Week Thirteen Preview
by Mike Mitchell and Dave Congrove
November 17, 2008
With just three weeks left in the season there is still much to be decided. We don't know who will wind up in the BCS title game; only one conference championship game is set; and not a single conference champion has been determined.
The top matchups this week among BCS-ranked teams send No. 2 Texas Tech to No. 5 Oklahoma; No. 14 BYU to No. 7 Utah; and No. 15 Michigan State to No. 8 Penn State.
In games involving other highly-ranked BCS teams, No. 4 Florida hosts FCS member The Citadel; No. 9 Boise State visits Nevada; and No. 10 Ohio State hosts Michigan. Sitting on the sidelines this week are No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Texas and No. 6 USC
The Texas Tech-Oklahoma game looms large on two fronts. Aside from the national title picture, the Red Raiders (10-0, 6-0) can clinch the Big 12 South with a win over the Sooners (9-1, 5-1) since it already owns the tie-breaker with Texas. And at this point, we'd be happy to just be able to identify a few more divisional and conference champions.
Right now, we only know that Alabama and Florida will play for the SEC title; Missouri will play for the Big 12 title; and Utah and Boise State will do no worse than tie for the top spot in their respective conferences.
So little was determined last week that the BCS Standings could have been put on hold for another week. In it, the top 9 teams remained the same. The biggest moves worthy of reporting are BYU's ascent from 17 to 14, and Ball State's drop from 17 to 14 even though it won and is still undefeated.
That change is important due to the nature in which teams are rendered eligible for a bowl that is associated with the BCS - Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar. The champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-10 and SEC automatically qualify their champions. but one additional conference champion from CUSA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, WAC automatically qualify to play in a BCS bowl only if its is:
(1) ranked among the top 12 teams in the final BCS standings; or
(2) ranked among the top 16 teams in the final BCS standings and ranked higher than the champion of one of the conferences whose champion has an annual automatic berth in a BCS bowl.
There are five teams from "non-BCS" conferences competing for the slot and three of them are from the MWC. Utah (MWC) is ranked the highest at No. 7. The others are ranked 9th (Boise State), 14th (BYU), 16th (TCU), and 17th (Ball State).
The only "outsiders" to play in BCS bowl games are Utah, Boise State and Hawaii. The Utes (2004) and Broncos (2006) each played in Fiesta Bowls, and Hawaii played in last season's Sugar Bowl.
Utah (11-0, 7-0) could claim the outright Mountain West title this Saturday with a win at home over BYU (10-1, 6-1). However, a BYU win in combination with a TCU (9-2, 6-1) home victory over Air Force (8-3, 5-2) would throw the conference into a three-way tie. That scenario could knock the conference out of the BCS altogether, and open the door for Boise State from the WAC.
Boise State (10-0, 6-0) can claim the outright WAC title with a win at Nevada (6-4, 4-2) on Saturday, but is obviously playing for something bigger than securing a Humanitarian Bowl bid. Two more wins means an undefeated season and a possible BCS bowl game. The Broncos close the season at home against Fresno State next week.
Ball State has the toughest row to hoe in the quest for BCS gold. The Cardinals (10-0, 6-0) must win at Central Michigan (8-2, 6-0) on Wednesday just to keep the Chippewas from securing their third straight MAC West title. If Ball State survives this week, it gets to host Western Michigan on November 25 for a chance to win the division and complete an undefeated campaign.
Western Michigan (9-2, 6-1) is still alive in the MAC West title chase, but needs Central Michigan to lose to both Ball State and Eastern Michigan because it has already lost to the Chippewas. In that case, Western Michigan could win the title with a victory at Ball State, but we wouldn't know for sure until Eastern Michigan went to Central Michigan on November 28.
Buffalo can clinch the MAC West division title with a win at Bowling Green this Friday night. A loss by the Bulls would keep both teams alive, and allow Akron to creep back into the picture if it wins at Ohio on Saturday.
Isn't this fun?
Tight conference races are in abundant supply.
Maryland (Atlantic) and Miami (Coastal) each control their own destiny, but no one has taken advantage of "destiny" all year in the ACC. Expect more chaos to possibly occur this week when the Hurricanes (7-3, 4-2) visit Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3) on Thursday night, and the Terrapins (7-3, 4-2) entertain Florida State (7-3, 4-3) on Saturday.
