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Week Six Preview

by Mike Mitchell
September 29, 2008

This week's college football slate has 53 games, 52 of which are battles between FBS teams. Conference play gets underway in earnest with 42 such games. The week starts Tuesday night, and a total of 7 games will be played before Saturday even arrives.

The Sun Belt draws the focus on Tuesday when FAU visits Middle Tennessee. The Congrove Computer Rankings' preseason analysis favored the Owls to win the conference. Both teams are just 1-3 in non-conference play. MTSU has already dropped two Sun Belt matches, but this will be FAU's Sun Belt opener.

Wednesday night, the attention turns to the WAC when Boise State hosts Louisiana Tech. The Broncos have won 45 consecutive regular season home games and are 28-0 at home against WAC foes.

On Thursday night, the Oregon State-Utah game is huge for the Mountain West. The conference currently has Utah and BYU ranked in the Top 15 of every major poll, including the first 2008 release of the Harris Poll.

Pitt at USF looms just as large in the Big East. The Bulls are one of just two conference teams that are still undefeated (UConn is the other) and enter the week ranked 8th in the CCR Top 120. Dave Wannstedt's Panthers are a puzzling team that has struggled in every game. Pitt opened the season with a home loss to Bowling Green, but defeated Iowa three weeks later. In between, the Panthers had a hard time dispatching Buffalo. This past weekend, Pittsburgh entered the fourth quarter trailing hapless Syracuse by eight points before pulling out a 34-24 win.

Thursday night also delivers Memphis-UAB in a CUSA game.

Speaking of BYU, the Cougars visit Utah State for one of the two games scheduled on Friday night. The Aggies have dropped three non-league games (they reside in the WAC) by a cumulative score of 151-51. Utah State's only win came against league foe Idaho. Utah beat Utah State 58-10 on September 13. Conversely, BYU has outscored its' four opponents by the combined scored of 172-44 and hasn't allowed a point in its' last two games. The Cougars (No. 9, CCR Top 120) have won the last eight meetings with the Aggies.

Also on Friday, Cincinnati travels to Huntington to take on Marshall. The Bearcats are 3-1 overall and have yet to play a Big East conference game. The Thundering Herd is 3-2 overall, but leads the MAC East with a 2-0 record. This is CIncinnati's third consecutive game against a MAC opponent. The Bearcats walked over Miami (Ohio) two weeks ago 45-20, but escaped last week's game at Akron 17-15.

Saturday brings the year's first battle for the Commander-in-Chief's trophy, awarded for winning the annual round-robin competition among the three military academies - Air Force, Army and Navy. The Middies have held the trophy for five straight years, but the computer projects their long hold will come to an end with a nearly 8-point loss at Air Force this weekend.

The Sunshine State rivalry is renewed on Saturday when Florida State travels over 400 miles south to Miami in what is also a crucial ACC battle. The 'Canes lost to North Carolina last week, and Florida State fell at home to Wake Forest two weeks ago, so neither team can afford a second conference loss. The 'Noles get the computer's nod by just under 7 points.

North Carolina goes out of conference this week to host undefeated UConn (5-0) from the Big East. The 3-1 Tar Heels could make a loud statement about their season if they pull off the home win.

Duke is off to a 3-1 start under new head coach David Cutcliffe, and travels to Georgia Tech with a shot at improving to 2-0 in the ACC. The Blue Devils' 31-3 home win over Virginia last week snapped Duke's 25-game ACC losing streak. The Yellow Jackets (3-1, 1-1 ACC) are nearly 12-point computer favorites and need a conference win to have any shot at staying in the Coastal Division race as they have already lost to division-leading Virginia Tech.

Four SEC teams are still unbeaten, and two of them are Kentucky and Vanderbilt. They are also the only teams in the Eastern Division that haven't lost a conference game.

With that in mind, there is a trio of interesting SEC divisional crossover games to watch as Kentucky visits Alabama, Auburn heads to Vanderbilt, and South Carolina goes to Mississippi.

This will be the SEC opener for Kentucky, while Alabama (No. 6, CCR Top 120) is 2-0 and coming off a commanding win at Georgia.

Vanderbilt is already 2-0 in SEC play while Auburn is 2-1. The Tigers have shown very little offense and barely survived last week's game against Tennessee, a 14-12 win.

South Carolina would drop to an 0-3 SEC start with a loss at Ole Miss. The Rebels, of course, are coming off a huge 31-30 upset win at Florida last week.

