NCF Nation: Ohio

Instant analysis: Ohio 24, Penn State 14

September, 1, 2012
It was over when: Tyler Tettleton ran up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Penn State trailed for the first time all game after that -- 17-14 -- and couldn't recover. Tettleton made his presence felt after throwing two passes longer than 30 yards on back-to-back drives, but that short run clinched it.

Game ball goes to: Tettleton. He disappeared in the first half but came on strong in the second. The Ohio signal-caller led his team to three touchdown drives, and threw for 207 yards in the second half. The Bobcats wouldn't have won without him.

Stat of the game: Four. That's the number of passing plays longer than 25 yards that Penn State's defense allowed. Three of those came during Ohio's three touchdown drives.

Second guessing: Putting in a linebacker on the kick returns was a gutsy idea ... but definitely an unusual one. Gerald Hodges returned three kicks and made at least two questionable plays before he was pulled. He fumbled a punt return and brought the ball out of the end zone, ending up at the 12 on the opening kickoff. This experiment might be over.

Best call: With 2:59 left in the game, on 3rd-and-Goal from the 5, Ohio lined up with three receivers in the shotgun. Tettleton found Donte Foster in the corner of the end zone to ice the game and put the score at 24-14.

What we learned about PSU: Penn State's offense has potential, and the secondary's in trouble. The offense had a few mistakes -- one fumble, at least four dropped passes -- but it moved the ball downfield better than last season. The secondary was picked on in the second half and, as most thought, appears to be the weak link to the defense. Ohio's fourth-quarter drive -- 14 plays, 93 yards -- showed Penn State's defense might not dominate like past years.

Who we should see more of: For Ohio, Beau Blankenship appears to be a guy to watch in both the running game and passing game. He ran for 109 yards and led the team in receptions (7). For Penn State, Allen Robinson had a strong debut. He had six catches for 74 yards in the first quarter. Yes, just one quarter. His route-running separates him from other receivers here, and he'll lead the team in receptions this season.

Non-AQ bowl look

November, 9, 2010
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.


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.


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.


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
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.


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.


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.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

November, 8, 2010
Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 10.

The good: Boise State and TCU remained in the national title hunt with big wins this weekend. Though their offenses made headlines -- the Broncos racked up a school-record 737 yards and TCU had more than 500 yards -- both defenses played something fierce. They both held their opponents to fewer than 200 yards of total offense. Now they are the top two teams in the country in total defense and scoring defense. TCU is No. 1 in both categories. … Meanwhile, New Mexico won its first game of the season, 34-31 over Wyoming. Quarterback Stump Godfrey made his first career start as B.R. Holbrook sat out because of an injury and went 16-of-20 for 211 yards with two touchdowns. The Lobos, which had been giving the ball away as if it was a Christmas present, forced four turnovers. It was just the second time all season they won the turnover battle in a game. … How about Nevada racking up 844 yards of total offense? Not only did Colin Kaepernick have 300 yards passing, the Wolf Pack had three 100-yard rushers: Mark Lampford, Mike Ball and Vai Taua.

The bad: Western Michigan controlled its own bowl destiny heading into its game against Central Michigan. None of the four opponents left on its schedule had a winning record, so finishing up 7-5 or 6-6 seemed realistic. But the Broncos lost for the fifth straight time to their in-state rivals -- even though the Chippewas went into the game with just two wins. Backup RB Brian Fields fumbled 2 yards from the end zone with 1:37 remaining, the fourth lost fumble of the game for Western Michigan and the Chippewas held on 26-22.

The heartache: The Akron Zips are now the only winless team in the country, but missed out on a great opportunity in a 37-30 double-overtime loss to Ball State. After tying the score late to send the game into overtime, the Zips and Cardinals traded touchdowns in the first overtime. Ball State went ahead in overtime No. 2. But all hopes were lost for Akron when Patrick Nicely was intercepted on third down by Joshua Howard to end the game. Akron had more first downs and more rushing yards than Ball State and won the turnover battle as well. … Tulane had Southern Miss on the ropes heading into the fourth quarter. The two teams were tied at 30, but the Golden Eagles scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win 46-30. Tulane (402) outgained Southern Miss (358) and had 11 more first downs.

