NCF Nation: Louisiana Tech

McCarron, Miller among the best in Week 9

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
3:20
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AP Photo/Paul VernonsBraxton Miller was at his best against Penn State.

Week 9 featured blowouts and surprises; the top four teams in the BCS standings won by a combined 144 points, yet No. 7 Miami needed a fourth-quarter comeback against Wake Forest to remain undefeated. South Carolina had a comeback of its own against No. 5 Missouri; the Gamecocks’ win probability fell to 2.8 percent before they scored 17 straight points to send the game to overtime.

With the help of ESPN’s new college football metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information takes a look back at the best individual and team performances of Week 9.

Best Individual Performances

AJ McCarron had a Week 9-high 97.4 opponent-adjusted QBR in Alabama’s 45-10 win against Tennessee. McCarron completed 9-of-12 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. The Tide led 21-0 and had a 91 percent chance of winning after the first 15 minutes of play.

Blake Bortles posted a 97.0 opponent-adjusted QBR in UCF’s 62-17 win against Connecticut. Bortles had career highs in completion percentage (83.3 percent), touchdowns responsible for (five) and raw QBR (98.3) in that game.

Braxton Miller had a 95.7 opponent-adjusted QBR in Ohio State’s 63-14 win against Penn State. Miller threw for a career-high 252 yards and accounted for five touchdowns. This season, Miller leads the Big Ten in completion percentage (70.6 percent), third-down conversion percentage (45.7 percent) and opponent-adjusted QBR (80.4).

Jameis Winston had a 94.8 opponent-adjusted QBR in Florida State’s 49-17 win against North Carolina State. He now has an opponent-adjusted QBR of 90 or higher in each of his past four games, the longest active streak in the FBS.

Explaining Garrett Gilbert’s QBR

SMU’s Garrett Gilbert had 635 yards of total offense against Temple, the seventh-most by any player in FBS history. However, Gilbert’s opponent-adjusted QBR was ONLY a 84.9. Why?

First, Gilbert faced a Temple defense that was allowing a 68.3 Total QBR entering the game, third worst among BCS automatic qualifying conference defenses. As a result, Gilbert’s QBR fell almost 10 points when adjusted for the defense that he faced. Further, Gilbert started slow, holding a 58 Total QBR midway through the second quarter when the Mustangs were trailing 28-7. In the second half, he had a 99.2 Total QBR as he led SMU to a 59-49 victory.

Best Team Performances

Offense--Ohio State gained 686 yards and scored nine offensive touchdowns against Penn State. The Buckeyes added 42.8 expected points on offense, their most against an FBS opponent in the last 10 seasons. In terms of offensive EPA, Ohio State has two of the top four offensive outputs of the season.

Defense-- USC held Utah to three points and forced four turnovers in its 19-3 win. The Trojans contributed 31.1 expected points on defense and -13.5 expected points on offense and special teams combined. That means that if USC had an average defense (EPA = 0), and everything else remained the same, the Trojans would have lost by about two touchdowns.

Special Teams-- Louisiana Tech kicker Kyle Fischer made all five of his field goal attempts in Louisiana Tech’s 23-7 win at Florida International. Fischer’s five field goals were tied for the most by a player this season. Louisiana Tech punter Logan McPherson also had two punts that pinned Florida International inside of its own 15 yard line, including a punt downed at the Florida International 1 in the first quarter.

Looking ahead to Florida State vs Miami (Fla.)

No. 3 Florida State hosts No. 7 Miami (FL) (8 pm ET, ABC) in a top-10 matchup with plenty of history. It is the 13th time in series history that the two will meet with both in the Top 10, but the first such meeting since 2004.

This season, Florida State ranks second in offensive EPA per game and Miami ranks 12th in defensive EPA per game. However, the teams have been trending in opposite directions in their past four games.

Florida State’s average margin of victory in its past four games is 36.5 points, including two wins over ranked opponents by a combined 100 points. In those games, Winston has a 94.8 opponent-adjusted QBR, which leads the FBS during that time.

On the other hand, Miami has needed fourth-quarter comebacks against North Carolina and Wake Forest to remain undefeated. In each of those games, the Hurricanes’ win probability fell below 25 percent in the second half.

Further, Miami has had at least four turnovers in three of its past four games and has allowed 39 points off turnovers during that time.

