Week 5 Preview: Injuries Taking A Toll
by Dave Congrove
September 28, 2009 (Updated 9/30)
Florida isn't the only team in the news with concerns about the health of one of its star players.
On Monday, USC RB Stafon Johnson was rushed into emergency throat surgery after a bench-pressing bar slipped from his grip and fell on his neck. He was the Trojans' leading rusher last season with 705 yards and 9 TD's, and already had 5 TD's this season as a short yardage specialist. 6th-ranked USC plays at 23rd-ranked California in a crucial PAC-10 contest on Saturday. The Trojans were without starting QB Matt Barkley in their loss at Washington.
Baylor lost dual-threat QB Robert Griffin for the season with a knee injury suffered in Saturday's rout of FCS member Northwestern State (La.). The Bears also lost senior DB and return specialist Mikail Baker. Baylor hosts Kent State in a nonconference game this week.
The slate of 52 games kicks off on Wednesday. But there is an extensive list of top teams that are idle, include top-ranked Florida and No. 2 Texas. There are joined by five other members of the top 25 in the Congrove Computer Rankings - No. 8 Kansas, No. 14 Missouri, No. 15 Nebraska, No. 16 Utah, No. 21 Oklahoma State. In all, 18 teams have the week off.
The extra week off could be pivotal for Florida which is still trying to determine the status of Tim Tebow. The Heisman-winning QB was knocked out of Saturday's game against Kentucky with a concussion in the 3rd quarter. He returned to Gainesville on Sunday after spending Saturday night in a Lexington hospital under observation.
The biggest game on the national stage this week, arguably, is Oklahoma at Miami. Sooners' head coach Bob Stoops said on Monday that it wouldn't be known until later in the week if Sam Bradford could return at QB. Bradford hurt his throwing shoulder when he was sacked in the opening game loss to BYU. Since then, the Sooners have routed Idaho State (FCS) and Tulsa by a combined 109-0. Oklahoma and Miami, just like USC and Cal, are playing what amounts to an early elimination game in the BCS title race.
Several of the nation's oldest rivalries are renewed this week, while the Big Ten, SEC and PAC-10 showcase some important battles.
A key battle in the SEC features 11th-ranked LSU at No. 22 Georgia. Both teams are 2-0 in conference play and hoping to stay in the driver's seat of their respective division races. The SEC also serves up undefeated Auburn at Tennessee, and Ole Miss at Vanderbilt.
Back in the PAC-10, UCLA will try to remain the conference's only undefeated team when it heads north to tackle Stanford (3-1, 2-0).
In the Big Ten, Michigan State will try to save its season against rival Michigan. Currently, these schools are headed in opposite directions as the Spartans have lost three straight to fall to 1-3, and Michigan is off to a 4-0 start.
In the ACC, Florida State takes its split personality to Boston College. The 'Noles are 2-2 overall, 0-2 against schools from the Sunshine State with losses to Miami and USF. They were also less than a minute away from losing to Jacksonville State (Ala.), but inexplicably demolished BYU in their only previous road game.
The Big East's biggest game may be USF's journey to Syracuse, of all places. After beating Florida State and running their record to 4-0, the Bulls open their conference slate against a team they have manhandled by an average score of 35-8 in four previous meetings.
The CUSA schedule includes a matchup of the top two teams in the East division when East Carolina visits Marshall. Both teams are 3-1 overall, 1-0 in the conference.
All of the Mountain West teams play out of conference, and the only WAC match is Wednesday night's Hawaii-Louisiana Tech game.
The MAC is wide open in both divisions so this week's games between Ohio-Bowling Green, Central Michigan-Buffalo, and Western Michigan-Northern Illinois may help sort things out.
5 teams each from the Big 12 and Sun Belt conferences are idle this week. Kansas State and Iowa State will stage the Big 12's only conference game, while FIU goes to Louisiana-Monroe in the only Sun Belt conference tilt.
Air Force treks out to Annapolis for round one in the Commander-In-Chief's trophy battle. The Falcons and Army are vying to unseat Navy's 6-year reign in the round-robin competition among the military academies.
Arkansas and Texas A&M meet in Arlington at Cowboys Stadium for the first game between the two former Southwest Conference rivals since 1991.
