FSU Makes a Field Goal; Three 1-AA Teams Pull Upsets
by Mike Mitchell
Not wide right. Not pulled left. This time, it went straight down the middle.
The opening week of the 2006 college football season is in the books after Florida State and Miami concluded the Labor Day weekend with another close battle in their state and ACC rivalry on Monday night.
After trailing 10-3 at halftime, the Seminoles rallied in the second half to defeat the Hurricanes for the second year in-a-row, 13-10. Gary Cismesia's 33-yard field goal with 8:06 left put Florida State on top for good and the defense did the rest, limiting Miami to just 17 total yards in the second half and 2 yards rushing for the entire game.
Miami's defense wasn't shabby, either, holding FSU to just 1 yard rushing on 25 attempts. But Drew Weatherford, much maligned for an awful performance in last year's win in Tallahassee, was aided by some terrific pass catches as he threw for 175 yards.
Bobby Bowden had never beaten Miami when trailing at halftime in eight previous tries. It was Florida State's first win over the 'Canes in Miami since 1998 as Cismesia overcame the jinx that has doomed Seminole kickers against Miami numerous times in the past.
There were not many surprises in the first 72 games played. A few of the top teams came away with narrower-than-expected victories. 1-AA teams notched wins over 1-A opponents in 3 of the 29 matchups. Last year, 1-AA teams won 2 of 54 such games.
The 1-AA winners were Richmond (a 13-0 shutout of Duke), Portland State (a 17-6 defeat of New Mexico) and Montana State (a 19-10 winner over Colorado).
All three of those 1-AA teams are expected top contend for the national title this year.
Colorado's loss was, perhaps, the most shocking and the most damaging. It was Dan Hawkins' first game as head coach of the Buffaloes after spending five seasons at Boise State where he went 53-10, including a 31-2 slate at home. With the Broncos, he lost his very first home game on September 8, 2001 to Washington State and didn't lose another until his final game at BSU, a loss to Boston College in last year's MPC Computers Bowl on December 28, 2005.
You could almost hear the naysayers immediately striking up the refrain, "I told you a WAC coach didn't belong in the Big 12." But tell that to Dirk Koetter, Hawkins predecessor at Boise State, who replaced Bruce Snyder at Arizona State in 2001 after spending just three seasons leading the Broncos.
New Mexico's loss to Portland State dealt a blow to the computer's projection of a 9-3 campaign for Rocky Long and the Lobos. The loss spoiled the debut of Long's offensive coordinator Bob Toledo, the former UCLA head coach who was replaced by Karl Dorrell following an 8-5 campaign in 2003.
As for Duke, their loss to the Spiders was their ninth consecutive defeat and they've only won nine games this century (9-59). However, it was the first time they fell to Richmond since 1926 and their first loss to a 1-AA team since 1978. It also was Richmond's first victory in a season-opener since 2000 and only their second win over Duke in 11 tries.
While we're dealing from the bottom of the deck, we may as well throw the Temple-Buffalo game on the table. The Owls and Buffaloes played each other in what could have been labeled the "Futility Bowl" last Thursday night. They entered the game with a combined record of 7-61 over the last three years but both schools are trying to turn things around with new head coaches - Turner Gill at Buffalo and Al Golden at Temple. Neither team gave much reason to expect that a new leaf would be turned over anytime soon as Buffalo eked out a 9-3 overtime victory. The Bulls failed to score on three drives inside the Owls' 20, missing two short field goals. Temple couldn't convert a 1st down at the Buffalo 3 yard-line into a touchdown and had to settle for a game-tying field goal. The Owls' overtime possession ended on an intercepted pass.
Coupled with New Mexico State's 30-15 win over 1-AA SE Louisiana, Temple now owns the nation's longest losing streak at 13 games.
New Mexico State had lost 13 straight after going 0-12 in Hal Mumme's first season. Mumme resurrected his career as the man who guided SE Louisiana's football program back to life, then found a job in 1-A again with the Aggies. Mumme resigned from Kentucky in February 2001 amidst the revelations of significant NCAA rules violations. After a year-and-half off, Mumme was hired by SE Louisiana which had halted its football program in 1985 due to funding issues. Mumme's team went 5-7 in 2003 and 7-5 in 2004. The Aggies play another 1-AA school on September 16 when they host Texas Southern.
Among the top-ranked teams in the CCR Top 119:
- No. 8 Louisville may have endured the biggest loss. Though the Cardinals romped over state rival Kentucky 59-28, their national title hopes possibly took a hit when Heisman Trophy candidate running back Michael Bush broke his leg early in the third quarter.
