Hot off the Internet stratosphere, we bring you our Top 10 non-AQ story lines for the week:
1. Does Boise State need to win 100-0 to get a little respect around here? The Broncos get Toledo this week in yet another game that is not going to win them any converts. The big question as the season rolls on is whether they continue to slide because of the level of competition. They already moved down one spot after Oregon beat Stanford, and they beat New Mexico, ahem, 59-0. This is going to be a continuing storyline, and one that is sure to grow more polarizing should Boise State continue to win.
2. Ditto for TCU. The Horned Frogs have not put up huge winning margins, either, beating SMU 41-24 and a pretty bad Colorado State team 27-0 last week. They led just 6-0 at halftime, and quarterback Andy Dalton struggled to get much going in the passing game. This week they get Wyoming at home. Coach Gary Patterson is not much interested in style points. Talk to him about winning games.
3. How big a test does No. 10 Utah face at Iowa State? Huge. The Utes have beaten up on some bottom feeders. Their four opponents so far have a combined record of 4-15. Yikes. But what those contests have done is allow a young defense to find its chemistry and come together. The unit is playing very well, particularly the front seven. Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud is the best player they have faced so far, so Utah better be up for the challenge.
4. How does BYU respond after losing four straight? No question the Cougars are at a crossroads, off to their worst start since 1973. Coach Bronco Mendenhall fired defensive coordinator Jamie Hill and said he wants to take a more active role. It might be a little too late for that with back-to-back games against San Diego State and TCU facing his already beleaguered squad.
5. Chad Spann vs. Matt Brown/Bernard Pierce. OK so the running backs technically do not go against each other, but they headline the matchup between Temple and Northern Illinois. Spann leads the Huskies ground attack and the MAC in rushing. Brown had 224 yards last week for Temple in place of Pierce. Whether the star Owls back plays is a question. He is still nursing a sprained ankle. But there is no doubt this is an early preview of a potential MAC title game.
6. Will we ever see the Ricky Dobbs of old? Maybe against a Wake Forest run defense that is not very good. But how Dobbs plays will really determine how Navy does this season. So far, the answer is mediocre on both accounts. Dobbs has been hobbled with ankle and groin injuries and is averaging just 2.4 yards a carry. There are some in Annapolis who believe he is not as explosive as he was in 2009, when he set the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 27.
7. Will Houston become more of a rushing team? The Cougars have the capability with Bryce Beall, who is tied for the national lead with nine touchdowns on the ground. Coach Kevin Sumlin hasn’t announced whether Terrance Broadway or David Piland will start against Mississippi State, but there is no question with two true freshmen quarterbacks they will have to rely more on the running game.
8. What else can go wrong for North Texas? The Mean Green are down to their fourth starting quarterback after injuries have taken down Nathan Tune, Derek Thompson and now Riley Dodge. Chase Blaine will make his first career start against Arkansas State. Receiver Tyler Stradford is out after a freak accident, too, and the team has lost upwards of 10 starters because of injuries. But the most tragic of all – the team is still reeling from the death of walk-on receiver Josh Rake following a car accident.
9. Bad football lives here. As in, the entire state of New Mexico, FIU and Western Kentucky. But hey, at least two of those teams will notch their first wins this week. New Mexico and New Mexico State play each other, and Sun Belt rivals FIU and Western Kentucky also play. These are can’t-miss games for anybody interested in football futility.
10. Is Air Force the marquee program in Colorado? It is an excellent question now that the Falcons are ranked in the Top 25 for the first time under coach Troy Calhoun. They play Mountain West foe Colorado State on Saturday, but it appears Air Force is on top of the college football mountain in the state – even after Colorado’s big win against lowly Georgia.