[+] EnlargeTCU defense
Douglas C. Pizac/US PresswireTCU shut down the high-powered Utah offense.
The off-balance: Utah and Hawaii went into their respective games as some of the highest-scoring teams in the country. But each were held to just a touchdown. Utah had been averaging 45.2 points a game, tied for No. 3 in the nation. Hawaii had been averaging 39. 2 points a game. … Meanwhile, BYU exploded offensively for the first time all season, posting more than 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing and a season-high 55 points against UNLV. The Cougars are 39-0 since 1972 and 5-0 under current head coach Bronco Mendenhall when passing for 300 and running for 200.

A few more helmet stickers: FIU WR T.Y. Hilton had 291 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns in a 42-35 double-overtime win over ULM. He became the first Panther to score a touchdown three different ways in the same game, as he caught two touchdowns, ran for one and returned a kick for a score. … Central Michigan LB Armond Staten had 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and three forced fumbles in an upset win over Western Michigan. … San Diego State LB Miles Burris had a career-high 10 tackles, four tackles for loss (minus-39 yards), two sacks and two forced fumbles in a 24-19 victory over Colorado State.

A few injury items to note: Ohio quarterback Boo Jackson is questionable for the Nov. 16 game against Temple after reportedly getting into a fight outside a bar and sustaining serious injuries to his face. Coach Frank Solich would only say that Jackson is questionable for the game. Backup Phil Bates has been slowed by a shoulder injury, leaving the possibility that Ohio could burn the redshirt of true freshman Kyle Snyder. “We’re going to have to talk about it some more and look at it from different angles and make a decision about a player being brought out of redshirt if he needs to be,” Solich said. … Kent State star LB Cobrani Mixon is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Army with a shoulder injury, and starting quarterback Spencer Keith injured his thumb and is day-to-day. … BYU TE Marcus Mathews is out for the season with a lacerated spleen.

Week 11 look ahead: TCU plays San Diego State (7-2) in a classic letdown game. Will the Horned Frogs suffer an emotional low after an emotional high over Utah? Boise State has a big rivalry game against Idaho, perhaps made even bigger after comments during the offseason where school president Bob Kustra slammed Vandal culture as “nasty” and “inebriated.” Southern Miss travels to UCF in a big East Division game. The Knights, ranked for the first time in school history, control their destiny. We can’t forget about the big Tuesday night game between MAC West Division leaders Toledo and Northern Illinois.

Non-AQ bowl projections

November, 7, 2010
Not much has changed in my non-AQ bowl projections for this week. I still have a non-AQ team in the BCS national championship game. I have TCU in there for the second straight week, based on my projection that the Horned Frogs will finish ranked ahead of Boise State at the end of the season. Moving in front in the human polls is a huge plus for TCU as it jockeys with the Broncos for that top spot among the non-AQs.

I still have Boise State in as an at-large BCS team, now playing Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. As for my conference champions, I am still projecting UCF to win Conference USA, Northern Illinois to win the MAC and Troy to win the Sun Belt.

I am still looking for a place to put Toledo. I know Rockets fans must think I am crazy for not having them in here. The problem is there are not that many at-large spots open because so many of the power conferences are going to have teams that end up being bowl eligible at 7-5 or 6-6. Lots of parity this year. I am still going with Ohio to get the No. 3 MAC nod ahead of Toledo.

Here are all of the non-AQ picks:

BCS National Championship Game: Oregon vs. TCU

Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. Boise State

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Boston College* vs. Nevada Bowl: Temple vs. Troy

Liberty Bowl: UCF vs. Kentucky

Armed Forces Bowl: SMU vs. Army

Military Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. East Carolina

Independence Bowl: Clemson vs. Air Force

Little Caesars Bowl: Iowa State* vs. Northern Illinois

Hawaii Bowl: Tulsa vs. Hawaii**

Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. Texas A&M*

St. Petersburg Bowl: ULM vs. Southern Miss

New Orleans Bowl: Houston vs. Middle Tennessee

Humanitarian Bowl: Ohio vs. UTEP*

New Mexico Bowl: BYU vs. Fresno State

*at large selection because conference couldn't fill allotment.

**Hawaii already accepted bid to bowl.

Lunchtime Links

November, 5, 2010
Headed to Salt Lake City for the big game between TCU and Utah. Now on to some links as we get closer to game day!

Boo Jackson did it all for Ohio in a 34-17 win over Buffalo.

Big game tonight between Houston and UCF. Houston is trying to take it one game at a time.

