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College Football Season

Week 6 College Football Preview

Three games pit Top 10 teams in computer against each other

by Dave Congrove
October 2, 2012

Conference competition heats up this week and three games feature battles between schools in the top 10 of the latest Congrove Computer Rankings. No. 3 South Carolina hosts No. 7 Georgia; 4th-ranked Texas entertains 6th-ranked West Virginia; and No. 9 Florida hosts No. 10 LSU.

The computer takes the home team by just over 4 points in each of those matches. It favors the Gamecocks by 4.45, the Longhorns by 4.14 and the Gators by 4.37.

A South Carolina win would be its third straight over border rival Georgia. Conversely, Florida is looking to snap a 2-game losing streak to the LSU. Texas and West Virginia haven't met since 1956 (WVU won 7-6).

Two more games put top 25 schools on the field at the same time as No. 13 Oklahoma visits No. 17 Texas Tech, and 14th-ranked Nebraska heads to No. 25 Ohio State.

The Sooners are a 7.43-point computer pick to win in Lubbock for the first time since 2003. The schools met in Norman the last two years, and three of the last four. They have alternated victories in their last 8 meetings.

Nebraska is projected to win by just under 8 points at Ohio State. Nebraska won 34-27 in Lincoln last year. That game marked just the 3rd all-time meeting of the two football powerhouses and the first since the Buckeyes won both installments of a home-and-home series in 1955-1956.

Overall, there are 55 games on the schedule this week with just one contest against an FCS school (Southeastern Louisiana at UAB). 15 programs get a bye week.

11th-ranked Notre Dame plays surging Miami (4-1) at Soldier Field in Chicago in the first regular season meeting between the teams since 1990. However, they did square off in the 2010 season Sun Bowl where Notre Dame prevailed 33-17.

The 'Canes were spanked 52-13 at Kansas State in their only other game this year against a top 25 school. Since then, Miami has engineered dramatic wins over ACC rivals Georgia Tech and N.C. State after re-tuning their engines versus FCS foe Bethune-Cookman. They averaged scoring just over 41 points per contest in those three games.

The Irish are 4-0 for the first time in a decade behind a defense that has allowed 36 total points to Navy, Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan. Given the fact that Notre Dame has had difficulty scoring - it has mustered a total of only 53 points in the last three victories - it seems improbable that the Irish will achieve the computer's projected 14.70-point margin of victory.

According to Wikipedia, credit for the "Catholics vs. Convicts" slogan goes to a Notre Dame student who emblazoned it on t-shirts prior to the 1988 game at South Bend which Notre Dame won 31-30 to end a 4-game losing streak to the Hurricanes.

The number of undefeated teams was reduced from 27 to 23 last week as Stanford, Baylor, Iowa State and Minnesota all incurred their first defeat. At the other end of the spectrum, 8 FBS schools are still searching for their initial victory of 2012 after Houston was the only first-time winner last week.

The college football week begins on Thursday night with a trio of games that features USC's visit to Utah. The Utes are 2-2 overall but 2-0 at home, including a 24-21 win over then-20th-ranked BYU on September 15. The Trojans come into this contest ranked 16th by the computer and projected to win by 8.18.

A pair of decent Friday games have BYU hosting Utah State and Pitt visiting Syracuse.

On Saturday, a hot Texas A&M team travels to Oxford to take on Ole Miss. The Rebel defense better be on high alert as the 15th-ranked Aggies have been rolling up the points in victories over SMU (48-3), South Carolina State (70-10) and Arkansas (58-10). Ole Miss ranks 51st nationally on defense and 72nd against the pass. Texas A&M ranks 12th offensively and 19th in passing. The computer likes the Aggies to roll by 21.25 points in handing the Rebels their 16th straight conference loss.

Arkansas visits Auburn with both teams looking for a rare victory. Each team 0-2 in the SEC. Overall, Auburn's lone victory was an overtime squeaker over the same Louisiana-Monroe team that defeated Arkansas. The Razorbacks have dropped four straight since beating FCS member Jacksonville State in the opener and have lost the last three by a cumulative score of 145-36.

A bad Navy team is a 9.87-point underdog when it visits a mediocre Air Force squad to open the competition for the 2012 Commander-In-Chief's Trophy. The Falcons are in possession of the coveted prize that goes to the winner of the annual round-robin matches between the Air Force, Military and Naval Academies. The AFA relieved Navy from its 7-year stranglehold on the trophy in 2010. In its 36-year existence, Air Force has owned the trophy for 18 years, Navy for 12 and Army for just 6.

