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College Football Season

USF Has Tough Road Test;
California Visits UCLA

by Mike Mitchell
October 16, 2007

Three undefeated teams are safe for another week as Arizona State, Boston College and Hawaii are idle. Meanwhile, unbeaten USF heads to Rutgers for a Thursday night game. On Saturday, Kansas visits Colorado and Ohio State stays home against Michigan State.

In all, 55 games will be played and 44 of them are conference matchups. Two schools, Brigham Young and Minnesota, play teams from the Championship Subdivision. Eleven teams are idle - Akron, Arizona State, Boston College, Duke, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, Oregon State, UTEP, Virginia Tech, Washington State.

Several MAC schools are mid-season fodder for teams from the so-called BCS conferences - Buffalo is at Syracuse, Central Michigan is at Clemson, and Northern Illinois visits Wisconsin.

The SEC leads the pack for interesting matchups this week as Florida visits Kentucky, Auburn journeys to LSU, and Tennessee invades Alabama.

The ACC features the annual rivalry between Miami and Florida State, but that game has lost a bit of luster as neither school in the Top 25 of the BCS Standings.

USC at Notre Dame doesn't bring the usual excitement, either. But this has been the year of the upset and the Irish need an unexpected victory to give them something to feel good about this season.

Top Games (with CCR Top 119 rankings)
No. 4 USF at No. 25 Rutgers - South Florida is ranked 2nd in the inaugural BCS Standings for 2007.  The Bulls are 6-0 and on an 8-game winning streak, tied for the longest in the nation with Boston College and Hawaii. And yet, this is only South Florida's second Big East game of the season. In their only conference game to-date, USF beat West Virginia at home. This will be the school's biggest road trip of the year, but the Bulls already proved they can win a big game on the road when they grabbed an overtime victory at Auburn. The Scarlet Knights are off to a disappointing 4-2 start, 1-1 in the Big East, and must win this week to have a realistic shot at the conference title.

No. 20 Florida at No. 17 Kentucky -The Wildcats will try for back-to-back upset wins at home. Of course, last week's victory was over LSU in a 43-37 overtime thriller. The question now becomes whether or not the 'Cats have anything left in the tank for a Gator squad that has had an extra week to prepare and lick its wound from consecutive losses to Auburn and LSU. Urban Meyer is just 5-5 at opposing venues as the head coach of Florida. The Gators have beaten Kentucky 20 straight times, with the last last loss coming in 1986 in Lexington.

No. 24 Auburn at No. 2 LSU - LSU's loss at Kentucky put Auburn and Alabama right back in the thick of the SEC West division race. All three schools have identical 3-1 conference marks heading into this weekend's action. The battle between these two Tigers has been won by the home team for seven straight years.

No. 12 California at No. 23 UCLA - Almost everyone I know feels sorry for Kevin Riley, the back-up QB who went brain-dead at the end of last week's 31-28 loss to Oregon State. He had played an excellent game, and drove Cal the length of the field in the final minute to put his team in position to win the game or kick a tying field goal. But with 14 seconds left and no timeouts at his disposal, Riley wasted precious seconds while scrambling for a two-yard gain. Then, instead of trying to line-up and spike the ball to stop the clock, he simply ran off to the sideline. It was unclear at press time for this article if Riley would get a chance to redeem himself this week. It is assumed Nate Longshore's bum ankle is healed enough for him to start. It is certain, however, that UCLA will be without quarterback Ben Olson who suffered knee ligament damage in the loss to Notre Dame two weeks ago. Walk-on McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in that game in relief of Olson. The Bruins have been weighing their options, but will likely have Patrick Cowan ready. Cowan suffered a knee injury in his start against Washington on September 22 and hasn't played since then.

No. 14 Texas Tech at No. 21 Missouri - Turnovers killed Missouri when the Tigers were knocked from the unbeaten ranks by Oklahoma, 41-31, last week. The Sooners outscored Missouri 18-7 in the final quarter aided by Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel's fumble that was returned 12 yards for a touchdown, and an interception that set the Sooners up for a 24-yard touchdown drive. This game features the nation's first- and fifth-ranked offenses with Texas Tech topping the charts at 582 yards per game. The Red Raiders also have the edge on defense, ranking 39th compared to Missouri's 78th-place ranking.

Worth Watching
USC at Notre Dame - Evan Sharpley will start at QB for the Irish, the third different QB to start a game for Charlie Weis this year. His first-game starter, Demetrius Jones, left the school when he was demoted prior to the game at Michigan. Sharpley has led the Irish on four of their seven scoring drives, despite playing back-up. At press time of this article, USC quarterback John David Booty was still hampered by his broken finger and may have to yield again to Mark Sanchez. The Trojans have won the last five meetings by a combined score of 208-92. The last game played in South Bend in 2005 resulted in a narrow, last-minute 34-31 win for USC. Matt Leinart, initially stacked up short of the goal-line, rolled off the pile and, with a friendly shove from teammate Reggie Bush, fell into the endzone for the game-winner with 3 ticks left on the clock.

Kansas at Colorado - The Jayhawks are one of just six remaining undefeated teams, but the bulk of the wins have come against suspect opposition - Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana (an FCS school), Toledo, FIU and Baylor. Only the win at Kansas State merits much attention. The Buffaloes have shown vast improvement over their last four games, and had won three straight before last week's 47-20 loss at Kansas State. Kansas broke a five-game losing streak to Colorado last year with a 20-15 home win. The Jayhawks haven't won in Boulder since 1995.

Miami at Florida State - With consecutive losses to North Carolina and Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes are 1-2 in the ACC, and just 4-3 over-all in Randy Shannon's first season as head coach at "The U". Florida State is also 1-2 in the conference, 4-2 over-all, after a 24-21 loss at Wake Forest. Neither team is ranked in the top 25, so why is this game worth watching? These are two national programs and one will possibly rescue its season with a win on Saturday. How they compare against each other may say a lot about which program will be the first to regain its former stature.

