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College Football Season

Five Games Feature Top 25 Matchups

Five more have forecasted margins of less than a quarter point.

by Dave Congrove
September 13, 2010

This week's 58-game slate is loaded with quality matchups, five of which feature battles between teams in the top 25 of the Congrove Computer Rankings.

No. 2 Texas visits No. 13 Texas Tech. The computer favors the Longhorns by 9.20 over the Red Raiders in Lubbock where the teams have split the last 18 meetings.

No. 25 Air Force heads to No. 8 Oklahoma. The Falcons are coming off a 35-14 home win over then-No. 14 BYU, but the Sooners are favored by 12.78 points after laying a 47-17 whipping on Florida State last week.

No. 10 Iowa goes to No. 19 Arizona. The Hawkeyes have taken four of the last five in the sporadically played series, including a 27-17 win at Iowa City last year. Overall, the series is tied at 6 wins apiece.

No. 15 Cal plays No. 24 Nevada in Reno on Friday in a game that could produce a ton of points. The Wolf Pack is home for the third straight week where it has averaged 51 points per game in wins over FCS member Eastern Washington and Colorado State. The Golden Bears have put 52 on the board in each of their first two games, beating FCS member UC-Davis 52-3 and Colorado 52-7. This game figures to be dramatically closer than any of the previous games these teams have played as Cal gets the computer's nod by a mere 0.22 points.

23rd-ranked Clemson's Tigers visits No. 20 Auburn's Tigers in an ACC-SEC showdown. The Atlantic Coast Conference is in sore need of a victory against a strong interleague opponent. Unfortunately for the ACC, Clemson is a 3.30-point underdog in this clash. Auburn has taken the last two meetings by narrow margins in the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl and 1997 Peach Bowl which, of course, is now known as the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

This week's schedule features 32 games that the computer forecasts to be within single digits, and 19 games have projected margins of less than 5 points.

But, it's these five games that have the tightest forecasted margins:
Temple by 0.03 over UConn
Georgia by 0.11 vs. Arkansas
Marshall by 0.21 at Bowling Green
Cal by 0.22 at Nevada
UAB by 0.24 vs. Troy

This is the second straight week that Temple is favored by less than a point at home. The Owls were a 0.77-point pick last week vs. Central Michigan. They won 13-10 in overtime.

This week's results could wreck the computer's remarkable start. So far, it is 71-13 (.845) in forecasting the winner of FBS vs. FBS games and 129-19 overall (.872).

Six of the computer's 19 overall losses were unpredictable upsets by FCS teams over FBS schools.

Virginia Tech is one of those teams that will be trying to rebound from a loss to a FCS school last week. James Madison's 21-16 win in Blacksburg was the first by a non-BCS opponent since Miami (Ohio) accomplished the feat in 1997 (Temple won there in 1998, but the Owls were a member of the Big East at the time). The Hokies are 0-2 for the first time since 1995 when they recovered by reeling off 10 straight wins, including a 28-10 trouncing of Texas in the Sugar Bowl. The Hokies haven't been 0-3 since 1987, the first year of Frank Beamer's head coaching tenure. East Carolina visits Virginia Tech this week and the Hokies are a 15.47-point favorite to start turning their season around. But they better be ready to handle a high-powered offensive attack from the Pirates and new head coach Ruffin McNeill, the former assistant head coach at Texas Tech. ECU is averaging 50 points per game with a 51-49 win over Tulsa and a 49-27 victory over Memphis.

Boise State may have been hurt in its quest for a BCS title shot by Virginia Tech's shocking loss. Let's see how the computer's No. 1 team responds when it travels to Wyoming for its first game since defeating the Hokies 33-30 on Labor Day. The Cowboys are battle-tested, having lost 34-7 at the computer's No. 2 team, Texas, last week. Wyoming opened the season with a narrow 28-20 win over FCS member Southern Utah.

Cincinnati at N.C. State - The Wolfpack are 2-0 for the first time since 2002 when Philip Rivers was the quarterback. The visiting Bearcats are an 8.39-point computer choice.

BYU at Florida State - The Seminoles went to Provo last year and crushed the Cougars 54-28, a week after a 19-9 escape at home against FCS member Jacksonville State. BYU entered that game with a 2-0 record that included a 14-13 opening day win over Oklahoma in Arlington. This year, both teams are coming off lopsided road losses - the Cougars by a 35-14 count at Air Force, and the Seminoles by a 47-17 score at Oklahoma.