Georgia Tech visits Clemson as an 11.88-point underdog after losing 49-28 at home to Middle Tennessee State. It may sound silly to say that the Tigers are just what the doctor ordered, but consider that the Yellow Jackets have taken 5 of the last 6 meetings and 7 of the last 9.

Other games to watch this week include Florida State at N.C. State, Virginia at Duke, Michigan at Purdue, Northwestern at Penn State, Washington at Oregon and Virginia Tech at North Carolina. Among the story lines in those games are Duke looking to go 5-1, Northwestern trying to stay unbeaten and Virginia Tech hoping to avoid falling to 3-3.

FBS vs. FCS:
The FBS is 87-10 (.897) on the year. Since 2003, FBS schools are 725-65 (.918) in such games.

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.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/29: Stony Brook 23, Army 3
9/15: Cal Poly 24, Wyoming 22
9/8: Sacramento State 30, Colorado 28
9/8: North Dakota State 22, Colorado State 7
9/8: Illinois State 31, Eastern Michigan 17
9/8: Northern Arizona 17, UNLV 14
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 - Won 12 straight overall and 25 straight conference games (24 MWC + 1 in Big 12). Hosts Iowa State on Saturday.

Alabama - Won 9 straight overall. Idle this week.

South Carolina - Won 9 straight overall. Hosts Georgia on Saturday.

Northern Illinois - Won 9 straight conference games (MAC) and 18 straight home games. Visits Ball State on Saturday.

LSU - Won 21 straight home games and 41 straight nonconference games (SEC). Visits Florida on Saturday.

Oregon - Won 12 straight road games. Hosts Washington on Saturday.

Tulane - Lost 14 straight games overall. Visits Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.

Army, Idaho and Memphis have each lost 8 straight overall. Army hosts Boston College, Idaho hosts New Mexico State and Memphis hosts Rice on Saturday.

Akron - Lost 22 straight road games and 15 straight FBS games. Hosts Bowling Green on Saturday.

Kansas - Lost 13 straight FBS games. Visits Kansas State on Saturday.

Mississippi - Lost 15 straight conference games (SEC). Hosts Texas A&M 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 this week's games for each new head coach:

Team Coach Game
Akron Terry Bowden (1-4) Saturday vs. Bowling Green
Arizona Rich Rodriguez (3-2) Saturday at Stanford
Arizona State Todd Graham (4-1) Idle this week. Visits Colorado on 10/11
Arkansas John L. Smith (1-4) Saturday at Auburn
Arkansas State Gus Malzahn (2-3) Thursday vs. FIU
Colorado State Jim McElwain (1-4) Saturday vs. Fresno State
FAU Carl Pellini (1-4) Idle this week. Visits Louisiana-Monroe on 10/13
Fresno State Tim DeRuyter (3-2) Saturday at Colorado State
Hawaii Norm Chow (1-3) Saturday at San Diego State
Houston Tony Levine (1-3) Saturday vs. North Texas
Illinois Tim Beckman (2-3) Saturday at Wisconsin
Kansas Charlie Weis (1-3) Saturday at Kansas State
Massachusetts Charley Molnar (0-5) Saturday at Western Michigan
Memphis Justin Fuente (0-4) Saturday vs. Rice
Mississippi Hugh Freeze (3-2) Saturday vs. Texas A&M
New Mexico Bob Davie (2-3) Saturday vs. Texas State
North Carolina Larry Fedora (3-2) Saturday vs. Virginia Tech
Ohio State Urban Meyer (5-0) Saturday vs. Nebraska
Penn State Bill O'Brien (3-2) Saturday vs. Northwestern
Pittsburgh Paul Chryst (2-2) Friday at Syracuse
Rutgers Kyle Flood (4-0) Saturday vs. UConn
Southern Miss Ellis Johnson (0-4) Saturday vs. Boise State
Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin (3-1) Saturday at Mississippi
Toledo Matt Campbell (4-1) Saturday vs. Central Michigan
Tulane Curtis Johnson (0-4) Saturday at Louisiana-Lafayette
UAB Garrick McGee (0-4) Saturday vs. Southeastern Louisiana (FCS)
UCLA Jim Mora (4-1) Saturday at California
Washington State Mike Leach (2-3) Saturday at Oregon State


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