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College Football Season

Inaugural SEC Games For Missouri, Texas A&M Highlight Week 2

72-Game Schedule Includes 27 FBS-FCS Matchups

by Dave Congrove
September 5, 2012

Missouri and Texas A&M fans have anxiously awaited their first-ever SEC games, and to the credit of the conference schedule-makers, those openers come in week two at the home field of the two newest members. Down the road, Texas A&M will host Missouri in the season finale.

On Saturday, the Tigers host Georgia and the Aggies welcome Florida in contests that are virtually a toss-up.

My Congrove Computer Rankings at now make Missouri a 0.27-point favorite over the Dawgs, an outright winner flip from the preseason projection of a 0.85-point Georgia win. The Aggies are a 1.11-point underdog to the Gators, just slightly below the 1.41-point loss projection in the preseason.

Missouri was a member of the Big 12 since 1928. The Tigers claimed outright championships in what was then-called the Big 6 in 1939, 1941, 1942 and 1945. Missouri also won the crown outright in 1960 when the conference was called the Big 8. The Tigers haven't won another football conference championship since they shared the title with Nebraska in 1969. The Big 8 expanded to the Big 12 in 1996 and Missouri's recent resurgence led it to the opportunity to play for that title in 2007 and 2008 as winners of the conference's North division, though the Tigers were soundly defeated by Oklahoma on both occasions.

Texas A&M played in the Southwest Conference from 1915 until 1995 when the league disbanded. The Aggies were one of four additions to the Big 8 in 1996, along with Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor. The expansion led to the conference reconstituting itself as the Big 12. From 1917 to 1993 Texas A&M won 16 outright Southwest Conference titles and shared another. The Aggies three-peated three times, from 1939-1941, 1985-1987 and 1991-1993. They lost in the Big 12 championship game in 1997 when Nebraska prevailed 54-15. Texas A&M then won its 18th conference title the following year by a 36-33 count over Kansas State. The Aggies never claimed another South division title after that.

The 2011 season was extremely disappointing for the Texas A&M faithful who saw their team ranked as high as 8th in the preview magazines. The Congrove Computer Rankings projected a No. 7 finish for the Aggies who, instead, faltered to a 6-6 regular season.

As a result, Texas A&M fired Mike Sherman and hired Kevin Sumlin away from Houston. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter served as interim head coach in the Aggies' 33-22 win over Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. DeRuyter is now the new head coach at Fresno State where he replaces Pat Hill.

Sherman posted a pedestrian 25-25 overall record in 4 years at College Station while Sumlin 35-17 in the same time span at Houston. Sumlin, a former Texas A&M assistant under R.C. Slocum in 2001 and 2002, led the Cougars to a 12-0 record in 2012 before falling to Southern Miss in the Conference USA Championship game. His team also lost in the 2009 CUSA championship game to East Carolina.

The Tigers opened with a 62-10 rout of FCS member Southeastern Louisiana last Saturday while Texas A&M's date with Louisiana Tech in Shreveport was postponed until October 13 due to Hurricane Isaac. Florida was an uninspiring 27-14 home winner over Bowling Green while Georgia surrendered 347 yards and 23 points to Buffalo in a 45-23 win in Athens.

The college football week begins Thursday with a Big East conference game as Cincinnati hosts Pittsburgh. It's the first game of the season for the Bearcats. The Panthers wish they could say the same thing, but everyone knows they lost 31-17 at home to FCS member Youngstown State last week. New head coach Paul Chryst is a whopping 16.28-point underdog to notch his first win at Pitt in this week's game.

Utah and Utah State renew their rivalry in Logan on Friday with the Utes projected as 10.28-point winners after the rivalry took the last 2 years off. Utah has won the last dozen meetings.

Notre Dame returns from its trip across the pond to host Purdue on Saturday. The computer likes the Irish by 10.37, yet I wouldn't be shocked by a Boilermaker upset given the effect on the players of the time zone changes and travel. A Purdue win would snap a four-game losing streak in the series, its longest since dropping 11 straight from 1986-1996.

The Air Force Academy invades Michigan on Saturday as the Wolverines are expected to rebound from an embarrassing 41-14 loss to Alabama on Saturday with a 28.37-point win this week. Starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and back-up defensive end Frank Clark have been reinstated by head coach Brady Hoke after serving one-game suspensions for separate incidents. Toussaint has pled guilty to a lesser charge of operating a vehicle while visually impaired instead of the initial intoxication charge. Clark faces a felony second-degree home invasion charge and is scheduled to be in court on September 11th.

Speaking of Alabama, the Tide get Western Kentucky at home as a surprisingly low 12.52-point computer pick over the Sun Belt's Hilltoppers. Oddsmakers installed the Tide as a 37-point favorite and bettors had forced that spread to rise to 40 by Wednesday.

Auburn doesn't catch a break after dropping its Chick-fil-A Kickoff game to Clemson. Can the War Eagle be resurrected this week at Mississippi State? The computer says "yes" as it makes Auburn the favorite by 4.58 points in a minor upset.

