NCF Nation: Juan Nunez

Happy Thanksgiving!

November, 25, 2010
11/25/10
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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!

Non-AQ predictions: Week 12

November, 18, 2010
11/18/10
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Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ


Four straight weeks of going 7-3 -- is this as good as it gets? I did my upset special right, though I did not expect Utah to continue its implosion, or FIU to beat Troy for the first time ever.

With a 71-43 overall record and several tough games to call this week, bring on Week 12.

No. 4 Boise State 45, Fresno State 17. The Broncos have won four straight in the series, and a few of those wins have been “close” at least in Boise State terms. Last season, Boise State won 51-34, and in 2007 the Broncos on 34-21. Scores that “close” may make voters think twice about where the Broncos stand in the rankings, especially since they have the Friday night spotlight to themselves. The Bulldogs have good balance on offense, but the Boise State defense will be able to shut down Robbie Rouse, who has posted back-to-back 200-yard rushing games.

No. 18 Nevada 55, New Mexico State 10. The Wolf Pack have rebounded nicely from a loss to Hawaii, and relied on Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua to pull out a close game against Fresno State last week. With a combined five touchdowns in that game, Taua and Kaepernick set the NCAA record for the most touchdowns and most points scored by two players on the same team in a career. Taua and Kaepernick have combined for 103 touchdowns and 616 points.

No. 23 Utah 28, San Diego State 27. I have gone back and forth on this one this entire week, and was leaning Aztecs up until this morning. I love what Brady Hoke has done with the program, and think Ronnie Hillman is a future star. But Jordan Wynn usually comes up big at Qualcomm, and a return home should do him some good and help the offense get out of its doldrums. He is on notice, and he has got to respond.

Tulsa 35, UTEP 17. The Golden Hurricane are streaking now, having won four straight games, and find themselves in a tie atop the West. They need to win out and hope for SMU to lose at least once to get the division crown. Meanwhile, UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe has been hampered by injuries the last several weeks and won’t be 100 percent. Going with the hot team.

Western Michigan 35, Kent State 28. This one is for the battle to keep bowl hopes alive. Both teams are 4-6, and both have had disappointing seasons. But the Broncos have a good thing going with Alex Carder, Jordan White and Juan Nunez on offense. Kent State has some uncertainty at quarterback -- Spencer Keith played last week with a sprained thumb but was benched after throwing an interception. Backup Giorgio Morgan threw two.

Wyoming 33, Colorado State 30. Anything can happen in “The Border War” season finale between the two teams. The last two seasons, the road team has won this game. Wyoming is winless in the Mountain West and in desperate need of a positive note to close out the season. The Rams have not won a road game yet, and have scored just 29 points in their past two games.

UPSET SPECIAL: Army 28, Notre Dame 20. Sorry, I am not on the Irish bus despite the win over Utah. The Utes were totally deflated going into that game and imploded. I still have visions of Navy dancing for 367 rushing yards against the Irish in my head. While the Black Knights aren’t as proficient as the Midshipmen in the triple option yet, they are much improved will give them fits. No doubt Notre Dame will make adjustments, but I still think Army will be able to run.

FIU 30, Louisiana 20. I have a big fear the Panthers may suffer from a letdown in this game following their first ever win over Troy, a victory that has them in the driver’s seat for the Sun Belt. FIU has never been in that position. But they are streaking offensively, having scored a combined 94 points in the past two games. T.Y. Hilton is a big reason why. Louisiana, meanwhile, has lost six straight.

UPSET SPECIAL, PART II: Houston 28, Southern Miss 24. Houston has got to win to keep its bowl hopes alive. The Cougars are no strangers to pulling the road upset, with a win at SMU last month. If the Cougars limit the mistakes, they win. The Golden Eagles have had a terrible week after three players were shot following a fight at a club. You have to wonder whether they will be motivated to play for them, or distracted because of the events of the week. Southern Miss has lost its two league games by a combined two points.

ULM 27, North Texas 20. The Mean Green have won two of three under interim head coach Mike Canales, and have largely done it behind Lance Dunbar, who has combined for 677 yards and six touchdowns rushing and receiving. ULM has to win this to keep bowl hopes alive, and is unbeaten at home. Kolton Browning had thrown for 200 yards in eight straight games before that streak ended last week against LSU. He will do enough to win.

Non-AQ Helmet Stickers: Week 11

November, 14, 2010
11/14/10
1:51
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Time for a few non-AQ helmet stickers:

Tulane QB Ryan Griffin. Threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns, including a 73-yard score to Ryan Grant for the go-ahead score with 1:46 remaining to beat Rice 54-49.

