarterback Chris Masson (knee, chest) should be available against North Texas on Saturday.

Week 4 look ahead: A few big games this week on the schedule. The biggest: Navy at Air Force. Navy has won seven straight over the Falcons and seven straight Commander-in-Chief trophies. This could be the best shot yet for Air Force to win with the No. 1 rushing offense in the country. Navy has been banged up, including quarterback Ricky Dobbs, but the Midshipmen had a bye week to try and get healthy. … BYU is at Utah State on Friday night in a game that has lost some of its luster. Both teams are 1-3 and looking for some much needed momentum.

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