There's No Place Like Home - To Be Upset
by Mike Mitchell
It was a bad day for some home-field favorites as Iowa lost at home to Northwestern, Maryland won
at Clemson, 'Bama lost to Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa, Washington State lost at home to Arizona.
Based on the Congrove Computer Rankings, Iowa was favored by 14.65, Clemson by 19.07, Alabama by 17.19, and Washington State by 14.60.
It was supposed to be a fairly quiet day in the Big 10 with no major confrontations on the schedule involving the upper-echelon teams. Penn State at Wisconsin could have been interesting, but the Badgers took care of business in a workmanlike manner and beat the Nittany Lions 13-3.
However, Northwestern decided to go out and make a little noise. The Wildcats surprised Iowa 21-7 to pocket their first Big Ten win and hand Iowa its third straight loss.
The Ball State-Michigan final score is another head-turner. Though Big Blue prevailed 34-26, the Cardinals drove deep into Michigan territory late in the fourth quarter and missed several opportunities to tie the game. The Wolverines were favored by 30.58.
Ohio State got a stiffer challenge than expected from Illinois, too. After going up 17-0 at halftime, Illinois scored the game's final 10 points for a 17-10 outcome. The Buckeyes were favored by 30.48.
Clemson could only produce four field goals at home against Maryland, and were defeated 13-12 on a 31-yard field goal by the Terrapins on the last play of the game. The Tigers were an offensive machine in their previous home games, topping the 50-point barrier three times and even whipping Georgia Tech 31-7.
In the SEC, Mississippi State knocked off Alabama 24-16 at Tuscaloosa to capture its first conference win of the season. It was the first SEC road win for the Bulldogs in exactly six years, breaking a string of 23 such losses that go back to November 4, 2000. They also had not defeated a team from the West Division - at home or away - since November 22, 2001, when they knocked off state rival Mississippi. They are now just 7-39 in all SEC games since the start of the 2001 season.
Meanwhile, Kentucky pulled off the SEC upset in front of their own fans. The Wildcats answered a late Georgia touchdown with a scoring march of their own and beat the Bulldogs 24-20. Georgia had won 9 straight meetings with Kentucky but, despite being favored by 11.37, this result was far from being a monumental upset. The Bulldogs have now lost four of their last five games and fall to 6-4 over-all, 3-4 in the SEC East. The win puts Kentucky in front of Georgia in the standings with a 4-3 conference mark and moves them closer to bowl eligibility with a 5-4 over-all record.
Tennessee fell 28-24 at home to LSU when the Tigers scored the game-winning touchdown on a 4-yard pass with 9 seconds left. Though LSU was actually favored, the Vols entered the game as the higher-ranked team in the BCS (11th vs.17th for LSU). The computer had LSU favored by 8.26 and ranked 14th while Tennessee was ranked 18th.
The Volunteers' loss was Florida's gain, insuring the Gators of the SEC East title even if they lose next week at home to South Carolina.
Florida withstood a 4th-quarter rally by Vanderbilt to get out of Nashville with a 25-19 win. The Gators entered the final stanza with a 25-6 lead. Vanderbilt lost previous SEC games to Alabama by 3, Arkansas by 2, and Mississippi by 7.
Arizona took the lead over Washington State in the second quarter and never looked back in their 27-17 win at Pullman. The Wildcats now have two conference road wins this year, four in the past three years. But Arizona has won only two home conference games in that same time span.
In the Big East, South Florida scored a mild upset over Pitt. The Bulls were home underdogs by 3.61, but prevailed 22-12. The loss was, nonetheless, devastating for Pitt as they fell to 2-2 in conference play and almost certainly dropped out of the Big East title picture. USF is also 2-2 in the conference.
Homestanding Wake Forest upset Boston College 21-14 and is tied for first with Maryland in the ACC Atlantic with a 4-1 conference mark. The Eagles were favored by 5.44. Maryland hosts Wake Forest in each teams' season finale on November 25.
