Week 6 Preview
Florida-LSU Tops Schedule; Auburn Fans Love Chizik Now; Ohio State and Wisconsin Fight For First In Big Ten
by Dave Congrove
October 6, 2009
Several of this week's battles will have a lot to say about who the real contenders are in conference title races. At the top of the list is Florida at LSU in an SEC matchup of highly-ranked and unbeaten teams. Meanwhile, Wisconsin will try to stay unbeaten when it visits Ohio State in a clash of Big Ten frontrunners.
As of Monday afternoon Florida head coach Urban Meyer could not declare Tim Tebow as the starter for the Gators in their showdown at LSU. Tebow still had not returned to practice after suffering a concussion at Kentucky on September 26. Despite a 5-0 start, LSU has the worst offense statistically in the SEC while Florida leads the conference on both sides of the ball.
In another SEC game, Auburn visits Arkansas. The hiring of Gene Chizik as Auburn head coach was the subject of much scorn by Tiger fans in the offseason, but Chizik has to be enjoying the last laugh. Auburn is 5-0 after last weekend's win at Tennessee and in the thick of the West division race with Alabama and LSU. This week's game presents a stiff challenge for Auburn as the SEC's 8th-ranked pass defense will have to try and stop the conference's top-ranked passing offense. But the Tigers counter with the SEC's 2nd-ranked passing offense against Arkansas' 12th-ranked pass defense.
Wisconsin has equaled Auburn's surprising start and puts its' 5-0 record on the line at Ohio State. Both teams are 2-0 in conference play, but the Buckeyes are 4-1 overall. Ohio State leads the Big Ten defensively, a statement that isn't the least bit surprising after allowing a total just 14 points in its' last 3 games. The Badgers lead the conference in rushing with John Clay ranked 5th nationally at 116.4 yards per game.
Iowa joins Wisconsin as the only undefeated teams overall in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes host Michigan after barely surviving Arkansas State last week with a 24-21 win at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa has been hard to figure as it also began the year with a narrow home win over FCS member Northern Iowa. In between those scares, the Hawkeyes have dispatched Iowa State, Arizona and Penn State by 10 points or more. The Wolverines fell from the unbeaten ranks with last week's 26-20 overtime loss at rival Michigan State in their first road trip of the season.
In the ACC, Virginia Tech will try to snap a 3-game regular season losing streak to Boston College. While most national publications had the Eagles finishing at, or near, the bottom of the Atlantic division, the Congrove Computer Rankings projected them as an 8-4 team in the preseason. Boston College is currently 4-1 under first-year head coach Frank Spaziani who spent the previous 10 seasons as B.C.'s defensive coordinator under Tom O'Brien and Jeff Jagodzinski. Overall, this is Spaziani's 13ths eason at the school.
The 55-game schedule kicks off Tuesday night when two of the best teams in the Sun Belt collide. Troy and Middle Tennessee are each 1-0 in conference play and are expected to be among the top challengers for the league title. The Trojans have won or shared the last three conference crowns, and the Blue Raiders tied for the title in 2006.
Thursday delivers undefeated Missouri at home against Big 12 North division rival Nebraska in the conference opener for both schools. The Tigers have won each of the last two meetings by 35 points, and they have won 20 of their last 22 home games overall with the only losses coming against Oklahoma State last year and Oklahoma in 2006.
Friday night is the WAC opener for Nevada when it entertains Louisiana Tech. Both schools are coming off big wins as the Wolf Pack trounced rival UNLV 63-28, and the Bulldogs crushed visiting Hawaii 27-6 in their WAC opener.
Other top games this week include Georgia Tech at Florida State, TCU at Air Force, Oregon at UCLA, Stanford at Oregon State, Alabama at Ole Miss, and Georgia at Tennessee.
Undefeated Big East members Cincinnati and USF are among 15 teams that are idle this week as they get a few extra days to prepare for next week's Thursday night encounter in Tampa. USC and Notre Dame are also idle in advance of their confrontation in South Bend next week.
OTHERS TO WATCH:
Idaho will try to improve to 5-1 overall, 2-0 in the WAC, when it visits San Jose State. Idaho won a total of 18 games from 2001-2008 and hasn't had a winning season since 1999.
Temple looks to improve to 3-0 in the MAC East when it hosts a Ball State team that is still in search of its' first victory. The Cardinals thought they had that accomplished last week against Toledo when they scored the go-ahead points with 42 seconds left in the game, but the Rockets answered just 15 seconds later and silenced BSU's fleeting moment of joy.
These 13 teams are undefeated: Alabama, Auburn, Boise State, Cincinnati, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, LSU, Missouri, TCU, Texas, USF and Wisconsin. That list contains 4 schools from the SEC and 3 from the Big 12. At least one of those teams is guaranteed to drop from the list as Florida and LSU play each other. Boise State, Cincinnati and USF are safe for another week as they are all idle.
8 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 New Mexico and Rice. FAU will remain winless for at least one more week as the Owls are idle. At least one of those teams is assured of picking up an initial victory as FIU and Western Kentucky play each other.
FBS vs. FCS:
There are 5 games this week between FBS and FCS schools.
FBS teams are 74-5 vs. FCS schools for the season, and 449-42 (.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 visit LSU.
Iowa has won 9 straight. The Hawkeyes host Michigan.
Texas has won 8 straight. The Longhorns host Colorado.
Boise State has streaks of 22 consecutive home wins, 52 consecutive 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. Boise State is idle.
Oklahoma has won 25 straight home games. The Sooners host Baylor.
Utah has 8 straight conference wins, and 13 straight home wins. The Utes visit Colorado State.
Alabama has won 17 straight regular season games. The Tide visits Ole Miss.
Western Kentucky has lost 12 straight overall and 17 straight to FBS teams. The Hilltoppers host FIU.
Miami (Ohio) has lost 10 straight overall. The RedHawks visit Northwestern.
New Mexico has lost 9 straight overall. The Lobos visit Wyoming.
Ball State has lost 7 straight after winning 12 in-a-row. The Cardinals visit Temple.
North Texas has lost 12 straight Sun Belt games. The Mean Green visits Louisiana-Lafayette.
SMU has lost 9 straight home games to FBS teams. The Mustangs host East Carolina.
There are 22 new college football coaches in the FBS ranks this season. 18 have secured their first victory. 5 teams have yet to defeat a FBS school (Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio), New Mexico and Utah State).
||10/10, vs. Vanderbilt
||10/10, at Arkansas
||10/10, at Temple
||10/10, at Virginia Tech
||10/10, at Kent State
||10/17, vs. Wake Forest
||10/10, at Central Michigan
||10/10, at Kansas
||10/10, at Texas Tech
||10/10, at Northwestern
||10/10, vs. Houston
||10/10, at Wyoming
|New Mexico State
||10/10, vs. Utah State
||10/10, at UCLA
||10/10, at Minnesota
|San Diego State
||10/17, vs. BYU
||10/10, vs. West Virginia
||10/10, vs. Georgia
||10/10, vs. Western Michigan
||10/10, at New Mexico State
||10/10, vs. Arizona
||10/10, vs. New Mexico
|*-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.