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Week Three Preview

by Mike Mitchell
September 8, 2008 (Updated 9/12 due to Hurricane Ike)

Note: Hurricane Ike has forced the postponement of the Arkansas-Texas game until September 27. Washington State at Baylor has been moved from Saturday to Friday (9/12), as was Louisiana-Monroes' home game with Alabama A&M. The Air Force at Houston game has been moved to Dallas which removes the home-field advantage from the Cougars. Houston is now a 1.80-point computer pick. In the FCS, Cal Poly at McNeese State is canceled and will not be rescheduled. Also, Nicholls State canceled its home game with Bowie State due to structural damage caused by Hurricane Gustav. Nicholls State's visit to New Mexico State was also canceled last week when the campus was closed early as the storm approached. New Mexico St. has since scheduled Alcorn State as an opponent on October 4.

The computer predictions of several games scheduled for this weekend have changed dramatically since the preseason, flipping the pick to the opposite team.

Ohio State has gone from being the preseason No. 1 team in the Congrove Computer Rankings to the No. 2 team. Meanwhile, USC has ascended from 3rd to 1st in the rankings and is now a 3.63-point favorite in this week's game against the Buckeyes. The Trojans were a 1.03-point underdog in the preseason computer analysis.

Kansas at USF is another game that has seen the computer line shift since the preseason. The Jayhawks were a 1.24-point preseason favorite but are now a 0.26-point underdog.

Fresno State hosts Wisconsin as a marginal favorite (-0.14) after being forecasted as a slim underdog (+0.15) in the preseason. The Bulldogs have not played since winning at Rutgers on Labor Day.

Thus far, Washington State has been so awful under first-year head coach Paul Wulff that the Cougars are now 2.34-point underdogs at Baylor after being listed as the projected winner by 5.47 points in the preseason. Wulff's first two games, against Oklahoma State and California, have seen his team get outscored by a cumulative 105-16. The Golden Bears laid a 66-3 embarrassment on the Cougars in front of the home folks last Saturday.

Southern Miss has dropped from a 1.68-point pick to a 2.09-point computer dog in its game at Arkansas State. The Golden Eagles have performed well in their first two games under Larry Fedora with a 51-21 home win over the Sun Belt conference's La.-Lafayette and a 27-13 road loss last week at Auburn. The Red Wolves have also been playing well, upsetting Texas A&M at Kyle Field in week 1 before piling up 83 points last week against FCS member Texas Southern.

New Mexico was a preseason computer favorite over Arizona by 8.44, but is now a 0.28-point underdog. The Lobos were projected by the computer to go 10-2 and were favorites in each of their first two games over TCU and Texas A&M. Instead, they lost both of those games. With a trip to Tulsa looming next week, New Mexico is well on its way to a possible 0-4 start.

Maryland has gone from 2.12-point favorite to 6.24-point underdog at home to California this week. The Terrapins are 1-1 after losing 24-14 at Middle Tennessee.

Ohio is now a 0.54-point favorite over visiting Central Michigan after the Chippewas were a 3.49-point preseason pick.

In another MAC game, Eastern Michigan has become a 1.99-point home pick over Toledo. The Rockets were a slim 0.35-point choice in the computer's preseason analysis.

Other Interesting Games
(This game has been postponed until Sept. 27 due to Hurricane Ike)
Texas and Arkansas get together for the first time since 2004 when the Razorbacks visit Austin as a huge underdog by 21.92 points. Bobby Petrino has the Hogs at 2-0 in his first season as their head coach, but they have only managed a 4-point win over Western Illinois and a 1-point victory over Louisiana-Monroe.

Rich Rodriguez takes Michigan to Notre Dame as a 7.45-point favorite. The Irish struggled in Saturday's season opening 21-13 win over San Diego State. The Wolverines (1-1) have relied on defense (15.5 ppg) while the offense (19.5 ppg) tries to find its traction in Rodriguez' system.

Oregon ventures outside the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium to head to Purdue as a 9.58-point favorite. We have no real idea what to expect of the Boilermakers who just opened their season last Saturday with a 42-10 win over FCS member Northern Colorado. The Ducks have enjoyed blowout wins in their first two games with a 66-24 rout of Utah State following a 44-10 blasting of Washington on opening day.

South Carolina is staring an 0-2 SEC start in the face after last week's upset loss at Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks host Georgia this week as a 10.64-point underdog, looking for their first home win over their border rival since 2000. South Carolina sprung a 16-12 upset on the Bulldogs last year in Athens.

Washington draws Oklahoma for its next home opponent after coming agonizingly close to upsetting BYU last week. Jake Locker's 2-yard run brought the Huskies to within 1 point with just 2 seconds left in the game, but the PAT was blocked after an excessive celebration penalty forced the kick to be attempted from the 17-yard line. The Sooners are favored by 20.73 on Saturday, but BYU was forecasted to win by 11.96. Washington head coach Ty Willingham is in serious need of a spirit-lifting, if not job-saving, victory.

