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Stanford Shoots For 16th Straight;
Oklahoma Visits Kansas State

3 of 8 Undefeated Teams Have Week Off

by Dave Congrove
October 25, 2011

LSU and Alabama take a rest before next's week monumental showdown of the nation's consensus top two teams, and Boise State joins them on hiatus, but there's still plenty to watch this week. A 54-game schedule kicks off on Tuesday and delivers at least one game each day through Saturday.

Among the biggest contests this week are Oklahoma-Kansas State, Stanford-USC, Baylor-Oklahoma State, Clemson-Georgia Tech, Michigan State-Nebraska and Wisconsin-Ohio State.

Oklahoma's loss to Texas Tech last week ended the nation's longest home game winning streak at 39, but the big question is whether or not it ended the Sooners' BCS title hopes. For now, the answer would appear to be "yes" and the chance to get back in the hunt is marginal, at best. On the other hand, Kansas State continues to surprise and can prove, perhaps once-and-for-all, that its 7-0 record is not a fluke.

The Congrove Computer Rankings have the Wildcats as the lowest-ranked unbeaten team, just behind Houston. And it doesn't give Bill Snyder's team much of a chance this week as it projects Oklahoma as a 15.05-point winner. Of course, the Sooners were a 22-point computer favorite last week at home against the Red Raiders.

Oklahoma State - the computer's 4th-ranked team behind Alabama, LSU and Boise State - hosts Robert Griffin III and Baylor this week. The Bears have slumped to 4-2 after a 3-0 start, with losses to Kansas State and Texas A& M in two of their last 3 games. But remember, Baylor was just one untimely interception away from handing Kansas State a loss on October 1. The computer likes the high-flying Cowboys by 19.90 this week.

No. 5 Stanford (CCR Top 120) has won each of its last 10 games by at last 26 points, a streak that started with a 48-14 triumph at Cal on November 20 of last season. It's not the result everyone expected when Jim Harbaugh left to coach the San Francisco 49ers and his offensive coordinator, David Shaw, took over. This week, the Cardinal are 8.48-point computer favorites to beat USC for the 3rd straight time. It would also give Stanford its first 4-1 stretch against USC since attaining that feat from 1933-1937.

Wisconsin was mercilessly pounded in the BCS Standings after losing by 6 points to Michigan State last week on a Hail Mary. The Badgers plummeted from 6th to 15th while Oklahoma dropped from 9th to 3rd. The computer was more reasonable as moved Wisconsin from 5th to 8th and the Sooners from 1st to 6th.

This week, Wisconsin goes on the road as an 8.26-point favorite at Ohio State. The Buckeys own a 53-18-5 record overall against the Badgers, though the teams have split their last 10 meetings.

Meanwhile, Michigan State also hits the highway for a huge game at Nebraska. The 'Huskers (2-1) only trail the Spartans (3-0) by a game in the Legends division race as both teams control their own destiny on the journey toward the first Big Ten Championship game.

Clemson goes to Georgia Tech for a crucial ACC matchup, but the complexion of this game has dramatically in the last couple of weeks as the Jackets have suffered consecutive bad losses at Virginia and Miami (Fla.) after a 6-0 start. A win this week, and another home victory next week against Virginia Tech, can restore Georgia Tech's bid for the Coastal division title. The undefeated Tigers (8-0) are only a 5.92-point favorite to keep their BCS title dreams alive.

The college football week starts Tuesday with Troy at FIU and continues Wednesday with UConn at Pitt. Thursday brings a pair of games with Rice at Houston and Virginia at Miami (Fla.).

13 teams are idle.

OTHER GAMES TO WATCH:
- Navy is a 16.26-point underdog at Notre Dame. A loss would drop the Midshipmen to 2-6 and just one loss away from missing the postseason for the first time since 2002. Navy hosts Troy next week in its final home game of the season, then takes road trips to SMU and San Jose State before ending the season against Army at Landover, Md. (Washington, DC).

- Houston is an 18.74-point favorite over Rice on Tuesday night. The Cougars haven't been 8-0 in a season since 1990 when Andre Ware was the quarterback. That team lost the following week at Texas, but finished the season 10-1. The Cougars have never had an undefeated season.

-Southern Miss (6-1, 2-1) goes to UTEP (4-3, 1-2) on a hot streak of 5 straight wins, including 4 by 24 points or more. The Golden Eagles are favored by 11.08.

CUSA West division leaders SMU and Tulsa meet at Tulsa. Tulsa is tied with Houston in conference play at 3-0, but is just 4-3 overall. SMU is 3-1 in CUSA and 5-2 overall. The computer likes the homestanding Golden Hurricane by 5.71.

