NCF Nation: Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

Non-AQ Players of the Week

October, 10, 2011
10/10/11
4:36
PM ET
Here are your non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each conference. The independent players are selected by a national media panel.

Conference USA

Offense: Austin Davis, QB, Southern Miss. Set a school record for passing efficiency and was responsible for four total touchdowns in a 63-35 win at Navy. Davis threw for 283 yards on 21-of-23 passing with three touchdowns, and also rushed for 75 yards on 12 carries with a running score.

Defense: Phillip Steward, LB, Houston. Had a pair of key interceptions in a 56-3 win against East Carolina, the Cougars fewest points allowed in a conference game since 2004.

Special Teams: Marques Wheaton, DB, Southern Miss. Blocked a field goal and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown, his second straight week with a score.

Independent

Offense: Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame. Went 23-of-32 for 261 yards and four touchdowns -- all of which came in the first two quarters -- in a 59-33 win against Air Force. Rees is the first Notre Dame player to throw for four touchdown passes in the first half since Brady Quinn on Sept. 25, 2004.

Defense: Jamoris Slaughter, S, Notre Dame. Forced a fumble on the Cadets’ first drive of the contest, and later recorded an interception -- his first of the season and the second of his career.

Special teams: Justin Sorensen, PK, BYU. Went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts (hitting from 42 and 45 yards) and made all three of his extra-point attempts.

MAC

East Division

Offense: Branden Oliver, RB, Buffalo. Ran for a career-high 179 yards on 34 carries and scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 5:45 remaining on fourth-and-1, to help lift Buffalo to a 38-37 win against Ohio.

Defense: Stephen Johnson, LB, Temple. Led the Owls with a career-high 16 tackles, including a career-high eight solos, one sack and a career-high two tackles for a loss in a 42-0 win at Ball State.

Special teams: Matt Weller, K, Ohio. Tied a season-high with three field goals made in a 38-37 loss at Buffalo. His 43-yarder was his fourth field goal this season from 40 or more yards.

West Division

Offense: Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan. Recorded his fourth-straight game with 10 or more catches and more than 100 yards with 12 receptions and 156 yards in a 45-21 win against Bowling Green. His four consecutive 100-yard receiving games ties the record set by Jamarko Simmons at the end of the 2006 and into the first three games of the 2007 season.

Defense: Ron Newcomb, DT, Northern Illinois. Had a career-high nine tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble in a 40-10 win against Kent State. He also blocked a 45-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.

Special teams: Eric Page, PR, Toledo. Returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown in a 54-16 win against Eastern Michigan. The punt return for a touchdown was the first of his career.

Mountain West

Offense: Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State. Moore went 23-of-31 for 254 yards and three touchdowns in just over two quarters of play in a 57-7 win at Fresno State.

Defense: Tekerrein Cuba, S, TCU. Cuba finished with a team-high eight tackles in the Horned Frogs’ 27-14 win at San Diego State. Cuba also had a tackle for loss, forced a fumble and broke up a pass.

Special teams: Ross Evans, K, TCU. Evans finished with nine points in a win at San Diego State, tying the Mountain West all-time scoring record of 356 set by former New Mexico running back DonTrell Moore (2002-05). Evans connected on field goals of 47 and 21 yards while making all three of his extra-point attempts.

Sun Belt

Offense: Chris Masson, QB, Louisiana. Masson stepped in for an injured Blaine Gautier on the first series of the game and led the Cajuns to a 31-17 win against Troy. He went 21-of-29 for 211 yards with a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions. The Cajuns have won five consecutive games and have tied the league record for best start to begin a season.

Defense: Kelcie McCray, S, Arkansas State. Had a career-high two interceptions against ULM to help lead the Red Wolves to their 24-19 victory. He also had a pass breakup and six tackles.

Special Teams: Don Jones, DB, Arkansas State. Jones blocked a punt and returned it 25 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter in a win over ULM.

WAC

Offense: Chuckie Keeton, QB, Utah State. Went 16-of-21 for 228 yards and a school-record tying five touchdowns in a 63-19 win against Wyoming. He also added 44 rushing yards on four carries. All five touchdown passes came in the first half as Utah State scored on its first eight possessions of the game.

Defense: Brett Roy, DT, Nevada. Set a career-high with 11 tackles, including four for a loss (one sack), in a 37-0 win against UNLV. Roy leads the nation in tackles for loss with 2.5 per game.

Special teams: Ryan Allen, P, Louisiana Tech. Punted 10 times for a 48-yard average in a 24-11 win at Idaho. Allen had six punts inside the 20, including four inside the 10-yard line.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

October, 3, 2011
10/03/11
2:52
PM ET
Here are the non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each conference. The independent players are selected by a national media panel.

Conference USA

Offense: Darius Johnson, WR, SMU. Had a career-high-tying two receiving touchdowns, along with 12 catches and 152 yards as SMU defeated No. 20 TCU 40-33 in overtime. It was his third straight 100-yard game.

Defense: Tyson Gale, LB, Marshall. Had a team-high seven tackles against Louisville, including a tackle for loss and the biggest play of the game when he intercepted a pass with 4:32 left in a 17-13 win.

Special teams: Kase Whitehead, P, Marshall. Dropped four of his five punts inside the 20 in the 17-13 win at Louisville. On the season, 10 of his 30 have been downed inside the 20.

Independent

Co-offense: Riley Nelson, QB, BYU. Cierre Wood, RB, Notre Dame. Nelson came in in relief of starter Jake Heaps and accounted for 206 yards of total offense in four drives as BYU rallied from a 24-13 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Utah State. Nelson was 10-of-14 for 144 yards and two touchdowns, adding 62 rushing yards on 11 carries. Wood ran 20 times for a career-high 191 yards and a touchdown in a win against Purdue. His 55-yard scoring scamper was also a career-long run.

Defense: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame. Had a team-high eight tackles unassisted, and a sack against Purdue.

Special teams: Alex Carlton, PK, Army. Made his first field goal of the season and made all six extra point attempts as the Black Knights beat Tulane. His six conversions moved him into sixth place on the Army career PAT made list.

MAC

East Division

Offense: Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio. Threw for over 250 yards for the third consecutive week as he finished with 276 yards passing and two touchdowns in a 17-10 victory over Kent State.

Defense: C.J. Malauulu, LB, Kent State. Had a game- and career-high 12 tackles in a 17-10 loss to Ohio. He also added three tackles for loss, a sack, a pass break-up and a forced fumble.

