Alabama Suffers First Defeat; Spurrier Gets Win Over Gators
by Mike Mitchell
Alabama lost for the first time on Saturday, Steve Spurrier beat his former team, and Texas was the only team to clinch a division or conference title as Georgia and Colorado blew their chances.
An 11-yard touchdown pass in overtime provided LSU with a 16-13 win at Alabama to knock the Crimson Tide from the unbeaten ranks. Coupled with Auburn's 31-30 win at Georgia on a field goal with 6 seconds left, the SEC West is still a three-team dogfight between Alabama, Auburn and LSU. But LSU has the upper hand with its
overtime wins over both schools.
Alabama (9-1, 6-1) visits Auburn (8-2, 6-1) next week in their famed Iron Bowl rivalry. The winner of that game will claim the west division title only if LSU slips up in one of its two remaining games. LSU (8-1, 5-1) travels to Mississippi next Saturday before closing the season at home against Arkansas on November 26.
Georgia (7-2, 5-2) could have clinched the SEC East with a win over Auburn. Despite the loss, the Bulldogs still control their own destiny and can clinch an SEC Championship berth next week with a home win over Kentucky.
South Carolina will be rooting for a Georgia loss as the Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3) leapt into the title picture with a 30-22 upset over Florida (7-3, 5-3) in Columbia. When Steve Spurrier was coaching the Gators, Florida never lost to South Carolina. Of course, Spurrier wasn't coaching against himself. The Gators, in fact, were 13-0 against the Gamecocks from 1992-2004. Prior to that, the two teams had not met since 1964 and the Gators won that meeting also. Before that, their last meeting was in 1939 when South Carolina won 6-0.
Georgia, Florida and South Carolina were all 1-1 against each other so, if all three teams wind up 5-3 in the division, the tiebreaker will fall to each teams' records against divisional foes. Florida and South Carolina were each 4-1 which tops Georgia's 3-2 mark and locks out the Bulldogs. Florida would be out because its lone divisional loss was to South Carolina.
Texas took a 52-0 halftime lead on Kansas and went on to demolish the Jayhawks 66-14. Kansas entered the game boasting the nation's best defense allowing just 273.9 yards per game. The Longhorns piled up 617 as they ran their record to 10-0. The Jayhawks (5-5) will have to win at Iowa State on November 26th to become bowl eligible.
Iowa State, meanwhile, will have bigger things on its mind than simply beating Kansas. The Cyclones defeated Colorado 30-16 on Saturday to keep the Buffaloes from clinching the north division title and giving themselves a faint chance at winning the conference title berth.
Iowa State (7-3, 4-3) wins the division if it beats Kansas, Colorado (7-3, 5-2) loses at home to Nebraska on November 25th and Missouri (6-4, 4-3) loses at Kansas State next week.
Missouri, a 31-16 winner over Baylor, can claim the title if it beats Kansas State and a three-way tie occurs for first place in the division.
Florida State, which backed into the ACC's Atlantic Division title last week, lost its second straight conference game. Tommy Bowden's Clemson Tigers mauled papa Bobby Bowden's Seminoles 35-14 and left FSU with a pedestrian 7-3 record over-all, 5-3 in the conference. Florida State has lost three of its last five games and dropped three conference games in one season for the first time in its 14-year history as an ACC member.
Clemson (6-4, 4-4) became bowl-eligible with the win, Tommy's second in seven tries against his father.
Just last week, Florida State lost at home to N.C. State, but North Carolina beat Boston College earlier in the day to hand FSU the division title.
Miami took another step toward the ACC's Coastal Division title with a 47-17 win at Wake Forest in the season finale for the Demon Deacons. The Hurricanes will get a rematch with FSU, the only team it has lost to this season, if they beat Georgia Tech and Virginia in their final two games. Both contests will be played in Miami.
TCU finished the season with a 51-3 win over UNLV to wrap up an 8-0 league mark in their inaugural year as members of the Mountain West conference. TCU enters the bowl season with an over-all record of 10-1. Their only setback was a 21-10 upset at SMU a week after they opened the season with a 17-10 upset of Oklahoma to hand the Sooners their first home loss since 2001.
Ohio State stayed in the Big 10 title chase with a 48-7 bruising of Northwestern. The Buckeyes (8-2, 6-1) will need to win at Michigan next week and hope for a Penn State loss at Michigan State to win the title outright and claim the conference's top bowl spot. Michigan would claim that spot with a win over Ohio State and a Penn State loss to the Spartans. Northwestern was eliminated by its loss to Ohio State and Wisconsin was knocked out of the race by a 20-10 home loss to Iowa. The Nittany Lions were idle this past week.
Texas Tech was surprised by Oklahoma State, 24-17, giving the Cowboys a chance to become bowl eligible with season-ending road wins at Baylor and Oklahoma.
Texas A&M is on the verge of elimination from the bowl season after a 36-30 loss at Oklahoma. The Aggies final game is next week against rival Texas in College Station.
