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College Football Season

Week 14 Preview:
Championships, Heisman and Other Affairs

by Dave Congrove
December 1, 2009 (Updated 12/2/09)

Daggummit - it's downright impossible to imagine college football without Bobby Bowden wandering the sidelines next year, but that will be the case after he coaches Florida State in a 28th consecutive bowl game to conclude the 'Noles 2009 season and his 44-year head coaching career with the second-most wins in college football history.

God bless you, Bobby, for putting your inimitable mark on the greatest game on the planet.

Now, we must let the show go on.

In addition to the five conferences that are staging championship games this week, two other conferences will have de facto championship games.

The PAC-10's Rose Bowl representative will be decided when Oregon State visits Oregon on Thursday. The Ducks claim an outright tile with a win and their first Rose Bowl appearance since the 1994 season. A win by the Beavers would make them co-champions with the Ducks and send them to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1964 season.

The Big East's BCS representative will be determined when Cincinnati visits Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Bearcats would be outright champs with a win and co-champs with a loss. After losing last week at West Virginia, Pitt's only shot at a BCS bowl game is to beat Cincinnati and win the conference. Cincinnati may still garner an at-large BCS bowl bid regardless of the outcome, but it would certainly prefer to finish the season at 12-0.

Here are the pre-planned title games:

  • ACC: Clemson vs. Georgia Tech
  • Big 12: Nebraska vs. Texas
  • CUSA: Houston at East Carolina
  • MAC: Ohio vs. Central Michigan
  • SEC: Florida vs. Alabama

Of course, it is widely expected that Texas will beat Nebraska and meet the winner of the Alabama-Florida showdown in the BCS title game. But, what if Nebraska wins? Such a result could put TCU in the title game and wreak a bit of havoc on the selection of other teams because the Big 12 would suddenly have two BCS teams (Nebraska and Texas) instead of one (Texas).

Florida defeated Alabama 31-20 in last year's SEC Championship and went on to drop Oklahoma 24-14 to claim the national title. The last time Texas played in the Big 12 championship it flattened Colorado 70-3 and went on to defeat USC in the BCS title game.

Florida suspended DE Carlos Dunlap, the MVP of last year's BCS title game, after he was arrested on DUI charges early Tuesday morning in Gainesville. This year, Dunlap's seven sacks tie him for the team lead.

Georgia Tech is making its second appearance in the ACC Championship game while Clemson is making its first appearance. The Jackets lost 9-6 to Wake Forest in the 2006 snooze-fest in Jacksonville. This year's game will take place in Tampa and pits Georgia Tech's one-dimensional offensive attack that ranks 2nd in the nation in rushing against Clemson's 45th-ranked rushing defense. The teams met in the second week of the season with Georgia Tech prevailing 30-27.

This is Houston's second appearance in the CUSA title game since the league split into two divisions in 2005. East Carolina is also making its second appearance and is the defending champion. The teams last met in the 2008 regular season with the Cougars grabbing a 41-24 victory.

Ohio hasn't won a MAC title since 1968 while Central Michigan is looking for its third conference trophy in four years. The teams haven't met since the third week of the 2008 regular season when the Chippewas came out on top 31-28.

I don't understand the typical assessment of this season's Heisman Trophy race. Several of the nation's best players are hardly drawing a whisper of their name, and I can't help but wonder what all the talking heads have been watching.

I like Texas QB Colt McCoy (11th passing, 5th in total offense) and Florida QB Tim Tebow (70th passing, 73rd rushing, 33rd in total offense) a lot. I like Alabama RB Mark Ingram (11th rushing) and Clemson's return specialist C.J. Spiller (2nd kick returns, 59th rushing). No doubt, they are MVP's of their respective teams. I disagree, however, that they have been the best players in college football this year.

Forget all the hype, team records and player career numbers - none of that is supposed to matter.

Houston QB Case Keenum should be the Heisman favorite in my book. He leads the nation in passing yards per game with 406.9, which is 84.6 more per game than his closest challenger. Keenum is also tied for the lead in TD passes with 38, and is 5th in pass efficiency rating. He leads the country in total offense with 108.9 yards more per game than McCoy.

In fact, my top Heisman candidates contain only one of the commonly heard names, Stanford RB Toby Gerhart. I'd place him 2nd, followed by Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams. Others I would have to consider include Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes, Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli, and some defensive players like Texas A&M's Von Miller and TCU's Jerry Hughes, too.

