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Week Four Preview

by Mike Mitchell
September 16, 2008

The SEC grabs the spotlight this week with two huge divisional showdowns when LSU visits Auburn and Florida travels to Tennessee. There are also a couple of big games in the ACC, while the Big 12 battles the Big East in three games before Saturday even arrives.

The weekend schedule's marquee value gets an additional boost from such matchups as Boise State at Oregon, Utah at Air Force, Georgia at Arizona State and Notre Dame at Michigan.

The 57-game slate includes 45 toe-to-toe contests between FBS teams, but 12 schools are playing FCS member institutions.

The week kicks off on Wednesday when Kansas State heads to Louisville. The computer calls for an upset against the so-called "experts" who favor the Wildcats by 4. The computer likes the Cardinals by just under 7.

On Thursday, Colorado hosts a West Virginia team that is hoping to rebound from a 24-3 loss at East Carolina in their last game. The Mountaineers are still a 10-point computer favorite to give Bill Stewart his first win in 2008 over an FBS team.

Friday night delivers Baylor at UConn. Both teams were impressive in their last outings, albeit against weak competition. The Bears squashed hapless Washington State 45-17 last Saturday while the Huskies pasted Virginia 45-10.

The Big 12 will continue to draw attention on Saturday with Texas A&M hosting Miami as a 6.11-point computer favorite. The 'Canes won last year's matchup at the Orange Bowl 34-17 after taking a 31-0 lead through three quarters. Aggie QB Stephen McGee is questionable for the game.

The ACC got off to a bad start in 2008 but rebounded significantly last weekend with wins by Maryland over California, North Carolina over Rutgers, and Duke over Navy. This week, the ACC has two major conference games on the agenda with Wake Forest traveling to Florida State, and Virginia Tech visiting North Carolina.

The Demon Deacons have flipped from being a 2.53-point preseason computer favorite to a 2.01-point underdog. Virginia Tech is a 4-point computer favorite at the Tar Heels, but a 1-1/2-point underdog by the oddsmakers. The Hokies are 15-1 in ACC road games since joining the conference in 2004.

The ACC also has three decent non-conference games. In addition to the Miami-Texas A&M affair, N.C. State hosts East Carolina and Georgia Tech entertains Mississippi State. The ACC teams are computer underdogs in all three contests.

That brings us to the SEC and the major traditional rivalries of Florida-Tennessee and LSU-Auburn. All but Tennessee rank in the top 12 of the Congrove Computer Rankings, and the top 10 of the AP and Coaches' polls.

The Gators are a 3.06-point choice at the Vols while LSU gets a 1.08-point nod at Auburn. LSU was only a 0.03-point pick in the computer's preseason analysis.

Utah at Air Force could prove to be huge in the eventual determination of the Mountain West champion. Utah is a 10-point computer pick, but Air Force won 20-12 last year in Salt Lake City as a 20-point underdog.

Boise State - along with East Carolina, BYU, Tulsa, Utah and Ball State - is one of a small handful of teams that could be this year's "outsider" in the BCS bowls pool, especially since fellow WAC member Fresno State took a tough home loss to Wisconsin last weekend. The Broncos have dominated the WAC since joining the league in 2001 with four outright conference titles and one shared title, so it's not unlikely they could repeat that feat this year. To get in the BCS pool, however, Boise State would almost certainly have to go unbeaten which means it must win at Oregon this week. The Ducks showed they're beatable by escaping with a 32-26 double-overtime victory at Purdue, but Oregon is still a 10-point computer choice over the Broncos at home in Autzen Stadium.

Arizona State's shocking home loss to 23-point underdog UNLV has taken some of the luster off of the Sun Devils' home battle with Georgia this week. The Bulldogs were unimpressive in their 14-7 win at South Carolina and have slipped from 2nd in the CCR preseason rankings to 4th this week. This is still a huge game for both teams as Georgia looks to stay unbeaten and the Sun Devils try to regroup with a big win. The computer favors the Bulldogs by over 10 points.

Notre Dame took advantage of six Michigan turnovers to defeat the Wolverines 35-17 in South Bend. This week, the Irish head to East Lansing to take on Michigan State as a 13.78-point computer underdog. The Spartans have won six straight road games in the series but lost the last three at home.

Elsewhere, among the computer's top ten teams:
No. 1 USC is idle;
No. 2 Oklahoma is idle:
No. 5 Missouri hosts Buffalo;
No. 6 Texas entertains Rice;
No. 8 Penn State hosts Temple;
No. 10 USF visits FIU.