Return of the non-AQ mailbag

April, 12, 2011
4/12/11
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During my two months away, the Adelson mailbag overflowed with plenty of queries. For those wondering, no, I could never forget about the "little sisters of the poor." I was just trying to ward off sleep deprivation while taking care of a newborn and 2-year-old. I had middling success. Hopefully, I will fare much better in this edition of the mailbag. Since I got so much mail, stay tuned for several mailbag posts this week.

Kevin Clifton of Hattiesburg, Miss., writes: How long does the WAC have? Is it on life support? How long before the MWC poaches Utah State away? Then what? I see Louisiana Tech and UT-San Antonio going to Conference USA after Houston and Central Florida leave for greener pastures in the Big East. Then UTEP goes to the MWC, New Mexico State and Texas State go to the Sun Belt. All you would have left is Idaho and San Jose State. San Jose State is thinking of dropping their status as a FBS school and Idaho, who needs them? If you have Boise State, you have the Boise market. I also see Army keeping its home television rights and joining the MAC and I see Navy doing the same and joining Conference-USA.

Andrea Adelson writes: Kevin is the grand Nostradamus of college football expansion! This plan sounds good, but there are a few problems. First, the WAC might actually survive, depending on what happens with everyone else. That does seem hard to believe, but let us say it implodes. The Sun Belt really wants to keep its geographic footprint and I do not see the league going into New Mexico. It does the Sun Belt no good. A recent report in the Miami Herald explained as much, and also theorizes that Louisiana Tech could find a landing spot here. Of course, a lot of that is dependent of what happens with the Big East, which could choose Memphis or East Carolina ahead of Houston. Much of that depends on whether the league wants a travel partner for TCU. If Houston is not chosen, it would have to decide whether it wants to stay in C-USA or maybe even go to the Mountain West should that league want to expand to 12. Utah State is not a part of those expansion plans right now. Even though it would theoretically bring the Salt Lake City market, the school really does not have a fan base as big as BYU or Utah to meaningfully replace that market. Army was in a league before and that did not work so well for the service academy so I would bet on the Black Knights staying independent.


Brad in Dallas writes: What do you think TCU's record will be this upcoming season? What are your thoughts on the TCU-Boise St. match up? Do you think TCU has a chance to win on the blue turf?

Adelson writes: Never too early for way too early predictions, right? My best-case scenario has TCU at 10-2 this season, with losses to Baylor and Boise State. I have Baylor down as a loss right now for a few reasons. First, Casey Pachall will be making his first start at quarterback and it is on the road. It is very tough for first-year starters to win on the road, especially right out of the gate. Second, first games are usually tough because you do not have the identity of your team yet, and there are generally a lot of mistakes. I also have the game at Boise State as a loss. The Broncos get the edge because of Kellen Moore, and because of the blue turf. But TCU definitely has a chance -- especially if its defensive line is going to be as good as Gary Patterson anticipates. That is the key to slowing down Boise State, being able to put adequate pressure on Moore to force him to make mistakes and hurry throws. I reserve the right to change my mind between now and the start of the season, so stay tuned!


Joe Mimnaugh in Las Vegas writes: With both Boise and TCU in a semi-rebuilding year and TCU leaving, do you think that TCU might tank a few games to 1, get revenge on the MWC for their schedule and 2, to make sure that any chance the MWC of becoming a BCS conference is not realized? Do you think that the MWC will be better in a few years after the changes are done, or would the WAC in 2011 be better than a MWC in 2014?

Adelson writes: No shot that TCU tanks anything. If anything, the Horned Frogs want to stick it to the Mountain West for moving the Boise State game to Boise. You will not find a competitor out there who would rather tank games than win championships. TCU will do everything it can to leave the Mountain West with yet another conference title. As for the future of the MWC, the league has dim prospects of becoming an automatic qualifier even if the Horned Frogs go 12-0 again. I think it would have to take winning an appeal to the Presidential Oversight Committee to become AQ. As for the WAC in 2011 vs. the Mountain West in 2014, the essential difference is Boise State -- and that would make the Mountain West stronger.

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.

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, 8, 2010
11/08/10
3:30
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Here are the non-AQ Players of the Week, as selected by each conference:

Conference USA

Offense: UCF quarterback Jeff Godfrey. Went 15-of-19 for 294 yards and a pair of touchdowns and rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown, giving him 399 yards of total offense in a 40-33 win against Houston. It was just the second 100-yard rushing game by a UCF quarterback in school history.

