Weekend Features 5 Battles Between Unbeaten Teams
Alabama-Florida, Baylor-Kansas State, Clemson-Virginia Tech, Texas-Iowa State, Nebraska-Wisconsin
by Dave Congrove
September 26, 2011
Last week, 8 games took place between undefeated teams and the number of unbeatens dropped from 33 to 22 overall. This week, top billing goes to 5 more battles between undefeated squads, three of which could be prequels to conference championship matches.
New ACC Atlantic division frontrunner Clemson, ranked No. 20 in the Congrove Computer Rankings, visits perennial Coastal division and conference champion Virginia Tech. The 8th-ranked Hokies have won 5 straight games in the series by 17+ points, but this is their first meeting since 2007. The Congrove Computer Rankings project Virginia Tech as a 10.93-point winner.
In the SEC, No. 2 Alabama visits No. 11 Florida. The SEC Championship game has hosted this pairing 7 times since its inception in 1992, and 10 of the 19 conference title games has had at least one of them in mix. However, they haven't played a regular season game in Gainesville since 2006 when Florida won 28-13 en route to the BCS title. Alabama leads the series 22-14 after winning the last two and five of the last seven. The computer likes 'Bama by 10.29 in this regular season affair.
Our other potential conference championship preview game sends No. 7 Nebraska to No. 6 Wisconsin in the 'Huskers inaugural Big Ten game. The computer's preseason analysis had Nebraska winning both the regular season game and the conference title rematch with the Badgers, but now Wisconsin gets a 4.95-point nod this week and is also now the favorite to win the league title.
Two of the week's more intriguing matchups are Big 12 games that feature No. 19 Baylor at No. 25 Kansas State and No. 18 Texas at No. 50 Iowa State. The Longhorns are 7-1 all-time vs. the Cyclones after last season's 28-21 loss in Austin. Texas is favored by 9.08 points to avenge that defeat this week. Iowa State hasn't been 4-0 since 2000.
Baylor QB Robert Griffin III enters this week's game with some absurd numbers. Through three games he has thrown more TD passes (13) than incompletions (12) and has yet to be intercepted. The Bears are 3-0 for the first time since 2005 and haven't been 4-0 since 1991. Baylor was 7-2 after 9 games last season, but dropped its final four.
Meanwhile, last year's Kansas State team opened 4-0 but won only 3 of its final 9 games.
Baylor won last year's meeting 47-42 in Waco, but is 0-3 all-time at Manhattan. The computer expects that to change this week as it favors the Bears by a very thin 0.20-point margin.
This week also features a large undercard of solid matchups, including the first battle for the 2011 Commander-In-Chief's Trophy. The annual round-robin competition between Air Force, Army, Navy begins with the AFA Falcon's trip to Annapolis on Saturday as a 1.89-point computer upset choice. Air Force ended the Naval Academy's 7-year stranglehold on the prestigious hardware last year.
Other great games on the menu include No. 17 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Texas A&M in Arlington, Auburn at No. 14 South Carolina, Nevada at No. 4 Boise State, Mississippi State at Georgia, Northwestern at No. 21 Illinois, No. 23 Michigan State at Ohio State, Notre Dame at Purdue, Toledo at Temple and Washington at Utah.
On Monday, it was announced that Texas A&M will begin playing all sports as an SEC member in 2012. The official announcement came 8 days after the ACC announced that Syracuse and Pittsburgh were accepted as its 13th and 14th members. It is expected that those teams won't become official ACC members until July of 2014.
The computer is 216-51 (.809) in picking game winners so far this season, including 136-44 (.756) in head-to-head FBS matches. The opening day Congrove Computer Rankings Top 4 remains unchanged and 8 of the opening day top 10 schools are still ranked in the top 10.
FBS vs. FCS:
Only 2 games on this week's schedule feature FBS teams hosting FCS schools. FBS teams went 10-3 (.769) against FCS schools last to raise their record to 81-6 (.931) for the season and 628-55 (.919) in such games since 2003.
Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/24: North Dakota St. 37, Minnesota 24
9/24: Sam Houston State 48, New Mexico 45 (OT)
9/24: Southern Utah41, UNLV 16
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.
Boise State - Has streaks of 33 home wins, 63 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 Nevada on Saturday).
Stanford - 11 straight wins overall. (Next: hosts UCLA on Saturday).
Oklahoma - 8 straight wins overall and 38 straight home victories. (Next: hosts Ball State on Saturday).
TCU - 22 straight home wins and 18 straight conference wins. (Next: hosts SMU on Saturday).
Virginia Tech - Has streaks of 14 regular season wins (excludes ACC Championship game win), 12 conference wins and 9 road wins. (Next: hosts Clemson on Saturday).
Memphis - 12 straight losses vs. FBS schools. (Next: at MTSU on Saturday).
New Mexico - 7 straight losses overall and 17 straight road losses. (Next: hosts New Mexico State on Saturday).
Colorado - 17 straight road losses. (Next: Hosts Washington State on Saturday).
On Sunday (September 25), New Mexico fired Mike Locksley and named defensive coordinator George Barlow as interim head coach through the end of the season.
24 teams in the FBS ranks entered this season with a new head coach. Last season saw 23 new head coaches, only 8 of whom matched or exceeded the W-L record of their predecessors' final season.
Three teams with new head coaches are undefeated - Florida, Michigan and Stanford. Four lost for the first time last week - North Carolina, San Diego St., Vanderbilt and West Virginia. The new head coaches are a cumulative 51-41, but only 13 of them have defeated a school from the "Big 6" conferences - Ball State, Florida, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, North Carolina, North Texas, Ohio State, San Diego State, Stanford, Temple, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.
Here are this week's games for each new head coach:
||Hugh Freeze (2-2)
||Visits Western Kentucky
||Pete Lembo (3-1)
||Jon Embree (1-3)
||Hosts Washington State
||Paul Pasqualoni (2-2)
||Hosts Western Michigan
||Will Muschamp (4-0)
||Kevin Wilson (1-3)
||Hosts Penn State
||Darrell Hazell (1-3)
||Mark Hudspeth (3-1)
||Randy Edsall (1-2)
||Hosts FCS member Towson
||Al Golden (1-2)
||Hosts FCS member Bethune-Cookman
||Don Treadwell (0-3)
||Brady Hoke (4-0)
||Jerry Kill (1-3)
||Everett Withers (Interim) (3-1)
||Visits East Carolina
||Dan McCarney (1-3)
||Dave Doeren (2-2)
||Visits Central Michigan
||Luke Fickell (Interim) (3-1)
||Hosts Michigan State
||Todd Graham (2-2)
||Hosts USF on Thursday
|San Diego St.
||Rocky Long (3-1)
||Idle this week. Hosts TCU October 8.
||David Shaw (3-0)
||Steve Addazio (3-1)
||Bill Blankenship (1-3)
||Hosts North Texas
||James Franklin (3-1)
||Idle this week. Visits Alabama October 8.
||Dana Holgorsen (3-1)
||Hosts Bowling Green