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Sputters, Escapes and An Upset

by Mike Mitchell
September 7, 2008

Week two of the college football season produced several some sputters and escapes by ranked teams, and another East Carolina upset victory.

The Pirates whacked West Virginia 24-3 in Greenville, North Carolina to improve to 2-0. The win against the computer's No. 13 team (No. 8 AP and Coaches) comes a week after East Carolina defeated Virginia Tech 27-22 when the Hokies were ranked No. 22 by the computer (No. 17 AP, No. 15 Coaches). The Pirates had lost six straight to the Hokies, and 7 in-a-row to the Mountaineers.

It wasn't easy for Michigan, or even No. 1 Ohio State (CCR Top 120), against inferior opponents. Both Big Ten giants escaped with hard-fought wins.

The Wolverines improved to 24-0 all-time against the MAC with a 16-6 win over Miami (Ohio), giving Rich Rodriguez his first victory as head coach at Michigan.

The Buckeyes trailed Ohio University 14-6 in the 3rd quarter before scoring the final 20 points of the game to win 26-14. It wasn't the kind of performance that inspires confidence going into next week's showdown with USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Among the computer's top ten teams:
No. 2 USC was idle;
No. 3 Florida defeated No. 74 Miami, Fla. 26-3;
No. 4 Georgia (-19.86) beat No. 43 Central Michigan 56-17;
No. 5 Texas (-25.28) visits No. 105 UTEP;
No. 6 Kansas (-28.45) blanked No. 84 Louisiana Tech 29-0;
No. 7 Oklahoma (-8.30) downed No. Cincinnati 52-26;
No. 8 Missouri blasted FCS member SE Missouri St. 52-3;
No. 9 LSU vs. No. 34 Troy was postponed until Nov. 15;
No. 10 Oregon (-30.54) throttled No. 108 Utah State 66-24.

No. 11 USF needed overtime to shake off rival UCF in the "War On I-4". The 31-24 victory means the won all four games in the series which currently does not have any future dates set.

BYU escaped with a 28-27 win over Washington. The Cougars blocked a 35-yard extra point try after Jake Locker's 2-yard run brought the Huskies to within 1 point with just 2 seconds left. A questionable penalty for excessive celebration after the score forced the longer kick. The Cougars have won 12 straight games, the longest streak in the nation.

In the PAC-10, California either flexed its muscle or Washington State demonstrated its exceptional weakness. The Cougars took a 66-3 beating in front of their home crowd. The painful start to the Paul Wulff tenure includes a 39-13 loss to Oklahoma State on opening weekend in Seattle.

Oregon also liked 66 as the Ducks hung that number on Utah State in a 66-24 rout.

Oregon State was manhandled 45-14 by Penn State.

Notre Dame opened the season with a win, albeit an unimpressive 21-13 defeat of a San Diego State team that lost on opening weekend to FCS member Cal Poly. The Irish trailed 13-7 after three quarters.

Paul Johnson, coaching his first ACC game, picked up a huge 19-16 win at defending Atlantic division champion Boston College. The Eagles were the second-highest rank team in the ACC at No. 22 in the CCR Top 120. The Yellow Jackets were ranked No. 80 going into the game. Georgia Tech heads to Blacksburg next Saturday to face Virginia Tech, the defending conference champions.

Wake Forest, the highest ranked team in the ACC at No. 21 in the CCR Top 120, needed a 41-yard FG from Sam Swank with 3 seconds left to beat Mississippi 30-28. The Rebels had gone ahead 28-27 on a touchdown pass with 1:01 left. The Demon Deacons were favored by more than 18 points by the computer.

Rice is making noise in CUSA in its second season under David Bailiff. After dropping off to 3-9 in Bailiff's first season, the Owls are off to a 2-0 start, overall and in conference play, after a stirring comeback win at Memphis. Rice scored 22 unanswered points in the final 6:28 to turn a 35-20 deficit into a 42-35 win.