-The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is revived in Jacksonville this week with desperation serving as the prevailing theme. A loss puts the Bulldogs effectively two games down to division-leading South Carolina, and a loss almost certainly drops the Gators from contention. Florida has won the last 5-of-7 meetings, 18-of-21, and 3 in-a-row. The computer likes the Gators by 1.26 points to continue that dominance on Saturday and to end their current three-game losing streak. Florida hasn't lost 4-in-a-row since 1988.

-TCU and BYU clash Friday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Cougars are riding a 5-game winning streak after a 1-2 start to the season. The Horned Frogs have won 5 of their last 6. BYU is 5-2 on the year in its first season as an independent after leaving the Mountain West conference. TCU sits atop the MWC with a 5-2 overall mark and a 3-0 record in league play. The Horned Frogs are a 9.73-point computer pick this week.

FBS vs. FCS:
One game this week pits an FBS team at an FCS school as Fordham visits Army. FBS teams are 85-6 for the year (.934)vs. FCS schools and 632-55 (.920) since 2003.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/24: North Dakota St. 37, Minnesota 24
9/24: Sam Houston State 48, New Mexico 45 (OT)
9/24: Southern Utah41, UNLV 16
9/17: Indiana State 44, Western Kentucky 16
9/3: Richmond 23, Duke 21
9/3: Sacramento State 29, Oregon State 28

93 FBS teams play a total of 97 games against FCS foes this year. Four schools play two such games - Air Force, Eastern Michigan, N.C. State and Wyoming.

STREAKS:
Boise State - The Broncos have streaks of 9 overall wins, 35 home wins, 65 regular season home wins, and 47 straight conference home victories. BSU joined the Mountain West this season. The Broncos were 40-0 in home conference games as a member of the WAC from 2001-2010. Boise State's 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 7-1 in their last eight matches with BCS conference schools. (Next: at UNLV on Nov. 5).

Stanford - 15 straight wins overall. (Next: at USC on Saturday).

Alabama - 9 straight wins overall. (Next: vs. LSU on Nov. 5).

LSU - 9 straight wins overall. (Next: at Alabama on Nov. 5).

TCU - 20-game conference winning streak. (Next: vs. BYU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on Friday).

Virginia Tech - 10-game road winning streak. (Next: at Duke on Saturday).

New Mexico - Has losing streaks of 10 games overall and 19 on the road. (Next: vs. Air Force on Saturday).

FAU - 10 straight losses overall. (Next: vs. Arkansas State on Nov. 5).

Colorado - 20 straight road losses. (Next: at Arizona State on Saturday).

NEW COACHES:
Latest firings:
Mike Stoops from Arizona on October 10th. Named defensive coordinator Tim Kish as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Wildcats are 1-0 under Kish.

Mike Locksley from New Mexico on September 25th. Named defensive coordinator George Barlow as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Lobos are 0-3 under Barlow.

At the start of the season, 24 FBS teams had a new head coach. Last season saw 23 new head coaches, only 8 of whom matched or exceeded the W-L record of their predecessors' final season.

Stanford is the only school with a new head coach that remains undefeated. Only 15 teams with a new head coach have defeated at least 1 school from a "Big 6" conference - Ball State, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, North Carolina, North Texas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Stanford, Temple, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.

One game this week pits new head coaches against each other - North Texas at Arkansas State.

Here is how each of the new head coaches is faring this season:

Team Coach Game
Arkansas State Hugh Freeze (5-2) vs. North Texas
Ball State Pete Lembo (5-3) at Western Michigan
Colorado Jon Embree (1-7) at Arizona State
Connecticut Paul Pasqualoni (3-4) at Pittsburgh (Friday)
Florida Will Muschamp (4-3) vs. Georgia (at Jacksonville)
Indiana Kevin Wilson (1-7) vs. Northwestern
Kent State Darrell Hazell (1-6) vs. Bowling Green
Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth (6-2) at MTSU
Maryland Randy Edsall (2-5) vs. Boston College
Miami (Fla.) Al Golden (4-3) vs. Virginia (Thursday)
Miami (O.) Don Treadwell (2-5) vs. Buffalo
Michigan Brady Hoke (6-1) vs. Purdue
Minnesota Jerry Kill (1-6) vs. Iowa
North Carolina Everett Withers (Interim) (5-3) vs. Wake Forest
North Texas Dan McCarney (3-5) at Arkansas State
Northern Illinois Dave Doeren (5-3) Idle
Ohio State Luke Fickell (Interim) (4-3) vs. Wisconsin
Pittsburgh Todd Graham (3-4) vs. Connecticut (Wednesday)
San Diego St. Rocky Long (4-2) vs. Wyoming
Stanford David Shaw (7-0) at USC
Temple Steve Addazio (5-3) Idle
Tulsa Bill Blankenship (4-3) vs. SMU
Vanderbilt James Franklin (4-3) vs. Arkansas
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen (5-2) at Rutgers