Gerhart's 1,736 yards rushing and 26 TD's include 480 yards and 9 TD's against run defenses that currently rank 13th (Oregon State), 19th (Arizona State), 21st (Arizona) and 22nd (California).

Williams' 1,538 yards and 19 TD's include 433 yards and 4 TD's against run defenses that currently rank 2nd (Alabama), 9th (North Carolina), 14th (Nebraska) and 17th (Boston College). The redshirt freshman finished the regular season with back-to-back 4-TD performances and began his career with 71 yards rushing, 42 yards receiving and 2 rushing TD's vs. Alabama.

Freddie Barnes has 31 more catches than any other receiver. He totaled 1,554 yards and a nation's-best 16 TD's.

Anybody's Heisman top-five list should include no fewer than two of these. It is inexcusable for Keenum not to be on every one of them.

Hawaii gets there with a home win this Saturday over Wisconsin. If the Warriors pull off the upset, they would likely face former head coach June Jones and SMU in the Hawaii Bowl.

Army can make it on December 12 if it upsets Navy.

6 teams still remain undefeated. Alabama (12-0), Texas (12-0), Florida (12-0) and TCU (12-0) have completed their regular seasons. Boise State (12-0) and Cincinnati (11-0) play their final regular season games this week. The computer's preseason forecast projected 6 undefeated teams, though its selections were Alabama, Florida, Michigan State, OKlahoma, USC and Utah.

Eastern Michigan finished the year at 0-12 with its loss to Akron on Friday. Western Kentucky fell to 0-11 with a 29-23 loss at FAU and closes the season at home on Thursday against Arkansas State. The computer's preseason forecast projected Miami (Ohio) as the only winless team, but the RedHawks went 1-11. Eastern Michigan was projected to 2-10 and Western Kentucky was forecasted to go 1-11.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams went 89-5 vs. FCS teams this year (.947), and are now 464-42 (.917) since 2003.

Here are the results of every FBS loss to the FCS this season:
9/19: Central Arkansas 28, Western Kentucky 7
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 22 straight victories. The Gators play Alabama in the SEC Championship in Atlanta.

Texas has 16 straight victories. The Longhorns play Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship in Arlington, Texas.

TCU has 14 straight victories. Regular season complete.

Alabama has 12 straight wins overall and 24 straight regular season wins. The Tide plays Florida in the SEC Championship in Atlanta.

Boise State has streaks of 12 straight wins overall, 24 consecutive regular season wins, 25 consecutive home wins, 55 consecutive regular season home wins, and 41 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (35-0). 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 New Mexico State.

Cincinnati has 11 straight wins overall and 17 straight regular season wins. The Bearcats visit Pittsburgh.

Oklahoma has 29 straight home victories. Regular season complete.

Utah has 17 straight home wins. Regular season complete.

Western Kentucky has lost 19 straight overall and 24 straight to FBS teams. The Hilltoppers host Arkansas State.

Eastern Michigan has lost 12 straight overall. Season complete.

Washington State has lost 9 straight. Season complete.

Colorado State has lost 9 straight. Season complete.

22 teams had a new college football coach in the FBS ranks this season. Only Eastern Michigan went winless.

Army 5-6 Rich Ellerson 12/12, vs. Navy (at Philadelphia)
Auburn 7-5 Gene Chizik Regular season complete
Ball State 2-10 Stan Parrish Season complete
Boston College 8-4 Frank Spaziani Regular season complete
Bowling Green 7-5 Dave Clawson Regular season complete
*-Clemson 8-4 Dabo Swinney 12/5, vs. Georgia Tech at Tampa
Eastern Michigan 0-12 Ron English Season complete
Iowa State 6-6 Paul Rhoads Regular season complete
Kansas State 6-6 Bill Snyder Season complete
Miami (O.) 1-11 Michael Haywood Season complete
Mississippi State 5-7 Dan Mullen Season complete
New Mexico 1-11 Mike Locksley Season complete
New Mexico State 3-9 DeWayne Walker 12/5, at Boise State
Oregon 9-2 Chip Kelly 12/3, vs. Oregon State
Purdue 5-7 Danny Hope Season complete
San Diego State 4-8 Brady Hoke Season complete
Syracuse 4-8 Doug Marrone Season complete
Tennessee 7-5 Lane Kiffin Regular season complete
Toledo 5-7 Tim Beckman Season complete
Utah State 4-8 Gary Andersen Season complete
Washington 4-7 Steve Sarkisian 12/5, vs. California
Wyoming 6-6 Dave Christensen Regular season complete
*-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.


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