Vanderbilt downed South Carolina 24-17 on Thursday night to not only improve to 2-0, but to get off to a 1-0 start in the SEC. Last year's 17-6 loss to in Columbia ended South Carolina's 7-game winning streak over Vanderbilt. Prior to that game, Vandy was 0-14 against teams coached by Steve Spurrier with records of 0-2 against his Duke teams, 0-10 versus his Gators, and 0-2 against his Gamecocks. With a home game against rival Georgia next week, South Carolina could be off to a rocky 1-2 start after ending the 2007 season on a 5-game losing streak.

Ball State QB Nate Davis threw 4 TD passes and held Navy RB Shun White to 128 yards and 1 TD in a 35-23 win for the Cardinals on Friday night in Muncie, Indiana. White ran for 348 yards on 19 carries in the Midshipmen's season opener against FCS member Towson last week. Davis was 21-of-28 for 326 yards against Navy, and is now 42-of-52 (80.76 percent) on the season for 616 yards and 7 scores. Both teams are exactly where the computer predicted they would be after two games with the Cardinals at 2-0 and Navy at 1-1.

CANCELED:
Hurricane Gustav forced Nicholls State to cancel Thursday night's game at New Mexico State as most of southern Louisiana evacuated the area before the storm made landfall on Labor Day. A makeup date was not announced. It also postponed LSU's home game with Troy until November 15.

It was three years ago on Labor Day weekend that Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the gulf coast and thousands suffered needlessly by not evacuating. Katrina caused numerous changes in game schedules, including the cancellation of Nicholls State's opener at Utah State which was never rescheduled. Tulane never played a true home game that year, and LSU's "home" game against Arizona State was moved to their opponents' stadium.

Tropical Storm Hanna moved through the mid-Atlantic region and into the New England area during the day Saturday.

Eyes now turn to Hurricane Ike which could be headed for the southern Florida peninsula or into the Gulf of Mexico in the next several days.

GOOD TO SEE YOU:
These five teams opened this week:
Florida State (win 69-0 vs. FCS member Western Carolina);
Notre Dame (win 21-13 vs. San Diego State);
Purdue (win 42-10 vs. FCS member Northern Colorado);
Tulane (20-3 loss at Alabama);
Toledo (41-16 loss at Arizona).

UNBEATEN TEAMS:
Only Hawaii made it through the 2007 regular season unbeaten, and the Warriors were blown out 41-10 by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. It was the first season since 2002 that no team recorded a perfect record.

Boise State was the only team to finish the entire 2006 season unscathed, while Texas did it in 2005. Auburn, USC and Utah all went undefeated in 2004.

WINLESS TEAMS:
FIU defeated North Texas 38-19 in its final 2007 game to avoid ending the season as the only winless team. The Golden Panthers had lost 23 straight games and were one of two schools to go winless in 2006 (Duke was the other). FIU opened the 2008 season with a 40-10 loss at Kansas, and fell 42-0 to Iowa on Saturday.

Idaho has not defeated team from the bowl subdivision since October 14, 2006. The Vandals lost their last 5 FBS games under Dennis Erickson, and have dropped 12 straight FBS contests under Robb Akey for a total of 17 in-a-row. Idaho defeated FCS member and state rival Idaho State 42-27 on Saturday after opening the 2008 campaign by getting rolled 70-0 at Arizona.

FBS vs. FCS
The divisions were re-named late in 2006. 1-A was given the new moniker of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) while 1-AA was labeled the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Twenty-three such games took place this weekend with FBS teams going 22-1. Army took the lone loss, losing 28-10 to New Hampshire. This is the third straight year the Wildcats have defeated a FBS team. New Hampshire beat Marshall 48-35 last year, and Northwestern 34-17 in 2006.

Last week, the FBS was 31-1 vs. the FCS with San Diego State losing 29-27 to Cal Poly.

