November 07, 2011
Weekly notes from the undercard.
As always, Boise State won easily Saturday at UNLV, 48-21, on the strength of five touchdown passes by Kellen Moore. With that, Moore passed Colt McCoy with his 46th career win as a starter, more than any other quarterback in the history of college football. Since Moore took the reins as a redshirt freshman in 2008, the Broncos are 46-2, outscoring opponents by an average of more than four touchdowns in those games, including wins over top-20 outfits from Georgia, Oregon (twice), TCU and Virginia Tech.
All of which becomes just a little bit more impressive when you consider that this is his only regular season loss:
From there, the Broncos went on to lose in overtime, 34-31, following another missed field goal. The other loss: A 17-16 decision at the hands of TCU in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, later avenged in the Fiesta Bowl to cap a 14-0 season in 2009. In regulation, the guy is literally two points away from a perfect career.
If Boise wins out (including a bowl game), he'll finish with 51 wins, which may be untouchable until a playoff comes along to give someone a few extra cracks at it. For Moore, the only regret is that he's not going to get the chance to be that guy.
• THE CRIB SHEET. Elsewhere in mid-majordom…
• Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton was released from a Honolulu hospital and cleared to return to Logan, Utah, after suffering an "extreme stinger to his spine" during the second quarter of the Aggies' 35-31, come-from-behind win at Hawaii. Keeton, a freshman, was carted off the field by emergency personnel and taken to The Queen's Medical Center for observation.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Chuckie," Utah State coach Gary Andersen said in a statement. "He is a tough kid, and we're extremely glad he is going to be okay. We can't wait to get him home and back together with our team so we can wrap our arms around him and let him know how much we love him."
• Air Force is going back to the White House after rallying from a two-touchdown deficit against Army to win 24-14 and take the Commander-in-Chief Trophy, the annual prize awarded to the round robin winner among the service academies. The Falcons also defeated Navy earlier in the year in overtime. This is the second consecutive season the Falcons have taken the trophy, after Navy had it for seven consecutive seasons.
• For the past five weeks, Western Kentucky has made us all believers. But its five-game winning streak, complete with a 10-9 win over Florida International last week, is probably coming to an end as the Hilltoppers head to Death Valley this week to take on LSU. It's not that Mid-Major Monday doesn't believe the Hilltoppers can hang with the nation's best team… OK, yes it is.
Western Kentucky has had a fantastic run and has a very good chance of finishing with seven wins this season if it comes out of Saturday's game in one piece, but we're not fools. However, even a little success against LSU will go a long way for WKU down the stretch.
• Southern Miss and Houston are on a collision course for the Conference USA Championship Game after the Golden Eagles handily defeated nemesis East Carolina last week. Southern Miss controls its own destiny in the East Division and gets three teams with losing records remaining on the schedule.
• RUSH THE FIELD: Wins worthy of a bleacher-clearing celebration.
Ball State hasn't been the same since coach Brady Hoke left for San Diego three years ago, but things are starting to look up for the Cardinals after their 33-31 win over Eastern Michigan. The win, which came on a 44-yard field goal with 9 seconds remaining, gave the BSU the necessary six wins for bowl eligibility, assuring their first non-losing season since finishing 12-2 in 2008.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Louisiana-Lafayette 36, Louisiana-Monroe 35.
Apropos of a heated in-state rivalry, this may have been the streakiest game of the season anywhere: Monroe scored the first 14 points in the first quarter, Lafayette answered with 24 straight in the second quarter, Monroe answered that with 21 straight in the second half, and Lafayette came back with a pair of unanswered touchdowns in the final 2:30 for the win. Given enough time, conceivably, these teams could have traded rallies forever. Within the time available, the victory was Lafayette's: The Ragin' Cajuns' game-winning drive began with a successful onside kick that gave them the ball at the ULM 39-yard line, and ended three plays later on a 3-yard run by Alonzo Harris for the decisive touchdown.
For the game, quarterbacks Kolton Browning (ULM) and Blaine Gautier (ULL) combined for 763 total yards and six touchdowns as passers and runners. With their eighth win, the Cajuns match the 1993 squad quarterbacked by one Jake Delhomme — back when it was known as Southwest Louisiana — for most wins since moving up to the I-A level, and likely wrapped up their first ever I-A bowl game. And if that helps Oklahoma State's strength of schedule in its bid for a BCS Championship berth, well, the Cowboys sure do 'preciate it.
• YOUTUBE DEDICATION OF THE WEEK:
This week's YouTube dedication goes out to both Houston quarterback Case Keenum and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore for breaking major FBS records this week: Keenum for career passing yards, and Moore for career wins. Congrats to both players.
• PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Nick Fanuzzi, QB, Rice.
In his first start of the season, the fifth-year senior delivered a career performance in a 41-37 win over UTEP, connecting on 30 of 43 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns. Fanuzzi became just the third player in school history to pass for more than 400 yards in a single game — a fitting redemption for the former Alabama transfer after he three interceptions in his last start, a 54-49 loss at Tulane last November.
Honorable mention: Air Force defensive back Jon Davis had a game-high 12 tackles, an interception and both forced and recovered a fumble in the Falcons' Commander-in-Chief-clinching win over Army. … Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish threw six touchdown passes, including the game winner with 19 seconds left, in a 63-60 win against Toledo. … TCU running back Waymon James had 181 yards on just 12 carries in the Horned Frogs' win over Wyoming. … And Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron threw for 376 yards and four touchdowns in a win against Fresno State.
A SOMEWHAT ARBITRARY MID-MAJOR TOP 10
1. Boise State (8-0). The game against UNLV was a little close for comfort in the first half, but the Broncos remain perfect.
2. Houston (9-0). The Cougars handled UAB relatively easily and don't have much of a challenge this week against Tulane.
3. Southern Miss (8-1). A big win over fellow C-USA East frontrunner East Carolina puts the Golden Eagles in the driver's seat in the division.
4. TCU (7-2). The Horned Frogs had a little trouble with Wyoming, but continue to sit alongside Boise atop the Mountain West with a critical trip to the blue turf ahead.
5. BYU (6-3). The Cougars dominated their opponent, the always dangerous Bye.
6. Tulsa (6-3). The Golden Hurricane are the only team that appears capable of taking down Houston over the final three weeks.
7. Arkansas State (7-2). The Red Wolves could wrap up the Sun Belt title Saturday with a win against Louisiana-Lafayette.
8. Louisiana-Lafayette (7-2). Then again, the Ragin' Cajuns only need a win against Arkansas State to force a potential three-way tie with Western Kentucky.
9. Northern Illinois (6-3). The Huskies won an epic game against Toledo to lead the MAC West.
10. Nevada (5-3). The Wolf Pack had the week off and will face Hawaii this weekend to keep pace at the top of the WAC.
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Honorable Mention: Ohio (6-3), San Diego State (5-3), SMU (6-3), Toledo (5-4), Wyoming (5-3).