Six Days Of Football Start Tuesday
by Mike Mitchell
October 1, 2007
If it's Fall, it must be time for 'round-the-clock football. Thanks to ESPN's insatiable thirst for content to air on its multiple stations, this week's college football slate starts Tuesday.
CUSA gets the early-week exposure with a pair of games on ESPN2. Tuesday night, Memphis hosts Marshall. Memphis junior defensive lineman Taylor Bradford was shot and killed in what police called a "targeted attack" Sunday night on campus. Bradford was a 2006 transfer from Samford who had not played a down for the Tigers. A moment of silence is planned to be observed for Bradford before the game.
Wednesday night, Rice visits Southern Miss. The Owls have taken a giant step backward with the departure of head coach Todd Graham. In his only season at the school, Graham helped Rice obtain its first bowl bid since 1961. But Graham took the head coaching job at Tulsa when that became available after Steve Kragthorpe, under whom Graham had served as an assistant, filled the opening at Louisville.
The action moves to the main network on Thursday for a major SEC clash when Kentucky invades South Carolina Gamecock country.
Friday night brings intersectional action between the Big East and Mountain West as Utah travels to Louisville.
After a full schedule of 51 Saturday games, the week concludes Sunday night when New Mexico State visits Boise State on ESPN.
In all, 56 games will be played this week featuring 110 teams. Two schools - Arkansas and Toledo - play teams from the championship subdivision, and nine schools are idle - BYU, California, Connecticut, Navy, New Mexico, Oregon, Pitt, SMU and Washington. Conference action heats up big time with 44 league match-ups.
Kentucky at South Carolina (Thursday) - The Wildcats currently lead, and South Carolina is in a three-way tie for second, in the SEC East. With Georgia playing at Tennessee, and Florida at LSU, a Kentucky win could leave as many as three division teams with two conference losses. A South Carolina win could mean that the division would have as many as five teams tied for the lead by the end of Saturday.
Oklahoma at Texas - The annual Red River Rivalry which features two of the top teams involved in last Saturday's upset carnage. Oklahoma and Texas each lost for the first time this season as Colorado upended the Sooners in Boulder, and Kansas State rolled the Longhorns in Austin. The loser can abandon all hope for a national title quest. This is the 102nd meeting between the two schools and the 79th consecutive time that the game will be played in Dallas. Texas The winner of this game played for the BCS title three consecutive times from 2003-2005. Texas was on track to the championship game last year until the Longhorns lost their last two games to Kansas State and Texas A&M.
Cincinnati at Rutgers - The loss to Maryland last week did not harm Rutgers' bid for a Big East title as it was an OOC game. In fact, this is the conference-opener for both teams.
Virginia Tech at Clemson - The Hokies still haven't had a game where the offense clicked but true freshman quarterback Tyrod Taylor has the them making far fewer offensive mistakes. The defense has allowed just two touchdowns since getting thrown around like rag dolls by LSU in the second week of the season. Of course, the opponents have been a pretty week group (Ohio, William & Mary, North Carolina). Clemson has a win over a mediocre Florida State, and a loss at Georgia Tech. Otherwise, the Tigers have defeated softies in La.-Monroe (0-4), Furman (FCS), and N.C. State (1-4). Virginia Tech has taken four straight over Clemson since 1998 when the series resumed after an 8-year hiatus. This, however, is only their second meeting as ACC foes.
Florida at LSU - Florida, LSU and Auburn have been tightly intertwined for the last season-and-a-half. The Gators are in desperate need of a win after falling at home to Auburn last week. In 2006, the Gators beat LSU at home a week before losing on the road to Auburn. That was one of just two LSU losses all of last season - the second was at Auburn. The visitor won every game in this series from 2001-2004. Florida is just 5-4 at opposing teams' venues under Urban Meyer.
Georgia at Tennessee - The visitor has won four straight in this series, and five of the last six. Georgia has won three straight in Knoxville with the last loss at Neyland Stadium coming in 1999.
Wisconsin at Illinois - Suddenly, the Fighting Illini are a factor in the Big Ten race as something more than just a spoiler - they are actually a contender. A home win over the Badgers would make them 3-0 in the conference, and 5-1 over-all. Wisconsin has won 14 straight, tops in the nation currently, and Bret Bielema is 17-1 as head coach. Wisconsin has taken four straight from Illinois.
Kansas at Kansas State - Kansas is 4-21 on the road under Mark Mangino and hasn't won a road-opener since 2003. The Jayhawks, however, have the confidence of knowing that they beat the Wildcats 39-20 last year, and have won two of the last three games with their state rival.
Nebraska at Missouri - Neither can afford an early conference loss when the Big 12 North is vastly improved from top to bottom. The home team has won the last five meetings in this series.
Ohio State at Purdue- These are two of the five teams that are undefeated in Big 10 conference play entering the weekend. No more than three will remain after this Saturday as Wisconsin visits Illinois in another Big 10 showdown. Michigan plays OOC at home against Eastern Michigan. Purdue leads the Big Ten in scoring at 45.4 points per game, over 8 points better than No. 2 Indiana and 10 points better than this week's opponent. However, the Buckeyes are the conference's defensive leader allowing 7.2 points per game to the Boilermaker's 20.4. Drew Brees led Purdue to a win over Ohio State in their last meeting in 2004 which was also played in West Lafayette. A victory would make Purdue 6-0 for the first time since finishing the 1943 season undefeated (9-0).