Defense: UCF linebacker Josh Linam. Had 17 tackles, 1.5 for a loss and a pass breakup against Houston. It more than doubled his previous career-high of seven.

Special Teams: Tulsa kick returner Damaris Johnson. Totaled 322 all-purpose yards and scored three touchdowns in a 57-27 victory against Rice. Johnson became the Conference USA record-holder for career kickoff return yards with 3,054 yards and needs only 64 yards to become the NCAA’s all-time kick-off return leader.

MAC

East Division

Offense: Temple quarterback Mike Gerardi. Threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-10 win at Kent State. In four games, Gerardi has three starts and is 54-of-81 for 871 yards and eight touchdowns.

Defense: Ohio defensive lineman Stafford Gatling. Recorded six tackles, including 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss with a forced fumble in a 34-17 win against Buffalo.

Special teams: Kent State punter Matt Rinehart. Averaged 48.4 yards on seven punts in a 28-10 loss to Temple. Rinehart had a pair of punts downed inside the 5-yard line as the Flashes averaged an impressive 48.1 net average.

West Division

Offense: Ball State receiver Jack Tomlinson. Had a career day with seven catches for 175 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-30 double overtime win against Akron.

Defense: Central Michigan linebacer Armond Staten. Recorded 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and three forced fumbles in a 26-22 win against Western Michigan.

Special teams: Ball State kicker Ian McGarvey. Made three field goals and four extra points against Akron.

Mountain West

Offense: TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. Went 21-of-26 for a career-high 355 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-7 win at No. 5 Utah. His 93-yard touchdown pass to Josh Boyce marked the second-longest play in MWC history.

Co-Defensive Players: TCU linebacker Tanner Brock and San Diego State linebacker Miles Burris. Brock had a career-high 12 tackles, an interception and a pass breakup in the win against Utah. Burris had a career-high 10 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles in a 24-19 victory against Colorado State.

Special teams: New Mexico kicker James Aho. Kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to help New Mexico stop a nine-game losing streak with a 34-31 win against Wyoming. He also made a career-best 51-yard attempt.

Sun Belt

Offense: FIU receiver T.Y. Hilton. Had 291 all-purpose yards, scoring four touchdowns in a 42-35 win in double overtime against ULM. He had two receiving touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and one kickoff return for a touchdown.

Defense: Arkansas State linebacker Demario Davis. Had seven tackles and a career-high two interceptions in a 51-24 victory against Middle Tennessee.

Special teams: Hilton. Had 168 kick return yards, including 95 on a touchdown return. The return was his fourth-career return for touchdown, tying him for first all-time at FIU.

WAC

Offense: Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. Went 30-of-37 for a career-high 507 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-7 win against Hawaii. The 507 yards are the second most by any player in the nation this year.

Defense: Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner. Tied a career-high with 17 tackles in a 27-22 win against New Mexico State.

Special teams: Louisiana Tech return specialist Phillip Livas. Returned seven kickoffs for 225 yards, including a 95-yarder for a touchdown, and a punt for another 29 yards in a loss to Fresno State.

Lunchtime Links

October, 27, 2010
10/27/10
12:00
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Boise State beat Louisiana Tech 49-20. Is that good enough to silence its critics? Stay tuned for my video on that topic.

Now on to some links:

Boise State still has some issues to correct with a big game against Hawaii looming.

TCU coach Gary Patterson noticed a pep in his team's step this past week.

Making a BCS bowl this year would be financially beneficial for Utah.

Southern Miss receiver Kelvin Bolden is turning heads.

Fresno State and Nevada are still negotiating the details in their departure from the WAC.

Three prominent San Diego State boosters have sent a letter to the BYU president asking him to "stop stonewalling" and find out what happened in the replay booth in the Aztecs' loss to the Cougars.

If Hawaii becomes bowl eligible this weekend, you can bet the Warriors will begin lobbying for its C-USA opponent in the Hawaii Bowl.

Looking ahead cost Miami (Ohio) in its loss to Ohio.

Middle Tennessee OT Mike Williams has been suspended for the first half of next Tuesday's game against Arkansas State by the Sun Belt for allegedly punching an opposing player.

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.

Boise State set for challenges ahead

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
11:15
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The Boise State starters have had little to get excited about lately. Sure, their team is No. 3 in the BCS standings and they still have hopes of playing for a national championship.

