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Week Five Preview

by Mike Mitchell
September 23, 2008

This week's 53-game schedule features 48 battles between FBS teams. 29 of this week's games are non-conference affairs, of which 5 are against FCS schools.

The top conference battles include North Carolina at Miami in the ACC, Alabama at Georgia in the SEC, Connecticut at Louisville in the Big East (Friday), and Buffalo at Central Michigan in the MAC. The Big 10 gives us Wisconsin at Michigan and Illinois at Penn State.

If Miami can put away North Carolina, the 'Canes will have to be considered as a serious contender for the ACC Coastal division title. The Tar Heels will be without starting QB T.J. Yates who was injured in the loss to Virginia Tech. With Yates at QB, North Carolina jumped to a 17-3 lead. After he was knocked out of the game, the Hokies rallied for the victory. That leaves UNC's fate up to Cameron Sexton and Mike Paulus, who replaced Yates last Saturday. North Carolina head coach Butch Davis is 1-0 against his former team, beating the Hurricanes 33-22 last year in Chapel Hill..

Alabama at Georgia (No. 3, CCR Top 120) is one game, in particular, to keep an eye on. The Crimson Tide blasted Clemson in week one, and ran over Arkansas 49-14 last week. Alabama has given up a total of 34 points in four games. The Tide has dropped three straight to the Bulldogs since taking a 31-0 win between the hedges in 1995.

The Big East battle between UConn and Louisville will be the conference opener for two Big East schools that have a legitimate shot at the league title. The Huskies shared the crown with West Virginia last year, but still aren't getting any love despite their 4-0 record. The computer calls for a UConn win, but the oddsmakers have the Cardinals the favored status.

Buffalo and Central Michigan are each just 2-2 over-all, but 1-0 in the MAC. The winner put itself in prime position to gun for the conference title game. The Chippewas have won the last two conference titles with two different head coaches, Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. At Buffalo, former Nebraska QB Turner Gill deserves props for the job he has done turning the Bulls into a viable MAC contender. Buffalo was 10-69 in FBS play during the seven seasons prior to Gill's arrival in 2006. The Bulls have won nine of Gill's first 28 games, and half of their last ten games.

Michigan will try and continue its 22-year streak of victories in conference home openers when it hosts Wisconsin (No. 10, CCR Top 120). The Badgers, along with Ohio State and Penn State, are looking like the class of the conference. Wisconsin needs the win to keep its conference title hopes going strong. The Wolverines need the win to keep from feeling blue with a 1-3 start.

Penn State (No. 7, CCR Top 120) needs to keep pace with a home win over Illinois. Joe Pa's team has scored 211 points in four games, but that won't matter if the conference opener goes sour.

Two other Big Ten teams - the unlikely duo of Minnesota and Northwestern - are also undefeated as Big Ten play begins. Neither is expected to still be unbeaten after making Saturday road trips to Ohio State and Iowa, respectively. However, the Hawkeyes have been sluggish the past two weeks as they took a hard-fought home win over rival Iowa State before losing 21-20 last Saturday at Pitt.

No one seriously thinks No. 1 USC will lose at Oregon State on Thursday, but they should be reminded that USC lost 33-31 at Corvallis in 2006 after the Beavers had already fallen to Boise State, California and Washington State. Oregon State went on to win 8 of its last 9 games that year, including a 39-38 triumph over Missouri in the Sun Bowl while beating seven teams with records of .500 or better.

The weekend offers several good non-conference matchups, the best of which may be TCU's visit to Oklahoma (No. 4, CCR Top 120) which features 2 of the remaining 27 undefeated teams. The Horned Frogs won 17-10 in Norman in 2005, and 20-7 in 1996.

Virginia Tech goes to Nebraska for the first regular season game between those schools. Nebraska is on its third head coach (Frank Solich, Bill Callahan, Bo Pelini) since Tom Osborne's team beat the Hokies in the 1996 Orange Bowl. At that point in history, Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer was still a relative newcomer next to Osborne. This is Beamer's chance to show if experience matters.

Colorado and Florida State meet in Jacksonville. The Seminoles are looking to rebound from a 12-3 home loss to Wake Forest in their ACC opener last Saturday, while the Buffs want to keep building on the success of their overtime home win over West Virginia. Bobby Bowden (375-120-4) will be coaching his 500th career game.

Arkansas and Texas (No. 5, CCR Top 120) finally get to play, two weeks after the original date was canceled by Hurricane Ike. So far, Bobby Petrino's first year in Fayetteville has been rough as the Razorbacks have struggled to narrow wins over Western Illinois (FCS) and Louisiana-Monroe, and were blown out at home by Alabama.

Other non-conference games to watch include Purdue at Notre Dame, Troy at Oklahoma State, USF at N.C. State, and Fresno State at UCLA.

Elsewhere, among the computer's top ten teams:
No. 2 Florida hosts Mississippi;
No. 6 Missouri is idle;
No. 8 LSU hosts Mississippi State;
No. 9 BYU is idle;

UNBEATEN TEAMS:
27 teams remain unbeaten. 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:
Only 8 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 was one of two schools to go winless in 2006 (Duke was the other). FIU has lost 26 of its last 27 games.

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 75-2 (.974) against FCS teams this season, and 365-37 (.908) 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 5 FBS vs. FCS games this week, none of which look the least bit threatening.

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 14 games. The Cougars have also won 17 consecutive MWC games. BYU is idle.

Georgia has won 11 straight games. The Bulldogs host Alabama.

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 is idle.

Hawaii owns a 15-game winning streak against WAC teams. The Warriors host conference foe San Jose State.

Army has lost 9 straight games. The Black Knights visit Texas A&M.

UTEP has also lost 9 straight games. The Miners host UCF.

Idaho has lost 18 straight to FBS schools. The Vandals visit San Diego State.

SMU has dropped 13 straight games to FBS teams. The Mustangs visit Tulane.

Kent State has dropped 10 straight to FBS teams. The Golden Flashes visit Ball State.

UAB has a 9-game losing streak against FBS schools. The Blazers visit South Carolina.

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.

Twelve teams have defeated FBS schools - Arkansas, Baylor, Colorado State, Duke, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Mississippi, Navy, Nebraska, Southern Miss, Texas A&M and UCLA. Only Baylor, Georgia Tech, Navy 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 2-1 Bobby Petrino 9/27, at Texas
Baylor 2-2 Art Briles 10/4, vs. Oklahoma
Colorado State 2-1 Steve Fairchild 9/27, at California
Duke 2-1 David Cutcliffe 9/27, vs. Virginia
Georgia Tech 3-1 Paul Johnson 10/4, vs. Duke
Hawaii 1-2 Greg McMackin 9/27, vs. San Jose State
Houston 1-3 Kevin Sumlin 9/27, at East Carolina
Michigan 1-2 Rich Rodriguez 9/27, vs. Wisconsin
Mississippi 2-2 Houston Nutt 9/27, at Florida
Navy 2-2 Ken Nuimatalolo 9/27, at Wake Forest
Nebraska 3-0 Bo Pelini 9/27, vs. Virginia Tech
Northern Illinois 1-2 Jerry Kill 9/27, at Eastern Michigan
SMU 1-3 June Jones 9/25, at Tulane
Southern Miss 2-2 Larry Fedora 10/4, vs. UTEP
Texas A&M 1-2 Mike Sherman 9/27, vs. Army
UCLA 1-2 Rick Neuheisel 9/27, vs. Fresno State
Washington State 1-3 Paul Wulff 9/27, vs. Oregon
West Virginia 1-2 Bill Stewart 9/27, vs. Marshall