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Top Games Feature Big 10, Notre Dame

Updated 9/21/06
by Mike Mitchell

The 58-game schedule this week features three face-to-face games among Top 30 teams (CCR Top 119). Five of the participants in those games are Big 10 schools as Penn State visits Ohio State, Michigan entertains Wisconsin, and Michigan State hosts Notre Dame.

There are 19 conference games on the schedule with four games each in the Big 10 and PAC-10, and three games in the ACC.

The slate includes 9 teams playing 1-AA opponents, bringing the year's total to 64 through four weeks. Only 54 such games were played all of last season.

Twelve teams are idle this week - Central Florida, Colorado State, Duke, Fresno State, La.-Monroe, Memphis, Miami (Fla.), Nevada-Las Vegas, New Mexico State, Oregon, Southern Miss, TCU.

UNBEATEN TEAMS
Fifteen teams experienced their first loss last week, reducing the number of undefeated teams to 29.

There are only three games this week where unbeaten teams will face each other. Those are Louisville-Kansas State, Wisconsin-Michigan, and Oklahoma State-Houston.

WINLESS TEAMS
15 teams are still looking for their first win. None of them go head-to-head.

TOP 30 CLASHES
All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.

These involve teams ranked in the Top 30 of the CCR Top 119.
No. 26 Penn State at No. 2 Ohio State - The Buckeyes have already avenged one of their two losses from last season (Texas) and will try to take care of the other this weekend. Penn State was a 17-10 victor in Happy Valley in 2005 to tie the series at 10 games apiece. Since entering the Big 10 conference in 1993, the Nittany Lions are 5-8 against Ohio State.

No. 20 Wisconsin at No. 4 Michigan - Bret Bielema's first Big 10 game as head coach of Wisconsin is in a venue where Wisconsin hasn't won since 1994. The Badgers stopped a six-game losing streak to the Wolverines last year with a 23-20 win in Madison. Both schools are undefeated. Read more on this game in our CollegeJersey.com Game Of the Week Preview.

No. 24 Notre Dame at No. 23 Michigan State - A 47-21 blowout loss at home to Michigan last week stunned the Irish faithful as they hadn't lost to Big Blue at home since 1994. Now, the Fighting Irish head to East Lansing where they haven't lost since 2000 as the road team has on the last five meetings. The Spartans are coming off a 38-23 win at Pitt last week as they dealt the Panthers their first loss of the season.

CONFERENCE GAMES
All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.

ACC:
Virginia at Georgia Tech (Thursday)
- So far, the Cavs lost at home to Western Michigan, barely survived Wyoming, and were blown out at Pitt. A road trip to Atlanta on a short week is unlikely to bode well for Al Groh's troops. Groh seems to be paying the price for losing both of his coordinators to head coaching jobs - Defensive Coordinator Al Golden went to Temple and Offensive Coordinator Ron Prince went to Kansas State.

Boston College at N. C. State - Chuck Amato's team is 1-2 with the only win coming against 1-AA Appalachian State. Boston College has gone to double-overtime in each of its last two games to beat Clemson and BYU. This is the conference-opener for N.C. State and a win is sorely needed to stop the bleeding in Raleigh.

North Carolina at Clemson - The Tar Heels managed to beat one South Carolina team last week, 1-AA Furman 45-42. It's likely to be a bit different this week when the Tar Heels travel to Clemson. Tommy Bowden's troops must guard against a letdown after hard, close battles with Boston College and Florida State in consecutive weeks. UNC is looking for its first win this year over a 1-A team.

BIG TEN:
Iowa at Illinois
- Things aren't looking too good for Ron Zook who's Fightin' Illini lost at home to a Syracuse team that entered that contest on an 11-game losing streak. Illinois has lost 11 straight to 1-A teams after a 2-0 start to the Zook era in 2005.

Wisconsin at Michigan - (also see "Top 30 Clashes" above)
Minnesota at Purdue
Penn State at Ohio State
- (also see "Top 30 Clashes" above)

BIG TWELVE:
Iowa State at Texas

MAC:
Kent State at Bowling Green
- Each team is 1-0 in the East Division.
Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan

MOUNTAIN WEST:
Air Force at Wyoming
Utah at San Diego State

PAC-10:
Arizona State at California
- It's the PAC-10 opener for both schools but a huge game between two teams that are capable of challenging USC for the PAC-10 title. The loser digs an early hole. Arizona State hasn't won at Cal since 1997 and the Golden Bears have won the last three meetings.

