Upsets Will Rock The Rankings; Buckeyes Escape In Overtime
by Mike Mitchell
Texas, Colorado and Wisconsin were among the top teams bitten by the upset bug on Saturday. Ohio State , meanwhile, was taken to overtime by N.C. State before the Buckeyes prevailed in yet another one of their patented close calls. And Florida State had to rally in the fourth quarter to put down Georgia Tech's upset bid.
What is most remarkable about the flurry of upsets is that they occurred on the on the favorites' home field.
In Austin, Arkansas knocked off Texas, 38-28. The former rivals in the defunct Southwest Conference were battling each other for the first time since Arkansas' 27-6 win in the 2000 SBC Cotton Bowl. It was their first regular season meeting since 1991 when the Razorbacks prevailed by a 14-13 tally. Texas leads the series, 54-21, but the Razorbacks have now captured three straight and the Longhorns have not defeated their border rivals since a 49-17 victory in 1990. The computer said Texas would not cover the spread. Arkansas entered the game ranked just 41 in the Coaches Poll and 33 in the AP. The computer had the Razorbacks ranked 12th.
In Wisconsin, the Badgers lost to UNLV 23-5. The Rebels held Wisconsin to 58 yards rushing and converted five Badger turnovers into a monumental upset. Wisconsin RB Anthony Davis entered the contest with 414 yards rushing in two games but left early with an ankle injury after picking up 11 yards on 2 rushes. WR Lee Evans was limited to two catches for 58 yards. Jamaal Brimmer led UNLV's defense with a fumble return for a touchdowns and set up two more scores with interceptions. He also recorded two of UNLV's eight sacks. Odds makers listed Wisconsin as a 20-point pick and the computer supported that with a suggested 22-point margin. After all, this was the same UNLV team that lost to 22 points Kansas last week.
Another Big Ten team, Michigan State, fell on Saturday to Louisiana Tech. Luke McCown hit D.J. Curry with an 11-yard TD pass with just 2 seconds remaining for the 20-19 upset. The computer listed the Spartans as only a 1-point favorite, far below the odds makers spread of 11.
Washington State romped over Colorado 47-26 in Boulder. The Cougars jumped out to a 20-6 first quarter lead and extended it to 44-13 midway through the third quarter. Matt Kegel threw three TD passes for WSU.
Two CUSA teams upset Big East teams. Ironically, both are teams that are being considered by the Big East to replace Miami and Virginia Tech who begin play in the ACC next year.
Cincinnati upset West Virginia 15-13 in Morgantown, as I suggested they might in my pregame column. The computer lost the game straight up but notched another ATS victory.
Louisville upset Syracuse in the Carrier Dome 30-20. It is the first time in four meetings that the Cardinals have downed the Orangemen.
Purdue won at Wake Forest, 16-10, in a mild upset. Wake was a narrow odds makers' favorite while the computer tabbed Purdue by 2.
The computer also picked Kansas' 42-35 win at Wyoming. Odds makers had listed the Cowboys as a 4-1/2-point favorite, but the computer liked the Jayhawks by 1. Wyoming fell behind 42-21 before a spirited fourth quarter comeback bid fell short.
Troy State won 20-9 at UAB. The Trojans were 10-1/2 point underdogs by the odds makers. The computer projected the Blazers to win by 16.
Tulane scored their upset win at home when Barrett Pepper kicked a 32-yard field goal with a minute left to lift the Green Wave past Mississippi State, 31-28, as the Bulldogs squandered a 14-point fourth quarter lead.
The upset trend began on Friday night, just as it did last week with Fresno State's upset of Oregon State. This time the Friday night jinx hit Marshall with conference rival Toledo doing the honors, 24-17. The Thundering Herd lost in Huntington for just the sixth time in their last 101 home games and only the second loss in 52 home games in Bob Pruett's seven years as head coach.
Ohio State is falling short of impressing anyone that they are the best team in the country, but you can certainly argue that the Buckeyes are the most resilient. After narrowly beating San Diego State 16-13 last week, Ohio State was pushed to triple-overtime by N. C. State.
The Buckeyes pulled out a 44-38 home victory when T.A. McClendon was stopped by Will Allen at the 1/2-yard line on fourth down. It was Allen's 100-yard touchdown on an interception return that provided Ohio State the winning margin in last week's tight game with the Aztecs.
The Buckeyes have scored nine of their nation-leading seventeen straight wins by 7 points or fewer. What's more, eight of their last ten victories have been by a touchdown or less.
In Tallahassee, Georgia Tech stared prosperity in the face and promptly shot it. The Yellow Jackets built a 13-0 lead and held Florida State scoreless until Chris Rix scored on a 3-yard run mid-way through the fourth quarter. FSU scored the game-winning touchdown with 2:57 remaining when P.K. Sam hauled in a 5-yard scoring toss from Rix for the dramatic 14-13 win.
