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Mid-Major Monday

Whatever ill-founded doubt existed as to Boise State's superiority among the nation's second tier was wiped out beginning Thursday, when Utah - just smited by the Broncos - rebounded by confirming the non-fluky nature of TCU's surprising loss to BYU by ripping up the Frogs, 20-7. Boise, apparently not even to be challenged in its own conference by floundering, Utah State-losing Fresno State anymore, responded by cracking skulls in resounding fashion.

And Dan Hawkins keeps it positive all the way to the bank.

The Mid-Major Record Against BCS Conferences
Last Week: 1-3
Season to Date: 16-85

Mid-Major Game of the Week
North Texas and Florida International went to an, um, epic seven overtimes in four and a half hours Saturday and, collectively, failed to score a single touchdown in 14 possessions beginning at the twenty-five going in. Instead, the extended series of extra frames resulted in an astonishing eight missed field goal attempts among 13 attempted kicks altogether by both teams, featuring four straight misses in the third and fourth OTs and three straight in the sixth and seventh before Adam Vinatieri was flown in to commit suicide on the fifty, after which a beleaguered ball symbolizing the oceans of human blood spilled in futility throughout man's dark and lonely existence finally went hurtling through for what was deemed "victory." For the entire game, kickers Dustin Rivest (3 of 7 for FIU) and Denis Hopovac (5 of 9 for UNT, including the game-winner from 34 yards) went 8 of 16 on field goals, all but three attempts - all three missed, natch - from 40 yards in.

You could always walk on at Florida International, Charlie Brown.

Elsewhere, Navy is walking tall as triple option king, winning the first leg of the Commander In Chief Trophy over Air Force in a game that saw the Midshipmen throw for eight yards and complete as many passes (one) to the defense as it completed to its own receivers. But the Middies ran for 317 of the most old school possible yards, 49 of its 66 carries coming via either quarterback Brian Hampton or Herculean fullback Adam Ballard. Damn the pitch, even!

Facing Virginia in one of two feasible "upsets" for a mid-major program this week - the other improbable candidates being Middle Tennessee and Bowling Green, predictably massacred by Louisville and Ohio State, respectively, and Akron, downed by in-the-Big-East-for-real-though Cincinnati - East Carolina busted out the stick on the Cavaliers in the first half, building a 24-7 lead after consecutive marches of 87, 39, 57, 70 and 57 yards, adding a couple more drives of 73 and 79 in the second half. UVA's kindness to smaller schools has been boundless: the Cavs hung on to beat Wyoming by a point, lost to Western Michigan and graciously allowed 430 yards Saturday in the rout by ECU.

Al Groh's been in a giving mood when it comes to mid-majors...and everyone else

...and Frontin'
Houston was in a place of mad respect following a 4-0 start and a narrow, near-hit defeat at Miami, with a de facto bye against a Sun Belt patsy before conference play began in earnest at Southern Miss. It was sitting pretty Saturday up 21-0 in the second quarter after rattling off three touchdown drives totaling 145 yards on only a dozen plays. UL-Lafayette, though, scored ten points before the break, then held the ball for more than two-thirds of the second half, scoring on four of five possessions and outpacing the Cougars 21-7 en route to a humbling 31-28 win for the stepchild league.

Fresno State, too, inexcusably lapsed, running its losing streak to four against Utah State, an offense that only just scored for the first time in five games last week on a team heretofore regarded as possibly the worst Bowl Subdivision team between Stanford and Temple.

Mid-Major Players of the Week
On the Garrett Wolfe Watch (29 carries, 162 yards, 2 TDs), the little guy was good but not great at Miami, Ohio, showed some burst but was ultimately only average enough in a crucial national TV appearance against a terrible, terrible team to diminish any possible Heisman hype. He was dismissed on Gameday Saturday morning, anyway, not as a great player (of course he is! Of course! Ha ha!), but as a legitimate candidate. The impossible run for 3,000 yards dips to a projection, at his current of almost 224 per game over 14 games (including a possible MAC Championship and bowl), of 3,133.

Antwan Barnes (5 tackles, one sack, one INT returned for TD) got his first sack since he logged four in Florida International's season opener, leading a defense that held North Texas to 269 total yards even after seven overtimes. Another loser Saturday, Miami of Ohio receiver Dustin Woods (8 catches, 178 yards, 2 TDs), used the national stage to scorch NIU corners for a couple bombs that kept the Hawks in the embarrassingly sparsely-attended game.

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

1. Boise State (6-0)
2. BYU (4-2)
3. Tulsa (4-1)
4. Navy (5-1)
5. Colorado State (4-1)
6. Air Force (2-2)
7. Utah (4-2)
8. TCU (3-2)
9. Southern Miss (3-2)
10. Houston (4-2)