Special Teams: Boo Boo Gates, KR, Bowling Green. Had seven returns for 233 yards, including a career-best 77-yard return in the first quarter in a 55-10 setback at West Virginia. His seven returns are the second-most in school history, while the yards are the most ever in a game.

West Division

Offense: Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan. Threw for a career high and school record 479 yards and five touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter, in a 38-31 upset of UConn. His five touchdowns tied for second most in a game in school history.

Defense: Robert Bell, LB, Toledo. Had a career-high 12 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and one recovered fumble in a 36-13 road win at Temple.

Special Teams: David Harman, K, Central Michigan. Was 6-of-6 on extra-point attempts and 2-of-2 on field goals for 12 total points in a 48-41 win over Northern Illinois.

Mountain West

Offense: Tim Jefferson, QB, Air Force. Went 9-of-10 for 136 yards and a touchdown, and rushed 18 times for 66 yards and two scores in a 35-34 overtime win at Navy. Jefferson, who scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard run, led Air Force to its second-straight win over Navy and the first in Annapolis since 1997.

Defense: Brady Amack, LB, Air Force. Had a career-high 23 tackles (11 solo), a sack and two tackles for loss in a 35-34 overtime victory at Navy. The tackle total ranks as the sixth-highest in school history and tied for the most in Mountain West history. It also tied for the most in a FBS game this season.

Special teams: Alex Means, LB, Air Force. Blocked Navy’s extra-point try in overtime. Means has blocked two kicks this season and also tied a career-high with 12 tackles and intercepted a pass.

WAC

Offense: Matt Christian, QB, New Mexico State. Went 16-of-27 for a career-high 296 yards and a career-high four touchdowns with no interceptions in a 42-28 win at New Mexico. Christian also rushed for a career-high 101 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He had 397 yards of total offense and accounted for five of the six Aggie touchdowns in the game.

Defense: Keith Smith, LB, San Jose State. Had a team-high 10 tackles and forced a fumble in a 38-31 win at Colorado State. The forced fumble occurred in the second quarter and was returned 20 yards for a touchdown to give the Spartans a 17-7 lead.

Special teams: Justin Hernandez, WR, Idaho. Blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown with 3:11 left in Idaho’s game at Virginia. Idaho trailed 14-6 at the time and following the successful two-point conversion, the Vandals forced overtime. They lost 21-20 in the extra period.

Sun Belt

Offense: Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas State. Set a new school record for completions in a game when he completed 37 passes on 49 attempts in a 26-22 win at Western Kentucky. Aplin passed for a season-high 396 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions and also caught a touchdown pass against the Hilltoppers.

Defense: Lance Kelley, LB, Louisiana. Had eight tackles, a tackle-for-loss and an interception in a win over FAU. He currently leads the Cajuns and ranks fourth in the Sun Belt with 39 total tackles.

Special teams: Brett Baer, K/P, Louisiana. Scored 13 points in a 37-34 victory. He made field goals of 47 yards and 46 yards before hitting the game-winning 26-yard field goal as time expired. It was the first win for the Cajuns in the final 10 seconds of regulation since 2003.

Weekend Rewind: Non-AQs

October, 3, 2011
10/03/11
1:00
PM ET
Taking a look at the week that was in the non-AQs ...

The good: Marshall and Western Michigan pulled upsets on their AQ opponents -- the Thundering Herd beat Louisville 17-13 and the Broncos beat UConn 38-31. ... Boise State got its run game going in a 30-10 win against Nevada as Doug Martin went over 100 yards for the first time this season. ... New Mexico State beat New Mexico 42-28 - the first time in over 40 years that the Aggies have won three straight in the series. ... San Jose State scored the go-ahead touchdown on a pass with 54 seconds remaining to beat Colorado State 38-31. The Spartans have won back-to-back games for the first time in three years. … Louisiana is 4-1 for the first time since 1988 after Brett Baer hit a 26-yard field goal with no time left to lift the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 37-34 win against FAU.

[+] EnlargeDarius Johnson
AP Photo/Matt StrasenReceiver Darius Johnson and SMU ripped TCU's pass defense in a 40-33 overtime victory.
The bad: The TCU pass defense continues to struggle. SMU beat TCU 40-33 in overtime, throwing for 349 yards in the victory. All of its offensive touchdowns came on passes. In all, TCU gave up more than 450 yards for the second time this season, and the Horned Frogs are out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in 47 weeks. ... Temple had a huge win against Maryland in Week 4, but the Owls fell flat at home against Toledo, dropping an important MAC game 36-13. All seven of their drives in the second half ended with a punt or turnover. ... Northern Illinois lost to Central Michigan 48-41 -- the third time this season the Huskies' defense has given up 40 points.

The heartbreak: Utah State is the poster child for broken hearts this season. For the third time, the Aggies lost a game in the closing minutes. This time, it happened against in-state rival BYU. Riley Nelson came off the bench to lead a comeback for the Cougars, engineering a 96-yard game-winnning drive with 11 seconds left for a 27-24 BYU win. His 13-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Matthews was tipped by Utah State defender Will Harris near the goal line. The Aggies blew a 24-13 lead, and were hoping for consecutive wins against BYU for the first time since 1973-74.

Meanwhile in Annapolis, a penalty flag helped decide one of the biggest rivalry games in college football. Navy erased an 18-point fourth quarter deficit behind quarterback Kriss Proctor, who had a 7-yard touchdown run and 5-yard touchdown pass to Gee Gee Greene with 19 seconds left in regulation. Alexander Teich ran in the 2-point conversion and the game went into overtime. Proctor put Navy up first in the extra period on a 1-yard touchdown run, but was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for getting in the face of an Air Force player. The extra point was blocked. Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson answered with a 1-yard touchdown run of his own and the Falcons made their extra point to win 35-34 and get a leg up in the competition for the Commander-In-Chief Trophy. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo was incredulous after the game, "I would hope the referees would have said something like, 'Settle down,' in that situation," he said. "It's too critical a call to make. I hope those guys can sleep well tonight."

Idaho nearly pulled the upset at Virginia, but the Vandals failed on their 2-point attempt in overtime and lost 21-20. Coach Robb Akey decided to go for the win in the extra period, but Brian Reader had his pass batted down. "My only disappointment was that we didn’t make the play at the end of the game," Akey said.

