Big Games Fill Third Week Of Season
by Mike Mitchell
Only college football can deliver a week with so many big games this early in a season. The slate features LSU-Auburn, Clemson-Florida State, Florida-Tennessee, Miami-Louisville, Michigan-Notre Dame, Nebraska-USC, and Oklahoma-Oregon.
It also delivers Maryland-West Virginia, Michigan State-Pitt, Iowa State-Iowa, N.C. State-Southern Miss, Texas Tech-TCU, and BYU-Boston College.
The 62-game schedule includes 12 teams playing 1-AA opponents, bringing the year's total to 55 through three weeks. Only 54 such games were played all of last season.
There are only 11 conference games on the schedule.
Seven teams are idle this week, including Air Force which has only played one game. Joining the Falcons on the sideline are Arkansas State, La.-Lafayette, Oregon State, San Jose State, Texas-El Paso, and UCLA.
After just two weeks of the season, 75 of the 119 teams have already experienced a loss, leaving only 44 teams undefeated.
There are ten contests this week where each team is undefeated. They are Ohio-Rutgers, Maryland-West Virginia, LSU-Auburn, Wake Forest-Connecticut, Florida-Tennessee, Iowa State-Iowa, Michigan-Notre Dame, Nebraska-USC, Oklahoma-Oregon, and Texas Tech-TCU.
28 Teams are winless. There are only 2 games this week where each team has a goose egg in the win column. Those are Kent State-Miami (O.), and Tulane-Mississippi State
TOP 25 CLASHES
These involve teams ranked among the Top 25 teams in the CCR Top 119.
No. 24 Nebraska at No. 1 USC - These two traditional football powerhouses have only met twice before. The last time was in 1970 when the game ended in a 21-21 tie. USC won 31-21 in 1969.
No. 3 LSU at No. 7 Auburn - One of the biggest games of the week on a national scale as the Tigers take on the Tigers. The Auburn variety was favored in the preseason projections by 0.37. Now, the Bayou Bengal variety is favored by a scant 0.28. The home team has won the last six meetings in the series since 2000 and LSU hasn't won in Auburn since 1998.
No. 6 Michigan at No. 9 Notre Dame - The Wolverines haven't won in South Bend since 1994. Michigan was a 0.20-point computer pick in the preseason projections. Now, the Irish are favored by 2.13. Notre Dame has won the last two meetings, and three of the last four.
No. 20 Oklahoma at No. 8 Oregon - It's a rematch of last year's Holiday Bowl won 17-14 by Oklahoma. Oregon's 14 points in that contest is the most they've scored against the Sooners in six tries. Oklahoma is 6-0 in the series, outscoring the Ducks by a cumulative 201-31 and shutting them out three times. Both teams were in dogfights last week. The Washington Huskies stayed close to Oklahoma for awhile before the Sooners pulled away for a 37-20 win. Oklahoma had even more difficulty in their opener against UAB when they scratched out a 24-17 win. Oregon went down to the wire with the Fresno State Bulldogs last Saturday before securing a 31-24 triumph. The Ducks manhandled Stanford 48-10 in their season opener.
No. 10 Texas Tech at No. 17 TCU - Their 2004 meeting, which Texas Tech won 70-35, was their first since the breakup of the Southwest Conference after the 1995 season. This is the third state opponent in-a-row that the Red Raiders have faced after opening with SMU and UTEP.
All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.
Clemson at Florida State - After No. 19 Florida State nearly lost at home to Troy last week, and No. 27 Clemson took BC to double-overtime on the road, the computer's 1-point spread reversed from the 'Noles to the Tigers.
Duke at Virginia Tech - The Hokies have outscored the Blue Devils 140-31 over the past four meetings dating back to 1983. Duke nearly pulled off the upset of Wake Forest last week after falling 13-0 to 1-AA Richmond in its' opener.
Memphis at East Carolina - ECU has lost its first two games on the road to Navy and UAB by 5 points each. The line computer's spread favoring Memphis has dropped from 6 points to 3 points since the preseason projections.
Akron at Central Michigan - Akron scored the biggest win in its recent history last week, beating N.C. State in Raleigh. In two seasons with the zips, head coach J.D. Brookhart has produced two winning seasons and a MAC title. Central Michigan has been respectable in losses to Boston College (31-24) and Michigan (41-17).
Buffalo at Northern Illinois - Each of Buffalo's first two games have gone to overtime - a single-OT win over Temple and a triple-OT loss to Bowling Green. Turner Gill has obviously worked wonders with the Bulls' attitude. Joe Novak, meanwhile, needs to get his Huskies back on the winning track after a surprising 35-23 home loss to Ohio last week.
Kent State at Miami (O.)
