Michigan, Florida State Victims Of Upsets;
Utah, Oklahoma, Auburn End Regular Season Unbeaten
by Mike Mitchell
Michigan and Florida State were the victims of upsets on Saturday while Utah, Oklahoma and Auburn ended their regular seasons with perfect 11-0 records.
Michigan, needing only to beat Ohio State to clinch the Big 10 and a BCS Bowl bid, lost to the Buckeyes 37-21 but backed into the Rose Bowl when Iowa slugged Wisconsin 30-7 later in the day. The Wolverines' loss set up the Badgers for the Big 10 crown but Wisconsin stared prosperity in the face and promptly shot it, losing badly for the second week in a row.
Michigan State had ended the Badgers' bid for an undefeated season when the Spartans romped over Barry Alvarez's team 49-14 last week. This week, Michigan State fell victim to the upset with a 37-13 loss at Penn State that knocked the Spartans out of the bowl picture.
Ron Zook gave Florida's administrators a parting gift when he became the first Gator head coach to win in Tallahassee since Galen Hall in 1986. The 20-13 Florida win spoiled a night when Florida State dedicated its home turf as "Bobby Bowden Field".
Utah completed its first unbeaten season since 1930 when the Utes blasted BYU 52-21 and seemingly wrapped up the first BCS bowl berth to go to a team from a non-BCS conference.
Oklahoma skunked Baylor 35-0 and Auburn rallied past Alabama 21-13 as the Sooners and Tigers also completed the regular season with perfect records of 11-0.
Oklahoma still doesn't know who they're playing for the Big 12 title game but Auburn now knows that it will be facing Tennessee. The Vols clinched the SEC east division title with a tougher-than expected 38-33 win at Vanderbilt. The Tigers won a laugher at Tennessee, 34-10, in the regular season.
Iowa State moved a step closer to winning the Big 12 north division with a stunning 37-23 win at Kansas State in which the Cyclones stormed to 28 fourth quarter points, including 21 in the games' final three-and-a-half minutes, to rally past the Wildcats. Iowa State can clinch the division title with a home win over Missouri on Saturday.
Kansas State was a major disappointment as the Wildcats ended the year with a 4-7 record after being picked by many to be the division favorite. Missouri was also a considerable disappointment. Quite a few prognosticators thought this could be the Tigers' year to claim the north division but they were stricken from bowl consideration with a 31-14 home loss to a Kansas team that finished with a 4-7 mark. Missouri will also finish 4-7 if it loses at Iowa State.
In the ACC, Clemson and North Carolina became bowl eligible in the eleventh hour as each earned victories in their final regular season games to improve to 6-5 over-all. John Bunting likely saved his job with a stretch run that saw the Tar Heels win three of their final four games. The Tigers pasted South Carolina 29-7 to atone somewhat for their 16-13 upset loss to Duke the week before. Unfortunately, the victory was marred by an ugly brawl.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Miami all won to keep the conference championship race up for grabs. The Hokies and 'Hoos meet in Blacksburg on Saturday while the Hurricanes are done until they host Virginia Tech on December 4. The Hokies currently top the conference and can claim the crown by winning their last two games.
Maryland, which was shelled 55-6 by Virginia Tech this past Thursday night, was eliminated from bowl consideration for the first time in Ralph Friedgen's four-year tenure as head coach. Wake Forest was also eliminated with its 52-7 loss at Miami. Seven ACC teams have qualified for the postseason.
In the Big 10, Michigan and Iowa wound up with identical records of 9-2 over-all and 7-1 in the conference. But the Wolverines' 30-17 win over Iowa on September 25 gave Michigan the conference's automatic BCS berth. Wisconsin finished a game behind at 6-2 in the league by losing its last two games after winning its first nine. The conference surprise is Northwestern which ended the year bowl eligible at 6-5 over-all and 5-3 in the Big 10. The Wildcats edged rival Illinois 28-21 to take fifth place in the conference standings, ahead of such notable programs as Ohio State, Purdue and Minnesota.
