2004
College Football Season
Post-Game
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USC and Oklahoma Win Major Showdowns; Army Ends Nation's Longest Losing Streak

by Mike Mitchell

Is it getting better, or worse, for Texas? If you look at the score of Saturday's game, 12-0 is a lot better than the 65-13 embarrassment of 2003. But it's the first time the Longhorns have been held scoreless since a 16-0 shutout at Baylor on November 22, 1980. Texas has now dropped five straight to Oklahoma and has only scored a total of 54 points in doing so.

USC stopped a last-minute drive by California and the Trojans remained undefeated while handing the Golden Bears their first loss of the season. USC never trailed and the 23-17 win keeps them very much alive in the national title chase.

For the second consecutive year Michigan needed a rally to put down Minnesota, this time winning in Ann Arbor 27-24 for their 16th consecutive win in the 101-year-old series. It also kept Michigan's hopes alive for a Big Ten conference title and national title while knocking Minnesota from the unbeaten ranks.

The Golden Gophers fell behind 17-7 early, then scored 17 unanswered points to take a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter. A field goal brought the Wolverines to within 24-20 with over nine minutes left. The game-winning drive began on Michigan's own 13-yard line with 3:04 to play and culminated with Tyler Ecker's 31-yard touchdown run off a short pass from freshman quarterback Chad Henne only one minute and seven seconds later.

Last year, the Golden Gophers had the Little Brown Jug in their hands until they blew fourth quarter leads of 28-7 and 35-21. Michigan's 31-point outburst in the final period gave the Wolverines a 38-35 win.

Wisconsin improved to 6-0 with a 24-13 win at Ohio State. It was the Badgers' third victory in the last four meetings with the Buckeyes and their third consecutive win in Columbus. The loss ended Ohio State's string of consecutive home wins at 18.

Purdue is 5-0 for the first time since 1945 after winning at Penn State for the first time in five tries (1-3-1) dating back to 1952. The 20-13 victory wasn't sealed until a last-second Hail Mary pass was deflected on the game's final play. The 1945 team lost three of its last five games.

In the SEC, Tennessee handed Georgia its first loss of the year with a 19-14 win in Athens. The Bulldogs had won 17 consecutive home games. The Volunteers had dropped four straight to the Bulldogs and had not won in Athens since 1998.

Auburn demolished Louisiana Tech, 52-7, and is the only SEC team remaining without a mark in the loss column.

Oklahoma State stayed perfect in the Big 12 with a 42-14 demoralization of Colorado in Boulder.

But speaking of demoralizations, can you believe the 70-10 thrashing that Texas Tech gave Nebraska? It is, as you can imagine, the worst defeat in the history of Cornhusker football. And it is the very first time that the Red Raiders have prevailed over Nebraska in eight tries dating back to 1976. The turnover-prone Nebraska offense gave the ball away 7 times.

Army put an end to the nation's longest losing streak at 19 games with a 48-29 CUSA victory over Cincinnati. The Black Knights had nearly ended the dry spell last week, taking a 17-0 lead on TCU only to see it slip away into a 21-17 loss. On Saturday, Army went up 26-7 in the second quarter but, by halftime, the Bearcats had pulled to within 32-29. One couldn't help but think "here we go again". However, Army's defense and Cincinnati turnovers continuously halted the Bearcats. In the second half, Army recovered a Cincy fumble in their own end zone for one score and salted the game away with a 93-yard pass play in the fourth quarter.

The win is Army's first since November 16, 2002 when the Black Knights won 14-10 at Tulane for their only win that season. Their last home victory was also over Tulane when they beat the Green Wave 42-35 on October 27, 2001. It is only the 6th win since the beginning of the 2000 season for the Black Knights, three of which have come against Tulane.

Not to keep picking on Tulane, but.... the Green Wave's 27-25 loss at East Carolina Saturday snapped the Pirates' 9-game losing streak. ECU's last win had come against Army (38-32) on October 18, 2003. East Carolina had also lost 9 straight home games dating back to November 23, 2002 when the Pirates won 31-28 over TCU.

Northwestern won a Big 10 game in overtime for the second consecutive weekend. Last week, the Wildcats' 33-27 upset of Ohio State in single overtime was their first home win over the Buckeyes since 1958. On Saturday, they scored their third consecutive triumph over Indiana with a 31-24 home win in double-overtime.

South Carolina had its SEC title hopes damaged with a 31-28 home loss to Mississippi for the Gamecocks' second conference loss of the year. The Rebels had entered the game as 17-point underdogs by the oddsmakers (7-point underdogs by the computer). The win gives Ole Miss a major lift in its chase for a postseason bowl game as they improved to 3-3 over-all and 2-1 in the SEC west.

LSU put Florida in a funk with a 24-21 win in Gainesville. The Tigers scored the winning touchdown with 27 seconds left in the game. Each team now has two conference losses.

In the ACC, N. C. State was shocked at North Carolina, 30-24, as the Wolfpack was stopped inches short of the goal line in the final seconds. The Tar Heels had lost three of the last four meetings with their in-state rivals.

Maryland was waxed at home by Georgia Tech, 20-7, for the Terrapins first conference loss of the year. It also snapped Maryland's streak of 13 consecutive home wins.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech drove the field in the closing minutes for the winning touchdown at Wake Forest in a 17-10 nail-biter. The Demon Deacons subsequently drove to the Hokies' 5-yard line where they were stopped on downs.

