Thanks To Wilma, Light Schedule Now Has 27 Idle Teams
by Mike Mitchell
Oklahoma and Nebraska revive their Big 12 rivalry and the world's largest cocktail party takes place in Jacksonville. Otherwise, the schedule is light with just 92 of the 119 1-A teams in action. Notre Dame, California, most of the Big East and Sun Belt teams, and nearly half of CUSA are among the 27 teams that have the week off. FIU and Middle Tennessee were added to that list on Tuesday due to damage caused by Hurricane Wilma when it sped across South Florida on Monday.
The action starts on Thursday night when Boston College visits Virginia Tech in a key ACC matchup. They last faced-off in 2003 as Big East conference rivals and the Eagles snapped a 7-game losing streak to the Hokies with a 34-27 win in Blacksburg. The 7-0 Hokies have won their last 15 regular season games and 10 conference games in-a-row. Boston College's only loss was to Florida State in their ACC opener. The Eagles and Seminoles are the only teams in the Atlantic division with just one conference loss.
On Friday night the 2nd and 3rd-place teams in the Mountain West collide when Colorado State visits New Mexico. The Rams (4-3, 3-1) and Lobos (5-3, 3-2) trail TCU which is undefeated in conference play.
When Oklahoma visits Nebraska on Saturday in Lincoln, it will mark just the second meeting between the two schools since 2001. Oklahoma crushed the 'Huskers 30-3 last year in Norman but the Sooners have won just two of the last ten meetings and dropped six straight in Lincoln with their last victory coming in 1987. The Cornhuskers can become bowl eligible with a win. The Sooners are still two victories away from achieving that feat.
The world's largest cocktail party takes place in Jacksonville as undefeated Georgia could face rival Florida without heralded quarterback D.J. Shockley. Shockley suffered a sprained knee in the second quarter of last week's 23-20 escape over Arkansas. Junior Joe Tereshinski could get his first collegiate start. Florida's season is in need of resuscitation after dropping its last two conference road games at Alabama and LSU.
Six teams remain undefeated, all are 7-0, and all are seeing action this weekend
Virginia Tech draws the toughest opponent with Boston College.
Georgia's game against Florida could be trouble if quarterback D.J. Shockley is unable to play.
Texas and USC catch teams that are in the throes of 4-game losing streaks. The Longhorms visit an Oklahoma State squad that has been outscored 171-64 in its last four games. USC hosts a Washington State team that blew fourth quarter leads in its last two contests with UCLA and California.
UCLA's date at Stanford could be a trap for the Bruins. Stanford has won three straight since losing to Oregon and the Cardinal is coming off an impressive 45-35 win at Arizona State, though they gave back a lot of a 45-7 lead.
Alabama's homecoming game with non-conference foe Utah State should be a walk in the park.
Army took itself off the list with a 20-0 win at Akron. Four teams still remain.
The computer doesn't hold out much hope for Rice or Temple to break into the win column this week. But Buffalo is only a 1-point underdog and New Mexico State is actually favored in their contest.
Rice (0-6) is a 15-point home underdog to UTEP (5-1). Temple (0-8) is a 21-point road dog at Miami (Ohio) (4-3).
Buffalo (0-7) entertains Ohio (3-4).
New Mexico State (0-7) is a 7-point favorite over visiting Idaho (1-6). The two teams were Sun Belt rivals before switching to the WAC this year.
Other Conference Games:
North Carolina at Miami (Fla.) - The game has been moved up from 3:30 to Noon due to damage that was caused to the lighting system at the Orange Bowl by Hurricane Wilma. Miami has not allowed more than a touchdown in any of their last four games and has held five of their six opponents to 10 points or less. The Tar Heels and Hurricanes each have just one conference loss and are chasing undefeated Virginia Tech in the coastal division. The 'Canes head to Blacksburg next week and UNC visits the Hokies on November 26.
Clemson at Georgia Tech - The game was moved back from Noon to 3:30 to accommodate TV after the North Carolina-Miami (Fla.) game was to Noon. The Yellow Jackets got an unexpected vacation last weekend when Hurricane Wilma caused their trip to Miami to be postponed until November 19th. Clemson, meanwhile, downed Temple 37-7. Both teams enter the game with just four over-all victories. Neither is in the hunt for their respective division titles but bowl bids are at stake. Clemson would drop to 4-4 with a loss with games still remaining against Duke (home), Florida State (home) and South Carolina (away). Georgia Tech would slip 4-3 with a loss with games left against Wake Forest (home), Virginia (away), Miami (away) at Georgia (home).
