ULM's Kolton Browning is a player to watch once again
Fans who squirm at the long wait from Saturday college football to the Thursday night game will get a brief reprieve.
The traditional midweek MAC game will make its first appearance of the season with Kent State at Buffalo on Wednesday night. Midweek football will be short-lived, though. The next Tuesday/Wednesday game isn’t until Oct. 16.
That doesn’t mean there’s a lack of action outside of the six major conferences. This week will be full of key games for independents Notre Dame and BYU, plus Boise State, Louisiana Tech and again, Louisiana-Monroe.
Here’s our Post-Week 3 look at all the movement outside of the six major conferences in the BCS Crasher Stock Report.
Last week: Defeated Michigan State 20-3.
The Irish picked up perhaps the biggest win of Brian Kelly’s tenure in South Bend with a win at Michigan State. Defense has been one of the keys so far as Notre Dame held its fourth opponent in the last six games to fewer than 100 rushing yards. The Irish held a team to without a touchdown for the first time since 2010 and held a major-conference team to without a touchdown for the first time since 2007. Up next: Defending Michigan’s Denard Robinson. Shoelace has amassed 958 yards of total offense (582 passing, 366 rushing) and eight total touchdowns in the last two wins over Notre Dame.
This week: Michigan.
Last week: Defeated Colorado 69-14.
Yes, Colorado is dreadful, but let’s give credit to Fresno State’s dominance. Robbie Rouse rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and added two touchdown catches. The workhorse running back has topped 100 yards in 11 of his last 15 games going back to the start of last season. After facing the elite (Oregon) and the bad (Colorado, Weber State), Fresno State may show a glimpse of its potential in the new-look Mountain West when it faces Tulsa on the road Saturday.
This week: at Tulsa.
Last week: Defeated Kentucky 32-31 (OT)
Somehow, the improvement at Western Kentucky has been overlooked. An FCS power until it moved up to FBS in 2009, Western Kentucky went 0-12 in its first season in major college football. Two seasons later, the Hilltoppers were a bowl snub despite finishing 7-1 in the Sun Belt. Coach Willie Taggart, a former Western Kentucky player and Jim Harbaugh assistant, showed gumption by going for the win in overtime on a risky throwback on a two-point play. After going 0-4 in the non-conference schedule last season, Western Kentucky could go 3-1 in the non-conference if the Toppers defeat Southern Miss (0-2).
This week: Southern Miss.
Last week: Defeated Marshall 27-24.
The Bobcats survived a scare Saturday, falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter and the 24-17 early in the fourth quarter against Marshall. Ohio capitalized on three Marshall turnovers to win 27-24. Riding quarterback Rakeem Cato’s arm, Marshall passed for 432 yards and outgained Ohio 491-399. Was this an off day for Ohio or a troubling sign for the Bobcats in the pass-happy MAC?
This week: Norfolk State.
Last week: Lost to Wisconsin 16-14.
A 37-yard missed field goal separated the Aggies from an undefeated start to the season, but it shouldn’t cut into what Utah State has accomplished. A week after defeating Utah, the Aggies put a scare into Wisconsin in Madison, where Utah State led 14-3 at halftime. Chuckie Keeton and Kerwynn Williams have been a dynamic backfield, but Utah State is one of 12 teams holding opponents to fewer than four yards per play this season.
This week: at Colorado State.
Last week: Defeated Miami (Ohio) 39-12.
After an off week, Boise State looked like the Broncos of old, albeit against Miami (Ohio). The Broncos didn’t score an offensive touchdown against Michigan State, but running back D.J. Harper accounted for four total touchdowns and 162 yards alone against Miami. Meanwhile, Joe Southwick was 24-of-31 for 309 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Altogether, Boise Stated a 423-yard swing in yard differential from Game 1 to Game 2, a notable feat even against an overmatched MAC team.
This week: BYU (Thursday).
Last week: Lost to Utah 24-21.
Like Utah State, BYU lost thanks to a failed field goal attempt -- or rather two failed field goals. BYU had a 51-yard field goal blocked, and then missed a second one after rival Utah was assessed a 15-yard penalty when fans prematurely rushed field. Most troubling: BYU lost a game in which it outgained Utah 312-245. The Utes also were without running back John White and started quarterback Jon Hays for the first time this season.
This week: at Boise State (Thursday)
OFF THE MAP
GAMES TO WATCH
BYU at Boise State (Thu.)
Michigan at Notre Dame
Louisiana Tech at Illinois
Baylor at Louisiana-Monroe
Last week: Lost to East Carolina 24-14.
The Golden Eagles weren’t a popular pick to defend their Conference USA title with a new coach, new quarterback and new faces all of the field. After a 24-14 loss at home to East Carolina, Southern Miss looks like a team that may have to fight to reach a bowl game. If Southern Miss loses to Western Kentucky on the road an 0-6 start is possible with Louisville, Boise State and UCF on the horizon.
This week: at Western Kentucky.
Last week: Lost to UCLA 36-6.
That undefeated regular season from a year ago is a distant memory. A week after putting up 693 yards 49 points on Louisiana Tech (right after Tony Levine forced his offensive coordinator to resign), Houston managed only a fourth-quarter touchdown against UCLA. David Piland nearly matched the Cougars’ points scored (six) with interceptions (five).
This week: Off.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Kolton Browning, Louisiana-Monroe. ULM faces its third major-conference team of the season in Baylor. Browning passed for 649 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns against the SEC West. Now he’ll try his hand against the Big 12. ULM is converting an astounding 9 of 11 attempts on fourth down. Only USC has attempted more fourth-down plays, going 8 of 14.
By David Fox
(published Sept. 19, 2012)
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