Florida State was a ridiculous 24-point favorite by the odds makers. The computer had a more realistic line of 16 to win against the spread.
The win pulled Bobby Bowden to within two victories of tying Joe Paterno for the lead among 1-A coaches. Bowden is now 335-96-4. Paterno is 337-102-3.
Eddie Robinson is the all-time leader in Division 1 ("A" or "AA") with a record of 408-65-15.
Bowden became the all-time leader for victories against schools in his conference, the ACC. He has 86, topping former Virginia coach George Welsh's 85.
Top-ranked Oklahoma had no trouble with Fresno State, dismantling the Bulldogs 52-28 in Norman. The Sooners raced to a 38-0 halftime lead. Jason White threw four TD passes for the winners.
Miami pulled away from East Carolina in the second half for a 38-3 victory. The Hurricanes won for the 37th time in their last 38 games. They've won 24 straight at home.
Southern California went up 52-13 on Hawaii in the third quarter and eased to a 61-32 win. The Warriors managed to rack up over 450 yards against the Trojans' vaunted defense, but about half of that yardage came in the fourth quarter and 12 of the Warriors' points came in the final 1:48 of the game.
Michigan obliterated Notre Dame, 38-0. Chris Perry scored four TDs, 3 rushing and 1 receiving, for the Wolverines as he gained 134 yards on the ground and added four pass receptions for another 42 yards.
Georgia had no trouble taking care of South Carolina 31-7 in a game that included a 44-yard return for a touchdown off of a Gamecocks on-side kick with :44 left to play.
Kansas State spotted 1-AA UMass a 7-0 first quarter lead before storming to a 38-7 victory with QB Ell Roberson on the bench. RB Darren Sproles had 163 yards and 3 TD's on 29 carries.
Pittsburgh shook off a 14-14 halftime tie with Ball State by scoring 21 points in the third quarter to snare a 42-21 home win over the MAC team from Muncie, Indiana.
Iowa manhandled rival Iowa State 40-21 to snap a five-game losing streak to the Cyclones.
Auburn, which had only scored three points in its first two games combined, exploded for a 45-7 stomping of SEC foe Vanderbilt.
Southern Miss beat Memphis 23-6 in a key won a key CUSA game. The win improved the Golden Eagles' conference mark to 2-0. It was the CUSA opener for the Tigers and the loss comes on the heels of a big win over Ole Miss last week.
Nebraska improved to 3-0 with an 18-10 win over Penn State in Lincoln.
Brigham Young got past New Mexico, 10-7, in the Mountain West opener for both teams.
Baylor topped SMU 10-7 to end their nine-game losing streak.
Fifteen 1-A teams took on division 1-AA opponents, and only one lost. Colgate destroyed Buffalo, 38-15. It was the seventh win of the season for lower-division schools over 1-A teams and runs the Bulls' losing streak to 13, worst in the nation.
Several other 1-AA teams came close this weekend.
UCF tip-toed past Florida Atlantic 33-29. FAU is coached by Howard Schnellenberger who led Miami to their first national championship. The Owls defeated 1-A Middle Tennessee 20-19 in their season opener.
Central Michigan downed 1-AA Eastern Kentucky 42-41 when the Chippewas scored with 17 seconds left after falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter.
Got Victory?: Karl Dorrell picked up his first win as head coach at UCLA with a little help from Illinois when they missed a game-tying 43-yard field goal with 27 seconds left. The Bruins prevailed 6-3.
Guy Morriss is in the win column at Baylor with a 10-7 home win against SMU.
Steve Kragthorpe earned his first win with Tulsa, whipping 1-AA Texas State 41-15.
Only John Thompson (East Carolina) and Charlie Weatherbie (UL-Monroe) have yet to pick up a win out of the season's 18 new head coaches.
Who's Afraid Of the BCS: I reported in my pregame column that non-BCS schools went 6-14 last week against BCS programs. This weekend there were 21 such match-ups and the non-BCS schools went 7-14.
Unbeaten Ranks Dwindling Fast: Only 29 teams are left with unblemished records in 1-A football. Florida State is the only unbeaten team in the ACC. Air Force is flying solo in the Mountain West and Boise State is the lone unbeaten team in the WAC. Every Sun Belt conference member lost its opener. Notre Dame and UConn both lost Saturday so all of the four Independent teams have at least one loss.
The Big 12 still has six teams (half of its membership) without a loss while the Big 10, SEC and PAC-10 each have four. The Big East and CUSA are next in line with three each. The MAC has two.