Case Keenum watch: Keenum threw for 471 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-42 win against UTEP, the 15th time he has reached 400 yards in his career. He now ranks third on the NCAA career pasing list, and needs 1,482 yards to break the mark held by Timmy Chang. Keenum is averaging 401 yards passing a game. If he keeps that pace up, he will break the passing record at UAB on Nov. 5.

Helmet stickers

Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan. Carder threw for a career-high and program record 479 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-31 win against UConn.

Harry Peoples, WR, Louisiana. Peoples had 12 catches for 176 yards in a win against FAU. His 12 receptions tied the mark Brandon Stokley set against Louisiana Tech in 1995 for most catches by a UL receiver at Cajun Field.

Brady Amack, LB, Air Force. Amack amassed a career-high 23 tackles (11 solo), a sack and two tackles for loss in the Falcons’ 35-34 overtime victory at Navy. Amack’s tackle total ranks as the sixth-highest in school history and tied for the most in Mountain West history.

Matt Christian, QB, New Mexico State. Christian went 16-of-27 for a career-high 296 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in a 42-28 win at New Mexico. Christian also rushed for a career-high 101 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He had 397 yards of total offense and accounted for five of the six Aggie touchdowns in the game.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

September, 26, 2011
9/26/11
5:30
PM ET
Here are the non-AQ players of the week as selected by each conference. The independent players are selected by a nationwide media panel.

Conference USA
Offense:
Reggie Bullock, RB, East Carolina. Bullock rushed for a personal-best 169 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries to help East Carolina beat UAB 28-23.

Defense: Jamie Bender, S, UAB. Had 11 tackles and returned one interception 35 yards for a touchdown in a loss to East Carolina. That was the first defensive score for the Blazers since 2009.

Special teams: Danny Hrapmann, K, Southern Miss. Made three of four field goals (43, 35 and 27 yards), including two in the final quarter of a 30-24 victory over Virginia. He also converted a fake punt deep in the Golden Eagles' end zone and ran 31 yards for a first down.

Independent
Offense:
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. Eifert set a career-high with eight receptions for a game-high 75 yards and a touchdown in a 15-12 win at Pittsburgh.

Defense: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU. Had eight tackles and a sack in a win over UCF.

Special teams: Cody Hoffman, WR/KR, BYU. Had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a 24-17 win over UCF. That was BYU's first kickoff return touchdown since Oct. 17, 1998 -- a span of 161 games.

MAC

East Division

Offense: Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple. Ran for a school record and MAC record-tying five touchdowns in a 38-7 win at Maryland. Pierce eclipsed the 100-yard mark in rushing for the 12th time in his career and third time this season. He finished with 149 yards on 32 carries for five touchdowns.

Defense: Luke Wollet, S, Kent State. Had two interceptions while matching his season-high with eight tackles in a 33-25 win over South Alabama.

Special teams: Ray Hutson, WR, Bowling Green. Blocked a punt and recovered a fumble on a kickoff return in the Falcons’ 37-23 win at Miami (Ohio).

West Division

Co-Offense: Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan. Eric Page, WR, Toledo. White set his career record with 14 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown in a 23-30 loss at No. 24 Illinois. White became the fourth Bronco to have over 200 career catches and recorded his 14th 100-yard receiving game.

Page had a season-high 13 receptions and career-high 158 receiving yards in a 33-30 overtime loss at Syracuse. Page had 279 all-purpose yards, including 114 yards in kickoff returns.

Defense: Sean Baker, S, Ball State. Had eight tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one interception in a 48-21 victory over Army. He was a part of a Ball State defense that tied an NCAA single game record by not allowing Army to complete a pass in the game.

Special Teams: Jeremiah Detmer, K, Toledo. Kicked a 52-yard field goal in his first career attempt in a 33-30 overtime loss at Syracuse. The 52-yarder was the second-longest field goal in Toledo history.

Mountain West

Co-Offense: Chris Nwoke, RB, Colorado State, Deon Long, RB, New Mexico. Had 102 yards of total offense (85 rushing, 17 receiving) and scored two touchdowns in Colorado State’s 35-34 double-overtime victory at Utah State. Nwoke tied the game with a 1-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left in regulation, then provided the game-winner with a 2-yard run on CSU’s second possession in overtime.

Long broke the school and Mountain West single-game record with 378 all-purpose yards in New Mexico’s overtime loss to Sam Houston State. Offensively, Long caught nine passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns, and returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.

Defense: Shaquil Barrett, LB, Colorado State. Had a team-high 14 tackles in a 35-34 double-overtime win at Utah State. He also added his first career fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Special teams: Tanner Hedstrom, LS, Colorado State. Hedstrom recovered two fumbles on muffed punts, including a critical takeaway to set up the game-tying score in Colorado State’s 35-34 double-overtime win at Utah State.

Sun Belt
Offense:
Blaine Gautier, QB, Louisiana. In just his fourth career start, Gautier totaled 307 yards (221 passing/86 rushing) and tossed three touchdown passes to lead the offense in a 36-31 upset over FIU.

Defense: Chris Pickett, DB, Troy. Recovered a fumble and returned it for a 63-yard touchdown in a win over Middle Tennessee. Pickett finished the game with seven total tackles, including one for loss, and also broke up a pass.

Special Teams: Brian David, K, Arkansas State. Set a new Sun Belt and school record when he made six field goals in a 53-24 win over Central Arkansas. His 23 points scored in the game also set a league and school record for points scored in a single game by a kicker.

WAC
Offense:
Bryant Moniz, QB, Hawaii. Set a new school record and tied an NCAA record with seven touchdown passes in the first half of a 56-14 win over UC Davis. Moniz also set a new school record with 424 passing yards in a half. He was 30-of-40, and did not play in the second half.

Defense: Travis Brown, LB, Fresno State. Made a career-high 11 tackles in Fresno State’s 48-24 win at Idaho. Brown led the Bulldog defense that allowed just 55 yards of total offense in the second half and 44 yards rushing for the whole game.

Special teams: Kevin Goessling, K, Fresno State. Made all six of his extra point attempts and both field goal attempts from 48 yards in the win at Idaho.

