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College Football Season

Week Two Preview

byMike Mitchell
September 3, 2008 (Updated. Troy at LSU moved from this Saturday to November 15).

It's only week two of the 2008 college football season and it is already "desperation city" for teams such as Oregon State, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. I would add Tennessee into that mix but the Vols have a week off to recoup and prepare for UAB before hosting Florida. The Gators welcome Miami to "The Swamp" this week while USF visits UCF in another Sunshine State showdown.

Some of the weekend's other highlights include an ACC battle in Beantown, a dangerous road trip for West Virginia, and the "battle of the brains" in Durham.

Five schools kick-off their 2008 schedule this week as Florida State, Notre Dame, Purdue, Toledo and Tulane finally swing into action. New Mexico State was also slated to begin its season on Thursday night but Hurricane Gustav forced FCS member Nicholls State (from Thibodaux, La.) to cancel its match with the Aggies. NMSU's opener will now be the September 13 trip to Nebraska.

Oregon State heads to Happy Valley to tackle Penn State with the Beavers desperately in need of a rebounding win from the opening week upset loss at Stanford. The Nittany Lions are huge favorites by the oddsmakers (-16.5), but get just a modest 5.97-point advantage from the computer (Congrove Computer Rankings). Joe Paterno enters the contest tied with Florida State's Bobby Bowden at 373 career wins.

Florida State opens at home against FCS member Western Carolina.

Pittsburgh, fresh off a 27-17 home loss to Bowling Green, draws Buffalo this Saturday. The Bulls opened their 2008 season by rolling UTEP 42-17. Buffalo has the advantage of a couple of extra days of preparation since it played its opener on Thursday night. The Panthers are getting a generous 13 points from the oddsmakers while the computer only likes Dave Wannstedt's team by 5.82.

After losing 27-22 to East Carolina in Charlotte on Saturday, Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer changed his mind about redshirting dual-threat QB Tyrod Taylor and says he will play the sophomore this Saturday against FCS member Furman. Senior QB Sean Glennon was atrocious against the Pirates. His costly "pick six" just before halftime cut a 14-0 Hokies lead to 14-7 and gave ECU momentum going into the locker room. An ineffective offense kept a young defense on the field too long, and special teams broke down when East Carolina returned a blocked punt for the winning score with 1:52 remaining in the game.

East Carolina gets the chance to prove the win over the Hokies wasn't a fluke when it hosts West Virginia this week. The Pirates had dropped six straight to the Hokies, and have lost seven in-a-row to the Mountaineers. Still, West Virginia is only a 2.91-point computer favorite.

Barring interference from Hurricane Hanna, the state of Florida will be the scene of the "War On I-4" between South Florida and Central Florida. Only 80 miles of Interstate 4 separate UCF's Orlando campus from USF's Tampa campus. South Florida has won all three matches and has outscored the Golden Knights by a cumulative 119-43. The Bulls obliterated UCF 64-12 last year.

A more traditional Florida rivalry will be held in Gainesville where the Gators host Miami. Surprisingly, Florida has dropped six straight to the Hurricanes with the last victory coming in 1985.

Elsewhere, a road trip to Boston College will serve as the ACC debut for Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets lost 24-10 at home to the Eagles last year.

The "Brain Bowl" takes place in Durham when Northwestern visits Duke. Both schools are 1-0 after the Wildcats pasted Syracuse 30-10 last week while the Blue Devils routed FCS member James Madison 31-7.

The computer's No. 1 team, Ohio State, hosts Ohio as a safe 34-point pick while No. 2 USC is idle. The Buckeyes and Trojans face-off next week in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Among the other top ten teams:
No. 4 Georgia (-19.86) hosts Central Michigan;
No. 5 Texas (-25.28) visits UTEP;
No. 6 Kansas (-28.45) entertains Louisiana Tech;
No. 7 Oklahoma (-8.30) hosts Cincinnati;
No. 8 Missouri welcomes FCS member SE Missouri St.;
No. 9 LSU vs. Troy - Postponed until Nov. 15;
No. 10 Oregon (-30.54) hosts Utah State.

Other games to watch:
Navy at Ball State - Two prolific offenses do battle in Muncie, Indiana. The Cardinals feature QB Nate Davis who was 21-of-24 for 290 and 3 TD's in last week's rout of FCS member Northeastern. The Midshipmen, under first-year head coach Ken Niumatalolo, beat FCS member Towson (Md.) 41-13 while running back Shun White racked up a ridiculous 348 yards and 3 TD's on just 19 carries. His touchdown runs were 33, 87 and 73 yards.

BYU at Washington - If the Cougars want to be serious contenders for a BCS bowl bid, they have to take advantage of Ty Willingham's Huskies who must be feeling low after last week's 44-10 blowout loss at Oregon.

Ole Miss at Wake Forest - Right now, the Demon Deacons appear to be the class of the ACC. A win over an SEC team will help the school and the conference.

Maryland at Middle Tennessee - This game could hurt the ACC. The Terrapins struggled to get past FCS member Delaware 14-7 last week.

