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College Football Season

Conference Play Heats Up

by Mike Mitchell

This week in college football offers games on four different days beginning with a Tuesday night kick-off. The week also delivers thirty-four conference matchups, five Top 30 (CCR Top 119) confrontations, twelve in-state battles and several interesting non-conference clashes. In all, there are 55 games on the schedule featuring 105 of the 119 division 1-A schools.

Fourteen teams are idle this week, including four in the ACC (Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, N. C. State), three in CUSA (East Carolina, Marshall, Tulsa), two in the MAC (Buffalo, Western Michigan), two in the Big East (Louisville, West Virginia), two in the Big 12 (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State) and one in the SEC (Arkansas).

Ten teams experienced their first loss last week, reducing the number of undefeated teams to 19. Ohio State-Iowa is the only game this week that features two unbeaten teams.

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

All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.

These involve teams ranked in the Top 30 of the CCR Top 119.

No. 2 Ohio State at No. 16 Iowa - The Buckeyes got crushed in their last trip to Iowa City, 33-7, in 2004. Drew Tate passed for 3 TD's and ran for another while OSU gained a paltry 27 net rushing yards. Ohio State has won nine of the last 10 contests and is 7-2-1 in the last 10 meetings at Iowa dating back to 1980.

No. 27 Alabama at No. 11 Florida - Alabama is behind the 8-ball after last week's loss at Arkansas. When you couple that defeat with the Tide's last-second home win over Vanderbilt, it begins to look like this could be a long season in the SEC for 'Bama fans. This is Alabama's first trip to Gainesville since 1999 (a wild 40-39 win) as they missed the Ron Zook era altogether and only made two visits to "The Swamp" during Steve Spurrier's reign. The Crimson Tide walloped Urban Myers' Gators 31-3 in Tuscaloosa last year.

No. 14 Boise State at No. 30 Utah - One of the more interesting matchups of the weekend. The Utes enter the game at 3-1 with their only loss coming at UCLA in the season-opener. Since then, Utah has outscored 1-AA Northern Arizona, Utah State and San Diego State by a cumulative score of 131-14. Boise State is 4-0 under first-year head coach Chris Petersen who was promoted from offensive coordinator when Dan Hawkins took the job at Colorado. The Broncos won each of their last two games - Wyoming and Hawaii - by a single touchdown after demolishing Oregon State 42-14 in week two. Heading into this contest, BSU has a legitimate shot at contending for a BCS bowl berth but would likely have to be undefeated to achieve the necessary ranking. (See BCS Explained.

No. 17 Texas Tech at No. 22 Texas A&M - The Red Raiders have won four of the last five matchups but the Aggies were the victors the last time they played in College Station in 2004. No. 19 Notre Dame at No. 25 Purdue - The Boilermakers lead the Big 10 in total offense which could be a big problem for the Fighting Irish. The Notre Dame "d" ranks closer to the bottom than the top in virtually every defensive statistical category. However, it should be kept in mind that Purdue's 41-16 win in 2004 was its first in South Bend since 1974.

All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.

Virginia at Duke
- This may be Duke's best chance for a rare ACC victory. The Blue Devils are 3-45 against ACC schools since the start of the 2000 season. They haven't defeated Virginia since 1999 and are 1-10 against the Cavaliers in the last eleven meetings. Virginia is just 4-8 in its last 12 ACC contests.

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech - The Yellow Jackets play in Blacksburg for the second straight season, hoping to avenge last year's 51-7 blowout loss. Georgia Tech enters the game at 3-1 with a narrow 14-10 season-opening loss to Notre Dame as their only blemish. Since then, they've played three consecutive home games against 1-AA Samford, Troy and Virginia. The Hokies haven't faced a team the caliber of Georgia Tech as they've started 4-0 against 1-AA Northeastern, Duke, North Carolina and Cincinnati. Virginia Tech will be without the services of two starters - Chris Ellis and Josh Morgan - who were cited for misdemeanor charges of obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct early Sunday morning outside a Blacksburg nightclub. Ellis is one of the teams' top defensive players and Morgan is the second-leading receiver. Both were suspended for this week's game.

Rutgers at USF
(Friday) - Stop the presses. Hell has frozen over. The Scarlet Knights are undefeated and ranked No. 23 in the AP, Coaches and Harris Polls. The CCR Top 119 has them ranked 21st. Both schools are dark horse candidates to win the Big East conference. Crazy as it seems, this would have been a battle of two unbeaten schools had South Florida not lost 13-7 at Kansas last week. The Rutgers receiving corps, which lost two players to injuries in training camp, lost 5th-year senior Shawn Tucker indefinitely to a broken foot suffered in this past weekend's game against 1-AA Howard.

Illinois at Michigan State
- Will the Spartans recover from the fourth quarter meltdown against Notre Dame last week? Will Illinois ever win a Big 10 game under Ron Zook? The Fightin' Illini have lost 10 straight Big 10 games and 12 straight to 1-A teams.

