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2008-2009
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Week Fourteen Preview

by Mike Mitchell and Dave Congrove
November 24, 2008

Every game is worth watching for some reason, whether it be for the conference championship factor, bowl eligibility, the final game of a lame-duck coach, or simply because it may be the last time to watch your team play this year.

Conference championships at-a-glance
ACC:
Boston College (Atlantic) and Virginia Tech (Coastal) control their destiny.
Big East: Cincinnati controls its' destiny.
Big 10: Penn State clinched BCS bid; conference co-champs with Ohio State.
Big 12: Missouri (North) vs. Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech.
CUSA: East Carolina will represent the East; Houston controls its' destiny in the West.
MAC: Buffalo will represent the East; Ball State controls its' destiny in the West.
MWC: Utah won outright title.
PAC-10: Oregon State controls its' destiny for Rose Bowl berth.
SEC: Florida (East) vs. Alabama (West).
Sun Belt: Troy controls its' destiny.
WAC: Boise State won outright title.

The final two weeks of the college football season are guaranteed to be exciting and intriguing. Only the SEC has its' conference championship match set up. The Big 10, Mountain West and WAC are the only conferences that can identify who their respective champion/top bowl representative is.

As for the rest of the conference races - there are simple solutions, and not-so-simple solutions. The Big 12 and Sun Belt conferences could end with maniacal solutions.

In the ACC, Boston College and Virginia Tech make a return trip to the ACC Championship with victories in their respective games on Saturday. The Eagles host Maryland while the Hokies entertain Virginia. A Boston College loss gives the Atlantic to Florida State, and a Virginia Tech loss gives the Coastal to Georgia Tech.

A Cincinnati win over Syracuse, or a West Virginia loss at Pitt, gives the Bearcats the Big East's BCS bid. A Bearcat win, and a West Virginia loss gives Cincinnati the outright BCS title. West Virginia can steal the bid if Cincinnati loses next week and the Mountaineers defeat Pitt and USF in their final two games. If the conference should end with three or more teams tied for first - and it could happen - the bid would go to the team with the highest ranking in the final BCS Standings.

In the Big 12, a loss by either Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech means the South division winner can be determined by head-to-head competition between the two teams left standing. A loss by two of the three makes it even cleaner. If all three win, as expected, this Sunday's BCS Standings will determine who plays Missouri in the conference championship game. Texas Tech hosts Baylor, Texas entertains Texas A&M (Thanksgiving Day), and Oklahoma goes to Oklahoma State.

In CUSA, Houston wins the West division with a victory at Rice. If Houston loses, Tulsa takes the division with a win at Marshall. Rice wins the division only if it beats Houston and Tulsa loses at Marshall. East Carolina is waiting to see who it will visit for the conference championship.

The West half of the MAC equation will be determined Tuesday night if Ball State gets the home over Western Michigan. But, if the Broncos win, we have to wait until Saturday to find out if Ball State or Western Michigan is the division winner. If Ball State loses Tuesday, a Central Michigan win at Eastern Michigan on Friday puts the Cards in the title game anyway. If Ball State loses and Eastern beats Central, then Western Michigan is in.

Oregon State can claim the conference's Rose Bowl berth with a home victory over rival Oregon in the "Civil War". USC, the only team that is left in Oregon State's way, plays a non-conference home game against Notre Dame.

The Sun Belt champion could be decided indirectly this week. Front-runner Troy is idle, but would clinch the conference's automatic bid to the New Orleans Bowl if Arkansas State gets upset at North Texas. Otherwise, Arkansas State can win the bid if it beats North Texas this week and beats Troy on December 6. Idle Louisiana-Lafayette winds up in a three-way discussion if it beats Middle Tennessee on December 3 and Arkansas Sate beats Troy. That would leave the Trojans, Red Wolves and Ragin' Cajuns 1-1 against the others and their records would be matched against the conference's fourth-place team, fifth-pace team, etc. until the tie is broken. If none of that settles the issue, the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation would decide who receives the New Orleans Bowl invitation.

Other Games To Watch

Nothing screws up the BCS quicker than a good train wreck. With that in mind, Florida and Alabama are hoping to avoid disaster this week. They can't get kicked out of the SEC Championship game, but either could eliminate itself from national title contention with an upset loss. Both are facing their fiercest rival - Florida plays Florida State in Tallahassee, and Alabama hosts an Auburn team in the Iron Bowl that is seeking to become eligible for a postseason bid.

USC hosts a Notre Dame team that is coming off an embarrassing home loss to Syracuse this past Saturday, and would fall to 6-6 with a loss at the Trojans. It would be a bigger upset for the Irish to beat USC than it was for Notre Dame to fall to the Orange, but stranger things have happened. USC has won six straight in the series, mostly in routs. A 3-point win in 2005 is the only time USC's victory margin has been under 20 points in that span, and four games were decided by 31 points or more. The Trojans have won the last three home meetings with the Irish by an average score of 43.0 to 15.7.

