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State of Florida Hosts Three Big Games This Week

Sunshine State Delivers Oklahoma at Florida State, Ohio State at Miami, and Tennessee at Florida

by Dave Congrove
September 13, 2011 (Updated September 14, 2011)

From Tallahassee to Gainesville to Miami, the Sunshine State's "Big 3" football hometowns welcome marquee opponents to their respective venues on Saturday. The nation's top matchup of ranked teams features Oklahoma at Florida State, while Florida hosts Tennessee and Ohio State visits Miami.

In Tallahassee, it's a day for redemption for Florida State which took a 47-17 thumping from the Sooners in Norman last year. Oklahoma comes in as the consensus No. 1 team in the country while a chorus of pundits have vociferously questioned Florida State's top-5 ranking in the voter polls. Boise State, which was idle last week, took away FSU's No. 4 in this week's coaches poll after the 'Noles slammed Charleston Southern 62-10. Jimbo Fisher's now 5th-ranked team also won its opener in a rout, 34-0 over Louisiana-Monroe.

The Congrove Computer Rankings have Florida State at No. 8 after opening the season at No. 13. Oklahoma, which features Heisman candidate Landry Jones at QB, has maintained the top spot and is favored by 6.95 points on Saturday.

In Gainesville, new head coach Will Muschamp gets his turn to face an SEC team that the Gators have turned into a regular punching bag. Steve Spurrier (8-4), Ron Zook (1-2) and Urban Meyer (6-0) were a combined 15-6 against Tennessee during their respective tenures from 1990-2010. It will be Muschamp's biggest test, by far, after whipping FAU and UAB by a combined 80-3.

The game will also serve as Derek Dooley's first visit to Gainesville as head coach of the Gators. His Dad, Vince Dooley, was the last Georgia head coach to have any regular success against the Gators as he went 17-7-1 during his Bulldog tenure from 1964-1988, but all of those games were played in Jacksonville.

Tennessee is 2-8 at "The Swamp" since 1990 and, if the computer proves to be correct, that record will fall to 2-9 after a 10-point loss this week.

In Miami, new head coach Al Golden will try to prevent his team from starting the season 0-2 after a season-opening 32-24 loss at Maryland. Interim head coach Luke Fickell brings Ohio State to town with a 2-0 record after a pair of opening games against MAC schools.

The Buckeyes encountered little resistance from Akron in a 42-0 opener, but barely escaped this past Saturday with a 27-22 win vs. Toledo.

Both teams have had highly-publicized run-ins with the NCAA and are still under various stages of investigation.

Ohio State won last year's contest in Columbus 36-24 and is 3-1 all-time vs. the 'Canes, including a 31-24 double-overtime win in the BCS title game at the end of the 2002 season. The computer likes Ohio State by 5.27 points this time around.

Here are some other key games to watch this weekend:

LSU at Mississippi State (Thursday) - The Bulldogs' high hopes of a west division title are on life support after last week's 41-34 loss at Auburn. Another loss this week and the monitor flat-lines. LSU is a 6.36-point computer favorite to win its 12th straight over Mississippi State.

Boise State at Toledo (Friday) - This could be trap game for the Broncos who easily won last year's meeting in Boise 57-14. The computer gives the Broncos a modest 7.92-point edge.

Auburn at Clemson - SEC Tigers vs. ACC Tigers. Auburn's run to the BCS title last year nearly ended in week three as Gene Chizik's team needed overtime to eke out a 27-24 win at home. This is the first away game of the season for Auburn which has beaten Clemson 14 consecutive times. However, the computer favors Clemson by a scant 0.95 points to end that streak.

Michigan State at Notre Dame - The computer favors the Irish by just 0.90 points to avoid an 0-3 start.

West Virginia at Maryland - The Terrapins are 1-0 in their new-look uniforms and, whether you love 'em or hate 'em, they're expected to bring them out again on Saturday. Regardless, the computer favors the visiting Mountaineers by 1.51.

Washington at Nebraska - It's the tie-breaker game for these teams as they meet for a third time since September 18th of last year. The Cornhuskers won the regular season affair 56-21, but were stymied 19-7 in the Holiday Bowl rematch.

Arizona State at Illinois - The Sun Devils are ranked No. 25 in my computer rankings this week, but the Fighting Illini are ranked 24th. Therefore, it shouldn't be a surprise that the computer takes homestanding Illinois by 3.01.

Utah at BYU - The Utes began their PAC-12 journey in dramatic fashion with a game-ending blocked field goal sealing their loss at USC last week to drop to 1-1. Meanwhile, BYU suffered a 1-point loss at Texas and is also 1-1. Both teams need a win badly in this rivalry game and the computer sides with the Cougars at home by 5.59.

Stanford at Arizona - The Wildcats present a tougher challenge than San Jose State or Duke and this is the opening PAC-12 game for the Cardinal which enters the contest on a 10-game winning streak. Still, the computer likes first-year head coach David Shaw and Stanford by 6.13 points to keep Mike Stoops on the hot seat.

Miami (O.) at Minnesota - Golden Gopher had coach Jerry Kill is expected to be back on the sideline, even after the cancer survivor suffered a seizure late in last week's 28-21 upset home loss to New Mexico State. Unfortunately for him and his team, the computer projects the RedHawks as a 12-point winner.