TCU and SMU reprise their annual rivalry in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. The Horned Frogs have won 8 of the last 9 meetings to take a 40-39-7 advantage in the series.
Other rivalries include UNLV at Nevada in the Fight for the Fremont Canon; Utah State at BYU in the 106th Battle of the Brothers; Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio) in the 114th Annual Battle for the Victory Bell; and Virginia at North Carolina in the 114th edition of The South's Oldest Rivalry.
OTHERS TO WATCH:
Notre Dame hosts Washington as the Huskies look to do better than last year's 33-7 loss in Seattle.
Colorado heads to West Virginia in search of a must-needed win for Buffaloes and head coach Dan Hawkins. Colorado is just 3-9 since its' victory over the Mountaineers in Boulder last year. (See preview.)
NEW BOWL GAME:
A new bowl game was announced on Wednesday at a press conference organized by the New York Yankees. The game will be played at Yankee Stadium in Bronx between Christmas and New Year's Day, and feature the 7th selection from the Big 12 against the 3rd or 4th pick from the Big East. Notre Dame would be a provisional choice if the Big 12 can not field an eligible team. The guaranteed payout is estimated at $2 million to each team. It was announced earlier this year that Army will play four games in Yankee Stadium between 2010 and 2014. (See Army-Notre Dame Rivalry Renews In 2010 As First Football Game At the New Yankee Stadium and Army Adds Three More "Home" Games At Yankee Stadium).
17 teams enter the weekend with unblemished records - Alabama, Auburn, Boise State, Cincinnati, Florida, Houston, Iowa, Kansas, LSU, Michigan, Missouri, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USF and Wisconsin. That list contains 4 Big 12 schools, the same number of SEC schools, and three from the Big Ten.
10 teams are still searching for their first victory of the season, including 3 schools each from the Mid-American (Ball State, Eastern Michigan and Miami) and Sun Belt conferences (FAU, FIU and Western Kentucky). The others are Nevada, New Mexico, Rice and Virginia.
FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams face 2 schools from the FCS this week. FBS teams are 72-5 vs. FCS schools for the season, and 447-42 (.914) since 2003.
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 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.
Florida has won 14 straight. The Gators are idle.
Iowa has won 8 straight. The Hawkeyes host Arkansas State.
Texas has won 8 straight. The Longhorns are idle.
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 host UC Davis (FCS).
Oklahoma has won 25 straight home games. The Sooners visit Miami (Fla.)
Utah has won 8 straight conference games, and 13 has straight home wins. The Utes are idle.
Alabama has won 16 straight regular season games. The Tide visits Kentucky.
Western Kentucky has lost 12 straight overall and 17 straight to FBS teams. The Hilltoppers are idle.
Miami (Ohio) has lost 9 straight overall. The RedHawks host Cincinnati.
New Mexico has lost 8 straight overall. The Lobos visit Texas Tech.
Virginia has lost 7 straight overall. The Cavaliers visit North Carolina.
Tulane has lost 10 straight to FBS schools. The Green Wave visits Army.
North Texas has lost 12 straight Sun Belt games. The Mean Green are idle.
SMU has lost 9 straight home games to FBS teams. The Mustangs visits TCU.
There are 22 new college football coaches in the FBS ranks this season. 18 have secured their first victory. 7 teams have yet to defeat a FBS school (Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Kansas State, Miami (Ohio), New Mexico, San Diego State and Utah State).
||10/3, vs. Tulane
||10/3, at Tennessee
||10/3, vs. Toledo
||10/3, vs. Florida State
||10/3 vs. Ohio
||10/3, at Maryland
||10/3, vs. Temple
||10/3, vs. Kansas State (at Kansas City)
||10/3, vs. Iowa State (at Kansas City)
||10/3, vs. Cincinnati
||10/3, vs. Georgia Tech
||10/3, at Texas Tech
|New Mexico State
||10/3, at San Diego State
||10/3, vs. Washington State
||10/3, vs. Northwestern
|San Diego State
||10/3, vs. New Mexico State
||10/3, vs. USF
||10/3, vs. Auburn
||10/3, at Ball State
||10/3, at BYU (Friday)
||10/3, at Notre Dame
||10/3, at FAU
|*-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.