Boise State's only loss of the season could be to the BCS.

Utah has to get TCU quarterback Andy Dalton out of rhythm.

Nevada cornerback Doyle Miller quietly leads the secondary.

Were there spies at the Hawaii practice?

Air Force wants the Commander-In-Chief Trophy. The game is personal for Army fullback Jared Hassin.

Western Kentucky tackles Wes Jeffries and Preston King have formed a tight bond.

Lunchtime Links

November, 4, 2010
More football tonight everyone! Those watching Virginia Tech take on Georgia Tech should join ACC blogger Heather Dinich and me for another midweek live chat.

Meanwhile, Buffalo is at Ohio on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m.

Expect Utah to open up the playbook against TCU.

Former walk-on receiver Tyler Shoemaker has made a big impact this season at Boise State.

Navy LB Tyler Simmons has overcome serious injuries from a skiing accident to lead the team in tackles.

Army can prove it is for real with a win over Air Force.

Opponents are now focusing on the San Diego State run game.

UCF would face a tough decision if it got a football-only invite from the Big East.

A family feud is set for the Rice-Tulsa game on Saturday: Rice WR Patrick Randolph goes against his dad, Tulsa assistant Paul Randolph.

With the FIU season in the balance, there is little margin for error.

Non-AQ Bowl Projections

October, 31, 2010
Well, nine weeks in and the time has come. I am removing Boise State from the national championship game. The latest BCS rankings make it clear that if the Broncos and TCU finish undefeated, it would be the Horned Frogs who finish as the top non-AQ team. So I am going with Oregon vs. TCU in the BCS national title game for this week.

This is still is a leap of faith on my part, because I have no idea whether the Horned Frogs would be able to hold off a hard-charging one-loss Alabama team, should the Tide win out. I still have TCU beating Utah and project the the Horned Frogs to go undefeated. I also am still projecting Boise State to go undefeated, and am guessing the BCS would take two non-AQs again. There is always the possibility it could go with two Big Ten teams rather than two non-AQ teams. Or even two Big 12 teams, depending on who they are.

Toledo is bowl eligible, but I have not been able to find a home for the Rockets just yet. They would need an at-large selection. UTEP is in the middle of a massive slump, and though I do project the Miners to be bowl eligible, I have them as the No. 7 team in Conference USA. That means they would also need an at-large berth. ULM is back in, but mainly because the Sun Belt serves as a backup to the Big East in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg.

BCS national championship game:Oregon versus TCU

Sugar Bowl: Alabama versus Boise State

Little Caesars: Michigan versus Northern Illinois

Military Bowl: North Carolina versus Tulsa

Liberty Bowl: UCF versus Kentucky

Hawaii Bowl: East Carolina versus Hawaii**

Armed Forces Bowl:SMU versus Army*

New Orleans Bowl: Houston versus Middle Tennessee Bowl: Temple versus Troy

Humanitarian Bowl: Ohio versus Iowa State*

Las Vegas Bowl: Utah versus Texas A&M*

Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State versus Navy

Independence Bowl: Air Force versus Clemson

New Mexico Bowl:BYU versus Fresno State

Kraft Fight Hunger: Boston College* versus Nevada

Beef O’Bradys:ULM* versus Southern Miss

*=at large selection because conference doesn’t have enough teams to
fill tie-in.

**= accepted bid.

Non-AQ What we learned: Week 9

October, 31, 2010
Time to see what we learned from the non-AQs in Week 9:

1. Bring on TCU vs. Utah. The huge game we have waited all season for is finally here, and the teams involved did not disappoint in Week 9, staying undefeated to set up a colossal matchup between the two teams. Utah had a tough time against Air Force, but that was not entirely unexpected. The defense forced five turnovers and had several crucial fourth down stops to preserve the win. TCU cruised over UNLV. Now attention can focus on the matchup between the two. Will Utah pull off the win in its final season in the Mountain West? Or will TCU win for the first time at Utah? The Utes have won a Mountain West record 21 straight games at home. After the Air Force game, Utah players talked about getting their shot at TCU. “Can't wait,” safety Greg Bird said. “I’m excited. We’re going to bring it to them.”