Nebraska became bowl eligible, and eliminated Kansas State, with a 27-25 win over the Wildcats. The Cornhuskers missed the bowl season last year for the first time since 1968 after suffering their first losing season (5-6) since 1961. Kansas State will miss the postseason for the second straight season after making it to 11 consecutive bowls from 1993-2003.
UCLA kept its PAC-10 title hopes alive. A week after being bombed at Arizona, the Bruins returned home to defeat Arizona State 45-35. Arizona, meanwhile, was destroyed 38-14 at home by Washington as the Huskies ended a 14-game conference losing streak. Arizona State must beat Arizona at home on November 25th to become bowl eligible.
Oregon's 34-31 win at Washington State improved the Ducks to 6-1 in the conference and a second-place tie with UCLA. The Ducks would win a share of the PAC-10 title with a win over Oregon State and a USC loss to UCLA. Even still, Oregon would not earn the conference's top bowl position by virtue of its home loss to USC earlier in the year and the fact that the Ducks don't get a shot at UCLA this season.
Stanford kept its bowl hopes alive, and jeopardized Oregon State's, with a 20-17 upset of the Beavers in Corvaillis. The Cardinal is now 5-4 with home games left against California and Notre Dame. OSU slipped to 5-5 with only the Civil War left to fight against Oregon on November 26th at Eugene.
Vanderbilt and Mississippi were knocked out of the bowl chase on Saturday.
The Commodores, who opened the season 0-4, fell 48-43 at home to Kentucky when their stirring comeback bid fell short. Vanderbilt, which lost for the sixth straight time, trailed the Wildcats 41-10 at halftime and 48-24 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Rebels lost 28-17 at home to Arkansas.
Tennessee (4-5) kept its bowl hopes alive but the Vols had to rally from an early 13-0 deficit to beat Memphis 20-15, even though the Tigers played without the nation's leading rusher. DeAngelo Williams hurt his ankle in last week's game against UAB.
Rice and Buffalo pocketed their first wins of the season as the Owls added more misery to Tulane's season with a 42-34 home win over the Green Wave. Buffalo's win came at Kent State, 10-6, for the Bulls' first conference road win since joining the MAC in 1999. The school announced the firing of its head coach, Jim Hofher, this past week but Hofher is finishing the season.
Earlier in the week, Rutgers stomped on Louisville's logo at the 50-yard line prior to the game, then Louisville stomped Rutgers 56-5.
The Cardinals took a 21-5 halftime lead, then blew the game wide open with a 28-point fourth quarter to hand Rutgers a horrible loss that was all-too-similar of many games in recent years. This had been the season that the Scarlet Knights had made all those 50-point losses a thing of the past. Just two weeks ago, they were 6-2 and celebrating the likelihood of a bowl invitation for the first time since 1978. But this loss slapped Rutgers down to 6-4, 3-3 in the conference, and possibly in need of a seventh win to rekindle their bowl aspirations.
Louisville has now outscored their five guests in Papa John's Stadium by a cumulative count of 291-76, an average score of 58-15. They improved to 7-2 with the win, 3-2 in the conference.
Fresno State thumped Boise State 27-7 Thursday night to end the Broncos' string of 31 consecutive wins against conference opponents. In doing so, they held Boise State to its lowest point total since a 38-7 loss to UCLA at the start of the 1999 season.
Another Bulldog team, Georgia, ended Boise State's 21-game regular season winning streak in the first game of the year. The Broncos have never lost a home game to a WAC foe and have a 30-game home winning streak left intact.
The win was the first for Fresno State over their conference rival since Boise State became a member of the WAC in 2001.
The Broncos last conference loss occurred on November 3, 2001 when Louisiana Tech beat them in Ruston 48-42. They now have lost just 3 conference games in their WAC history and are 35-3 all-time against league opponents.
West Virginia came out firing on all cylinders Wednesday night and cruised to a 38-0 win at Cincinnati to move one step closer to the Big East title and a BCS bowl berth.
More and more, the Mountaineers are looking nothing like the team that was expected to have concerns about its youthfulness in the preseason. In their last two games, they have rolled over UConn and Cincinnati by a combined score of 83-13.
The Mountaineers are now 8-1 with games remaining against Pitt at home and a hurricane makeup game at South Florida that, ironically, will likely wind up serving as the conference championship game. USF is in 2nd-place in the conference at 3-1 after a 27-0 rout at Syracuse on Saturday. Pittsburgh is just 5-5 after blanking UConn 24-0 on Saturday and must beat West Virginia to become bowl eligible.
West Virginia has to wait 15 days before their Thanksgiving Day date with the Panthers and will have played just two games in 40 days by the time that gameday arrives. Hurricane Wilma caused the postponement of their scheduled October 22nd game at USF.
A 34-yard field goal in overtime gave Southern Miss a 27-24 win over Marshall in a key CUSA game Tuesday night.
The game-winning field goal came after Marshall failed on their overtime field goal attempt. The Thundering Herd also missed a chance to win the game in regulation when the Golden Eagles blocked a field goal attempt as time expired.
The win was huge for Southern Miss which surrendered a 24-10 lead at the end of the third quarter. A loss would have dropped the Golden Eagles behind Marshall into third place in the east division and given Central Florida control of its own destiny to the division title.