Arkansas at Vanderbilt - Defense is they at Vanderbilt. After losing 27-7 at Michigan, they took Alabama to the final play of the game in a 13-10 loss at Tuscaloosa. Arkansas rebounded from a 50-14 blowout loss at home to USC with a not-so-impressive 20-0 win over Utah State.
Florida at Tennessee - Urban Meyer endeared himself to the Gator Nation with wins over Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State last year. He heads to Knoxville this week as a 7-point computer pick. For the Vols, a nice home win over California in the opener was followed-up by a not-so-nice 31-30 defeat of Air Force. The computer ranks Florida 12th and Tennessee 37th.
LSU at Auburn - (preview above under "Top 25 Clashes" heading)
Mississippi at Kentucky
UNLV at Hawaii
All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.
Maryland at West Virginia (Thursday) - Couches beware, the weekend kicks off in Morgantown with a spirited rivalry between the Terrapins and Mountaineers. Actually, it' the Maryland defense that better beware. QB Pat White, RB Steve Slaton and the rest of Rich Rodriguez' talent team have the ability to burn the shell out of the Terps. Maryland has done nothing to write home about in its first two game, beating 1-AA William & Mary 27-14 (Mary had to leave at halftime to cook dinner) and Middle Tennessee 24-10 (when the left and right portions of the team failed to show up).
Kansas at Toledo (Friday) - The computer favors Toledo by 5.52 points at home on Friday night.
UAB at Georgia - Freshman Matthew Stafford gets his first start at QB, replacing Joe Tereshinski III who's out 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered in the first quarter of the Bulldogs' win over South Carolina last Saturday. Stafford threw three picks and completed just 8-of-19 passes. UAB played tough at Oklahoma, falling 24-17, in week one. But the Blazers barely got by East Carolina 17-12 at home last week.
Arizona State at Colorado - This was a marquee game before the season started. But Colorado's woes have caused this one to lose its luster to everyone except Sun Devil and Buffalo fans.
Army at Texas A&M - The Aggies opened with another military school, The Citadel.
Troy at Georgia Tech - Troy must be looking for honorary membership in the ACC. Last week, they scared the garbonzo beans out of FSU, 24-17 in Tallahassee.
Miami (Fla.) at Louisville - The computer's spread favors No. 5 Louisville and its grown from 2.92 points in the preseason to 6.13 points now. The No. 26 Hurricanes favor their second Top 25 opponent in three weeks. The potent offense of the Cardinals has scored 391 points in its last seven home games, an average of 55.857 points per game. The 'Canes have scored 386 points in their last 14 games
Navy at Stanford - The Midshipmen are computer underdogs by 0.01. They were favored by 1 in the preseason forecast, and still favored by 1 before their narrow escape over 1-AA Massachusetts last week. Stanford isn't exactly on fire coming into this game. In fact, they blew a 20-point lead on San Jose State last week to lose 35-34.
N. C. State at Southern Miss - Chuck Amato's teams have gone just 22-21 since a 9-0 start in 2002.
Ohio at Rutgers - Ohio is the lowest-ranked undefeated team as the Bobcats check in at No. 65 after upsetting Northern Illinois 35-23 on the road last weekend. It's Ohio's first 2-0 start since 1997 when the Bobcats went 8-3. They haven't started a season 3-0 since 1976. Frank Solich is in his second year a head coach. His team visits No. 34 Rutgers on Saturday as a 14.22-point underdog. The Scarlet Knights are looking to go 3-0 for the first time since 1981.
Texas at Rice - Texas CB Tarell Brown and backup LB Tyrell Gatewood were reinstated on Monday after sitting out the 24-7 loss to Ohio State. They had been suspended after their Labor Day traffic stop allegedly uncovered marijuana in the car and a 9mm handgun in Brown's lap. Drug charges were dropped Friday but Brown still faces charges for the weapon.
Louisiana-Monroe at Alabama
Ball State at Purdue
Baylor at Washington State
Boise State at Wyoming
Brigham Young at Boston College
Bowling Green at FIU
Colorado State at Nevada
UConn at Wake Forest
Eastern Michigan at Northwestern
FAU at Oklahoma State
Fresno State at Washington
Syracuse at Illinois
Marshall at Kansas State
Michigan at Notre Dame - (preview above under "Top 25 Clashes" heading)
Michigan State at Pitt
Temple at Minnesota
Tulane at Mississippi State
Missouri at New Mexico
Nebraska at USC - (preview above under "Top 25 Clashes" heading)
North Texas at Tulsa
Oklahoma at Oregon - (preview above under "Top 25 Clashes" heading)
San Diego State at Wisconsin
Western Michigan at Virginia
All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.
Central Florida at South Florida (War of I-4) - South Florida won the first-ever meeting between the two schools, 31-14, last year in Tampa.
