Clemson Knocks Out Half Of Computer's BCS Ticket
Georgia's tough climb to get back in hunt begins with visit from South Carolina
Georgia's 38-35 loss to Clemson knocked Georgia out of the race for a BCS title game slot, at least temporarily. That contest, and a slew of wins by the FCS schools, are about the only things that got in the way of an otherwise spectacular opening weekend for the computer.
Clemson positioned itself as a legitimate contender for the national championship with the home win over the Bulldogs, giving it back-to-back wins over SEC big boys after edging LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. If one thing stands in the way of Clemson's path, it's the ease of schedule the rest of the way, including not one, but two FCS schools.
Georgia will have to quickly swallow its pride and lick its wounds, because SEC East rival South Carolina is next up for the Bulldogs' home opener this Saturday. The team will be without WR Malcolm Mitchell who suffered a torn ACL during a celebratory jumping chest bump after Todd Gurley's 75-yard run knotted the score at 7 in the first quarter. Mitchell is now out for the season.
The cumulative performance of FCS schools is the second-biggest story to come out of the opening weekend as they amassed 8 wins out of 31 chances. The FBS lost 4 such games on opening weekend a year ago and 10 for the entire season. It's easily their best performance on any weekend I can recall in the 21 years of my Congrove Computer Rankings - not just by the number of wins, but by the percentage of games won, as well.
Several of the victims and scores were impressive, too. Sure, first-year FBS member Georgia State lost to Samford and second-year FBS member South Alabama fell to Southern Utah, but bigger names and more established programs also took a hit with losses by Oregon State (Eastern Washington), Kansas State (North Dakota St.), USF (McNeese State), San Diego State (Eastern Illinois), Iowa State (Northern Iowa), and UConn (Towson).
Of those, the most demoralizing has to be McNeese State's 53-21 rout at USF. The once up-and-coming Bulls under Jim Leavitt have fallen apart since his firing after the 2009 season amid largely unsubstantiated allegations that he struck a player. The ensuing Skip Holtz era saw a steady decline from 8-5 in his inaugural year (2010) to 5-7 in 2011 and 3-9 last year. Saturday, the Willie Taggart (Western Kentucky) era began with the most embarrassing defeat in school history.
At least Kansas State and Oregon State fell to accomplished FCS squads. The Wildcats buckled under to the 2-time defending national champions of the lower division, and the Beavers succumbed to the 2010 title winners.
North Dakota State, McNeese State and Eastern Washington also downed FBS schools last year. NDSU has 4 straight wins in 4 years over FBS teams.
The third-biggest story is the collapse of Beamerball, as well as the pathetic and continually declining performance of Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. Frank's team gave up and a punt return and a kick return for touchdowns by the same guy, Christion Jones, in a 35-10 loss to Alabama the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Erase those two Alabama scores, and insert anyone else at QB, and the Hokies could have possibly ended their drought against top-ranked teams.
The Virginia Tech defense dominated the game and the running attack seemingly found a savior in redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds. The Hokie "D" allowed just two offensive scores and 206 total yards while Edmunds tallied a 77-yard touchdown run as part of his 20 carry, 132-yard performance. As for Thomas, the senior was 5-of-26 for 59 yards with no TD's and a crushing INT that killed Tech's momentum after pulling to within 14-7.
Thomas' completion percentages over his last 4 games are 48.5, 47.4, 38.5 and 19.2, dropping regularly with each game. Isn't it demeaning to force all the other QB's on Beamer's roster to sit and watch such horrendous performances? And isn't it a bit unfair to the Hokie Nation to not give someone else a chance? Sean Glennon was better than Logan Thomas, and he still lost his job to a guy named Tyrod Taylor. One of those guys sitting the bench may not prove to be the next Taylor, but one thing is certain - as quarterbacks go, Logan Thomas might be a decent tight end.
My next biggest take-away from opening weekend was the sad performance of the Mountain West Conference. The computer projected a step backward for the Boise State program, but the 38-6 loss at Washington was worse than could be imagined. The last game played by the Broncos was a 28-26 win over the Huskies at the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, fellow MWC member San Diego State, the computer's projected conference champ, was dropped 40-18 by FCS member Eastern Illinois. Nevada was smoked 58-20 at UCLA. Colorado State lost 41-27 to a Colorado team that was 1-11 a year ago and projected to go 2-10 this year. On the whole, Mountain West Conference teams were 3-9. The only wins saw San Jose State and Air Force defeat FCS schools while Fresno State gave the only promising performance in a 52-51 overtime home win against Rutgers.
The craziest finish of the week has to go to Ole Miss-Vandy. The Rebels won 39-35 on Jeff Scott's 75-yard TD run, which came two plays after the Commodores had taken the lead on a 34-yard TD pass with a minute-and-a-half to go.
A questionable targeting call against Cal may triggered Northwestern's win. The game was tied at 30 in the 4th quarter and Northwestern was backed up deep in its own territory when a Cal player was questionably penalized and ejected for a hit on Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian. The Wildcats went on to score the go-ahead field goal and then made it 37-27 on a 40-yard interception return on Cal's next possession. The Bears cut it to 37-30 before a 6-yard run by Trevor Green sealed the deal with under a minute to play.
The computer's top-ranked team, Stanford, was idle and will open at home against San Jose State on Saturday.
WINSTON THREW GOOD LIKE A QUARTERBACK SHOULD
To finish the Labor Day weekend, Florida State redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston debuted with a sterling performance in a 41-13 win at Pitt. Winston was 25-of-27 for 356 yards with 4 TD's and 0 INT's. He also ran for a 5th score to ruin Pitt's ACC debut.
FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams were 23-8 vs. FCS schools and are now 759-73 (.912) in such games since 2003. The winning percentage was .919 before the weekend's losses. FCS teams won just 4 games on opening weekend a year ago and 10 all season.
106 FBS schools will play a total of 110 games against FCS foes in 2013. Clemson and Georgia Tech each face two such schools while FBS newcomer Georgia State will play 3 FCS teams.
Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
8/29: Towson 33, Connecticut 18
8/29: Southern Utah 22, South Alabama 21
8/30: Samford 31, Georgia State 21
8/30: North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21
8/31: Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20
8/31: Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46
8/31: Eastern Illinois 40, San Diego State 18
8/31: McNeese State 53, USF 21
Ohio State - Won 13 straight overall. Won 24-6 vs. Toledo on Saturday.
Notre Dame - Won 13 straight regular season games. Won 28-6 vs. Temple on Saturday.
Northern Illinois - Won 21 straight at home and 17 vs. conference foes.
LSU - Won 42 straight regular season nonconference games. Won 37-27 vs. TCU at Arlington on Saturday.
Michigan - Won 15 straight home games. Won 59-9 vs. Central Michigan on Saturday.
Oregon - Won 15 straight road games.
Southern Miss - Lost 13 straight overall. Lost 22-15 vs. Texas State on Saturday.
Akron - Lost 27 straight road games, 23 straight FBS games and 16 straight conference games (MAC). Lost 38-7 at UCF on Thursday.
Kansas - Lost 21 straight FBS games, 21 straight conference games and 19 straight road games. Was idle this week.
UNLV - Lost 23 straight road games. Lost 51-23 at Minnesota on Friday.