It will be interesting to see how Houston will respond to last week's 30-13 stunning loss at home to FBS upstart Texas State. Head coach Tony Levine's response on Monday was to accept the resignation of offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt and put Travis Bush in charge of calling plays. Ironically, Bush was co-offensive coordinator at Texas State for 3 years before coming to Houston this season. Houston was a 26.87-point favorite last week, meaning the Bobcats turned that projection upside down by over 43 points. Houston clings to a 0.07-point computer advantage this week over a Louisiana Tech squad that is playing its season-opener after last week's scheduled game in Shreveport against Texas A∧M was postponed by Hurricane Isaac.

Other games to watch include N.C. State-UConn, East Carolina-South Carolina, Iowa State-Iowa, Miami (Fla.)-Kansas State, Washington-LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette at Troy, Maryland-Temple, UTEP-Mississippi, Nebraska-UCLA, USF-Nevada, North Carolina-Wake Forest, Vanderbilt-Northwestern, UCF-Ohio State, Penn State-Virginia and Toledo-Wyoming.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams went 31-4 last week versus their FCS counterparts and are now 669-59 (.919) in such games since 2003.

This year, 101 FBS teams play a total of 108 games against FCS foes. UTSA is in its first year of transitioning from the FCS and plays 4 such schools. Cincinnati, Florida State, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M each play two such games.

27 FBS-FCS matchups take place this week.

FBS teams were 91-6 (.938) vs. FCS programs in 2011. The 6 teams that fell victim to FCS teams a year ago were Minnesota, New Mexico, UNLV, Western Kentucky, Duke and Oregon State

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/1: Youngstown State 31, Pittsburgh 17
9/1: Tennessee-Martin 20, Memphis 17
8/30: McNeese State 27, Middle Tennessee 21
8/30: Eastern Washington 20, Idaho 3

TCU - 8 straight wins overall. 24 straight conference wins. Opens season this week at home vs. FCS member Grambling State.

Northern Illinois - 9-game win streak was halted in 18-17 loss to Iowa at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday. The Huskies still own streaks of 8 straight conference wins and 15 straight home wins. Hosts FCS member Tennessee-Martin on Saturday. UT-Martin won 20-17 last week at Memphis.

LSU - 18-game home winning streak. Hosts Washington on Saturday.

Arkansas State - 8-game conference win streak. Lost 57-34 at Oregon on Saturday. Hosts Memphis on Saturday.

Virginia Tech - 13 straight wins in true road games (at opponents' venue). Hosts FCS member Austin Peay on Saturday.

Kansas - Snapped 10-game losing streak with a 31-17 home win over FCS member South Dakota St. on Saturday. Still owns losing streak of 10 straight FBS games. Hosts Rice on Saturday.

Tulane - 11 straight losses overall. Visits Tulsa on Saturday.

Akron - 9 straight losses overall, 20 straight road losses. Visits FIU on Saturday.

New Mexico - 22 straight road losses. Visits Texas on Saturday.

Mississippi - 14 straight conference losses. Hosts UTEP on Saturday.

28 teams have a new college football coach in the FBS ranks this season. Last season saw 24 new head coaches, 10 of whom matched or exceeded the W-L record of their predecessors' final season.

Here are the this week's games for each new head coach:

Team Coach Game
Akron Terry Bowden (0-1) Saturday at FIU
Arizona Rich Rodriguez (1-0) Saturday vs. Oklahoma State
Arizona State Todd Graham (1-0) Saturday vs. Illinois
Arkansas John L. Smith (1-0) Saturday vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Arkansas State Gus Malzahn (0-1) Saturday vs. Memphis
Colorado State Jim McElwain (1-0) Saturday vs. North Dakota State (FCS)
FAU Carl Pellini (1-0) Saturday at Middle Tennessee
Fresno State Tim DeRuyter (1-0) Saturday at Oregon
Hawaii Norm Chow (0-1) Sept. 15 vs. Lamar (FCS)
Houston Tony Levine (0-1) Saturday vs. Louisiana Tech
Illinois Tim Beckman (1-0) Saturday at Arizona State
Kansas Charlie Weis (1-0) Saturday vs. Rice
Massachusetts Charley Molnar (0-1) Saturday vs. Indiana
Memphis Justin Fuente (0-1) Saturday at Arkansas State
Mississippi Hugh Freeze (1-0) Saturday vs. UTEP
New Mexico Bob Davie (1-0) Saturday at Texas
North Carolina Larry Fedora (1-0) Saturday at Wake Forest
Ohio State Urban Meyer (1-0) Saturday vs. UCF
Penn State Bill O'Brien (0-1) Saturday at Virginia
Pittsburgh Paul Chryst (0-1) Thursday at Cincinnati
Rutgers Kyle Flood (1-0) Saturday vs. Howard (FCS)
Southern Miss Ellis Johnson (0-1) Sept. 15 vs. East Carolina
Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin Saturday vs. Florida
Toledo Matt Campbell (0-1) Saturday at Wyoming
Tulane Curtis Johnson (0-1) Saturday at Tulsa
UAB Garrick McGee (0-1) Sept. 15 at South Carolina
UCLA Jim Mora (1-0) Saturday vs. Nebraska
Washington State Mike Leach (0-1) Saturday vs. Eastern Washington (FCS)


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