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LSU Wins - Was It Just Round 1?

Oklahoma State survives; Nebraska Gets Shucked

by Dave Congrove
November 6, 2011

It wasn't pretty, but it should've been expected.

LSU won a defensive 9-6 battle at Alabama on Saturday night as the Crimson Tide missed four field goals (1 blocked) and had a pass taken away from a receiver at the 1-yard line. The last of Alabama's missed kicks came on the first possession of overtime when a 52-yarder missed short and left. LSU then hit the game-winner on its first possession.

The top questions now become, 1) how far will Alabama drop? and 2) is there a chance these two could play again in all-SEC BCS Championship game? The answers should be "not far" and "yes, there is a chance."

Consider that BCS No. 3 Oklahoma State needed a last-second defensive stand to beat BCS No. 14 Kansas State 52-45 in Stillwater when it was favored by 20+. And further consider that BCS No. 5 Boise State was unimpressive it its 48-21 win at UNLV (2-6) when it was favored by 40+. Even BCS No. 4 Stanford failed to score any style points with its 38-13 win at Oregon State (2-7).

Of course, there is plenty of time for the BCS Championship pairing to sort itself out with such major games on the horizon as Stanford-Oregon and TCU-Boise State next week, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State on December 3, Arkansas-LSU on November 25 and, of course, the SEC and PAC-12 title games.

South Carolina and Nebraska played themselves out of the chase as each sustained their second loss of the season on Saturday. The Gamecocks lost QB Connor Shaw to a concussion and fell 44-28 at Arkansas, while Nebraska was outplayed physically by Northwestern in a 28-25 home loss.

Oklahoma stayed in the race with a 41-25 win over Texas A&M in a game that really wasn't as close as the final score indicates. But the Sooners lost Ryan Broyles, the FBS career receptions leader with 349, for the season with an ACL injury. His 4,586 career receiving yards falls 419 yards short of the all-time record set by Nevada's Trevor Insley from 1996-1999.

Speaking of records, No. 13 Houston improved to 9-0 for the first time in school history with a 56-13 romp at UAB as Case Keenum set a new FBS career passing yards record. His total of 17,212 tops Timmy Chang (Hawaii, 2000-2004) who threw for 17,072. Last week, Keenum broke the career FBS TD pass record of Texas Tech's Graham Harrell (134) and he topped the career total offense record of Hawaii's Chang (16,910) the week before that. Keenum has now thrown 141 TD passes and amassed 18,101 yards of total offense.

Houston is a very distant dark horse candidate for the BCS title game and still has to survive a showdown at Tulsa on November 26 just to secure the Conference USA West title. Pass that test and the Cougars would appear to be headed toward a CUSA title showdown with Southern Miss.

Southern Miss improved to 8-1 with a 48-28 win at East Carolina that gave the Golden Eagles sole possession of first play in Conference USA's East division.

Meanwhile, a trio of other BCS teams fell victim of the upset bug on Saturday as Michigan lost 24-16 at Iowa, Arizona State dropped a 29-28 decision at UCLA, and West Virginia lost 38-35 at home to Louisville.

Elsewhere:

- Air Force retained the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy with a 24-14 comeback win at home over Army.

- Notre Dame became bowl eligible with a 24-17 win at Wake Forest.

- Florida State reached 6 wins with a 38-7 romp at Boston College on Thursday and became eligible for a 30th consecutive bowl appearance.

- In its first season under Mark Hudspeth as head coach, Louisiana-Lafayette reached 8 wins (8-2) for the first time since 1993. The Ragin' Cajuns nipped rival Louisiana-Monroe 36-35 with two touchdowns after the Warhawks had opened a 35-24 lead with just 3:08 to play. The Cajuns made it 35-30 on the ensuing drive and then recovered the onside kick to set up the game-winning score that came with 1:06 still left on the clock.

- Utah secured its first PAC-12 road win by beating Arizona 34-21. It was also the second PAC-12 win in-a-row for the Utes who improved to 5-4 overall and 2-4 in the conference.

- In the final game of the day on Saturday, Utah State rallied from a 28-7 halftime deficit at Hawaii to upset the Warriors 35-31 with a 28-3 second half outburst. Hawaii had won 9 straight home games and 7 consecutive WAC home games.

OH, THAT CRAZY MAC:
The college football week opened last Tuesday night with Northern Illinois outscoring Toledo 63-60 in regulation, four-quarter contest. It was one of he worst displays of football ever witnessed for which both defensive coordinators should be fired and consideration should be given to axing the head coaches, as well. This was not a case of exciting offensive fireworks, but rather a case of totally inept play by the defenses and an absurd inability to make adjustments.

Blown coverage, poor tackling and ill-timed blitzes occurred with regularity. Exacerbating the problem for Toledo head coach Tim Boeckman was an apparent lack of basic knowledge on when to call a timeout. Most notably, he let NIU run down the clock on its game-winning drive while holding 3 time outs in his back pocket. It was if he actually thought his defense was going to make a stop when it hadn't done so all night. His team could have had at least 50-70 seconds to work with on its own game-winning march if he had come anywhere close to managing the clock correctly. Instead, less than 20 seconds were left when Toledo got the ball back and his first timeout was called at around the 12-second mark.

Toledo and Temple entered those games as the apparent class of the league and each was favored by at least 5 points.

Temple was equally inept in the 4th quarter of its 35-31 loss at Ohio. The Owls came into the game with a defense that had produced two shutouts and held five teams to a TD or less. But the fourth quarter became a track meet in the last 8 minutes with each team marching down the field courtesy of nonexistent defenses.

