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College Football Season

Stanford Beats USC; Pitt Humiliates Virginia Tech

Sun Belt's UL-M almost does it again while WKU beats Kentucky

by Dave Congrove
September 15, 2012

Stanford made it four straight wins over USC with its 21-14 victory on Saturday night, just as my Congrove Computer Rankings forecasted. Matt Barkley was picked off twice and threw no touchdown passes as the Cardinal won the PAC-12 cross-division rivalry game for the 5th time in the last 6 meetings. USC's final attempt at a comeback drive ended by tuning the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass on a 4th-and-40 play that was created by 2 penalties and 2 sacks.

The computer also correctly forecasted upsets by Ball State over Indiana (41-39), Western Kentucky over Kentucky (32-31 in OT), and Thursday night's win by Rutgers at USF (23-13). It missed on calls that Memphis would beat MTSU (30-48) and Western Michigan would sink Minnesota (23-28).

While the computer celebrates those upset predictions, it is dismayed that one-half of its projected national title matchup has likely been blown before the season made it out of September. Virginia Tech's experienced defense was burned for 537 yards in a 35-17 pasting by Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. Ranked 15th by the computer heading into the game, Virginia Tech contributed four turnovers as a 13-game winning streak at opposition venues came crashing to a halt. The Hokies are now 0-3 all-time at Heinz Field which opened in 2001. The victory was just the 5th in the last 14 games for No. 94 Pittsburgh as it gained its first win of the season (1-2) and the first ever for new head coach Paul Chryst.

The other half of the computer's preseason BCS title game, Oklahoma, was idle this week. The Sooners are No. 1 in my CCR Top 124.

Among other teams in the computer's top five:
- 2nd-ranked West Virginia routed FCS member James Madison at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

- No. 3 Alabama had little resistance from Arkansas in a 52-0 walkover. The Razorbacks were playing without QB Tyler Wilson who didn't play the second half in last week's fall-from-ahead loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

- 4th-ranked Kansas State earned a tighter-than-expected 35-21 win over visiting North Texas.

- No. 5 Michigan State managed just a lonely field goal, while missing 4 others, in a 20-3 paddling from No. 19 Notre Dame in East Lansing.

Elsewhere, the Big East added to Pitt's win over Virginia Tech with Louisville's 39-34 home win over North Carolina. The Cardinals held off a spirited rally by UNC which trailed 36-7 at the half and 36-14 entering the fourth quarter. The Tar Heels actually had a chance to win it with a late drive that reached the 4-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.

Another ACC team - Florida State - rolled 52-0 over fellow Atlantic Division member Wake Forest in Tallahassee. The Demon Deacons had won four of the previous six meetings, including 35-30 last year in Winston-Salem, but have been blanked by a combined 83-0 in the last two games on Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Georgia Tech obliterated Virginia 56-14 in Atlanta.

Speaking of Louisiana-Monroe, the Warhawks nearly went 2-0 in the SEC with another late rally that took Auburn to overtime. But the magic fell short when a 37-yard field goal was deflected on the opening possession of extended play and the Tigers promptly kicked a 35-yarder for the 31-28 win, their first of the season.

However, the Sun Belt did manage to grab another win over an SEC team with Western Kentucky's 32-31 overtime thriller at Kentucky. Both teams scored touchdowns in the extra period, but WKU added a 2-point conversion on a double-pass that wound up back in the hands of the quarterback. The Hilltoppers led 17-0 at one point in the first half and didn't squander their 24-21 edge until the Wildcats scored on a22-yard pass and run with only 24 ticks remaining in regulation. Western Kentucky has won 9 of its last 11 games with the only losses coming to then-No. 1 LSU last year and then-No. 1 Alabama this season.

Another Sun Belt member, Troy, gave Mississippi State all it wanted. The Trojans lost 30-24 at home to the Bulldogs.

Florida rolled 37-20 at Tennessee by scoring the final 17 points of the game.

Missouri used a late interception in the end zone to thwart an Arizona State comeback and downed the Sun Devils 24-20. ASU trailed 24-7 entering the 4th quarter.

