Weekend Features Old, And New, Rivalries
by Mike Mitchell
Tennessee visits Florida in their annual SEC East showdown while Florida State heads to Boston College as a new ACC rivalry is created. Those are just two of the many interesting games on-tap for this weekend.
The press conferences leading up to the Volunteers-Gators battle may not be as entertaining as they were when Steve Spurrier was in Gainesville, but the excitement surrounding the game is just as hyped. Florida fans are eager to see Urban Meyer emerge victorious over Tennessee after Ron Zook and the Gators wound up on the short end of the stick in each of his last two seasons.
Meanwhile, the ACC continues to evolve with new rivalries after the three-team expansion that has taken place over the past two seasons. Boston College plays its very first ACC game at home against Florida State on Saturday. The computer projected the Eagles as the Atlantic division winners, along with a few other notable publications. That can't sit well with the Seminoles, the perennial conference favorites. The two teams haven't met since 1980.
Another new rivalry was born in the ACC last year when Miami suffered a 24-17 home loss to Clemson. That was the first game between the two schools since 1956. A Hurricane loss at Death Valley this year would send the 'Canes reeling to an 0-2 start over-all and in conference play.
CUSA created a new state rivalry when it absorbed UTEP into its league and placed them in the same division as Houston. The schools from different sides of Texas will battle in Houston on Saturday in their first meeting in 57 years. UTEP won both games played in 1946 and 1948.
The Mountain West stages a great conference battle as Wyoming visits Air Force. The Falcons lead the series by a slim 21-19-3 margin but is 14-8-1 in home games against the Cowboys. They've played as conference opponents 24 times with each team winning 12.
Another excellent Mountain West offering this weekend is Utah's visit to TCU. The Horned Frogs are new to the conference this year and served notice when they opened the season by upsetting Oklahoma in Norman. But last week, TCU was turned into a toad with a just-as-surprising 21-10 loss to SMU. It is only the 3rd meeting ever between the two schools with Utah winning in 1996 and 1997.
In the MAC, two Ohio schools go head-to-head when Kent State hosts Miami. The RedHawks are off to an 0-2 start in Shane Montgomery's first campaign and reeling after last week's upset loss at home to Central Michigan. This week could either provide the reprieve Miami fans need or another blow to their ego as the Golden Flashes have only prevailed once since 1989.
Back in the SEC, Alabama visits South Carolina which won both meetings when Lou Holtz was the coach. Vanderbilt hosts Mississippi with the opportunity to go 3-0 for the first time since 1984. That year, they got off to a 4-0 start but stumbled to a 5-6 finish. This is the 80th meeting in the series which Ole Miss leads 45-32-2.
Two games evoke memories of the old Southwest Conference. Rice visits Texas for their 88th meeting in a series the Longhorns have dominated by a 65-21-1 margin. The Owls' last win was in 1994 and you have to go all the way back to 1965 to find another victory by the Rice. SMU's visit to Texas A&M is the first meeting between the two schools since the end of the Southwest Conference in 1995. The Mustangs, who are 0-8-1 in the last nine meetings, are looking for their first win since 1984. The Aggies lead the series 40-29-7.
One of the biggest marquee games of the week takes place in South bend when Notre Dame, 2-0 under first-year head coach Charlie Weis, plays host to Michigan State. The away team has won the last four games of the series which Notre Dame leads 40-23-1.
Not To Be Forgotten:
Arkansas at USC - Seemed more enticing before Arkansas lost to Vanderbilt last weekend.
Oregon State at Louisville - As a relative newcomer to the BCS schools, the Cards need to prove themselves every chance they get. Not to mention how badly the Big East could use the win.
Pittsburgh at Nebraska - So far, Dave Wannstedt has done the least with the most. Wanny was given the benefit of an experienced team to coach in his first season and one that finished 8-4 last year under Walt Harris. Now, the Panthers are 0-2, in danger of opening 0-3 and dropping off the map.
Wisconsin at North Carolina - The Badgers have put up a total of 121 points in two games. Can the Tar Heels slow them down?