But because they have faced the worst of the WAC early in their schedule, Boise State starters have only played two complete games. The last time they played all four quarters was against Oregon State on Sept. 25.

Since then, they have beaten their three opponents 164-14.

[+] Enlarge Austin Pettis
Kyle Terada/US PresswireReceiver Austin Pettis doesn't think going a month without playing a full game will affect the Broncos' starters much.
They are looking forward to playing even more now that the meat of the conference schedule begins tonight against Louisiana Tech (3-4) on ESPN2.

“We’ve been waiting for this part of our season for a while,” receiver Austin Pettis said. “The most important thing is playing for that WAC championship, and now we get to be able to play some pretty good teams here in the next couple of weeks.”

Pettis said he did not think going a month between playing a full game would affect the starters too much. Of course, there are no guarantees the starters will play the entire game against the Bulldogs, either.

“I know we still get a lot of that work in practice,” Pettis said. “We've got a great defense we go against -- that's like getting game reps. We have an experienced enough group to turn that switch on when we’re faced with a challenge against a better team and play a lot more.”

Louisiana Tech has been inconsistent this season, and that is mainly because it took them a while to settle on a starting quarterback.

Ross Jenkins started the season, got benched, and has returned to the starting lineup. He is looking a lot more comfortable and confident in the new spread offense coach Sonny Dykes has brought with him. In their last game against Idaho, Jenkins threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns. They have won two in a row with him as the starter.

“He’s a senior and he’s played a lot and he’s won a lot of games,” Dykes said. “To his credit, he didn’t get his head down. He continued to work hard, continued to learn the offense, to ask questions to be involved.”

If the Bulldogs throw it around as much as they did against Idaho, this could be a good test for the Broncos as they head toward their game against Hawaii on Nov. 6. The Broncos, of course, have to keep winning to have any shot at becoming the first team from outside a major conference to play for the national championship.

They should get some help in the computer average from the upcoming competition, but it is unknown how much of an impact that is going to have on their BCS ranking. Boise State has four teams left on its schedule with a winning record, including a game at No. 24 Nevada on Nov. 26.

The Broncos are in a race against TCU for that top non-AQ spot. While they are still ahead in the human polls, the computers like TCU better. The Horned Frogs have a big game at No. 8 Utah looming, so that could be a factor as well.

Boise State has maintained it does not look at the rankings. Coach Chris Petersen says he does not check to see where his team is, and will only care in December.

“The rankings and the polls have a lot of twists and turns that nobody can control,” Petersen said. “We’re not going to get too hung up on that type of stuff at Game 6 in the season.”

As for the way his team is playing, Petersen is always looking for improvement, but did acknowledge that his players have done a good job of staying focused. No matter the record of an opponent, no game is a gimme as we have seen throughout college football this season.

“Every coach in America knows the pitfalls of what they’re facing each week,” Petersen said. “It’s hard every week to come out with razor sharp focus and great energy. We still have a lot of the season left to play with many tough challenges. We’ll see how our team responds from here on out.”

Non-AQ Players of the Week

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
5:15
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Time once again for the non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each conference:

Conference USA

Offense: East Carolina QB Dominique Davis. Scored three touchdowns and set career-highs in passing attempts (53) and completions (37) on the way to a 376-yard, interception-free performance in a 33-27 overtime win over NC State.

Defense: Memphis LB Jamon Hughes. Had the most tackles for a Memphis player in 31 years with 21 stops against Southern Miss. The total ranks tied for second in school history and is the most since Pete Scatamacchia had a school record 25 against Louisville in 1979.

Special teams: Rice P Kyle Martens. Averaged 49.8 yards on four punts, none of which were returned, in the Owls' 34-31 win over Houston. He placed his fifth punt of the season inside the 10 this season.

MAC

East Division

Offense: Ohio QB Boo Jackson. Went 14-of-21 for 161 yards, one passing touchdown and two rushing scores in a 38-10 win over Akron. He also caught a 42-yard pass in the win.

Defense: Miami LB Evan Harris. Had a career and team-high 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and one passed defensed in a 27-20 win at Central Michigan. Harris’ two interceptions were the first for the RedHawks by a single player since 2006.

Special teams: Temple DE Adrian Robinson. Blocked a PAT attempt in Temple’s 28-27 win over Bowling Green. The play forced the Falcons to opt for a 2-point conversion on the game’s final play.