On the Cusp of Bowl Eligibility

These teams must win this week to become bowl eligible: Arkansas State (at North Texas); Clemson (vs. South Carolina); N.C. State (vs. Miami); Virginia (at Virginia Tech); Colorado (at Nebraska); Memphis (vs. Tulane); Southern Miss (at SMU); UTEP (at East Carolina); Akron (at Temple); Bowling Green (at Toledo); Auburn (at Alabama); FAU (vs. FIU at Dolphin Stadium).

These teams are idle this week, and must win next week to become bowl eligible: Louisville (at Rutgers); Louisiana (vs. Middle Tennessee); Middle Tennessee (at Louisiana).

Hawaii can become bowl eligible with a win this week vs. Washington State, or next week vs. Cincinnati.

These teams must win their final two games to become bowl eligible: Arizona State, UCLA, and FIU. Either Arizona State or UCLA will be eliminated from bowl consideration this week as the Sun Devils host the Bruins.

UNBEATEN TEAMS:
4 teams still remain unbeaten: Alabama, Ball State, Boise State, 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.

WINLESS TEAMS:
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:
3 teams have yet to defeat a FBS school: SMU, Washington, 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).

FBS teams went 85-2 (.977) against FCS teams this season, and are 375-37 (.910) since 2003.

Here are the losses by the FBS this season:
Cal Poly 29, San Diego State 27 (Week 1)
New Hampshire 28, Army 10 (Week 2)

This year, 82 different FBS teams participated in a total of 87 games that pit the FCS against the FBS. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Western Kentucky each played two such games.

ACC teams played more games versus FCS schools than any other conference. Here is the number of FCS games for each conference:

Conference Teams In Conf. Games vs. FCS Avg. Per Team
ACC 12 14 1.167
Big East 8 7 0.875
Big 12 12 10 0.833
Big 10 11 9 0.818
MWC 9 7 0.778
WAC 9 7 0.778
SEC 12 9 0.750
Independents 3 2 0.667
MAC 13 8 0.615
CUSA 12 7 0.583
Sun Belt 9 5 0.555
PAC-10 10 2 0.200
Totals 120 87 0.725

STREAKS:
Utah has won 13 straight games. Regular season complete.

Alabama has won 12 straight games. The Tide hosts Auburn on Saturday.

Ball State has won 11 straight games. The Cardinals host Western Michigan on Tuesday.

Boise State has won 11 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 hosts Fresno State on Friday.

Oklahoma has won 23 straight home games. The Sooners visit Oklahoma State on Saturday.

BYU has won 18 consecutive home games. Regular season complete.

Washington has the longest losing streak in the nation at 13 games, and has lost 8 consecutive home games. The Huskies visit California on December 6.

SMU has lost 9 overall, 16 straight conference games, 15 consecutive road games, and 20 straight to FBS teams. The Mustangs host Southern Miss on Saturday.

Iowa State has lost 10 straight overall, and 17 consecutive road games. Regular season complete.

NEW COACHES: 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.

Only one team with a new coach has yet to defeat an FBS school - SMU.

TEAM W-L COACH NEXT GAME
Arkansas 4-7 Bobby Petrino 11/29 vs. LSU at Little Rock
Baylor 4-7 Art Briles 11/29, at Texas Tech
Colorado State 6-6 Steve Fairchild Regular season complete
Duke 4-7 David Cutcliffe 11/29, vs. North Carolina
Georgia Tech 8-3 Paul Johnson 11/29, at Georgia
Hawaii 6-5 Greg McMackin 11/29, vs. Washington State
Houston 7-4 Kevin Sumlin 11/29, at Rice
Michigan 3-9 Rich Rodriguez Regular season complete
Mississippi 7-4 Houston Nutt 11/28, vs. Mississippi State
Navy 6-4 Ken Nuimatalolo 11/25, at Northern Illinois
Nebraska 7-4 Bo Pelini 11/28, vs. Colorado
Northern Illinois 6-5 Jerry Kill 11/25, vs. Navy
SMU 1-10 June Jones 11/29, vs. Southern Miss
Southern Miss 5-6 Larry Fedora 11/29, at SMU
Texas A&M 4-7 Mike Sherman 11/27, at Texas
UCLA 4-6 Rick Neuheisel 11/28, at Arizona State
Washington State 2-10 Paul Wulff 11/29 at Hawaii
West Virginia 7-3 Bill Stewart 11/28, at Pitt

Midseason Change:      
TEAM W-L COACH NEXT GAME
Clemson 3-2 Dabo Swinney 11/29, vs. South Carolina

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. Replaced by former Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder on November 24.

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.

Wyoming - Fired Joe Glenn November 23.

San Diego State - Fired Chuck Long November 23.

Eastern Michigan - Fired Jeff Genyk November 24.

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.