Wisconsin at Indiana - Indiana has been out-rushed a combined 501 yards to 76 in back-to-back losses to 1-AA Southern Illinois and UConn. Wisconsin's P.J. Hill is the Big 10's No. 2 leading rusher at 117 yards per game. Head coach Terry Hoeppner's return from brain surgery should add an emotional spark to the Hoosiers this weekend. Indiana ended last season with six straight Big 10 losses.

Michigan at Minnesota - Michigan passed its first road test with flying colors - a 47-21 romp at Notre Dame, but Big Blue will be out for revenge at Minnesota. Last year, a 30-yard field goal with 1 second left gave Minnesota a 23-20 win over Michigan and possession of the Little Brown Jug for the first time since 1986. The Golden Gophers had dropped 16 straight to the Wolverines.

Ohio State at Iowa (also see "Top 30 Clashes" above)
Northwestern at Penn State

Colorado at Missouri
- The Buffaloes are hoping to avoid being 0-5 for the first time since 1984. The Tigers are looking to be 5-0 for the first time since 1981.

Texas Tech at Texas A&M (also see "Top 30 Clashes" above)

Kansas State at Baylor
Kansas at Nebraska

Southern Miss at UCF
(Tuesday) - Southern Miss won 52-31 in Hattiesburg last year in the first meeting between the two schools. In their preseason poll, CUSA media voted UCF as repeating champions in the east division and put Southern Miss in second place. The computer also put Southern Miss in second but it placed UCF in third. Memphis was the computer's pick to win the division but they've already lost a CUSA game to East Carolina. This is the conference-opener for both of these schools.

SMU at Tulane

Akron at Kent State -
Projected by the computer in the preseason to go 3-9 over-all and 2-6 in the MAC, Kent State is off to a 2-2 start over-all and is 2-0 in conference play. That's quite a turnaround considering they entered this season on a 10-game losing streak and hadn't defeated a 1-A school since the final game of 2004. The Golden Flashes are fresh off of a 38-3 annihilation of Bowling Green last weekend after losing all 8 conference games in 2005. Meanwhile, Akron is 0-1 in the MAC after a 24-21 loss at Central Michigan two weeks ago. The Zips were the computer's preseason pick to repeat as east division champs. Despite all of that, Akron opened the week as a 2-1/2-point favorite in Las Vegas and the computer's pick by 5.40 points.

Northern Illinois at Ball State
Bowling Green at Ohio

Brigham Young at TCU
(Thursday) - Coming off a bye week, TCU hasn't played since its 12-3 win over Texas Tech on September 16. BYU is just 2-2 with road losses to Arizona (16-13) and Boston College (23-20 in double overtime). Last year's game produced a wild 51-50 overtime win for TCU in Provo.

New Mexico at Air Force - Air Force was a 31-24 surprise winner at Wyoming last week to open their conference slate at 1-0, two weeks after nearly pulling off the upset at Tennessee in a 31-30 loss. New Mexico has been tough to get a handle on. The Lobos opened with a 17-6 home loss to 1-AA Portland State, then eked out a 34-28 win at New Mexico State. Since then, they lost at home to Missouri by 10 and broke through last week with an impressive 26-13 home victory over UTEP. They're 1-2 at home and 1-0 on the road.

USC at Washington State
- USC says WR Dwayne Jarrett could miss 2-4 weeks with a sprained shoulder. Both teams are 1-0 in the PAC-10 after the top-ranked Trojans beat Arizona, and Washington State rolled over Stanford, last week. USC is 3-1 against the Cougars under Pete Carroll. Washington State beat him in 2002, but have been outscored 41-140 in the three games since then.

Washington at Arizona - After upsetting UCLA last weekend, Ty Willingham's Huskies are 3-1 over-all and 1-0 in the PAC-10. A win would this week would make them 4-1 for the first time since 2001. Arizona (2-2, 0-1) has won a total of 14 conference games since going 12-1 in 1998, and are 4-13 in PAC-10 games under Mike Stoops.

Oregon at Arizona State
California at Oregon State
Stanford at UCLA

Auburn at South Carolina
(Thursday) - This game between No. 6 Auburn and No. 54 South Carolina has a lot riding on it. The Gamecocks were blanked in Columbia by Georgia in week two. Auburn has surrendered a paltry sum of 24 points in four games and 14 of those were given up in the opener to Washington State in a 40-14 win.

Alabama at Florida (also see "Top 30 Clashes" above)
Mississippi at Georgia
Mississippi State at LSU

Arkansas State at FIU
- FIU has proven, thus far, to be much better than expected but just not good enough. They were computer underdogs by a total of 54 points in their first three games and lost them all by a total of just 11 points. They fell 14-10 at Maryland last week when QB Josh Padrick was intercepted at the 2-yard line on the last play of the game

Middle Tennessee at North Texas
Florida Atlantic at La.-Monroe

Idaho at Utah State
- This is about as woeful as it gets. The No. 113 Vandals against the No. 117 Aggies. With Dennis Erickson back at the helm, Idaho is 1-3 and the only victory was a 27-24 nailbiter over rival 1-AA Idaho State. They hung tough in a season-opening 27-17 loss at Michigan State but were outscored 94-10 by Washington State and Oregon State. Meanwhile, Utah State has lost its four games by a cumulative score of 144-7 and hasn't scored a single offensive point. Its lone touchdown was on an interception return in the second quarter of its opening game against Wyoming.

