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'Bama, Kentucky Win Thrillers

by Mike Mitchell
September 15, 2007

Alabama scored the game-winning touchdown that sunk Arkansas, 41-38, with just 8 seconds left in the game. Kentucky delivered its blow to Louisville with 28 seconds left, but the 40-34 win wasn't secured until Louisville's Hail Mary reception on the last play of the game came up eleven yards short of a touchdown.

The Tide benefited from an interference call against the Razorbacks that put the ball inside the 15-yard line. Moments later, 'Bama gained valuable time to organize when officials stopped the clock to measure for a first down when the ball was marked noticeably short.  The winning points came on a 3-yard touchdown catch by Mark Caddell from John Parker Wilson, who had four TD passes in the game.

Alabama had lost three of the last four meetings with Arkansas, including a 1-point defeat last year in Fayetteville when it missed the extra point on the first possession of a second overtime. The Crimson Tide nearly gave this one away with an interception and a fumble by Wilson helping them blow all of a 31-10 lead that they held late in the third quarter. But Wilson recovered to engineer the game-winning, 74-yard drive.

Kentucky's win was its first over Louisville since 2002, and its first over a Top 10 opponent since 1977. Steve Johnson scored the winning touchdown when he got behind the Cardinal pass coverage for a 57-yard strike from Andre Woodson. Louisville had just taken the lead with 1:45 left on Anthony Allen's 2-yard run at the end of an 84-yard drive.

The lead changed hands seven times in the game. Unofficial stats had each teams' first downs and total yardage nearly identical with Louisville converting one more first down (30-29) and gaining 12 more yards (468-456).

Ironically, for the second consecutive week, the winning quarterback of an upset was featured on collegefootballpoll.com's front page leading up to the game.  Last week, USF's Matt Grothe was featured and the Bulls upset Auburn. Sports Illustrated can keep their front page jinx - looks like we may have a front-page "good omen" for the featured player. In case anyone is wondering, Georgia QB Matt Stafford was featured in week one prior to the Bulldogs' win over Oklahoma State in the opener.

The Sun Belt Conference flexed a little muscle this weekend, scoring two upsets. Following Troy's Friday night win over Oklahoma State, FAU held on for a 42-39 home win over Minnesota. The victories were the Sun Belt's first against non-conference opponents this year after going 0-15 in the first two weeks. The Owls took an early 35-14 lead, then withstood a Golden Gopher rally. Florida Atlantic secured the win with an interception in its own territory with just seconds left to play.

Friday night's win by Troy was an upset on paper. But if you saw how the two teams played, the Trojans were clearly better than Oklahoma State.  Troy improved to 17-0 in home openers under Larry Blakeney with a 41-23 rout of the Cowboys.

Undoubtedly, the strangest game of the day has to be UCLA's inexplicable 44-6 loss at Utah. The Utes came into the game with an 0-2 record, having lost to Oregon State and Air Force. The Bruins were 2-0 with wins over Stanford and BYU. Utah was ranked 68th in the latest CCR Top 119 while UCLA was ranked 7th. Utah was 0-8 in its history to UCLA, including last year's 31-10 road loss to the Bruins.

Meanwhile, Texas had all the trouble it wanted from Central Florida as the Knights tried to christen their new stadium with a landmark victory. The inaugural game at the on-campus 45,000-seat facility was a memorable one, but the Longhorns escaped with a 35-32 win.

Florida outscored Tennessee 24-0 in the 4th quarter, en route to a 59-20 rout. The win raised Urban Meyer's record to 16-0 at "The Swamp" while the Vols fell to 6-16 in their last 22 games against Florida.

Ohio State trailed Washington 7-3 at the half, but outscored the Huskies 30-7 after intermission to roll to a 33-14 win. Two interceptions by Buckeye linebacker James Laurinaitis helped fuel the Ohio State surge.

Notre Dame is 0-3 for just the second time in its history after getting whitewashed at Michigan. The last time the Irish started 0-3 was in 2001, and that helped get Bob Davie fired. Notre Dame has lost five straight going back to the end of last season, and still has not scored an offensive touchdown in 2007. Earlier Saturday, it was learned that Demetrius Jones, Notre Dame's starter in the opening day loss to Georgia Tech, had enrolled at Northern Illinois. The Wolverines snapped a four-game losing streak, their longest since 1967.