West Division

Offense: Eastern Michigan QB Alex Gillett. Accounted for 414 yards of total offense, ninth-best in school history, and set school quarterback records for most rushes (35) and net rushing yards (189) in a single-game. He had five total touchdowns.

Defense: Toledo DE T.J. Fatinikun. Had five tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a key 10-yard sack in the Rockets' 34-21 win over Kent State.

Special teams: Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward. Blocked his second punt of the season in a 45-14 win over Buffalo. Ward also forced a fumble late in the game and contributed two tackles, one on special teams.

Mountain West

Co-Offense: San Diego State RB Ronnie Hillman, TCU QB Andy Dalton. Hillman had 191 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a 27-24 win over No. 23 Air Force, the team's first win over a ranked team in 14 years. Dalton accounted for 289 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in a 31-3 win over BYU.

Defense: Colorado State DT Guy Miller. Had eight tackles, 4.5 sacks and five tackles for loss to in a 43-10 win over UNLV. Miller set new school and MWC records with his 4.5 sacks.

Special teams: TCU PR Jeremy Kerley. Had 137 total return yards in a 31-3 victory over BYU. Kerley helped the Horned Frogs establish field position throughout the contest, returning two kickoffs for 81 yards and four punts for 56 yards.

Sun Belt

Offense: Arkansas State QB Ryan Aplin. Had a career-high four touchdowns, the most of any Sun Belt player this season, in a loss to Indiana. Aplin completed a school-record 33 passes on 44 attempts for 275 yards and added 23 rushing yards.

Defense: ULM DB Robert Nelson. Returned an interception 55 yards for the game-sealing touchdown in a win over Western Kentucky. It was the first interception return for a touchdown by a Warhawk since 2008.

Special teams: Troy KR Jerrel Jernigan. Had a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win over Louisiana, the first of his career and the first for the Trojans since 2007. He also scored the winning touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Corey Robinson in the fourth quarter.

WAC

Offense: Louisiana Tech QB Ross Jenkins. Threw for a career-high 422 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-35 win over Idaho on Saturday. It was the most yards thrown by any quarterback in the nation over the weekend.

Defense: Hawaii LB Corey Paredes. Had nine tackles and forced two fumbles in the 27-21 win over No. 19 Nevada. His first forced fumble led to Hawaii’s first touchdown. On the second, he stripped Colin Kaepernick just before he crossed the goal line.

Special teams: Boise State PR Chris Potter. Returned four punts for 76 yards in a 48-0 win over San Jose State. The 76 return yards are the most by a WAC player this year.

BYU-Georgia Tech set series

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
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BYU and Georgia Tech have agreed to a four-game series, starting with the 2012 season.

The teams will play in Atlanta on Oct. 13, 2012, and Oct. 11, 2014. Two games are also scheduled for Provo on Oct. 12, 2013, and Oct. 14, 2017.

“This should be a great series for our football program,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. “As we fill our schedules for the coming years, we want to play storied football programs like Georgia Tech. It’s a great opportunity for Cougar fans in the Southeast to see our football team play.”

BYU is making progress in scheduling its games as an independent. So far, it has future games set with Oregon State, Texas, Utah, UCF and Boise State, in addition to WAC teams Utah State, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Idaho, San Jose State and New Mexico State. It has 10 games set for next season, its first as an independent.

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 Helmet Stickers: Week 7

October, 17, 2010
10/17/10
1:09
AM ET
I realize there are still a few non-AQ teams playing, but thought you might want an early helmet stickers edition. Will add to it if necessary from Nevada-Hawaii and New Mexico State-Fresno State.

Ron English, Eastern Michigan. Congrats to the Eagles for getting their first win since 2008, beating Ball State 41-38 in overtime. The Eagles snapped an 18-game losing streak with a big-time comeback. Eastern Michigan trailed 28-7 in the second quarter before scoring 28 unanswered points. Ball State tied it up at 35 with 34 seconds left in regulation. But Alex Gillett threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ben Thayer in overtime to win it for the Eagles. They had come close in several games this season, giving English hope his team was coming close. He did more than come close Saturday.

Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio). Dysert threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Cruse with 19 seconds left to give the RedHawks a 27-20 win over Central Michigan, their first road victory since 2008. Dysert went 29-of-47 for 399 yards, the second-best day of his career. Cruse had a career-high 179 yards on eight receptions and two touchdowns.