[+] EnlargeEddie Wide
AP Photo/Chris SchneiderUtah celebrated a win over Air Force on Saturday and can now focus squarely on TCU.
2. Non-AQs get more good news, but Boise State is going to have to be more impressive. Even a 49-20 win over Louisiana Tech was not enough to silence its critics. The Broncos had the spotlight to themselves on Tuesday night, but looked sloppy and led many to wonder why against such inferior competition. Boise State and TCU/Utah got help when Michigan State and Missouri lost, leaving only two undefeated teams from the automatic-qualifying conferences. That is obviously good news. But now they have to start sweating the one-loss teams (ahem, Alabama) and that means impressing human voters, who have to keep Boise State in the top 2 of the polls for the Broncos to have any legitimate shot at playing for a championship.

3. Six more non-AQ teams became bowl eligible. We went into the weekend with 11 who had the chance. We end with six getting to the magical mark: San Diego State, UCF, Toledo, Ohio, Nevada and Hawaii. UCF becomes the first team eligible from Conference USA -- Southern Miss and UTEP fell short of six wins on Saturday. The MAC has four teams eligible, including Northern Illinois and Temple, but only three guaranteed bowl spots. So that means somebody needs an at-large berth or could be left home. San Diego State is eligible for the first time since 1998, while Toledo is eligible for the first time since 2005.

4. UCF is the favorite in the East in Conference USA. The Knights won a critical game over East Carolina 49-35 to take command of the East. If UCF wins out, it plays in the conference championship game. Ronnie Weaver had a career-high 180 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The lead is actually pretty commanding. UCF is the only remaining team in the entire league that is undefeated in conference play. It has the head-to-head tiebreaker over East Carolina, and a two-game lead on UAB (which it already beat) and Southern Miss. The Knights have a critical game at West Division leader Houston on Friday night before hosting the Golden Eagles on Nov. 13.

5. Navy suffers a letdown. Just when you think the Midshipmen have turned a corner, they have a complete meltdown. A week after handily beating Notre Dame 35-17, the Midshipmen lost to Duke 34-31. The defense, which had carried this team all season, gave up a season-high 34 points and inexplicably allowed quarterback Sean Renfree to pass for 314 yards. He set a school record with a 93.3 completion percentage and completed his first 16 passes. Navy trailed 24-0 at halftime, its largest deficit at the break since 2002. Though Navy had won several games thanks to fourth-quarter comebacks this season, it was not meant to be Saturday.
Let us dip into the Friday mailbag for some more question and answer fun. Thanks to everyone for writing in, and please understand I can only pick and choose a few to answer. So do not be offended if I skip your e-mail. I do read all of them, and appreciate all your feedback. Please keep 'em coming.

Howard in Broadlands, Va., writes: Watching the BCS show, I must have heard three times that Week 8 Pitt is better than Week 1 Pitt. Perhaps, but Week 8 Utah is also better than Week 1 Utah and Week 8 Utah still beats Week 8 Pitt. Also, can anyone seriously tell me that they don't believe that either Boise St., TCU or Utah would have dropped 60 points against Northwestern and not "found a way to win"?

Adelson writes: Well, again, this is all about slapping down the non-AQ teams and finding ways to avoid giving them credit for wins they rightfully deserve. Do you know how many times I have heard that Virginia Tech would beat Boise State if the two played today? As for all the other undefeated teams out there, we can nitpick their schedule and margin of victory, too. Michigan State needed two trick plays to win and has beaten one ranked team all season.

Matt Farren in Buffalo writes: Any comment on "Upset Special II: Miami (Ohio) 28, Ohio 21" (final score Ohio 34, Miami 13)? I'm an Ohio alum, in case it wasn't obvious.

Adelson writes: An alien got a hold of my hard drive and changed my picks! Not buying it? OK. I was wrong, oh so wrong. Please forgive me!

John McDaniel of St. Louis writes: If Missouri finishes the season undefeated, do they have a shot at the national championship? If not the title game, what BCS game would they most likely play in?

Adelson writes: It all depends on who loses in front of Mizzou. If Auburn and Oregon go undefeated, then the Tigers get left out and head to the Fiesta Bowl, home of the Big 12 champion. But if there continues to be one upset after another, then the chances increase.

Preston in Mendota Heights, Minn., writes: I'm excited for Western Kentucky. Do you think they can get another win this year?