The Big East has three teams with one conference loss - Cincinnati, Pitt and West Virginia - but a West Virginia loss at Louisville on Saturday, combined with a Cincinnati home win over Pitt, would give the Bearcats no less than a share of the Big East title and the conference's BCS bid. Pittsburgh can still win the title by beating the Bearcats, Mountaineers and Huskies in their final three games. West Virginia's route to the title requires a Cincinnati loss combined with Mountaineer victories over Louisville, Pitt and USF.
Penn State (10-1, 6-1) can clinch the Big 10 title with a home win over Michigan State (9-2, 6-1). An upset by the Spartans gives the title to Ohio State, if it beats Michigan. If the Buckeyes lose to the Wolverines, and Michigan State upsets Penn State, the Spartans claim the title.
East Carolina is still in charge of its' own fate in Conference USA's East division. The Pirates (6-4, 4-2) are essentially two games ahead of Memphis and Marshall since they have already defeated both schools, so a win at UAB (3-7, 2-4) on Saturday secures an entry into the conference championship game. If ECU blows that one, it gets a second chance when it hosts UTEP next week.
Houston (6-4, 5-1), Rice (7-3, 5-1) and Tulsa (8-2, 5-1) are tied for the CUSA West lead and one will likely host the conference championship game. After smacking the Golden Hurricane last week, the Cougars will claim the division title if they win their final two contests. Houston hosts UTEP (5-5, 4-2) this week, and visits Rice next week. The Owls win the division by beating Marshall (4-6, 3-3) and Houston, but only if Tulsa loses another game. The Golden Hurricane win the division if they defeat Tulane (2-8, 1-5) and Marshall, but only if Houston loses one of its' final two games.
The PAC-10 title is in Oregon State's hands if it wins at Arizona (6-4, 4-3) on Saturday, and then wins at rival Oregon in the "Civil War" on December 6. The Beavers (7-3, 6-1) have won 8 of the last 9 meetings with the Wildcats. Interestingly, USC (9-1, 7-1) could go to the national championship game as the conference's No. 2 bowl qualifier while Oregon State gets the conference's automatic top bid to the Rose Bowl, due to the Beaver's earlier win over the Trojans.
Troy (6-4, 4-1) and Louisiana-Lafayette (5-5, 4-1) share the Sun Belt lead and go head-to-head on Saturday at Troy. The Trojans must be kicking themselves after blowing a 31-3 lead in the 3rd quarter at LSU last Saturday to lose 40-31. Meanwhile, Louisiana blew a golden opportunity to move closer to the conference title when it fell at FAU 40-29 in a game that was 40-7 at one point. That loss thrust the Owls (5-5, 3-2) back into the conference title picture, and also kept Arkansas State (4-5, 2-2) and FIU (4-5, 3-2) in the mix. FAU visits the Red Wolves on Saturday, and FIU hosts Louisiana-Monroe (3-8, 2-4).
In all, 49 games will be played this week, beginning with Tuesday night's MAC contest that pits Northern Illinois (5-5, 4-3) at Kent State (3-7, 2-4), and ending with Sunday night's Big East game that sends Connecticut (7-3, 3-2) to USF (6-4, 1-4).
25 teams will play their final regular season game.
5 teams still remain unbeaten: Alabama, Ball State, Boise State, Texas Tech, and Utah.
Only Hawaii made it through the 2007 regular season unscathed, and the Warriors were blown out 41-10 by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. It was the first season since 2002 that no team recorded a perfect record.
Boise State was the only team to finish the entire 2006 season undefeated, while Texas did it in 2005. Auburn, USC and Utah all had unblemished records in 2004.
Washington is the only remaining winless team.
Last season, FIU beat North Texas in its final regular season game to avoid being the only winless team. FIU was one of two schools to go winless in 2006 (Duke was the other).
WINLESS AGAINST FBS:
4 teams have yet to defeat a FBS school: SMU, Washington, Washington State and Western Kentucky.
FBS vs. FCS:
The divisions were renamed late in 2006. 1-A was given the new moniker of Football Bowl Subdivision
(FBS) while 1-AA was labeled the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
Two games are scheduled this week that match FBS teams with FCS opponents, and they are the final such games of the year.
Florida hosts The Citadel (4-7) which lost 45-17 at Clemson in the second week of the season.