Weekend Rewind: Non-AQs

September, 26, 2011
9/26/11
1:00
PM ET
Let's take a look at back at Week 4 for the non-AQs:

The good: How about a hand for Temple and Southern Miss, two non-AQ teams that took down the ACC on Saturday. The Owls dominated Maryland 34-7, and took particular pleasure in the win after hearing some trash talk from the Terps players before the victory. Temple has been impressive since the outset of the season, and nearly upset Penn State last week, too. Coach Steve Addazio has done a terrific job in his first year taking over the program. … Meanwhile, Southern Miss beat Virginia 30-24 -- its first road win over an AQ school on the road in five tries. … San Jose State ended a 13-game losing streak and notched its first conference win since defeating New Mexico State 13-10 on Nov. 28, 2009.

The bad:It was not a great day for the Mountain West. San Diego State was supposed to give Michigan a fight but instead lost 28-7 against former coach Brady Hoke. UNLV, a week removed from beaten Hawaii, lost at home to Southern Utah 41-16. Incredibly, Southern Utah returned three interceptions for touchdowns. New Mexico lost to Sam Houston State in overtime, 48-45. Just before kickoff, a teenager claiming to be a recruit was arrested on DWI charges in Mike Locksley’s car. Finally fed up with Locksley, New Mexico fired him Sunday afternoon. In two-plus seasons, Locksley went 2-26 and the program became a national laughingstock. To Lobos fans, this probably should go into the “good” category because they can now get the fresh start they have so desperately wanted.

UCF has got to fix its special teams. For the second straight week, that unit cost them, this time in a 24-17 loss to BYU. The Knights allowed Cody Hoffman to score on a 93-yard kickoff return, and a muffed punt by J.J. Worton set up another score. Last week against FIU, UCF also had a muffed punt that led to a touchdown and the Knights lost 17-10.

The heartbreak: The WAC had the toughest day of all the conferences in the hurting department. Two teams lost in overtime, and another with 44 seconds left in the game.

We start with Utah State. The Aggies have got to have their collective heart in pieces at this point. The closing minutes against Auburn doomed the Aggies thanks to a special teams error. The same can be said of their loss to Colorado State on Saturday night. Utah State saw its 21-13 lead evaporate after Eric Moats dropped a punt with 2:17 to play. Colorado State recovered and Chris Nwoke scored on a 1-yard run with 42 seconds left. The Rams got the 2-point conversion to send the game into overtime. The teams traded touchdowns in the first two extra periods. But Utah State decided to go for 2 in the second overtime to win the game. Robert Turbin was stopped short and Colorado State won 35-34. "The reason we went for 2 is because I believe in the team," coach Gary Andersen said afterward. "I believe we can score from the 3-yard line at any time and I surely believe we can score from the 1.5 yard line. I would do it again in one second. I’m always going to coach aggressive."

Louisiana Tech must know the feeling. Two weeks in a row the Bulldogs have come close to pulling the upset. Two weeks in a row they fell just short. Last week they blew a huge lead to Houston. This week, they did not have enough to take down Mississippi State. Freshman quarterback Nick Isham threw two critical interceptions -- one late in the game, and one in overtime -- that made a huge difference in the 26-20 loss.

Nevada has not played particularly well this season, but that looked like it was about to change at Texas Tech. The Wolf Pack built a 28-14 third-quarter lead, and Cody Fajardo seemed to provide a nice spark off the bench. But the defense -- which was supposed to be a strength this year -- collapsed and the Red Raiders scored with 44 seconds left when Seth Doege threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Eric Ward for the 35-34 win.

But nothing beats the case Toledo has. The Rockets had a win snatched from them thanks to a mistake by the officials in a 33-30 overtime loss to Syracuse. The school has asked the MAC to contact the Big East and request the win be given to the Rockets.

Injury report: TCU lost starting linebacker Tanner Brock for the season with a foot injury. The Horned Frogs will petition for a medical redshirt. TCU has shifted Tank Carder to the outside. … Air Force suffered injuries to starting linemen Zach Payne (knee) and Cody Miller (leg). … UAB quarterback Bryan Ellis suffered a concussion against East Carolina and was taken off the field on a backboard in a 28-23 loss.

Keenum watch: Case Keenum threw for 415 yards and two touchdowns in just two and a half quarters of play, and Houston recorded its first shutout since 1999 in a 56-0 rout of Georgia State on Saturday. He passed passed former BYU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer for third on the NCAA all-time passing yardage list, and passed former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell for third on the NCAA career total offense list.

Helmet stickers

Brandon Rutley, RB, San Jose State. Rutley had 209 yards rushing on 33 carries -- including a career-long 66 yard scoring run -- in a 34-24 win over New Mexico State. It was the first 100-plus yard rushing game of his career, and he became the first San Jose State player to rush for 200 or more yards since the 2004 season.

Austin Davis, QB, Southern Miss. Davis finished 27 for 41 for 313 yards with no interceptions in a 30-24 win over Virginia. He threw touchdown passes of 32 and 3 yards to Bolden and a 20-yarder to Ryan Balentine.

Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple. Pierce set a school record with five rushing touchdowns in a 38-7 win over Maryland. Pierce had 149 yards on 32 carries.

Deon Long, New Mexico. Long had nine receptions for 209 yards and caught three touchdown passes, and returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in a loss to Sam Houston State. His 378 all-purpose yards set a school and Mountain West record.

Blaine Gautier, QB, Louisiana. Gautier, making just his fourth career start, led the Cajuns to a stunning 36-31 upset at FIU. Gautier guided the team to a season-high 419 yards of total offense and did not commit a turnover. He totaled 307 yards (221 passing/86 rushing) and tossed three touchdown passes.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
4:00
PM ET
Here are the non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each conference. The independent players of the week are selected by a national media panel.

Conference USA

Offense: Case Keenum, QB, Houston. Ryan Griffin, QB, Tulane. Keenum led the biggest comeback in school history in a 35-34 win at Louisiana Tech, completing 25-of-40 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns to overcome a 27-point third quarter deficit. Griffin completed his first 11 passes for 164 yards and finished the game 22-of-26 for 281 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns in a 49-10 win over UAB.

Defense: Korey Williams, LB, Southern Miss. Williams led the Golden Eagles with 10 tackles, seven of which were solo stops, in a 52-6 win over Southeastern Louisiana. He added one tackle for loss and an interception return for a touchdown.

Special teams: Nick Adams, KR, UAB. Adams set a UAB single-game record with 194 kick return yards and took a Tulane kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown in a loss to Tulane.

Independent

Offense: Trent Steelman, QB, Army. Had 28 carries for 108 yards and three touchdowns in a 21-14 win over Northwestern.