FIU offensive line. The Panthers had three players rush for more than 100 yards for the first time in program history, and racked up a program-record 448 rushing yards. Darriet Perry had a career-high 186 yards, while T.Y. Hilton had 158 and Darian Mallary had 118 in the 52-35 win over Troy.

North Texas RB Lance Dunbar. Gained 226 yards and a touchdown in a 23-17 win over Middle Tennessee. Dunbar has gone over 200 yards rushing in two of his past three games.

Western Michigan WR Jordan White and Juan Nunez. Each went over 100 yards in the same game for the third time this season in a 45-30 win over Eastern Michigan. White had 134 yards and one TD, while Nunez had 110 yards on four catches and two touchdowns.

BYU WR Luke Ashworth. Had four catches for a career-high 113 yards in a 49-10 win over Colorado State. All four catches went for touchdowns -- 62, 7, 36 and 8 yards. BYU has won three straight and is one win away from becoming bowl eligible.

Navy QB Kriss Proctor. Ran 20 times for a career-high 201 yards and a touchdown in a 38-37 win over Central Michigan. Proctor started in place of Ricky Dobbs, who was held out with a slight concussion. Navy clinched its eighth straight winning season, the longest streak since 1952-61.

Tulsa safety Marco Nelson. The true freshman had three of the Golden Hurricane's five interceptions in a 28-25 win over Houston. He now has six interceptions on the season.

Fresno State RB Robbie Rouse. Ran for 215 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-34 loss to No. 21 Nevada. Rouse has posted back-to-back 200-yard games after rushing for 286 last week against Louisiana Tech. Colin Kaepernick had 324 total yards and two scores for Nevada.

Non-AQ Did you know, Week 11

November, 12, 2010
11/12/10
9:00
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Time for a little non-AQ Did You Know for Week 11. Thanks to the schools and conference sports information departments for the nuggets.

TCU has held seven opponents to single-digit scoring this season, including two shutouts, and is the only team in the country to do so. Iowa is second in that category, holding five opponents to fewer than 10 points through nine contests. Since 1990, the highest number of games a team has held its opponents to less than 10 points in a single season is eight (USC in 2008, Miami Hurricanes in 2002 and Kansas State in 1998).

UTEP coach Mike Price gave Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino his first coaching job as a graduate assistant in 1984 at Weber State. The two worked together again when Price became head coach at Washington State. Now they square off Saturday when the Miners travel to play the Razorbacks.

“I knew after my interview with him, which was probably his first-ever interview for a coaching position, that he was really special,” Price said this week. “My son happened to be a wide receiver that year and played for coach Bobby and he says to this day, ‘He’s the best coach I’ve ever been around.’ He’s a special guy. He was born to be a coach.”

The Mountain West Conference is home to the nation’s two longest rushing plays from scrimmage this season. Wyoming’s Alvester Alexander has the longest -- a 94-yard touchdown run at New Mexico last week, while San Diego State’s Ronnie Hillman is second with a 93-yard touchdown run at Missouri on Sept. 18.

UTEP senior quarterback Trevor Vittatoe made his 46th consecutive start behind center for the Miners last week against SMU. Only Minnesota’s Adam Weber (48) has a longer consecutive starting streak than Vittatoe, who has started every game of his UTEP career.

UAB running back Pat Shed has 1,426 all-purpose yards in 2010, the fourth-best single-season mark at the school. He needs just 79 yards to break the Blazer single-season record of 1,504 set by Derrick Ingram in 1994.

Louisiana Tech’s Phillip Livas is one kick/punt return for a touchdown short of tying the NCAA record of eight set by five different players.

New Mexico State has scored just seven total points in the second quarter of games this season.

Utah State running back Derrvin Speight recorded the Aggies’ first 100-yard rushing game of the season last week with 114 yards against New Mexico State.

Fresno State blocked two kicks last week against Louisiana Tech to increase its NCAA-high total since 2002 to 54.

Western Michigan is the only program in the nation that has two receivers with 70 receptions or more this season. Broncos senior wide receivers Jordan White (72 receptions, 1,057 yards, three touchdowns) and Juan Nunez (70 receptions, 768 yards, seven touchdowns) have been favorite targets for sophomore quarterback Alex Carder. The Broncos are ranked 13th in the nation in passing offense.

The MAC has seen a youth movement at quarterback. In Week 11, the MAC will see four freshmen and seven sophomore quarterbacks start. Northern Illinois junior quarterback Chandler Harnish and Ohio senior quarterback Boo Jackson are the only two veteran MAC quarterbacks.

