I have always been a defender of non-BCS teams. There is nothing I love more than when an overlooked school from a small conference bursts into the national spotlight.
TCU, Boise State and Utah have all been able to win BCS bowls without being in an AQ conference, and although that may not happen this year, there are still several talented non-BCS squads. This is a tough feat to accomplish, and with only two seasons left of the Bowl Conference Subdivision, I'm hoping that it will happen again soon.
With that being said, there aren't many teams this year that have a shot at doing that. Fortunately, there are still several programs that have put together great teams without being in a BCS conference. Here are the top five.
Current record: 0-1
Although Southern Mississippi has not yet won a game, the Golden Eagles' performance against Nebraska wasn't all that bad. They were able to finish with 185 rushing yards, including an 84-yard performance from freshman Anthony Alford.
Kick returner Tracy Lampley took a kickoff to the house in the second quarter that tied the lead, but that was the closest it ever got. Field-goal kicker Corey Acosta drilled 37- and 45-yard field goals, but it wasn't enough to knock off the nationally-ranked Huskers.
Southern Miss's schedule lightens up a ton after this week, with the only reasonably tough games coming back-to-back against Boise State and Louisville. A 9-3 finish is very possible, which would continue their streak of bowl appearances that goes back for more than a decade.
Current record: 1-1
Despite an embarrassing 56-10 loss to Ohio State in the opener, Miami (OH) was able to bounce back and beat Southern Illinois 30-14 at home. Senior quarterback Zac Dysert completed 28-of-36 passes for 226 yards against the Salukis, along with a touchdown to lead the RedHawks to a fairly easy win.
The Miami defense was also impressive, which was led by Pat Hinkel. He finished with two interceptions, one of which being a pick-six, and 11 tackles.
The RedHawks are easily one of the most underrated teams in college football, and should continue to have a good season.
Current record: 2-0
Utah State probably wouldn't have a prayer to be on this list a week ago, but after its 27-20 win over in-state foe Utah on Friday, it surely deserves a spot. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton and the Aggie offense were able to score four touchdowns on a Ute defense that was supposedly one of the best in the country last week.
But the Aggies are surely not a one-dimensional team. Not only is their offense stellar, their defense has some skill, also. Bojay Filimoeatu, a USU linebacker, finished with 12 tackles against Utah. As a whole, the Aggies held the Utes to only 96 rushing yards, all of those coming from star running back John White.
Watch out for Utah State. It was bowl-eligible for the first time in decades last season, but could repeat this year. The Aggies will have another challenge this week when they play Wisconsin.
Current record: 0-1
Perhaps the most dominant non-BCS squad of the past few years, Boise State has continued to raise eyebrows this season. Although the Broncos have not won a game, their single loss came in a dramatic fashion to Michigan State. Behind for most of the game, the Broncos were finally able to pull ahead before halftime with a field goal. Neither teams scored until late, when the Spartans scored a touchdown in the fourth.
There were still several impressive aspects of the game for Boise, including a sharp defense that held 13th-ranked Michigan State to only 17 points. Three different Broncos had interceptions, one of them being returned for a touchdown. The offense wasn't very productive, though; quarterback Joe Southwick finished with no touchdowns and one pick.
Boise State still has plenty of time to polish its dull aspects; with a bye last week and a game against Miami (Ohio) this week, the Broncos should get plenty of time to prepare for BYU in two weeks.
Current record: 2-0
This may be a biased ranking, but BYU is the one of the only undefeated non-BCS school left. Also, with a No. 25 national ranking, the Cougars are the only teamed ranked out of that group. With two lopsided wins over Mike Leach's Washington State and FCS squad Weber State, the Cougars will have quite the test Saturday when they travel to face the Utah Utes.
BYU's defense is perhaps one of the best in the country. With a strong linebacker corps in Kyle Van Noy, Brandon Ogletree and Uona Kaveinga, the Cougars have held their opponents to an average of 9.5 points per game. The offense is strong, also; led by senior quarterback Riley Nelson and receivers Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo, they have averaged 305 passing yards per contest.
Brigham Young should have a good year. If it can win the four tough road games ahead (Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech), the Cougars may have a shot at a BCS bowl.