In the Big Ten, Michigan will try to improve to 2-0 in conference play when it hosts Illinois; Wisconsin hosts Ohio State as the Badgers look to rebound from last Saturday's blown game in Ann Arbor; and Purdue is the last Big Ten team to enter conference play when it hosts 4th-ranked Penn State.

The marquee battle in the Big 12 is between Missouri and Nebraska. The Tigers, ranked 3rd in the CCR Top 120, have lost 15 straight games in Lincoln where they last won 1978.

A trio of Big 12 schools ranked in the CCR top ten must hit the road for conference games, though all are favored to win. Top-ranked Oklahoma visits Baylor, No. 2 Texas visits Colorado, and 10th-ranked Texas Tech heads to Kansas State.

In the PAC-10, USC hosts Oregon in a pivotal game. The Ducks are already 2-0 in league play while the 5th-ranked Trojans are 0-1 after last week's loss at Oregon State.

Besides Oregon, the only teams left unbeaten in PAC-10 conference play are Arizona, Arizona State and California. One of those teams will drop off that list this Saturday as the Sun Devils visit the Golden Bears. Arizona hosts Washington.

UNBEATEN TEAMS:
This list shrunk from 27 teams to 18 last week. Here are the teams entering Week 6 without a blemish: Alabama, Ball State, Boise State, BYU, Connecticut, Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Texas, Texas Tech, Tulsa, USF, Utah and Vanderbilt.

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 3 teams remain winless - Army, North Texas and Washington - after 5 picked up their first win last week.

Last season, FIU beat North Texas in its final regular season game to avoid being the only winless team. FIU was one of two schools to go winless in 2006 (Duke was the other), and had lost 26 of its last 27 games before winning 35-16 at Toledo last Saturday.

WINLESS AGIANST FBS:
Idaho failed to beat a team from the bowl subdivision last season and has yet to do so this year. in fact, the Vandals are just one of 15 teams that have only defeated a FCS school. The others are Hawaii, Kent State, Louisiana-Monroe, Miami (Ohio), Mississippi State, Ohio, Rutgers, SMU, Syracuse, UAB, UCF, Virginia, Washington State and Western Kentucky.

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 80-2 (.976) against FCS teams this season, and 370-37 (.909) since 2003. Only 1 FBS vs. FCS matchup takes place this week when Alcorn State visits New Mexico State. The Aggies scheduled Alcorn State when Nicholls State had to back out of the September 6 season opener due to Hurricane Gustav.

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)

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 visits Utah State on Friday night.

Alabama, LSU, Penn State, Texas Tech and Utah have each won 6 straight games.

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 hosts Louisiana Tech on Wednesday night.

Army has lost 10 straight games. The Black Knights visit Tulane.

Washington has lost 6 straight games. The Huskies visit Arizona.

Idaho has lost 19 straight to FBS schools. The Vandals host Nevada.

SMU has dropped 14 straight games to FBS teams. The Mustangs visit UCF.

Kent State has dropped 11 straight to FBS teams. The Golden Flashes host Akron.

UAB has a 10-game losing streak against FBS schools. The Blazers host Memphis on Thursday.

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.

Three teams have yet to defeat an FBS school - Hawaii, SMU, and Washington State.

Only Baylor, Duke, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Mississippi, 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 2-2 Bobby Petrino 10/4, vs. Florida
Baylor 2-2 Art Briles 10/4, vs. Oklahoma
Colorado State 2-2 Steve Fairchild 10/4, vs. UNLV
Duke 3-1 David Cutcliffe 10/4, at Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech 3-1 Paul Johnson 10/4, vs. Duke
Hawaii 1-3 Greg McMackin 10/4, at Fresno State
Houston 2-3 Kevin Sumlin 10/9, vs. UAB
Michigan 2-2 Rich Rodriguez 10/4, vs. Illinois
Mississippi 3-2 Houston Nutt 10/4, vs. South Carolina
Navy 3-2 Ken Nuimatalolo 10/4, at Air Force
Nebraska 3-1 Bo Pelini 10/4, vs. Missouri
Northern Illinois 2-2 Jerry Kill 10/4, at Tennessee
SMU 1-4 June Jones 10/4, at UCF
Southern Miss 2-2 Larry Fedora 10/4, vs. UTEP
Texas A&M 2-2 Mike Sherman 10/4, at Oklahoma State
UCLA 1-3 Rick Neuheisel 10.4, vs. Washington State
Washington State 1-4 Paul Wulff 10/4, at UCLA
West Virginia 2-2 Bill Stewart 10/4, vs. Rutgers


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