In addition to Michigan State's loss, a 42-yard field goal as time expired lifted Ball State to a 41-39 win at Indiana. The Cardinals led 38-25 before the Hoosiers scored a touchdown with 4:07 to go in the game and added another with 49 seconds remaining. Ball State needed 6 plays to set up Steven Schott's game-winner.

Wisconsin would have dropped a second-straight game to an out-of-conference foe if Utah State hadn't missed a 37-yard field goal as time expired to fall 16-14 to the Badgers in Madison.

Ohio State averted the upset bid by striking for a 72-yard touchdown pass with 3:26 left in the game. A subsequent interception at their own 37 on the ensuing Cal drive denied the Bears once and for all. The Buckeyes prevailed 35-28 as Cal missed three field goals (40, 42, 42) and had a touchdown called back by a penalty.

Nebraska recovered from last week's loss at UCLA by rolling Arkansas State 42-13. Head coach Bo Pellini was taken by ambulance to the hospital at halftime for precautionary tests and released. No information was immediately available on the nature of the tests.

Penn State notched its first win of the Bill O'Brien era with a 34-7 thumping of Navy.

TCU began its Big 12 conference game history with a 20-6 victory at Kansas.

In Saturday's craziest finish, and perhaps the craziest in a long time, the BYU-Utah game appeared to be over twice before it finally was officially in the books. BYU lost the game 24-21, but not until they made one last-ditch frantic foray into Utes territory in the closing seconds. With just 8 ticks left on the clock, a tipped pass floated high in the air and fluttered to the ground as the stadium clock hit :00. Fans stormed the field, only to be ushered back to the sideline when hearing that replay confirmed :01 left. A 51-yard field goal attempt was blocked, but while the Cougars picked it up and attempted to advance it, fans stormed the field again while the play was still in action. The fans had to vacate the field again and a 15-yard penalty was assessed against Utah for the action of the fans. A 36-yard field goal then clunked off the left upright and the fans rushed the field a third time. Maybe three was the lucky number, given that the victory was Utah's third straight in the "Holy War" rivalry.

Utah's win was also quite remarkable because of the fact that it lost two key players with injuries in last week's loss to Utah State - QB Jordan Wynn called it quits after a fourth arm injury and stellar running back John White sat out with a bad ankle.

The college football weekend kicked off Thursday with the computer's correct call of a Rutgers upset at USF. The Scarlet Knights broke away with 10 points in the final 2:48 to post a 23-13 win and send the Bulls to 1-7 in Big East home games under Skip Holtz. USF was 11-6 in Big East home games under Jim Leavitt who was fired after the 2009 season and is now the linebackers coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Kyle Flood is 3-0 as the new head coach at Rutgers.

Friday night's game saw Washington State hang on for a 35-27 win at UNLV as the Cougars improved to 2-1 in head coach Mike Leach's first year at the Pullman school. The Rebels have lost their first 3 games - all at home - to Minnesota, Northern Arizona and Wazzu by a total of 14 points with the first setback handed to them in overtime.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams went 20-1 versus their FCS counterparts to improve to 74-9 (.892) on the season. Since 2003, FBS schools are 712-64 (.918) in such games.

FBS teams have already lost 3 more games this season to FCS schools than in all of 2011 when they were 91-6 (.938).

This year, 101 FBS teams play a total of 108 games against FCS foes. UTSA is in its first year of transitioning from the FCS and plays 4 such schools. Cincinnati, Florida State, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M each play two such games.

This week, Wyoming was the only FBS team to fall victim to an FCS school as the Cowboys dropped a 24-22 decision to Cal Poly which improved to 4-12 versus FBS teams over the last decade.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/15: Cal Poly 24, Wyoming 22
9/8: Sacramento State 30, Colorado 28
9/8: North Dakota State 22, Colorado State 7
9/8: Illinois State 31, Eastern Michigan 17
9/8: Northern Arizona 17, UNLV 14
9/1: Youngstown State 31, Pittsburgh 17
9/1: Tennessee-Martin 20, Memphis 17
8/30: McNeese State 27, Middle Tennessee 21
8/30: Eastern Washington 20, Idaho 3

TCU - 10 straight wins overall. 25 straight conference wins (1 in Big 12). Won 20-6 at Kansas on Saturday.

