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Week 4 Preview: Big Battles In Big Ten and ACC

by Dave Congrove
September 21, 2009

The Big Ten and ACC steal the spotlight this week as each conference presents a pair of telling battles.

Five teams are left undefeated in the Big Ten, but that list will shrink to no more than three this weekend when Indiana invades Michigan and 18th-ranked Iowa heads to No. 11 Penn State. The computer (Congrove Computer Rankings) likes the home team in both contests, but by less than the odddsmakers. Wisconsin, the other 3-0 team, is a computer upset loser at home against Michigan State.

Meanwhile, the ACC gives us a pair of games among the top four teams in the Coastal Division. No. 21 Miami visits 16th-ranked Virginia Tech, and No. 23 North Carolina goes to 47th-ranked Georgia Tech. The Techs are favored in both games.

Overall, the college football week features 50 games that match FBS schools against each other, and another 11 schools face FCS foes. Nine teams, including the computer's 3rd-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, are idle.

Ole Miss draws its first test of the season when it jouneys to Columbia for a Thursday night clash with South Carolina. The Gamecocks got a bit of a breather last week when it hosted FAU after opening the year with games at N.C. State and Georgia. The Rebels rank as high as 4th in the human polls, but the Congrove Computer Rankings put them at 13 (see preview).

The top teams in the national rankings appear to be safe this week, but the season has already presented unexpected upsets of Oklahoma (by BYU), Oklahoma State (by Houston), USC (by Washington), and BYU (by Florida State). Top-ranked Florida gets a 25.24-point nod at Kentucky; No. 2 Texas is a 32.09-point pick at home over UTEP; and No. 4 Alabama is favored by 17.99 over Arkansas in Tuscaloosa.

7th-ranked California is on upset alert at No. 29 Oregon. The Ducks are coming off a 31-24 win over Utah that ended the Utes' 16-game winning streak. One thing for sure - Oregon is feeling a lot better about itself now than it did after a terrible opening game at Boise State. The computer favors Cal by just 0.61 points.

No. 20 Utah will try to start a new winning streak when it hosts Louisville. The Utes are unranked in the human polls despite winning 23 of their last 25 games.

Washington, the new darlings of the AP Poll, will try to back up its' conquest of USC with a victory at Stanford. The computer favors the Cardinal by 18.26 points, nearly twice as much as the spread. The Huskies have won just 2 of their last 17 games.

5th-ranked Boise State is favored by almost 15 at Bowling Green, and 6th-ranked USC is a ridiculous 43-point choice at home versus Washington State as it looks to rebound from the loss to Washington.

Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are looking like the class of the Big East. They are 8th and 9th, resepctively, in this week's computer rankings. However, each faces a tough non-conference foe as the Bearcats entertain always-dangerous Fresno State, and the Panthers head to Raleigh to take on N.C. State.

South Florida's visit to Florida State has lost some luster as the Bulls will be without 4th-year starting QB Matt Grothe. He was lost for the season with a torn ACL in last week's 59-0 win over Charleston Southern (FCS).

Houston, the computer's 22nd-ranked team, will host No. 14 Texas Tech in its' first game since upsetting Oklahoma State. The Cougars are listed as 7.49-point home underdogs by the computer.

UNBEATEN TEAMS:
28 teams remain unbeaten.

WINLESS TEAMS:
Only 14 teams are winless.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams are 61-5 on the season vs. FCS schools, and 436-42 (.912) since 2003.

Duke, Virginia and Temple were the victims in week one; Ball State was added to the list in week two; and Western Kentucky was victimized in week three.

Here are the results of every FBS loss to the FCS this season:
9/19: Central Arkansas 28, Western Kentucky 7
9/12:
New Hampshire 23, Ball State 16. New Hampshire also has wins at Army in 2008 (28-10), Marshall in 2007 (48-35), and Northwestern in 2006 (34-17)
9/5: Richmond 24, Duke 16; William & Mary 26, Virginia 14
9/3: Villanova 27, Temple 24

This year, 87 FBS teams will play a total of 94 games against FCS foes. Duke, Kansas State, Mississippi, North Carolina, N.C. State, Rutgers and USF each play two FCS teams.