Tennessee at Alabama - The Tide is dead-even with Auburn and LSU in the SEC West with a 3-1 conference mark. Since Auburn and LSU are playing each other, Alabama must win to stay tied for first. In the SEC East, the Volunteers are a 1/2-game behind South Carolina, and tied with Kentucky, with a 2-1 mark. If Florida (2-2) beats Kentucky, Tennessee could move into sole possessions of 2nd with a win over 'Bama. The last three games have been decided by 3, 3, and 4 points. And the 2003 game needed five overtimes before Tennessee prevailed 51-43 at Alabama.

Michigan at Illinois - Michigan and Ohio State are the only conference teams that have yet to lose a Big Ten game. Illinois was in that company until it suffered a 10-6 loss at Iowa last weekend. Each school is just one win away from bowl eligibility which would be a big step for Ron Zook's squad - the Illini haven't been bowling since the 2001 Sugar Bowl loss to LSU. These teams haven't met since 2004, and Illinois hasn't defeated Michigan since 1999.

Texas A&M at Nebraska - The morning of the game, Aggie and Cornhusker fans awaken to discover it was all a bad dream - Nebraska still has Frank Solich at the helm, and Texas A&M is led onto the field by R. C. Slocum. Texas and Oklahoma haven't dominated, after all. Instead, Texas A&M and Nebraska have actually split the last four Big 12 titles, with Slocum's Aggies winning in 2003 and 2005, and Solich's 'Huskers taking the crown in 2004 and 2006. Nebraska hasn't allowed more than 20 points in a game in four years. But seriously folks, Texas A&M hasn't beaten Nebraska since 1998, hasn't won in Lincoln since 1955, and is 2-10 all-time against the Cornhuskers. Why do I get the eerie feeling that one more piece of positive Nebraska football history is about to go down in flames? (Also See: Nebraska Names Osborne Interim Athletic Director)

Arizona State, Boston College, Hawaii, Kansas, Ohio State, and USF form the short list of the six remaining undefeated teams after five went down to defeat last week - LSU, California, Cincinnati, Missouri and Connecticut.

There are only 4 schools left on this list - Colorado State, FIU, Marshall and Utah State.

Two more have yet to beat a team from the bowl subdivision - Idaho and N.C. State.

Note that 1-A is now classified by the NCAA as the "Football Bowl Subdivision", or "FBS", for short.

1-AA has been re-classified as the "Football Championship Subdivision", or "FCS", for short.

2 FBS teams play FCS schools this week bringing the total number to 72 for the year. In such games, the FBS schools are 62-8 on the year, and 282-33 (.895) since 2003.

Minnesota better beware as it hosts North Dakota State. The Bison already have a 44-14 romp over Central Michigan on their resume for 2007.

Boston College, Hawaii and South Florida now share the nation's longest current winning streak at 8 games. The Eagles and Warriors are idle, while South Florida visits Rutgers.

Ohio State has won 25 straight regular season games. The Buckeyes host Michigan State.

Boise State has won 41 consecutive regular season home games. The Broncos also have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (25-0). Boise State visits Louisiana Tech.

FIU owns the nation's longest current losing streak at 18 games. The Golden Panthers visit Louisiana-Monroe.

Colorado State has lost 13 straight. The Rams visit UNLV.

Utah State has also lost 12 straight. The Aggies host Nevada.

N.C. State has lost 12 straight to FBS teams. The Wolfpack visit East Carolina.

The 2006 season featured 11 new head coaches. Five led their team to a bowl game.

This year, there are 24 coaching changes for the highest number since 2001 when there were 25. We'll track their progress throughout the season.

This week, there are no games where new coaches face each other.

FIU is the only team that has yet to snag a win with its new head coach. Idaho and N.C. State have yet to defeat an FBS team.

Here is how each of the new coaches are faring, in order, by won-loss record.

Arizona State, 7-0 under Dennis Erickson, is idle.
Boston College, 7-0 under Jeff Jagodzinski, is idle.
Cincinnati, 6-1 under Brian Kelly, visits Pitt.
Air Force, 5-2 under Troy Calhoun, hosts Wyoming.
Alabama, 5-2 under Nick Saban, hosts Tennessee.
Indiana, 5-2 under Bill Lynch, hosts Penn State.
Michigan State, 5-2 under Mark Dantonio, visits Ohio State.
Central Michigan, 4-3 under Butch Jones, visits Clemson.
Miami (Fla.), 4-3 under Randy Shannon, visits Florida State.
Tulsa, 4-2 under Todd Graham, visits Central Florida.
Louisville, 4-3 under Steve Kragthorpe, visits UConn.
Army, 3-4 under Stan Brock, visits Georgia Tech.
Louisiana Tech, 2-4 under Derek Dooley, hosts Boise State.
Stanford, 2-4 under Jim Harbaugh, visits Arizona.
UAB, 2-4 under Neil Callaway, hosts Houston.
North Carolina, 2-5 under Butch Davis, is idle.
N.C. State, 1-5 under Tom O'Brien, visits East Carolina.
North Texas, 1-5 under Todd Dodge, visits Troy.
Rice, 1-5 under David Bailiff, hosts Memphis.
Tulane, 1-5 under Bob Toledo, visits SMU.
Idaho, 1-6 under Robb Akey, visits New Mexico State.
Iowa State, 1-6 under Gene Chizik, hosts Oklahoma.
Minnesota, 1-6 under Tim Brewster, hosts FCS member North Dakota State.
FIU, 0-6 under Mario Cristobal, visits Louisiana-Monroe.


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