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Mid-Manifest Destiny: Boise State's On Top; Now What?

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A weekly examination of the lesser luminaries of Division I-A. On this week's agenda: Can Boise State maintain a high ranking with a dismal schedule? Is Temple still the MAC favorite after almost losing to Villanova's football team? And how can Utah build on a valuable but frustrating win over Pitt?

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LANDOVER MD - SEPTEMBER 06:  Linebacker #52 Derrell Acrey of the Boise State Broncos hugs a fan after the Broncos defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 33-30 at FedExField on September 6 2010 in Landover Maryland.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
LANDOVER MD - SEPTEMBER 06: Linebacker #52 Derrell Acrey of the Boise State Broncos hugs a fan after the Broncos defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 33-30 at FedExField on September 6 2010 in Landover Maryland. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
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Our top story: The wind at the top. You know, there came a point last week where it seemed it was almost impossible to cover Boise State as a mid-major anymore, so saturated was the media coverage leading up to the Labor Day tilt with Virginia Tech. That was before they won and every third outlet billed the country's third-ranked team's victory as an "upset."

SB Nation's OBNUG examines the game's turning points and explores where the Broncos go from here:

Boise State is going to steamroll some teams this year.

This thought began when I witnessed Billy Winn stand up an offensive guard, stare him right in the eyes, and throw him aside like a hacky-sack. Boise State is going to destroy some teams this year.

The Bronco defensive line is stupendous. Keep in mind that Ryan Winterswyk was not even close to 100 percent last night. A healthy Winterswyk coupled with Winn, Chase Baker, and Shea McClellin is unblockable for six out of eight WAC teams. The backup line of Michael Atkinson, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Tyrone Crawford, and Jarrell Root could start for half of the nation's teams. This line is amazing.

The Bronco running game is astounding. They ran for 180 yards on 24 carries last night against one of the best defenses they will see. Can you imagine D.J. Harper running against Hawaii? Doug Martin against Nevada? Jarvis Hodge against San Jose State? Watch out.

Those numbers had better be lofty, and stay lofty, if the Broncos want to remain in the upper echelons of the polls once they sink into their regular WAC schedule.

•  Do you accept PayPal? Chocolate bunnies? As a nation, we all owe Utah a debt of gratitude for the Utes' overtime defeat of No. 15 Pittsburgh, which will lay to rest earlier than usual the idea that Dave Wannstedt is an acceptable college football coach.

Block U analyzes the Utes' path forward:

Utah's win over Pittsburgh Thursday night was electrifying. It was also, at times, very frustrating. 

Frustrating because the Utes dominated the game. It shouldn't have come down to a field goal in overtime. Not when you out-gain the opposition on offense 405 to 266. Not when you hold your opponent's best player to only 75-yards on the night - a career low. Not when you're leading by eleven late in the fourth at home. 

This game was one the Utes tried to throw away. In more ways than one, in fact. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not when you consider it was the first game of the season and coming against a team that was, preseason or not, ranked 15th nationally.
[...]
Overall, I'm optimistic about this team. I think if they clean up the penalties and crack down on some special team mistakes, they will be very, very difficult to beat. 

Thankfully, the schedule eases up a bit for the next few weeks. That will provide Utah an opportunity to really build on this huge win.

•  Beavers get bit. SB Nation's Building the Dam takes a hard look at what went wrong for Oregon State in Saturday's loss to TCU, and unearths some puzzling factoids:

The Beavers have the inglorious honor of being the first and only team to pick off Horned Frogs quarterback Andy Dalton more than once, and still manage to lose. That makes the loss especially frustrating, because one of the game keys was to get some picks.

•  Happy Trails, Cowboy. SB Nation's Cowboy Altitude has the details of the memorial and foundation being set up to honor one of their own, linebacker Ruben Narcisse, who was killed this week in a car accident.

•  Your comically-large wide receiver heroics of the week. The first flight of 2010 college football was simply brimming with what-the-hell, but East Carolina's Hail Mary is heads above the crowd.