Houston registered a mild upset in CUSA, turning back conference heavyweight Tulsa 27-10. It was the first conference loss of the year for the Golden Hurricane, who were computer favorites by a mere 1.30 points, and put Houston is control of its own destiny of capturing the West Division title. The Cougars are now 5-1 in conference play while Tulsa is 4-1.
Rice, a 12.08 underdog at UTEP, beat the Miners 37-31 to improve the Owls to 4-5 under first-year head coach Todd Graham. Rice has won three straight contests, and four of its last five. The Owls are now 3-2 in the conference, just one loss behind Houston and Tulsa. Rice visits the Golden Hurricane next week, but lost to Houston 31-30 in the season opener.
In the MAC, Buffalo managed its biggest win since moving up to 1-A in 1999. The Bulls walloped Kent State 41-14, scoring 38 unanswered points in the second half. It was the first conference win for Buffalo (1-5) this season and only their 8th in over seven seasons of MAC membership. The loss dropped the Golden Flashes to 4-2.
In other games:
- Georgia Tech beat N.C. State 31-23 and can clinch the ACC Atlantic title with a win at North Carolina next Saturday.
- Arkansas moved another step closer to the SEC West title with a 26-20 win at South Carolina. The magic number to clinch is two, with games remaining against Tennessee and LSU at home, and Mississippi State on the road.
- California stayed unbeaten in PAC-10 play with a 38-24 victory over UCLA. Cal is 6-0 in the conference for the first time since 1950.
- The annual rivalry game between Virginia Tech and Miami was won by the road team for the third straight season as the Hokies prevailed 17-10 with the help of two interceptions in the closing minutes of the game.
- Oklahoma nipped Texas A&M 17-16 to basically end the Aggies' chances of a Big 12 South title. The Sooners chances aren't much better given that their lone conference loss was to division-leading Texas.
- Texas' 36-10 win over Oklahoma State, coupled with Texas A&M's loss to Oklahoma, means the Longhorns can clinch the Big 12 South Division title with a win at Kansas State next Saturday.
- BYU moved closer to a MWC title with a 24-3 romp over Colorado State. The Cougars are 5-0 in conference play. No one else has fewer than two conference defeats.
- Minnesota exploded past Indiana 63-26 for its first Big Ten conference win of the year. The Golden Gophers (4-6) must win their final two games to become bowl eligible while Indiana (-5-5) needs to win one of their last two games.
FIRST BOWL BID
Hawaii accepted the season's first bowl invitation, locking up a berth in the Hawai'i Bowl on Christmas Eve. June Jones' squad improved to 7-2 over-all, 5-1 in the WAC, with a 63-10 rout at Utah State.
The Air Force Academy set school records with a 98-yard fumble return in the 1st quarter, and a 36-point second quarter outburst, to propel the Falcons to a 43-7 win over Army on Friday night.
The Black Knights buried themselves in five first-half turnovers as their record dropped to 3-7 and made them ineligible for a postseason bowl. The Poinsettia Bowl pledged in the preseason that it would select the military academy as a participant if it could manage at least a 6-6 campaign. But the Black Knights have now dropped four straight games after beginning the season 3-3.
For Air Force, the victory was sweet revenge as the Falcons lost to Army 27-24 last year. It was Air Force's first home loss to Army since 1977 and snapped their 8-game winning streak in the series.
The victory also keeps Air Force's hopes alive for a postseason bowl trip, raising their record to 4-4.
Air Force's 45-7 rout in 1985 stands as the most lopsided outcome in the history of the series. Last night, the Black Knights avoided a worst fate when they scored their only points with 1:39 left in the game.
Louisville knocked one Big East team from the unbeaten ranks. Next Thursday, they face another. But before they deal with Rutgers, the Cardinals can revel in the glory of their 44-34 triumph over West Virginia on Thursday night.
Despite bringing a 15-game home winning streak into the contest, most pundits and prognosticators seemed to be siding with West Virginia as the favorite. Through most of the first half, they were able to keep the lead. But the Mountaineers had two costly turnovers early in the third quarter that led to 14 quick Louisville points. After that, the West Virginia defense simply couldn't get the stops it needed to get back in the game.