While reading this, the common football fans are likely say to themselves, "Who cares? It's the MAC?" And that's precisely why these particular displays of football before national TV audiences on ESPN are a major PR nightmare for the conference. Add the poor attendance of both games to the equation - they had the ambience of a typical high school game - and the MAC came out looking like the laughing stock of major college football.

COMPUTER SUCCESS:
The Congrove Computer Rankings went 5-1 on the 6 outright upsets that it forecasted this week. It was 6-0 against the spread with those games.

FBS vs. FCS:
One FBS team played an FCS school this week with Mississippi State beating Tennessee-Martin 55-17. FBS teams are 87-6 (.935) for the year and 634-55 (.920) since 2003 vs. FCS teams.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/24: North Dakota St. 37, Minnesota 24
9/24: Sam Houston State 48, New Mexico 45 (OT)
9/24: Southern Utah41, UNLV 16
9/17: Indiana State 44, Western Kentucky 16
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:
Stanford - 17 straight wins overall. The Cardinal won 38-13 at Oregon State this week and host Oregon on Saturday.

Boise State - The Broncos have streaks of 10 overall wins, 35 home wins, 65 regular season home wins, and 47 straight conference home victories. BSU joined the Mountain West this season. The Broncos were 40-0 in home conference games as a member of the WAC from 2001-2010. Boise State's 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 7-1 in their last eight matches with BCS conference schools. The Broncos won 48-21 at UNLV this week and host TCU on Saturday.

Oklahoma State - 10 straight wins overall. The Cowboys won 52-45 at home over Kansas State this week visit Texas Tech on Saturday.

LSU - 10 straight wins overall. The Tigers won 9-6 in OT at Alabama this week and host Western Kentucky on Saturday.

Alabama - Saw its 9-game winning streak snapped with the 9-6 loss in OT to LSU. The Tide visits Mississippi State on Saturday.

Houston - 9 straight wins overall. The Cougars won 56-13 at UAB this week and visit Tulane on Thursday.

TCU - 21 straight conference wins. The Horned Frogs won 31-20 at Wyoming this week and visit Boise State on Saturday.

Virginia Tech - 11 straight road wins. The Hokies were idle this week and visit Georgia Tech on Thursday night.

New Mexico - 12 straight losses overall and 20 straight road losses. The Lobos fell 35-7 at San Diego State this week and host UNLV on Saturday.

FAU - 11 straight losses overall. The Owls lost 39-21 at home to Arkansas State this week and visit FIU on Saturday.

Colorado - 21 straight road losses. The Buffaloes lost 42-17 to USC at home on Friday night and host Arizona on Saturday.

Mississippi - 12 straight conference losses. Lost 30-13 at Kentucky this week and host Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

COACHING CHANGES:
Tulane's Bob Toledo resigned on October 18th. Named offensive line coach Mark Hutson interim head coach. The Green Wave are 0-3 under Hutson.

Mike Stoops was fired from Arizona on October 10th. Named defensive coordinator Tim Kish as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Wildcats are 1-2 under Kish.

Mike Locksley was fired from New Mexico on September 25th. Named defensive coordinator George Barlow as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Lobos are 0-5 under Barlow.

At the start of the season, 24 FBS teams had a new head coach. Last season saw 23 new head coaches, only 8 of whom matched or exceeded the W-L record of their predecessors' final season.

Stanford is the only school with a new head coach that remains undefeated. Only 16 teams with a new head coach have defeated at least 1 school from a "Big 6" conference - Ball State, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Texas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Stanford, Temple, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.

Two games this week pitted new head coaches against each other as Luke Fickell (interim) Ohio State beat Kevin Wilson and Indiana while Will Muschamp and Florida downed James Franklin and Vanderbilt. Additionally, George Barlow, who became interim head coach of New Mexico on 9/25, lost at San Diego State's Rocky Long.

Here is how each of the new head coaches is faring this season:

Team Coach Game
Arkansas State Hugh Freeze (7-2) Won 39-21at FAU
Ball State Pete Lembo (6-4) Won 33-31 at Eastern Michigan
Colorado Jon Embree (1-9) Lost 42-17 vs. USC (Friday)
Connecticut Paul Pasqualoni (4-5) Won 28-21 vs. Syracuse
Florida Will Muschamp (5-4) Won 26-21 vs. Vanderbilt
Indiana Kevin Wilson (1-9) Lost 34-20 at Ohio State
Kent State Darrell Hazell (3-6) Won 24-21 vs. Central Michigan (Friday)
Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth (8-2) Won 36-35 vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Maryland Randy Edsall (2-7) Lost 31-13 vs. Virginia
Miami (Fla.) Al Golden (5-4) Won 49-14 vs. Duke
Miami (O.) Don Treadwell (4-5) Won 35-3 vs. Akron (Thursday)
Michigan Brady Hoke (7-2) Lost 24-16 at Iowa
Minnesota Jerry Kill (2-7) Lost 31-24 at Michigan State
North Carolina Everett Withers (Interim) (6-4) Lost 13-0 at N.C. State
North Texas Dan McCarney (3-6) Idle
Northern Illinois Dave Doeren (6-3) Won 63-60 at Toledo (Tuesday)
Ohio State Luke Fickell (Interim) (6-3) Won 34-20 vs. Indiana
Pittsburgh Todd Graham (4-5) Lost 26-23 vs. Cincinnati
San Diego St. Rocky Long (5-3) Won 35-7 vs. New Mexico
Stanford David Shaw (9-0) Won 38-13 at Oregon State
Temple Steve Addazio (5-4) Lost 35-31 at Ohio (Wednesday)
Tulsa Bill Blankenship (6-3) Won 24-17 at UCF (Thursday)
Vanderbilt James Franklin (4-5) Lost 26-21 at Florida
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen (6-3) Lost 38-35 vs. Louisville


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