Wake Forest at Duke - The Demon Deacons need to win all of their remaining games to become eligible for a bowl bid.
Maryland at Florida State - Virginia Tech shut down Maryland's offense in last week's 28-9 Terrapins home loss. If FSU can do the same, the 'Noles will move one step closer to capturing the Atlantic division crown by improving to 5-1 in conference play. If Florida State beats Maryland and BC loses at Virginia Tech on Thursday, the Seminoles would be able to clinch the division title with a win over N.C. State next week.
Cincinnati at Syracuse - Aside from Rutgers which is hosting Navy in a non-conference game, these are the only Big East teams seeing action this week. At 1-6, the Orange are already out of the bowl picture. Cincinnati must win 3 of their last four games to avoid elimination from the postseason.
Wisconsin at Illinois - Since starting the season 2-0, the Illini have lost five straight and been outscored 230-64 in the process. The closest they've come to winning a Big 10 game is a 23-point loss at Indiana. Wisconsin is tied with Penn State for the conference lead. The Nittany Lions and Badgers are each 4-1 in league play. Northwestern and Ohio State are nipping on their heels at 3-1.
Indiana at Michigan State - The computer's preseason projections had been on the money with every Indiana game thus far. It even cautioned that "Hoosier fans shouldn't get too excited to see their team start the year 4-1 before hitting the tough part of the slate". The last two weeks they've faced Iowa and Ohio State. They draw the Spartans this week and finish out the season with games against Minnesota, Michigan and Purdue. The Hoosiers have to win two more games out of that group to potentially earn their first bowl trip since a 1993 Independence Bowl loss to Virginia Tech.
Michigan at Northwestern - Michigan has rescued back-to-back last-minute wins over Penn State and Iowa. All five of their conference games have been decided in the last 24 seconds of regulation or in overtime. Now, they must visit what could be the hottest team in the conference. Northwestern is fresh off a surprising 49-14 demolition of Michigan State on the Spartans' home field and one more win makes them eligible for bowl season. The same goes for the Wolverines who find themselves just a game behind a group of four teams who each have one conference loss. The prospects of a Big 10 title for Michigan are dim, but they're not completely dead yet.
Ohio State at Minnesota - The Buckeyes and Golden Gophers haven't met since 2002. Minnesota's 29-17 win in Columbus in 2000 is their only victory over the Buckeyes since 1981. Each is 5-2 over-all but Ohio State is 3-1 in conference play while the Gophers are 2-2.
Purdue at Penn State - My, how fortunes have changed since the preseason when Purdue was a 5-point favorite to win this game. Now, the Boilermakers are a 12-point underdog as they try to avoid their sixth straight loss, their worst skid since 1993.
Texas Tech at Baylor - There's no doubt that this is a much better Baylor team than the one that went 37 games without ever winning a Big 12 road battle. They ended that terrible run with a win at Iowa State. But after overtime losses at Texas A&M and Oklahoma, and a home loss to Nebraska, the Bears are still just 1-3 in conference play. A win over Texas Tech would be huge in Waco, and a severe blow to the Red Raiders who are looking to rebound from last weekend's 52-17 blowout loss at Texas. Baylor, by the way, hasn't been to a bowl game since the 1994 Alamo Bowl. After this week, they get Texas at home and then travel to Missouri before their season finale at home against Oklahoma State.
Colorado at Kansas State - Colorado is tied with Missouri for the north division lead and hosts the Tigers next Saturday. At 1-3, Kansas State isn't out of the hunt. Colorado won the division last year with a 4-4 conference record.
Iowa State at Texas A&M - The Cyclones ended a three-game losing streak with last Saturdays 37-10 pounding of Oklahoma State but Iowa State needs two more wins to get over the .500 hump. Texas A&M would become bowl eligible with a victory.
Missouri at Kansas - The Jayhawks were forecasted by the computer to make it to the postseason with a 7-4 record and finish second in the north division. At 3-4, they'd have to win every remaining game to meet those lofty expectations. A road trip to Texas stands in the way of achieving that feat. But the Jayhawks are a 1-point computer pick over the Tigers this week and will likely be favored in their two remaining home games against Nebraska and Iowa State which would make them bowl eligible at 6-5.
Texas at Oklahoma State - Mike Gundy's first campaign in Stillwater has been a nightmare. After opening 3-0 against a very weak non-conference slate, the Cowboys have lost four games in-a-row. With games remaining against Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma, they will find it difficult to notch a single Big 12 win.
