Week 10 Preview: Conference Races Heating Up
by Dave Congrove
November 3, 2009
Florida clinched a spot in the SEC Championship game with its 41-17 over Georgia last week in Jacksonville. This week, they could find out if they get another rendezvous with Alabama. The Crimson Tide locks up the West division crown with a home win over LSU on Saturday and the computer gives them an 8.62-point advantage to do just that.
But while the SEC race is all but over, the other 10 conferences have plenty of intrigue left.
The Atlantic division of the ACC is controlled by Clemson, despite both teams being tied with 3-2 conference records. The Tigers have the upper hand by virtue of their 25-7 win over the Eagles back on September 19, but Clemson has a tough home date with Florida State on Saturday while Boston College gets the week off to cheer on the Seminoles.
Georgia Tech (5-1) and, believe it or not, Duke (3-1) control their destiny in the Coastal division race. The Yellow Jackets and Blue Devils meet next week in Durham. This week, the Ramblin' Wreck entertains Wake Forest while the Duke visits North Carolina.
Pitt and Cincinnati are the only remaining teams with unblemished records (4-0) in Big East play. Both squads are 4-0 and slated to meet at Pittsburgh on December 5. This week, Cincinnati hosts UConn and Pitt welcomes Syracuse.
Iowa owns the Big Ten as the only team left with a perfect league mark (4-0). The Hawkeyes draw Northwestern to Iowa City this week and have already dispatched Penn State (4-1). The only other 1-loss team in the conference is Ohio State and Iowa will have to go there next week. Ohio State and Penn State clash this week at Beaver Stadium.
The Big 12 North may not be decided until Kansas State (3-2) visits Nebraska (2-2) in two weeks. They are the only teams in their division with 2 losses, but the other four each have 3 losses. The Wildcats host rival Kansas on Saturday while the reeling Cornhuskers renew their rivalry with Oklahoma in Lincoln.
Texas (5-0) has the bases covered in the Big 12 South. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State each have just one conference loss, but those losses came against the Longhorns. Texas has a non-conference home date with UCF this week.
CUSA is its usual jumbled mess. East Carolina (4-1) leads the East by a game over UCF, Marshall, Southern Miss and UAB. The Pirates have already downed UCF and Marshall, and get Southern Miss and UAB at home in the final two games of the regular season. They go out of conference on Thursday to host a Virginia Tech team that they defeated last year and has dropped its last two games.
Houston and SMU are both 3-1 in the West division but the Cougars have the advantage after dropping the Mustangs 38-15 two weeks ago. The Cougars visit defending West division champion Tulsa on Saturday and the computer has the Golden Hurricane springing the upset.
Here's a surprise - Temple (4-0) joins Central Michigan (5-0) as division leaders in the MAC. The Owls can clinch their first winning season since 1990 with a home win over Miami (1-8) on Thursday night. Ohio and Kent State trail Temple with 1 conference loss and each gets a crack at Bill Cosby's alma mater in the final two weeks of the season. The Chippewas have the week off and can watch their closest challenger, Northern Illinois (3-1), host Eastern Michigan on Thursday. CMU and NIU may decide the West division champ when they meet on November 27 in Mount Pleasant.
TCU and Utah are both 4-0 in MWC play and face each other in Fort Worth next week. BYU is the only conference team with 1 league loss, but the Cougars were throttled 38-7 by the Horned Frogs two weeks ago. TCU visits San Diego State this week while Utah hosts New Mexico.
Oregon seized ownership of the PAC-10 race with its 47-20 demoralization of USC last week. The 5-0 Ducks travel to Stanford while their closest challenger, Arizona (3-1), hosts Washington State. Four teams have two conference losses - Stanford, Cal, USC and Oregon State - and with the PAC-10 playing a 9-game round-robin slate, there is still time for this race to take a different turn.
Troy, as expected in the preseason, looks like the team to beat in the Sun Belt. The 5-0 Trojans are responsible for dealing the only league loss to each of their closest challengers, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Monroe. Therefore, Troy could clinch the title this week if it wins at conference cellar-dweller Western Kentucky and the Blue Raiders and Warhawks lose their games. MTSU hosts FIU and UL-L visits North Texas.