Oklahoma at UCLA - The Sooners look to regain some respect while UCLA wants to show the football world that there is another powerful team in Los Angeles.
More In-state Battles:
New Mexico St. at New Mexico - 96th meeting in a series that dates back to 1894. Lobos have won last two, 4 of the last 5, and lead series 62-28-5.
UNLV at Nevada - The battle for the Fremont Cannon is tied at 15 games apiece with UNLV taking the last five.
Central Florida at South Florida - The new "War of I-4", it's the first-ever meeting between the two schools. UCF owns the nation's longest losing streak at 16 games.
East Carolina at Wake Forest - Wake has won last four. ECU's last win came in 1997.
Eastern Michigan at Michigan - 1998 meeting was first since 1931. Michigan has won all 6 previous games against EMU.
Northern Iowa (1-AA) at Iowa - Iowa has won all 12 games played against their 1-AA counterpart.
NW State, La. (1-AA) at La.-Lafayette - Northwestern State has already beaten La.-Monroe this year and defeated La.-Lafayette in 2000 and 1998. The Ragin' Cajuns won 14-7 last year.
Tenn.-Chattanooga (1-AA) at Memphis
Jacksonville State, Ala. (1-AA) at UAB
Cal-Davis (1-AA) at Stanford
Sam Houston State, Tx. (1-AA) at Texas Tech
More Non-conference Rivalries:
Kentucky at Indiana - Series is tied 17-17-1 but Kentucky has won last three.
West Virginia at Maryland - Terps lead 21-20-2 and had won 4 straight before West Virginia's victory in Morgantown last year.
Big 10/PAC-10 Showdown:
Purdue at Arizona
Northwestern at Arizona State
Illinois at California
More Cross-sectional Fun:
FAU at Minnesota
San Diego St. at Ohio State
Other Interesting Match-Ups:
Connecticut at Georgia Tech
Fresno State at Oregon
Louisiana Tech at Kansas
Troy at Missouri
Tulsa at North Texas
Mississippi State at Tulane
Ohio at Virginia Tech
Virginia at Syracuse
Western Carolina, NC (1-AA) at Cincinnati
VMI (1-AA) at Duke
Eastern Kentucky (1-AA) at N.C. State
Tennessee Tech (1-AA) at Northern Illinois
McNeese State, La. (1-AA) at Southern Miss
Grambling State, La. (1-AA) at Washington State
Southern Illinois (1-AA) at Western Michigan
Akron at Middle Tennessee
Arkansas State at Oklahoma State
Baylor at Army
Ball State at Auburn
Rutgers at Buffalo
Central Michigan at Penn State
La.-Monroe at Georgia
Idaho at Washington
Toledo at Temple (MAC match-up doesn't count in conference)
Here's Something You Don't See Everyday:
Have you looked at the Big 10 standings this week? I guarantee you don't see them looking this way very often. In fact, at first glance, most people would swear they're upside-down.
Goose Egg: Buffalo enters this week's match against Rutgers having been shut out for three straight games. They lost last year's finale to Connecticut 29-0, dropped this year's opener to Connecticut 38-0 and then fell to Syracuse 31-0. The Bulls host Rutgers on Saturday.
Hurricane Katrina Still Moving Games: The North Texas-LSU game originally scheduled to be played on Labor Day weekend in Baton Rouge but postponed due to Hurricane Katrina, has been rescheduled for Oct. 29 at LSU. But to make that date work for those two schools, other games had to be switched. As a result, the North Texas game with UL-Monroe was moved from Oct. 29 to Nov. 19 and the game between UL-Monroe and UL-Lafayette was moved from Nov. 19 to Nov. 26.
Separately, Tulane moved this week's game against Mississippi St. from the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans to the site of the Independence Bowl in Shreveport. Because of the hurricane, this is Tulane's first game of the season.
Pick On Someone Your Own Size: 13 teams play 1-AA schools this week. Last week, there were 16 such match-ups and there have been 28 played to date. The 1-A schools are 27-1 thus far (96.4%). The only loss was Louisiana-Monroe's embarrassing 7th straight defeat to a lower-classified school, all on the Indians' home field.