That brings the record for FBS teams to 53-2 (.964) vs. their FCS counterparts this season, and 343-37 (.903) since 2003.

This year, 82 different FBS teams will participate in a total of 87 games that will pit the FCS against the FBS. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Western Kentucky each play two such games.

ACC teams have more games versus FCS schools than any other conference. Here is the number of FCS games for each conference:

Conference Teams In Conf. Games vs. FCS Avg. Per Team
ACC 12 14 1.167
Big East 8 7 0.875
Big 12 12 10 0.833
Big 10 11 9 0.818
MWC 9 7 0.778
WAC 9 7 0.778
SEC 12 9 0.750
Independents 3 2 0.667
MAC 13 8 0.615
CUSA 12 7 0.583
Sun Belt 9 5 0.555
PAC-10 10 2 0.200
Totals 120 87 0.725

STREAKS:
BYU has won 12 straight games, and 16 consecutive MWC games. The Cougars defeated Washington 28-27.

Georgia has won 9 in-a-row after taking down Central Michigan 56-17.

Boise State won its 44th consecutive regular season home game on opening weekend with a 49-7 demolition of FCS member Idaho State. The Broncos have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (28-0). Boise State was idle this week.

Hawaii had its 13-game winning streak stopped by Georgia in a 41-10 Sugar Bowl loss. And despite being stomped 56-10 at Florida on Saturday, the Warriors still own a 15-game winning streak against WAC teams. Hawaii beat FCS member Weber State 36-17 Saturday night.

Idaho ended its 11-game losing streak with a 42-27 win over FCS member Idaho State. However, the Vandals have lost 17 straight to FBS schools.

SMU also ended its 11-game skid with a 47-36 win over FCS member Texas State. The Mustangs have still dropped 11 straight games to FBS teams.

Baylor halted a 9-game losing streak with a 51-6 victory over FCS member Northwestern State (La.). The Bears have still lost 9 straight to FBS teams.

That leaves Kent State with the longest current losing streak overall at 9 games after the Golden Flashes fell 48-28 at Iowa State.

NEW COACHES: The 2007 season featured 24 new head coaches. Nine led their team to a bowl game. This year, there are 18 coaching changes. Northern Illinois and Washington State are the only teams still waiting to taste victory. Eight teams have defeated FBS schools - Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska Southern Miss, Texas A&M and UCLA. Only Georgia Tech and UCLA have defeated a team from one of the "big 6" conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-10 or SEC).

TEAM W-L COACH LAST GAME
Arkansas 2-0 Bobby Petrino Defeated La.-Monroe 28-27 (at Little Rock)
Baylor 1-1 Art Briles Defeated NW State, La. (FCS) 51-6
Colorado State 1-1 Steve Fairchild Defeated Sacramento State 23-20
Duke 1-1 David Cutcliffe Lost to Northwestern 24-20
Georgia Tech 2-0 Paul Johnson Defeated Boston College 19-16
Hawaii 1-1 Greg McMackin Defeated Weber State (FCS) 36-17
Houston 1-1 Kevin Sumlin Lost at Oklahoma State 56-37
Michigan 1-1 Rich Rodriguez Defeated Miami, O. 16-6
Mississippi 1-1 Houston Nutt Lost at Wake Forest 30-28
Navy 1-1 Ken Nuimatalolo Lost at Ball State 35-23
Nebraska 2-0 Bo Pelini Defeated San Jose State 35-12
Northern Illinois 0-2 Jerry Kill Lost at Western Michigan 29-26
SMU 1-1 June Jones Defeated Texas State (FCS) 47-36
Southern Miss 1-1 Larry Fedora Lost at Auburn 27-13
Texas A&M 1-1 Mike Sherman Defeated New Mexico 28-22
UCLA 1-0 Rick Neuheisel idle
Washington State 0-2 Paul Wulff Lost to California 66-3
West Virginia 1-1 Bill Stewart Lost at East Carolina 24-3