Iowa State at Iowa - Drew Tate will be back under center for the Hawkeyes after sitting out last week's double-overtime win at Syracuse with an abdominal injury. The Cyclones won 23-3 last year. Iowa leads the series 35-18.
Utah at Utah State - 106th
meeting. Utah leads 73-28-4 and has won the last 8 contests.
Cincinnati at Ohio State
Texas Tech at TCU - (preview above under "Top 25 Clashes" heading)
All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.
12 teams play 1-AA schools this week as over 75 schools took the opportunity of a 12th game to schedule a cupcake opponent.
1-AA schools won 1 of the 14 games played last week. Since the start of the 2003 campaign, 1-A teams hold the upper hand by a huge margin, 203-22 (.902).
Three teams are playing schools from within their own state boundaries:
Tennessee Tech (1-AA) at Middle Tennessee (Thursday)
Idaho State (1-AA) at Idaho
Sam Houston State (1-AA) at SMU
Three other 1-AA teams are playing their second 1-A opponent this year.
Stephen F. Austin (1-AA) at Arizona - The Lumberjacks lost to Tulsa 45-7 in week 1.
Portland State (1-AA) at California - The Vikings beat New Mexico 17-6 in week 1.
Nicholls State (1-AA) at Louisiana Tech - The Thibodaux, Louisiana school was among those affected by Hurricane Katrina, canceling their 2005 opener at Utah State. The Colonels lost at Nebraska 56-7 last week.
One 1-A team is playing its second 1-AA opponent of the year.
Texas Southern (1-AA) at New Mexico State - New Mexico State beat SE Louisiana 30-15 in their season opener to end a 13-game losing streak.
Other 1-A vs. 1-AA games:
Wofford (1-AA) at South Carolina - Blake Mitchell won't be the South Carolina QB for this game after he was arrested on simple assault charges for allegedly punching someone at a bar near campus early Wednesday morning. Even before the incident, Spurrier was expected to sit him Saturday due to minor injuries he received in the Gamecock's first two games.
Grambling (1-AA) at Houston
Southern Illinois (1-AA) at Indiana
Furman (1-AA) at North Carolina
Youngstown State (1-AA) at Penn State
COMPUTER HIS AND MISSES
The computer is a ridiculous 80-14 straight up on games that only involve 1-A teams playing each other. But, it's a not-so-stellar 48-46 against the spread.
It hasn't missed a single straight up pick on SEC West teams and has only one miss in Big East, Big 12 South, Independents, SEC East and WAC.
It's a cumulative 16-9 ATS with MAC teams and 11-6 ATS with the Big 10.
USC has won 33 straight regular season games and also own a nation's-best streak of 27 home victories. USC has won 23 straight games against conference foes. USC's streak of 34 straight wins over-all came to an end in a 41-38 loss to Texas in the BCS title game at the Rose Bowl. The 34-game over-all winning streak stands as the longest in PAC-10 history, breaking their own record of 25 games set in 1931-1933.
Texas saw its 21-game winning streak come to a close in the 24-7 loss to Ohio State last weekend.
TCU now owns the nation's consecutive wins streak with 12.
Boise State has won 32 consecutive regular season home games. The Broncos have never lost a home game to a WAC opponent (20-0).
Temple owns the nation's longest losing streak at 14 games.
Syracuse has lost 11 straight games.
New Mexico State has lost 14 straight to 1-A teams (they beat 1-AA SE Louisiana in the season-opener to end a 13-game losing over-all losing streak).
The 2006 season introduced 11 coaching changes. 6 of those new coaches put a victory under their belts in week 1. Two of those six coaches added their first win over a 1-A team this week (Boise State and Kansas State). The other 5 remained winless this past weekend.
Two new coaches go head-to-head this week when Bret Bielema and Wisconsin host Chuck Long and San Diego State on Saturday.
Boise State, 2-0 under Chris Petersen, visits Wyoming on 9/16.
Kansas State, 2-0 under Ron Prince, hosts Marshall on 9/16.
Wisconsin, 2-0 under Bret Bielema, hosts San Diego State on 9/16.
Buffalo, 1-1 with Turner Gill, visits Northern Illinois on 9/16.
Middle Tennessee, 1-1 under Rick Stockstill, hosts 1-AA Tennessee Tech on 9/14.
Northwestern, 1-1 under Pat Fitzgerald, hosts Eastern Michigan on 9/16.
San Diego State, 0-1 under Chuck Long, visits Wisconsin on 9/16.
Colorado, 0-2 under Dan Hawkins, hosts Arizona State on 9/16.
Idaho, 0-2 under Dennis Erickson, hosts 1-AA Idaho State.
Rice, 0-2 under Todd Graham, hosts Texas on 9/16.
Temple, 0-2 with Al Golden. visits Minnesota on 9/16.