Central Florida at East Carolina - UCF, along with Southern Miss, are the only teams with fewer than two conference losses in CUSA's east division. ECU is just a game behind and can stay in the race with a win over the Golden Knights, winners of four of their last five games. Central Florida (4-3, 3-1) was in the midst of a 17-game losing streak earlier this season and now finds itself competing for a bowl bid or even a conference championship.
Marshall at Tulane (at Mobile, AL) - After being displaced from their New Orleans campus by Hurricane Katrina, the Tulane Travelers will play 11 games in 11 different stadiums. This week, it's off to Mobile for their "home" game against Marshall. Both teams are trying to avoid their 5th over-all loss. The Herd is just a game out of the lead in the east division title chase.
UTEP at Rice - UTEP and Tulsa control their destiny for the west division crown. The Miners and Golden Hurricane meet next week in El Paso and if either of these two teams win out, they'll be heading to the conference's first championship game. This week, UTEP faces a Rice squad that owns the nation's longest losing streak at 12 games.
Akron at Bowling Green - Bowling Green has been hard to figure. They've scored 38 points or more four times and even hung 42 on Wisconsin. But they were destroyed at Boise State with a healthy Omar Jacobs under center and then got bombed by Western Michigan this past Saturday when Jacobs got knocked out of the game in the first quarter. As the only team in the east division with just one conference loss, they still control their destiny. But a loss this week puts Akron, Miami and possibly even Ohio back in the hunt.
Ball State at Northern Illinois - The Huskies are tied with Central Michigan for second place in the west division, a game behind Toledo.
Ohio at Buffalo - Thanks to BGSU's loss to Western Michigan, Ohio is still in the east division title picture. The Bulls are 6-46 all-time in MAC games.
Toledo at Central Michigan - This west division battle has conference championship implications as the Chippewas enter the contest with a 3-1 conference mark while Toledo is 4-0.
Kent State at Western Michigan - The Golden Flashes are a disappointing 1-6 over-all and 0-4 in the conference. The Broncos, 1-10 a year ago, can improve to 5-3 with a win this weekend.
Air Force at BYU - Fisher DeBerry and LaVell Edwards made this a terrific rivalry. With Edwards gone, the rivalry has lost some luster. This year, neither team is in the conference championship chase and will likely miss the bowl season. The Falcons have lost five of their last six games and are just 3-5. BYU is 3-4.
TCU at San Diego State - TCU is unbeaten against their new league foes and would improve to 6-0 with a win over the spastic Aztecs.
Arizona at Oregon State - Arizona is one of three PAC-10 teams still looking for their first conference win.
Washington at Arizona State - The Sun Devils have lost three straight and failed to show up in the early going of last week's game against Stanford. They trailed 45-7 before scoring the last 28 points of the game to make the final score appear to be respectable.
Washington State at USC - The Cougars are in search of their first PAC-10 win this season and, at the same time, are trying to halt a four-game losing skid after opening the season with three straight wins against a week non-conference slate. In their last two losses, WSU blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead over UCLA and a 10-point final period lead over Cal.
UCLA at Stanford - The Bruins finally put a team away early last week, routing Oregon State 51-28. Their previous three games required comebacks to defeat Washington, California and Washington State. The Cardinal upset Arizona State last week for a third straight victory.
Mississippi at Auburn - The Tigers are kicking themselves after missing five field goals in last week's overtime loss to LSU. Ole Miss downed Kentucky 13-7 on Saturday for their first conference win of the year.
Mississippi State at Kentucky - For the second straight week, Kentucky is facing a team that, just like them, doesn't have a conference victory. Ole Miss beat the Wildcats 13-7 last week for their first SEC win. Either the Bulldogs or Kentucky will get their first league victory this week.
South Carolina at Tennessee - Steve Spurrier vs. Phillip Fulmer. This could be interesting. The Gamecocks (4-3, 2-3) are just above Tennessee (3-3, 2-3) in the SEC east standings, thanks to an extra non-conference win. Tennessee will be without top running Gerald Riggs, Jr. for the rest of the season after he injured his lower right leg and ankle in the loss to Alabama last weekend.
Middle Tennessee at FIU - Due to the damage caused in the Miami area by Hurricane Wilma, this game was postponed to a later date and will likely be played in early December.
