November Stretch Run Begins
by Mike Mitchell
It's hard to believe but the first football game of November - November, for crying out loud! - kicks off on Tuesday night.
UAB at Memphis begins a week of wall-to-wall college football with one game every weeknight as a prelude to Saturday's full slate of 49 games.
Five games feature the top two teams in a division or conference, including this week's heavyweight bout between Miami and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The Hokies and 'Canes hold down the top two spots of the ACC's Coastal division.
The top two teams in the Big Ten line up in Happy Valley when Penn State hosts Wisconsin. TCU can clinch a Mountain West title with a home win over second-place Colorado State. UTEP hosts Tulsa in a battle of teams that are each 4-1 in the west division of CUSA. And Big 12 north division leader Colorado hosts second-place
Meanwhile, Florida State can claim the ACC's Atlantic Division crown with a home win over N.C. State, West Virginia can move a step closer to a Big East title with a home win over UConn. And Central Florida, of all teams, can stay in the race for the CUSA east division title with a home win over Houston.
Five teams are 8-0 and all see action this week.
Miami at Virginia Tech - For the second consecutive week, Virginia Tech draws the toughest game as Miami heads to Blacksburg for a Saturday night ACC Coastal division showdown. The Hokies are coming off a 30-10 win over Boston College while Miami beat UNC 34-16 after trailing 16-7 at halftime. Virginia Tech has won the last two meetings and seven of the last ten. Miami won three straight from 2000-2002 and owns a 15-7 series advantage. The teams are 4-4 in games played at Virginia Tech but Miami's 26-24 win in 2001 is their only victory in Blacksburg since 1992.
UCLA at Arizona - UCLA, masters of the fourth quarter comeback with four in their last five games, visits an Arizona team that pocketed its first PAC-10 win of the season last week with a 29-27 upset at Oregon State.
Stanford at USC - USC tries for its 31st consecutive win at home against a Stanford team that surrendered a 24-3 lead over UCLA last week in the final 7:04 of the game. The Cardinal held a 28-17 advantage on USC last year before the Trojans rallied for a 31-28 win.
Alabama at Mississippi State - Alabama goes to Starkville to face one of the two SEC teams that have yet to win a conference game.
Texas at Baylor - Texas visits the best Baylor team in years as the Longhorns go for their 16th straight victory.
Conference or Division-Leader Matchups:
Wisconsin at Penn State - The Big 10 has been a strange conference this year. Penn State was picked to finish 4th and Wisconsin 9th. Instead, they're battling for first. Michigan and Purdue were picked to battle for first. Instead, the Wolverines are 4th and the Boilermakers are tied for last. Still, the computer is a combined 12-6 straight up on games involving Wisconsin or Penn State and 6-6 against the spread. It likes Penn State by 9. The Badger defense has allowed 28.8 points per game to its six Big 10 matches played this year. The Nittany Lions have allowed 17.5 ppg.
Missouri at Colorado - The computer's preseason forecast projected Colorado as the Big 12 North Division champs and they can take a two-game lead over everyone else in that division with a victory over the Tigers. Missouri enters the game at 3-2 in conference play, Colorado is 4-1. If Missouri wins, the Tigers would have the upper hand in the division title chase.
Colorado State at TCU - TCU is 6-0 in league games in their inaugural year as a member of the Mountain West Conference. They received their only blemish on an 8-1 over-all mark in a shocking upset at SMU the week after they won at Oklahoma in the season opener. Colorado State controls its own destiny, too. If the Rams win their remaining games, they can claim at least a share of their seventh conference title under Sonny Lubick who has led the football program since 1993.
Tulsa at UTEP - The preseason forecast had Tulsa going 2-9 and finishing 5th in CUSA West. It picked UTEP to finish 4th at 6-5. Instead, the Golden Hurricane and Miners are going toe-to-toe for the outright lead in the division and the inside track to the first conference championship game. Four of UTEP's six wins have come against teams that currently have records of .500 or better. Tulsa has defeated two such teams.
Buffalo at Miami (Ohio) - Buffalo (0-8) will try to avoid its 10th straight loss when they visit Miami (Ohio). The RedHawks are one of four MAC East teams with 3-2 conference records.
