2006
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Spartans Stage Record Comeback; Texas, Notre Dame Avoid Upsets

by Mike Mitchell
Updated 10/22/06

Michigan State pulled off the largest comeback in Division 1-A history on Saturday, shocking the Northwestern home fans and breaking a four-game losing streak in stunning fashion.

The No. 67 Spartans trailed the No. 92 Wildcats 38-3 when they finally scored a touchdown with 7:08 remaining in the third quarter. They tied the game 18 minutes and 25 seconds later with 3:43 left in the game, and won it on a 28-yard field goal with 18 ticks left on the clock.

Maryland and Ohio State had shared the record for the largest comeback of 31 points since Ohio State's 41-37 win over Minnesota on October 28, 1989. Until that event, the Terrapins owned the record outright with their 42-40 victory over Miami (Fla.) on November 10, 1984.

Michigan State needed the win badly but it couldn't have come at a less-expected moment. The Spartans had fallen, and couldn't get up, after blowing a 37-21 lead over Notre Dame a month ago. That collapse, which took less than 8 minutes to occur, had set the stage for four consecutive Michigan State losses. The next week, Illinois snapped a 10-game losing streak to conference teams and a 12-game skid to 1-A opponents with a 23-20 win at Michigan State. Blowout losses to Michigan and Ohio State followed.

The unlikely defeat was Northwestern's fifth straight.

Elsewhere on Saturday:

No. 5 Texas needed a 22-yard field goal with 23 second left, and a failed Hail Mary pass by No. 16 Nebraska on the final play of the game, to escape Lincoln with a 22-20 win. The kick was made by sophomore walk-on Ryan Bailey after the starting kicker, Greg Johnson, suffered muscle tightness late in the game. Ironically, the winning kick was the same distance as the two field goals that Johnson made earlier in the game. It was Texas' 16th straight road win. The Cornhuskers had taken a 20-19 lead with just 4:54 left in the contest.

No. 15 Notre Dame avoided the upset loss at home to No. 31 UCLA with a 45-yard touchdown pass and run with 27 seconds left that gave them a 20-17 victory. The Fighting Irish trailed for most of the game and scored their only other touchdown late in the first quarter. A loss would have, most-assuredly, knock Notre Dame completely out of the BCS title picture and maybe even a spot in any BCS bowl.

No. 21 Tennessee got by No. 31 Alabama, 16-13, in a contest that featured five field goals and just two touchdowns. The Tide took a 13-6 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Vols scored the game's final 10 points and secured the win on their only touchdown with 3:28 left in the game.

No. 10 Rutgers proved it's for real with a 20-10 win at No. 20 Pitt. The Scarlet Knights are 7-0 for the first time since 1976 when they went 11-0 against a schedule that included just four teams that are now in Division 1-A. In case you're wondering, Rutgers hosts Louisville on Nov. 9 and visits West Virginia on Dec. 2.

No. 4 Louisville and No. 6 West Virginia each won this past week to set up their showdown on November 2. The Cardinals will host the match-up that most believe will determine the Big East title. But Rutgers can not be dismissed form the equation as the conference boasts three of the nation's seven remaining undefeated teams.

Louisville was a slow starter, and an unimpressive 28-13 winner at No. 84 Syracuse on Saturday. Nonetheless, the Cardinals are 7-0 for the first time since 1925.

The Mountaineers took downed UConn, 37-11, on Friday night (see more on this game under "Weekend Starters" further down in this article).

No. 8 Clemson held Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson to no catches while racking up 321 net rushing yards en route to a 31-7 home win. Each team went into that game as an ACC division leader, but Georgia Tech was the only school with a perfect record in conference games. The No. 22 Yellow Jackets are still in first place in the Coastal Division at 3-1, but Miami trails at 1-1 and visits Georgia Tech next Saturday.

