Unbeaten Ranks Shrink With Losses By USC, Oregon, Iowa and Missouri
by Mike Mitchell
Six teams lost for the first time this season, led by a triple-whammy in the PAC-10 where USC, Oregon and Stanford all went down to defeat as college football continues to serve up one dramatic weekend after another.
Iowa, Missouri and Cincinnati also had their dreams of a perfect season come to a screeching halt.
California upset Southern California 34-31 in triple overtime on Tyler Frederickson's 34-yard field goal after Ryan Killeen missed a 39-yarder for the Trojans. The teams traded touchdowns in the second overtime after each failed to score in the first extra period when the Trojans fumbled and Frederickson had his field goal blocked.
The Golden Bears opened up a 21-7 halftime lead but USC bounced back to tie it at 21 in the third quarter. The teams only managed to trade field goals in the final period with Killeen sending it into overtime for USC on a 33-yard field goal with 16 seconds left in regulation.
Oregon never knew what hit them in a 55-16 loss to Washington State at Autzen Stadium. The Cougars scored 17 points during a 3-minute span in the middle of the first quarter. A 40-yard interception return for a touchdown, and a blocked punt return for another score, added to the onslaught in the second period as Washington State piled up a 38-2 lead by halftime. Two Duck quarterbacks combined to throw seven interceptions. Starter Kellen Clemens tossed four picks and Jason Fife was charged with three.
Stanford was removed from the undefeated ranks by Washington, 28-17. Cody Pickett completed 20-of-33 passes for 231 yards and 2 TDs for the Huskies, but he also fumble twice.
The PAC-10 entered the weekend with three teams sporting unblemished records. Now, they have none.
Michigan State put a halt to Iowa's undefeated season with a 20-10 win in East Lansing. Hawkeye Heisman candidate Fred Russell had 123 yards rushing but was kept out of the end zone by Michigan State. The Spartans' Jeff Smoker threw 44 passes without an interception, completing 28 for 225 yards and two scores.
Kansas doused Missouri's hopes for a perfect campaign with a convincing 35-14 win in Lawrence. It was the first Big 12 victory for the Jayhawks in two seasons, snapping their 14-game losing streak to conference teams. They had not beaten a Big 12 opponent since October 6, 2001 win they upended Texas Tech. Kansas improved to 4-1 over-all and is 1-0 in Big 12 play.
Miami (Ohio) jumped to a 28-0 lead on Cincinnati and hung on for a 42-37 victory to hand the Bearcats their first loss. Cincinnati still trailed 42-16 with just over eight minutes left in the game before mounting a furious rally.
Alabama should have sent Arkansas home with a loss, but the Tide squandered a 21-point lead at home in the third quarter and the Razorbacks eventually won in two overtimes, 34-31.
Arkansas tied the game with just 27 seconds remaining in regulation when Matt Jones hooked up with Richard Smith on a 3-yard touchdown pass. Chris Balseiro's 19-yard field goal won it in the second overtime for the Hogs after both teams missed earlier opportunities to nail down the win.
Arkansas' first overtime possession ended with an interception in the end zone, but the Tide followed with a missed field goal. Alabama threw an interception on their second overtime possession and the Razorbacks took advantage.
South Carolina had the chance to knock Tennessee off of its' perfect perch. But after playing to a 17-17 draw at the end of regulation, the Gamecocks only managed a field goal on their first overtime possession. The unbeaten Volunteers answered with a 4-yard Casey Clausen touchdown pass to James Banks for the 23-20 win.
Ohio State gained a rare comfortable win, besting Northwestern 20-0 with national championship quarterback Craig Krenzel on the sidelines. Scott McMullen was 16-of-25 for 165 yards with a TD and an INT for the Buckeyes.
Virginia Tech remained unbeaten with a 47-13 rout of UConn by scoring six touchdowns five different ways - rushing, passing, blocked punt return, kick-off return and interception return. Heisman candidate running back Kevin Jones gained 108 yards and a TD on just 12 carries in two quarters of action. Terry Caulley, UConn's darkhorse Heisman candidate and the nation's leading rusher heading into Saturday's games, was forcibly removed with a knee injury in the first quarter.
