Week 11 Preview: ACC Divisions, Big Ten Title Could Be Decided
by Dave Congrove
November 10, 2009
The SEC Championship game is set between Florida and Alabama. This week, the ACC title game matchup could be determined, and Ohio State can clinch the Big Ten.
Incredibly, all of the other races will be extended to a later date, regardless of what happens this week.
Clemson can claim the ACC Atlantic title with the combination of a victory at N.C. State and a Boston College loss at Virginia. Georgia Tech will be Coastal champions if it wins at Duke.
One week after a decisive 24-7 win at Penn State, Ohio State returns home to host Iowa. The Hawkeyes lost QB Ricky Stanzi in the 2nd quarter of last week's game with Northwestern, then lost the ballgame 17-10. An Ohio State victory on Saturday would effectively put it 2 games ahead of Iowa, Penn State and Wisconsin by virtue of wins over all three schools.
Pitt and Cincinnati are still the frontrunners in the Big East. Each is undefeated and on a collision course to determine the title when they meet in Pittsburgh on December 5. West Virginia can insert itself into the middle of the conference title talk if it walks away with an upset at Cincinnati on Friday night. Pitt goes out-of-conference this week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its first meeting with Notre Dame.
Kansas State and Nebraska each control their destiny in the Big 12 North and appear to be headed toward a decisive showdown next week in Lincoln. They are the only teams in their division with 2 losses, but everyone in the division is mathematically alive. Colorado (3-6, 2-3) is the closest challenger. The Buffaloes travel to Iowa State with the loser becoming eliminated from the hunt. The Wildcats host Missouri on Saturday while the Cornhuskers visit Kansas. Both Missouri and Kansas can vastly improve their slim division title chances with wins.
Texas (5-0) is in firm control of the Big 12 South. Oklahoma State is the only team within 1 loss of the Longhorns and Texas owns the head-to-head advantage over the Cowboys to give it a 2-game edge. It effectively has a 3-game cushion on Oklahoma and Texas Tech by wins over those schools, too.
East Carolina (4-1) controls its destiny in CUSA's East division. The Pirates are a game ahead of four teams - UCF, Marshall, Southern Miss and UAB - and already owns wins over the Knights and Herd. ECU also gets Southern Miss and UAB at home in the final two games of the regular season. The Pirates visit Tulsa on Sunday.
Houston and SMU are both 4-1 in the West division but the Cougars have the advantage after dropping the Mustangs 38-15 two weeks ago. The Cougars visit UCF on Saturday, a week after overcoming an 8-point deficit in the final 21 seconds at Tulsa to pull out a 46-45 win.
Temple improved to 5-0 in the MAC East when it sunk Miami (Ohio) on an 18-yard field goal with 3 seconds left. The Owls, 7-2 overall, let leads of 21-3 and 31-13 slip away in that game, but managed to secure its first winning season since 1990. On Friday, Temple visits an Akron team that handed Kent State only its second MAC loss of the season last week.
Central Michigan (5-0) leads the MAC West. The Chippewas come back from vacation to host Toledo on Wednesday. The Rockets have been all over the map - they have a 54-38 home win over Colorado and a 58-26 home loss to Western Michigan. Northern Illinois (4-1) is the only challenger within 3 losses of CMU and those two schools will likely determine the division title when they meet on November 27 in Mount Pleasant. The Huskies host Ball State (1-8) on Thursday.
The Mountain West will only have one undefeated team left in conference play after this week's showdown in Fort Worth between Utah (8-1, 5-0) and TCU (9-0, 5-0). The Utes propelled themselves into the Sugar Bowl last year by knocking off the Horned Frogs and BYU in the last three weeks of the season. BYU is the only conference team within a game of the league leaders, but are effectively 2 games down to TCU after losing 38-7 to the Horned Frogs two weeks ago.
After blasting USC 47-20 two weeks ago, Oregon was the hands-down favorite to win the PAC-10. That changed last week when the Ducks fell 51-42 at Stanford. Oregon still controls its destiny and travels to Arizona next week to face the only other team in the conference with 1 league loss. This week, the Ducks have to survive a home game with Arizona State. The Wildcats have to win at California, which will be without RB Jahvid Best who suffered a severe concussion in last week's home loss to Oregon State. Three teams have two conference losses - Stanford, USC and Oregon State.
Troy is the team to beat in the Sun Belt. The Trojans (7-2, 6-0) are responsible for dealing the only league loss to each of their closest challengers, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Monroe. Louisiana-Lafayette (3-2) and FAU (2-2) stand a better chance at catching Troy as each faces the Trojans in the final two weeks of the season. This week, Troy goes out of conference to visit Arkansas.