THANKS TO PORTLAND'S "1080 THE FAN"
I was privileged to be a guest on "Primetime with Isaac and Big Suke" on ESPN Radio in Portland, Oregon (1080 The Fan) on Wednesday afternoon early in the 4 o'clock hour. The hosts are Isaac Ropp and former college All-American and NFL player Jason "Big Suke" Scukanec. We discussed a variety of subjects, including my take on conference championship games (one more way to suck money out of fans and further unlevel an already uneven playing field over conferences that don't have them); Oregon's chances of getting to the BCS title game after losing to LSU in the opener (very slim); and my own thoughts on several of this week's games (Oklahoma will beat Florida State, Ohio State will take down Miami, and Washington has a shot at Nebraska). If you live in the Portland area, or are passing through, make sure to give them a listen. ESPN 1080 The Fan.

COMPUTER ACCURACY:
Last week, the Congrove Computer Rankings correctly forecasted the winner in 80% of the game played, including a 71% mark in games that featured FBS teams taking on other teams from the FBS. After two weeks, the computer is 123-20 in picking the winner, and 47-38 against the spread. Among the surprising correct picks last week, the computer forecasted Ohio State's narrow win over Toledo as well as the outright upsets of FIU over Louisville and Rice over Purdue.

FBS vs. FCS:
In all, 64 games are on this week's schedule with exactly 1/4 of those featuring FBS schools hosting teams from the championship subdivision.

FBS teams went 20-0 against FCS teams last week to raise their record to 56-2 for the season and 603-51 (.922) in such games since 2003.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/3: Richmond 23, Duke 21
9/3: Sacramento State 29, Oregon State 28

93 FBS teams play a total of 97 games against FCS foes this year. Four schools play two such games - Air Force, Eastern Michigan, N.C. State and Wyoming.

STREAKS:
Boise State - 32 home wins, 62 regular season home wins, and 46 straight conference home victories. BSU joins the Mountain West this season and leaves the WAC having never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (40-0). The Broncos' last home loss to a conference foe occurred in 1998 when they were a member of the Big West and fell to Idaho in the final regular season game. The Broncos are now 7-1 in their last eight matches with BCS conference schools after beating Georgia 35-21 in the Chick-fl-A Kickoff Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. (Next: visits Toledo on Friday).

Auburn - 17 straight wins overall after beating Mississippi State 41-34. (Next: visits Clemson on Saturday)

Stanford - 10 straight wins overall after beating Duke 44-14. (Next: visits Arizona on Saturday).

TCU - 20 straight home wins. Won its 18th straight conference game with a 35-19 victory at Air Force. (Next: hosts La.-Monroe on Saturday).

Virginia Tech - 12 regular season wins (excludes ACC Championship game win) after 17-10 victory at East Carolina. Also has streaks of 12 straight conference wins and 8 straight road wins. (Next: hosts Arkansas State on Saturday).

Oklahoma - 37 straight home victories. Was idle this past week. (Next: visits Florida State on Saturday).

San Jose State - 12 straight losses after 27-17 setback at UCLA. (Next: hosts Nevada on Saturday).

Memphis - 11 straight losses after taking a 47-3 drubbing at Arkansas State. (Next: hosts FCS member Austin Peay on Saturday)

New Mexico - 17 straight road losses after a 52-3 defeat vs. Arkansas in Little Rock. (Next: hosts Texas Tech on Saturday).

NEW COACHES:
24 teams have a new college football coach in the FBS ranks this season. Last season saw 23 new head coaches, only 8 of whom matched or exceeded the W-L record of their predecessors' final season.

The new head coaches are a cumulative 27-18, but only Ball State, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Stanford and Vanderbilt, have defeated schools from the "Big 6" conferences.

Here are this week's games for each new head coach:

Team Coach Game
Arkansas State Hugh Freeze (1-1) Visits Virginia Tech on Saturday
Ball State Pete Lembo (1-1) Hosts Buffalo on Saturday
Colorado Jon Embree (0-2) vs. Colorado State at Denver on Saturday
Connecticut Paul Pasqualoni (1-1) Hosts Iowa State on Friday
Florida Will Muschamp (2-0) Hosts Tennessee on Saturday
Indiana Kevin Wilson (0-2) Hosts FCS member South Carolina State on Saturday
Kent State Darrell Hazell (0-2) Visits Kansas State on Saturday
Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth (1-1) Hosts FCS member Nicholls State on Saturday
Maryland Randy Edsall (1-0) Hosts West Virginia on Saturday
Miami (Fla.) Al Golden (0-1) Hosts Ohio State on Saturday
Miami (O.) Don Treadwell (0-1) Visits Minnesota on Saturday
Michigan Brady Hoke (2-0) Hosts Eastern Michigan on Saturday
Minnesota Jerry Kill (0-2) Hosts Miami (O.) on Saturday
North Carolina Everett Withers (Interim) (2-0) Hosts Virginia on Saturday
North Texas Dan McCarney (0-2) Visits Alabama on Saturday
Northern Illinois Dave Doeren (1-1) vs. Wisconsin at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday
Ohio State Luke Fickell (Interim) (2-0) Visits Miami (Fla.) on Saturday
Pittsburgh Todd Graham (2-0) Visits Iowa on Saturday
San Diego St. Rocky Long (2-0) Hosts Washington State on Saturday
Stanford David Shaw (2-0) Visits Arizona on Saturday
Temple Steve Addazio (2-0) Hosts Penn State on Saturday
Tulsa Bill Blankenship (1-1) Hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday
Vanderbilt James Franklin (2-0) Hosts Mississippi on Saturday
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen (2-0) Visits Maryland on Saturday