Mid-Manifest Destiny: Boise State Is The Quiet Storm

BOISE ID - SEPTEMBER 25: Linebacker Billy Derome #25 of the Boise State Broncos leads his team onto the field before the game against the Oregon State Beavers at Bronco Stadium on September 25 2010 in Boise Idaho. (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)

A weekly examination of the lesser luminaries of Division I-A. On this week's agenda: A sobering trip into the annals of Boise State history, a scare for Nevada, and a looming gut check for Utah and TCU.

• A History Of Inconspicuousness.  Riding toward like their ninety-eleventh consecutive undefeated season, the Broncos dropped a spot in the BCS standings to No. 4 following last week's (barely) less-than-all-consuming win over LaTech. SB Nation's OBNUG points out that BSU's been here before -- and they're not referring to last year:

Lyle Smith's 1948 squad (above) went undefeated for the second straight year but was still passed over for inclusion in the Junior Rose Bowl based in small part on geography and in large part because they failed to blow out opponents sufficiently to earn "style points"...a game that coach Lyle Smith simply refused to play—sound familiar?

• Falcons put up a fight. We remain convinced that Air Force is a solid team with an unfortunate schedule. They have Oklahoma, San Diego State, TCU, and Utah to thank for their four losses, and only the Horned Frogs thumped them with any amount of seriousness. The No. 8 Utes allowed them 13 points in the fourth quarter but escaped with a 28-23 win in Colorado Springs.

• And speaking of Frogs a-thumpin'. TCU mowed down UNLV in a much-expected 48-6 bloodbath.

• Somewhere, somehow, somebody's getting a trophy. Kellen Moore, Andy Dalton, and Colin Kaepernick remain in the thick of the 2010 Heisman Race.

• These Aggies Don't Run. Utah State intrigues us, and we can point to why even if we have no idea how to characterize them as a team. The Aggies have two wins, but have a special, Florida International-ish knack for scaring the pants off high-profile teams like Oklahoma (lost 24-31) and now Nevada. After a scoreless first half, the Aggies rang up six touchdowns in the final thirty minutes of play to finish with a deceptively respectable-looking 42-56 loss and 399 yards for QB Diondre Borel.

• Today in WACspansion. We find conference square-dance talk to be insufferable while there's actual football afoot, but if you simply must learn the near fates of Texas State, UT-San Antonio, Denver, Seattle, and Montana, you may do so at this handy StoryStream. Oh, and TCU may still be a-courtin' with the Big East, which should properly terrify any Big East team that ever wants to win the conference, ever again.

• This week in Mike Locksley Still Has A Job Theatre. Look, there's no way we can prove that this is in any way his fault, but we just want to point out that Punchin' Mike's program has just lost another player, this one an occasionally starting quarterback, to a pumpkin-carving injury, and that his replacement is named "Stump Godfrey." As you were.

Profiles in ownage.
• Hawaii, who just wrecked Idaho, 45-10, whose only losses have come to Big Six programs USC and Colorado, who've already beaten No. 19 Nevada, and who can get no love in the polls even at 7-2 and leading the WAC.
• Tulsa, a program that waned sharply in the absence of Gus Malzahn but now boasts a sizable feather in its cap after knocking off Notre Dame, 28-27, in South Bend.
• UCF, who are quietly 6-2 and your unquiet C-USA East leaders with the best record in the conference after laying a 49-35 whoopin' upside East Carolina's pirate noggins.
• UAB, who amid a miserable season managed a double-overtime, one-point defeat of Southern Miss thanks to a handy two-point conversion.

Not ready for primetime.
• Navy, who mounted a 24-point comeback but couldn't stave off a 34-31 home defeat to 1-6 Duke.
• UTEP, running up perhaps their most depressing box score of 2010 in a 12-16 loss to Marshall. (Just edging out the Miners' 16-13 win over Memphis.)
• Troy, the perennial Sun Belt heavyweight (STOP LAUGHING) who's suddenly 4-3 and losing to teams like UAB and now ULM.

Mini-major medalist.
William & Mary, who led UNC 17-7 at halftime but were held scoreless and succumbed to a 14-point Tar Heel fourth quarter to lose 21-17.

Scoreboard. Only two games between mid-majors and Big Six programs this week, one victorious (Tulsa-Notre Dame) and one decidedly not (Duke-Navy?!). Non-AQ schools move to 18-79 in 2010 against teams from BCS conferences.

Walking Dead Watch. Akron and New Mexico, you will be shocked to learn, remain decidedly lifeless. The Zips were shut out 30-0 at Temple in a game that featured 29 first downs, 21 of which came from the Owls. This was, somehow, the first time Akron has been shut out in 2010.

Fightin' Mike Locksley's boys, for their part, were held to a scoreless second half in a 38-14 road loss to Colorado State. The Lobos allowed the Rams a blistering 584 yards and two of three fourth-down conversions.

Violently Subjective Mid-Major Top 10
1.  TCU (9-0)
2.  Boise State (7-0)
3.  Utah (8-0)
4.  Hawaii (7-2)
5.  Nevada (7-1)
6.  UCF (6-2)
7.  San Diego State (6-2)
8.  Northern Illinois (7-2)
9.  Temple (7-2)
10. Fresno State (5-2)
Dropped out: Navy, Southern Miss, East Carolina

Stay Tuned.
Week 10 is a huge one for programs nobody should be considering "the little guys" anymore, seeing as how non-AQ teams occupy three of the top five slots in the current BCS rankings.  ESPN GameDay is headed to Rice-Eccles Stadium for TCU-Utah. UCF travels cross-country to Houston for a Friday night primetime tilt. And Boise State will be hosting a very special guest. Other key Week 10 matchups include Air Force-Army, Navy-East Carolina, Nevada-Idaho, and SMU-UTEP.

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