December 07, 2009
The week in the undercards.
Well, that happened
Boise State finished off another perfect season; TCU is No. 4 in the final BCS standings, and all either team has to show for it is a rerun of last year's Poinsettia Bowl in this year's Fiesta.
It's a BCS bowl, one of the Big Five, to be sure, but Spencer Hall isn't wrong when he calls it the "kids' table." Rocky Top Talk wonders: "How much more success do Boise and the MWC have to bring to the table? Boise State has steamrolled teams for so long that it's a wonder they're not bored."
(Notably not boring: The lovingly assembled BSU Fiesta Bowl splash page, featuring what appear to be prominent Bronco players engaged in acts of rhythmic gymnastics.)
Compartmentalized in the desert, these two wildly successful upstarts won't get any kind of mathematical love for a share of the national title, no matter who wins. That said, though, that game is still way more compelling than, say, the impending Iowa-Georgia Tech Orange Bowl.
Final conference countdown
Mid-Major Monday official show pony Dan LeFevour broke all kinds of records in the process of leading his team to victory in the MAC championship game, and favorite receiver Bryan Anderson burnished a national record of his own for most consecutive games with at least one reception in the Chippewas' otherwise dull win over Ohio U.
Over in Conference USA, Houston capped off an erratic season by falling at East Carolina, a team we'd written off as a shadow of last year's C-USA champions after a much slower start against non-conference heavies West Virginia and North Carolina. But ECU ultimately reprised its run through the conference and mastery over the nation's top-ranked offense in the title game -- the '08 Pirates held high-flying Tulsa to just 24 points, and the '09 edition held Houston to 32, a dozen below the Cougars' season average.
By the numbers
Of the 68 teams receiving bowl bids, 23 are mid-major outfits, with a possible 24th if Army upsets Navy on Saturday (more on that later). The only eligible teams not bound for the postseason are 6-6 rivals Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe out of the Sun Belt.
Profiles in continuing ineptitude
Winless Eastern Michigan gets some company in the bottom of the I-A well: Western Kentucky lost its final game of its inaugural season in the big leagues, falling 24-20 to Arkansas State despite leading the Red Wolves 20-10 going into the fourth quarter. Fate was crueler than ever to Hilltopper coach Dave Elson in his last game at WKU, dropping his team to 0-12 on an interception that set up a short ASU touchdown, followed by a fumble returned for the winning touchdown on the ensuing kickoff with less than six minutes to play.
What should have been ...
This week it's what should be: TCU and Boise State taking their shots at BCS conference teams next month. An eight-team playoff bracket, on the other hand, would consist of Alabama-Ohio State, Texas-Oregon, Cincinnati-Boise State, and TCU-Florida in the first round. Not a snoozer in the bunch.
... and what never had a prayer:
Hawaii ran into a buzz saw we didn't even know Wisconsin had, getting blown off its own island, 51-10, costing the Warriors a winning season and a bid to the Hawaii Bowl.
Player of the Week: Devan Cunningham, OL, Fresno State.
Cunningham is our first lineman to be honored in this space, and by now we should all know why:
A riotous mid-major win over a Big Ten team and a Fat Guy Touchdown to wrap up the year? We are truly blessed, dear readers.
A (Somewhat Arbitrary) Mid-Major Top 10
1. TCU (12-0) Played 12 games to the Broncos' 13, but beat two Big Six schools and two ranked teams along the way.
2. Boise State (13-0) Like the Horned Frogs, deserved better from the BCS. Oregon win turned out to be much shinier in retrospect. Here's to a healthy Heisman showing for prolific quarterback Kellen Moore.
3. Central Michigan (11-2) Chippewas should've cracked the national rankings weeks ago.
4. BYU (10-2) Cougars are bound for the Las Vegas Bowl for the fifth year in a row.
5. Nevada (8-4) The Wolf Pack jump by virtue of Houston and Ohio losses and a stellar late-season showing.
6. Temple (9-3) Would've loved to have seen the plucky Owls in the MAC championship game.
7. Troy (9-3) Trojans finally have a perfect Sun Belt record after coming up shy three years in a row.
8. East Carolina (9-4) Purple Pirates sneak up on the first back-to-back championships in Conference USA since Louisville in 2000-01.
9. Houston (10-3) Ten wins, but what a stupid collection of losses.
10. [tie] MTSU (9-3) and Utah (9-3) Neither has been world-beating this season, but nine-win, three-loss seasons give both a deserving edge over four-loss teams like Ohio.
Dropped out: Ohio
The Army-Navy game kicks off at 2:30 ET next Saturday and has the weekend all to itself. And with Army sitting at five wins on the year, there's an added twist to the rivalry game: If the Black Knights can upset the Middies (a laughable prospect until Navy's collapse last week against Hawaii), they'll take UCLA's slot in the EagleBank Bowl, Army's first postseason trip in more than a decade.
With Fresno State winning and Hawaii being assaulted in its year-end dates with the Big Ten, mid-major schools moved to 20-93 against BCS competition for the season. The first chance to move that number comes in a little under two weeks, when Central Florida gets Rutgers in the St. Petersburg Bowl. Stay tuned.
- - -
Holly welcomes your adulation and veiled threats at nastinchka-at-yahoo, etc.