Defense: Robert Blanton, CB, Notre Dame. Grabbed an interception deep in Notre Dame territory and returned it 82 yards, setting up a game-sealing field goal for the Fighting Irish over Michigan State.

Special teams: George Atkinson III, RB/KR, Notre Dame. Had 142 yards on four kickoff returns, including an 89-yard touchdown, in a 31-13 home win over No. 15 Michigan State. Atkinson is the first Fighting Irish freshman to return a kickoff for a score since Raghib Ismail in 1988.

MAC

East Division
Offense: Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio.
Threw for a career-high 285 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bobcats to a 44-7 victory over Marshall and improve to 3-0 on the year -- its best start to a season since 1976. He also also rushed for a touchdown and a season-best 53 yards.

Defense: Dwayne Woods, LB, Bowling Green. Had a game-high 12 tackles and two tackles for loss in the Falcons’ 28-27 loss to Wyoming.

Special Teams: Matt Weller, K, Ohio. Was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, connecting from 20, 21 and 34 yards and was 5-for-5 in extra-point attempts in a win over Marshall.

West Division
Offense: Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan.
Had 13 catches for a season-high 177 yards in a 44-14 win over Central Michigan. White had two touchdowns and a career-best 241 all-purpose yards.

Defense: Travis Freeman, LB, Ball State. Had a season-high 12 tackles in a 28-25 victory over Buffalo.

Special Teams: John Potter, K, Western Michigan. Scored for 14 points in a 44-14 win over Central Michigan with five extra points and a career-matching three field goals (33, 43, 43).

Mountain West

Offense: Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State. Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State. Moore went 32-of-42 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns. The 32 completions are a single-game career high for Moore, while the five touchdowns tied his career high. Hillman rushed for 191 yards on a career-high 32 carries and tied his career-high with four touchdowns in a 42-24 win over Washington State.

Defense: Larry Parker, DB, San Diego State. Josh Biezuns, DL, Wyoming. Parker helped forced three turnovers, including two fourth-quarter interceptions, as the Aztecs beat Washington State 42-24. The two interceptions were the first two of his career. Biezuns forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, had two sacks for 15 yards and combined with fellow senior defensive lineman Gabe Knapton to block the potential game-tying extra-point attempts with 3 seconds left as Wyoming beat Bowling Green 28-27.

Special teams: Greg McCoy, DB, TCU. Returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the second half, setting the tone for TCU to score 14 points in the opening 4:18 of the third quarter in its 38-17 win over ULM.

Sun Belt

Offense: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy. Set new career highs for pass attempts (63), completions (36) and rushing yards (33) in a loss to Arkansas. His 373 passing yards were the third most of his career.

Defense: Isame Faciane, DT, FIU. LaDarrius Madden, DB, Troy. Faciane had arguably the biggest play of the game against UCF when he picked up a fumble by Jeff Godfrey and returned it 51 yards for a game-tying touchdown in the win over the Knights. Madden had six total tackles and a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Special Teams: Melvin White, DB, Louisiana. Made the momentum turning play against Nicholls State with a 68-yard blocked field goal return for a touchdown. The Cajuns outscored the Colonels 24-7 after the blocked field goal.

WAC

Offense: Mike Ball, RB, Nevada. Rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns in Nevada’s 17-14 win at San Jose State.

Defense: Logan Harrell, DT, Fresno State. Recorded a career-high 11 tackles and tied his career-high with 4.5 tackles for a loss of 23 yards in a 27-22 win over North Dakota.

Special teams: Jake Hurst, P, Nevada. Punted six times for 259 yards, A 43.2-yard average, in the win over San Jose State. He had a long of 49 yards and placed two inside the 20-yard line.

Weekend Rewind: Non-AQs

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
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Let's take a look back at the weekend that was for the non-AQs:

The good: FIU pulled off yet another big win, this one against UCF, 17-10. The Panthers are 3-0 for the first time in school history and received votes in both polls for the first time in school history. They did it without star receiver T.Y. Hilton, who hurt his hamstring. But coach Mario Cristobal says his star player should be fine. ... Trent Steelman had a terrific game for Army, scoring three touchdowns in a 21-14 win over Northwestern. It was Army's first win over a team from a Big Ten team since 1988 -- which also was the last time it played a team from that conference. And that team was -- Northwestern. ... Ohio is 3-0 for the first time since 1976 after beating Marshall 44-7. ... Ronnie Hillman had 191 yards rushing and four touchdowns in a 42-24 win over Washington State and is now the second-leading rusher in the nation. Hillman is tied for the national lead in rushing touchdowns with eight this season.

The bad: Perhaps bad is a kind way of describing BYU's performance against Utah. The Cougars and Utes generally play a tough, close game. Twelve of the previous 14 meetings had been decided by a touchdown or less. Then came Saturday. BYU had seven turnovers -- three from quarterback Jake Heaps -- and lost 54-10 to its biggest rival. Incredibly, the score was 14-10 at halftime. But one mistake after another snowballed, and BYU faces some serious questions heading into its game against UCF on Friday night.

The upset: If you had asked for any non-AQ game considered a lock for a win Saturday, you probably would have picked Hawaii over UNLV. The Warriors came in as 20-point favorites, have a win over Colorado already this season and played Washington well. But the Rebels shocked the Warriors in one of the more stunning upsets of the day, winning 40-20. I admit it. I did a double-take when I saw the score. Hawaii had four fumbles, 6 yards rushing and converted 1-of-9 third-down opportunities in the disappointing loss. UNLV had scored 24 combined points in its first two losses of the season to Wisconsin and Washington State. But perhaps the UNLV victory should not come as a huge shock. UNLV has beaten Hawaii four of the last five times they have played in Sam Boyd Stadium.

Then there is Western Kentucky, which lost for the 17th straight time at home. Only this loss was to FCS Indiana State 44-16. It was Indiana State's first win over an FBS opponent since 2001.

The oh-so-close: Navy played with South Carolina every step of the way in its game, taking a 21-17 lead into the fourth quarter. But South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was just too much to contain as he ran for 246 yards and three touchdowns in the 24-21 win. ... Temple was right there with Penn State as well, holding a 10-7 lead until late in the fourth quarter. But for the second straight season, the Nittany Lions squeaked out a close victory, breaking Owls' hearts again.