Adelson writes: I have got Western Kentucky winning this weekend over North Texas. There is also a winnable game next week against FAU. Bobby Rainey is quite the underrated running back. The key is going to be how coach Willie Taggart handles the success, and makes sure his players stay focused.

Winston in Guatemala writes: You wrote: TCU is set to get a bump when it plays No. 8 Utah on Nov. 6. Yes Andrea, since it is just a given that TCU will win at Utah. Answer me this, has TCU ever won at Utah? No. I can't wait for that game so you will finally calm your overzealous love for TCU. Will you eat crow when this happens? Just wondering.

Adelson writes: What if I eat bugs or worms or something, like those people on Fear Factor? Would that be OK? If any Utah fans have something creative for me to do should Utah win, send it into the mailbag and I will publish the best responses.

Jed in Idaho Falls, Idaho writes: Boise State is the inspiration in all of football these days. Have you noticed the resurgence of gimmick plays in both college and NFL games ever since the 2007 Fiesta Bowl? Did you notice how No. 1 fell 3 weeks in a row? That hasn't happened since the 60's, but now Boise has reminded the lower ranked teams that those upper echelon teams can be beaten.

Adelson writes: Funny thing about those gimmick plays. Coaches of those power teams that use them to win are praised for thinking outside the box to win. Boise State uses them, and the Broncos are scolded for needing trickery and not talent to win. Love the double standard.

Chris in Concord, Calif., writes: Do you know what would happen if Army gets to six wins, yet the Armed Forces Bowl is able to fill both of its contracted slots? Would Army then move to the "at-large pool" and just have to hope for the best? I know I am getting ahead of myself because their schedule down the stretch isn't exactly easy, but I think it would be a real shame if the Black Knights finally get to six wins and wind up staying home for the holidays anyway.

Adelson writes: Yes, Army would need an at-large berth this year because there is no contracted bowl game. All it has slated is as a backup to both Conference USA and Mountain West teams in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Clifton Hamilton in Philadelphia writes: Is it fair to rate Kellen Moore so high on the Heisman list? Everyone keeps excusing his low overall yardage due to the minimal game time he plays, but his backup quarterbacks playing with other backup players are amassing statistics that easily compare to Kellen Moore's statistics. To me, that clearly states something about the Boise State team overall, their opponents, or both, but says very little about Kellen Moore. I think Boise State has a good shot at the BCS championship bowl this year, and if Kellen Moore puts up stats like this in the bowl game, I'll eat my words.

Adelson writes: How about going 23-of-38 for 215 yards, three touchdowns no interceptions and executing a two-minute drive to win the game against Virginia Tech? You said you wanted one game to eat your words – there you have it. I had a debate with somebody on Twitter about this (are you him?), who said he would be just as good as Moore if he played in college. But if it was so easy to put up numbers against low-quality opponents, then why is nobody from the MAC or Sun Belt throwing for 3,000 yards and just three interceptions in one season? Moore is not going to win the Heisman. He might not even be invited to New York. But he certainly has a special quality that has allowed him to pass with such accuracy, and to lead his team to 21 straight victories. I don't care how bad the opponent, you still have to be able to get the ball to your receivers to make some plays, all while reading defenses, dealing with pressure and eliminating distractions.

Raul in Albuquerque writes: New Mexico was once average in the MWC, garnering the 5th most wins in the conference for the past 10, 5, and even 3 years under Rocky Long. Obviously, times have changed with Mike Locksley... UNM has never won a MWC title in football. What should UNM do in order to win the MWC asap?

Adelson writes: Well getting rid of Locksley will help, but he has a large buyout and the school is financially strapped, so it is a big question whether he will be back next season. They need a dynamic recruiter to convince kids to come there, and they need to have a disciplined team. It is not an easy spot to be in, but Long showed it is possible to win there. Is it possible to win conference titles with TCU and Boise State around in the coming years? That is going to be much more difficult.

Non-AQ What to Watch, Week 9

October, 28, 2010
Come one, come all for your top-10 non-AQ storylines for Week 9:

1. Do No. 4 TCU and No. 8 Utah stay undefeated headed into their big showdown next week? TCU travels to UNLV and Utah travels to Air Force on Saturday. The Horned Frogs have been inconsistent in two true road games this season, trailing early to SMU and leading only 6-0 at halftime against Colorado State. TCU is a heavy favorite to beat lowly UNLV, but this is a good road test before its trip to Salt Lake City. Utah faces a much more difficult test at Air Force. The games between the two schools are generally close, and the Falcons are smarting after two straight losses. Many have complained about the “weak” Utah schedule to this point. A win here might answer some of those critics.