Auburn lost its second consecutive home game. The Tigers fell to Mississippi State 19-14, giving the Bulldogs just their eighth conference victory since 2001, and only their third conference road win this decade. Auburn lost at home to South Florida in overtime last week.

BYU lost on the road for the second straight week, falling 55-47 at Tulsa. The two quarterbacks each had career-high performances as they combined for over 1,000 passing yards. Max Hall threw for 526 and 4 TD's for BYU, but Paul Smith countered with 454 yards and 5 TD's for the Golden Hurricane.

Also on Saturday, LSU rolled 44-0 over Middle Tennessee State; USC briefly trailed Nebraska 10-7 in the second quarter before piling up a 49-31 win; and Florida State won 16-6 at Colorado.

Boston College improved to 3-0 in the ACC Atlantic Division with a 24-10 win at Georgia Tech. The Eagles are the only school in the country to open with three straight conference games.

Iowa State's 28-yard field goal with 5 seconds left lifted the previously winless Cyclones over state rival Iowa 15-13. Iowa State lost last week to FCS member Northern Iowa 24-13, and dropped its opener 23-14 to Kent State.

New Mexico scored the upset at Arizona, 29-27. The Lobos were 10-point underdogs and had lost four straight to the Wildcats since last defeating them in 1976.

Temple can't buy a break. The Owls appeared to have scored the potential game-winning touchdown on a 4th-down pass with 40 seconds left. However, the play was ruled incomplete on the field and the call was not overturned on replay. As a result, UConn handed Temple its 6th straight loss, 22-17. The Owls have dropped 26 of their last 27 games, 32 of their last 34, and 45 of their last 48.

Virginia Tech broke open a 7-7 halftime game by dominating the second half for a 28-7 home win over Ohio. Head coach Frank Beamer recorded his 200th career victory and freshman quarterback Tyrod Taylor sparkled in his debut as the starting quarterback. Taylor was 18-of-31 for 287 yards and added a 6-yard TD run.

The weekend opened on Thursday with Air Force rallying past TCU, and West Virginia dumping Maryland (Thursday-Friday Post-Game).

UNBEATEN TEAMS
As the list narrows later in the year, we'll help you keep tabs with those teams that are still on track for an undefeated season. Last year, Boise State (13-0) was the only team that accomplished the task.

WINLESS TEAMS
Last week, we saw three of the top four winning streaks come to an end. This week, Duke snapped its 22-game losing streak with a 20-14 victory at Northwestern.

FIU and Notre Dame are the among the schools that have yet to win a game in 2007.

FIU takes over the nation's longest losing streak at 15 games after a 23-9 loss to cross-town rival Miami (Fla.). The game was played at the Orange Bowl, which is serving as the home stadium for both teams this year. FIU is having a new facility built on campus that will be ready for use next season. Last year, the game between these two teams turned into a major brawl that resulted in over 30 player suspensions. Later that season, Larry Coker was fired from Miami and Don Strock resigned from FIU. This year's game was played without altercation as extra security kept an eye on the field and the officials called a tight game. The only real trouble was in the stands where several people were ejected from the stadium.

Duke lost 24-13 at Virginia last week, and plays at Northwestern this week in the "Brain Bowl".

1-A vs. 1-AA
The divisions were re-named late last year. 1-A was given the new moniker of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) while 1-AA was labeled the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

This week, New Hampshire won its third straight game over FBS teams with a 48-35 defeat of Marshall in Huntington. The school took out Rutgers in 2004, and Northwestern last year.

McNeese State rolled over Louisiana-Lafayette 38-17. The school's last victory over a FBS team came in 2002 against Louisiana-Monroe.

The victories by New Hampshire and McNeese State are the fifth and sixth wins for FCS teams over FBS teams this season.

The other earlier wins are:
Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32 (Week 1)
Nicholls State 16, Rice 14 (Week 1)
Northern Iowa 24, Iowa State 13 (Week 2)
Southern Illinois 34, Northern Illinois 31 (Week 2)

Championship subdivision teams were 7-71 in 2006 against their higher-classified brethren.

Bowl subdivision teams are 43-6 this year, and 263-31 (.895) since 2003, in games against lower-division schools.