As a result, Louisville stretched its' home winning streak to 16 games and pulled into a dead-heat tie with Rutgers for first play in the conference. Both teams will enter next Thursday night's contest at Piscataway with over-all records of 8-0 and conference marks of 3-0.
Plenty of other big games still remain to be played among the Big East's top teams. Louisville still has to travel to Pitt, as well as play host to South Florida and a much-improved Cincinnati. Rutgers visits Cincinnati and West Virginia.
Wednesday night, Boise State rolled over Fresno State 45-21 as the Broncos improved to 9-0 and notched their 35th consecutive regular season home win. It was also BSU's 11th straight regular season victory over-all, and it improved their career WAC record to 23-0.
The Bulldogs slipped to 1-7 and have now lost 11 of their last 12 games.
The college football week kicked off on Tuesday night when SMU downed UAB 22-9 in a CUSA game.
West Virginia's loss shortens the list to five teams, but Louisville stays on the list for another week.
In Saturday's action, Michigan and Ohio State both avoided upsets at the hands of Ball State and Illinois, respectively. The Wolverines beat the Cardinals 34-26, and the Buckeyes downed the Illini 17-10.
Boise State romped 45-21 over Fresno State on Wednesday.
Rutgers was idle. The Scarlet Knights host Louisville on Thursday.
The list stays at three teams. Duke was a 38-13 loser to Navy, and Stanford was blanked 42-0 by USC.
FIU was idle.
1-A vs. 1-AA
1 school played a 1-AA team this week as Mississippi beat Northwestern State (La.) 27-7.
1-AA teams are 7-70 for the season against their higher-classified brethren. Since the start of the 2003 campaign, 1-A teams hold the upper hand by a huge margin, 234-25 (.903).
Over 75 schools took the opportunity of a 12th game to schedule a cupcake opponent.
Ohio State has won 17 straight games after its 17-10 defeat of Illinois.
West Virginia's 14-game winning streak was snapped in the 44-34 loss at Louisville on Thursday.
Louisville has won 13 straight regular season games after beating West Virginia 44-34 on Thursday.
Boise State's win over Fresno State was its' 35th consecutive regular season home victory. The Broncos have never lost a home game to a WAC opponent (23-0). Boise State has won 11 straight regular season games.
USC has won a nation's-best 30 consecutive home games. They won at Stanford on Saturday so that victory did not add to the string.
Texas has won 21 straight conference games after a 36-10 home win over OKlahoma State. The Longhorns have also won 17 straight road games.
Duke has lost 17 games over-all, and 19 straight to 1-A teams. The Blue Devils fell 38-13 to Navy on Saturday.
Stanford has lost 11 straight games over-all after falling 42-0 to USC.
New Mexico State has lost 20 straight to 1-A teams after its 31-21 setback at the hands of San Jose State.
The 2006 season introduces 11 coaching changes. We're tracking their progress throughout the season.
Boise State, 9-0 under Chris Petersen, beat Fresno St. 45-21 on Wednesday.
Wisconsin, 9-1 under Bret Bielema, beat Penn State 13-3.
Middle Tennessee, 6-3 under Rick Stockstill, beat FAU 35-14.
Kansas State, 6-4 under Ron Prince, beat Colorado 34-21.
Rice, 4-5 under Todd Graham, beat UTEP 37-31.
Idaho, 4-6 under Dennis Erickson, lost to Nevada 45-7.
Northwestern, 3-7 under Pat Fitzgerald, beat Iowa 21-7.
Buffalo, 2-7 with Turner Gill, beat Kent State 41-14.
San Diego State, 1-7 under Chuck Long, lost to Wyoming 27-24.
Colorado, 1-9 under Dan Hawkins, lost to Kansas State 34-21.
Temple, 1-9 under Al Golden, lost to Central Michigan 42-26.