Profiles in ownage.
•  Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill, for being a cancer survivor, a football coach named "Jerry Kill," and for the following sentence: "Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill underwent surgery Friday but plans to lead the Huskies in their home opener against North Dakota."
•  Hawaii's offense, for racking up 588 (FIVE HUNDRED EIGHTY-EIGHT) yards of offense in their loss to USC. A true warrior's death.
•  Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel, who hung 341 yards on Oklahoma (that Oklahoma) in a game that proves beyond all reasonable doubt that yes, the state of Utah and Utah-based teams are sour ground and sure misery for the Sooners.

Not ready for primetime.
• Should we, as mid-major devotees, be concerned that Ball State was tied 7-all with Southeast Missouri State at the half?
• Should we, as a species, be concerned that Villanova has a football team, and that MAC favorite Temple needed to score ten points in the final eight seconds to beat that team? (Yes, ten points in the final eight seconds. After an Owls field goal at 0:08 in the fourth quarter, the box score reads as such: "Temple kicked off, Matt Szczur returned kickoff for 5 yards. Matt Szczur fumbled. John Dempsey recovered fumble. John Dempsey fumbled. Justin Gildea recovered fumble and returned for 26 yards.")
Middle Tennessee State, who was up 17-14 heading into the fourth quarter without quarterback/bad gambler Dwight Dasher, but who couldn't hold on against a typically horrid Minnesota outfit.
Southern Miss, who returned a whole mess of starters on defense and couldn't contain an attack directed by Stephen Garcia.
UAB, who very well may have been just "Joe Webb and a bunch of guys," which was fine last year but portends poorly for 2010 with Webb off to the pros. Actually, a loss to Florida Atlantic always spells doom, doesn't it?

Grape Job!
One consolation sticker to Toledo, who managed a safety against a highly-regarded Arizona team ... in the process of losing, 41-2.

Case Keenum Stat Watch.
Presented because Case Keenum's stat lines are hilarious.
Week 1, vs. Texas State: 17/22, 274 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions. Which, believe it or not, is actually well off pace from both his sophomore and junior seasons.

Mini-Major medalists.
They may be I-AA or less, but providing us with enough entertainment this weekend for programs ten times their size were ...

•  Presbyterian, for an inspired rooskie against Wake Forest.
•  Youngstown State, for ripping off an 80-yard touchdown pass against a top-20 Penn State team for an early and hilarious lead.
•  North Dakota State, for its 6-3 Kansas upset. While the game itself was nothing special (please note score), it's still a Big 12 team losing to a team from the Missouri Valley Conference. All the difference in the world.
•  Jacksonville State, for ... well, you know. (We did not get to see it in person, but this game was the toast of the press box in the minutes leading up to LSU-UNC. You have never in your life seen so many white dudes in khakis in one place not cheering for Mississippi.)

The butcher's bill.
This early in the season, mid-major teams playing Big Six schools are largely scheduled to lose. They receive large sums of money for doing so. The plan worked perfectly in Week 1, with no conference posting a winning record against BCS conference teams, and only the WAC and Mountain West getting wins at all. The pelts the Mountain West took home, however, were splendid ones, all taken off schools expected to contend fiercely within their own conferences for titles, if not nationally.

After one week of play, mid-majors are 4-25 overall against Big Six programs.

Until next time ...
Matchups of intrigue for Week 2: Central Michigan-Temple, Thursday night. West Virginia-Marshall and UTEP-Houston Friday night, in the greatest doubleheader of the season for sheer spite and entertainment value. For Saturday: Florida-South Florida*, UNLV-Utah, BYU-Air Force, Buffalo-Baylor, Texas-Wyoming, Troy-Oklahoma State, UCF-North Carolina State, Western Kentucky-Kentucky, and Tulane-Ole Miss.

*Honorary mid-major designee thanks to sheer scrappiness and entertainment value; plus, we really want to see what a team better than Miami (OH) can do to the Gators.

 

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