Wisconsin welcomes Cal Poly (8-1), the No. 3 team in the FCS rankings and a winner at San Diego State in the opening week of the season.
FBS teams are 83-2 (.976) against FCS teams this season, and 373-37 (.910) since 2003.
Here are the losses by the FBS so far this season:
Cal Poly 29, San Diego State 27 (Week 1)
New Hampshire 28, Army 10 (Week 2)
This year, 82 different FBS teams will participate in a total of 87 games that will pit the FCS against the FBS. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Western Kentucky each play two such games.
ACC teams have more games versus FCS schools than any other conference. Here is the number of FCS games for each conference:
||Teams In Conf.
||Games vs. FCS
||Avg. Per Team
Alabama has won 12 straight games. The Tide is idle this week, and host Auburn on November 29.
Texas Tech has won 12 straight games. The Red Raiders visit Oklahoma.
Utah has won 12 straight games. The Utes host BYU.
Ball State has won 10 straight games. The Cardinals visit Central Michigan on Wednesday.
Boise State has won 10 in-a-row overall, 18 consecutive home games, 48 straight regular season home games, and has never lost at home to a fellow WAC conference member (31-0). Overall, the Broncos have won 37 straight conference home games since losing to Idaho in the final game of the 1998 season in the Big West. Boise State visits Nevada.
Oklahoma has won 22 straight home games. The Sooners host Texas Tech.
BYU has won 18 consecutive home games. The Cougars visit Utah.
Washington has the longest losing streak in the nation at 12 games, and has lost 8 consecutive home games. The Huskies visit Washington State for the Apple Cup.
SMU has lost 9 overall, 16 straight conference games, 15 consecutive road games, and 20 straight to FBS teams. The Mustangs are idle, and host Southern Miss on November 29.
Iowa State has lost 9 straight overall, and 16 consecutive road games. The Cyclones visit Kansas State.
The 2007 season featured 24 new head coaches. Nine led their team to a bowl game. This year, there were 18 coaching changes in the offseason, and one more took place when Tommy Bowden stepped down from Clemson on October 13.
Two teams with new coaches have yet to defeat an FBS school - SMU, and Washington State.
Colorado State, Hawaii, Houston, Northern Illinois, SMU, Southern Miss, and Washington State have yet to defeat a team from one of the "big 6" conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-10 or SEC).
||11/22, at Mississippi State
||11/29, at Texas Tech
||11/22, at Wyoming
||11/22 at Virginia Tech
||11/20, vs. Miami (Fla.)
||11/22, vs. Idaho
||11/22, vs. UTEP
||11/22, at Ohio State
||11/22, at Lsu
||11/25, at Northern Illinois
||11/28, vs. Colorado
||11/18, at Kent State
||11/29, vs. Southern Miss
||11/29, at SMU
||11/27, at Texas
||11/28, at Arizona State
||11/22, vs. Washington
||11/22, at Louisville
||11/22, at Virginia
COACHES WHO WON'T BE BACK:
The 2008 season wasn't close to being over when jobs started opening up for 2009. Here are the teams with vacancies heading into next season:
Clemson - Announced October 13 that Tommy Bowden had agreed to step down. Dabo Swinney became interim head coach.
Washington - Announced October 27 that Ty Willingham was fired, effective October 27.
Tennessee - Announced November 3 that Phillip Fulmer was forced out, effective the end of the season.
Toledo - Announced on November 3 that Tom Amstutz will step down at the end of the year.
Kansas State - Announced November 5 that Ron Prince was fired, effective the end of the season.
Syracuse - Announced November 16 that Greg Robinson was fired, effective the end of the season.
Utah State - Announced November 17 that Brent Guy was fired, effective the end of the season.
New Mexico - Announced November 17 that Rocky Long stepped down, effective immediately. The Lobos' season is over.
WON'T BE BACK, BUT POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED:
Purdue - Joe Tiller announced in January that this would be his last season, and former assistant Danny Hope was hired away from Eastern Kentucky to become his successor. Tiller is 86-62 in 12 seasons at Purdue, and is 125-92-1 when you include his 6 seasons at Wyoming from 1991-1996. Purdue is just 3-8 (1-6, Big Ten) this year and hosts rival Indiana (also 3-8, 1-6) for the Old Oaken Bucket on Saturday.