Alabama upped its record to 4-2, 2-2 in the SEC west, with a 45-17 romp at Kentucky (1-4, 0-2).

Elsewhere:

Florida State overcame a 10-3 third quarter deficit to sneak past Syracuse 17-13 at the Carrier Dome.

Rutgers rallied from a 27-3 third quarter deficit for a 37-34 win at Vanderbilt.

Notre Dame was down 15-10 in the fourth quarter but beat Stanford 23-15 and became only the second school to win 800 games (Michigan has 838).

Oregon outscored Washington State 27-11 in the fourth quarter and took its only lead of the game with 1:21 left to play as the Ducks sank the Cougars, 41-38.

Northern Illinois kicked a 39-yard field goal as time expired to keep UCF winless. The 30-28 win came after the Huskies had blown leads of 21-0 at halftime and 27-14 with under five minutes left.

Thursday night featured two college football games that rendered similar outcomes for the participants. The winners remained undefeated, while the losers sunk further into the abyss.

Southern Miss (4-0, 3-0) needed a 35-29 overtime win to keep its' perfect record intact, shaking off a determined Houston team that slid to 1-5 over-all and 1-2 in CUSA with the loss. The Golden Eagles have won 12 straight CUSA games since losing to Tulane on November 23, 2002.

Meanwhile, Virginia scored 27 unanswered points to bounce back from an early 10-3 deficit and roll over Clemson 30-10 as the Cavaliers improved to 5-0.

BYU and UNLV left their Friday night game tied at 2-4 over-all and 1-1 in the Mountain West after the Rebels picked up a 24-20 victory at Provo, Utah. It was only the third win ever for UNLV over the Cougars but their second win-in-a-row at Provo (BYU leads the series, 9-3). John Robinson's group is now 2-0 since he announced his retirement at the end of the season back on September 26.

The Computer Wore Football Cleats: The computer picks based on the Congrove Computer Rankings picked four outright upsets against the Vegas spreads and went 4-1 straight up and 5-0 against the spread. It nailed the upsets of LSU over Florida, Kansas over Kansas State, New Mexico State over Louisiana-Lafayette, and North Texas over Utah State. It missed on the pick of Tulane over East Carolina but was correct in saying that ECU would not cover the 3.5-point spread.

No Blemishes: The unbeaten list is dwindling. Texas was knocked off by Oklahoma, Georgia lost to Tennessee, California was dropped by USC and Minnesota lost to Michigan. The 14 remaining teams with unblemished records are: Arizona State, Auburn, Boise State, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Navy, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Southern Miss, USC, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

There are no undefeated teams in the Big East, MAC or Sun Belt and only Auburn is untouched in the SEC. Additionally, there are no unbeaten teams in the north division of the Big 12 or the east division of the SEC.

The weekend began with five winless teams and ended with just one - Central Florida. Louisiana-Monroe, Washington, Army and East Carolina all claimed their first victories of the season.

Streaking: Boise State has won 16 straight games over-all, 22 straight at home, and 20 straight over WAC foes. The Broncos were idle this week after dispatching SMU 38-20 last week. The Mustangs had just ended their 15-game losing streak with a victory the week before that over San Jose State. Has a new streak begun?

USC extended the nation's second-longest winning streak to 14 with a 23-17 win over California. The Trojans have won 17 straight home games and 9 consecutive PAC-10 games.

North Texas has won 20 straight over Sun Belt conference foes after Saturday's 31-23 win over Utah State.

Southen Miss has beaten 12 consecutive CUSA opponents.

Army snapped its' 19-game losing streak with a 48-29 win over Cincinnati.

East Carolina's losing streak ended at 9 with a 27-25 win over Tulane.

Louisiana-Monroe also ended its 9-game losing streak with a 16-14 win over Idaho.

Central Florida claims the longest losing streak in the nation now. Northern Illinois handed them their 9th straight loss, 30-28, in Orlando.

Iowa State has lost 12 consecutive Big 12 games.

Illinois has lost 11 straight Big 10 games.

Temple has lost 9 straight Big East games.

David Slays Goliath (Repeatedly): No 1-A schools took on 1-AA teams this past weekend.For the year, 1-A teams have won 42-of-48 games against their 1-AA brethren. Florida Atlantic has notched half of the lower division's wins. FAU, a 1-AA team transitioning into Division 1-A and joining the Sun Belt next season, opened the year with consecutive road wins over Hawaii, North Texas and Middle Tennessee.


2004 POST-GAME ARCHIVES
12/05: Oklahoma, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh Claim BCS...
11/28:Iowa St., BC Blow Title Chances; VT Sets Up ACC...
11/21: Michigan, Florida State Victims Of Upsets...
11/14: ...Three Teams Clinch Conference Titles
11/07: Miami Suffers Second Straight Defeat; Oklahoma Rallies...
10/31: 'Canes, 'Noles, Gators Lose On Same Day For the First...
10/24: Mississippi St. Upsets Gators; Several Others Narrowly...
10/17: Seven Teams Suffer Their First Defeat
10/10: USC and Oklahoma Win Major Showdowns...
10/03: Purdue Gets Monkey Off Back; Virginia Tech Gains...
09/27: Will The Mighty Please Identify Yourselves
09/19: Top Teams Play Game Of Survivor
09/12: Non-BCS Schools Flex Their Muscles
09/07: Interesting Labor Day Weekend Behind Us
08/28: USC Gets By Virginia Tech