Troy at Louisiana-Lafayette - Troy must win to stay in the Sun Belt title race while the Ragin' Cajuns aim for their second straight conference win after upsetting MTSU last week.
Nevada at Boise State - The Wolf Pack are one of three teams with unbeaten WAC records. They, along with Boise State and Fresno State, are 3-0.
Fresno State at Hawaii - The Bulldogs have lost the last five times they've played at Hawaii.
Idaho at New Mexico State - The Aggies are still looking for their first win under new head coach Hal Mumme. They've lost their first seven by an average of 24 points.
San Jose State at Louisiana Tech - San Jose State's only win under new head coach Dick Tomey was against 1-AA Eastern Washington in the season-opener. Since then, the Spartans have lost six straight. Three of those losses were by just 7 points.
Utah State at Alabama - Let's see, a 2-4 WAC team against an undefeated SEC team. This could get real ugly.
North Texas at LSU - Originally scheduled as a season-opener, this game was postponed by Hurricane Katrina. The Tigers were a 24-point computer favorite then. They are a 33-point pick now.
Miami (Ohio) at Temple - The winless Owls have been outscored 368-73 in 8 games, an average loss of 46-9.
Interesting Non-Conference Games:
Navy at Rutgers - Rutgers can become bowl eligible with a win over Navy. The Midshipmen are looking to improve to 5-2.
Southern Miss at N.C. State - The Wolfpack's season has gone sour as they enter this non-conference contest with a record of 2-4 over-all, 1-4 in the ACC. The Golden Eagles have won four of their last five games.
Pick On Someone Your Own Size:
For the third consecutive week, none of the 119 division 1-A teams play a school from a lower division this week. There have been 50 played this season with the 1-A schools winning 48 (96 percent).
From the beginning of the 2003 season through Saturday, 1-A teams are 160-18 in such games, an 89.89 winning percentage.
USC owns the nation's longest winning streak at 29. The Trojans also have streaks of 23 straight home wins and 19 consecutive PAC-10 victories. They have won 40 of their last 41 games. The 29-game over-all winning streak is the longest in PAC-10 history, breaking their own record of 25 games set in 1931-1933. USC hosts Washington State this week.
Texas has won 14 straight games, second-longest streak in the nation behind USC. The Longhorns visit Oklahoma State.
Virginia Tech has won 15 straight regular season games and 10 consecutive ACC games. The Hokies host Boston College as they play on Thursday night for the second week in-a-row.
Boise State owns nation-leading streaks of 28 straight home wins and 29 straight conference victories. The Broncos entertain Nevada on Saturday.
Rice owns the nation's longest losing streak at 12 games. The Owls host UTEP on Saturday.
The 2005 season began with 23 coaching changes.
San Jose State has not beaten a 1-A team yet. New Mexico State is still looking for its first win over anybody under Hal Mumme.
Here is how each has fared, by order of success, and who they face this week:
LSU, 5-1 under Les Miles, hosts North Texas.
Florida, 5-2 under Urban Meyer, versus Georgia at Jacksonville.
Notre Dame, 5-2 under Charlie Weis, idle.
Stanford, 4-2 under Walt Harris, hosts UCLA.
Indiana, 4-3 under Terry Hoeppner, at Michigan State.
Miami, O., 4-3 under Shane Montgomery, hosts Temple.
South Carolina, 4-3 under Steve Spurrier, at Tennessee.
Western Michigan, 4-3 under Bill Cubit, hosts Kent State.
Pittsburgh, 4-4 under Dave Wannstedt, idle.
Utah, 4-4 under Kyle Whittingham, idle.
BYU, 3-4 under Bronco Mendenhall, hosts Air Force.
East Carolina, 3-4 under Skip Holtz, hosts UCF.
Marshall, 3-4 under Mark Snyder, plays Tulane at Mobile.
Mississippi, 3-4 under Ed Orgeron, at Auburn.
Ohio, 3-4 under Frank Solich, at Buffalo.
Oklahoma St, 3-4 under Mike Gundy, hosts Texas.
Utah State, 2-4 under Brent Guy, at Alabama.
Illinois, 2-5 under Ron Zook, at Wisconsin.
Nevada-Las Vegas, 2-6 under Mike Sanford, idle.
San Jose St., 1-6 under Dick Tomey, at Louisiana Tech.
Syracuse, 1-6 under Greg Robinson, hosts Cincinnati.
Washington, 1-6 under Ty Willingham, at Arizona State.
New Mexico St., 0-7 under Hal Mumme, hosts Idaho.