Arkansas State has four conference wins, tied for the most since it had five in the 2005 season. The Red Wolves have scored at least 23 points in every game this season, marking the first time since 1986 that it has scored 20-plus points in nine straight games.

Louisiana has been eliminated from bowl contention, marking just the second time in the last six seasons that the team failed to become bowl eligible.

Troy failed to force a turnover in its win at North Texas last week, marking just the 17th time since 2000 that the Trojans have failed to force one. It was also just the second time Troy has recorded a victory since 2000 when failing to force a turnover. The Trojans entered the game tied for seventh in the nation this year, having forced 22 total turnovers.

Lunchtime Links

October, 29, 2010
10/29/10
12:00
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Let's get ready for Week 9. Somebody pass the candy corns. ...

Utah true freshman Brian Blechen is thriving after switching from quarterback to safety.

Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn is developing a winning attitude.

Fresno State's game against Colorado has been rescheduled for a date to be determined.

One loyal San Diego State fan will attend his 700th Aztecs game this weekend in Laramie, Wyo.

Here is a breakdown of Army's game against VMI.

Tulane receiver Casey Robottom is not even the most famous member of his family. That would be his mother, Natalie, the first female and African-American to take the St. John Parish president post in Louisiana.

The Middle Tennessee secondary is hoping to keep up its momentum.

Rice is looking for ways to get backup quarterback Taylor Cook on the field.

Hawaii receiver Greg Salas has been invited to the Senior Bowl.

Western Michigan receiver Juan Nunez lets his game talk for him.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

October, 25, 2010
10/25/10
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Here are your non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each league.

Conference USA

Offense: Tulane WR Casey Robottom. Had a career-high 10 receptions for a career-best 151 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a 34-24 win over UTEP. His 43-yard touchdown catch gave the Green Wave the lead for good with 5:30 remaining in the game.

Defense: Houston LB Sammy Brown and UCF DE Darius Nall. Brown led the Cougars with eight tackles, two sacks and a forced a fumble in a 45-20 win over SMU. In the past two games, Brown has recorded nine tackles for loss and four sacks. Nall had 2.5 sacks, forced a fumble, had a pass pressure and tied for the team lead with six total tackles as UCF defeated Rice 41-14.

Special Teams: Houston KR Tyron Carrier. Scored on a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a win over SMU. It was the sixth of his career. Clemson's C.J. Spiller holds the NCAA career record with seven kickoff returns for touchdowns.

Mid-American

East Division

Offense: Kent State WR Tyshon Goode. Had a career-high 12 catches for a season-high 158 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-6 win at Bowling Green. He also extended his consecutive games with a catch streak to 15.

Defense: Temple DT Muhammad Wilkerson. Led the Owls with six tackles and a career-high 2.5 sacks in a 42-0 win at Buffalo. Temple had its first shutout since 1992 and first shutout of a BCS opponent since 1984.

Special teams: Kent State K Freddy Cortez. Scored 12 points in a 30-6 victory at Bowling Green. Cortez tied his career-high with three field goals (29, 32, 30), while making all three extra points. He missed a 51-yarder.

West Division

Offense: Western Michigan WR Juan Nunez. Had six receptions for a career-high 192 yards and three touchdowns in a 56-10 win over Akron.

Defense: Northern Illinois LB Tyrone Clark. Had two interceptions in a 33-7 win over Central Michigan. Both came in the second quarter to stop Chippewa drives and ensure that the Huskies would have a halftime lead.

Special Teams: Toledo KR Isaiah Ballard. Returned three kickoffs for 103 yards, including a 56-yard return, in a 31-24 win over Ball State.

Mountain West

Offense: TCU RB Ed Wesley and Utah QB Jordan Wynn. Wesley had a career-high 209 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 28 carries to help the Horned Frogs beat Air Force 38-7. Wynn completed 23 of 29 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters of action in a 59-6 win over Colorado State.

Defense: BYU LB Brandon Ogletree. Had career highs of five solo tackles and three tackles for loss in a 25-20 win over Wyoming. Four of the tackles came on Wyoming’s final drive of the game, and two were for a loss.

Special Teams: BYU KR Cody Hoffman. Had 104 kick return yards in the victory over Wyoming. In all, Hoffman averaged 26.0 yards on four kick returns.

Sun Belt

Offense: Western Kentucky QB Kawaun Jakes. Went 18-of-22 for a season-high 262 yards and one touchdown in a 54-21 win over Louisiana, snapping a 26-game losing streak. He also picked up 28 rushing yards and scored two rushing touchdowns. He led the Hilltoppers to scores on nine straight offense possessions.