Speaking of BYU, the Cougars take on another PAC-10 team when they host UCLA on Saturday. It will be the first game for the Bruins since their upset of Tennessee on Labor Day. BYU has seen its preseason computer cushion of 12.46 points decline to 9.47.

Elsewhere, among the computer's top ten teams:
No. 4 Florida is idle;
No. 8 Missouri (-22.39) host Nevada;
No. 9 LSU (-39.40) entertains North Texas.

Other games to watch:
Saturday
A big ACC match takes place when Coastal division rivals Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech clash in Blacksburg. The Hokies have seen their 18.74-point preseason computer advantage slip to 14.19 points. The Yellow Jackets upset defending Atlantic division champion Boston College 19-16 last Saturday at Chestnut Hill.

Bowling Green's trip to Boise State doesn't look as intriguing now as it did before last Saturday's 42-17 Falcon loss to Minnesota. BGSU was a 14-point computer favorite going into the game against the not-so-Golden Gophers.

Vanderbilt has already won two games it wasn't expected to win so the Commodores will have to be careful not to have a letdown against Rice. The Owls are also 2-0 and feature one of the best quarterback-receiver duos in college football history. QB Chase Clement has thrown 36 touchdown passes to Jarrett Dillard in four seasons. Louisiana Tech's Tim Rattay and Troy Edwards set the record of 39 during their collegiate careers that ended in 1998.

Did You Miss Us?
New Mexico State finally opens this week. The Aggies were supposed to begin their season last week, but Hurricane Gustav forced the cancellation of Nicholls State's visit. Now, they have the misfortune of taking their first snaps of 2008 on the road at Nebraska.

LSU returns to action after having to postpone last week's home game against Troy until November 15. The Tigers host North Texas.

UNBEATEN TEAMS:
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.

WINLESS TEAMS:
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.

FBS vs. FCS:
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).

FBS teams are 53-2 (.964) vs. their FCS counterparts this season, and 343-37 (.903) since 2003.

Here are the losses by the FBS so far this season:
Cal Poly 29, San Diego State 27 (Week 1)
New Hampshire 28, Army 10 (Week 2)

Ten such games take place this week.

This year, 82 different FBS 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

STREAKS:
BYU owns the nation's longest current winning streak at 12 games. The Cougars have also won 16 consecutive MWC games. BYU hosts UCLA.

Georgia has won 9 consecutive games. The Bulldogs visit South Carolina

Boise State has won 44 consecutive regular season home games, and the Broncos have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (28-0). Boise State hosts Bowling Green.

Hawaii owns a 15-game winning streak against WAC teams. The Warriors visit Oregon State.

Kent State owns the nation's longest current losing streak at 9 games. Kent State hosts FCS member Delaware State.

UAB, UTEP and Army have each lost 8 consecutive games. UAB visits Tennessee. UTEP and Army are idle.

Idaho has lost 17 straight to FBS schools. The Vandals host Western Michigan.

SMU has dropped 11 straight games to FBS teams. The Mustangs visit Texas Tech.

Baylor has lost 9 straight to FBS teams. The Bears host Washington State.

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. Northern Illinois and Washington State are the only teams still waiting to taste victory. Eight teams have defeated FBS schools - Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska Southern Miss, Texas A&M and UCLA. Only Georgia Tech and UCLA have defeated a team from one of the "big 6" conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-10 or SEC).

Coaching Changes For 2008 Season
TEAM RECORD COACH THIS WEEK
Arkansas 2-0 Bobby Petrino at Texas - postponed (Hurricane Ike)
Baylor 1-1 Art Briles 9/12, vs. Washington State
Colorado State 1-1 Steve Fairchild idle
Duke 1-1 David Cutcliffe 9/13, vs. Navy
Georgia Tech 2-0 Paul Johnson 9/13, at Virginia Tech
Hawaii 1-1 Greg McMackin 9/13, at Oregon State
Houston 1-1 Kevin Sumlin 9/13, vs. Air Force (Dallas)
Michigan 1-1 Rich Rodriguez 9/13, at Notre Dame
Mississippi 1-1 Houston Nutt 9/13, vs. Samford (FCS)
Navy 1-1 Ken Nuimatalolo 9/13, at Duke
Nebraska 2-0 Bo Pelini 9/13, vs. New Mexico State
Northern Illinois 0-2 Jerry Kill idle
SMU 1-1 June Jones 9/13, at Texas Tech
Southern Miss 1-1 Larry Fedora 9/13, at Arkansas State
Texas A&M 1-1 Mike Sherman idle
UCLA 1-0 Rick Neuheisel 9/13, at BYU
Washington State 0-2 Paul Wulff 9/12, at Baylor
West Virginia 1-1 Bill Stewart idle


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