[+] EnlargeRyan Lindley
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireRyan Lindley and the Aztecs are on the brink of bowl eligibility.
2. Who becomes bowl eligible? Eleven non-AQ teams are one win away from becoming bowl eligible this Saturday, with some new faces scattered in there. San Diego State (5-2) has not been to a bowl game since 1998 and plays at Wyoming, a game it should win. Toledo (5-3) and UTEP (5-3) have not been to a bowl game since 2005. East Carolina (5-2) and UCF (5-2) play each other so only one will get to six wins. Hawaii (6-2), Nevada (6-1), Navy (5-2), Ohio (5-3) and Southern Miss (5-2) are all favored to win their games. Air Force (5-3) has a big game against Utah, as mentioned above.

3. Does UCF break through and beat East Carolina? The two rivals have combined to win each of the past three Conference USA championships and four of the past five East Division titles. Both have won all their league games, marking the latest that two undefeated teams have played since the league expanded to 12 teams in 2005. But East Carolina has won four straight in the series and holds an 8-1 overall edge. Many people thought this might be a rebuilding year for the Pirates, but they have won behind Dominique Davis. The UCF defense is going to have its hands full.

4. Navy has a chance to win four straight. The Midshipmen were down and out after losing to Air Force 14-6 earlier this season. A team that has known nothing but dominance over its fellow service academies has been strengthened because of that loss, running off three straight wins. None was more convincing than a 35-17 victory over Notre Dame last week that was vintage Navy. It hosts Duke on Saturday.

5. How does TCU quarterback Andy Dalton play on the road? In three neutral site/road games this season, Dalton has three touchdowns to four interceptions. At home: 11 touchdowns to one interception. TCU closes with three of its final four games on the road, starting Saturday. Coach Gary Patterson said earlier this week, “We’ll probably go as Andy Dalton goes. If he plays at a high level, we’ll have a chance to win more of those games than we lose.”

6. Can the Utah defense be as effective as TCU at stopping Air Force? A lot of people like to scoreboard watch as a way to measure teams against each other. TCU and Utah both are in the top 10 in the nation in total defense. So which will be able to handle the Air Force triple option better? TCU held Air Force to a season-low 184 yards rushing last week.

7. Ohio is asserting itself in the MAC. The Bobcats have won four straight games behind solid play from quarterback Boo Jackson. Of course, it has helped that they also got to beat up on Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green and Akron. But last week’s win over Miami (Ohio) was big. They have outgained five consecutive opponents on the ground for the first time since 2006. During the four-game win streak, Ohio has scored 151 points, the most points in a four-game stretch since 2002. They get Sun Belt Louisiana this week and Buffalo next before a huge game against East Division opponent Temple on Nov. 16.

8. Two of these teams are going to get to two wins on Saturday: San Jose State, New Mexico State, North Texas and Western Kentucky. The season has been especially unkind to San Jose State and North Texas, who have lost multiple players to season-ending injuries. The Mean Green have lost 10 starters, the Spartans 15 starters and key reserves. North Texas travels to play Western Kentucky, coming off its first win of the season, while San Jose State goes to Las Cruces.

9. How does Mike Canales fair in his first game as a North Texas interim head coach? Canales takes over for Todd Dodge, who was fired last week after winning just six games for the Mean Green. This is a job audition for Canales, who would love to become a head coach and has learned under some of the best. Most recently, he served as offensive coordinator under Jim Leavitt at USF before coming to North Texas this season.

10. The BCS standings will look how? Depends on what happens with everybody else. The big question moving forward: If TCU and Utah are undefeated next week and the Horned Frogs win, will that give them a boost toward climbing ahead of Boise State? They are just 0.0013 points behind Boise State this week. If Utah wins, will that give the Utes a boost? That is much less likely because they still have far to climb, especially in the human polls.

Lunchtime Links

October, 27, 2010
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.

Non-AQ Bowl Projections

October, 24, 2010
Time for the latest bowl projections for the non-AQ teams. I have done these for all of college football from the beginning of the season, but now is when things truly get interesting in the fight for bowl eligibility. It is a huge guessing game, but also keep in mind -- the projections are not necessarily where the teams are going to finish.

