FSU and LSU Survive On Saturday; Aggies Get One Hilluva Win On Thursday
LSU Scores 21 Unanswered To Rally Past Wisconsin; Louisville Beats Miami Again
by Dave Congrove
August 29, 2014 (Updated September 1, 2014)
Saturday had the opportunity to provide some major upsets on opening weekend, but Florida State and LSU survived Oklahoma State and Wisconsin, respectively. Alabama and Ohio State needed late flurries to put away West Virginia and Navy.
The defending national champions opened a quick 17-0 lead on Oklahoma State, only to see the Cowboys twice cut the gap to 3. But a Roberto Aguayo field goal and a 50-yard Jameis Winston TD pass to Rashad Greene inside the 5-and-a-half minute mark helped the Seminoles secure the 37-31 win in Arlington, Texas.
LSU was trailing Wisconsin 24-7 with 12:24 left in the 3rd quarter before clamping down on the Badgers' run game and capitalizing on the inability of their foe to mount a passing attack. The Tigers scored on four straight possessions to gain the lead with 9:41 left and Wisconsin never mounted a serious threat afterward in the 28-24 loss. The Badgers finished with just 50 yards passing.
My Congrove Computer Rankings had Florida State favored by over 13 and LSU projected to win by more than 11.
Also on Saturday, Alabama never had more than a 10-point lead on 27-point (oddsmakers) underdog West Virginia and won 33-23. The computer forecasted a much closer 15.47-point result.
Ohio State trailed Navy 14-13 in the 3rd quarter before tallying the final 21 points en route to a 34-17 win in the Midshipmen's backyard at Baltimore.
Penn State had a successful debut under new head coach James Franklin by snatching a 26-24 win over UCF in Dublin, Ireland. The Golden Knights were 13.31-point computer favorites, projected to finish the regular season 12-0, and were ranked 12th on opening day in my rankings. But Penn State led throughout until UCF took a 24-23 lead with 1:13 left in the game. The Nittany Lions answered by going 55 yards in 7 plays to set up the game-winning 36-yard field goal.
In an SEC conference game, Auburn dumped Arkansas 45-21 to drop Bret Bielema's SEC record as a head coach to 0-9.
Other noteworthy events from Saturday:
- - Georgia's Todd Gurley has to be the early Heisman front-runner after almost single-handedly beating Clemson. Gurley ran for 198 yards and 3 TD's, and returned a kick-off over 100 yards for another score in the 45-21 win for the Bulldogs.
- - USC might be fine on the field, after all. Despite all the negative publicity surrounding CB Josh Shaw (Claimed to sprain both ankles saving nephew from drowning only to be caught in the line) and a thin squad ravaged by its previous NCAA probation, the Trojans demolished what was supposed to be a good Fresno State team 52-13. The Bulldogs were projected by the computer to be an 11-1 team with this game as its only loss, but this loss was supposed to be a lot closer (+9.07).
- - Don't hand UCLA the PAC-12 title yet. The Bruins opened with a 28-20 win at one of the worst teams in any Power 5 Conference over the last couple of years. Virginia only allowed 1 offensive TD in the game and had slightly more first downs, passing yards and rushing yards. Preseason Heisman candidate Brett Hundley, the UCLA QB, was largely kept in check.
- - Washington was terrible in its first game under former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen and barely escaped Hawaii with a 17-16 win. Just like UVA vs. UCLA, the Rainbow Warriors looked better in every facet of the stat sheet except the final score.
- - Texas, in its first game under Charlie Strong, looked strong against a North Texas that went 9-4 a year ago. The Longhorns held UNT to 8 first downs and 94 total yards in a 38-7 romp.
- Northwestern was a 25.22-point computer home choice over Cal, but lost 31-24.
- - Old Dominion, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State all made their FBS debuts on Saturday. Georgia Southern made the most noise, leading N.C. State until the final 1:34 when the Wolfpack won the game 24-23 on a 35-yard TD pass. Appy State, which upset Michigan in 2007 when the Mountaineers were in the FCS, was whipped 52-14 in its FBS debut at "The Big House". Meanwhile, Old Dominion opened with a win vs. FCS Hampton 41-28.
- - UAB scored one of the weekend's most impressive, yet under-the-radar wins. In what was basically expected to be a toss-up game, the Blazers scored a 48-10 demolition of Troy to hand Trojan head coach Larry Blakeney one of the worst losses in his 23+ seasons at the southeastern Alabama school.
- Weather caused delayed starts or interruptions to several games on Saturday. In Gainesville, lightning and heavy rain forced the complete postponement of the Idaho-Florida contest.
On Sunday, Baylor blanked SMU 45-0 and Tennessee looked far better than expected in a 38-7 rout of Utah State.
