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Week 9: Big Conference Showdowns

by Mike Mitchell
October 22, 2007

Each of the five remaining undefeated teams see action this week, and four of them face tough opponents. Arizona State hosts Cal, Boston College travels to Virginia Tech. Kansas visits Texas A&M, and Ohio State journeys to Penn State. The computer expects Arizona State and Boston College to lose, while Hawaii is the only unbeaten team that is favored to win this weekend by more than 2.94 points.

The Brigham Young-San Diego State game has been postponed until December 1 due to the California fires. Qualcomm Stadium is housing many of those displaced by the fires, and air quality was also among the concerns.

That means only 52 games will be played and 48 of them are conference matchups. Navy hosts Delaware in the only game that features a FBS subdivision school against a FCS member team. 16 teams are idle - Alabama, Army, Brigham Young, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, La.-Lafayette, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Syracuse, Temple, TCU.

Top Games
(with CCR Top 119 rankings)
No. 6 Boston College at No. 12 Virginia Tech (Thursday) - Boston College is ranked 2nd in this week's BCS Standings and new head coach Jeff Jagodzinski has yet to lose a game. Virginia Tech was demolished 48-7 the last time it faced a No. 2 ranked team when it journeyed to LSU in week 2 of the season. The Hokies are looking for some redemption this week, not only from that debilitating defeat, but from last year's 22-3 loss at Boston College, as well.  The Golden Eagles have won two of the last three meetings with Virginia Tech after losing seven straight in the series from 1996-2002. The Hokies have climbed back up to No.8 in the BCS Standings and now have to prove they deserve it.

No. 1 Ohio State at No. 19 Penn State - The Buckeyes are 9-5 over-all against Penn State since the Nittany Lions entered the conference in 1993, but are just 2-5 in Happy Valley. The wins were by 1 point in 2004, and 3 points in 1995. Ohio State ranks 1st in scoring defense and total defense. The Buckeyes are 4th in run defense and pass defense. The computer likes Ohio State by just 2.94 points.

No. 3 USC at No. 9 Oregon - The Ducks are averaging more than 46 points and 550 yards per game, but the Trojan defense is allowing just 16.6 points and 252 yards per game. Something's gotta give and the old adage is that defense wins championships. USC has won the last three meetings after Oregon took four straight from 1997-2001.

No. 5 West Virginia at No. 20 Rutgers - West Virginia's triple-overtime win last year in the final week of the season prevented Rutgers from claiming a Big East title and BCS bowl bid. Despite identical 10-2 over-all records, West Virginia went to the Gator Bowl while the Scarlet Knights fell all the way down to the Texas Bowl. Once again, this game has conference title and BCS bowl implications. West Virginia has won 12 straight in the series with the last loss coming in 1994. The Mountaineers are 28-4-2 all-time against Rutgers, but the four losses and the two ties were in New Jersey.

No. 17 Cal at No. 8 Arizona State - The computer basically sees this game as a toss-up, picking Cal by less than a point (0.12). The Sun Devils are in the mix for a national championship for the first time since 1996. That year, No. 2 ASU lost to No. 4 Ohio State on a Buckeye touchdown with just 19 seconds left in the Rose Bowl. No. 1 Florida State lost the next night to No. 3 Florida which was awarded the top-ranking in both major polls, jumping the Gators over the Buckeyes. Had Arizona State managed to beat Ohio State, it almost certainly would have won the mythical national championship. California enters this game on the heels of consecutive losses to Oregon State and UCLA.

Worth Watching
No. 13 Boise State at No. 44 Fresno State (Friday) - Boise State is 48-3 all-time in the WAC, 42-1 since 2002. Fresno State dealt them the loss in 2005 on the Broncos last visit to the valley. Boise State entered that contest on a 31-game winning streak against WAC teams but the computer forecasted the Bulldog win, even in its preseason projections. The Broncos enter this contest on a 13-game winning streak against conference foes and the computer picks them by 9.35 points to continue that success.

No. 7 Kansas at No. 31 Texas A&M - The Aggies are tied with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at 3-1 in Big 12-South play. Kansas stands alone atop the Big 12-North at 3-0, and 7-0 over-all. The Jayhawks have won 10 consecutive regular season games. However, Kansas has lost seven straight to Texas A&M and their last win in the series occurred way back in 1974 in the first meeting between these teams. Kansas ranks 3rd in total offense and 2nd in total defense. A&M ranks 39th in total offense and 43rd in total defense.

No. 11 USF at No. 33 UConn - Last week's loss at Rutgers knocked the Bulls out of the national title picture - for now, at least. But their initial goal was to win the Big East and a victory at Connecticut is crucial. The Huskies are the only team in the conference without a loss to a league foe. South Florida leads the series 3-1, but lost 15-10 on their last trip to UConn in 2005. Connecticut's only loss this season was by 1 point at Virginia. USF's only loss was by 3 points at Rutgers.

