Light Week Starts Wednesday
by Mike Mitchell
With 18 teams in new leagues, and a new human poll set to have a one-third stake in the BCS Standings, it is almost a certainty that chaos will reign supreme in the coming weeks. Thank goodness that the great game of college football itself will overshadow the sideshow.
This week was already delivering an unusually light schedule of 49 games involving just 93 of the 119 Division 1-A college football schools. Now, thanks to Hurricane Rita, that schedule has been reduced to 47 games and 89 teams. 26 teams were already scheduled to have a week off. With the postponement of the Southern Miss-Houston and Navy-Rice games, that total rises to 30. More postponements may follow.
Still, there are plenty of great matchups on the slate including the first weekend of head-to-head competition in the Big 10, a full slate of ACC games, and four SEC battles.
It's tough to pick one game that tops the agenda of must-see fare but USC's trip to Oregon is a good place to start. The two teams have not met since 2002 and this will be the Trojans' first test of any degree this season. USC started the season by destroying Hawaii and Arizona State by the combined score of 133-34. Both teams enter the PAC-10 tussle unbeaten and USC will be trying to extend the nation's longest winning streak past 24 games. The Trojans also have won 15 consecutive PAC-10 victories and 35 of their last 36 games over-all.
Another battle of conference unbeatens will take place in the ACC when Georgia Tech visits Virginia Tech. These two teams were slated to kick-off the 2000 season when a torrential rain and lightning storm pounded Blacksburg. The teams were rushed off the field and ESPN analyst Lee Corso's rented car was struck by lightning. The game was never played.
This year, the Hokies and Yellow Jackets sport identical 3-0 records. Georgia Tech began the year by ending Auburn's 15-game winning streak at Auburn and has since dispatched North Carolina and Connecticut. Virginia Tech has shut out its last two opponents, Duke and Ohio, by identical 45-0 scores and has not been tested since a season-opening win at North Carolina State.
A couple of cross-sectional games pop up next on my priority list for the weekend. Colorado travels to Miami (Fla.) and Notre Dame visits their old coach, Ty Willingham, at Washington.
Miami has had a rather severe opening schedule. After losing to Florida State in a sloppy opener, the 'Canes bounced back offensively but still struggled to an overtime win at Clemson in a game they probably should have lost. Now, the team most people expect to win the Big 12 north division comes stampeding into town. Oddsmakers have given Miami a huge 14-point nod but the computer pegs the number at 5.
Obviously, the Washington-Notre Dame game would be of greater interest if the Huskies appeared to be any good at all. But don't get fooled into thinking that this will be a cakewalk for the Irish. After all, Ty Willingham does know the personnel that Charlie Weis will be using and Washington will be emotionally charged up for the contest.
Baton Rouge will be going crazy when LSU finally plays its first home football game against Tennessee. Those fans will have to wait two more days as officials moved it from Saturday to Monday night to escape the possible wrath of Hurricane Rita. The Tigers are just 1-0 after the effects of Hurricane Katrina forced their opener with North Texas to be canceled and their next game against Arizona State to be switched to the opponents' site. Tennessee is in a must-win situation after dropping a key conference game to Florida last weekend.
Only one of the this week's five Big 10 Conference games features two undefeated teams - Purdue at Minnesota. Among the others, a 1-loss Illinois team hosts undefeated Michigan State and unbeaten Penn State visits 2-1 Northwestern. Wisconsin will try to stay perfect when it hosts 2-1 Michigan. Iowa (2-1) and Ohio State (2-1) will be battling to not be completely eliminated from the national title chase.
The weekend gets started early with Bowling Green visiting Boise State on Wednesday night. Next week, another MAC vs. WAC matchup occurs when Toledo visits Fresno State.
BGSU and Boise State each have the ability to put up a ton of points. This could be a shootout that produces a score in the 55-49 range. Both are in desperate need of a victory but the Broncos would be in horrible shape with a loss at 0-3. The Falcons enter the contest at 1-1 with Heisman Trophy candidate Omar Jacobs at quarterback. Jacobs has already passed for 886 yards and 10 TD's in just 2 games.
Thursday night delivers Air Force at Utah with each team trying to avoid its second conference loss.
More Conference Games
Boston College at Clemson
Duke at Virginia
Maryland at Wake Forest
North Carolina at N. C. State
Louisville at South Florida - Was a CUSA game last year, now they face each other for the first time as Big East members.
Marshall at UCF - Was a MAC game last year, now they face each other for the first time as CUSA members.