In the lone Monday night contest, Louisville handed Miami (Fla.) a 31-13 defeat. It was the second win for the Cards over the 'Canes in the past two games for each school. The 'Ville concluded last season with a 36-9 annihilation of Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. This was the first ACC contest for the Cardinals and the first game in Bobby Petrino's second stint as head coach at the U Of L. Miami was the preseason pick to win the ACC Coastal division, but starts off 0-1 in conference play. Louisville is in the Atlantic division.
It didn't take long for the first big upset of the 2014 college football season to be registered. Texas A&M did it in the first big clash of the season as the 7th-ranked (CCR Top 128) Aggies rolled 52-28 over No. 2 South Carolina on Thursday night in Columbia.
The computer didn't pick the outright upset, but it did forecast the against-the-spread (ATS) victory, just as it also predicted Louisiana-Monroe's upset of Wake Forest and Rutgers' win over Washington State in Seattle.
The Warhawks were 17-10 home victors over the 2-point favorite Demon Deacons in Monroe, and the Scarlet Knights were 41-38 winners over the 8-point favorite Cougars.
Kenny Hill set Aggie team records for completions (44) and passing yards (511) as his team toppled a South Carolina team that was lauded as, perhaps, the best in Gamecock history going into the season. My own rankings had South Carolina as the preseason favorite to win the SEC title, but Texas A&M never trailed in the contest. In defense of the computer, it had the Aggies ranked higher than any other preseason prognostication that I could find in any magazine or on any internet site.
The loss by Wake Forest in head coach Dave Clawson's debut (formerly head coach at BGSU) pales in comparison as the computer gave Louisiana-Monroe an 8.49-point edge.
Rutgers was a 5.70-point computer pick, representing a nearly 14-point swing from the oddsmakers who had the Cougars favored by 8. It was the first game for the Scarlet Knights as a Big Ten member.
Another huge upset occurred on Thursday night when Temple absolutely destroyed Vanderbilt 37-7 in Nashville. Vegas had installed the Commodores as 17-point favorites and the computer had the home team winning by 18.60. Vanderbilt turned the ball over 7 times (4 fumbles, 3 picks) to contribute to the unexpected loss in former Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason's head coaching debut. The game was delayed by lightning until 10:52 eastern time.
Thursday night also saw Tulsa down Tulane 38-31 in the first overtime game of the 2014 season. The Golden Hurricane notched the double-overtime win in the American Athletic Conference debut of both schools.
The biggest surprise on Friday night was Bowling Green's 59-31 loss at Western Kentucky. The Falcons were picked to go 11-1 and win the MAC, and were even a preseason choice to upset Wisconsin in Madison on September 20. However, the computer did have BGSU not covering the 7.5-point spread so at least it got something out of it.
The computer nailed another upset when Colorado State rallied for a 31-17 over Colorado in Denver. And the computer also showed well by forecasting only a 4.01-point loss by UTSA at a Houston team that was favored by 13.5. Larry Coker's Roadrunners won that game 27-7.
The ACC, which already had taken a hit with Wake Forest's loss at UL-M on Thursday, almost took a bigger hit as Syracuse needed double-overtime to edge FCS member Villanova 27-26 on a failed two-point conversion by the Wildcats to end the game. And on Saturday, N.C. State needed a late score for a 24-23 win over Georgia Southern in the latter school's FBS debut.
FBS vs. FCS:
FBS schools were 44-2 (.957) in FBS-FCS matches for the weekend and are now 875-83 (.913) since 2003.
The two FCS wins went to Bethune-Cookman (14-12 over FIU) and North Dakota State (34-14 over Iowa State). It was the 5th straight win over a FBS team for North Dakota State, the three-time defending FCS champions. Since 2010, NDSU has won road games at 2010 at Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas St., and now Iowa St. The Cyclones opened last season with a FCS loss to Northern Iowa.
This year, 103 FBS schools have scheduled a total of 108 games against FCS foes. Appalachian State, Army, Ball State, Buffalo and FIU each play 2 such games.
Florida State - 17-game winning streak (FBS longest). Won 37-31 vs. Oklahoma State on Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
Michigan State - 11 game-winning streak. Won 45-7 vs. Jacksonville State on Friday.
UCF - Had won 9 straight overall before losing 26-24 to Penn State in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday.
Northern Illinois - 27-game home winning streak (FBS longest) in true home games (at own venue); 15-game road winning streak (FBS longest) in true road games (at opponent venue). Won 55-3 vs. FCS member Presbyterian on Thursday night.
LSU - Won 46 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Won 28-24 vs. Wisconsin in Houston on Saturday.
Georgia State - Had lost 16 straight (tied for FBS longest) before defeating FCS member Abilene Christian 38-37 in the first game of the 2014 college football season on Wednesday night in Atlanta.
Miami (Ohio) - Lost 17 straight (tied for FBS longest). Lost 42-27 vs. Marshall on Saturday.
Kansas - Lost 24 straight road games (FBS longest). Hosts FCS member SE Missouri St. on Sept. 6.
Kentucky - Lost 16 straight conference games (FBS longest). Won 59-14 vs. FCS member Tennessee-Martin on Saturday.