Wisconsin, West Va. Soundly Beaten; Four Teams Clinch Conference Or Division Titles
by Mike Mitchell
Two highly-ranked teams were handily beaten on Saturday while USC, Utah and North Texas clinched conference titles and Oklahoma claimed a berth in the Big 12 championship.
Michigan State (5-5, 4-3) destroyed Wisconsin (9-1, 6-1) to hand the Badgers their first over-all loss and, more importantly, fall out of first place in the Big 10. Michigan (9-1, 7-0) moved into first with a 42-20 win over Northwestern.
Boston College went into Morgantown and upset West Virginia 36-17. Each team now has one conference loss but the win puts BC in the driver's seat for the Big East title. Syracuse, which entered the day with just one conference loss, was upset by Temple 34-24 for the Owls' first conference win of the season.
In the Big 12, Texas needed a fourth quarter rally to escape Kansas with a 27-23 win. The Longhorns scored the game-winning touchdown with just 11 seconds left after the Jayhawks had taken a 23-13 lead with 7 minutes to go in the game.
In a game that kicked off at 9am on the west coast so it could be televised by ESPN, Boise State was stretched to double-overtime before the Broncos subdued feisty San Jose State 56-49. Boise State has now won 20 consecutive games and 24 straight WAC games to go with their 24 straight home wins.
Miami earned the minor upset at Virginia, 31-21. The 'Canes win gives Virginia Tech at least temporary control of the ACC. The Hokies are 4-1 in league play, followed by Florida State at 6-2 and then Miami and Virginia at 4-2.
New Mexico earned a 21-14 upset win at BYU that dropped the Cougars to 4-2 in the Mountain West and let Utah clinch the conference title with its 45-28 win at Wyoming Saturday night. The Utes (10-0, 6-0) were up 45-14 before the Cowboys scored two touchdowns in the game's final minute.
Among Independents, Pittsburgh shocked Notre Dame 41-38 in South Bend on a 32-yard field goal with one second remaining.
In other action Saturday, Oklahoma's 30-3 win over Nebraska left the 'Huskers at 5-5 over-all, 3-4 in the conference, and in danger of being eliminated from bowl consideration for the first time since 1968. It also put idle Iowa State (5-4, 3-3) in sole possession of first place of the Big 12 north division.
The Cyclones are a half-game ahead of Nebraska and Colorado (6-4, 3-4) who became bowl eligible with a 38-31 win over Kansas State. The loss eliminated the Wildcats from postseason consideration for the first time since 1992.
Oklahoma clinched the south division's entry to the Big 12 championship game as they can do no worse than tie Texas in the final standings. The Sooners own the tie-breaker with the Longhorns for their 12-0 victory in Dallas earlier this season.
Nebraska hosts Colorado in the final game for both schools on November 26. Iowa State plays at Kansas State next week and ends the season at home against Missouri on November 27.
California only led PAC-10 cellar-dwellar Washington 7-6 at halftime and 14-12 at one point in the third quarter. But the Bears scored 28 unanswered points to pull away to a 42-12 final.
USC led Arizona 14-3 at halftime before running away with a 49-9 victory that clinched the PAC-10 title. The Trojans lead Cal by one game with one remaining, and by virtue of their 23-17 victory over the Golden Bears last month, have the title sewn up.
Texas A&M went to overtime to defeat rival Texas Tech 32-25 and halt a three-game losing streak to the Red Raiders. It was the third overtime game for the Aggies in their last four outings.
Iowa dodged the bullet from Minnesota when the Golden Gophers missed a 51-yard field goal attempt in the final minute to give the Hawkeyes a 29-27 win. It was Minnesota's last regular season game as they finish 6-5 over-all and 3-5 in the Big 10 after winning their first five games.
Purdue upended Ohio State 24-17 and the Boilermakers and Buckeyes are each just 3-4 now in league play.
Akron stayed alive for the east division title of the MAC with a 31-19 win at Ohio. Marshall was eliminated from conference title contention with a 56-35 loss at Bowling Green. The Zips and Miami (Ohio) each have just one loss in the conference and face each other in Akron next Saturday with the winner taking the east division crown. Miami was a 42-21 winner at Western Michigan Saturday.
Meanwhile, BGSU's win over the Herd keeps the Falcons in the hunt for the west division title where they are one of three teams with one conference loss. Toledo and Northern Illinois both won games earlier in the week. Bowling Green visits Toledo next week.
Auburn had no trouble dumping Georgia 24-6 in one of the SEC's top annual rivalries. The Tigers had already clinched the west division. The loss doesn't eliminate the Bulldogs from east title contention but Georgia needs Tennessee to lose both of its remaining games against Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
Florida became bowl eligible with a 48-14 rout of South Carolina. Both teams are 6-4 over-all and 4-4 in the SEC.
