What did we learn from the non-AQs in Week 11?
1. Boise State won impressively. TCU won unimpressively. We will have to wait a bit longer to see how that translates in the human polls and BCS standings. The last thing TCU needed was a close 40-35 win over San Diego State at home. The next-to-last thing the Horned Frogs needed was Utah to lose 28-3 to Notre Dame. The combination of those two has taken the luster off their win over the Utes last week. While San Diego State (7-3) is no slouch, TCU coach Gary Patterson admitted afterward that he was unhappy with such a close score. He had to be, considering the effect that potentially has on voters who vaulted his team ahead of Boise State in the polls last week. The Horned Frogs have no more games left to impress. After a bye, they get New Mexico. Meanwhile, Boise State beat Idaho 52-14 in another dominating victory Friday night. But the Vandals are struggling this season, and don’t exactly count as a quality win. Boise State still has Fresno State and Nevada, and more of an opportunity than TCU to make a lasting impression on the voters.
2. Utah was overrated. Maybe that was obvious after last week, but it is painfully obvious after the team failed to show up in the loss to Notre Dame. The Utah offense, after averaging more than 40 points a game, has gone AWOL. The Utes have scored single-digits in consecutive games -- the first time since September 1990 that has happened. The Utes have also turned the ball over six times in their past two games, and were penalized 11 times for 70 yards against the Irish. They get no relief next week with a road game at San Diego State.
3. Banner year for the service academies. Army (6-4) became bowl eligible for the first time since 1996 after beating Kent State 45-28, joining Navy and Air Force in going to a bowl game this year. Army, Navy and Air Force have never played in a bowl game in the same season. Army does not have a bowl tie-in but is a backup for the Armed Forces Bowl and Military Bowl, while Navy (7-3) is headed to the Poinsettia Bowl and Air Force will go to a Mountain West tie-in. Navy and Air Force (7-4) had already clinched their bowl eligibility, but won on Saturday with their backup quarterbacks. The Midshipmen started Kriss Proctor in place of Ricky Dobbs, out with a concussion, and beat Central Michigan 38-37. Air Force relied on Connor Dietz, who replaced an injured Tim Jefferson in the second quarter of a 48-23 win over New Mexico.
4. UCF was not quite ready for prime time. The Knights got their first ranking in school history last week, and promptly lost 31-21 at home to Southern Miss. Say good bye to the rankings. But if UCF wins out over Tulane and Memphis, it hosts the Conference USA title game. But now they have no margin for error. UCF jumped out to a quick 14-3 lead on Southern Miss, but stalled on offense. Meanwhile, Tulsa beat Houston 28-25 and is now in a tie with SMU atop the West. Both teams are 4-2 in league play. SMU beat Tulsa earlier this year so if they win out, the Mustangs win the division.
5. FIU controls what happens in the Sun Belt. The Panthers beat Troy for the first time ever, 52-35 and are the only one-loss team remaining in league play. If they win at Louisiana and then beat Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee at home, FIU wins its first ever Sun Belt title. FIU (4-5, 4-1) showed from the start of the season it was a much improved team, taking Rutgers and Texas A&M down to the wire. Saturday, they put a dent in Troy’s hopes of winning a fifth straight conference crown. FIU racked up a program-record 668 yards of total offense and now has four Sun Belt wins, the most in program history.