How Can You Top That?
by Mike Mitchell
Is it even possible to top last weekend's amazing display of college football? Maybe. That's the beauty of this game. It's a kind of like Forrest Gump in that you never know what you're going to get.
Last week was a gold mine. At first glance, this week's schedule looks more like the shaft. But the potential exists for quite a few gems.
Keep in mind, too, that the pecking order has been established. With the release of this season's first BCS Standings, every game has added meaning.
The week kicks off on Thursday night with Virginia Tech, 3rd in the BCS, visiting Maryland after each took the weekend off. The Terrapins will be looking for revenge from last year's 55-6 blowout loss in Blacksburg, also on a Thursday night. Maryland has won its last three games to recover from a 1-2 start. They, along with Boston College and Florida State, are one of three teams in the ACC's Atlantic division with just one conference loss. The visiting Hokies hope to improve to 4-0 in the conference while shooting for their 10th straight ACC victory and 15th consecutive regular season win.
On Saturday, the last two undefeated teams in the Big 12 collide in Austin when Texas Tech visits Texas. The Red Raiders and Longhorns are each 6-0 over-all and 3-0 in conference play but Texas is a heavy favorite. The over-under on passing yardage should be 1,000. Cody Hodges threw for 643 and 5 TD's last week in Texas Tech's 59-20 win over Kansas State. Vince Young threw for 366 yards and 2 scores in Texas' 42-17 win over Colorado. Young added 58 yards and 3 TD's rushing.
The SEC serves up a pair of enticing games as Alabama hosts Tennessee and LSU hosts Auburn.
Tennessee has won 9 of the last 10 meetings with the Tide. Their 2002 victory in Knoxville is their only win over the Vols since 1994. Undefeated 'Bama barely escaped Ole Miss last week, needing a field goal on the game's final play to subdue the Rebels 13-10. Tennessee had the week off to prepare for the Crimson Tide. A loss would take away Tennessee's thin and fading hopes for an SEC title. They are already two games behind Georgia in the conference.
Alabama (4-0) and rival Auburn (3-0) are both unbeaten in conference play and lead the west division. But LSU (3-1) is still in the hunt and hosts Auburn on Saturday. It's an all-out cat fight as the Tigers battle the Tigers. Auburn's last win at LSU came in 1999 and that's the last time a visitor won a game in this series. Counting last year's SEC Championship, Auburn has won 13 straight conference games.
Saturday's planned ACC tussle between Georgia Tech and Miami in the Orange Bowl has been rescheduled for November 19th. Hurricane Wilma was forecasted to make landfall in Florida on Saturday but that may now not happen until sometime Sunday or early Monday.
Miami is one of just two teams (North Carolina is the other) with only one ACC loss in the Coastal division. They are chasing undefeated Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech already has two conference losses, one a 51-7 blowout at Virginia Tech. The 'Canes and Yellow Jackets are both coming off games against weak opponents - Miami downed Temple 34-3 last week while Georgia Tech beat Duke 35-10.
Other Conference Games:
Virginia at North Carolina - UNC is 56-49-4 in the 5th most-played rivalry in college football. The two teams have met every year since 1919. They played for the first time in 1892.
N.C. State at Wake Forest - A Demon Deacons loss would drop them to 2-6 and eliminate them from bowl consideration. A Wolfpack loss would make them 2-4 and put their postseason hopes in peril.
Florida State at Duke - Seminoles are 13-0 all-time against Duke.
West Virginia at South Florida - Postponed until December 3rd due to Hurricane Wilma. The Mountaineers are the only team in the Big East that is undefeated in conference play.
Rutgers at Connecticut - Freshman Dennis Brown will start at QB for UConn after redshirt freshman D.J. Hernandez broke a bone in his left wrist, his non-throwing hand, in the loss to Cincinnati. Brown will be the third different QB to start a game for the Huskies in as many weeks. Hernandez started the Cincinnati game because junior quarterback Matt Bonislawski broke his collarbone in the October 7th win over Syracuse.
