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Mid-Manifest Destiny: Yes, Nevada And Colin Kaepernick, You Have Our Attention

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A weekly examination of the lesser luminaries of Division I-A. This week: Colin Kaepernick bursts on the scene, TCU bests the Big 12, and Houston's just all kinds of busted.

• Bob and weave, Angry Ostrich. Bob and weave. Is it time to add another dark-horse (or in this case, dark-flightless bird) mid-major candidate to the Heisman candidate roster? After Nevada's Friday night shellacking of Cal, it's hard to argue. Colin Kaepernick mauled the Bears' defense with every limb available to him, passing for 181 yards and two touchdowns on just ten completions and running for 148 more yards and three additional scores. Lordamercy, we do love night football in the desert.

• Mighty Case, carted off. Speaking of that Heisman race, there's a sad gaping vacancy therein after Saturday night: Case Keenum, our favorite active college quarterback, will sling missiles no more after tearing his ACL against UCLA. (And just to make things interesting, Keenum's backup Cotton Turner was lost barely a quarter later to a broken collarbone. Sorry about, y'know, your entire football team and its nascent BCS hopes being torpedoed in one night, Kevin Sumlin!) The Keenum-Turner replacement will be one of two redshirt freshmen, Terrance Broadway or David Piland. Broadway would seem to have the early edge, both in name and in-game action: He completed five of eight passes for 84 yards and a score in backup duty Saturday night en route to a heartbreaking Cougar loss in Pasadena.

• POINTS POINTS POINTS POINTS POINTS POINTS (EVERYBODY). Boise State continues to bolster their case for BCS inclusion by putting up extravagant sets of numbers on poor, overtaxed scoreboards. Kellen Moore's stat line against Wyoming this week: 370 yards, two touchdowns, and his first interception of 2010. The Broncos' year-to-year win streak now stands at 16.

• Ho-hum, continued success on a major stage. Whatever. It's getting almost too commonplace to say TCU's beaten Big Six competition right now, isn't it? This week it was Baylor's turn to look hapless, as the Horned Frogs carved the Bears up for 267 yards through the air, courtesy one Andy Dalton, and 291 on the ground.

• Drums. Drums in the deep (-water fishing expedition outfits). All right, what exactly is Florida International up to down there? For a winless Sun Belt team, the Panthers sure are putting the fear of Football Jesus into everyone they meet (and likely collecting a hefty paycheck for the privilege). Last week, they led Rutgers (who CAME to Miami, for crying out loud) into the fourth quarter and were only defeated by virtue of a pair of Scarlet Knight field goals; this week they lost to Texas A&M in College Station by a touchdown. Next victims: Maryland and Pitt. Have fun, y'all!

• Chill dirt vintage, bros. The Wyoming Cowboys' new Nike unis are earning wildly mixed reviews from the faithful, but SB Nation's Cowboy Altitude digs 'em.

Profiles in ownage.

• Temple, undefeated and crowing after running roughshod over UConn, 30-13. Sophomore running back Bernard Pierce, nursing a hand injury and coming off two teensy outings against Villanova and Central Michigan, broke loose in a big way and shredded the Huskies for 169 yards on the ground.

• Southern Methodist, who (we can't believe we get to say this) got in a nice little Pac-10 tuneup on Washington State, 35-21, and now settle in to the bulk of their middy schedule. (Not that they can relax: TCU comes to town Friday night.)

• Air Force, who lost to Oklahoma but took it to the wire, mounting a fourth-quarter comeback to finish within a field goal of a top-ten team, 27-24.

Not ready for primetime.

• BYU, who've compounded their on-field worries after losing to Florida State and jumping out to a 1-2 record by losing starting quarterback Riley Nelson to a shoulder injury that's going to require surgery. Stepping in will be the other half of the Cougars' preseason QB controversy, true freshman Jake Heaps.

• San Diego State, who came within a field goal of tying Missouri in the fourth quarter but fell 27-24.

• Northern Illinois, who couldn't quite hang with Illinois proper, and frankly should've been able to with this year's Zook disaster-in-the-making.

• East Carolina, who had the misfortune of catching Virginia Tech the first time the Hokies decided to play football all season and fell 49-27.

• Hawaii. Because losing to Colorado, particularly this iteration of Colorado, is just uncalled for.

Mini-Major Medalists.

• WE TAKIN' OVERRRR. That terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea the NCAA's tossing around involving losing teams playing in bowl games? Guess who's to blame, minis?

FBS teams each year schedule teams from the slower, smaller Football Championship Subdivision in order to increase their chances of getting the minimum six victories for a bowl berth. Last year, FBS teams were 89-5 in such games. By season’s end, there were 71 bowl-eligible teams for 68 bowl berths.

This year, FBS teams are 63-6 against the FCS, according to the NCAA, with 21 more such games left on the schedule. That means, at most, FBS teams will have 84 "easy" wins, down from 89 last year, when there were just enough teams eligible to fill the 34 bowls.

It seems only fair that they should get the available bowl slots ... right?

• Massachusetts, or rather, Michigan's unreasonable facsimile of a defense, which allowed a 20-point fourth-quarter comeback by the Minutemen in Ann Arbor. That's right. Massachusetts lost to a Top 20 team by five points. Bask in it.

• Maine, whom we love on principle thanks to their logo and who graciously allowed us to think they might beat Syracuse for a whole quarter. (No, it's not that farfetched. Why?)


After three weeks of play, mid-major schools are 10-48 against teams from BCS conferences. The Sun Belt and independents have yet to win a game against an AQ school; the Mountain West and WAC unsurprisingly lead with .500 records, 4-8 and 3-6 respectively.

Violently Subjective Mid-Major Top 10
1. TCU (3-0)
2. Boise State (2-0)
3. Utah (3-0)
4. Nevada (3-0)
5. Temple (3-0)
6. Air Force (2-1)
7. Fresno State (2-0)
8. Houston (2-1)
9. Idaho (2-1)
10. East Carolina (2-1)
Next: SMU, San Diego State, Navy, Southern Miss

Stay Tuned.

Friday night brings a lone but highly-anticipated primetime tilt: The Battle for the Iron Skillet, in Dallas and in primetime. And Saturday, September 25, is something we're hearing referred to as the Day of MACkoning, wherein eight MAC teams will face eight Big Ten teams with nothing to lose except their rankings and pride.

Not to be missed around the country: Buffalo-UConn, FIU-Maryland, Central Michigan-Northwestern, UAB-Tennessee, Army-Duke, Temple-Penn State, Nevada-BYU, Fresno State-Ole Miss, Oregon State-Boise State.