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Top Teams Run Away From Inferior Foes

by Mike Mitchell
August 31, 2007

No. 2 LSU, No. 5 Louisville, No. 14 Boise State, No. 15 Rutgers, and No. 16 Oregon State all put away their inferior opponents on opening night of the 2007 college football season. Indeed, the strong teams looked as strong as expected, and some of the weaker teams - well, let's just say they didn't look very good.

LSU had beaten Mississippi State by an average score of 42-7 in their last six meetings. The Tigers struggled in the first half on Thursday night, but when the Tigers scored on the last play of the 2nd quarter to take a 17-0 lead to the locker room at halftime, the Bulldogs backs were broken. Six interceptions off a beaten and battered Mike Henig helped eventually spur an offense that did its share of sputtering in a 45-0 win. LSU gets Virginia Tech in its home opener next Saturday night.

Louisville played the part of the windshield while Murray State took on the role of the bug. The Cardinals opened the season under new head coach Steve Kragthorpe with a 73-10 dismantling of the lower-division Racers.

Boise State jumped to a 49-0 halftime lead over 1-AA (now known as the "championship subdivision") Weber State and coasted to a 56-7 win. The game could hardly be used as a fair indication of how well the Broncos will do in 2007 after going 13-0 last year and beating Oklahoma in a wild Fiesta Bowl. Games against Washington, Hawaii and Nevada appear to be the only teams that should give BSU any trouble at all this season.

Ray Rice ran for 184 yards and 3 TD's, and Tiquan Underwood had 248 yards receiving and 2 scores on 10 catches, to lead Rutgers to a 38-3 tune-up win over Buffalo. The third-largest crowd in Rutgers history - 43,091 - witnessed the opener of the Scarlet Knights who received preseason Top 25 rankings for the first time in history.

Oregon State spotted Utah a 7-0 lead and was tied 7-7 at halftime. The Beavers, however, shut down the Utes in the second half for a 24-7 victory in front of the home crowd. Louie Sakoda, one of the top field goal kickers in the country and a preseason candidate for the Lou Groza Award, came up well short on a 45-yard field goal in the opening stanza in his only attempt of the evening for Utah. Alexis Serna, Oregon State's candidate for the same award, made his lone attempt from 37 yards out in the 3rd quarter.

The biggest upset of the night was Kent State's 23-14 win at Iowa State. The Golden Flashes' victory was forecasted by the computer that determines the CCR Top 119 (Congrove Computer Rankings) on which collegefootballpoll.com was founded. The oddsmakers favored the Cyclones by 4 while the computer took Kent by 6.43. The computer missed on two other projected upsets as UNLV rallied late to win 23-16 at Utah State and Tulsa won 35-17 at Louisiana-Monroe. UNLV's victory was its first on the road since beating BYU 24-20 on October 8, 2004. Tulsa's win came in Todd Graham's debut as the Golden Hurricane head coach.

Ball State was an upset loser at home to Miami (Ohio), 14-13. The Cardinals were a one touchdown favorite and The Sporting News picked the Cardinals to finish second in the west division of the MAC. The CCR Top 119 put Ball State at next-to-last with a predicted record of 4-8. But the computer joined oddsmakers in favoring Ball State against a RedHawk team that the computer also projected to finish 4-8.

New Mexico State toppled 1-AA Southeastern Louisiana 35-14. It's the second-straight season-opening victory for the Aggies and the lower-division Lions have been the victims on both occasions. NMSU head coach Hal Mumme spent 2003 and 2004 resurrecting the SE Louisiana football program, that had been dormant from 1986-2002, before heading to Las Cruces. The job with the Lions also helped Mumme resuscitate his own career which was tarnished by a cloud of NCAA investigations when he left Kentucky on national signing day (February 11) in 2001.

Elsewhere, Cincinnati gave new head coach Brian Kelly a 59-3 win over 1-AA Southeast Missouri State.

UNBEATEN TEAMS
As the list narrows later in the year, we'll help you keep tabs with those teams that are still on track for an undefeated season. Last year, Boise State (13-0) was the only team that accomplished the task.

WINLESS TEAMS
Duke finished the 2006 season at 0-12, including a loss to 1-AA Richmond. FIU also went 0-12.

1-A vs. 1-AA
Championship subdivision schools were 0-4 on opening night after going 7-71 in 2006 against their higher-classified brethren.

Since the start of the 2003 campaign, bowl subdivision teams hold the upper hand by a huge margin, 239-25 (.905).

This season, 78 bowl subdivision teams face schools from the championship subdivision. New Mexico State double-dips for the second straight season with games against SE Louisiana and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Fellow WAC member Hawaii has home dates with Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern.

STREAKS
Ohio State saw its 19-game winning streak come to an end with the 41-14 loss to Florida in the BCS Championship Game. The Buckeyes are still riding an 18-game regular season winning streak.

Boise State has won 14 straight games over-all after its 56-7 win over Weber State. The Broncos have won 15 straight regular season games, and 37 consecutive regular season home games. The Broncos have never lost a home game to a WAC opponent (24-0).

BYU has won 10 straight games after a 38-8 Las Vegas Bowl win over Oregon.

USC has won a nation's-best 33 consecutive home games.

Duke has lost 20 games over-all, and 22 straight to 1-A teams.

FIU has lost 12 straight games after a 26-13 defeat to Troy.

NEW COACHES
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.

Air Force, 0-0 under Troy Calhoun, hosts 1-AA So. Carolina St. 9/1.
Alabama, 0-0 under Nick Saban, hosts 1-AA Western Carolina 9/1.
Arizona State, 0-0 under Dennis Erickson, hosts San Jose State 9/1.
Army, 0-0 under Stan Brock, plays Akron in Cleveland 9/1.
Boston College, 0-0 under Jeff Jagodzinski, hosts Wake Forest 9/1.
Central Michigan, 0-0 under Butch Jones, visits Kansas 9/1.
Cincinnati, 1-0 under Brian Kelly, beat 1-AA SE Missouri St. 59-3.
FIU, 0-0 under Mario Cristobal, visits Penn State 9/1.
Idaho, 0-0 under Robb Akey, visits USC 9/1.
Indiana, 0-0 under Bill Lynch, hosts 1-AA Indiana State 9/1.
Iowa State, 0-1 under Gene Chzik, lost to Kent State 23-14.
Louisiana Tech, 0-0 under Derek Dooley, hosts 1-AA Central Arkansas 9/1.
Louisville, 1-0 under Steve Kragthorpe, beat 1-AA Murray State 73-10.
Miami (Fla.), 0-0 under Randy Shannon, hosts Marshall 9/1.
Michigan State, 0-0 under Mark Dantonio, hosts UAB 9/1.
Minnesota, 0-0 under Tim Brewster, hosts Bowling Green 9/1.
North Carolina, 0-0 under Butch Davis, hosts 1-AA James Madison 9/1.
N.C. State, 0-0 under Tom O'Brien, hosts Central Florida 9/1.
North Texas, 0-0 under Todd Dodge, visits Oklahoma 9/1.
Rice, 0-0 under David Bailiff, hosts 1-AA Nicholls State 9/1.
Stanford, 0-0 under Jim Harbaugh, hosts UCLA 9/1.
Tulane, 0-0 under Bob Toledo, idle opening week. Hosts Mississippi St. 9/8.
Tulsa, 1-0 under Todd Graham, beat Louisiana-Monroe 35-17.
UAB, 0-0 under Neil Callaway, visits Michigan State 9/1