Memphis at Tulsa - Tulsa's first game as a CUSA member, hot off unexpected 54-2 stomping of North Texas.
Tulane at SMU - The Dallas-based Mustangs host the Green Wave who have been practing in Dallas at Dallas Jesuit High School.
Southern Miss at Houston - postponed to 11/12 or 11/13 due to Hurricane Rita.
Northern Illinois at Akron
Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan
Kent State at Ohio
TCU at BYU
Arizona State at Oregon State
Arkansas at Alabama
Florida at Kentucky
Georgia at Mississippi State
FIU at Arkansas State
La.-Monroe at FAU
Hawaii at Idaho
In-state Battle (Non-conference)
Texas State (1-AA) at Texas A&M (Thursday)
Other Interesting Match-Ups
New Mexico at UTEP
Wyoming at Mississippi
Poisoned Cupcakes? 1-A vs. 1-AA
Western Kentucky at Auburn
Indiana State at Texas Tech
Richmond at Vanderbilt
Youngstown State at Pittsburgh
Iowa State at Army (Friday)
California at New Mexico State (Friday)
Nevada at Colorado State
East Carolina at West Virginia
North Texas at Kansas State
Navy at Rice
- postponed to 10/22 due to Hurricane Rita
Nevada-Las Vegas at Utah State
San Jose State at San Diego State
Troy at South Carolina
Western Michigan at Temple
Not What You'd Expect: 34 teams are unbeaten including Vanderbilt, Indiana and Baylor. 22 teams are winless including Boise State and Pittsburgh.
Pick On Someone Your Own Size: 5 teams play 1-AA schools this week. Last week, there were 13 such match-ups and there have been 41 played to date. The 1-A schools are 39-2 thus far (95.1%).
From the beginning of the 2003 season through Saturday, 1-AA teams are 18-151 in such games, an 89.3 losing percentage.
Streaks: USC owns the nation's longest winning streak at 24. The Trojans also have streaks of 22 straight home wins and 15 consecutive PAC-10 victories. They have won 35 of their last 36 games.
Boise State owns nation-leading streaks of 25 straight home wins and 26 straight conference victories.
Iowa has won 20 straight home games.
North Texas has won 26 straight over Sun Belt conference opponents. UNT has also won four consecutive Sun Belt titles as they have topped the conference in every year of its existence. However, they have lost 8 straight to non-conference foes.
Central Florida has the nation's longest losing streak at 17.
New Coaches: The 2005 season began with 23 coaching changes. Last week, 18 of their teams played and those coaches went a combined 6-12.
BYU, Marshall, San Jose State and Western Michigan have not beaten a 1-A team yet. New Mexico State, Pittsburgh and Utah State are looking for their first win over anybody. Stanford beat 1-A Navy in their first game but lost to 1-AA UC-Davis in their second outing under Walt Harris.
Here is a list of teams that began the year with a new head coach, how they have fared so far, and who they face this week:
BYU, 1-1 under Bronco Mendenhall, hosts TCU.
East Carolina, 1-1 under Skip Holtz, at West Virginia.
Florida, 3-0 under Urban Meyer, at Kentucky.
Illinois, 2-1 under Ron Zook, hosts Michigan State.
Indiana, 3-0 under Terry Hoeppner, idle.
LSU, 1-0 under Les Miles, hosts Tennessee (Monday).
Marshall, 1-1 under Mark Snyder, at Central Florida.
Miami, O., 1-2 under Shane Montgomery, idle.
Mississippi, 1-1 under Ed Orgeron, hosts Wyoming.
Nevada-Las Vegas, 1-2 under Mike Sanford, at Utah State.
New Mexico St., 0-3 under Hal Mumme, hosts California (Friday)
Notre Dame, 2-1 under Charlie Weis, at Washington
Ohio, 1-2 under Frank Solich, hosts Kent State.
Okla. St, 3-0 under Mike Gundy, idle.
Pittsburgh, 0-3 under Dave Wannstedt, hosts 1-AA Youngstown St.
San Jose St., 1-1 under Dick Tomey, at San Diego State
South Carolina, 1-2 under Steve Spurrier, hosts Troy
Stanford, 1-1 under Walt Harris, idle.
Syracuse, 1-2 under Greg Robinson, idle.
Utah, 3-1 under Kyle Whittingham, beat Air Force 38-35 Thursday
Utah State, 0-1 under Brent Guy, hosts Nevada-Las Vegas.
Washington, 1-2 under Ty Willingham, hosts Notre Dame.
Western Michigan, 1-2 under Bill Cubit, at Temple.