No. 15 Florida at No. 34 Georgia (at Jacksonville) - Florida controls its destiny in the SEC-East as the only team that has yet to lose to an opponent from its own division. Five of the six division teams are within a half-game of the lead, and Vanderbilt is just 1 game out. All six division members have winning records, and 11 of the 12 SEC teams are at, or above, .500. This rivalry has been a lopsided affair for quite awhile as the Gators have won 8 of the last 9 "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Parties", and 16 of the last 19. Georgia's last win came in 2004.

No. 27 Clemson at No. 48 Maryland - The Terrapins' last-minute home loss to Virginia last week probably doomed their chances of capturing an ACC-Atlantic division title. Maryland and Clemson each enter this game with two conference losses and the Terrapins would fall to .500 over-all (4-4) if they lose this contest. The visiting team has won the last two meetings, and the schools have split their last 8 games in the series.

No. 30 South Carolina at No. 43 Tennessee - Despite losing at home to Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks are still in the hunt for their first-ever SEC title and second conference title in the school's history. But then, every SEC-East team is still in the hunt. The Vols are 1-3 on the road this year, but 3-0 at home where they've won every game by either 20 or 21 points. South Carolina's 16-15 win in 2005 was its first-ever in Knoxville and only its 3rd win over the Vols in 25 meetings (3-20-2). Gamecock head coach Steve Spurrier is 8-3 against Phil Fulmer, and 10-6 all-time versus Tennessee.

UNBEATEN TEAMS
Arizona State, Boston College, Hawaii, Kansas, and Ohio State are all that remain undefeated. USF fell from the ranks last week.

WINLESS TEAMS
There are only 3 schools left on this list after Colorado State notched its first win last week. The remaining winless schools are FIU, Marshall and Utah State.

Additionally, Idaho has yet to beat a team from the bowl subdivision. N.C. State managed to pick up its first win against a FBS school last week.

FBS vs. FCS
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.

1 FBS team plays a FCS school this week bringing the total number to 73 for the year. In such games, the FBS schools are 63-9 on the year, and 283-34 (.893) since 2003.

Navy hosts a Delaware team that is 7-1. The Blue Hens were ranked 14th in last week's FCS Poll.

STREAKS
Boston College, Hawaii and Ohio State share the nation's longest current winning streak at 8 games. This week, Boston College visits Virginia Tech (Thursday), Hawaii hosts New Mexico State, and the Buckeyes visit Penn State. Ohio State has also won 26 straight regular season games.

Kansas has won seven straight games. The Jayhawks visit Texas A&M.

Boise State has won 41 consecutive regular season home games. The Broncos also have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (26-0). Boise State visits Fresno State (Friday).

FIU owns the nation's longest current losing streak at 19 games. The Golden Panthers visit Arkansas.

Utah State has lost 13 straight. The Aggies host Louisiana Tech.

NEW COACHES
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 no games where new coaches face each other.

FIU is the only team that has yet to snag a win with its new head coach. Idaho has yet to defeat an FBS team.

Here is how each of the new coaches are faring, in order, by won-loss record.

Arizona State, 7-0 under Dennis Erickson, hosts Cal..
Boston College, 7-0 under Jeff Jagodzinski, visits Virginia Tech on Thursday.
Air Force, 6-2 under Troy Calhoun, visits New Mexico on Thursday.
Alabama, 6-2 under Nick Saban, is idle.
Cincinnati, 6-2 under Brian Kelly, is idle.
Indiana, 5-3 under Bill Lynch, visits Wisconsin.
Miami (Fla.), 5-3 under Randy Shannon, is idle.
Michigan State, 5-3 under Mark Dantonio, visits Iowa.
Tulsa, 4-3 under Todd Graham, hosts SMU.
Central Michigan, 4-4 under Butch Jones, visits Kent State.
Louisville, 4-4 under Steve Kragthorpe, hosts Pitt.
Army, 3-5 under Stan Brock, is idle.
Stanford, 3-4 under Jim Harbaugh, visits Oregon State.
UAB, 2-5 under Neil Callaway, visits East Carolina.
Louisiana Tech, 2-5 under Derek Dooley, visits Utah State.
North Carolina, 2-5 under Butch Davis, visits Wake Forest.
N.C. State, 2-5 under Tom O'Brien, hosts Virginia.
Tulane, 2-5 under Bob Toledo, hosts Memphis.
Idaho, 1-7 under Robb Akey, visits Nevada.
North Texas, 1-6 under Todd Dodge, hosts Middle Tennessee.
Rice, 1-6 under David Bailiff, visits Marshall.
Iowa State, 1-7 under Gene Chizik, visits Missouri.
Minnesota, 1-7 under Tim Brewster, visits Michigan.
FIU, 0-7 under Mario Cristobal, visits Arkansas.



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