This season, 78 bowl subdivision teams face schools from the championship subdivision. WAC members New Mexico State and Hawaii double-dip. The Aggies play Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sept. 29 and already defeated Southeastern Louisiana 35-14 in their season-opener. The Warriors, who trounced Northern Colorado 63-6 in their opener, host Charleston Southern on Sept. 22.

STREAKS
Boise State has won 38 consecutive regular season home games after its 24-14 defeat of Wyoming. The Broncos also have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (24-0).

Wisconsin extended the nation's current longest winning streak to 12 games with a 45-31 win over FCS member The Citadel, but the Badgers were unspectacular for the second straight week. Wisconsin barely avoided UNLV's upset bid last week by scoring the winning touchdown with 1:53 remaining.

Florida has won 10 straight after a 59-20 win over Tennessee.

LSU won its 10 straight game, beating Middle Tennessee 44-0.

USC has won a nation's-best 34 consecutive home games after beating Idaho 38-10 in the season-opener. The Trojans, who were idle last week, visit Nebraska this week.

Duke ended the nation's longest losing streak at 22 games over-all, and 24 straight to 1-A teams - with a 20-14 victory at Northwestern.

FIU owns the nation's longest current losing streak at 15 games after its 23-9 loss to Miami (Fla.).

Colorado State has lost 9 straight. The Rams were idle this weekend.

Utah State has also lost 9 straight after falling to Oklahoma 54-3.

N.C. State ended its 9-game losing streak with a 38-17 victory over FCS member Wofford. The Wolfpack still have a 9-game losing streak to FBS schools.

Last week, Illinois snapped an 8-game losing streak with a 21-0 victory over lower-division Western Illinois. This week, the Fighting Illini ended their 8-game losing streak to FBS teams with a 41-20 victory over Syracuse.

NEW COACHES
The 2006 season featured 11 new head coaches. Five led their team to a bowl game.

This year, there are 24 coaching changes for the highest number since 2001 when there were 25.

Four of those new coaches pocketed their first wins over the weekend, but only two did the deed against FBS teams - Stanford's Jim Harbaugh and Iowa State's Gene Chizik. The other two - N.C. State's Tom O'Brien and UAB's Neil Callaway - took advantage of FCS schools.

We'll track the progress of every new coach throughout the season. Here is how they stand, in order, by won-loss record.

Air Force, 3-0 under Troy Calhoun, won at home in overtime on Thursday over TCU 20-17.
Alabama, 3-0 under Nick Saban, won at home over Arkansas 41-38.
Arizona State, 3-0 under Dennis Erickson, won at home over San Diego State 34-13.
Boston College, 3-0 under Jeff Jagodzinski, won at Georgia Tech 24-10.
Cincinnati, 3-0 under Brian Kelly, won at Miami (Ohio) 47-10.
Indiana, 3-0 under Bill Lynch, won at home over Akron 41-24.
Michigan State, 3-0 under Mark Dantonio, won at home over Pitt 17-13.
Tulsa, 2-0 under Todd Graham, won at home over BYU 55-47.
Louisville, 2-1 under Steve Kragthorpe, lost at Kentucky 40-34.
Miami (Fla.), 2-1 under Randy Shannon, won at home over FIU 23-9.
Stanford, 1-1 under Jim Harbaugh, won at home over San Jose State 37-0.
Army, 1-2 under Stan Brock, lost at Wake Forest 21-10.
Central Michigan, 1-2 under Butch Jones, lost at Purdue 45-22.
Idaho, 1-2 under Robb Akey, lost at Washington State 45-28.
Iowa State, 1-2 under Gene Chizik, won at home over state rival Iowa 15-13.
Louisiana Tech, 1-2 under Derek Dooley, lost at California 42-12.
Minnesota, 1-2 under Tim Brewster, lost at FAU at Dolphin Stadium in Miami 42-39.
North Carolina, 1-2 under Butch Davis, lost at home to Virginia 22-20.
N.C. State, 1-2 under Tom O'Brien, won at home over FCS member Wofford 38-17.
UAB, 1-2 under Neil Callaway, won at home over FCS member Alcorn State 22-0.
North Texas, 0-2 under Todd Dodge, was idle.
Tulane, 0-2 under Bob Toledo, lost at Houston 34-10.
FIU, 0-3 under Mario Cristobal, lost at Miami (Fla.) 23-9.
Rice, 0-3 under David Bailiff, lost at Texas Tech 59-24.