- No. 1 Texas broke-in redshirt freshman quarterback Colt McCoy with a 56-7 demolition of North Texas. The Longhorns host Ohio State next week.
- Arkansas' running back Felix Jones fumbled three times in the first half costing the Razorbacks any chance of doing early damage to No. 2 USC. The Trojans got three TD passes in the second half from new quarterback John David Booty and USC eventually rolled to a 50-14 win. Arkansas was hoping to avenge last year's 70-17 whipping in Los Angeles but couldn't mount a serious challenge even though running back Darren McFadden was a surprise starter. The 2005 SEC Freshman of the Year had dislocated a big toe in a fight outside a club in July.
- No. 3 Virginia Tech easily dispatched of 1-AA Northeastern. Sean Glennon completed 15-of-18 passes for 222 yards and 3 scores for a QB rating of 230.8 in his first start after Marcus Vick was kicked out of school in January. Running back Brandon Ore, taking over for Cedric Humes and Mike Imoh, led the Hokies in rushing yards and receiving yards. The defense pitched the only shutout by a CCR Top 25 team.
- QB Troy Smith and WR Ted Ginn, Jr. performed as expected for No. 4 Ohio State as they combined for scores on the Buckeye's first two drives in a 35-12 win over Northern Illinois as a tune-up for next week's monumental battle at Texas. Ohio State built an early 28-0 second-quarter lead but sputtered the rest of the game. The Buckeyes also allowed the Huskies' Garrett Wolfe to accumulate 171 rushing yards and 114 receiving yards.
- No. 5 Michigan was sporadic in its 27-7 win over Vanderbilt as the Wolverines didn't secure the final margin until there was just 2:11 left in the game.
- No. 6 LSU had no trouble with Louisiana-Lafayette. However, the 45-3 score included the first points scored by the Ragin' Cajuns against the Tigers since 1924. LSU shutout Louisiana-Lafayette 10 straight times by a cumulative score of 542-0. To be fair, the 48-0 win by LSU in 2002 was their first meeting since 1938 and they haven't played at Lafayette since 1916.
- Graham Harrell is the new gunslinger for No. 9 Texas Tech and he did what is expected by a Mike Leach QB, completing 34-of-49 passes for 342 yards and 5 TD's in a 35-3 drubbing of SMU. It was the 11th straight loss by the Mustangs to the Red Raiders who began the year with a different QB for the fifth consecutive season.
- No. 10 Penn State's 34-16 win over Akron wasn't all that impressive as the score was 17-9 in the third quarter. But the final score is a tad misleading, too, as the Zips tightened a 34-9 game on a TD pass with 2:45 left to play. Anthony Morelli is Joe Paterno's new QB and he threw a 46-yard TD strike on his first pass. He tossed two other TD passes but was only 16-of-32 on the day for 206 yards.
- No. 24 California was demolished 35-18 at No. 47 Tennessee.
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
No. 30 Georgia Tech had a 10-0 first-half lead on No. 13 Notre Dame but the Irish shut the Ramblin' Wreck offense down in the second half as the Irish escaped with a 14-10 win. Notre Dame cut the deficit to 10-7 just before halftime and took the lead in the 3rd quarter on a Darrius Walker 13-yard run.
No. 19 TCU trailed No. 87 Baylor 7-0 at halftime. But TCU's backup freshman QB, Marcus Jackson, engineered the 17-7 comeback over their old Southwest Conference rivals with TD passes of 84 and 4 yards after starting QB Jeff Ballard was knocked senseless in the first half.
No. 112 Rice blew the upset bid at home against No. 70 Houston when the Owls surrendered a 30-14 lead late in the third quarter and lost 31-30 in a CUSA game. Kevin Kolb threw two 4th quarter TD passes after a 3rd quarter field goal cut the margin to 30-17. Rice's final drive ended in an interception with well over two minutes left to play to spoil Todd Graham's inaugural game as head coach of the Owls.
No. 38 Toledo missed its two-point conversion in the third overtime as the Rockets lost 45-43 at No. 37 Iowa State. Overtime had been murder on the Cyclones who blew Big 12 North division title opportunities in 2004 and 2005 by losing overtime games to Missouri and Kansas, respectively.
1-AA Illinois State lost 24-23 to No. 60 Kansas State when Redbirds QB Luke Drone was sacked on a two-point conversion try after scoring a touchdown with 3:03 left to play.
Chris Patullo missed an extra point and a field goal as No. 110 FIU lost at No. 102 Middle Tennessee 7-6 on Thursday night. Middle Tennessee gave Rick Stockstill a victory in his inaugural game as head coach.
