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"Show Me" Weekend

Several teams, including Missouri, get a chance to prove something this week

by Dave Congrove
September 20, 2011 (Updated 9/21/11)

Conference play starts to heat up and a large handful of games this week could significantly alter the rankings and turn the preseason forecasts upside down. Five contests feature battles between current residents of the top 25 in the Congrove Computer Rankings, and 8 games pit nearly half of the remaining 33 undefeated teams against each other.

No. 12 Missouri (2-1) is at No. 1 Oklahoma (3-0), No. 8 Arkansas (3-0) visits No. 2 Alabama (3-0), No. 4 LSU (3-0) treks to No. 21 West Virginia (3-0), No. 5 Oklahoma State (3-0) visits No. 6 Texas A&M (3-0), and No. 17 Florida State travels to No. 25 Clemson.

In addition to those great matchups, we also get No. 65 Vanderbilt (3-0) at No. 14 South Carolina (3-0), No. 27 San Diego State (3-0) at No. 19 Michigan (3-0), No. 23 USC (3-0) at No. 40 Arizona State (2-1), No. 38 North Carolina (3-0) at No. 28 Georgia Tech (3-0); and No. 9 Nebraska (3-0) at No. 72 Wyoming (3-0).

Missouri could be, and possibly should be, undefeated right now. The Tigers lost a 37-30 heartbreaker at Arizona State in week 2 in overtime after missing a 48-yard FG attempt at the end of regulation. Head coach Gary Pinkel seemingly iced his own kicker by calling two consecutive timeouts prior to the kick which wound being badly hooked. The Tigers, which entered that contest at No. 5 in the computer rankings, had scored 14 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to tie the game at 30-apiece.

However, that loss was a nonconference affair and the visit to Oklahoma this week is the Big 12 opener for both teams. The Sooners, fresh off a hard-fought victory at Florida State, could be ripe for the picking, but Missouri hasn't won in Norman since 1966. A 36-27 victory in Columbia last year ended a 7-game overall losing streak to the Sooners while providing the Tigers with just their 2nd win the series in the last 21 meetings. The computer favors Oklahoma by 8.59 points.

Something's gotta give when Oklahoma State and Texas A&M collide in College Station. The visiting Cowboys rank 2nd in the nation in total offense while the homestanding Aggies are 15th in total defense. Both schools are also viable candidates to win the Big 12 and dark horse candidates for the BCS championship game. The computer projects Texas A&M to win by 2.34 to halt a 3-game losing streak to the Cowboys

Arkansas hasn't beaten Alabama since 2006 and hasn't won in Tuscaloosa since 2003. The Crimson Tide is a 11.31-point computer favorite this time around. Ryan Mallet, now in the NFL, threw three crucial interceptions in a 24-20 Arkansas loss at Fayetteville last year.

LSU is a 12.12-point computer pick over West Virginia after downing the Mountaineers 20-14 in Baton Rouge last year. Dana Holgorsen is undefeated through his first 3 games as West Virginia's head coach, becoming the first person to turn that trick since Bobby Bowden in 1970.

The home team has come out on top in the Florida State-Clemson series each of the last four years. Also, FSU has lost on its last 4 trips to Clemson. Still, the 'Noles get the computer's nod by 7.15 points in this week's meeting at Death Valley where the Tigers ended Auburn's 17-game winning streak last weekend.

Vanderbilt is unbeaten and unloved. Their No. 65 ranking in the CCR Top 120 is the second-lowest of the 33 undefeated teams (Wyoming is No. 72). The Commodores and South Carolina are both already 1-0 in the SEC after Vandy manhandled Ole Miss 30-7 this past weekend and the Gamecocks downed Georgia 45-42 in week 2. The computer projected South Carolina to be 3-0 at this point, but it forecasted Vanderbilt to lose two of its first three games. Despite their surprising success, the Commodores are still a whopping 20.34-point computer underdog this week against a team that, on Tuesday, became the latest to get served a notice of inquiry from the NCAA. The notice alleges that ten football players may have received improper benefits.

USC is ineligible for the PAC-12 title and postseason play, but could still be voted No. 1 by the AP. The undefeated Trojans head into this weekend's game at Arizona State ranked 23rd by the sportswriters and the computer. Even though the Sun Devils are coming off a 17-14 loss at Illinois, and even though USC hasn't lost at Arizona State since 1997, the Sun Devils get a 3.13-point nod from the computer.

The computer's preseason forecast correctly had North Carolina and Georgia Tech heading into this week's game with unbeaten records. At the time, it saw the Yellow Jackets as a slim 0.12-point favorite, but it now projects them to win by 5.33. The Tar Heels sent a list of self-imposed sanctions to the NCAA on Monday that included voluntarily vacating 16 wins from the 2008-2009 seasons and cutting 3 scholarships from each of the next three seasons. The school must still appear before the NCAA infractions committee on October 28 where it could encounter even stiffer penalties.

Perhaps the most intriguing game this week sends San Diego State to Michigan to face former head coach Brady Hoke as an encouraging 6.88-point underdog. Hoke was with the Aztecs for just two seasons but managed to improve the program from 2-10 the year before he arrived to 9-4 campaign in 2010 that included a decisive 35-14 Poinsettia Bowl victory over Navy. New head coach Rocky Long was Hoke's defensive coordinator at SDSU and, so far, he's been able to keep the success going. The Aztecs enter this contest on a 5-game winning streak and have won 9 of their last 11, but they haven't toppled a team from one of the "Big 6 " conferences since 1999 when they won 41-13 at Kansas.