Clemson visits a Virginia Tech team on Thursday that may be playing with renewed confidence after a 36-6 route of Southern Miss. More important than the victory, the No. 26 Hokies looked like a much more disciplined team than the one Kirk Herbstreit chastised during a Thursday night loss at Boston College in their last outing. Virginia Tech also gave rebirth to a running game with Branden Ore racking up 210 yards against the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss dropped to 4-3 with the loss while the Hokies improved to 5-2.

Also in the ACC, Boston College's 24-19 win at Florida State dealt the 'Noles their fifth conference loss in their last seven regular season ACC games.

In the PAC-10 on Saturday, No. 11 Oregon was a surprise 34-23 loser at No. 51 Washington State to suffer their second conference setback. Now, only USC and Cal have fewer than two PAC-10 losses and they are each undefeated in league play.

No. 9 California almost saw its perfect PAC-10 record go down the drain on Saturday. The Golden Bears needed overtime to get past No. 62 Washington, 31-24, after the Huskies scored on a 40-yard Hail Mary on the last play of regulation.

No. 27 Miami thwarted the upset bid by No. 116 Duke, losers of 17 straight games to Division 1-A teams, by intercepting a Blue Devils' pass near the goal line on the last play of the game to preserve a 20-15 win. The Hurricanes were without 13 players that were suspended for the brawl with FIU in its last game.

WEEKEND STARTERS
If the UConn Huskies were going to be the mangy mutts that spoiled West Virginia's national championship run, consider them officially house-broken.

The No. 6 Mountaineers chased out the home crowd early in a 37-11 win at No. 64 Connecticut in a Big East game on Friday night. The chilly weather didn't cool off West Virginia as they won their 14th straight game while improving to 7-0 on the season, 2-0 in the Big East.

UConn sunk under .500 with the loss, dropping to 3-4 over-all and 0-2 in conference play.

Central Michigan moved one step closer to playing for its first MAC Championship since 1994 when the Chippewas pulled away from Bowling Green for a 31-14 win on Thursday night.

No. 66 CMU is just 5-3 over-all but 5-0 now in the West Division of the MAC. Since claiming their last conference crown, the Chippewas have turned in only two winning campaigns. They went 6-5 in 1998 and last season.

Central Michigan appears to be on a collision course with Kent State. The Golden Flashes enter the weekend at 5-2 over-all and 4-0 in the East Division.

Bowling Green could have kept the east division lead in sight with a win but, instead, the No. 68 Falcons fell to 4-4 over-all and 3-2 in MAC play.

Also on Thursday night, No. 87 Virginia kept its bowl hopes alive with a 23-0 win over No. 99 North Carolina. The Cavaliers improved to 3-5 over-all, 2-2 in the ACC. The Tar Heels sunk to 1-6 over-all, 0-4 in the ACC, with their sixth straight loss to a 1-A team.

No. 82 New Mexico stormed back from a 24-3 first-half deficit to defeat No. 50 Utah 34-31 in Albuquerque. It was Utah's second straight conference loss and New Mexico's second consecutive MWC victory. Both teams are now 4-4 over-all, 2-2 in the Mountain West.

On Wednesday night, No. 61 Louisiana-Lafayette edged No. 111 FAU 6-0 in its Sun Belt conference opener.

UNBEATEN TEAMS
All 7 teams that entered the week unbeaten were able to keep their perfect records intact. No. 7 Boise State downed No. 90 Idaho, 42-26; Louisville defeated Syracuse, 28-13; No. 2 Michigan upended No. 32 Iowa, 20-6; No. 1 Ohio State trounced No. 73 Indiana, 44-3; West Virginia trumped UConn, 37-11; and Rutgers won over Pitt, 20-10. No. 3 USC was idle.

WINLESS TEAMS
No. 101 San Diego State and No. 114 Eastern Michigan notched their first victories of the season, reducing the number of winless teams to just 4.

San Diego State's 19-12 upset of No. 53 Air Force was not only their first victory of the season, and the first under new head coach Chuck Long, but also the first Mountain West Conference defeat for the Falcons this year.

