Week 12 Preview: 14 Teams Play Last Regular Season Game
by Dave Congrove
November 17, 2009
Say it ain't so! The 2009 regular season ends this week for 14 teams. Mercifully, Miami (Ohio) will be the first team to close its campaign when it hosts Buffalo on Wednesday night. The RedHawks are 1-10 in their first season under Michael Haywood after going 2-10 a year ago.
Like Miami, the football teams from Indiana, Purdue and Vanderbilt won't take another snap after this weekend as they have all been eliminated from bowl consideration. Air Force, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State all have at least 6 wins.
Michigan must beat Ohio State in "The Game" to avoid sitting at home for each of the first two seasons under Rich Rodriguez. The Wolverines have dropped five straight to the Buckeyes and are 1-7 against Jim Tressel. Michigan still has a healthy edge in the series of 57-42-6.
The "Big Game" between Cal and Stanford is often over-hyped, but the 112th edition is huge. The Fighting Trees are the hottest team in the PAC-10 and, perhaps, the entire country. The Cardinal have pocketed consecutive wins over Oregon and USC, and sit just a game behind Oregon in the conference loss column. It should come as no big shock that homestanding Stanford is a 5.15-point computer pick to win after being a 4.86-point underdog in the preseason. Stanford leads the series 55-45-11, but Cal won last year and has taken 6 of the last 7 meetings.
Air Force and BYU renew their Mountain West rivalry at Provo. The Cougars lead the relatively young series 23-6 and have won the last 5 meetings. Brigham Young is favored by 7.21 points to continue its domination.
LSU and Ole Miss will jockey for bowl position when they clash at Oxford with the Rebels installed as a slim 1.13-point computer pick.
The SEC Championship game is set between Florida and Alabama. This week, neither school should have its undefeated season threatened as the Tide host FCS member UT-Chattanooga and the Gators entertain Sunshine State upstart FIU.
One piece of the ACC Championship game puzzle was put in place last week when Georgia Tech clinched the Coastal division. Clemson can lock up the Atlantic with a home win over struggling Virginia.
Cincinnati and Pitt, the Big East frontrunners, get the week off. They are on a collision course to decide the conference title in a head-to-head meeting at Heinz Field on December 5.
Nebraska hosts Kansas State in what amounts to a Big 12 North division championship game. The 'Huskers enter the match at 7-3 overall, 4-2 in the conference. Kansas State is 6-5, 4-3. The Wildcats were crushed 38-12 at home by Missouri last week while Nebraska won 31-17 at Kansas.
Texas can sew up the Big 12 South with a home win over Kansas this week. The Longhorns are a 28.46-point computer pick to do just that.
East Carolina (5-1) controls its destiny in CUSA's East division, but the Pirates host a resurgent UAB. The Blazers are just a game behind ECU and on a 3-game winning streak, albeit against UTEP, FAU and Memphis. UCF and Southern Miss are also 4-2, but the Pirates have already beaten the Knights and get Southern Miss at home next week.
SMU sits atop CUSA East 5-1 after Houston's surprising 37-32 loss at UCF last week. However, the Mustangs are an 8.01-point underdog at Marshall on Saturday while Houston, which owns the tiebreaker over SMU, is an 18.16-point home favorite vs. Memphis.
There are three games to watch in the MAC this week - Kent State at Temple, Central Michigan at Ball State, and Northern Illinois at Ohio. Temple and Central Michigan are the leaders of their respective divisions with identical 6-0 records, while Ohio and Northern Illinois each trail their division leader by 1 game. If the Owls win and the Bobcats lose, Temple clinches the MAC East. If the Chippewas win and the Huskies lose, Central Michigan claims the MAC West. If Temple and Ohio each win, their game in Athens next Friday becomes a division championship game. If Central Michigan and Northern Illinois each win, their game at Mount Pleasant next Friday becomes a division championship. The Owls are trying to win their 9th straight game. Ball State, Central Michigan's opponent, is just 1-9 but 6 of its losses have been by 7 points or less.
With victories in-hand over BYU and Utah, the Mountain West can be wrapped up by TCU this week if it avoids a letdown at Wyoming. The Horned Frogs are a 26.40-point pick at Laramie.
Oregon controls its destiny in the PAC-10, but leads a trio of teams - Stanford, Oregon State and Arizona - by just a game in the conference loss column. The Ducks have already lost to the Cardinal, visit Arizona Saturday, and host the Beavers in the season-ending rivalry game. But Oregon can clinch the crown this week if it defeats the Wildcats, in combination with losses by Oregon State (at Washington State) and Stanford (vs. California).
Troy is a 12.47-point home favorite to beat FAU this week to clinch the Sun Belt title and secure its third trip to the New Orleans Bowl in the last four years. Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Monroe are just a game behind Troy in the standings, but are effectively two games back due to losses to the Trojans.