Bowls are not required to take teams based on order of finish in the conference if they feel there is a more intriguing team that is available to them. Hawaii, for example, might finish second in the WAC, but would go to the Hawaii Bowl regardless.

One change - I am now projecting UCF as the winner of Conference USA. SMU's loss to Houston on Saturday night had a hand in that. But right now UCF and East Carolina are the two best teams in the conference, with a big showdown looming this week in Orlando. I also have Houston back in the projections after the big win.

I still have Boise State in the national title game. The more No. 1 teams that lose, the more that helps the Broncos.

Here are the latest projections after Week 8:

BCS national championship game: Oregon vs. Boise State

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. TCU

Hawaii Bowl: Tulsa vs. Hawaii

Armed Forces Bowl: East Carolina vs. Army

Eagle Bank: Maryland vs. Southern Miss

Liberty Bowl: UCF vs. Kentucky

New Orleans Bowl: UTEP vs. Middle Tennessee Bowl: Temple vs. Troy

Humanitarian Bowl: Ohio vs. Idaho

Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. Washington

Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy

Independence Bowl: Air Force vs. NC State

New Mexico Bowl: BYU vs. Fresno State

Little Caesars: Penn State vs. Northern Illinois

Beef O’Bradys: Louisville vs. SMU

Kraft Fight Hunger: Houston* vs. Nevada

* = at large because conference cannot fill bowl allotment.

Non-AQ Helmet Stickers: Week 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Non-AQ Did you know: Week 8

October, 22, 2010
Time for another edition of non-AQ Did You Know, Week 8 style. Thanks to the conference and school sports information directors, along with ESPN Stats & Information for some of these nuggets.
  • Utah State will unveil a bronze statue of Merlin Olsen in a ceremony Saturday a few hours before kickoff against Hawaii. Olsen, the greatest athlete in school history, died in March after a battle with cancer. He was a three-year lettermen on the offensive and defensive lines from 1959-61, earning All-American honors during both his junior and senior seasons. He went on to a Hall of Fame career in the NFL. The statue depicts Olsen in full uniform and pads, with his helmet under his arm. When set on its base, his gaze will directly face toward the Olsen family home in Logan where he grew up, roughly two miles in a direct line from where the statue will stand.
  • Earlier this week, Jonesboro, Ark., Mayor Harold Perrin issued an official proclamation at the city council meeting recognizing the first ever nationally televised home game in Arkansas State football history. The Red Wolves host Middle Tennessee on Nov. 2, in a game set to be shown on ESPN2. “This is Jonesboro’s opportunity to be in the national spotlight,” Perrin said. “The best way to make a significant impact is to fill the stadium. Not only will the Arkansas State football team be on display, the entire city will have a chance to show the nation what makes Jonesboro a great place to live.”
  • Ohio quarterback Boo Jackson has a chance to set the school record for career touchdown passes this weekend against Miami (Ohio). He currently has 29, tied with Cleve Bryant (1967-69) atop the list. Last week, receiver Terrence McCrae set the school record for career touchdown passes with 16, moving past the record Todd Snyder set from 1967-69. The Bobcats have won six straight MAC road games. With a win Saturday, they would tie the school record for consecutive MAC road wins, set from 1959-61.
  • Colorado State plays Utah on Saturday. The Rams’ last win over a ranked opponent came against No. 7 Colorado in 2002. The Rams have dropped their past 11 against AP ranked teams.
  • Tulsa’s Damaris Johnson is closing in on the Conference USA record for kickoff return yardage. He is now just 80 yards away from passing SMU’s Jessie Henderson for the mark. Henderson has 2,945 yards on 122 returns from 2005-08.
  • UCF defensive end Bruce Miller has 30 career sacks. He is the nation’s active leader in both sacks and tackles for loss (51).
  • New Mexico State has just three sacks on the season, tied for the fewest in the nation.
  • Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs needs just three rushing touchdowns to tie Chris McCoy for the school record for career rushing touchdowns. McCoy rushed for 43 touchdowns as a quarterback from 1995-97.
  • Utah kicker Joe Phillips is tied for the most consecutive field goals in the nation by an active player. Phillips has converted on his last 17 field goal attempts, a second record, tying him for first in the nation with David Ruffer of Notre Dame. Utah will play Notre Dame on Nov. 13.