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Week 11 Preview

Only 3 BCS Top 25 matchups, but a slew of key conference battles

by Dave Congrove
November 8, 2010

Can you believe we're staring in the face of week 11 of the college football season? Sadly, it's true as 19 teams have already played 10 games and no team has played fewer than 8.

This week's 56-game slate is void of any battles between teams ranked in the Top 10 of the BCS, though three games will match teams in the Top 25 - No. 19 Mississippi State at No. 12 Alabama, No. 24 Kansas State at No. 17 Missouri, and No. 23 South Carolina at No. 22 Florida.

Alabama is 74-17-3 in the alltime series with Mississippi State, but the teams have split the last four meetings. My Congrove Computer Rankings (CCR Top 120) suggest the Tide should win by 19.06 and halt the Bulldogs' 6-game winning streak.

Missouri has won the last four meetings after losing 13 straight from 1993 to 2005. The Tigers lead the overall series 58-32-5 and are favored by the computer to win this game by 9.81. Missouri is stinging from consecutive road losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech that ended its undefeated season. Conversely, the Wildcats visit Columbia brimming with confidence after last week's 39-14 bombardment of Texas.

Florida is 23-4-3 in the South Carolina series and is a projected 12.82-point winner in this de facto SEC East Championship game. The Gators have taken 4 straight in the series and are 18-1 in the last 19 meetings.

There are also numerous games that involve teams at the top of their division or conference.

The MAC highlights its West division leaders on Tuesday night when Toledo visits Northern Illinois. It's a battle between the only MAC teams with perfect conference records (5-0). The computer forecasts the Huskies to win by 10.47.

On Thursday night, Pitt travels to disappointing UConn as the only unbeaten team in Big East play (3-0). Each of the seven other conference teams have exactly 2 league losses. The Huskies were chosen by many prognosticators as the favorites to win the Big East title - even my preseason computer model projected them as top dog - but they enter this contest with a record of 4-4 overall and 1-2 in the conference. Still, the computer only likes the Panthers by 2 points and UConn is coming off a 16-13 home overtime win over West Virginia two weeks ago. The teams have split their six previous meetings in the series which began when UConn joined the Big East in 2004.

USF visits Louisville on Saturday with the winner becoming bowl eligible. The Cardinals have already lost to Pitt while the Bulls get their shot at the Panthers at home next week. The computer likes USF by 2.01.

Saturday's slate includes a trio of big ACC games. Miami travels to Georgia Tech, Clemson visits Florida State and Virginia Tech heads to North Carolina.

The ACC Atlantic is wide open with Florida State, Maryland and N.C. State each leading the division with 2 conference losses while Clemson has 3. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech as a 2-game edge on the 'Canes and Tar Heels and is the only ACC team without a league loss (5-0). Miami and Georgia Tech will each be without its respective starting QB as Georgia Tech's Joshua Nesbitt broke his arm in last week's loss at Virginia Tech, and Jacory Harris suffered a concussion in the 'Canes loss to Virginia to two weeks ago.

The computer likes Florida State by 4.93 over Clemson; Virginia Tech by 3.58 over UNC, and Georgia Tech by 2.08 over Miami.

Oregon and Stanford have separated themselves from the pack in the PAC-10. The Ducks are 6-0 in league play while Stanford is 5-1, but the Cardinal effectively trail Oregon by two games due to their heads-up loss earlier this season. This week, Stanford heads to Arizona State as a 12.01-point computer pick while Arizona (4-2) hosts USC as a 4.44-point choice, and Oregon State (3-2) hosts Washington State as a 30.10-point projected winner.

Oklahoma will try to rebound from its loss at Texas A&M last weekend when it hosts Texas Tech (3-4) on Saturday as a 13.55-point favorite. The Sooners (3-2) are very much alive in the conference's South division race as they visit Baylor (4-2) next week and end the regular season at division-leading Oklahoma State (4-1) the following week.

Texas A&M (3-2) is also in the chase and visits Baylor this week with a 2.52-point nod from the computer.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State will try to hand Texas its fourth straight home loss. The Longhorns, 4-5 overall and 2-4 in the Big 12, are at the bottom of the South division and in danger of missing the bowl season.

OTHER TOP GAMES:
Utah at Notre Dame - The Utes are favored by 11.85, but can they regroup after this past week's 47-7 home loss to TCU? The Irish need two wins to become bowl eligible.

