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College Football Season

Boise State, LSU Prevail; USF Stuns Notre Dame

Baylor Wins Epic Battle Over TCU

by Dave Congrove
September 6, 2011

The biggest games of the week didn't prove to be all that close as Boise State rolled over Georgia 35-21 and LSU drubbed Oregon 40-27 on Saturday night. In both instances, the team which was favored by the Congrove Computer Rankings won the ballgame. Oklahoma, Alabama, Nebraska, Virginia Tech and all of the other top teams played as expected, with the lone exception of Notre Dame.

The Irish shot themselves in the foot all day as USF won the game 23-20 in South Bend. The game was plagued by over 2-1/2 hours of weather delays, while Notre Dame was hampered by 5 turnovers, 3 of which occurred in the red zone. The computer gave the Irish an 11-1 preseason forecast in Brian Kelly's second season as head coach and the lone anticipated loss wasn't supposed to occur until Notre Dame's visit to Stanford for the season finale.

Weather forced the Howard-Eastern Michigan game to be moved to Noon on Sunday as a result of the same storm system that swept through the upper midwest (EMU won 41-9).

Michigan won a weather-shortened 34-10 battle with Western Michigan in Ann Arbor when the teams decided to cancel the game with 1:27 left in the 3rd quarter, after two stoppages. On Sunday, West Virginia's in-state rivalry game with Marshall ended in similar fashion. The Mountaineers and Thundering Herd opted to call the game with 14:36 left in the 4th quarter, declaring WVU a 34-13 winner after a second interruption of play.

Meanwhile, heavy rains from Tropical Storm Lee doused football fields in the deep south. Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech, for instance, played through gusty winds and sporadic downpours. The Golden Eagles needed a 49-yard field goal with 2:32 left in the contest to take a 19-17 win in Hattiesburg, saving - for now - the computer's projection of an undefeated regular season for Larry Fedora's team.

By Monday night, the inclement weather had drifted into the Washington, D.C. area, just in time for the Miami (Fla.)-Maryland game. Thankfully, that game was played without interruption and a tight contest was won 32-24 by the Terrapins. The Hurricanes had taken the lead on a 24-23 lead on a field goal with 4:01 to play, but Maryland recaptured the lead with its own field goal at the 1:39 mark. An interception return for a TD with 39 seconds left had seemingly sealed the deal for the Terps until the snap on the PAT went awry and left Miami down by 8. But the 'Canes went nowhere and Randy Edsall took home the win in his debut as the Maryland head coach. Al Golden took the loss in his inaugural game on the Miami sideline.

South Carolina dug out of an early 17-0 hole in Charlotte against East Carolina, but stormed back and methodically pulled away for a 56-37 win. The Gamecocks visit Georgia next week.

Auburn saved itself from becoming the biggest negative story of the day with a late comeback win over Utah State, 42-38. The defending BCS champions trailed 38-28 after an Aggie touchdown with 3:38 left in the game. But the Tigers scored on the ensuing possession, converted an onside kick, and then took the lead with 30 ticks remaining.

Other top stories of the day included interim head coaches Luke Fickell and Everett Withers notching convincing wins for a pair of programs that have endured the turmoil of NCAA investigations. Fickell coached Ohio State to a 42-0 rout of Akron while Withers led North Carolina to a 42-10 whipping of FCS member James Madison.

Obviously, Miami didn't fare quite as well in response to its recent NCAA inquiry. The 'Canes were without QB Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence and 6 other players.

Elsewhere, QB Case Keenum returned to action to beat UCLA 38-34. In last year's loss to the Bruins in Pasadena, Keenum suffered a torn ACL that knocked him out for the season.

BYU pulled off a 14-13 win at Ole Miss by rallying from a 13-0 deficit in the 4th quarter. After the Cougars finally got on the board with under 10 minutes left in the game, BYU took the lead on a forced fumble and 3-yard return with 5:09 to play.

Friday night's Baylor-TCU game still stands as the most exciting game of the weekend. Baylor coughed up all of a 24-point lead, then rallied to win on a field goal with 1:04 left to upset TCU, 50-48 - just as the Congrove Computer Rankings predicted.

For TCU, the loss ended streaks of 13 wins overall, 25 regular season wins, and 11 straight road wins. The Horned Frogs still have streaks of 20 straight home wins and 17 straight conference wins.

Baylor took a 47-23 lead into the 4th quarter behind 5 TD passes from Robert Griffin III, but TCU needed less than 8 minutes to cut the gap to 47-45 with 3 touchdowns and a pair of 2-point conversions. The Horned Frogs went up 48-47 on a 27-yard FG with 4:27 remaining, but the Bears answered with an ensuing drive that culminated in a37-yard field goal with 1:07 left.

A final drive by TCU ended with an interception on a 3rd-and-10 throw from the Baylor 40 on a play that began with 11 seconds left in the game. It was the only interception thrown by Casey Pachall who tossed 4 TD passes.

The teams combined to score 50 points in the first 18:18 of the game as Baylor took a 27-23 lead.

The 2011 season kicked off Thursday night with 14 games, 8 of which had FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools playing teams from the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as 1-AA). That night was uneventful with the exception of Syracuse's 36-29 comeback win in overtime over visiting Wake Forest.

The computer went 71-7 over the weekend, including a 35-5 mark in heads-up FBS contests.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams went 36-2 (.947) against FCS teams this weekend and are 583-51 (.920) in such games since 2003.