Nevada (6-0) and Boise State (5-0) top the WAC by at least 2 games over everyone else. The Wolf Pack visit New Mexico State on Saturday, and the Broncos travel to Utah State. Both teams are heavy favorites to win this week, forcing a deciding confrontation with each other in Reno next Friday.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
UConn at Notre Dame - UConn needs two wins in its last three games to become bowl eligible. Notre Dame is in the midst of a 2-3 slide after a 4-1 start. The computer favors the Irish by just 2.84 points.
Duke at Miami - At 5-5, Duke needs one more win to become bowl eligible. The Blue Devils haven't made the postseason since 1994 when Fred Goldsmith served as head coach.
Penn State at Michigan State, Minnesota at Iowa, Wisconsin at Northwestern - Iowa, Penn State and Wisconsin each have 2 losses overall. The fight is on between them for a lucrative Capital One Bowl bid, or even a BCS at-large bid. Penn State has won 4 of the last 5 meetings, and 7 of the last 9, with Michigan State. Wisconsin is a mere 2.23-point favorite at Northwestern, and Iowa is favored by 11.50 at home against Minnesota. It is the last regular season game for all but Wisconsin which travels to Hawaii for its season finale on December 5.
N.C. State at Virginia Tech - The Wolfpack must win their last two games to become bowl eligible. Virginia Tech (7-3) is looking to finish strong and secure a Chick-fil-A or Gator Bowl bid.
Oklahoma at Texas Tech - Both teams are 6-4. Who'da thunk it? The Sooners are 5-0 at home where they have outscored their opponents by a cumulative 249-47. But they are 1-4 on the road with each of the losses coming by 7 points or less. The Red Raiders are 5-1 at home and 1-3 on the road.
Purdue at Indiana - This will be the 112th time the two schools have met, and the 85th time they have staged the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket. Purdue has dominated the series, but the Hoosiers won the last time the game was played in Bloomington.
On Sunday, UNLV announced the dismissal of Mike Sanford at the end of the season. Sanford's 5-year record with the school is 15-43 overall, 7-32 in MWC play.
On Monday, San Jose State announced Dick Tomey will retire from coaching after the season. The 71 year-old serves as president of the 10,000-plus member American Football Coaches Association. He is finishing his fifth season as the San Jose State head coach, 29th overall as a major college head coach and 46th in the coaching profession.
Last week, Memphis fired Tommy West and Western Kentucky fired David Elson. Both will stay on through the end of the season.
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.
3 teams are still winless - Eastern Michigan, New Mexico and Western Kentucky. At this point last year, Washington was the only team with a goose egg in the win column.
FBS vs. FCS:
The final such game of this season takes place this week when UT-Chattanooga visits Alabama. FBS teams are 88-5 vs. FCS teams on the year (.946), and 463-42 (.917) 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 teams played a total of 94 games against FCS foes. Duke, Kansas State, Mississippi, North Carolina, N.C. State, Rutgers and USF each played two FCS teams.
Florida has 20 straight victories. The Gators host FIU.
Texas has 14 straight victories. The Longhorns host Kansas.
TCU has 12 straight victories. The Horned Frogs visit Wyoming.
Cincinnati has 10 straight wins overall and 16 straight regular season wins. The Bearcats are idle.
Alabama has 10 straight wins overall and 22 straight regular season wins. The Tide hosts UT-Chattanooga (FCS).
Boise State has streaks of 10 straight wins overall, 22 consecutive regular season wins, 24 consecutive home wins, 54 consecutive regular season home wins, and 40 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (34-0). 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 visit Utah State.
Oklahoma has 28 straight home victories. The Sooners visit Texas Tech.
Utah has 16 straight home wins. The Utes host San Diego State.
Western Kentucky has lost 18 straight overall and 23 straight to FBS teams. The Hilltoppers are idle.
New Mexico has lost 14 straight overall. The Lobos host Colorado State.
Eastern Michigan has lost 10 straight overall. The Eagles visit Toledo.
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 against FBS schools.
||11/21, at North Texas
||11/18, vs. Central Michigan
||11/21, vs. North Carolina
||11/20, vs. Akron
||11/21, vs. Virginia
||11/20, at Toledo
||11/21, at Missouri
||11/21, at Nebraska
||11/18, vs. Buffalo
||11/21, vs. Arkansas (at Little Rock)
||11/21, vs. Colorado State
|New Mexico State
||11/21, vs. Nevada
||11/21, at Arizona
||11/21, at Indiana
|San Diego State
||11/21, at Utah
||11/21, vs. Rutgers
||11/21, vs. Vanderbilt
||11/20, vs. Eastern Michigan
||11/20, vs. Boise State
||11/21, vs. TCU
|*-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.