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Like NASCAR, College Football Fans Waiting To See Who Wrecks Next

by Mike Mitchell
October 29, 2007

It has been a long time, if it's ever happened before, since we've had such dramatic changes in the weekly rankings throughout the season. The upsets have rolled in every week, bringing teams into the Top 25, and then taking them right back out.

South Florida rose as high as No. 2 in the initial BCS Standings this year, but has lost back-to-back games in the Big East since then and stand just 1-2 in the conference. LSU, Oklahoma, West Virginia, USC and Virginia Tech have all resembled yo-yo's in the rankings.

Now, we find the likes of Boston College, Arizona State and Kansas assuming their spots among the current "elites".

Those who rank the teams have plenty of explaining to do, but it is difficult to complain when the weekly results are so confounding. Nonetheless, you still have to wonder how a two-loss Georgia ranks ahead of a 2-loss Virginia Tech when the Bulldogs' defeats have come at the hands of two teams that have each lost 3 games (Tennessee and South Carolina), while the Hokies' only setbacks have been to a pair of teams (LSU and Boston College) that were ranked No. 2 when they lost to them. Currently, Boston College is ranked 2nd, and LSU is 3rd. It would stand to reason that Virginia Tech should be ranked above all of the other two-loss teams.

How do you discount Connecticut so severely? The Huskies are the Big East leader with an over-all record of 7-1 and a conference mark of 3-0. The Huskies beat South Florida while West Virginia, which is also 7-1, lost to the Bulls. Yet, the Mountaineers are six spots above UConn in the BCS Standings, and 13 spots higher in the Coaches Poll.

What exactly do you do with Hawaii?  The Warriors are undefeated, but they have played two schools from the FCS. The best team they have faced, by won-loss record, is a New Mexico State team that is now 4-5.

How do you sort-out the six SEC schools that have three losses? That group includes Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

There are plenty of other questions that could be posed, but there are also plenty of games left to eliminate the need to ask them. As for me, I'm just musing.  After all, the rankings this year are a  lot like a NASCAR race with fans wondering who will wreck next?

The biggest game on the radar this week is Arizona State at Oregon. The undefeated Sun Devils are ranked 4th in the BCS Standings, and the Ducks are ranked 5th. Top-ranked Ohio State gets a visit from No. 21 Wisconsin. Meanwhile, No. 2 Boston College hosts Florida State, and 3rd-ranked LSU travels to No. 17 Alabama to face its old coach, Nick Saban.

This week's schedule begins with a Thursday night ESPN game in Atlanta between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, and ends on Sunday with SMU at Houston. In between, Navy will try to end a 43-game losing streak to Notre Dame.

Over-all, there are 54 games on the slate and 47 of those are conference match-ups. Auburn and Mississippi each play FCS teams. Undefeated Hawaii is among the 13 teams that are idle - the others are Central Michigan, FAU, Kent State, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi State, Northern Illinois, North Texas, UNLV, Utah, West Virginia, Western Michigan.

Games Involving BCS Top 25 Teams
NOTE: No. 7 West Virginia, and No. 14 Hawaii are idle.

No. 21 Wisconsin at No. 1 Ohio State - First meeting since 2004 when Wisconsin won 24-13 in Columbus, the Badgers' third victory in the last four meetings with the Buckeyes and their third consecutive win in Columbus. The loss ended Ohio State's string of consecutive home wins at 18.

Florida State at No. 2 Boston College - The Eagles on 24-19 at Florida State last year. Their last win over the 'Noles at Chestnut Hill came in 1957. However, the teams have only met five times with FSU winning in 2005, 1980 and 1976.

No. 3 LSU at No. 17 Alabama - LSU goes against former coach, Nick Saban, who led them to the 2003 National Championship. The Tigers have won four straight in the series, and six of the last seven. 'Bama's last win over LSU in Tuscaloosa came in 1999.

No. 4 Arizona State at No. 5 Oregon - This game guarantees there will be a loser among the top five of the BCS Standings. Oregon has won the last two meetings after the Sun Devils took three straight from 2002-2004.

Texas A&M at No. 6 Oklahoma - The Sooners have won four straight, and six of the last seven. Texas A&M's 1997 win in Norman was its first since 1945.

Nebraska at No. 8 Kansas - The last time these teams met in Lawrence in 1995, Kansas beat Nebraska for the first time in 37 years. More bad news for Nebraska - QB Sam Keller suffered a shoulder injury in the loss to Texas and is out for the season.

No. 9 Missouri at Colorado - The home team has won the last four meetings.

Troy at No. 10 Georgia - The Trojans narrowly lost at Florida State last year, defeated Missouri in 2004, and Mississippi State in 2001.

No. 11 Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (Thursday) - The Hokies are a 2-1/2-point underdog, which is only the seventh time since 2002 that they have not been favored in a non-bowl game. In the six previous times, Virginia Tech is 5-1 ATS and 3-3 SU.

No. 12 Michigan at Michigan State - The Wolverines have won 5 straight, 6 of the last 7, and 9 of the last 11. The teams have split the last ten meetings at East Lansing, but Michigan has won two in-a-row. The Wolverines have fought-off injuries to key offensive players to win seven straight games this season after opening with back-to-back losses to Appalachian State and Oregon.
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Rutgers at No. 13 Connecticut - Since moving back into the 1-A ranks (FBS) in 2000, UConn leads the series 3-2. Rutgers has won the last two meetings. The Huskies lead the Big East with an unblemished conference record of 3-0.