No. 79 UAB gave No. 22 Oklahoma a surprisingly tough fight, losing in Norman 24-17. After the Blazers took a 17-14 third quarter lead, Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson erased it with a 69-yard catch-and-run on the Sooners' ensuing possession.
No. 73 BYU fell 16-13 at No. 57 Arizona when the Wildcats booted a 48-yard field goal with one second left.
No. 98 East Carolina lost at No. 40 Navy when the Midshipmen ran out the last 4:57 of the clock after the Pirates had cut the lead to the eventual final score of 28-23.
No. 107 Idaho performed well at No. 36 Michigan State in Dennis Erickson's debut as the head coach of the Vandals. Idaho trailed by just a touchdown deep into the fourth quarter before the Spartans kicked the clinching field goal with 30 seconds left to play. Erickson and Michigan State coach John L. Smith coached together at Idaho, Wyoming and Washington State, and each previously held the head coaching job at Idaho.
No. 108 San Jose State closed the gap at No. 84 Washington to 35-29 with 2:03 left but couldn't recover the ensuing onside kick. They finally got the ball back at their own 15 with 36 seconds left with too far to travel and not enough time.
No. 93 Army has only played 7 season-openers on the road in its 123 years of football and it has lost all of them after a 14-6 setback at No. 103 Arkansas State. Conversely, the Indians had not played a season opener at home since 1995 and that was the only time they had won an opening game since moving up to 1-A in 1990.
COMPUTER HITS AND MISSES
The computer was a ridiculous 39-5 (.886) straight up on games involving two 1-A teams but it was a fairly easy week for picking winners. However, it's not so easy to dismiss its 25-19 record against the spread for a winning mark of 56.8 percent.
1-A vs. 1-AA: The NCAA has officially re-named them the Bowl Division (1-A) and the Championship Division (1-AA).
29 teams played 1-AA schools last week and 3 were beaten. The 1-A schools went 52-2 in such games last year. Since the beginning of the 2003 season, the 1-A schools are 190-21 in games played against 1-AA schools.
Over 75 schools took the opportunity of a 12th game to schedule a cupcake opponent during the 2006 season.
USC's 50-14 win over Arkansas was its' 33rd straight regular season victory. The Trojans also own the nation's-best streak of 27 home victories. USC has won 23 straight games against conference foes. USC's streak of 34 straight wins over-all came to an end in a 41-38 loss to Texas in the BCS title game at the Rose Bowl. The 34-game over-all winning streak stands as the longest in PAC-10 history, breaking their own record of 25 games set in 1931-1933.
Texas assumed the nation's longest winning streak at 20 with their national championship Rose Bowl win over USC. They ran that to 21 with Saturday's win over North Texas.
TCU has now won 11 in-a-row after a 17-7 victory over Baylor on Saturday.
Boise State has won 31 consecutive regular season home games after its 45-0 shellacking of 1-AA Sacramento State. The Broncos have never lost a home game to a WAC opponent (20-0).
New Mexico State ended it's nation-leading losing streak at 13 games with a 30-15 victory over 1-AA SE Louisiana.
Temple now owns the nation's longest losing streak - at 13 games - after a 9-3 overtime loss to Buffalo.
The 2006 season introduces 11 coaching changes. Two of the new coaches went head-to-head on opening weekend when Turner Gill and Buffalo beat Al Golden and Temple 9-3 in overtime. We'll track the progress of the new coaches throughout the season.
Boise State, 1-0 under Chris Petersen. Beat 1-AA Sacramento St. 45-0.
Buffalo, 1-0 with Turner Gill. Beat Temple and new coach Al Golden 9-3 in OT.
Colorado, 0-1 under Dan Hawkins. Lost to 1-AA Montana State 19-10.
Idaho, 0-1 under Dennis Erickson. Lost to Michigan State 27-17.
Kansas State, 1-0 under Ron Prince. Beat 1-AA Illinois State 24-23.
Middle Tennessee, 1-0 under Rick Stockstill. Beat FIU 7-6.
Northwestern, 1-0 under Pat Fitzgerald. Beat Miami (Ohio) 21-3.
Rice, 0-1 under Todd Graham. Lost to Houston 31-30.
San Diego State, 0-1 under Chuck Long. Lost to UTEP 34-27.
Temple, 0-1 with Al Golden. Lost to Buffalo's new coach Turner Gill 9-3 in OT.
Wisconsin, 1-0 under Bret Bielema. Beat Bowling Green 35-14.