STREAKS:
Florida has won 13 straight. The Gators visit Kentucky on Saturday.

Ole Miss has won 8 straight overall. The Rebels visit South Carolina on Thursday.

Southern Miss has won 8 straight overall. The Golden Eagles visit Kansas on Saturday.

Boise State has streaks of 21 consecutive home wins, 51 straight regular season home wins, and 38 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (32-0). 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 4-1 in their last five matches against BCS conference schools. The Broncos visit Bowling Green on Saturday.

Oklahoma has won 25 straight home games. The Sooners are idle.

Utah had its' 16-game winning streak snapped in a 31-24 loss at Oregon last week. The Utes still have streaks of 8 straight conference wins and 12 straight home wins. Utah hosts Louisville on Saturday.

Alabama has won 15 straight regular season games. Alabama hosts Arkansas on Saturday.

Western Kentucky has lost 11 straight overall and 16 straight to FBS teams. The Hilltoppers visit Navy on Saturday.

Tulane has lost 10 straight overall. The Green Wave host McNeese State (FCS) on Saturday.

North Texas has lost 11 straight Sun Belt games. The Mean Green host MTSU on Saturday.

Washington had lost 10 straight conference games until it upset USC 16-13 on last Saturday. The Huskies have lost 7 straight road games and visit Stanford on Saturday.

SMU has lost 9 straight home games to FBS teams. The Mustangs are idle.

NEW COACHES:
There are 22 new college football coaches in the FBS ranks this season. 17 have already secured their first victory, but 9 have yet to defeat a FBS school (Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Kansas State, Miami (Ohio), New Mexico, New Mexico State, San Diego State, Utah State and Wyoming).

Coaching Changes For 2009 Season
TEAM RECORD COACH THIS WEEK
Army 2-1 Rich Ellerson 9/26, at Iowa State
Auburn 3-0 Gene Chizik 9/26, vs. Ball State
Ball State 0-3 Stan Parrish 9/26, at Auburn
Boston College 2-1 Frank Spaziani 9/26, vs. Wake Forest
Bowling Green 1-2 Dave Clawson 9/26, vs. Boise State
*-Clemson 2-1 Dabo Swinney 9/26, vs. TCU
Eastern Michigan 0-3 Ron English 10/3, vs. Temple
Iowa State 2-1 Paul Rhoads 9/26, vs. Army
Kansas State 1-2 Bill Snyder 9/26, vs. Tennessee Tech (FCS)
Miami (O.) 0-3 Michael Haywood 9/26, at Kent State
Mississippi State 2-1 Dan Mullen 9/26, vs. LSU
New Mexico 0-3 Mike Locksley 9/26, vs. New Mexico State
New Mexico State 1-2 DeWayne Walker 9/26, at New Mexico
Oregon 2-1 Chip Kelly 9/26, vs. California
Purdue 1-2 Danny Hope 9/26, vs. Notre Dame
San Diego State 1-2 Brady Hoke 9/26, at Air Force
Syracuse 1-2 Doug Marrone 9/26, vs. Maine (FCS)
Tennessee 1-2 Lane Kiffin 9/26, vs. Ohio
Toledo 1-2 Tim Beckman 9/26, at FIU
Utah State 0-2 Gary Andersen 9/26, vs. Southern Utah (FCS)
Washington 2-1 Steve Sarkisian 9/26, at Stanford
Wyoming 1-2 Dave Christensen 9/26, vs. UNLV
*-Dabo Swinney took over halfway through last season when Tommy Bowden stepped down after a 3-3 start. Swinney was 4-3 over the last 7 games of the season.