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Mid-Major Monday: Classic Big Show Edition

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Pleasantries, there being few these days in the netherworld of Wednesday battles in empty stadiums, dispensed.

The Mid-Major Record Against BCS Conferences
Last Week: 0-3
Season to Date: 17-93

Mid-Major Game of the Week
From the box score: Whatever doubts existed to the general mash of weakness comprising the Mountain West behind BYU were confirmed in league losses of varying scope to possible contenders Air Force (19-12 victims at previously winless San Diego State), Colorado State (24-0 losers at Wyoming) and, perhaps worst of all, Utah, which epitomized its up-and-down season in agonizing, "now we have `em, now we don't" fashion a wild 34-31 loss at New Mexico.

The Utes had actually scored 24 unanswered after an opening UNM field goal, riding four straight possessions of 9 plays, 10 plays, 5 plays, and the coupe de grâce, an 11-play, 95-yard second quarter march  following a three-and-out by the Lobos, including eight runs and capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Brett Ratliff to Derrek Richards to put Utah up three touchdowns. Less than a minute later, New Mexico faced 3rd and 15, its fourth three-and-out in five possessions and certain doom after a delay of game penalty, when Donovan Porterie randomly hits Travis Brown for 39 yards and an improbable first down. And Brown takes an end-around for eight yards on the ensuing play. And Porterie hits Brown for a 40-yard touchdown on the play after that, a couple minutes before the half. Y los Lobos estan en fuego: in the second half, New Mexico took its first possession 45 yards and missed a field goal; its next three turns with the ball produced 17 points and a 27-24 advantage.

Utah took a momentary lead when UNM muffed a punt, gifting a short field touchdown, but you cannot stop Donovan Porterie, you can only hope to contain Donovan Portrerie: the Lobo quarterback emerged with the icy veins, accounting for 62 total yards on New Mexico's 10-play, 78-yard steamroll to the winning touchdown, its fifth scoring drive in six and the virtual shiv in between the shoulder blades of Utah's hopes of sneaking up on the Mormons for the Mountain West title.

Utah drools the drool of regret into the pillow of remorse thanks to Marcus Thomas' Full Extension!


...and Frontin'
Southern Miss, Fresno State and Tulane each made earnest trips against the odds, taking long shots from way downtown...and, well, yes, bang!, but in the sense of these underdog snipers leaving in stretchers rather than hitting their targets. Virginia Tech, LSU and Auburn outscored their Homecoming fodder 112-25 and combined for nearly 700 yards rushing on career days for one or multiple backs, a couple of them career backups. If there's one bit of solace Southern Miss can take in the wake of its disappointing egg-laying at Tech, it's that at least it's not Fresno State.

Fresno State's season: They gacked on it. By the way, ref, real men don't taunt.

Mid-Major Players of the Week
Two New Mexico receivers, Travis Brown and Marcus Smith had big, 100-yards days (a first for Brown and second for Smith), but the glory of course goes to their quarterback, Donovan Porterie (19-33, 350 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT), who easily equaled and then passed his career yardage and touchdown totals en route to leading the team from way, way behind in his second career start - and second career win.

Top honors this week, however, go to the possessor of the possibly the greatest single-game defensive stat line SMQ has ever seen, Western Michigan's  Ameer Ismail...get ready...(6 sacks, 5 non-sack tackles, 1 interception return for touchdown). That's, uh...that's pretty good. He's now tied for the national sack lead, at the expense of the poor Ball State quarterbacks.

Ameer Ismail is a ringer for Mario Lopez, but he does not play, preppy

As for Garrett Wolfe's one-time Heisman and Mazwell Pundit hopes, they're deep, and SMQ doesn't think they're playable: Wolfe still leads the nation in rushing, and is on pace for 2,300 yards in 13 games, but he was stuffed again Saturday at Temple, which is the worst rushing defense in the nation, rivaled only by Stanford, and had given up like 650 on the ground last week against Clemson. That may be an exaggeration, but Garrett Wolfe's two-game totals - 35 carries, 70 yards, 0 touchdowns - against weak competition are not.

An Entirely Subjective Mid-Major Top Ten
This is more of a power poll...

Yawn, yawn, Boise State, etc. BYU and Tulsa will probably be considered for SMQ's BlogPoll ballot this week, but he would surprised if either had the resume to get in. Central Michigan and, sadly, Southern Miss are fairly trash picks just to complete the list.

1. Boise State (8-0)
2. BYU (5-2)
3. Tulsa (6-1)
4. Navy (5-2)
5. Hawaii (5-2)
6. Kent State (5-2)
7. TCU (3-2)
8. Western Michigan (5-2)
9. Central Michigan (5-3)
10. Southern Miss (4-3)

This Week
UTEP-Tulsa Friday works out as the de facto C-USA West championship game, and a high-scoring one...Navy's losing streak to Notre Dame stretches back to the Middies' bondage in serfdom during the Middle Ages, and still Academy fans are asking if this is the year. This is not the year...TCU already dispatched, BYU gets possibly its toughest remaining Mountain West test, at Air Force, where the Falcons could put themselves in a tie for the league lead...Ohio U. Kent State. First place...On the opposite end, the MAC's all-disappointment bowl: Akron and Toledo, the past two conference champions, are combined 1-6 against the rest of the MAC...Aside from Navy, four death-defying upset bids: UL-Monroe at Arkansas, Florida International at Alabama, Northern Illinois at Iowa and Buffalo at Boston College. The mid-major loss total against BCS conference teams creeps ever closer to 100.