Oklahoma State at Texas A&M - Oddly enough, these are the only Big 12 South Division teams that are undefeated (1-0) in conference play - everyone else is 0-1. That means the winner of this contest is obviously in the driver's seat toward a Big 12 conference championship game appearance. If that were to happen, it would be the first time since 1998 that the South's representative wasn't Texas or Oklahoma. The Aggies won the conference title in 1998, and Oklahoma State never has. The Cowboys did capture a share of the old "Big 8" Conference in 1976.
Utah at Louisville (Friday) - Two weeks ago, Syracuse went to PapaJohn's Stadium and ordered a take-out victory which was uncharacteristically delivered. That was the Cardinal's first loss at home in nearly four years. Utah also suffered an embarrassing loss two weeks ago, falling 27-0 to UNLV a week after bashing UCLA 44-6. Both teams returned to the win column last week as Louisville won 29-10 at N.C. State, and Utah beat rival Utah State 34-18.
N.C. State at Florida State - I included this game because the Wolfpack have taken two straight over the Seminoles, and four of the last six. However, that success came with Chuck Amato as the head coach and he is now back at FSU as an assistant. Former Boston College head coach Tom O'Brien coaches the Wolfpack now and he was 1-1 in his only games against Bobby Bowden, winning last year in Tallahassee after losing at Chestnut Hill in 2005.
Miami (Fla.) at North Carolina -Mentor vs. Pupil. New Miami head coach Randy Shannon played for, and coached with, Butch Davis at Miami. Davis is in his first season as the head coach of the Tar Heels.
As if the year hasn't been hard enough on Michigan fans, they discover that their wins over Penn State and Notre Dame are under review for possible forfeiture due to the limited use of an ineligible player, freshman safety Artis Chambers. Stay tuned as this strange season may get even stranger.
For the second straight week, eight teams lost for the first time last week. Only 15 teams remain undefeated. There were 13 at this point last year, and 12 the year before that.
Here are the remaining undefeated teams: Arizona State, Boston College, California, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, Ohio State, Purdue, USC, USF and Wisconsin.
10 schools are still looking for their first victory: Colorado State, FIU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Marshall, North Texas, Notre Dame, Rice, Temple, and Utah State.
7 others have yet to beat a team from the bowl subdivision: Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, North Carolina, North Carolina State, San Diego State, and UAB.
Interaction between these teams feature San Diego State at Colorado State, North Texas at Louisiana-Lafayette, and Marshall at Memphis.
FBS vs. FCS
Note that 1-A is now classified by the NCAA as the "Football Bowl Subdivision", or "FBS", for short. 1-AA has been re-classified as the "Football Championship Subdivision", or "FCS", for short.
2 FBS teams play FCS schools this week bringing the total number to 69 for the year. In such games, the FBS schools are 59-8 on the year, and 279-33 (.894) since 2003.
USC has the nation's longest home winning streak at 35 games. USC hosts Stanford on Saturday.
Boise State has won 39 consecutive regular season home games. The Broncos also have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (24-0). Boise State hosts New Mexico State on Sunday.
Wisconsin owns the nation's current longest winning streak at 14 games. The Badgers visit Illinois on Saturday.
LSU has won 12 straight. The Tigers host Florida on Saturday.
FIU owns the nation's longest current losing streak at 17 games. The Golden Panthers host Troy on Saturday.
Colorado State has lost 11 straight. The Rams host San Diego State on Saturday.
Utah State has also lost 11 straight. The Aggies visit Hawaii on Saturday.
N.C. State has lost 11 straight to FBS teams. The Wolfpack visit Florida State on Saturday.
The 2006 season featured 11 new head coaches. Five led their team to a bowl game.
This year, there are 24 coaching changes for the highest number since 2001 when there were 25. We'll track their progress throughout the season.
This week, there are three games where new coaches face each other - Minnesota at Indiana, Miami (Fla.) at North Carolina, and Tulane at Army.
Here is how each of the new coaches are faring, in order, by won-loss record.
Arizona State, 5-0 under Dennis Erickson, visits Washington State.
Boston College, 5-0 under Jeff Jagodzinski, hosts Bowling Green.
Cincinnati, 5-0 under Brian Kelly, visits Rutgers.
Indiana, 4-1 under Bill Lynch, hosts Minnesota.
Miami (Fla.), 4-1 under Randy Shannon, visits North Carolina.
Michigan State, 4-1 under Mark Dantonio, hosts Northwestern.
Tulsa, 3-1 under Todd Graham, visits UTEP.
Air Force, 3-2 under Troy Calhoun, hosts UNLV.
Alabama, 3-2 under Nick Saban, hosts Houston.
Louisville, 3-2 under Steve Kragthorpe, hosts Utah on Friday night.
Army, 2-3 under Stan Brock, hosts Tulane.
Central Michigan, 2-3 under Butch Jones, visits Ball State.
Louisiana Tech, 1-3 under Derek Dooley, visits Mississippi.
Stanford, 1-3 under Jim Harbaugh, visits USC.
Tulane, 1-3 under Bob Toledo, visits Army.
UAB, 1-3 under Neil Callaway, visits Mississippi State.
Idaho, 1-4 under Robb Akey, visits San Jose State.
Iowa State, 1-4 under Gene Chizik, visits Texas Tech.
Minnesota, 1-4 under Tim Brewster, visits Indiana.
North Carolina, 1-4 under Butch Davis, hosts Miami (Fla.).
N.C. State, 1-4 under Tom O'Brien, visits Florida State.
North Texas, 0-4 under Todd Dodge, visits Louisiana-Lafayette.
Rice, 0-4 under David Bailiff, visits Southern Miss on Wednesday night.
FIU, 0-5 under Mario Cristobal, hosts Troy.