Ever the hopeful Davids, emerging for battle armed with God and justice, mid-majors limp back en masse to their flocks after a month of beatings at the hands of unrepentant Goliaths, felled neither by solitary stone nor flea flicker. Akron and Western Michigan represented against the ACC, and return forgotten to Mid-American obscurity, the cause of more alarm and wringing of hands in the Middle Atlantic than Rust Belt triumph; Garrett Wolfe electrified against the best, and breaks records now only on the latest and grainiest of grainy late night highlight shows. Relegated to the middle of the week, scorned by viewers in favor of CSI: The Amazing Survivor, mid-majors stow away for years the triumphs of September, and forge stoically ahead for their Christmastime prizes of neglect and ridicule.
But among the ranks this week, turmoil and solidification: Boise State, late of mere one-touchdown victories over Wyoming and Hawaii, went south to deliver the rare non-blue turf beatdown to Utah, where the alleged heavies of the Mountain West employed two quarterbacks to go 8-27 for 52 yards and four interceptions, allowing Boise to begin three drives inside the Ute 25.
The condescending "BCS Buster" tag, then, is left on the Broncos alone, following BYU's surgical felling of the reigning mid-major darling, TCU, on Thursday. The Frogs, national leaders in turnover margin during their 11-1 season in 2005, were minus-two against the Cougars, and also missed a field goal at the end of a five-minute, 10-play, 58-yard drive in the first half.
Utah remains 1-0 in-conference, but its failure to compete at UCLA or, in even more shameful fashion, at home against BSU, coupled with the Frogs' streak-snapping defeat, unexpectedly cedes MWC supremacy for the moment to BYU, whose nearest competition now - should the Cougars handle the rest of the field - is apparently rejuvenated Air Force.
With that helmet go the Utes' poll hopes for the season
As for Boise, the glass ceiling is currently constructed at the BCS poll's twelfth position, which is more than room enough for advancement if the Broncos deliver against floundering Fresno State and at Nevada to close the season; dismantlings of Oregon State and Utah are at least as impressive as anything the Utes did to finish sixth and slip into the Fiesta Bowl in 2004, and better than anything Boise itself did in going undefeated that same season. SMQ thinks - hypothesizing from nice, neat, upset-free projections - Boise's eventual BCS status should be taken for granted (not necessarily deserved, it should be noted, but taken for granted). Hell, Notre Dame's is.
The Mid-Major Record Against BCS Conferences
Last Week: 0-8
Season to Date:
The two biggest mid-major wins of the week (see above) were over fellow below-the-radar brethren. The only cause this helps is that of the big-name-longing Fiesta Bowl.
Mid-Major Game of the Week
Houston was very close to delivering a marquee, top 25-vaulting win to propel its previously undefeated season into the spotlight at Big Miami, regardless of the `Canes' obvious problems, had Jackie Battle not fumbled at the end of a 69-yard third quarter drive to go up two scores, deflated, and allowed plays of 22, 44 and 27 yards on Miami's subsequent go-ahead possession. UM, predictably, had done nothing on offense for more than two quarters before that fumble, since its opening drive, but went 89 (touchdown), 61 (missed field goal) and 67 (end of game) after.
Well, er, none, exactly, though Garrett Wolfe alone bolstered his champagne wishes and Heisman dreams by doing to Ball State what such a player should do to Ball State (see below).
("Heisman," coincidentally, is marked red in Spell Check. Is this equal to or worse than its tagging of "Unitas"? What about "Representin'" sans the `g,' even with the appropriate apostrophe insertion? Discuss).
Judging from its two games against reasonable competition - in which its been outscored 67-13 and outgained 826-466 - Utah is pretty much aaaaaaallll the way back from the Meyer/Smith Era superlatives. Similarly, usually high-powered Toledo - after putting up some serious fight in overtime against Iowa State, getting unexpectedly smacked 31-10 by Western Michigan and picking itself up off the mat to win at Kansas - is down for the count again in the wake of an inexcusable 45-3 walloping at Pittsburgh. The Rockets turned it over four times, allowed Tyler Palko to complete 12 of 15 and barely averaged three yards per play.
Mid-Major Players of the Week
SMQ duly notes the indestructible Chase Holbrook (48-73, 506 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 INT in New Mexico State's near-upset of UTEP), maniacally ordered to pass and pass and pass on into his nightmares by Hal Mumme, but, um, Garrett Wolfe (31 carries, 356 yards, 3 touchdowns)? That is not even fair.
Sacre bleu! Son le loup!
An Entirely Subjective Mid-Major Top Ten
This is more of a power poll...
1. Boise State (5-0)
2. BYU (3-2)
3. TCU (3-1)
4. Air Force (2-1)
5. Houston (4-1)
6. Southern Miss (3-1)
7. Tulsa (3-1)
8. Navy (4-1)
9. Western Michigan (3-1)
10. Colorado State (3-1)
If Southern Miss and/or Tulsa want to win their respective divisions of Conference USA, tonight is the night for such prospects to materialize; Central Florida and Marshall are doing similar, less important midweek things on Wednesday night...Game of the Week could be steel cage MWC elimination grudge match TCU at Utah Thursday, recent losses notwithstanding, though no one will see the bloody collision because of the Mountain West's weird affiliation with CSTV. Who or what is CSTV? Is this ESPNU's poor cousin?...The other, probably stronger, Game of the Week candidate is entertaining, flag-draped optionfest Navy at Air Force, another possession of the maddening CSTV...Northern Illinois and Miami, Ohio, for no reason, are playing on Sunday night on ESPN, against the professionals of America's Night of American Football in America...Kent State's improbable, Phil Steele-willed winning streak will reach four at Temple...Bowling Green, last seen getting smashed 38-3 by the Flashes, crosses its fingers and repeats "it's only a game" until its reaming at Ohio State is complete...Upset bids: Potentially, since it's MAC at Big East, Akron over Cincinnati, though the Zips may be favored. Nothing else prospective.