Nevada (4-0) and Boise State (3-0) top the WAC, followed by surprising Idaho (4-1) and Fresno State (4-1) which meet on Saturday in Moscow. The Broncos visit Louisiana Tech, while the Wolf Pack travel to San Jose State on Sunday.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Army at Air Force - It may not be as big as Army-Navy but two-thirds of our military heroes stationed around the world will be watching. The Falcons have won 3 in-a-row, 11 of the last 12 meetings, and 18 of the last 20.
Navy at Notre Dame - Here's what the other one-third of our military heroes will be glued to. The Midshipmen ended a 43-game losing streak to the Irish two years ago, but saw a frantic comeback fall short in a 27-21 loss last year.
The list still contains these 7 teams - Alabama, Boise State, Cincinnati, Florida, Iowa, TCU, and Texas. At the same time last year, there were 6 unbeatens - Alabama, Ball State, Boise State, Penn State, Texas Tech, and Utah.
This list is down to 4 teams after Miami (Ohio) beat Toledo 31-24 on Saturday for its first win of the season. The remaining winless teams are: Eastern Michigan, New Mexico, Rice and Western Kentucky. At this time last year, Washington was the only winless team.
FBS vs. FCS:
There are 4 such games this week. FBS teams are 81-5 vs. FCS teams on the year (.942), and 456-42 (.916) since 2003.
Here are the results of every FBS loss to the FCS this season:
9/19: Central Arkansas 28, Western Kentucky 7
9/12: New Hampshire 23, Ball State 16. New Hampshire also has wins at Army in 2008 (28-10), Marshall in 2007 (48-35), and Northwestern in 2006 (34-17)
9/5: Richmond 24, Duke 16; William & Mary 26, Virginia 14
9/3: Villanova 27, Temple 24
This year, 87 FBS play a total of 94 games against FCS foes. Duke, Kansas State, Mississippi, North Carolina, N.C. State, Rutgers and USF each play two FCS teams.
Florida has 18 straight victories. The Gators host Vanderbilt.
Iowa has 13 straight victories. The Hawkeyes host Northwestern.
Texas has 12 straight victories. The Longhorns host UCF.
TCU has 10 straight victories. The Horned Frogs visit San Diego State.
Boise State has streaks of 20 consecutive regular season wins, 23 consecutive home wins, 53 consecutive regular season home wins, and 39 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (33-0). The Broncos' last home loss to a conference foe occurred in 1998 when they were a member of the Big West and fell to Idaho in the final regular season game. The Broncos are 4-1 in their last five matches against BCS conference schools. The Broncos visit Louisiana Tech on Friday.
Oklahoma has 27 straight home victories. The Sooners visit Nebraska.
Utah has 12 straight conference wins, and 15 straight home wins. The Utes host New Mexico.
Alabama has 20 straight regular season wins, and 8 straight overall. The Tide hosts LSU.
Cincinnati has 14 straight regular season wins. The Bearcats host Connecticut.
Western Kentucky has lost 16 straight overall and 21 straight to FBS teams. The Hilltoppers host Troy.
New Mexico has lost 12 straight overall. The Lobos visit Utah.
There are 22 new college football coaches in the FBS ranks this season. 20 have secured their first victory. Only Eastern Michigan and New Mexico remain winless.
||11/7, at Air Force
||11/7, vs. Furman (FCS)
||11/3, at Buffalo
||11/7, vs. Florida State
||11/5, at Northern Illinois
||11/7, vs. Oklahoma State
||11/7, vs. Kansas
||11/5, at Temple
||11/5, at Utah
|New Mexico State
||11/7, at Stanford
||11/7, at Michigan
|San Diego State
||11/7, vs. TCU
||11/7, at Pittsburgh
||11/7, vs. Memphis
||11/7, at Hawaii
||11/7, at UCLA
||11/7, vs. BYU
|*-Dabo Swinney took over halfway through last season when Tommy Bowden stepped down after a 3-3 start. Swinney was 4-3 over the last 7 games of the season.