Dominique Davis, East Carolina. The quarterback had another outstanding game, throwing for 376 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for another in a huge 33-27 overtime win over N.C. State. Davis scored the touchdown in overtime, to help the Pirates win a game that they led 21-0 in the first quarter. Davis has three 300-yard games this season and has thrown from 1,439 total yards, with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Ross Jenkins, Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs have started three different quarterback this season, but it appears they should stick with Jenkins, the starter from last season. He has now led them to two straight wins after a career day in a 48-35 win over Idaho. Jenkins went 31-for-44 for 422 yards -- all career highs -- and tied a career high with three touchdown passes. He also added another score on the ground, as he has looked more and more comfortable running the new spread offense coach Sonny Dykes has installed. He became the first Louisiana Tech quarterback with over 400 yards passing since Luke McCown in 2003.

Jamon Hughes, Memphis. The senior linebacker has been a bright spot for Memphis this season. In a 41-19 loss to Southern Miss, Hughes notched a career-high 21 tackles (15 solo, 6 assists), plus one sack for a 4-yard loss. He has led the team in tackles in all seven games this season.

Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State. The true freshman had 191 yards on 24 carries, including touchdown runs of 65 and 44 yards to give the Aztecs a 27-25 win over No. 23 Air Force, their first win over a ranked team since 1996. He essentially went untouched on his 44-yarder with 2 minutes left to essentially seal the game. The Aztecs (4-2) had lost 25 straight games to ranked opponents, dating back to a 28-24 win over No. 16 Wyoming on Nov. 7, 1996. Hillman has three 150-yard games this season for 785 yards on the year, trailing only Marshall Faulk for most rushing yards by a San Diego State freshman (1,429).

Jerrel Jernigan, Troy. Jernigan had six receptions to set the school record for catches with 219 in a 31-24 win over Louisiana. He finished with 180 total yards, including one receiving touchdown and a 75-yard punt return for a score, two weeks after undergoing elbow surgery. His 12-yard TD reception with 4:43 left was the game-winning score.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

October, 11, 2010
10/11/10
2:00
PM ET
Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 6.

[+] EnlargeAndy Dalton
AP Photo/Jeffery WashingtonTCU quarterback Andy Dalton has been outstanding at home this season.
The good: The elite non-AQ teams have done their jobs midway through the season. TCU put together an impressive 45-0 win. Quarterback Andy Dalton, who has been up and down this season, was 14-of-17 for 270 yards with three touchdowns. In three home games this season, Dalton is 50-of-61 (82 percent) for 719 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. … Utah trailed Iowa State 14-10, but then the second quarter started. The Utes outscored the Cyclones 31-0 and have now outscored opponents an eye-popping 101-7 in the second quarter this season. … Bryant Moniz continues his incredible rise. He came to Hawaii as a walk-on last season, and now is leading the country with 2,245 passing yards – the only quarterback with more than 2,000 yards so far this season. Hawaii has the top ranked passing offense in the country. Greg Salas leads the country in receiving yards, and teammate Kealoha Pilares ranks third. … UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe set new school career records for touchdown throws (89), passing yards (11,260) and total offensive yards (11,117).

The bad: Ball State coach Stan Parrish said his team played one of the worst games since he became head coach, in a 45-16 loss to Western Michigan. His team fumbled the opening kickoff, then had an interception returned for a touchdown on the second series. It was downhill from there, with three more turnovers erasing any chance to win. … Utah State had one of its best wins a week ago against BYU, beating its in-state rival 31-16. But the Aggies had their worst game of the season on Saturday in a 24-6 loss to Louisiana Tech. They had just 73 yards passing and 195 total yards of offense, a week after racking up 434 yards of total offense against the Cougars. Coach Gary Andersen said his team is much better at handling adversity than success.

The heartache: FAU fought back from a 12-0 deficit to take a 20-17 lead against ULM. But a fumbled snap gave ULM the ball at its own 45 with 4:51 remaining. Kolton Browning led the team down the field, and Jyruss Edwards ran for a 5-yard touchdown with 2:43 remaining, handing the Owls their fourth straight loss. … New Mexico clung to a 14-13 lead over in-state rival New Mexico State, but Stump Godfrey fumbled late, setting up Tyler Stamper’s 22-yard field goal to win it for the Aggies. New Mexico turned the ball over four times, and leads the nation with 20 turnovers this season. … San Jose State might have lost 35-13 to Nevada, but it was the first game all season where the Spartans didn’t lose a player to a season-ending injury. Those injuries have taken a toll, but so has the brutal start to the season, with games at Alabama, Wisconsin, Utah and Nevada.