Louisiana Tech at Kansas - Just like East Carolina when it hosts West Virginia, Louisiana Tech will be looking to prove that last week's big win wasn't a fluke. Louisiana Tech beat Mississippi State 22-14 while Kansas was tuning up with a ho-hum 40-10 win over lowly FIU.

Possible Upsets
Akron at Syracuse - The computer likes the Zips (-5.46) further embarrass the Syracuse football program.

Texas A&M at New Mexico - The computer likes the Lobos by 9.30 over the Aggies. Texas A&M lost 18-14 at home to Arkansas State last week. The computer also liked New Mexico to beat TCU last week, but the Horned Frogs won 26-3.

See You Next Week
New Mexico State won't open this week after all. Nicholls State canceled its visit as Hurricane Gustav approached the Louisiana coast and forced the closing of the Thibodaux campus. The Aggies will open at Nebraska next week.

LSU announced the postponement of its' home game against Troy until November 15 due to the damage that Gustav caused in the Baton Rouge area.

As the field of unbeaten teams narrows, we'll keep track of the survivors. Only Hawaii made it through the 2007 regular season unscathed, and the Warriors were blown out 41-10 by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. It was the first season since 2002 that no team recorded a perfect record.

Boise State was the only team to finish the entire 2006 season undefeated, while Texas did it in 2005. Auburn, USC and Utah all had unblemished records in 2004.

FIU defeated North Texas 38-19 in its final 2007 game to avoid ending the season as the only winless team. The Golden Panthers had lost 23 straight games and were one of two schools to go winless in 2006 (Duke was the other).

Idaho failed to beat a team from the bowl subdivision last season and lost its 2008 opener at Arizona 70-0.

The divisions were re-named late in 2006. 1-A was given the new moniker of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) while 1-AA was labeled the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Last week, 32 bowl subdivision teams played FCS schools and racked up 31 wins. The only loss was suffered by San Diego State which fell 29-27 at home to Cal Poly. FBS schools are 321-36 against FCS schools since 2003.

This year, 82 teams will participate in a total of 87 games that will pit the FCS against the FBS. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Western Kentucky each play two such games.

ACC teams have more games versus FCS schools than any other conference. Here is the number of FCS games for each conference:

Conference Teams In Conf. Games vs. FCS Avg. Per Team
ACC 12 14 1.167
Big East 8 7 0.875
Big 12 12 10 0.833
Big 10 11 9 0.818
MWC 9 7 0.778
WAC 9 7 0.778
SEC 12 9 0.750
Independents 3 2 0.667
MAC 13 8 0.615
CUSA 12 7 0.583
Sun Belt 9 5 0.555
PAC-10 10 2 0.200
Totals 120 87 0.725

BYU owns the nation's longest FBS winning streak. The Cougars have won 11 straight games, and 16 consecutive MWC games. BYU visits Washington on Saturday.

Hawaii had its 13-game winning streak stopped by Georgia in a 41-10 Sugar Bowl loss. And despite being stomped 56-10 at Florida on Saturday, the Warriors still own a 15-game winning streak against WAC teams.

Boise State won its 44th consecutive regular season home game on Saturday with a 49-7 demolition of FCS member Idaho State. The Broncos have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (28-0).

Minnesota's 10-game losing streak came to an end with a 31-27 victory over Northern Illinois on Saturday. The winning score came on a 1-yard run with 22 seconds left in the contest.

Idaho and SMU have each lost 11 straight games. The Vandals were routed 70-0 at Arizona, and SMU was crushed 56-27 at Rice.

NEW COACHES: The 2007 season featured 24 new head coaches. Nine led their team to a bowl game. This year, there are 18 coaching changes.

Coaching Changes For 2009 Season
Arkansas 1-0 Bobby Petrino 9/6, vs. La.-Monroe (at Little Rock)
Baylor 0-1 Art Briles 9/6, vs. NW State, La. (FCS)
Colorado State 0-1 Steve Fairchild 9/6, vs. Sacramento State (FCS)
Duke 1-0 David Cutcliffe 9/6, vs. Northwestern
Georgia Tech 1-0 Paul Johnson 9/6, at Boston College
Hawaii 0-1 Greg McMackin 9/6, vs. Weber State (FCS)
Houston 1-0 Kevin Sumlin 9/6, at Oklahoma State
Michigan 0-1 Rich Rodriguez 9/6, vs. Miami, O.
Mississippi 1-0 Houston Nutt 9/6, at Wake Forest
Navy 1-0 Ken Nuimatalolo 9/5, at Ball State
Nebraska 1-0 Bo Pelini 9/6, vs. San Jose State
Northern Illinois 0-1 Jerry Kill 9/6, at Western Michigan
SMU 0-1 June Jones 9/6, vs. Texas State (FCS)
Southern Miss 1-0 Larry Fedora 9/6, at Auburn
Texas A&M 0-1 Mike Sherman 9/6, at New Mexico
UCLA 1-0 Rick Neuheisel idle
Washington State 0-1 Paul Wulff 9/6, vs. California
West Virginia 1-0 Bill Stewart 9/6, at East Carolina


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