The comeback: The common knock on Houston is that the Cougars generally lose at least one game a season that they should not. That looked to be happening against Louisiana Tech, as Houston trailed 34-7 with 5:11 to go in the third quarter. But alas, the Cougars have Case Keenum, who engineered a furious rally. Houston scored the final 28 points of the game to cap the biggest comeback in school history and win 35-34. Keenum began the rally with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Edwards, and he ended it with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Edwards with 1:36 remaining in the game. Keenum has now engineered three of the top four biggest comebacks in Houston history. In addition to this one, he rallied Houston from 19 points down against UTEP in a 42-37 win in 2008; and from 17 points down against UAB in a 45-20 win, also in 2008.

The heartbreak: Bowling Green had a furious late fourth quarter rally, overcoming a 28-14 deficit when Matt Schilz threw touchdown passes on two straight drives. But Wyoming blocked the game-tying extra point with 3 seconds left to hold on and win 28-27. Wyoming is 3-0 for the first time since 1996. ... San Jose State was 15 yards away from pulling off one of its biggest wins in years. The Spartans trailed Nevada 17-7 in the fourth quarter before Matt Faulkner delivered one touchdown drive and had his team marching down the field for another. But his pass in the end zone was intercepted by Duke Williams with 1:10 left and the Wolf Pack survived 17-14. The road is much tougher for Nevada next, with games at Texas Tech and at Boise State. ... Miami (Ohio) knows the feeling. Zac Dysert had a pass broken up in the end zone as time expired, and the RedHawks lost to Minnesota 29-23.

Milestone watch: TCU coach Gary Patterson earned his 100th career victory as the Horned Frogs’ head coach in a 38-17 win over ULM Patterson is 100-29 in 11 seasons, and needs 10 more wins to surpass Dutch Meyer (109-79-13, 1934-52) as TCU’s all-time winningest coach. Meyer coached TCU to its 1935 and 1938 national championships. Patterson is one of nine active head coaches to have 100 wins at their current school.

Helmet stickers

Ryan Griffin, QB, Tulane. Went 22-of-26 for 281 yards and tied a career high with three touchdown passes in a 49-10 win over UAB.

Logan Harrell, DT, Fresno State. Recorded a career-high 11 tackles and tied his career high with 4.5 tackles for a loss in a 27-22 win over North Dakota.

Kellen Moore, Boise State. Completed 32 of 42 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Toledo. The 32 completions is a single-game career high for Moore, while the five touchdowns tied his career high. The five passing TDs also tied the MWC single-game record for most by a senior. The 42 pass attempts were second most in his career, as were his 455 yards.

Trent Steelman, QB, Army. Ran the ball 28 times for 108 yards and three touchdowns in a 21-14 win over Northwestern. It was his second straight three-touchdown rushing effort.

Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan. Had 13 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns in Western Michigan's 44-14 win over Central Michigan. White moved into fourth place on the career receptions list at WMU with 195, is now third in career 100-yard receiving games (13) and is tied for seventh in career receiving TDs (17).

Melvin White, DB, Louisiana. Returned a blocked field goal 68 yards for a touchdown to break a tie and help the Ragin Cajuns beat Nicholls State 24-7. He also forced a fumble that led to the first score of the game.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
1:00
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The good: It was a weekend of big wins for non-AQs. FIU picked up the first win against an AQ team in school history when the Panthers upset Louisville 24-17. New Mexico State stunned Minnesota 28-21, picking up its first win against a Big Ten team, and first win against an AQ opponent since defeating Arizona State in 1999. The Aggies have been one of the worst teams in college football -- coach DeWayne Walker has won six games there in three seasons. Taveon Rogers had two touchdowns and 88 yards receiving.

[+] EnlargeGeorge O'Leary
AP Photo/Reinhold MatayCentral Florida and coach George O'Leary dominated Boston College.
Meanwhile, Conference USA pulled out two wins against AQ opponents: UCF handled Boston College 30-3 and Rice beat Purdue 24-22. Both were milestone wins. Though UCF has beaten AQ programs before, the Knights had never done so at home. They are off to their first 2-0 start since 1998, a season removed from making the Top 25 for the first time in program history. Rice had lost 22 consecutive games to AQ opponents. The win was the Owls' first against a Big Ten team since a 40-34 win at Northwestern in 1997.

TCU rebounded in a big way against Air Force, winning 35-19 in a game that was never close. In fact, the Horned Frogs led 35-9 in the fourth quarter, and played much better on defense, even without leading tackler Tanner Brock.

The heartbreak: The MAC easily had the most heartbreaking day. Central Michigan, Toledo and Northern Illinois had leads on their AQ opponents only to come up just short.

Central Michigan led the Wildcats 13-6 at halftime and had outgained them 227 yards to 94. But the turning point came midway through the third quarter, when coach Dan Enos elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 34. Tim Phillips ran for no gain. Kentucky scored on the next play to tie the game at 13, and Central Michigan never scored again in 27-13 loss.

Toledo had Ohio State on the ropes, but the Rockets killed themselves with one mistake after another: 14 penalties for 102 yards; a missed 45-yard field goal and botched hold on a 50-yard attempt; allowing a punt return for a score. A final interception from Terrance Owens on the Ohio State 17 with 48 seconds closed out a 27-22 loss.

Northern Illinois lost to Kansas 45-42 with 9 seconds left when Jayhawks quarterback Jordan Webb threw a 6-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to B.J. Beshears. The Huskies had taken the lead with 5:03 remaining when Jasmin Hopkins scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Kansas converted two fourth down opportunities on the winning drive. Chandler Harnish finished 27-of-33 for 315 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and added 89 yards and a career-high three touchdowns on the ground. Harnish has 11 total touchdowns in two games this season.

Not to be outdone, Fresno State and BYU each had halftime leads in their games before losing. The Bulldogs gave up a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that turned the tide and lost to No. 10 Nebraska 42-29. ... BYU led Texas 13-3 but the Longhorns changed quarterbacks in the second half and that seemed to spark them to a 16-13 win. The BYU offense has not exactly gotten immediate results from new offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. The Cougars rank No. 108 in the nation in total offense (275.5 ypg), and No. 107 in scoring offense (15 ppg). Despite that, they could very easily be 2-0.

The ugly: The offense clearly was not invited to the Louisiana-Kent State game. The teams combined for 19 first downs, seven turnovers and 15 penalties in one of the ugliest games of the day. Louisiana had 159 total yards; Kent State 186. Louisiana quarterback Chris Masson threw for 18 yards.