A few more helmet stickers: Nevada defensive end Dontay Moch and running back Vai Taua have had excellent back-to-back games. Moch has a combined 18 tackles, eight tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble in the past two games, and Taua has 35 carries for 382 yards and eight total touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving). … Air Force cornerback Reggie Rembert had a season-high seven tackles, an interception, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery in a 49-27 win against Colorado State. … In his first college game, North Texas kicker Zach Olen was perfect on all five of his kicks against Arkansas State, making 4-0f-4 field goals and his only extra-point attempt.

A few injury items to note: Toledo quarterback Austin Dantin is questionable after being carted off the field in a loss to Boise State last week. Dantin took a hard hit following a run in the fourth quarter and was motionless on the field, but coach Tim Beckman said his quarterback was coherent and he was put on a stretcher as a precautionary measure. Terrance Owens would get the nod if Dantin can’t play. … Temple offensive lineman Steve Caputo (leg) is out for the season. Ohio has lost its two best players -- receiver LaVon Brazill (leg) is out for the season, and linebacker Noah Keller (foot) is doubtful to return this season. North Texas quarterback Riley Dodge (wrist) will have a pin inserted in his broken wrist, and the team is hoping he can return as early as Oct. 30 against Western Kentucky.

Week 7 look ahead: There are some really interesting games in the Mountain West and WAC. Nevada is at Hawaii in a matchup of contrasting offenses. The Wolf Pack love to run, the Warriors love to pass. This is going to be a very big test for Nevada, no question. Air Force plays at San Diego State to start a brutal four-game stretch. Following that game, the Falcons are at TCU, home to Utah then at Army. BYU is at TCU, and there might not be any love lost here. TCU coach Gary Patterson was critical of the Cougars’ move to go independent before the season started.

Lunchtime Links

October, 5, 2010
10/05/10
12:30
PM ET
It's game day in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Who you got, Middle Tennessee or Troy?

Dwight Dasher returns for the Blue Raiders.

Middle Tennessee has called for a Blackout game. Players and coaches will be in black, and fans have been asked to dress in black, too.

Troy quarterback Corey Robinson has overcome a lot since his mother died a year ago.

Teams are copying Nevada's Pistol formation.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said core differences led him to fire defensive coordinator Jamie Hill.

East Carolina redshirt freshman Justin Dixon is out for the season with a knee injury, leaving the Pirates thin at defensive end.

San Jose State quarterback Jordan LaSecla practiced Monday despite a rib injury and will start against Nevada if he is healthy.

Western Michigan has suspended starting safety Doug Wiggins and starting cornerback Damond Smith after the two got into a fight during a loss to Idaho. The two came to blows during the game in a dispute over how a play should have been covered. Coach Bill Cubit said the two have shown remorse, but he is undecided on how long their suspensions will last.

Toledo quarterback Austin Dantin is in a battle with Terrance Owens to keep his starting job.

Louisiana Tech will make a game-time decision on who starts at quarterback this weekend. It could be Ross Jenkins, last year's starter.

Former Navy football player Brendan Looney was laid to rest Monday alongside his roommate, Travis Manion, at Arlington National Cemetary. Looney was killed two weeks ago in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

Lunchtime Links

September, 28, 2010
9/28/10
12:00
PM ET
Boise State coach Chris Petersen is concerned with one of the hits Winston Venable tried to deliver against Oregon State.

Utah has held opponents without a touchdown for five straight quarters.

Nevada offensive lineman John Bender has received hate mail for a hit he delivered to BYU DT Romney Fuga, who injured his knee on the play and is out for the season. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said it was "not a positive football play." Nevada coach Chris Ault said the play wasn't dirty but deserved a clipping penalty.

The Fresno State running game is hurting.

Nevada has a big rivalry game with UNLV, in the battle for the Fremont Cannon.

Air Force needs some clutch plays against Navy.

The injuries are piling up at San Jose State.

Louisiana Tech is going with its fourth starting quarterback.

Temple hopes running back Bernard Pierce can play against Army. Pierce sprained his ankle last week in the loss to Penn State.

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