New Mexico State at UTEP

All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.

Four games this week feature the WAC against the Mountain West.
Boise State at Utah (also see "Top 30 Clashes" above)
Colorado State at Fresno State
Nevada at UNLV
San Diego State at San Jose State

Rice at Army
- CUSA vs. Independent - Rice is dealing with the death of freshman DB Dale Lloyd who collapsed during a light workout on Sunday and died Monday morning at the hospital. Lloyd had played in the opening game but had not been on the field for the last three games.

Troy at UAB - Sun Belt vs. CUSA
Central Michigan at Kentucky - MAC vs. SEC
Miami (O.) at Cincinnati - MAC vs. Big East
Louisiana Tech at Clemson - WAC vs. ACC
Navy at Connecticut - Independent vs. Big East
Eastern Michigan at La.-Lafayette - MAC vs. Sun Belt
Tennessee at Memphis - SEC vs. CUSA
Houston at Miami (Fla.) - CUSA vs. ACC
Toledo at Pitt - MAC vs. Big East
Purdue at Notre Dame - Big 10 vs. Independent (also see "Top 30 Clashes" above)
Wyoming at Syracuse - Mountain West vs. Big East
Temple at Vanderbilt - MAC vs. SEC

All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.

Sam Houston State (1-AA) at Texas
Akron at Kent State
(also see "Conference Games" above)
Troy at UAB (also see "Non-Conference Games" above)
Bowling Green at Ohio (also see "Conference Games" above)
Northern Iowa (1-AA) at Iowa State
Tennessee at Memphis
(also see "Non-Conference Games" above)
Miami (O.) at Cincinnati (also see "Non-Conference Games" above)
Nevada at UNLV (also see "Non-Conference Games" above)
Purdue at Notre Dame (also see "Top 30 Clashes" above)
San Diego St. at San Jose St. (also see "Non-Conference Games" above)
Stanford at UCLA (also see "Conference Games" above)
Texas Tech at Texas A&M (also see "Top 30 Clashes" above)

All games Saturday unless otherwise indicated.

5 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 9 games played last week. Since the start of the 2003 campaign, 1-A teams hold the upper hand by a huge margin, 222-24 (.902).

Two teams are playing schools from within their own state boundaries:
Sam Houston State (1-AA) at Texas (also see "In-State Battles" above)

Two 1-AA teams are playing their second 1-A opponent this year.
Eastern Illinois (1-AA) at Hawaii - The Panthers lost 42-17 at Illinois in the opening week.

Sam Houston State (1-AA) at Texas (also see "In-State Battles" above) - The Bearkats lost 45-14 at SMU on September 16.

Other 1-A vs. 1-AA games:
Maine (1-AA) at Boston College
Northern Iowa (1-AA) at Iowa State
- (also see "In-State Battles" above)
Liberty (1-AA) at Wake Forest

USC has won 35 straight regular season games after handling Arizona 20-3. The Trojans also own a nation's-best streak of 28 home victories. USC has won 24 straight games against conference foes.

TCU owns the nation's longest consecutive wins streak at 13 games. The Horned Frogs were idle this past weekend.

Ohio State has won 11 straight.

Boise State has won 33 consecutive regular season home games after its 41-34 defeat of Hawaii. The Broncos have never lost a home game to a WAC opponent (21-0).

Temple owns the nation's longest losing streak - now at 16 games - after a 41-7 loss at Western Michigan. It was an improvement over their previous two games when they absorbed back-to-back 62-0 losses to Minnesota and Louisville.

Duke has lost 11 straight games over-all, 14 straight to 1-A teams. The Blue Devils were idle this past week.

Illinois has lost 12 straight games to 1-A teams, 10 straight to Big 10 teams after a 24-7 loss to Iowa on Saturday.

New Mexico State has lost 14 straight to 1-A teams. It is 2-0 against 1-AA teams this season. The Aggies were idle this past weekend.

The 2006 season introduced 11 coaching changes. We're tracking their progress throughout the season.

Boise State, 4-0 under Chris Petersen, at Utah on 9/30.
Kansas State, 3-1 under Ron Prince, at Baylor on 9/30.
Wisconsin, 3-1 under Bret Bielema, at Indiana on 9/30.
Middle Tennessee, 2-2 under Rick Stockstill, at North Texas on 9/30.
Northwestern, 2-2 under Pat Fitzgerald, at Penn State on 9/30.
Idaho, 1-3 under Dennis Erickson, at Utah State on 9/30.
Buffalo, 1-3 with Turner Gill, does not play this week.
San Diego State, 0-3 under Chuck Long, at San Jose State on 9/30.
Rice, 0-4 under Todd Graham, at Army on 9/30.
Temple, 0-4 under Al Golden, at Vanderbilt on 9/30.
Colorado, 0-4 under Dan Hawkins, at Missouri on 9/30.


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