This year, 93 FBS teams play a total of 97 games against FCS foes. Four schools play two such games - Air Force, Eastern Michigan, N.C. State and Wyoming.

I put Duke on upset alert against Richmond and the Blue Devils apparently didn't listen as they fell 23-21. The Spiders have now won their last three meetings with Duke as they also came away with a 13-0 victory in 2006 and a 24-16 triumph in 2009.

I missed out on calling Sacramento State's 29-28 overtime upset of Oregon State, but the computer had forecasted just a 3-win season for the Beavers. The Hornets were just 6-5 in the FCS a year ago.

Several FCS teams started prosperity in the face and promptly shot it. Northern Iowa lost 20-19 at Iowa State on a Cyclones TD with 40 seconds left; Eastern Kentucky let Kansas State score 10 unanswered points in the final quarter and surrendered the losing touchdown with 1:37 left for a 10-7 setback; Stony Brook let UTEP off the hook by allowing a TD pass with 4:04 remaining in regulation to tie the game and then fell 31-24 in OT; and Weber State lost 35-32 at Wyoming on a TD pass with 22 seconds left.

Eastern Washington almost rallied for a win at Washington. Bo Levi Mitchell was intercepted in the endzone with 29 seconds remaining, preserving a 30-27 victory for the Huskies who were torched for 479 yards by Mitchell.

Boise State - 32 home wins, 62 regular season home wins, and 46 straight conference home victories. BSU joins the Mountain West this season and leaves the WAC having never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (40-0). 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 now 7-1 in their last eight matches with BCS conference schools after beating Georgia 35-21 in the Chick-fl-A Kickoff Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. (Next: visits Toledo on Friday, 9/16).

Auburn - 16 straight wins overall. The TIgers escaped an upset bid by Utah State, 42-38. (Next: hosts Mississippi State on Saturday)

TCU - 50-48 loss on Friday at Baylor ended streaks of 13 wins overall and 25 straight regular season wins. The Horned Frogs still own streaks of 20 straight home wins and 17 straight conference wins. (Next: visits Air Force on Saturday).

Oregon saw its 12-game winning streak end with a 22-19 loss to Auburn in the BCS Championship Game. On Saturday the Ducks said "goodbye" to a 12-game regular season winning streak with a 40-27 loss to LSU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. (Next: hosts Nevada on Saturday).

Virginia Tech saw its 11-game winning streak come to an end with a 40-12 loss to Stanford in the Orange Bowl. But the Hokies extended their regular season winning streak to 11 games (excludes ACC Championship game win) with a 66-13 demolition of Appalachian State. (Next: visits East Carolina on Saturday).

Oklahoma - 37 straight home victories after 47-14 win vs. Tulsa. (Next: visits Florida State on Saturday, 9/17).

San Jose State - 11 straight losses after 57-3 loss at Stanford. (Next: visits UCLA on Saturday).

Memphis - 10 straight losses after falling 59-14 at home to Mississippi State. (Next: visits Arkansas State on Saturday)

New Mexico - 16 straight road losses. (Next: plays Arkansas in Little Rock on Saturday).

24 teams have a new college football coach in the FBS ranks this season. Last season saw 23 new head coaches, only 8 of whom matched or exceeded the W-L record of their predecessors' final season.

Two new coaches were guaranteed to come out a winner in their opening game as they faced another new head coach - Ball State's Pete Lembo and Indiana's Kevin Wilson opened against each other at Indianapolis on Saturday with the Cardinals taking a 27-20 victory; Randy Edsall and Maryland downed Al Golden and Miami (Fla.) 32-24 on Monday night.

Overall, the new head coaches went 14-10, but only two of those teams - Ball State and Maryland - defeated schools from the "Big 6" conferences. Five defeated FCS programs while seven beat schools from other FBS conferences or an FBS independent.

Here are the opening games and results for each new head coach:

Team Coach Game
Arkansas State Hugh Freeze Lost 33-15 at Illinois
Ball State Pete Lembo Won 27-20 vs. Indiana at Indianapolis
Colorado Jon Embree Lost 34-17 at Hawaii
Connecticut Paul Pasqualoni Won 35-3 vs. Fordham
Florida Will Muschamp Won 41-3 vs. FAU
Indiana Kevin Wilson Lost 27-20 vs. Ball State at Indianapolis
Kent State Darrell Hazell Lost 48-7 at Alabama
Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth Lost 61-34 at Oklahoma State
Maryland Randy Edsall Won 32-24 vs. Miami, Fla.
Miami (Fla.) Al Golden Lost 32-24 at Maryland
Miami (O.) Don Treadwell Lost 17-6 at Missouri
Michigan Brady Hoke Won 34-10 vs. Western Michigan
Minnesota Jerry Kill Lost 19-7 at USC
North Carolina Everett Withers (Interim) Won 42-10 vs. James Madison
North Texas Dan McCarney Lost 41-16 at FIU
Northern Illinois Dave Doeren Won 49-26 vs. Army
Ohio State Luke Fickell (Interim) Won 42-0 vs. Akron
Pittsburgh Todd Graham Won 35-16 vs. Buffalo
San Diego St. Rocky Long Won 49-21 vs. Cal Poly
Stanford David Shaw Won 57-3 vs. San Jose State
Temple Steve Addazio Won 42-7 vs. Villanova
Tulsa Bill Blankenship Lost 47-14 at Oklahoma
Vanderbilt James Franklin Won 45-14 vs. Elon
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen Won 34-13 vs. Marshall


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