Defense: Arkansas State DB Adrian Hills. Recorded a career-high two interceptions, including one returned 37 yards for a touchdown, over the final 10 minutes of a 37-16 fourth-quarter comeback victory against Florida Atlantic.

Special Teams: Western Kentucky K Casey Tinius. Score 12 points in the Hilltoppers’ victory over Louisiana. His 47-yard kick as time expired in the first half tied a career long.

WAC

Offense: Hawaii running back Alex Green. Ran for a career-high 172 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries in a 45-7 win at Utah State. He had a career-long rush of 60 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Defense: Hawaii linebacker Corey Paredes. Had a game-high 10 tackles and two interceptions at Utah State. Paredes helped anchor a defense that held its opponent to 181 yards of total offense, the fewest in a game for the Warriors since 2005.

Special Teams: Fresno State K Kevin Goessling. Made all four of his field goal attempts in a 33-18 win at San Jose State. Goessling was also 3-for-3 on extra point attempts to run his consecutive streak to 116 -- 12 shy of the all-time WAC record.

Non-AQ Helmet Stickers: Week 8

October, 24, 2010
10/24/10
1:14
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Time to give out a few helmet stickers for the non-AQs after another wild Week 8:

Alex Green, RB, Hawaii. Green ran for a career-high 172 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries in a 45-7 win over Utah State. The last time a Hawaii player scored four rushing touchdowns in a game was Glenn Freitas at UNLV in 1995. His 172 yards was the most since Calvin Melvin gained the same yardage against BYU on Sept. 11, 1993.

Ohio defense. The Bobcats had four interceptions, recovered two fumbles and had five sacks in a 34-13 win over Miami (Ohio). Miami had just 11 yards rushing.

Juan Nunez, WR, Western Michigan. Nunes had six catches for a career-high 192 yards and three touchdowns in a 56-10 win over Akron. The 192 yards are the fifth-highest single-game total in school history. Teammate Jordan White added 168 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Casey Robottom, WR, Tulane. Robottom had a career-high 151 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a 34-24 win over UTEP. That makes back-to-back 100-yard games in a row -- the only two of his career.

Willie Taggart, coach, Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers snapped their 26-game losing streak with a 54-21 win at Louisiana. They came oh-so-close to breaking the skid last week but gave up 28 fourth-quarter points and lost. Now the wait is finally over, giving Taggart his first win as a head coach. They racked up a season-high 409 yards of total offense, and Kawaun Jakes went 18-of-22 for 262 yards and a touchdown, while also running for 28 yards and two more scores. Don't look now, but Western Kentucky could put together a winning streak. North Texas comes to town next week.

TCU defense. The Horned Frogs have been stifling in Mountain West play, and they passed their big test against Air Force in a 38-7 win. TCU held Air Force to a season-low 184 yards rushing and 231 yards of total offense after coming into the game as the No. 1 rush offense in the country. The Falcons also scored a season-low seven points. Though it was the first touchdown TCU has allowed since Sept. 24, the Horned Frogs have only given up 10 points in four conference games. TCU is 68-2 under Gary Patterson when allowing 17 points or less. Meanwhile, TCU running back Ed Wesley had a career-high 209 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Alexander Teich, FB, Navy. Teich became the first Navy fullback to rush for more than 200 yards, racking up 210 on 26 carries in a 35-17 win over Notre Dame. Teich added a 31-yard touchdown reception to his day. Teich has returned to the starting lineup with an injury to Vince Murray (knee) and has not disappointed. Navy beat Notre Dame for the third time in four seasons.

Jordan Wynn, QB, Utah. Wynn threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns in a little more than two quarters of work in a 59-6 win over Colorado State. Utah racked up 648 yards of total offense, and Wynn had the third 300-yard game of his career.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Just as I started typing how Michigan was 11 minutes away from its first season-opening shutout since 1972, Western Michigan's offense finally reached the end zone.

Quarterback Tim Hiller threw a beautiful ball to junior wide receiver Juan Nunez, who split two Michigan defenders and raced for a 73-yard touchdown. It's way too late for the Broncos, but Hiller showed off his strong arm in an otherwise forgettable performance.

Michigan has pulled most of its starters, though the crowd of 109,019 is almost all still here to witness the team's first victory in an opener since 2006, when it knocked off Vanderbilt 27-7. Denard Robinson is getting more work at quarterback down the stretch, carrying the ball on almost every play. D-Rob still needs to prove himself as a passer, but he's awfully fun to watch on the move.

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