New Mexico State at Boise State - These two teams are polar opposites when it comes to success and failure. New Mexico State has lost 9 in-a-row while Boise State has won 29 straight at home.
Rice at SMU - Rice owns the nation's longest losing streak at 13 games. SMU's two victories came against unlikely foes. The Mustangs handed TCU their only loss of the season and edged UAB on a miraculous 80-yard drive in the game's final 22 seconds.
Temple at Virginia - Temple (0-9) has lost 10 straight games and has seen their power rating shrink from 59.80 to 46.55, worst of all 119 teams in Division 1-A according to the Congrove Computer Rankings. They are more than 3 points below every team except FIU (whom they trail by 2.94). Virginia is only 4-3 and needs this win to keep their bowl aspirations alive.
OTHER Conference Games (not reviewed above)
N.C. State at Florida State - FSU can clinch the Atlantic Division title and a berth in the first ACC Championship game with a win over the Wolfpack.
Boston College at North Carolina
Duke at Clemson
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech
UConn at West Virginia (Wednesday) - The Mountaineers control their own destiny in the Big East as the only team without a conference loss. Connecticut has started three different QB's this year due to injuries and dropped its last two games, both conference affairs.
Pittsburgh at Louisville (Thursday)
South Florida at Rutgers
Illinois at Ohio State - The Buckeyes have won three straight and are only a half-game behind Penn State and Wisconsin who go head-to-head this weekend. Ohio State is the only other conference team with a single loss. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, their loss came at Penn State so the Nittany Lions would claim the title if they win out. Also bad for OSU, they don't play Wisconsin. Therefore, if the Badgers win out, they claim the conference
by virtue of a better over-all record.
Minnesota at Indiana
Iowa at Northwestern
Michigan State at Purdue
Nebraska at Kansas - The Cornhuskers own a 36-game winning streak against the Jayhawks. Kansas last beat Nebraska in 1968.
Kansas State at Iowa State
Texas A&M at Texas Tech
UAB at Memphis (Tuesday)
Houston at Central Florida - UCF is 4-1 since ending a 17-game losing streak with a win over Marshall on September 24th. The Golden Knights can win the east division if they win out and get Southern Miss to lose a conference game. Houston, meanwhile, is still alive for the west division title The Cougars sit a game behind Tulsa and UTEP. Houston has already lost to UTEP (44-41 in 2 overtimes) and defeated Tulsa.
Southern Miss at Marshall (Tuesday, November 8) - The Golden Eagles (5-3, 3-1) have the upper hand in the east division title race, thanks to their 52-31 win over UCF on October 15th. Marshall is the team UCF beat earlier in the season to end their 17-game losing streak.
Four teams are 3-2 in the east division. Miami has the best over-all record among them at 5-3. Akron, Bowling Green and Ohio are all 4-4. Miami has already beaten Akron, and faces Bowling Green and Ohio in its last two games. The RedHawks are hosting winless Buffalo this weekend.
Toledo at Ohio (Friday)
Akron at Ball State
Bowling Green at Kent State
Northern Illinois at Central Michigan
Western Michigan at Eastern Michigan
BYU at UNLV
Wyoming at Utah
Arizona State at Washington State
California at Oregon
Oregon State at Washington
South Carolina at Arkansas
Auburn at Kentucky
Vanderbilt at Florida
Arkansas State at Middle Tennessee
FAU at Troy
FIU at Louisiana-Monroe
Louisiana-Lafayette at North Texas
If Fresno State and Boise State each win Saturday's games the two teams will face-off next week (Thursday, November 10) in Fresno with identical 5-0 conference records.
San Jose State at Fresno State - San Jose State's only win came against 1-AA Eastern Washington in the season opener. The Spartans, however, have suffered three losses by just 7 points.
Hawaii at Nevada
Louisiana Tech at Utah State
Appalachian State (1-AA) at LSU - The visiting Mountaineers from Boone, North Carolina are 6-2 and ranked 7th in 1-AA as they prepare to face their second 1-A opponent this season. Kansas beat Appy State 36-8 back on September 10. This should be LSU's second breather in-a-row after making up its season-opener against North Texas last week with a 56-3 victory.
