Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 8.
The good: Pollsters might not have noticed, but Utah is on an incredible tear. The Utes are No. 3 in the nation in scoring offense, having scored more than 50 points in four of their wins. They are outscoring opponents 183-36 in league play – the latest a 59-6 win against Wyoming that was one of their most complete games of the season. People have slammed the Utah schedule, but the Utes did beat Iowa State 68-27 – the same Cyclones team that just beat Texas.
TCU is on a tear, too, outscoring its opponents 141-10 in four Mountain West games.
You have heard all about Navy’s impressive 35-17 win against Notre Dame. Those Navy seniors are now the third class in Academy history to beat Notre Dame three times, joining the classes of 1937 and 1964.
Meanwhile, the past two weeks have seen two winless teams win. Western Kentucky became the latest on Saturday in a 54-21 win against Louisiana. One interesting nugget from the win -- the victory was the first career coaching win for head coach Willie Taggart. It came on the same field where he played his last collegiate game, in 1998, when the Toppers dropped the season finale.
Say what you will about the WAC, but the league has five teams that are .500 or better right now.
The bad: Two MAC bowl teams from last season are having a difficult time of it in 2010. Bowling Green, which went 7-6 last season with a trip to the Humanitarian Bowl, has been eliminated from bowl contention after a 30-6 loss to Kent State. The Falcons have dropped five straight and are 1-7, including 0-4 in the MAC. Injuries have hurt, but so has the loss of several key players from last season. Bowling Green has struggled to run the ball, averaging 1.9 yards a rush, and has had trouble stopping the run, too. “We’ve got to find a way to play much better than we’ve been playing,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said.
Defending West Division champion Central Michigan is at 2-6 and needs to win out to even be bowl eligible, but that would give it no guarantees for getting into a game. The Chippewas went 12-2 last season and have made four straight bowl games. But they have a new head coach in Dan Enos and are without quarterback Dan LeFevour, one of the best players in school history.
Meanwhile, Utah State has been outscored 69-13 in its past two WAC games. … Winless Akron has failed to score more than 17 points in its four MAC losses.
The heartache: UAB has read through this script before, and the Blazers have got to hate the results. Yet again, they came oh so close to upsetting an SEC team before coming up just short. UAB pulled ahead of Mississippi State 24-23 with 10 minutes to go in the game, but failed to hold on. The Bulldogs kicked two field goals to squeak out a 29-24 victory. No need to relive the 32-29 overtime loss to Tennessee earlier in the year that featured five missed field goals. Oh, wait. We just went there.
The off-balance: BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said his team would go with a power run game more in the final part of the season. He wasn’t kidding. The Cougars had a season-low 81 yards passing in a 25-20 win against Wyoming, while racking up 217 yards on the ground. This is not necessarily good news, considering Cougars fans probably want to see more out of true freshman Jake Heaps. Is he not developing or does he not have playmakers around him? BYU has to win three of its final four to become bowl eligible. With games against UNLV, Colorado State and New Mexico, that remains a possibility.
A few more helmet stickers: Kent State receiver Tyshon Goode had a career-high 12 receptions for a season-high 158 yards and two touchdowns in a win against Bowling Green. … Western Kentucky quarterback Kawaun Jakes’ 262 passing yards and 290 yards of total offense in a win agaist Louisiana were the most for him since his first career start when he passed for 276 yards and posted 320 offensive yards at Navy last year.
A few injury items to note: San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman has a hip pointer, but isn’t expected to miss any games. … Air Force isn’t going to get any of its injured players back this week for Utah. Jared Tew (leg) and receiver Kevin Fogler (knee) are still out, and nose tackle Ryan Gardner (groin) and receiver Zack Kauth (ankle) won’t practice this week.
Week 9 look-ahead: Plenty of big games ahead this weekend. No. 8 Utah begins the tough stretch of its schedule with a trip to Air Force. East Carolina travels to UCF for a big Conference USA showdown. Western Kentucky might even be able to put together a two-game winning streak as it hosts North Texas. The Mean Green will be playing their first game since coach Todd Dodge was fired.