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This Is Why We Live For College Football

What We Thought Would Be A Mildly Entertaining Week Turned Super

by Dave Congrove
September 11, 2011

We knew beforehand that Week 2 had some promising games, but the action from Thursday through Saturday reinforced why college football is so special.

Yes, the end of the Notre Dame-Michigan game stole the show, but it was already a great weekend long before the thrilling finish in Ann Arbor.

The day opened with Toledo nearly upsetting THE Ohio State University in Columbus. The Rockets had lost their previous two games with the Buckeyes by a cumulative score of 87-0, but they lead Saturday's game until the final minute of the first half and only lost by five, 27-22, when they turned the ball over on downs at the Ohio State 16-yard line with 40 seconds left.

Nearly simultaneously, Iowa and Iowa State headed toward a triple-overtime thriller in Ames in which the underdog Cyclones downed the Hawkeyes 44-41.

San Diego State held on for a 23-20 win over Army at Mitchie Stadium at West Point, and UNC eked-out a 24-22 win over visiting Rutgers.

Meanwhile, some major SEC fireworks were taking place in Auburn. The Tigers, which barely survived an invasion from Utah State last week, outlasted SEC West rival Mississippi State 41-34 when they stuffed QB Chris Relf inches from the goal line on the final play of the game. Auburn was supposed to be relegated to the bottom of the conference this year after losing the bulk of the players from the 2010 BCS title squad, but they sit atop the SEC West standings two weeks into the season with a pair of victories that are eerily reminiscent of last year's championship run.

On a Saturday when 62 games would take place, five of the first nine games to kick-off provided edge-of-your-seat excitement .

Little did we know at the time that things were just heating up.

Out in Colorado, the Buffs kicked a field goal to tie California at the end of regulation, then lost 36-33 in OT. It was a PAC-12 game matchup that didn't count as a PAC-12 game. The contest had been scheduled before Colorado joined the PAC-12 this season, so it stayed on the schedule as a nonconference game.

Virginia Tech survived its own mistakes and pulled out a 17-10 win at East Carolina by holding the potent Pirate attack to a paltry 112 total yards and minus-15 on the ground. Frank Beamer became just the 10th FBS coach in history to win 200 games with the same school.

Rice ended a 22-game losing streak to BCS automatic qualifier schools when it blocked Purdue's potential game-winning field goal as time expired to bag a 24-22 victory.

South Carolina dropped SEC East division rival Georgia to 0-2 with three touchdowns from the defense and special teams in a 45-42 win at Athens. Defensive end Melvin Ingram ran a fake punt 68 yards for a score just before halftime, but it was his 5-yard fumble return with 3:21 left in the game that gave the Gamecocks a 45-35 cushion. Antonio Allen had a 25-yard INT return.

In the day's strangest ending, USC blocked a potential game-tying field goal on the final play to secure a win over Utah. The Trojans returned the blocked kick for a TD, but officials ruled that it wouldn't count because USC players and coaches ran onto the field during the return and the final score was posted as 17-14. However, the PAC-12 later over-ruled the officials and the score was changed to 23-14. It was the first PAC-12 conference game for the Utes.

Other tight games and dramatic finishes included Virginia kicking the game-winning field goal on the final play to pull out a 34-31 win at Indiana; Kansas scoring on a 6-yard TD pass with 9 seconds left to trip favored Northern Illinois 45-42; Louisiana Tech avoiding the home upset loss to a FCS school with a 48-42 overtime win over Central Arkansas; and Texas scoring a TD midway through the 4th quarter and making it stand up for a 17-16 win over BYU.

Nebraska needed a 21-point 4th quarter to pull away from Fresno State for a 42-29 win after ending the 3rd quarter with a 21-20 lead.

Elsewhere, Southern Miss, the predicted CUSA East frontrunner, was upset 26-20 at Marshall in the conference opener for both schools.

Conversely, Conference USA's UCF laid a 30-3 beatdown on visiting Boston College.

Amid all the excitement of the great college football action, Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill, a cancer survivor, suffered a seizure late in the Golden Gophers' 28-21 upset home loss to New Mexico State and was taken to a hospital. He was reported to be in stable condition late Saturday night. As for the Aggies' win, it was their first over a BCS automatic qualifying school since a 1999 win at Arizona State.

The day ended with Saturday's most exhilarating finish as Michigan and Notre Dame combined to score three touchdowns in the final 1:12.

With both schools wearing great throwback-style uniforms, the Wolverines spit and sputtered in front of a NCAA-record crowd of 114,804 and found themselves hopelessly trailing 24-3 after 3 quarters. But the first night game at the Big House wasn't about to end quietly.

