Outside the realm of college football’s Five Families (SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC) lie the midmajors, even if the American Athletic Conference still has one more year of automatic BCS entry before the system changes in 2014.
Louisville, whose national championship hopes were discussed earlier this week by TheSportsNotebook plays a key Thursday night game with Rutgers, and ESPN will show Temple-Cincinnati at 8:30 PM ET on Friday. There’s only one really big TV game on the midmajor college football schedule for Saturday though and it’s the Mountain West. Here’s a look at Boise State-Utah State, along with other notable Saturday games beyond the reach of the Five Families.
Boise State (-6.5, 51)-Utah State (8 PM ET, CBS Sports Network): The winner of this game takes control of the Mountain West’s Western Division and sets themselves on a collision course with presumably Fresno State in the league championship game.
Why Boise is the kind of road favorite is beyond me. Well, it’s not beyond me, but it’s clearly about reputation and a cursory loss at the W-L record. Utah State has three losses, but one was a close road defeat at USC and another to BYU, outside of the conference. Boise has done nothing of note, with its only wins being over UT-Martin, Air Force and Southern Miss. The latter two, in spite of recent bowl trips, are very bad this year.
That’s why I have no problem grabbing Utah State and the points and further saying I think versatile quarterback Chuckie Keeton leads them to the outright home win.
Other games include…
Memphis-Houston (Noon ET): The Cougars are 4-0 and Memphis is not bad. And for those of us who followed college basketball in the 1980s, these two schools were stacked with big men, from Keith Lee to William Bedford to Larry Micheaux and finally to the great Hakeem Olaujowon. But I’m really getting off topic here.
San Diego State plays Air Force on a Thursday night game (9 PM ET, CBS Sports Network). Both teams are down this year though, so it only matters if you’re not interested in Louisville, can’t stand to watch Game 5 of the Tigers-A’s Division Series or feel a patriotic duty to watch Air Force. The latter is the only reason that seems even remotely plausible. The other good Saturday game is New Mexico-Wyoming at 3:30 PM ET, with the Lobos looking for bowl eligibility and the Cowboys a possible sleeper in the conference title race.
East Carolina-Tulane: Both teams are 2-0 in the league, though on opposite sides of the conference, so it’s not a must-win spot for division title hopes. Still, ECU has played some very good football this year, given Virginia Tech a tough game and has a good quarterback in Shane Carden. Tulane is a surprise, but when you have a Montana at quarterback should be surprised? Nick Montana’s father is Joe–yes, the very same.
Miami (Ohio) plays UMass and it might be the only chance either team has to win all year. Akron, the same team that took Michigan to the wire in Ann Arbor, visits DeKalb to play Northern Illinois. The Huskies are undefeated, again a league favorite and again looking to bust the BCS. Kickoff is at 5 PM ET.
Nothing really notable, although UL-Monroe playing Texas State could end up significant by season’s end if Monroe gets itself turned around. The teams play at 7 PM ET and the Longhorn Network will carry the game.