USC at Arizona
Washington State at Stanford
UCLA at Washington

SEC:
Alabama at Arkansas
- This game will determine if Arkansas will be a west division title chaser this season. Most believe Alabama has a legitimate shot but the Razorbacks have been largely dismissed from the talk. The teams have split the last 12 meetings.

Kentucky at Florida - Kentucky QB Andre' Woodson has 9 TD's and just 1 interception in his first three games as the Wildcats are 2-1 for the first time since 2002. The Gators counter with Chris Leak, of course, who has thrown 10 TD passes against 3 INT's and leads the nation in Pass Efficiency Rating. Florida has won 19 straight in the series and Kentucky's last win in Gainesville was in 1979 when the Gators went winless (0-10-1)

WAC:
Hawaii at Boise State
- Hawaii's last visit to Boise was ugly - a 69-3 loss in 2004. Last year, they almost got revenge as the Warriors fell 44-41 on the island. This conference game will put two streaks to the test as the Broncos have a 32-game regular season home winning streak, and a 20-0 home record against WAC teams.

NON-CONFERENCE GAMES
All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.

Cincinnati at Virginia Tech - Big East vs. ACC - The last time Cincinnati went Blacksburg they shutout the Hokies 16-0 in 1995. That loss gave Virginia Tech an 0-2 start that year, but they beat Miami the following week and reeled off 10 straight wins that included a Sugar Bowl triumph over Texas. The Hokies have won 22 straight home games against non-conference foes.

Louisville at Kansas State - Big East vs. Big 12 - The Wildcats are undefeated against weak competition - FAU, Marshall and 1-AA Illinois State. Louisville, even with injuries to RB Michael Bush and QB Brian Brohm, shouldn't be seriously challenged in this game. A loss by the Cardinals would be a major upset, especially after such a big win over Miami last week set them up for a legitimate shot at the national championship.

Utah State at BYU - WAC vs. Mountain West - Utah State has scored 7 points in three games and 0 points in the last two games. The 7 points were scored by the defense on an interception return against Wyoming in the second quarter of their season-opener.

West Virginia at East Carolina - Big East vs. CUSA - West Virginia struggled past the Pirates, 20-15, at home last year. But that was when a young team was still trying to find itself, and before QB Pat White and RB Steve Slaton became regular fixtures in the offense. Still, the Pirates have vastly improved since Skip Holtz became the head coach in 2005. At home against Memphis last week, East Carolina scored the game's final 28 points to beat Memphis 35-20 after trailing 20-7 at halftime.

Idaho at Oregon State - WAC vs. PAC-10 - Dennis Erickson coaches his new team against his old team. Erickson was the head coach at Oregon State from 1999-2002 and led the Beavers to an 11-1 season in 2000 that included a 41-9 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.

Troy at Nebraska - Sun Belt vs. Big 12 - For Nebraska, it will seem like deja vu as the Trojans come to Lincoln a week after Nebraska visited the Trojans (the USC variety) in Los Angeles. The Troy Trojans have played at Florida State and Georgia Tech the past two weeks.

Also:
Mississippi State at UAB - SEC vs. CUSA
North Texas at Akron -
Sun Belt vs. MAC
Arkansas State at SMU
- Sun Belt vs. CUSA
Army at Baylor -
Independent vs. Big 12
Buffalo at Auburn -
MAC vs. SEC
Colorado at Georgia
- Big 12 vs. SEC
Connecticut at Indiana - Big East vs. Big 10
FAU at South Carolina - Sun Belt vs. SEC
FIU at Maryland - Sun Belt vs. ACC
Rice at Florida State - CUSA vs. ACC
Oklahoma State at Houston - Big 12 vs. CUSA
South Florida at Kansas - Big East vs. Big 12
Tulane at LSU - CUSA vs. SEC
Louisiana Tech at Texas A&M - WAC vs. Big 12
Marshall at Tennessee - CUSA vs. SEC
Miami (O.) at Syracuse - MAC vs. Big East
Notre Dame at Michigan State - Independent vs. Big 10. (also see "Top 30 Clashes" above)
Middle Tennessee at Oklahoma - Sun Belt vs. Big 12
Wake Forest at Mississippi - ACC vs. SEC
Ohio at Missouri - MAC vs. Big 12
Tulsa at Navy - CUSA vs. Independent
UTEP at New Mexico - CUSA vs. Mountain West
Northwestern at Nevada (Friday) - Big 10 vs. WAC
Temple at Western Michigan - Ineligible MAC vs. MAC

IN-STATE BATTLES
All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.