Interesting Non-Conference Games:
Tennessee at Notre Dame - The Volunteers were the computer's preseason favorite to win the SEC East but, after three straight SEC losses, find themselves at just 2-4 in the conference and 3-4 over-all. The Vols haven't lost four straight since 1988 when they began the season with six consecutive losses. A win over the Fighting Irish would be the only way Tennessee could possibly get anything positive out of this season. Notre Dame is 5-2 and a loss would be devastating in their first game since Charlie Weis was awarded a 10-year contract extension. The package, reportedly worth $30-$40 million, makes him the highest-paid coach in college football even though he has coached just seven college games against teams that are a combined 28-22, not counting their games against the Irish.
Army at Air Force - This is Game 2 of the 2005 season in the round-robin competition between the military academies for the Commander-In-Chiefs Trophy. Navy beat Air Force earlier this year. Army hasn't played since ending an 11-game losing streak with a 20-0 win at Akron on October 22nd.
Tulane at Navy - The Green Wave saw their lofty preseason forecast get wrecked by Hurricane Katrina. With their home field at the Louisiana Superdome left in shambles and their campus closed from flooding, Tulane is playing 11 games in 11 different venues. One more loss ends any possibility of a bowl bid. Navy enters this game at 4-3 and likely needs to win their remaining games to have a reasonable shot at a bowl game.
Pick On Someone Your Own Size:
For the first time in four weeks, a 1-A team plays a school from a lower division when LSU hosts Appalachian State (6-2). There have been 50 such games 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 has 30 straight games over-all, 24 at home and 20 against PAC-10 teams. The Trojans have won 41-off-42 since losing at Washington State on October 5, 2002. The 30-game over-all winning streak is the longest in PAC-10 history, breaking their own record of 25 games set in 1931-1933. USC hosts Stanford this week.
Texas has won 15 straight games, second-longest streak in the nation behind USC. The Longhorns visit Baylor.
Virginia Tech has won 16 straight regular season games and 11 consecutive ACC games. The Hokies host Miami on Saturday night.
Boise State owns nation-leading streaks of 29 straight home wins and 30 straight conference victories. The Broncos entertain New Mexico State.
Rice owns the nation's longest losing streak at 13 games. The Owls visit SMU.
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, 6-1 under Les Miles, hosts 1-AA Appalachian State.
Florida, 6-2 under Urban Meyer, hosts Vanderbilt.
Notre Dame, 5-2 under Charlie Weis, hosts Tennessee.
Miami, O., 5-3 under Shane Montgomery, hosts Buffalo.
South Carolina, 5-3 under Steve Spurrier, visits Arkansas.
Western Michigan, 5-3 under Bill Cubit, visits Eastern Michigan.
Indiana, 4-3 under Terry Hoeppner,hosts Minnesota.
Stanford, 4-3 under Walt Harris, visits USC.
BYU, 4-4 under Bronco Mendenhall, visits UNLV.
Marshall, 4-4 under Mark Snyder, hosts Southern Miss (Tue., Nov. 8).
Ohio, 4-4 under Frank Solich, hosts Toledo (Friday).
Pittsburgh, 4-4 under Dave Wannstedt, visits Louisville (Thursday).
Utah, 4-4 under Kyle Whittingham, hosts Wyoming.
East Carolina, 3-5 under Skip Holtz, is idle.
Mississippi, 3-5 under Ed Orgeron, is idle.
Oklahoma St, 3-5 under Mike Gundy, is idle.
Utah State, 2-5 under Brent Guy, hosts Louisiana Tech.
Illinois, 2-6 under Ron Zook, visit Ohio State.
Nevada-Las Vegas, 2-6 under Mike Sanford, hosts BYU.
San Jose St., 1-7 under Dick Tomey, visits Fresno State.
Syracuse, 1-7 under Greg Robinson, is idle.
Washington, 1-7 under Ty Willingham, hosts Oregon State.
New Mexico St., 0-8 under Hal Mumme, visits Boise State.