Another intriguing game has unbeaten Nebraska visiting undefeated Wyoming. The 'Huskers have knocked off UT-Chattanooga, Fresno State and Washington unimpressively while the Cowboys have taken on Weber State, Texas State and Bowling Green. The computer has Nebraska winning by 20.22.

REALIGNMENT:
The ACC became the first conference to exceed 12 members when it announced on Sunday that Syracuse and Pittsburgh were accepted as its 13th and 14th members. They also become the 4th and 5th Big East defectors to the ACC. It is possible that the latest switch won't happen until 2014 at the earliest as the Big East imposed a 27-month notice of departure after Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College jumped ship. The Hokies and 'Canes joined the ACC in 2004 and the Eagles followed in 2005.

In other realignment developments:
The boards of regents at Texas and Oklahoma cleared the way on Monday for those schools to seek a pathway out of the Big 12, most likely to the PAC-12.

However, PAC-12 conference commissioner Larry Scott channeled his inner Roseanne Roseannadanna in a Tuesday night release that essentially stated "Never mind" to further conference expansion. The release stated, "In light of the widespread speculation about potential scenarios for Conference re-alignment, the Pac-12 Presidents and Chancellors have affirmed their decision to remain a 12-team conference".

The release cooled Tuesday's biggest realignment story which centered around Missouri receiving safe haven, if you will, from the SEC if the Big 12 went further into the abyss.

Stay tuned.

COMPUTER ACCURACY:
There are 33 undefeated teams entering this weekend. Of those 33, the computer's preseason forecast expected 26 of those teams to be unbeaten, 5 of them to be 2-1 and 2 of them to be 1-2. Iowa State and Vanderbilt are the biggest surprises as each was projected to be 1-2 at this point. BYU, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Southern Miss were projected to be undefeated at this point, but the Cougars and Irish are 1-2 while the Buckeyes and Golden Eagles are 2-1.

FBS vs. FCS:
13 games on this week's schedule feature FBS teams hosting FCS schools. FBS teams went 15-1 (.938) is such games last week and are 71-3 for the season. Since 2003, the FBS is 618-52 (.922) vs. FCS members.

The lone FCS winner last week was Indiana State which crushed Western Kentucky 44-16.and 618-52 (.922) in such games since 2003. The lone winner was Indiana State which crushed Western Kentucky 44-16.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/17: Indiana State 44, Western Kentucky 16
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 7-1 in their last eight matches with BCS conference schools. (Next: hosts Tulsa on Saturday).

Stanford - 11 straight wins overall. (Next: hosts UCLA on Saturday, October 1).

TCU - 21 straight home wins and 18 straight conference wins. (Next: hosts FCS member Portland State on Saturday).

Virginia Tech - 13 regular season wins (excludes ACC Championship game win), 12 straight conference wins and 8 straight road wins. (Next: visits Marshall on Saturday).

Oklahoma - 37 straight home victories. (Next: hosts Missouri on Saturday).

San Jose State - 13 straight losses. (Next: hosts New Mexico State on Saturday).

Memphis - Last week, the Tigers ended a streak of 11 overall losses with a 27-6 win over FCS member Austin Peay, but they still have an 11-game losing streak vs. FBS schools. (Next: hosts SMU on Saturday)

New Mexico - 17 straight road losses. (Next: hosts FCS member Sam Houston State 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.

Seven of the new head coaches are undefeated, thus far. The new head coaches are a cumulative 40-29, but only ten of them have defeated a school from the "Big 6" conferences - Ball State, Florida, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, North Carolina, San Diego State, Stanford, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.

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

Team Coach Game
Arkansas State Hugh Freeze (1-2) Hosts FCS member Central Arkansas
Ball State Pete Lembo (2-1) Hosts Army
Colorado Jon Embree (1-2) Visits Ohio State
Connecticut Paul Pasqualoni (1-2) Visits Buffalo
Florida Will Muschamp (3-0) Visits Kentucky
Indiana Kevin Wilson (1-2) Visits North Texas
Kent State Darrell Hazell (0-3) Hosts FCS member South Alabama
Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth (2-1) Visits FIU
Maryland Randy Edsall (1-1) Hosts Temple
Miami (Fla.) Al Golden (1-1) Hosts Kansas State
Miami (O.) Don Treadwell (0-2) Hosts Bowling Green
Michigan Brady Hoke (3-0) Hosts San Diego State
Minnesota Jerry Kill (1-2) Hosts FCS member North Dakota State
North Carolina Everett Withers (Interim) (3-0) Visits Georgia Tech
North Texas Dan McCarney (0-3) Hosts Indiana
Northern Illinois Dave Doeren (1-2) Hosts FCS member Cal Poly
Ohio State Luke Fickell (Interim) (2-1) Hosts Colorado
Pittsburgh Todd Graham (2-1) Hosts Notre Dame
San Diego St. Rocky Long (3-0) Visits Michigan
Stanford David Shaw (3-0) Idle - Hosts UCLA on Oct. 1
Temple Steve Addazio (2-1) Visits Maryland
Tulsa Bill Blankenship (1-2) Visits Boise State
Vanderbilt James Franklin (3-0) Visits South Carolina
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen (3-0) Hosts LSU