Kent State at Bowling Green - (also see "Conference Games" above)
Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan - (also see "Conference Games" above)
Utah State at BYU - (also see "Non-Conference Games" above)
Tulane at LSU - (also see "Non-Conference Games" above)
Cal Poly (1-AA) at San Jose State
Tennessee State (1-AA) at Vanderbilt

POISONED CUPCAKES?
All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.

9 teams play 1-AA schools this week as over 75 schools took the opportunity of a 12th game to schedule a cupcake opponent.

1-AA schools won 1 of the 12 games played last week. Since the start of the 2003 campaign, 1-A teams hold the upper hand by a huge margin, 214-23 (.903).

Two teams are playing schools from within their own state boundaries: Cal Poly (1-AA) at San Jose State - (also see "In-State Battles" above)
Tennessee State (1-AA) at Vanderbilt - (also see "In-State Battles" above)

Three 1-AA teams are playing their second 1-A opponent this year.
Citadel (1-AA) at Pittsburgh - Bulldogs lost to Texas A&M 35-3 in week 1.

Indiana State (1-AA) at Northern Illinois - Sycamores lost to Purdue 60-35 in week 1.

McNeese State (1-AA) at Toledo - The Cowboys lost 41-10 at USF in the first week of the season.

One 1-AA is playing its third 1-A opponent this year.
SE Louisiana (1-AA) at Texas Tech - The Lions lost 30-15 at New Mexico State in week 1. They fell 45-0 at Southern Miss in week 2.

Other 1-A vs. 1-AA games:
North Carolina A&T (1-AA) at Louisiana-Lafayette

North Dakota St. (1-AA) at Ball State
Howard (1-AA) at Rutgers

ON FURTHER REVIEW
The officiating crew of this past Saturday's Oklahoma-Oregon game has been suspended for one week after a PAC-10 review confirmed the crew's errors in the final 1:12 of their game. An onside kick was wrongly awarded to Oregon and a pass interference call on Oklahoma should have been negated after the pass was tipped first at the line of scrimmage. On Wednesday this week, it was announced that the replay official had requested, and was granted, a one-year leave of absence. That official has 28 years of experience officiating PAC-10 games. The sad thing is that a "replay official" has to take the heat when the crew on the ground should have made the proper call to begin with. It is even more sad that the situation quickly degenerated to the point where the crew members were receiving death threats.

3-1/2 YEARS MINIMUM
That's the length of time Maurice Clarett will spend in a jail cell after plea-bargaining to robbery and concealed weapons charges. The former Ohio State running back led his team to the national championship against Miami in 2002, scoring the winning touchdown in overtime.

COMPUTER HITS AND MISSES
The computer is a 117-27 straight up on games that only involve 1-A teams playing each other. Thanks to a 33-17 mark last week against the spread, it's now 81-63 ATS on the year. The computer is 18-8 against the spread with Big 10 teams, 13-6 ATS with the Big East, and 19-10 ATS with the ACC.

On the downside, it's 7-12 ATS with WAC teams and 11-16 ATS with CUSA teams.

STREAKS
USC - 34 straight regular season games. 28 straight home wins. 23 straight conference wins.

TCU - 13-game over-all winning streak is tops in the nation.

Boise State - 32 consecutive regular season home wins. The Broncos have never lost a home game to a WAC opponent (20-0).

Temple - 15-game losing streak is worst in the nation.

New Mexico State - 14 straight losses to 1-A teams (2-0 vs. 1-AA schools this year).

Illinois - Lost 11 straight to 1-A teams. Lost 9 straight to Big 10 teams.

Syracuse - 11-game losing streak ended with a 31-21 win at Illinois last week.

NEW COACHES
The 2006 season introduced 11 coaching changes. Idaho's Dennis Erickson picked up his first win this past weekend when the Vandals beat rival Idaho State (1-AA) 27-24.

Boise State, 3-0 under Chris Petersen, hosts Hawaii on 9/23.
Kansas State, 3-0 under Ron Prince, hosts Louisville on 9/23.
Wisconsin, 3-0 under Bret Bielema, visits Michigan on 9/23.
Middle Tennessee, 2-1 under Rick Stockstill, visits Oklahoma on 9/23.
Northwestern, 2-1 under Pat Fitzgerald, visits Nevada on 9/22.
Buffalo, 1-2 with Turner Gill, visits Auburn on 9/23.
Idaho, 1-2 under Dennis Erickson, visits Oregon State on 9/23.
San Diego State, 0-2 under Chuck Long, hosts Utah on 9/23.
Colorado, 0-3 under Dan Hawkins, visits Georgia on 9/23.
Rice, 0-3 under Todd Graham, visits Florida State on 9/23.
Temple, 0-3 with Al Golden, visits Western Michigan on 9/23.