Northern Illinois - 8 straight conference wins and 16 straight home wins. Won 41-40 at Army on Saturday.

LSU - 20-game home winning streak. 40-game non-conference winning streak. Won 63-14 vs. Idaho on Saturday.

Arkansas State - 8-game conference win streak. Lost 42-13 at Nebraska on Saturday.

Virginia Tech - Ended streak of 13 straight wins in true road games (at opponents' venue). Lost 35-17 at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Tulane - 12 straight losses overall. Idle this week. Hosts Ole Miss on Saturday, September 22.

Akron - Ended overall 10-game losing streak with 66-6 win vs. FCS member Morgan State on Saturday. Still owns streaks of 21 straight road losses and 13 straight FBS games.

Kansas - Lost 12 straight FBS games. Fell 20-6 at home to TCU on Saturday.

New Mexico - 24 straight road losses. Lost 49-14 at Texas Tech on Saturday.

Mississippi - 14 straight conference losses. Lost 66-31 vs. Texas on Saturday.

28 teams have a new college football coach in the FBS ranks this season. Last season saw 24 new head coaches, 10 of whom matched or exceeded the W-L record of their predecessors' final season.

Here are this week's games for each new head coach:

Team Coach Game
Akron Terry Bowden (1-2) Won 66-6 Saturday vs. Morgan State (FCS)
Arizona Rich Rodriguez (3-0) Won 56-0 Saturday vs. South Carolina State (FCS)
Arizona State Todd Graham (2-1) Lost 24-20 Saturday at Missouri
Arkansas John L. Smith (1-2) Lost 52-0 Saturday vs. Alabama
Arkansas State Gus Malzahn (1-2) Lost 42-13 Saturday at Nebraska
Colorado State Jim McElwain (1-2) Lost 40-20 Saturday at San Jose State
FAU Carl Pellini (1-2) Lost 56-20 Saturday at Georgia
Fresno State Tim DeRuyter (2-1) Won 69-14 Saturday vs. Colorado
Hawaii Norm Chow (1-1) Won Saturday vs. Lamar (FCS)
Houston Tony Levine (0-3) Lost 37-6 Saturday at UCLA
Illinois Tim Beckman (2-1) Won 44-0 Saturday vs. Charleston Southern (FCS)
Kansas Charlie Weis (1-2) Lost 20-6 Saturday vs. TCU
Massachusetts Charley Molnar (0-3) Lost 63-13 Saturday at Michigan
Memphis Justin Fuente (0-3) Lost 48-30 Saturday vs. Middle Tennessee
Mississippi Hugh Freeze (2-1) Lost 66-31 Saturday vs. Texas
New Mexico Bob Davie (1-2) Lost 49-14 Saturday at Texas Tech
North Carolina Larry Fedora (1-2) Lost 39-34 Saturday at Louisville
Ohio State Urban Meyer (3-0) Won 35-28 Saturday vs. California
Penn State Bill O'Brien (1-2) Won 34-7 Saturday vs. Navy
Pittsburgh Paul Chryst (1-2) Won 35-17 Saturday vs. Virginia Tech
Rutgers Kyle Flood (3-0) Won 23-13 Thursday at USF
Southern Miss Ellis Johnson (0-2) Lost 24-14 Saturday vs. East Carolina
Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin (1-1) Won 48-3 Saturday at SMU
Toledo Matt Campbell (2-1) Won 27-15 Saturday vs. Bowling Green
Tulane Curtis Johnson (0-2) Idle this week. Hosts Ole Miss on Saturday, 9/22.
UAB Garrick McGee (0-2) Lost 49-6 Saturday at South Carolina
UCLA Jim Mora (2-0) Won 37-6 Saturday vs. Houston
Washington State Mike Leach (2-1) Won 35-27 Friday at UNLV


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