UNBEATEN TEAMS:
39 Teams remain unbeaten through the third week of the season. As the list shrinks, we'll keep track of the survivors. Only Hawaii made it through the 2007 regular season unscathed, and the Warriors were blown out 41-10 by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. It was the first season since 2002 that no team recorded a perfect record.

Boise State was the only team to finish the entire 2006 season undefeated, while Texas did it in 2005. Auburn, USC and Utah all had unblemished records in 2004.

WINLESS TEAMS:
17 teams remain winless, including FIU. The Golden Panthers defeated North Texas 38-19 in their final 2007 game to avoid ending last season as the only winless team. FIU has lost 25 of its last 26 games. FIU was one of two schools to go winless in 2006 (Duke was the other).

Idaho failed to beat a team from the bowl subdivision last season and has yet to do so this year.

FBS vs. FCS
The divisions were re-named late in 2006. 1-A was given the new moniker of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) while 1-AA was labeled the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

FBS teams are 63-2 (.969) against FCS teams this season, and 353-37 (.905) since 2003.

Here are the losses by the FBS so far this season:
Cal Poly 29, San Diego State 27 (Week 1)
New Hampshire 28, Army 10 (Week 2)

There are 12 FBS vs. FCS games this week.

This year, 82 different FBS teams will participate in a total of 87 games that will pit the FCS against the FBS. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Western Kentucky each play two such games.

ACC teams have more games versus FCS schools than any other conference. Here is the number of FCS games for each conference:

Conference Teams In Conf. Games vs. FCS Avg. Per Team
ACC 12 14 1.167
Big East 8 7 0.875
Big 12 12 10 0.833
Big 10 11 9 0.818
MWC 9 7 0.778
WAC 9 7 0.778
SEC 12 9 0.750
Independents 3 2 0.667
MAC 13 8 0.615
CUSA 12 7 0.583
Sun Belt 9 5 0.555
PAC-10 10 2 0.200
Totals 120 87 0.725

STREAKS:
BYU owns the nation's longest current winning streak at 13 games. The Cougars have also won 16 consecutive MWC games. BYU hosts Wyoming.

Georgia has won 10 straight games. The Bulldogs visit Arizona State.

Boise State has won 45 consecutive regular season home games, and the Broncos have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (28-0). Boise State visits Oregon.

Hawaii owns a 15-game winning streak against WAC teams. The Warriors are idle.

UAB has the nation's longest losing streak at 9 games. That streak should end this week when the Blazers host Alabama State (FCS).

Army has lost 8 straight games. The Black Knights host Akron.

UTEP has lost 8 consecutive games. The Miners host New Mexico State.

Idaho has lost 17 straight to FBS schools. The Vandals visit Utah State.

SMU has dropped 12 straight games to FBS teams. The Mustangs host TCU.

Kent State has dropped 9 straight to FBS teams. The Golden Flashes visit Louisiana-Lafayette.

NEW COACHES:
The 2007 season featured 24 new head coaches. Nine led their team to a bowl game. This year, there are 18 coaching changes.

Northern Illinois and Washington State are the only teams still waiting to taste victory.

Ten teams have defeated FBS schools - Arkansas, Baylor, Duke, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Southern Miss, Texas A&M and UCLA. Only Baylor, Georgia Tech and UCLA have defeated a team from one of the "big 6" conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-10 or SEC).

Coaching Changes For 2008 Season
TEAM RECORD COACH THIS WEEK
Arkansas 2-0 Bobby Petrino 9/20, vs. Alabama
Baylor 2-1 Art Briles 9/19, at Connecticut
Colorado State 1-1 Steve Fairchild 9/20, vs. Houston
Duke 2-1 David Cutcliffe idle
Georgia Tech 2-1 Paul Johnson 9/20, vs. Mississippi State
Hawaii 1-2 Greg McMackin idle
Houston 1-2 Kevin Sumlin 9/20, at Colorado State
Michigan 1-2 Rich Rodriguez idle
Mississippi 2-1 Houston Nutt 9/20, vs. Vanderbilt
Navy 1-2 Ken Nuimatalolo 9/20, vs. Rutgers
Nebraska 3-0 Bo Pelini idle
Northern Illinois 0-2 Jerry Kill 9/20, vs. Indiana State (FCS)
SMU 1-2 June Jones 9/20, vs. TCU
Southern Miss 2-1 Larry Fedora 9/20, vs. Marshall
Texas A&M 1-1 Mike Sherman 9/20, vs. Miami, Fla.
UCLA 1-1 Rick Neuheisel 9/20, vs. Arizona
Washington State 0-3 Paul Wulff 9/20, vs. Portland State (FCS)
West Virginia 1-1 Bill Stewart 9/18, at Colorado