Michigan rallied with a 28-point 4th quarter and scored the game-winning TD with just 2 seconds remaining. The Wolverines actually took their first lead of the game at 28-24 with 1:12 left, but the Irish needed just four plays to reclaim the lead on a TD pass from Tommy Rees with 30 seconds remaining. The stunned crowd came back to life after a 64-yard pass moved the home team from its 20-yard line to the Irish and, on the very next play, Denard Robinson tossed a game-winning 16-yard pass to Roy Roundtree by the right sideline in the endzone.

The weekend opened with a Thursday night 37-14 romp by Oklahoma State over visiting Arizona, but a pair of Friday games set the tone for Saturday. First, Louisville was upset 24-17 at home by FIU. Then, Arizona State edged Missouri 37-30 in overtime after the Tigers missed a 48-yard FG attempt at the end of regulation. Prior to the FG attempt, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel iced his own kicker when he inexplicably called two consecutive timeouts prior to the kick. Missouri, which entered the contest at No. 5 in the Congrove Computer Rankings, scored 14 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to make up a 30-16 deficit.

WEEK 2 ACCURACY:
In week two, the Congrove Computer Rankings correctly forecasted the winner in 80% of the game played, including a 71% mark in games that featured FBS teams taking on other teams from the FBS. After two weeks, the computer is 123-20 in picking the winner, and 47-38 against the spread. Among the surprising correct picks this week, the computer forecasted Ohio State's narrow win over Toledo as well as the outright upsets of FIU over Louisville and Rice over Purdue.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams went 20-0 (1.000) against FCS teams to raise their record to 56-2 for the season and 603-51 (.922) in such games since 2003.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/3: Richmond 23, Duke 21
9/3: Sacramento State 29, Oregon State 28

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

STREAKS:
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 - 17 straight wins overall after beating Mississippi State 41-34. (Next: visits Clemson on Saturday)

Stanford - 10 straight wins overall after beating Duke 44-14. (Next: visits Arizona on Saturday).

TCU - 20 straight home wins. Won its 18th straight conference game with a 35-19 victory at Air Force. (Next: hosts La.-Monroe on Saturday).

Virginia Tech - 12 regular season wins (excludes ACC Championship game win) after 17-10 victory at East Carolina. Also has streaks of 12 straight conference wins and 8 straight road wins. (Next: hosts Arkansas State on Saturday).

Oklahoma - 37 straight home victories. Was idle this past week. (Next: visits Florida State on Saturday).

San Jose State - 12 straight losses after 27-17 setback at UCLA. (Next: hosts Nevada on Saturday).

Memphis - 11 straight losses after taking a 47-3 drubbing at Arkansas State. (Next: hosts FCS member Austin Peay on Saturday)

New Mexico - 17 straight road losses after a 52-3 defeat vs. Arkansas in Little Rock. (Next: hosts Texas Tech on Saturday).

NEW COACHES:
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.

The new head coaches are a cumulative 27-18, but only Ball State, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Stanford and Vanderbilt, have defeated schools from the "Big 6" conferences.

Here are this week's results for each new head coach:

Team Coach Game
Arkansas State Hugh Freeze (1-1) Won 47-3 vs. Memphis
Ball State Pete Lembo (1-1) Lost 37-7 at USF
Colorado Jon Embree (0-2) Lost 36-33 in OT vs. California
Connecticut Paul Pasqualoni (1-1) Lost 24-21 at Vanderbilt
Florida Will Muschamp (2-0) Won 39-0 vs. UAB
Indiana Kevin Wilson (0-2) Lost 34-31 vs. Virginia
Kent State Darrell Hazell (0-2) Lost 20-12 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth (1-1) Won 20-12 at Kent State
Maryland Randy Edsall (1-0) Idle
Miami (Fla.) Al Golden (0-1) Idle
Miami (O.) Don Treadwell (0-1) Idle
Michigan Brady Hoke (2-0) Won 35-31 vs. Notre Dame
Minnesota Jerry Kill (0-2) Lost 28-21 vs. New Mexico State
North Carolina Everett Withers (Interim) (2-0) Won 24-22 vs. Rutgers
North Texas Dan McCarney (0-2) Lost 48-23 vs. Houston
Northern Illinois Dave Doeren (1-1) Lost 45-42 at Kansas
Ohio State Luke Fickell (Interim) (2-0) Won 27-22 vs. Toledo
Pittsburgh Todd Graham (2-0) Won 35-29 vs. FCS member Maine
San Diego St. Rocky Long (2-0) Won 23-20 at Army
Stanford David Shaw (2-0) Won 44-14 at Duke
Temple Steve Addazio (2-0) Won 41-3 at Akron
Tulsa Bill Blankenship (1-1) Won 31-3 at Tulane
Vanderbilt James Franklin (2-0) Won 24-21 vs. Connecticut
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen (2-0) Won 55-12 vs. FCS member Norfolk State