Boise State will have a tough time getting a top-12 ranking in the final BCS standings, which along with a conference title, could give the Broncos an automatic BCS bid. They have taken that route to the BCS before. But if they can get into the final top 16 and be ranked higher than a champion from one of the automatic qualifying conferences, the Broncos are in.
The Big Ten's struggles are aiding Boise State's cause. Nebraska is the only team ranked in the BCS top 25. The Cornhuskers are a spot behind the Broncos at No. 20. If they win out all the way through the Big Ten championship game, the Huskers will probably pass Boise State. If not, it will be tough for any other Big Ten team to do so. Aside from postseason-ineligible Ohio State, Nebraska (6-2, 3-1) is the only Big Ten team with less than three losses.
The irony, of course, is this Boise State wouldn't stand a chance against the ones Petersen rolled out the last two seasons. Those Broncos could play with any team in the country, but the system left them without a spot, sent them to pound Utah and Arizona State in late December, instead getting to prove themselves against another top-10 team.
This season, Boise State could wind up in the BCS with a team that might not be capable of matching up against a highly rated opponent.
Say this about the Broncos, they are always interesting.
Barring a major meltdown by Notre Dame against inferior teams in the next few weeks, Manti Te'o looks like a lock to be a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Te'o has had a remarkable season, leading one of the top defenses in the nation with 80 tackles, two fumble recoveries and five interceptions. Notre Dame's defense has been one of the best in the nation and Te'o is the best player on the No. 4 team in the country.
The interceptions have been key to his candidacy. He's tied for second in the nation and only one other linebacker, USC's Dion Bailey, has as many as four.
Te'o's diving pick of a tipped pass against Oklahoma, a turnover that set up a field that ultimately sealed the game for the Irish, was the type of highlight reel moment that makes a Heisman campaign. Even if there is still some debate about whether he did catch it.
A pure defensive player has never won the Heisman, and it's unlikely that will change this season. But when the invitation to the Heisman presentation in New York comes, Te'o will be the first finalist from Notre Dame since Brady Quinn in 2005.
— Western Kentucky defensive end Quanterus Smith had five sacks in a victory against Florida International on Saturday and leads the nation with 11.5 and 1.64 per game. The senior uses yoga as part of his training.
— Huge credit to Navy and coach Ken Niumatalolo for an impressive in-season turnaround. The Midshipmen were 1-3 after a 12-0 loss at home to San Jose State. It was the first time in six years Navy had been shut out. Navy has won four in a row since behind freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who has the Middies' option offense humming again. Navy had an eight-season bowl streak snapped last year, but is a victory from being back in the postseason with Florida Atlantic (2-6) coming to Annapolis, Md., on Saturday.
— Maryland has lost four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries and will start freshman linebacker Shawn Petty, who played quarterback and high school, at QB against Georgia Tech on Saturday. Petty played quarterback in high school and has been seeing time there in practice when the injuries started piling up recently.
"I was coming over here today, and I got in the car, and my seat was hot. And I looked up, and I had hit the seat warmer." — Kentucky coach Joker Phillips, trying to keep his sense of humor while his job status is in doubt.
AP Sports Writer Gary Graves in Lexington, Ky., contributed to this report.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap
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