Trojans and Longhorns Crush Foes 136-22
by Mike Mitchell
If there were many people left who questioned whether or not Texas and USC should be playing for the national title, 136-22 was a pretty good answer. Texas knocked Colorado senseless in the Big 12 Championship game 70-3. USC romped over crosstown rival UCLA 66-19.
The Longhorns and Trojans were the only two teams to complete the season undefeated and will definitely be paired in the Rose Bowl for the national title.
Elsewhere, Georgia upended LSU 34-14 to claim the SEC title and a spot in the Sugar Bowl; Florida State held off Virginia Tech 27-22 to take the ACC title and Orange Bowl bid; Tulsa won the CUSA title and corresponding Liberty Bowl bid with a 44-27 win at UCF.
In the Big East, West Virginia wrapped up a 10-1 season with a 28-13 win at South Florida; Connecticut failed to become bowl eligible when the Huskies lost at home to Louisville 30-20.
Navy beat Army 42-23 for their fourth consecutive win in the series and a 50-49-7 advantage over-all.
Louisiana Tech capitalized on numerous Fresno State turnovers to score a 40-28 upset win on Friday night. Fresno State dropped to 8-4 over-all, 6-2 in the WAC, and failed to gain a share of the WAC crown. Boise State and Nevada are co-champs.
Fresno State accepted a bid to the Liberty Bowl after its near-upset of USC three weeks ago. But since then, they have dropped back-to-back conference games. The bowl committee selected a team that looked like a lock for an outright WAC championship and wound up with a team that tied Louisiana Tech for third.
Louisiana Tech may have improved its chances of getting a bowl bid. They improved to 7-4 with the win.
A 36-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining lifted Akron to a 31-30 victory over Northern Illinois on Thursday night in the MAC Championship game in Detroit. The win means Akron will finally get to play in a bowl game for the first time in its 1-A history after winning its first-ever conference title.
Northern Illinois was trying to capture its first MAC championship since 1983 and had its chances to put away Akron after taking a 24-10 lead into the fourth quarter. But two fourth quarter drives only netted two long field goals of 52 and 46 yards for the Huskies while the Zips were striking for three fourth quarter touchdowns.
Both teams finished the season at 7-5 over-all but the lack of available bowl slots for MAC teams will almost certainly leave NIU home for the holidays. Seven MAC teams finished with bowl eligible records but Akron (Motor City) and Toledo (GMAC) are the only teams expected to secure postseason trips.
Akron's history of conference affiliation dates back to 1915 with the Ohio Athletic Conference but the Zips did not become 1-A members until 1987 when Gerry Faust was the head coach. Akron's first bowl game at any level was the 1968 Grantland Rice Bowl where they lost to a Louisiana Tech team quarterbacked by future NFL Hall-of-Famer Terry Bradshaw.
Computer Hits, Misses: The computer's preseason forecast projected Texas and USC as the national title game participants. It also nailed the exact final regular season records of 13 teams, missed 46 teams by two and 22 other teams by just 2. That's a total of 81 teams that it forecasted within two wins or losses. Last year, it hit 82 teams within the same margin but it nailed the exact records of 18 teams.
This year's forecast came within 1 on all but three ACC teams and within 2 on every team in the conference.
It correctly tabbed Virginia Tech as the ACC Coastal champ, Colorado and Texas as the Big 12 divisional champs, Texas as the Big 12 titlist, Notre Dame as the top independent, USC as the PAC-10 champ and LSU as the SEC west winner.
The computer's biggest miss was West Virginia. It forecasted the youthful Mountaineers to go 2-9 and in the basement of the Big East. But they finished 10-1 and took home the Big East title and assured themselves of a BCS bowl bid.
1-AA Schools Strike Out: 54 games were played this season between 1-A teams and lower-division foes. No such games were played this past week. The 1-A teams went 52-2. Since the beginning of the 2003 season, 1-A teams are 164-18 (.901).
Streaks: USC has won 34 straight over-all, 27 at home and 23 against conference foes. The 34-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 19 straight.
Boise State has a nation-leading streak of 31 home wins.
New Mexico State has the nation's longest losing streak at 13 games.
Temple has lost 12 straight.
New Coaches: The 2005 season began with 23 coaching changes.
Here is how each has fared for the season, by order of success, and how they performed this past week:
LSU, 10-2 under Les Miles, lost to Georgia 34-14.
Notre Dame, 9-2 under Charlie Weis, regular season complete.
Florida, 8-3 under Urban Meyer, regular season complete.
Miami, O., 7-4 under Shane Montgomery, regular season complete.
South Carolina, 7-4 under Steve Spurrier, regular season complete.
Western Michigan, 7-4 under Bill Cubit, regular season complete.
BYU, 6-5 under Bronco Mendenhall, regular season complete.
Utah, 6-5 under Kyle Whittingham, regular season complete.
East Carolina, 5-6 under Skip Holtz, season complete.
Pittsburgh, 5-6 under Dave Wannstedt, season complete.
Stanford, 5-6 under Walt Harris, season complete.
Indiana, 4-7 under Terry Hoeppner, season complete.
Marshall, 4-7 under Mark Snyder, season complete.
Ohio, 4-7 under Frank Solich, season complete.
Oklahoma St, 4-7 under Mike Gundy, season complete.
Mississippi, 3-8 under Ed Orgeron, season complete.
San Jose St., 3-8 under Dick Tomey, season complete.
Utah State, 3-8 under Brent Guy, season complete.
Illinois, 2-9 under Ron Zook. season complete.
UNLV, 2-9 under Mike Sanford. season complete.
Washington, 2-9 under Ty Willingham. season complete.
Syracuse, 1-10 under Greg Robinson, season complete.
New Mexico St., 0-12 under Hal Mumme, season complete.