Louisville at Cincinnati - Louisville finds itself only ahead of last-place Syracuse in the Big East standings. Cincinnati is coming off a home upset of Connecticut last week while the Cardinals are licking their wounds from last weeks debacle at West Virginia where they blew a 24-7 fourth quarter lead and lost in triple overtime. Louisville has scored over 60 points in every home game this year and is 3-0 in Papa John's Stadium. But they have been a much different team on the road, losing big leads against Kentucky and West Virginia, and getting blown out at South Florida.
Syracuse at Pittsburgh - The Panthers are going for their third straight Big East win and a .500 record at 4-4 after starting the season with three consecutive losses.
Michigan at Iowa - Michigan looks to end Iowa's 22-game home winning streak. The Wolverines got a season-saving last-second win over Penn State this past weekend and find themselves back to within a game of the conference's top spot. Five teams have one conference loss and the Hawkeyes are one of those. Michigan can't afford a third conference loss which would reduce them to 4-4 over-all.
Penn State at Illinois - The Illini have dropped four straight after a 2-0 start. The Nittany Lions look to rebound from last week's last-second loss at Michigan. Penn State is just 2-8 in its last 10 road games against conference teams. Illinois has won just 1 of its last 19 Big 10 encounters.
Ohio State at Indiana - Hoosiers haven't beaten Buckeyes since taking back-to-back games in 1987 and 1988.
Northwestern at Michigan State - An offensive shootout awaits between the top two offensive teams in the Big 10 and the 3rd and 4th-ranked offensive teams nationally. MSU averages 548.0 yards per game while Northwestern averages 528.7.
Purdue at Wisconsin - The Boilermakers are reeling from four straight losses while the Badgers share the Big 10 lead with Penn State.
Baylor at Oklahoma - The Bears have never beaten Oklahoma (0-14). But then again, until their win at Iowa State two weeks ago, the Bears had never won a Big 12 road game.
Kansas at Colorado - Every team in the Big 12 has at least a .500 record. Even Kansas, which is 0-3 in conference play, is 3-3 over-all. The Buffaloes are tied with Nebraska and Missouri at 2-1 for the best conference record in the north division.
Oklahoma State at Iowa State - The Cyclones' season has fallen apart since the overtime loss to Nebraska . They were ever-so-close to being 4-0 at that point but have now slipped to 3-3. This past Saturday, they suffered their second overtime loss in three weeks when Missouri rallied for a 27-24 win. It was also the second year in-a-row that the Tigers beat the Cyclones in overtime.
Texas A&M at Kansas State - A tale of two teams with unraveling seasons. Neither is out of their division race yet but neither has done much to look like a true contender. The Wildcats already have two conference losses and can ill-afford a third. And there's no way the Aggies factor in the south division race if they take
their second conference loss.
Nebraska at Missouri - It ain't been pretty but Nebraska has managed to manufacture a 5-1 record against a rather weak roster of opponents. Ironically, the best game they've played was their lone loss to Texas Tech, a 34-31 setback suffered in the closing seconds when Nebraska fumbled an interception return that would have sealed a big win. Who'll start at QB for Missouri? It may not matter. Last week, backup QB Chase Daniel, a freshman, led the Tigers back from a 24-14 4th quarter deficit to beat Iowa State 27-24 in overtime with starter Brad Smith on the bench with a concussion.
Southern Miss at UAB - Friday night's game has no bearing on the BCS but it's a huge CUSA matchup. The clash of east division teams takes place in Birmingham. The Blazers were the computer's preseason favorite to capture the division crown but find themselves at 1-2 in CUSA play after consecutive 1-point losses to SMU and Marshall. The Golden Eagles are among four teams tied for the top spot with 2-1 conference records. Over-all, Southern Miss is 3-2 while the other five teams in the division are all 3-3. Basically, everyone is still in the chase. A win by Southern Miss provides a little separation, but a UAB victory puts the Blazers firmly back in the hunt for conference championship bid.
East Carolina at Memphis - Pirates enter the game at 2-1 in the conference, Memphis 2-2. Each is 3-3 over-all in the logjam of CUSA east.
Tulane at Central Florida - Another Tulane football game has been affected by an approaching hurricane. With Wilma forecasted to strike Florida over the weekend, this game was moved up to Friday. The Green Wave will wind up playing 11 games in 11 different venues this season. They will have no real home games and three of their games have been switched to other dates due to hurricanes.
