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PAC-12 Takes Center Stage With A Pair Of Top 25 Showdowns

UCLA-Arizona State and Stanford-Washington Among Top Games This Week

by Dave Congrove
September 22, 2014

A 54-game schedule this week is highlighted by a pair of matchups among teams ranked in the Top 25 of this week's Congrove Computer Rankings, and both are PAC-12 showdowns.

9th-ranked UCLA visits 22nd-ranked Arizona State, and 19th-ranked Stanford goes to 24th-ranked Washington. In each case, the visitor is favored by the computer with the Bruins getting a 5.07-point edge and the Cardinal projected to prevail by 6.86.

Seven teams in the Top 25, 3 of which are among the Top 10, are idle.

Arizona State has won 5 of the last 8 meetings with UCLA, including 38-33 last year in Pasadena. And Washington beat Stanford the last time they had the Cardinal at home in 2012, but that's the only win in the series for the Huskies in the last 6 tries.

In one of the week's most intriguing games this week, Texas A&M and Arkansas collide in Arlington. The longtime rivals in the old Southwest Conference will meet for the 6th straight year after a 17-season hiatus that was brought about by Arkansas' departure to the SEC. Now, of course, they are conference rivals once again as each team resides in the SEC West. Overall, Arkansas has dominated the series 41-26-3, but the Aggies have won the last two as the Razorbacks have been in full-bore slump mode the last 2 years. Texas A&M is once again a prohibitive favorite (-19.61), but the Hogs appear to be much better than anyone expected.

Florida State's trip to N.C. State could also be closer than most would be inclined to think. The Wolfpack haven't really played anyone but the offense has put up nearly 46 points a game over the last 3 contests. FSU is favored by 23.86 after surving Clemson without QB Jameis WInston who served a 1-game suspension for yet another off-the-field incident.

In another ACC battle, Duke takes its 4-0 record to Miami as 2.46-point underdog to the 'Canes. Miami has lost both games that it's played against decent teams this year, falling 41-31 at Nebraska on Saturday after bowing 31-13 at Louisville on opening weekend. In fact, Miami only has 2 wins vs. Power 5 conference schools in its last 7 tries. Duke won last year's meeting in Durham, 48-30, to snap a 9-game losing streak in the series.

Here's the schedule for the computer's top 25 teams:
1 - Texas A&M: by 19.61 over Arkansas (at Arlington)
2 - Auburn: by 33.68 at home over Louisiana Tech
3 - Florida State: by 23.86 at N.C. State
4 - Oklahoma: Idle
5 - Mississippi: by 20.19 at home over Memphis
6 - Oregon: Idle
7 - Baylor: by 21.81 at Iowa State
8 - Notre Dame: by 8.99 over Syracuse (at E. Rutherford, NJ)
9 - UCLA: by 5.07 at No. 22 Arizona State on Thursday
10 - Alabama: Idle
11 - Mississippi State: Idle
12 - Duke: Underdog by 2.46 at Miami (Fla.)
13 - Ohio State: by 15.45 at home over Cincinnati
14 - South Carolina: by 11.68 at home over Missouri
15 - Georgia: by 23.19 at home over Tennessee
16 - BYU: Idle
17 - Nebraska by 17.05 at home over Illinois
18 - USC: by 14.80 at home over Oregon State
19 - Stanford: by 6.86 at No. 24 Washington
20 - Marshall Idle
21 - LSU: by 38.79 at home over New Mexico State
22 - Arizona State: Underdog by 5.07 at home vs. No. 9 UCLA
23 - Arizona: Idle
24 - Washington: Underdog by 6.86 at home vs. No. 19 Stanford
25 - Michigan State: by 22.83 at home over Wyoming

LARGEST/CLOSEST EXPECTED MARGIN OF VICTORY THIS WEEK:
Excluding FBS vs. FCS games, here are the 5 largest expected margins this week according to the computer:
Louisiana State 38.79 over New Mexico State
Auburn 33.68 over Louisiana Tech
Wisconsin 26.01 over South Florida
Virginia Tech 25.42 over Western Michigan
Florida State 23.86 over North Carolina State

Here are the 5 closest expected margins:
Tulsa 2.18 over Texas State
Kentucky 2.17 over Vanderbilt
Maryland 1.08 over Indiana
California 0.10 over Colorado
Michigan 0.01 over Minnesota

COACHING CAROUSEL:
June Jones announced on September 8 that he was resigning as the head coach of SMU. We'll keep track of other changes as the season progresses.

FBS vs. FCS:
There are just 2 FBS-FCS matchups this week.

FBS schools went 10-1 in games vs. FCS schools last week and are now 87-6 (.935) for the year, 918-87 (.913) since 2003.

The lone FCS win last week was NW State (La.) over Louisiana Tech 30-27.

Here are the results of all the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
8/30: Bethune-Cookman 14, FIU 12
8/30: North Dakota State 31, Iowa State 14
9/6: Eastern Kentucky 17, Miami (Ohio) 10
9/13: Indiana State 27, Ball State 20
9/13: Abilene Christian 38, Troy 35
9/20: NW State (La.) 30, Louisiana Tech 27

By this time last year, there were 14 wins by FCS teams over FBS schools.

North Dakota State's win over Iowa State on opening weekend was the 5th straight over a FBS team for the three-time defending FCS champions. Since 2010, NDSU has won road games at Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas State, and now Iowa State. Conversely, Iowa State has lost 2 straight to FCS schools after opening last season with a loss to Northern Iowa.

Bethune-Cookman's win over FIU on opening weekend was its second straight over the Golden Panthers.

This year, 103 FBS schools have scheduled a total of 108 games against FCS foes. Appalachian State, Army, Ball State, Buffalo and FIU each play 2 such games.

STREAKS:
Florida State - 19-game winning streak (FBS longest), 14-game conference winning streak (FBS longest). At N.C. State on Saturday.

Northern Illinois - 27-game home winning streak (FBS longest) in true home games (at own venue). Idle this week.

LSU - Won 48 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Hosts New Mexico State on Saturday.

Ohio State - Won 9 straight road games (FBS longest). Hosts Cincinnati on Saturday.

Miami (Ohio) - Lost 20 straight (FBS longest). At Buffalo on Saturday.

Kansas - Lost 25 straight road games (FBS longest). Hosts Texas on Saturday.

Kentucky - Lost 17 straight conference games (FBS longest). Hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday.


2014 PRE-GAME ARCHIVES
09/22: PAC-12 Takes Center Stage With A Pair Of Top 25 Showdowns
09/15: Conference Clashes, Intersectional Battles Spice Up Week
09/08: Georgia-South Carolina Highlights Slim Week 3 Schedule
09/02: Five Big Games Highlight Week 2 Schedule
08/26: 2014 Season Preview - FSU over UCLA For National Title


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