Eastern Michigan's 17-13 win over No. 93 Toledo was the first conference win for the Eagles in their last 10 conference games.

The four remaining winless teams are No. 116 Duke, No. 118 FIU, No. 115 Stanford and No. 119 Temple.

1-A vs. 1-AA
Only one 1-AA school played a 1-A team this week and it nearly came away with the victory. North Dakota State, which had previously beaten Ball State 29-24 back on September 23, lost a 10-9 heartbreaker at Minnesota.

The No. 79 Golden Gophers blocked the Bisons' 43-yard field goal attempt as time expired to avoid losing to a team that is just four years removed from Division II football.

1-A schools are 68-6 against 1-AA teams this year. The 1-A teams went 52-2 in such games last year. Since the beginning of the 2003 season, the 1-A schools are now 232-24 in games played against 1-AA teams.

Over 75 schools took the opportunity of a 12th game to schedule a cupcake opponent during the 2006 season.

The NCAA has officially re-named them the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly 1-A, now FBS) and the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly 1-AA, now FCS).

STREAKS
USC has won 37 straight regular season games, a nation's-best 30 consecutive home victories, and 27 straight conference games.

Ohio State owns the nation's longest winning streak at 15 games.

West Virginia has won 14 straight games.

Boise State has won 34 consecutive regular season home games. The Broncos have never lost a home game to a WAC opponent (22-0). Boise State has won 10 straight regular season games.

Texas has won 19 straight conference games. The Longhorns have also won 16 straight road games.

Louisville has won 12 straight regular season games.

Temple owns the nation's longest losing streak at 20 games. They've lost their eight games this year by an average score of 44 to 8. They lost all 11 games last year by an average result of 45 to 9.

Duke has lost 15 straight games over-all, 17 straight to 1-A teams.

Stanford has lost 10 straight games.

New Mexico State has lost 18 straight to 1-A teams.

NEW COACHES
The 2006 season introduces 11 coaching changes. We're tracking their progress throughout the season.

Boise State, 8-0 under Chris Petersen, beat Idaho 42-26.
Wisconsin, 7-1 under Bret Bielema, beat Purdue 24-3.
Middle Tennessee, 4-3 under Rick Stockstill, beat Louisiana-Monroe 35-21.
Idaho, 4-4 under Dennis Erickson, lost to Boise State 42-26.
Kansas State, 4-4 under Ron Prince, lost to Missouri 41-21.
Rice, 3-5 under Todd Graham, beat UCF 40-29.
Northwestern, 2-6 under Pat Fitzgerald, lost to Michigan State 41-38.
San Diego State, 1-5 under Chuck Long, beat Air Force 19-12.
Buffalo, 1-6 with Turner Gill, lost to Ohio 42-7.
Colorado, 1-7 under Dan Hawkins, lost to Oklahoma 24-3.
Temple, 0-8 under Al Golden, lost to Northern Illinois 43-21.


2006 POST-GAME ARCHIVES
12/03: BCS Becomes Bruin Ruins
11/26: USC Routs Irish; USF Upsets WVU
11/19: Big Day For Ohio Football Teams
11/12: Texas, Auburn and Cal Go Down
11/05: There's No Place Like Home - To Be Upset
10/29: Two Major Streaks Come To An End
10/22: Spartans Stage Record Comeback; Texas, Notre Dame Avoid...
10/15: Saturday Shockers Shake-Up Standings
10/08: Auburn and Georgia Fall; Clemson and Ga. Tech Escape
10/01: GT Upsets VT; Illinois Wins In Big 10
09/24: A Day Of Upsets and Many Escapes
09/17: Instant Replay Was A Big Loser
09/10: Longhorns Roped and Tied; Seven Games Go To Overtime
09/05: FSU Makes A Field Goal; Three 1-AA Teams Pull Upsets