Houston at Mississippi State - Houston ranks 15th in total offense. Mississippi State ranks 110th in total defense.
SMU at Tulsa - The 2003 Golden Hurricane team was 8-5 and the only winning team Tulsa has fielded since the 1991 squad went 10-2. They can improve to 5-3 over-all and 4-1 in CUSA with a win this weekend. SMU's 1997 team that went 6-5 is the Mustangs' only winning season since the two-year death penalty was imposed in 1986 for multiple NCAA violations. From 1981-1984, SMU went 45-5-1.
Marshall at UTEP - The Thundering Herd have won two of their last three games to get to .500 and are in position to challenge for the east division title. The Miners (2-1) and Tulsa (3-1) are the only teams in the west division with fewer than two conference losses.
Northern Illinois at Kent State - Each of Kent State's last three games have been decided by 7 points or less. Huskies are 0-3 in road games this year, including a 48-42 OT loss at Akron.
Buffalo at Toledo - Buffalo is 6-41 all-time in the MAC since entering the conference in
Ball State at Ohio
Western Michigan at Bowling Green
Miami (Ohio) at Eastern Michigan
TCU at Air Force - The Horned Frogs can improve to 5-0 in the conference and move a step closer to winning the league title in their inaugural year as a MWC member.
Wyoming at Colorado State - The Rams are the only other team besides TCU to enter the weekend with fewer than two conference losses.
Utah at UNLV - The Utes are in danger of slipping to a sub-.500 finish. But it's not like no one knew that Alex Smith and Urban Meyer meant a lot to this team.
New Mexico at San Diego State - Two spastic teams fight for bowl eligibility. The Lobos blew a home lead over BYU one week, then rallied for a road win the next week against Wyoming. SDSU followed up a big victory over BYU by becoming UNLV's second win. Then, the Aztecs knocked off Utah on the Utes' home turf. Geez, you figure it out.
Washington State at California - The Bears need to stop the bleeding from two straight conference losses to UCLA and Oregon State. The Cougars are still looking for their first PAC-10 win.
Oregon State at UCLA - The stakes are high every week for the Bruins as they try to keep pace with USC and don't get a crack at the Trojans until December 3rd.
Oregon at Arizona - The Ducks have rather quietly stayed in the PAC-10 picture, somewhat dismissed after their 45-13 loss to USC. But that's the only loss of the season for Oregon and they have 3rd- place to themselves.
Arizona State at Stanford - This could be interesting now that Walt Harris has Stanford above .500 over-all and 2-1 in the conference. Quite a feat considering this is a team that lost to Cal-Davis earlier in the year. The Sun Devils are going the other way with consecutive home losses to USC and Oregon while Stanford was pocketing road wins at Washington State and Arizona.
USC at Washington - The Trojans aim for their 29th straight win and 19th consecutive PAC-10 victory. The Huskies have lost 11 games in-a-row to conference foes.
Arkansas at Georgia - The Bulldogs aim to keep their perfect season intact while the Razorbacks continue to hunt for their first conference win in a very unlikely place to find it.
Kentucky at Mississippi - Kentucky is the only team in the east division without an SEC win. Ole Miss is one of three west division teams that haven't won a single conference game this season. Arkansas and Mississippi State are the other two.
Vanderbilt at South Carolina - The Commodores' season has gone straight down the tubes after a 4-0 start. An upset home defeat at the hands of Middle Tennessee started the three-game slide. Steve Spurrier has a chance to grab his second straight conference win with the Gamecocks and improve to 4-3 over-all.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Middle Tennessee - MTSU erupted for 35 points in last week's win at FAU. The Ragin' Cajuns have one of the worst defenses in the country allowing 448 yards per game.
FIU at Troy (Thursday)
FAU at Arkansas State
Boise State at Utah State - The Broncos try for their 29th straight conference win.
Hawaii at San Jose State - Hawaii is just 3-10 in road games since the start of the 2003 season.
Fresno State at Idaho - The Vandals, new to the WAC this year, haven't played the Bulldogs since 1979.
Army at Akron - The Black Knights have lost 11 straight.