No. 15 Texas at Oklahoma State - The Longhorns own a 9-game winning streak over the Cowboys, with the last loss coming in Stillwater in 1997.

Tennessee Tech (FCS) at No. 16 Auburn - Auburn's opponent is 4-5 as a FCS team, and is on a 4-game losing streak. Samford (Birmingham, Alabama) outscored the Eagles 59-52 last week.

Cincinnati at No. 18 South Florida - USF is glad to return home. In its three road games since beating Auburn, the Bulls have lost two straight Big East games and struggled at FAU. South Florida is 4-0 at home with wins over North Carolina and West Virginia, and a hefty 64-12 knockout of rival Central Florida. The home team has won all four meetings between these teams.

Oregon State at No. 19 USC - USC has lost two of its' last four games. Last year, USC saw its streak of 38 regular season wins come to an end with a 33-31 loss at Oregon State. The Trojans were down 33-10 late in the third quarter, and a fierce rally fell short when a two-point conversion pass failed with 7 seconds left in regulation. It was just the second time the Beavers had defeated USC in their last 32 meetings.

Vanderbilt at No. 20 Florida - The Gators have won 16 straight in the series. Both tams are 5-3. Vandy hasn't won in Gainesville since 1945. The Commodores are trying to qualify for their first bowl trip since 1982, and fourth in their history.

San Jose State at No. 22 Boise State - The Broncos have won 41 straight regular season home games, are 26-0 all-time vs. the WAC as a conference foe at home, are 43-1 vs. WAC foes since 2002, and are 7-0 vs. San Jose State.

No. 24 Wake Forest at No. 23 Virginia - The first meeting between these schools since 2003. Wake's 2001 win in Charlottesville broke a 17-game losing streak to the Cavaliers and was their first at UVa since 1981.

No. 25 Clemson at Duke - Clemson was Duke's last ACC win on November 13, 2004. That's one of just three conference wins for Duke in this decade.

Worth Watching
Navy at Notre Dame - This game marks the 81st consecutive year that the Irish and Midshipmen have met on the gridiron. The Irish have won 43 games in-a-row over Navy, an NCAA record for consecutive wins against the same opponent. Navy has won just 9 of the previous 80 meetings. Navy went 5-3 against Notre Dame from 1956-1963.

UNBEATEN TEAMS
Arizona State, Boston College, Hawaii, Kansas, and Ohio State are all that remain undefeated.

WINLESS TEAMS
Just 2 schools are still winless - FIU and Utah State.- after Marshall picked up its first victory of the season last week.

Idaho has yet to beat a team from the bowl subdivision.

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.

2 FBS team plays a FCS school this week bringing the total number to 75 for the year. In such games, the FBS schools are 63-10 on the year, and 283-35 (.890) since 2003.

Auburn hosts Tennessee Tech, and Mississippi hosts Northwestern State (La.).

STREAKS
Boston College has won 9 straight games. The Eagles host Florida State.

Ohio State has won 9 straight games, 27 straight regular season games, and 19 consecutive Big Ten games. The Buckeyes host Wisconsin.

Hawaii has won 9 straight games. The Warriors are idle.

Arizona State has won 8 straight. The Sun Devils visit Oregon.

Kansas has won 8 in-a-row, and 11 consecutive regular season games. The Jayhawks host Nebraska.

Boise State has won 41 consecutive regular season home games, and 14 consecutive WAC games. The Broncos also have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (26-0). Boise State hosts San Jose State.

FIU owns the nation's longest current losing streak at 20 games. The Golden Panthers visit Arkansas State.

Utah State has lost 14 straight. The Aggies visit Fresno State.

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 four games where new coaches face each other - Army-Air Force, Tulsa-Tulane, N.C. State-Miami (Fla.), and Louisiana Tech-Idaho.

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.

Boston College, 8-0 under Jeff Jagodzinski, hosts Florida State.
Arizona State, 8-0 under Dennis Erickson, visits Oregon.
Alabama, 6-2 under Nick Saban, hosts LSU.
Cincinnati, 6-2 under Brian Kelly, visits South Florida.
Air Force, 6-3 under Troy Calhoun, hosts Army.
Miami (Fla.), 5-3 under Randy Shannon, hosts N.C. State.
Tulsa, 5-3 under Todd Graham, visits Tulane.
Central Michigan, 5-4 under Butch Jones, is idle.
Indiana, 5-4 under Bill Lynch, hosts Ball State.
Louisville, 5-4 under Steve Kragthorpe, is idle.
Michigan State, 5-4 under Mark Dantonio, hosts Michigan.
Army, 3-5 under Stan Brock, visits Air Force.
Louisiana Tech, 3-5 under Derek Dooley, visits Idaho.
N.C. State, 3-5 under Tom O'Brien, visits Miami (Fla.).
Stanford, 3-5 under Jim Harbaugh, hosts Washington.
North Carolina, 2-6 under Butch Davis, hosts Maryland.
Tulane, 2-6 under Bob Toledo, hosts Tulsa.
UAB, 2-6 under Neil Callaway, hosts Southern Miss.
North Texas, 1-7 under Todd Dodge, is idle.
Rice, 1-7 under David Bailiff, hosts UTEP.
Idaho, 1-8 under Robb Akey, hosts Louisiana Tech.
Iowa State, 1-8 under Gene Chizik, hosts Kansas State.
Minnesota, 1-8 under Tim Brewster, hosts Illinois.
FIU, 0-8 under Mario Cristobal, visits Arkansas State.



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