North Texas wrapped up its fourth straight Sun Belt title with a 51-29 victory over Idaho. The Mean Green (6-4, 6-0) have won the conference every year since its inception in 2001. Since losing their inaugural conference game to Louisiana-Monroe on Oct. 6, 2001, North Texas has reeled off 24 consecutive conference wins.
In the strangest finish of the day, UTEP surrendered two safeties to Rice late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Owls to turn a 21-17 deficit into a 21-21 tie and force overtime. The Miners eventually won 35-28 in the second extra period.
Earlier this week: Memphis snapped a two-game losing streak with a 30-26 win over Southern Miss in Liberty Bowl Stadium on Friday night. The Golden Eagles were dealt a second consecutive loss and dropped to 5-3 over-all, 4-2 in CUSA.
The win made Memphis (6-3, 3-3) bowl eligible and the Tigers could be headed to a postseason affair in consecutive years for the first time in their history.
On Wednesday night, Louisville remained perfect in CUSA play with a 55-28 blistering of TCU. It was 55-14 before the Horned Frogs tacked on a couple of late TD's.
The Cardinals improved to 7-1, 5-0 with the easy victory over the outmanned Horned Frogs who fell to 4-5, 2-4. Three teams trail Louisville with two conference losses - Southern Miss, Cincinnati and UAB.
Louisville has three CUSA games remaining with road trips to Houston and Tulane sandwiched around a home date with a hot Cincinnati squad that is idle this week and on a three-game winning streak.
Also on Friday, Fresno State became bowl eligible with a 70-14 romp over Hawaii that thrilled the Red Wave attending the game in the San Joaquin Valley. The Bulldogs improved to 6-3, 3-3 in the WAC while the Warriors fell to 4-5, 4-4 and in danger of missing the postseason.
Hawaii has been outscored 136-17 in its last two visits to the mainland, losing 69-3 at Boise State two weeks ago. They didn't fare much better in their previous road trips. On the whole, Hawaii has lost its four road games by an aggregate score of 228-66 for an average loss of 57-16.
Fresno State is on the opposite track from Hawaii. The Bulldogs are on a three-game winning streak in which they have outscored Rice, SMU and Hawaii by a total of 164-28 for an average score of 54-9.
Thursday night, Florida State gave Bobby Bowden his 350th career coaching victory when the Seminoles recovered from a poor first half to top North Carolina State 17-10 . The win came against his former assistant head coach, Chuck Amato, whose Wolfpack (4-6, 3-5) were eliminated from bowl consideration with the loss after leading 10-0 at halftime. Florida State improved to 8-2 over-all and 6-2 in the ACC.
In another Thursday game, Arkansas State beat Utah State 16-7 in a Sun Belt game that had no bearing on that conference's title chase or bowl picture.
Toledo used a 24-point run to blow past Northern Illinois 31-17 on Tuesday night and kick-off the five-day week of college football.
First-Time Conference Winners: Five teams bagged their first conference victory of the year.
Penn State got its first Big 10 win of the season with a goal-line stand in the closing minutes to beat Indiana 22-18.
Duke picked up its first ACC win of the season with a 16-13 upset of Clemson in Durham.
San Diego State won a Mountain West Conference game for the first time this year when the Aztecs beat Air Force 37-31.
Kentucky grabbed its first SEC win, a 14-13 triumph over Vanderbilt.
Temple's 34-24 victory over Syracuse was the Owls' first Big East conference win this season.
Computer Streak: The computer picks on this site have a streak of their own involving Boise State. It has correctly picked the winner of 37 consecutive regular season Bronco games dating to November 10, 2001. It is 18-18 ATS on those games.
Computer Nails The Upsets Again: The computer's weekly picks based on the Congrove Computer Rankings picked three outright upsets against the Vegas spreads. It is 41-23 ATS for the season with its upset picks.
This week, it nailed the "upsets" of San Diego State over Air Force, Buffalo over Central Michigan and Kentucky over Vanderbilt.
No Blemishes: Auburn, Boise State, Oklahoma, USC, Utah and Wisconsin began the week with perfect records and only Wisconsin failed to make it out unscathed.
Streaking: Boise State has won 20 straight games over-all, 24 straight at home, and 24 straight over WAC foes. The Broncos were taken to double-overtime by San Jose State before they prevailed 56-49.
USC extended the nation's second-longest winning streak to 19 with a 49-9 home win over Arizona. The Trojans have won 20 straight home games and 14 consecutive PAC-10 games.
Utah has won 14 straight games. The Utes beat Wyoming 45-28.
Auburn has 12 consecutive wins. The Tigers drubbed Georgia 24-6.
Iowa has won 17 straight home games.
North Texas has won 24 straight over Sun Belt conference foes. The Mean Green beat Idaho 51-29.
Central Florida ran the nation's longest losing streak to 14 games with a 21-17 loss at Ball State.
Temple's 34-24 win over Syracuse ended the Owls 12-game losing streak to Big East teams.