1-A teams won 50-of-56 games (89.3%) played against lower-classified schools in 2004. Even that stat is a bit misleading as three of the losses came against FAU, a school that was transitioning to the 1-A level. The Owls victimized Hawaii, North Texas and Middle Tennessee. Amazingly, all three schools were the home team. Hawaii's loss to FAU was the only defeat they suffered at home during the entire 2004 season. Two of those schools (Middle Tennessee and North Texas) are now FAU's Sun Belt Conference rivals.
From the beginning of the 2003 season through last week, 1-A teams have won 139-of-156 such games (89.1%).
Streaks: USC owns the nation's longest winning streak at 23. The Trojans also have streaks of 21 straight home wins and 15 consecutive PAC-10 victories. They have won 34 of their last 35 games. USC hosts Arkansas Saturday.
Boise State's string of 21 regular season wins was halted at Oregon State with a 30-27 loss last week. The Broncos still own nation's-best streaks of 25 straight home wins and 26 straight conference victories. Boise State is idle this week.
Utah has won 18 in-a-row over-all and 11 straight MWC games. Utah is at TCU Thursday.
Iowa has won 19 straight home games. They host 1-AA Northern Iowa Saturday.
North Texas has won 26 straight over Sun Belt conference opponents. They go out-of-conference to host Tulsa Saturday.
Central Florida has the nation's longest losing streak at 16. The Golden Knights host South Florida Saturday.
New Coaches: The 2005 season began with 23 coaching changes. 17 have already pocketed at least one victory but 3 of those have only beaten a 1-AA school. Dave Wannstedt, the new coach at Pittsburgh, is 0-2 with both losses coming against other new coaches. The Panthers have fallen to Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and Frank Solich at Ohio. His team travels to Nebraska this week.
Here is how each has fared thus far (list compiled alphabetically by team), who they've beaten and who they face this week:
BYU, Bronco Mendenhall, 1-1. Beat 1-AA E. Illinois. Idle.
East Carolina, Skip Holtz, 1-0. Beat Duke. At Wake Forest.
Florida, Urban Meyer, 2-0. Beat Wyoming, LA. Tech. Vs. Tennessee.
Illinois, Ron Zook, 2-0. Beat Rutgers, San Jose St. At California
Indiana, Terry Hoeppner, 2-0. Beat Central Mich., 1-AA Nicholls St., VS. Kentucky
LSU, Les Miles, 1-0. Beat Arizona State. Idle.
Marshall, Mark Snyder, 1-1. Beat 1-AA William & Mary.
Miami, O., Shane Montgomery, 0-2. At Kent State.
Mississippi, Ed Orgeron, 1-0. At Vanderbilt.
Nevada-Las Vegas, Mike Sanford, 1-1. Beat Idaho. At Nevada.
New Mexico St., Hal Mumme, 0-2. At New Mexico.
Notre Dame, Charlie Weis, 2-0. Beat Pitt, Michigan. vs. Michigan St.
Ohio, Frank Solich, 1-1. Beat Pitt. At Virginia Tech.
Okla. St, Mike Gundy, 2-0. Beat 1-AA Montana St., FAU. vs. Ark. St.
Pittsburgh, Dave Wannstedt, 0-2. At Nebraska.
San Jose St., Dick Tomey, 1-1. Beat 1-AA Eastern Washington. Idle.
South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, 1-1. Beat UCF. vs. Alabama.
Stanford, Walt Harris, 1-0. Beat Navy. vs. 1-AA Cal-Davis.
Syracuse, Greg Robinson, 1-1. Beat Buffalo 31-0. vs. Virginia.
Utah, Kyle Whittingham, 2-0. Beat Arizona, Utah State. At TCU.
Utah State, Brent Guy, 0-1. Idle.
Washington, Ty Willingham, 0-2. vs. Idaho.
Western Michigan, Bill Cubit, 0-2. vs. 1-AA Southern Illinois.