Army was one of the best teams in the nation last season in turnover margin, but so far this season, turnovers have been a big problem in an 0-2 start. In a 23-20 loss to San Diego State, the Black Knights fumbled eight times -- losing three. In two games, Army has given the ball away six times and is at minus-4 in turnover ratio.

Record watch:

  • Ohio coach Frank Solich notched his 100th career win Saturday in a 30-3 win against Gardner-Webb.
  • Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis broke Brett Favre's school passing yards mark of 7,695, in a 26-20 loss to Marshall.
  • Houston quarterback Case Keenum threw for 458 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-23 win against North Texas. He moved into fourth place on the FBS career list for passing yards (14,354) and tied Danny Wuerffel for sixth in career passing touchdowns with 114.
  • Pete Thomas became the first sophomore quarterback in Colorado State history to reach 3,000 yards passing. In a 33-14 win against Northern Colorado, Thomas was 28-for-42 for 259 yards and a touchdown -- but he also threw three interceptions.
Injury update: Colorado State linebacker Mychal Sisson broke his ankle in the second quarter against Northern Colorado and is out indefinitely. Coach Steve Fairchild said the hope is for Sisson to be able to return later this season. ... UTEP starting quarterback Nick Lamaison separated his shoulder in a loss to SMU. ... Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson was pulled from the loss to TCU and got precautionary X-rays after the game for an undisclosed injury. Nose guard Ryan Gardner injured his knee.

Helmet stickers

Eugene Cooper, WR, Bowling Green. Had career-highs in catches (6), yards (134) and touchdowns (4) in the Falcons’ 58-13 win against Morgan State. Cooper’s four receiving touchdowns tied a school record for touchdown catches in a single game.

Jerome Long, DT, San Diego State. Had a career-high 10 tackles in a 23-20 win against Army, and his sack on a critical third-down on Army's last drive of the game took Army out of field goal range.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, FIU. Set a career-high and school record with 201 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a 24-17 upset win against Louisville.

Adrien Cole, LB, Louisiana Tech. Had 9 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and blocked Central Arkansas’ field goal in overtime, his second blocked field goal in as many games.

UCF defense. Held Boston College to three points and 84 yards passing in the 30-3 win. The Knights have yet to allow 100 passing yards in a game this season and have limited their first two opponents to three points and 260 total yards.

Making a case for Case

June, 2, 2011
6/02/11
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Houston quarterback Case Keenum makes his return from a torn ACL this season, ratcheting up expectations for the Cougars. Expectations are high for him as well.

Phil Steele has Keenum as a fourth-team selection on his newly released All-America teams, right behind Landry Jones of Oklahoma, Andrew Luck of Stanford and Kellen Moore of Boise State. This is a clear indication that there is some unfinished business left for Keenum, who remains on pace to break the NCAA career passing mark -- should he stay healthy.

Keenum needs 3,487 yards to break the mark of 17,072 yards set by Timmy Chang of Hawaii from 2000-04. There is another mark that Keenum has a chance to surpass -- career touchdown passes. Graham Harrell of Texas Tech has the record of 134. Keenum needs 28 to break that mark. Considering he threw for more than 5,000 yards and 44 touchdowns in each of his two full seasons as a starter, those records seem to be in jeopardy.

So Steele putting Keenum on his fourth team is his preseason projection that Keenum will get those records. Plus, there is plenty of uncertainty at quarterback around the country, and Keenum has delivered in bunches so this choice makes sense if you are projecting a healthy season. Steele also lists go-to Houston receiver Patrick Edwards on his fourth team, so his expectation is a big year for Edwards as well.

As for some of the other non-AQ players listed:

I agree with the selection of Moore on the third team. Teammate Nate Potter made the first team at tackle while Billy Winn made the second team on the defensive line.

No-brainers: TCU linebacker Tank Carder, Tulsa kick returner Damaris Johnson and Southern Miss kicker Danny Hrapmann on the first team; Toledo kick returner Eric Page on the second team. BYU offensive tackle Matt Reynolds made the second team. I think he is going to be either a first- or second-team selection this year.

Surprises: FIU receiver T.Y. Hilton made the third team, quite an impressive accomplishment considering he is known more for being an all-purpose player. Steele must think the Panthers have a chance to win another Sun Belt title and that Hilton will have an even better year than 2010, when he was Sun Belt Player of the Year. I think Louisiana tight end Ladarius Green has the potential to be better than a fourth-team selection. Same for Troy defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi and TCU linebacker Tanner Brock, both fourth-team selections. Another interesting choice: UCF kick returner Quincy McDuffie on the fourth team. McDuffie has made huge strides in special teams, but the Knights are eager to get even more out of him.

Omissions: You can certainly make a case for San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman, the top freshman back in the country last season with 1,532 yards. Same for Boise State running back Doug Martin, one of the most underrated players in the nation.

Future NFL draft picks

May, 3, 2011
5/03/11
3:30
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One more NFL draft related post for you before I quit until the season starts. Mel Kiper already has his rankings of the top five draft-eligible players at each position Insider for the 2012 NFL draft. Remember, this list only includes rising seniors and does not hazard a guess at juniors who may leave school early.

There are plenty of non-AQ players sprinkled throughout this list. Tops is Matt Reynolds of BYU, listed as the No. 1 tackle available. Reynolds could have left school early but decided to return for one more season and is likely to be a first-round pick next year. Right behind him is Nate Potter of Boise State at No. 2 on the list.

Among the others:

Doug Martin of Boise State at No. 4 among running backs

Ladarius Green of Louisiana at No. 5 among tight ends

Vinny Curry of Marshall at No. 3 among defensive ends

Tank Carder of TCU at No. 2 among inside linebackers

Brian Stahovich of San Diego State at No. 3 and Kyle Martens of Rice at No. 5 among punters.

As you can see, Kellen Moore of Boise State is not on his quarterbacks list. Moore might not have the prototypical size, but he does have plenty of football smarts and he knows how to win. Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick were not on this list before the start of the 2011 season, but both managed to go in the second round. Plenty of time yet before next April!
We close out our look at returning starters from the non-AQ conferences with the Sun Belt. FIU emerged as the dark horse this past season to win a share of the league championship and its first bowl berth. Will another school emerge the way FIU did or will the Panthers and the Troy Trojans be the favorites again?

You can check out the returning starters for the Mountain West, WAC, Conference USA and MAC. Now on to the Sun Belt:

ULM: 20 (10 offense, eight defense, two special teams)

Key returnees: QB Kolton Browning, WR Luther Ambrose, DL Ken Dorsey

Key losses: RB Frank Goodin, S Alex Ibe.