Now, Southern Miss (5-3, 4-1) stays in the driver's seat toward a conference championship berth and UCF will need to keep hoping for a loss by the Golden Eagles down the stretch. Southern Miss owns the head-to-head tie-breaker over Central Florida with its 52-31 win on October 15th. The Golden Eagles visit Houston today in a game that was postponed from September 24th by Hurricane Rita.
Central Florida (7-3, 6-1) won 27-21 at UAB on Saturday for the seventh victory in its last eight games.
Still Winning: If USC and Texas do their part, the BCS officials will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. With Alabama's loss on Saturday, the Trojans and Longhorns are the only two remaining undefeated teams and each won convincingly over the weekend. Texas blasted Kansas 66-14 and USC was never threatened by California in a 35-10 win at Berkeley.
In case you were wondering - at this point last season, there were still five undefeated teams - Auburn, Boise State, Oklahoma, USC and Utah.
Still Losing: Only two teams remain on the ubiquitous winless list after Rice and Buffalo each ended their losing skids on Saturday.
Rice beat Tulane 42-34. Buffalo downed Kent State 10-6.
New Mexico State (0-10) lost to lost to Nevada 48-24 while Temple (0-10) was idle.
The Aggies and Owls inherit a tie for the current longest losing streak. Each has lost 11 in-a-row.
At this point last year, UCF was the only winless team.
1-AA Schools Strike Out: Two 1-A schools faced lower-division schools on Saturday and each was victorious. However, Army had a little trouble with the highly-ranked 1-AA Massachusetts Minutemen before eventually winning 34-27. The game was tied until the Black Knights scored the game-winning touchdown with 3:02 to play. The win gave Army its first three-game winning streak since 1996.
UTEP rolled over Texas Southern 45-0. The 1-AA Tigers fell to 1-8 with the loss while UTEP improved to 8-1.
Fifty-three games have been played this season between 1-A teams and lower-division foes. The 1-A teams are 51-2. Since the beginning of the 2003 season, 1-A teams are 163-18 (.901).
Streaks: USC extended the nation's longest winning streak to 32 with a 35-10 win at California. The Trojans have now won 43 of their last 44 games. USC also owns streaks of 25 straight home wins and 22 consecutive PAC-10 victories. The 32-game over-all winning streak is the longest in PAC-10 history, breaking their own record of 25 games set in 1931-1933.
Texas has won 17 straight after a 66-14 home win over Kansas.
Boise State's nation-leading streak of 31 conference wins came to an end with the Broncos' 27-7 loss at Fresno State last Thursday night. But BSU still owns a national-best streak of 30 straight home wins.
Rice ended its losing streak at 14 games with a 42-34 win over Tulane.
Buffalo ended a 10 game losing streak with a 10-6 win at Kent State.
New Mexico State endured its 11th straight loss, 48-24, at home to Nevada.
Temple has lost 11 straight. The Owls were idle this past week.
New Coaches: The 2005 season began with 23 coaching changes.
San Jose State has not beaten a 1-A team yet. New Mexico State is still looking for its first win over anybody under Hal Mumme.
Here is how each has fared for the season, by order of success, and how they performed this past week:
LSU, 8-1 under Les Miles, won at Alabama 16-13 in OT.
Notre Dame, 7-2 under Charlie Weis, beat Navy 42-21.
Florida, 7-3 under Urban Meyer, lost at South Carolina 30-22.
South Carolina, 7-3 under Steve Spurrier, beat Florida 30-22.
Western Michigan, 7-3 under Bill Cubit, beat Central Michigan 31-24.
Miami, O., 6-3 under Shane Montgomery, was idle.
BYU, 6-4 under Bronco Mendenhall, beat Wyoming 35-21
Stanford, 5-4 under Walt Harris, won at Oregon State 20-17.
Pittsburgh, 5-5 under Dave Wannstedt, beat Connecticut 24-0.
Utah, 5-5 under Kyle Whittingham, lost to New Mexico 31-27.
Marshall, 4-5 under Mark Snyder, lost to Southern Miss 27-24 in OT.
Ohio, 4-5 under Frank Solich, was idle.
Oklahoma St, 4-5 under Mike Gundy, beat Texas Tech 24-17.
Indiana, 4-6 under Terry Hoeppner, lost at Michigan 41-14.
East Carolina, 3-6 under Skip Holtz, lost at Tulsa 45-13.
Mississippi, 3-6 under Ed Orgeron, lost to Arkansas 28-17.
Utah State, 2-7 under Brent Guy, lost at Hawaii 50-23.
Illinois, 2-8 under Ron Zook, lost at Purdue 37-3
Nevada-Las Vegas, 2-8 under Mike Sanford, lost at TCU 51-3.
Washington, 2-8 under Ty Willingham, won at Arizona 38-14.
San Jose St., 1-8 under Dick Tomey, was idle.
Syracuse, 1-8 under Greg Robinson, lost to South Florida 27-0.
New Mexico St., 0-10 under Hal Mumme, lost to Nevada 48-24.