The Big East title and accompanying BCS bowl bid is Boston College's to lose. The Eagles beat Temple 34-17 over the weekend to improve to 4-1 in the conference and can claim the crown with a win at home over Syracuse on Saturday. West Virginia also has a 4-1 conference record but the Mountaineers lost at home to B.C. two weeks ago. If Boston College loses on Saturday, the title goes to the winner of the West Virginia-Pittsburgh game on Thursday. A Panthers' win would create a three-way tie that would be broken by Pittsburgh's victories over both the Mountaineers and Eagles (Pittsburgh beat B.C. in overtime 20-17 on October 16).
Temple, by the way, was playing its final game as a Big East member. The Owls were booted from the league for their failure to be competitive or generate any respectable amount of home attendance. Temple won a total of 14 conference games over 14 seasons. (See 2005 Conference Realignment).
Louisville pulled away from a close game with Houston by scoring the last 30 points of the game, The Cougars had pulled to within 35-27 early in the fourth quarter. The wins means the Cardinals maintain a two-game lead on UAB and Cincinnati in CUSA and have clinched at least a tie for the league title. The Bearcats
visit Louisville this Saturday.
In the MAC, Miami (Ohio) beat Akron 37-27 to claim the east division title. Toledo can claim the west division with a win over Bowling Green on Tuesday. Northern Illinois would win the west division if BGSU beats the Rockets. Bowling Green's only chance of getting to the title game was a Northern Illinois loss to Eastern Michigan this past Saturday, but the Huskies won 34-16.
In the Mountain West, Utah's win over BYU not only gave the Utes a perfect regular season, it also knocked the Cougars out of the bowl picture with a 5-6 record. Meanwhile, New Mexico took over second place in the conference with a 16-9 home win over Wyoming. Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming are the only three schools in the eight-team conference that finished the season bowl eligible.
PAC-10 action was light with USC, Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA all idle. But the other six teams were participating in three of the league's most-storied rivalries.
California won "The Big Game" handily over Stanford 41-6.
Oregon State's 50-21 romp over Oregon in the Civil War made the Beavers bowl eligible and eliminated the Ducks from the postseason.
Washington State ended a seven-year futility streak in the Apple Cup with a 28-25 home win over Washington. The loss means the Huskies failed to win a single conference game for the first time since 1973.
North Texas notched its 25th straight Sun Belt conference win with a 31-7 cruising past Arkansas State last Thursday.
Boise State clinched the WAC title by pounding Louisiana Tech 55-14. It was the Broncos 21st consecutive win, 25th straight conference win and 25th straight home win.
Computer Streak: The computer picks on this site have a streak of their own involving Boise State. It has correctly picked the winner of 38 consecutive regular season Bronco games dating to November 10, 2001. It is 18-19 ATS on those games.
Computer Hits Two-Out-Of-Three Upsets: The computer's weekly picks based on the Congrove Computer Rankings picked two more outright upsets against the Vegas spreads. It is 45-24 ATS for the season with its upset picks after going 4-1 ATS on Saturday.
This week, it nailed the outright "upsets" of Utah State over New Mexico State and TCU over Southern Miss.
No Blemishes: Auburn, Boise State, Oklahoma, USC and Utah began the week with perfect records and everyone escaped unscathed. Auburn beat Alabama 21-13, Boise State downed Louisiana Tech 55-14, Oklahoma blanked Baylor 35-0 and Utah beat BYU 52-21. USC was idle.
Streaking: Boise State has won 21 straight games over-all, 25 straight at home, and 25 straight over WAC foes. The Broncos easily beat Louisiana Tech 55-14 on Saturday.
USC has the nation's second-longest winning streak at 19 games. The Trojans have won 20 straight at home and 14 consecutive PAC-10 games. They were idle this week.
Utah has won 15 straight games. The Utes beat BYU 52-21.
Auburn has 13 consecutive wins after a 21-13 victory over Alabama.
Iowa has won 18 straight home games. The Hawkeyes beat Wisconsin 30-7.
North Texas has won 25 straight over Sun Belt conference foes after the Mean Green beat Arkansas State 31-7 last Thursday night. UNT has also won four consecutive Sun Belt titles as they have topped the conference in every year of its existence.
Central Florida owns the nation's longest losing streak at 14 games. The Golden Knights were idle this week.