FIU: 17 (seven offense, seven defense, two special teams)

Key returnees: QB Wes Carroll, AP T.Y. Hilton, RB Darriet Perry, DB Jonathan Cyprien

Key losses: CB Anthony Gaitor, DL Jarvis Wilson, OL Brad Serini

Western Kentucky: 17 (seven offense, eight defense, two special teams)

Key returnees: QB Kawaun Jakes, RB Bobby Rainey, DL Quanterus Smith

Key losses: LB Thomas Majors, OL Mychal Patterson, DB Orlando Misaalefua

Arkansas State: 15 (six offense, seven defense, two special teams)

Key returnees: QB Ryan Aplin, LB Demario Davis, DL Dorvus Woods

Key losses: OL Derek Newton, DL Bryan Hall, DB M.D. Jennings

North Texas: 14 (six offense, six defense, two special teams)

Key returnees: RB Lance Dunbar, K Zach Olen, RS Brelan Chancellor

Key losses: LB Craig Robertson, OL Estaban Santiago

Troy: 14 (four offense, eight defense, two special teams)

Key returnees: QB Corey Robinson, DL Jonathan Massaquoi, OL James Brown

Key losses: RS Jerrel Jernigan, OL Tyler Clark, DL Mario Addison

FAU: 13 (seven offense, five defense, one special teams)

Key returnees: DB Marcus Bartles, RB Alfred Morris, DB Marcus Bartels

Key losses: QB Jeff Van Camp, WR Lester Jean, LB Michael Lockley

Middle Tennessee: 12 (seven offense, three defense, two special teams)

Key returnees: LB Darin Davis, WR Malcolm Beyah, K Alan Gendreau

Key losses: QB Dwight Dasher, DE Jamari Lattimore, RB Phillip Tanner, DB Rod Issac

Louisiana: 11 (five offense, five defense, one special teams)

Key returnees: TE Ladarius Green, RB Aaron Spikes, LB Devon Lewis-Buchanan

Key losses: OL Ian Burks, CB Orkeys Auriene, DB Maurice Rolle

Independents

Navy: 12 (seven offense, five defense, zero special teams)

Key returnees: FB Alexander Teich, DE Jabaree Tuani, SB Gee Gee Greene

Key losses: QB Ricky Dobbs, CB Kevin Edwards, ROV Wyatt Middleton

Army: 11 (six offense, four defense, one special teams)

Key returnees: QB Trent Steelman, FB Jared Hassin, ROV Steve Erzinger

Key losses: DE Josh McNary, DT Mike Gann, LB Stephen Anderson

Afternoon-time links

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
3:30
PM ET
Since we had so much recruiting analysis, we decided to push our usual lunchtime links feature to the afternoon. So enjoy with a snack!

TCU coach Gary Patterson on his incoming class: "They all came with the understanding that they want to win a championship. Not just a conference championship, but a national championship. I think that's where the energy has changed."

Boise State fought hard to keep its recruiting class intact.

Houston has got to fix its defense.

Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship caught a ride on athletic director Bubba Cunningham's 4x4 to be at the office when his recruits started faxing in their letters of intent.

San Diego State ignores the star system.

Air Force does not announce its signees until the summer because of its appointment process, but it was clear the Falcons got a lot of in-state talent.

The best class in Marshall history? Why, yes.

North Texas addressed its quarterback situation.

Miami (Ohio) signed a speedy class.

Make no mistake -- the Northern Illinois class belongs to Dave Doeren.

FIU, Western Kentucky and Louisiana were among the top classes in the Sun Belt.

Utah State focused on building the trenches.

Fresno State focused on defense, specifically linebacker, an area that coach Pat Hill wants improved.

Lunchtime Links

January, 31, 2011
1/31/11
12:00
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With National Signing Day just two days away, we bring you a recruiting-heavy Lunchtime Links today:

TCU continues to climb the recruiting ladder.

Utah focused on running back in recruiting.

Fresno State football is a tradition for the Lewis family. When Donovan Lewis signs his letter of intent Wednesday, he will join his father and brother as Bulldogs.

BYU focused on shoring up its defense during recruiting, so its class may be lacking in some star power.

UCF got more commitments this past weekend. The list includes receiver Rayshon Williams, the cousin of former Knights player Brandon Marshall.

Tulsa also picked up more verbals, including one from the Tulsa World Player of the Year, defensive lineman Derrick Alexander.

Louisiana got seven more commitments, too.

Future WAC member UT-San Antonio lost a member of its recruiting class to North Texas this past weekend.

Air Force will get $1.1 million to play at Michigan in 2012. In other scheduling news, the Falcons must play a second FCS school in 2011 to fill holes in its schedule.

Former Western Michigan standout Greg Jennings is trying to cherish his championship moment with the Packers.

Lunchtime Links

January, 28, 2011
1/28/11
12:00
PM ET
T.G.I.F. y'all. Now on to some links.

Boise State hopes to open its new football complex before the 2013 season.

Southern Miss is still looking for a receiver on the recruiting trail.

The Star-Telegram reports that if TCU and BYU do play, it won't be on Thanksgiving weekend.

ULM coach Todd Berry is building a recruiting pipeline into Oklahoma.

Dave Doeren has completed his coaching staff at Northern Illinois.

New Louisiana coach Mark Hudspeth is picking up some key recruits.

Tulane coach Bob Toledo is looking for a special-teams guru to help improve his subpar unit.

The Mountain West made the right call when it held off on expansion.

Lunchtime Links

January, 27, 2011
1/27/11
12:00
PM ET
Join me for a chat today at 4 p.m. Send in those questions whenever you can.

Now on to some links:

San Diego State president Stephen Weber is not mad at coach Brady Hoke for going to Michigan.

Where will Colin Kaepernick get drafted?

Middle Tennessee has hired two assistant coaches.

A single recruit may be the most important in Gary Andersen's tenure at Utah State.

Under Jeff Quinn, Buffalo has shifted priorities in recruiting. The Bulls already have 20 verbal commitments.

Experience helps Tommy West settle in as UAB defensive coordinator.

The commitments are piling up for Colorado State.

Former Tulsa commit Dexter Aucoin has switched his allegiance to Louisiana, where he is already enrolled and will be able to participate in spring drills. The reason? The Tulsa coaching change.

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