Week one is completely in the books for the schools usually left on the outside looking in to the BCS party and boy was it an interesting week to say the least.
Of course, early this week I highlighted seven games (usually will be six games) of big importance to the non-AQ conferences and their schools.
How did I do? 4-3 in my predictions getting Bowling Green and Fresno State’s wins correct, while also betting against Toledo and Louisiana as well. However, the Mountain West nearly completely killed me thanks to the dud that was Boise State at Washington and Utah State just not having enough at Utah.
On the bright side of the battle for the “little guys” was the fact that they took down three BCS foes – giving hope to all those rooting on the small guys throughout the season.
So, as we go foward, let me remind you of my picks first and then let's go in-depth in the world of the "little guys" shall we?
My Picks: (4-3 for week & season)
* = BCS school
|Bowling Green over Tulsa||CORRECT|
|Utah State over Utah||WRONG|
|Fresno State over Rutgers||CORRECT|
|Florida over Toledo||CORRECT|
|Arkansas over Louisiana||CORRECT|
|Kentucky over Western Kentucky||WRONG|
|Boise State over Washington||WRONG|
Most Impressive Performance (Team): Marshall (52-14 over Miami (OH))
This game should’ve been a toss-up; instead it became a complete Thundering Herd domination. Quarterback Rakeem Cato threw for five touchdowns and the defense also looked good. With just a few games being played between two FBS teams for this conference this weekend this was easily the best of the crop of four wins C-USA put up against fellow FBS teams.
Most Impressive Performance (Ind.): Shane Carden, QB - East Carolina
All I need to say is 85.2 percent passing (46-54) for 447 yards and five touchdowns as the Pirates beat down FBS newcomer Old Dominion. These two teams won’t be conference foes next season as the Pirates bolt for The American, but ODU has some talent on the squad. What Carden did to the Monarchs’ defense was simply incredible.
Biggest Disappointment (Team): Tulsa (7-34 Loss to Bowling Green)
This was one of the six games I highlighted in our BCS Busters Week One preview and it didn’t live up to expectations in the least. The Falcons of Bowling Green just rolled all over the Golden Hurricane. It was just bad all the way around for a team that came into the season as a near consensus C-USA Champion pick by the staff here at CBR.
What It All Meant: Some were hoping and pointing to Conference USA as one of the better non-AQ conferences in America, but after week one that’s in some serious doubt to say the least. Tulsa’s loss to Bowling Green on Thursday was just a harbinger of things to come. Perhaps the worst was watching what happened to La Tech at N.C. State as well.
Most Impressive Performance (Team): Bowling Green (34-7 over Tulsa)
Yes, Northern Illinois went in to Kinnick Stadium and beat the Hawekeys from the mighty Big Ten. However, I expected that result to happen. On the other hand I didn’t see what happened for the Falcons coming at all. Sure, I knew they would be competitive and all that jazz, but DAMN was that an impressive defensive performance against a Tulsa offense that can be very explosive.
Most Impressive Performance (Ind.): Jordan Lynch, NIU – QB
25-41 for 275 yards and three touchdowns passing, 56 yards rushing in the win over Iowa. While they weren’t earth shattering numbers he was efficient and most importantly didn’t turn the ball over. With so many loses coming the MAC’s way this past week the 2nd best may have come from Bowling Green running back William Houston who carried the ball all of ten times, yet managed THREE TD’s.
Biggest Disappointment (Team): Ohio (7-49 Loss to No. 9 Louisville)
This team went into Happy Valley and took down Penn State last season, so intimidated they shouldn’t have been going up against Louisville. Instead they got their tails kicked in and the two biggest weapons, Tyler Tettleton and Beau Blankenship were awful at best.
What it All Meant: It’s always hard to figure out the non-AQ conferences as a whole in the opening weeks as most are taking a paycheck and a beating. However, we can garner that Bowling Green is going to be a serious player in the conference and that Northern Illinois isn’t going to fall off one bit with yet another new head coach in DeKalb. Perhaps the biggest surprise team was Western Michigan, who made the MSU offense look rather silly at times. They could be an interesting team to watch come conference play, especially with all the experience they’ll gain thanks to three games against the B1G. Overall though the MAC did about what we all thought they would in week one.
Most Impressive Performance (Team): Wyoming (34-37 Loss at No. 18 Nebraska)
Yep, that’s exactly how bad this week was for the perceived “best non-AQ conference in the country.” Sure, Fresno State beat Rutgers (of AQ The American), but I expected that to happen and it wasn’t all that impressive as it took OT for it to happen. Let’s just say I wasn’t completely blown away there. However, what the Cowboys did in nearly knocking off Nebraska at home was VERY IMPRESSIVE to say the least. I’ll have my eye on them in conference play for sure.
Most Impressive Performance (Ind.): Derek Carr – 52-73, 456yds, 5TD’s
Sure, Carr threw the ball all over the field and with that many attempts you would hope he had that many yards, but he only threw one interception and took just one sack in those 73 attempts. He also happened to lead his team to one of just three victories for the conference.
Biggest Disappointment (Team): San Diego State (19-40 Loss to Eastern Illinois)
SDSU was one team I thought could give San Jose State and Fresno State a run for their money in the West Division of the Mountain West. Not so much anymore as they go WORKED by an Eastern Illinois team that was coming off of a 7-5 season in 2012. That was simply embarrassing by the Aztecs.
What it All Meant: Just three wins on opening weekend for the vaunted Mountain West? Boise State getting thumped by Washington? That wasn’t exactly how fans of this conference or most around the country saw this weekend going. One word can really sum up what happened to the Mountain West in week one: BRUTAL.
Most Impressive Performance (Team): Western Kentucky (35-26 over Kentucky)
Littlest of the little brothers in the state of Kentucky got the big, bad SEC team for the 2nd straight season and it wasn’t as close as the score told us it was. Western Kentucky was the better team on the field, winning every major stat battle except rushing yards (tied) and 3rd down conversion rate – that’s how you win football games.
Most Impressive Performance (Ind.): David Mayo, LB – Texas State (6 tackles, 1 sack, 1tfl, 2 INT’s)
While Troy QB Corey Robinson was lighting it up and completing over 90 percent of his passes, Mayo was finding ways to make a massive impact on the outcome of the Bobcats’ win over Southern Miss.
Biggest Disappointment (Team): Georgia State (21-31 loss to Samford)
Samford is a decent FCS team to say the least, but Georgia State wasn’t all that competitive and they let it get away from them by giving up 17 points to the Bulldogs in the final stanza. Not exactly how Trent Miles, the new GSU Head Coach, drew his FBS coaching debut up I’m sure. There will be brighter days ahead, but yikes.
What it All Meant: Losing two games to FCS foes doesn’t help people take your conference seriously, even if both were by teams just barely over their transition to FBS status. Louisiana made a decent showing in their game at Arkansas, but ULM, the other favorite for the conference title couldn’t get on the board offensively. On the bright side, at least one BCS AQ scalp was taken as the Hilltoppers beat Kentucky. Let’s wait to see what this conference looks like when they get into conference play before truly judging how bad/good this league is.
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Georgia State went 1-8 against FCS opponents last year so I think the Samford loss was expected. In fact, Samford was actually a 10 pt favorite to win the game.
For me, I think the most impressive team was Bowling Green. I figured they would be good this year with the stout defense they had last season and the # of returning starters they had but they really laid it on Tulsa.
The most disappointing? SDSU. Yuck.