Happy Thanksgiving to all! Hope you get to spend today with lots of food, family and football -- it will be a great treat to see whether Texas can pull the upset and become bowl-eligible tonight against Texas A&M.
What are you thankful for today? Here is my list:
Passionate college football fans, who are all to eager to tell you that you are either 1) The smartest person alive or 2) The dumbest person who ever lived and should be scrubbing toilets rather than talking college football. I love you all!
Boise State and TCU. Haters can hate all they want, but we are seeing something this season that may never happen again. This is history in the making, the possibility that a non-AQ makes it into the national championship game. With Boise State and TCU set to be in the same conference in 2011, Utah leaving for the Pac-12 and the implosion of the WAC, this could very well be the last time we see two undefeated non-AQ teams jockeying for position in a national championship race.
The Pistol offense. It's nice to see Nevada coach Chris Ault get all the pub he has gotten for his innovative offense this season. Not only have countless stories been done on him, but several teams throughout college football are now running some version of it, from UCLA to Alabama to Stanford.
Great coaching jobs. Look across the non-AQs and you will find plenty -- TCU coach Gary Patterson and Boise State coach Chris Petersen go without saying. Here are a few others:
Miami (Ohio) coach Mike Haywood -- Took a 1-11 team to an 8-4 record and a share of the East Division title.
Ohio coach Frank Solich -- Overcame the loss of three star players to lead his team to a share of the MAC East.
Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill -- On the verge of a 10-win season for the Huskies.
FIU coach Mario Cristobal -- Has his never-been-bowling Panthers one win away from a Sun Belt title.
UCF coach George O'Leary -- Has his team one win from the C-USA title game with a freshman quarterback and an outstanding defense.
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall -- His team is bowl-eligible after starting the season 1-4.
Great players. You know the headliners. Here are some of the most unheralded from the non-AQs: Western Kentucky RB Bobby Rainey, who has carried the ball a whopping 313 times this season and ranks No. 4 in the country in rushing, averaging 135 yards a game. North Texas back Lance Dunbar is right behind him in the Sun Belt. Dominique Davis of East Carolina, Bryant Moniz of Hawaii, Alex Carder of Western Michigan and Corey Robinson of Troy all rank in the top 10 in the nation in passing.
Great WR duos, too: Titus Young and Austin Pettis at Boise State; Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares at Hawaii; Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson at San Diego State; Juan Nunez and Jordan White at Western Michigan.
Defensively, it's hard not to like Jamon Hughes of Memphis, Bobby Wagner of Utah State, Dwayne Woods of Bowling Green, Vinny Curry and Mario Harvey of Marshall, Archie Donald and Danny Molls of Toledo, the entire TCU and Boise State defenses, Josh McNary of Army and Wyatt Middleton of Navy. Three of the best special-teamers in the nation are from non-AQs too: Shaky Smithson of Utah, Jeremy Kerley of TCU and Darius Johnson of Tulsa.
Happy eating, everyone!