Temple at Clemson - Tigers 31-10 win over N.C. State last week was the first time this season that a Clemson game was decided by more than 6 points.
North Texas at Louisiana Tech
Navy at Rice
Mormons vs. Catholics
Brigham Young at Notre Dame - Irish lead series 3-2 but BYU won last year in Provo. The Cougars won in South Bend in 1994.
Unbeaten Teams: The list shrank with last week's losses by Penn State and Florida State. Seven teams remain undefeated:
ACC (1) - Virginia Tech (6-0).
Big 12 (2) - Texas (6-0), Texas Tech (6-0).
PAC-10 (2) - Southern California (6-0), UCLA (6-0).
SEC (2) - Georgia (6-0), Alabama (6-0).
Winless Teams: Every team on the list lost last week to keep the number of winless teams at 5.
CUSA (1) - Rice (0-5).
Independents (1) - Army (0-6).
MAC (2) - Buffalo (0-6), Temple (0-7).
WAC (1) - New Mexico St. (0-7)
Pick On Someone Your Own Size:
For the second consecutive week, none of the 119 division 1-A teams play a school from a lower division this week. There have been 50 played this season with the 1-A schools winning 48 (96 percent).
From the beginning of the 2003 season through Saturday, 1-A teams are 160-18 in such games, an 89.89 winning percentage.
USC owns the nation's longest winning streak at 28. The Trojans also have streaks of 23 straight home wins and 18 consecutive PAC-10 victories. They have won 39 of their last 40 games. The 28-game over-all winning streak is the longest in PAC-10 history, breaking their own record of 25 games set in 1931-1933. USC is at Washington this week.
Texas has won 13 straight games, second-longest streak in the nation behind USC. The Longhorns host undefeated Texas Tech this week.
Virginia Tech has 14 consecutive regular season wins. The Hokies are at Maryland on Thursday night.
Boise State owns nation-leading streaks of 28 straight home wins and 28 straight conference victories. The Broncos visit Utah State Saturday.
Iowa has won 22 straight home games. That streak will be challenged by Michigan this week.
Army and Rice are tied for the nation's longest losing streak at 11. This week, Army visits Akron and Rice hosts Navy is a that was postponed on 9/24 due to Hurricane Rita.
New Coaches: The 2005 season began with 23 coaching changes.
San Jose State has not beaten a 1-A team yet. New Mexico State is still looking for its first win over anybody under Hal Mumme.
Here is how each has fared, by order of success, and who they face this week:
LSU, 4-1 under Les Miles, hosts Auburn
Florida, 5-2 under Urban Meyer, idle.
Indiana, 4-2 under Terry Hoeppner, hosts Ohio State.
Notre Dame, 4-2 under Charlie Weis, hosts Brigham Young.
Stanford, 3-2 under Walt Harris, hosts Arizona State.
BYU, 3-3 under Bronco Mendenhall, at Notre Dame.
East Carolina, 3-3 under Skip Holtz, at Memphis..
Marshall, 3-3 under Mark Snyder, at UTEP.
Miami, O., 3-3 under Shane Montgomery, at Eastern Michigan.
Okla. St, 3-3 under Mike Gundy, at Iowa State.
South Carolina, 3-3 under Steve Spurrier, hosts Vanderbilt.
Western Mich., 3-3 under Bill Cubit, at Bowling Green.
Pittsburgh, 3-4 under Dave Wannstedt, hosts Syracuse.
Utah, 3-4 under Kyle Whittingham, at UNLV.
Utah State, 2-3 under Brent Guy, hosts Boise State.
Illinois, 2-4 under Ron Zook, hosts Penn State.
Mississippi, 2-4 under Ed Orgeron, hosts Kentucky.
Ohio, 2-4 under Frank Solich, hosts Ball State.
Nevada-Las Vegas, 2-5 under Mike Sanford, hosts Utah.
San Jose St., 1-5 under Dick Tomey, hosts Hawaii.
Syracuse, 1-5 under Greg Robinson, at Pittsburgh.
Washington, 1-5 under Ty Willingham, hosts USC.
New Mexico St., 0-7 under Hal Mumme, idle.