What did we learn from the non-AQs in Week 7? Read on to find out.
1. And then there were three. Boise State, TCU and Utah are the only non-AQ teams that have a shot at a BCS bowl this season, now that Nevada has been knocked from the ranks of the undefeated. The Broncos took a hit to their strength of schedule after the Wolf Pack and Oregon State lost, and it appears they could be No. 3 when the BCS standings are released later today. What Boise State needs is for the major conference teams to continue to lose, which is exactly what happened on Saturday. Of course, it remains to be seen whether an undefeated Boise State or TCU/Utah would finish ahead of a one-loss power conference team at the end of the season for a spot in the BCS national title game. That has never happened.
2. Winless no more. Kudos to Eastern Michigan for getting its first win since November 2008. The Eagles beat Ball State 41-38 in overtime, after trailing 28-7 late in the second quarter. Quarterback Alex Gillett accounted for 414 yards of total offense and five touchdowns -- he ran for 189 yards and two scores and threw for 225 yards and three scores in the win. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky came oh so close to ending its 25-game losing streak, but ULM scored 28 fourth-quarter points to win 35-30. Three winless teams remain -- Western Kentucky, Akron and New Mexico. The Lobos were off Saturday, but the Zips lost 38-10 to Ohio.
3. This could be a long season for Houston. We knew the Cougars were going to be hurting without Case Keenum and Cotton Turner. But surely, they would be able to beat Rice without them. Nope. Houston fell behind 28-7 early before a late rally came up short in a 34-31 loss. On fourth-and-inches from the Rice 42 with a chance to come back for the win, quarterback David Piland fumbled the snap and that sealed the game. As it stands now, it is going to be hard for Houston to become bowl eligible. The Cougars are at SMU next week and still have to play UCF, Tulsa, Southern Miss and Texas Tech. In all, five of their final six opponents are .500 or better.
4. Hawaii is for real. Start paying attention to the team on the islands, because it is starting to resemble some of those high-flying Warriors teams we have come to know. Hawaii upset No. 19 Nevada 27-21 late Saturday night in a game that ended past 2:30 a.m. EDT, but it was well worth it if you stayed up and watched. Nevada was able to slow down Hawaii in the second half, but Bryant Moniz came up with the big plays when he needed to and outplayed Colin Kaepernick. The outcome may have been different had Kaepernick not fumbled the ball out of the end zone in the third quarter down 17-0. But now the Warriors have won four straight and have emerged as the top challenger to the Broncos in the WAC.
5. Nov. 6 is shaping up to be a really big day. We already knew the TCU-Utah game would be huge, but this one is even bigger now that Air Force lost. No question the game in Salt Lake City should determine the Mountain West champion -- if TCU beats the Falcons next Saturday and Utah beats them Oct. 30. Meanwhile, Hawaii is at Boise State on the same day in another game that could impact the national championship race. Hawaii is the last team to beat Boise State in the regular season -- 39-27 on Nov. 23, 2007 in Honolulu.