Nevada (5-0) and Boise State (4-0) top the WAC, followed by Fresno State (5-1). The Bulldogs must win at Nevada on Saturday to stay in the hunt after already losing to Boise State in September. The Broncos host surprising Idaho (7-3, 4-2) which was all but eliminated from the conference title chase with its loss to Fresno State last week.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
USF at Rutgers - B.J. Daniels is the redshirt phenom QB for USF. He's 3rd in the Big East in total offense with 1,096 yards passing and 519 rushing. This season appeared to be over for the Bulls when Matt Grothe suffered a season-ending knee injury against Charleston Southern in week 3, but Daniels (3-2 as a starter) has grown into the role quickly. The winner of this game keeps alive their outside chances at a Big East title.
Florida at South Carolina - Urban Meyer vs. Steve Spurrier. 'Nuff said.
Houston at UCF - Houston QB Case Keenum takes "crunch time performance" to a new level. Pray that Houston is trailing late in the game.
Miami at North Carolina - UNC head coach Butch Davis is 2-0 against his former team.
TWO COACHES DOWN, HOW MANY MORE TO GO?
Tommy West was fired by Memphis on Monday after a 2-7 start, but will finish the season. West used his opportunity at the press conference microphone to blast the dilapidated facilities and lack of commitment to the football program. The comments were not profound revelations. Everyone knows those are the facts. The question is whether or not Memphis will try to become a serious football school and whether or not these are the economic times to make that commitment. The area around the Liberty Bowl is depressed and lost its historic Libertyland theme park several years ago.
Western Kentucky fired David Elson on Monday, though he will also finish the season with a team that holds the nation's longest current losing streak at 17 games going into this weekend's encounter at Louisiana-Monroe. The Hilltoppers have dropped 22 straight games to FBS teams. This is WKU's first season as a full-fledged FBS program and member of the Sun Belt conference. He is 39-41 in 7 seasons at the school.
6 teams still remain undefeated - Alabama, Boise State, Cincinnati, Florida, TCU, and Texas. Last year at this time, that list consisted of 5 teams - Alabama, Ball State, Boise State, Texas Tech, and Utah.
4 teams are still winless - Eastern Michigan, New Mexico, Rice and Western Kentucky. At this point last year, Washington was the only team with a goose egg in the win column.
FBS vs. FCS:
There are 3 such games this week and Army is favored by only 10 points over VMI, even though the Keydets are just 2-7. Minnesota and Navy are favored by more than 30 over South Dakota State (7-2) and Delaware (6-3), respectively.
FBS teams are 85-5 vs. FCS teams on the year (.944), and 460-42 (.916) 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 19 straight victories. The Gators visit South Carolina.
Texas has 13 straight victories. The Longhorns visit Baylor.
TCU has 11 straight victories. The Horned Frogs host Utah.
Alabama has 9 straight wins overall and 21 straight regular season wins. The Tide visits Mississippi State.
Cincinnati has 9 straight wins overall and 15 straight regular season wins. The Bearcats host West Virginia on Friday.
Boise State has streaks of 21 consecutive regular season wins, 23 consecutive home wins, 53 consecutive regular season home wins, and 39 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (33-0). 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. The Broncos host Idaho.
Oklahoma has 27 straight home victories. The Sooners host Texas A&M.
Utah has 13 straight conference wins, and 16 straight home wins. The Utes visit TCU.
Western Kentucky has lost 17 straight overall and 22 straight to FBS teams. The Hilltoppers visit Louisiana-Monroe.
New Mexico has lost 13 straight overall. The Lobos host BYU.
There are 22 new college football coaches in the FBS ranks this season. 20 have secured their first victory. Only Eastern Michigan and New Mexico remain winless.
||11/14, vs. VMI (FCS)
||11/14, at Georgia
||11/12, at Northern Illinois
||11/14, at Virginia
||11/12, at Miami (O.)
||11/14, at N.C. State
||11/14, vs. Western Michigan
||11/14, vs. Colorado
||11/14, vs. Missouri
||11/14, vs. Bowling Green
||11/14, vs. Alabama
||11/14, vs. BYU
|New Mexico State
||11/14, at Hawaii
||11/14, vs. Arizona State
||11/14, vs. Michigan State
|San Diego State
||11/14, vs. Wyoming
||11/14, at Louisville
||11/14, at Mississippi
||11/11, at Central Michigan
||11/14, vs. San Jose State
||11/14, at Oregon State
||11/14, at San Diego State
|*-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.