Penn State at Ohio State - Penn State is 3-2 in the conference while the 16.68-point favorite Buckeyes are one of four teams with 1 loss in Big Ten play. The others are Michigan State (idle), Wisconsin (vs. Indiana) and Iowa (at Northwestern.

Southern Miss at UCF - The Golden Knights are the only unbeaten team in Conference USA play and is a 10.82-point home favorite over the Golden Eagles. If UCF gets past Southern Miss, it is nearly a lock for the East division title as it finishes at Tulane and Memphis.

Tulsa at Houston - These teams are in a 3-way tie in the loss column with SMU. Tulsa had already lost to the Mustangs while the Cougars own a victory over SMU. The computer likes Houston here by 4.36.

Nevada at Fresno State - The computer takes Nevada by 6.78. Each has 1 conference loss and has yet to face undefeated Boise State. The Bulldogs go to Boise next week and the Wolf Pack host the Broncos the following week.

FIU at Troy - The top two teams in the Sun Belt collide with the homestanding Trojans favored by 13.53 points. At 5-3, Troy is the only team in the conference with a non-losing record overall.

BCS TOP 5
No. 1 Oregon (-14.54) at California
Georgia at No. 2 Auburn (-3.81)
San Diego State at No. 3 TCU (-33.81)
No. 4 Boise State (-34.65 at Idaho (Friday)
UL-Monroe at No. 5 LSU (-28.78)

TWO BOWL SLOTS FILLED, 68 TO GO:
Navy became the second team to secure 1 of 70 bowl slots. The Midshipmen automatically qualified for a spot in the Poinsettia Bowl after rolling 76-35 at East Carolina to run their record to 6-3. Navy led Saturday's game 28-21 at the half, then turned three Pirate fumbles in four snaps into a 48-14 shelling in the second half.

Hawaii accepted a bid the previous week to stay home and host the Hawaii Bowl.

STILL UNBEATEN:
Four teams remain perfect on the season as Utah was last weekend's only victim. Auburn (SEC), Boise State (WAC), Oregon (PAC-10) and TCU (Mountain West) are the four that remain unscathed.

STILL WINLESS:
New Mexico notched a 34-31 home win over Wyoming to end the Lobos' 9-game losing streak. That leaves Akron as the nation's only remaining winless team and it's sure to remain that way for another week as the Zips are idle.

FBS vs. FCS:
No games are scheduled this week between Football Bowl Subdivisions (FBS) schools and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams. FBS teams are 80-7 (.920) this season in such games and 544-49 (.917) since 2003.

Here are the results of every FBS loss to the FCS this season:
9/4: Jacksonville State 49, Mississippi 48 (2 OT's)
9/4: North Dakota State 6, Kansas 3
9/11: Gardner-Webb 38, Akron 37
9/11: Liberty 27, Ball State 23
9/11: South Dakota 41, Minnesota 38
9/11: James Madison 21, Virginia Tech 16
10/2: Cal-Davis 14, San Jose State 13

This year, 85 FBS teams play a total of 90 games against FCS foes. Five schools play two such games - Arizona State, Ball State, San Jose State, Syracuse and Virginia.

STREAKS:
Boise State has streaks of 22 overall wins, 33 regular season wins, 30 home wins, 60 regular season home wins, and 44 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (38-0). 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 6-1 in their last seven matches against BCS conference schools. (Next: at Idaho on Friday).

Auburn has 11 straight wins overall. (Next: vs. Georgia on Saturday).

TCU has 10 straight wins overall, 23 straight regular season wins and 19 straight home wins. (Next: vs. San Diego State on Saturday).

Oklahoma has 35 straight home victories. (Next: vs. Texas Tech on Saturday).

Akron has lost 10 straight overall. (Next: vs. Miami, Ohio on 11/17).

Minnesota has lost 9 straight overall. (Next: at Illinois on Saturday).

Washington State has lost 8 straight overall, 18 straight to FBS schools and 17 straight road games. (Next: at Oregon State on Saturday).

COACHING CHANGES:
Colorado's Dan Hawkins was fired on Tuesday and replaced on an interim basis by long-time Colorado assistant Brian Cabral. Hawkins is the third head coach to become unemployed during the season, following Minnesota's Tim Brewster and North Texas' Todd Dodge.



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