Arkansas at Georgia - The Bulldogs face a must-win situation if they are to be factor in the SEC East race after falling 17-6 at South Carolina last week. The Razorbacks have lost their SEC opener each of the last three years. Georgia, which hasn't opened 0-2 in the SEC since 1993, is favored by less than a point (-0.11).

Florida at Tennessee - The Gators' offense has been lethargic in wins over Miami (Ohio) and USF, passing for just 142.5 yards per game. It's not all bad, however, as John Brantley has 4 TD tosses and no interceptions. The Vols looked like they were headed toward an upset home win over Oregon last week until they were outscored 45-0 after taking a 13-3 lead. The computer likes Florida by 19.21.

Georgia Tech at North Carolina - Running back Shaun Draughn, at the time this article was written, is the only player cleared to return out of the 13 who missed the opener against LSU. An NCAA investigation continues into Agentgate and Tutorgate. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets are looking to recover from their 28-25 upset loss at a Kansas team that had fallen 6-3 to FCS member North Dakota State the week before. North Carolina is favored by 4.13 points, but that prediction does not take the suspensions into account.

Houston at UCLA - Houston QB Case Keenum is doubtful, but I doubt that matters. UCLA is 115th in the nation in scoring at 11 points per game and 102nd in scoring defense at 33 points per game. Cotton Turner replaced Keenum in last week's 54-24 win over UTEP and completed 17-of-21 passes for 141 yards and 2 TD's for a passer rating of 168.78. Houston is the predicted winner by 5.40 points at the Rose Bowl.

Notre Dame at Michigan State - On the bright side, I guess, the Irish are 27 seconds away from being 2-0 after blowing the 4th quarter lead against Michigan last week. On the negative side, the Wolverine team they lost to has only six wins over schools from BCS automatic qualifier conferences in the last three years and two of those have come against the Irish. The Spartans won 23-7 the last time Notre Dame came to East Lansing in 2008 and the teams have split the last 8 games in the series. Michigan State is a 3.89-point favorite to improve to 3-0.

Nebraska at Washington - The visiting 'Huskers are favored by 8.97 in the first meeting between these teams since 1998 when Nebraska won 55-7 for the most lopsided victory by either school in the 7-game history of the series, which is tied 3-3-1.

Tulsa at Oklahoma State - The Cowboys escaped with a 3-point win at home over Troy last week in a game that saw Troy fumble 4 times and Oklahoma give the ball away 5 times. Tulsa would be 2-0 had it not allowed a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown by East Carolina on the final play of the game. OSU is favored by 9.06 points, but it was favored by 10.68 vs. Troy.

Only 45 teams remain undefeated.

Just 21 of the 120 teams don't have a win under their belt.

FBS vs. FCS:
There are 25 games this week between FBS and FCS schools. FBS teams went 21-4 (.840) vs. FCS schools last week. FBS teams are 58-6 (.906) in such games this season, and 522-48 (.916) since 2003.

Here are the results of every FBS loss to the FCS this season:
9/4: Jacksonville State 49, Mississippi 48 (2 OT's)
9/4: North Dakota State 6, Kansas 3
9/11: Gardner-Webb 38, Akron 37
9/11: Liberty 27, Ball State 23
9/11: South Dakota 41, Minnesota 38
9/11: James Madison 21, Virginia Tech 16

This year, 85 FBS teams play a total of 90 games against FCS foes. Five schools play two such games - Arizona State, Ball State, San Jose State, Syracuse and Virginia.

Alabama has 16 straight wins overall and 26 straight regular season wins. The Tide defeated Penn State 24-3. (Next: at Duke this Saturday).

Boise State has 15 straight wins, 26 regular season wins, 26 home wins, 56 regular season home wins, and 42 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (36-0). 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 5-1 in their last six matches against BCS conference schools. Boise State was idle. (Next: at Wyoming this Saturday).

Oklahoma has 32 straight home victories. The Sooners defeated Florida State 47-17. (Next: vs. Air Force this Saturday).

Utah has 19 straight home wins after a 38-10 victory over UNLV. (Next: at New Mexico this Saturday).

Western Kentucky has lost 22 straight overall and 27 straight to FBS teams after a 63-28 loss at Kentucky. (Next: vs. Indiana this Saturday).

Eastern Michigan has lost 14 straight overall after a 28-21 loss at Miami (O.). (Next: vs. Central Michigan this Saturday).

Colorado State has lost 11 straight. (Next: vs. Hawaii this Saturday).

Vanderbilt has lost 10 straight games. (Next: at Mississippi this Saturday).


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