Minnesota stayed undefeated with a 20-14 win at Penn State, handing the Nittany Lions their second loss at Beaver Stadium this season.
Air Force downed rival BYU 24-10 as the Falcons remain unbeaten at 5-0 and improved to 2-0 in the Mountain West. Air Force won its first six games last season before losing five of its last seven.
Louisville's 21-12 win over Temple gave the Cardinals a 4-0 record under first-year head coach Bob Petrino.
The MAC's Northern Illinois got its third win over a BCS conference school this year when the Huskies knocked off Iowa State 24-16 to stay undefeated at 4-0. NIU running back Michael Turner had 128 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. He also had 2 pass receptions for 29 yards. Turner had 156 yards rushing against Alabama and 90 in their win over Maryland.
TCU won 13-10 at Arizona in overtime as the Horned Frogs kept their record unblemished at 4-0. Nick Browne kicked a 24-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10 with 1:07 left in regulation. His 34-yard field goal provided the win in overtime after Arizona's possession ended with an interception on just their second play.
Florida State improved to 5-0 over-all and 4-0 in the ACC with a 56-7 romp past Duke to send the Blue Devils to their 27th straight conference loss.
LSU is 5-0, their best start since 1973, after destroying Mississippi State 41-6. The Bayou Bengals have won four straight over the Bulldogs, and eleven of the last twelve. Jackie Sherrill's team has lost nine straight SEC games, second only to Vanderbilt's 19 consecutive SEC losses (Vandy travels to Mississippi State next Saturday, 10/4).
On Thursday night, Nebraska converted two quick Southern Miss turnovers and a shanked punt into 17 points in the first 7 minutes, 40 seconds of the game and coasted to a 38-14 victory. In all, USM committed five turnovers and a litany of stupid mistakes. Jammal Lord threw touchdown passes of 44 and 43 yards, and ran for a score, as the Cornhuskers improved to 4-0.
Twenty teams entered the weekend undefeated. Just fourteen remain. Oklahoma and Miami (Fla.) were both idle.
The MAC drew a lot of attention last week with wins by Northern Illinois, Marshall and Toledo over Alabama, Kansas State and Pittsburgh. NIU flexed its muscles again Saturday with the win over Iowa State, and Miami (Ohio) did the conference proud with its win over Cincinnati. But Marshall and Toledo went from windshield to bug.
Troy State stole Marshall's thunder with a 33-24 upset of their own. And Toledo was buried 34-7 at Syracuse as Walter Reyes ran for 169 yards and 2 scores.
Meanwhile, Alabama was not the only SEC team to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Kentucky blew a 21-9 home lead over Florida in the final 4 minutes and 46 seconds and fell to the Gators 24-21. The Wildcats led 21-3 at the end of three periods. The Florida victory was huge for coach Ron Zook and his young team which has faced mounting criticism in the wake of a 2-2 start.
It wasn't quite as bad as Alabama and Kentucky's collapses, but Wake Forest also blew it in their ACC clash with Virginia. The Cavaliers got field goals of 53 and 38 yards from Connor Hughes in the last 1 minute and 51 seconds of the game to score the improbable 27-24 comeback win. Hughes kicked the game-winner with just 11 seconds left after Demon Deacon quarterback Cory Randolph was intercepted while trying to drive Wake Forest back down the field after Hughes' 53-yarder had tied the game at 24-24.
Utah beat Colorado State 28-21 in unconventional fashion. The Rams appeared to be trying to run down the clock and set up an attempt at a game-winning field goal when the Utes' Arnold Parker had a CSU fumble pop right into his hands. He took it back 80 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 1:33 remaining. Utah intercepted a Colorado State pass on their next possession and ended their five-game losing streak to the Rams.
Elsewhere, Michigan got 112 yards rushing from Chris Perry on 20 carries en route to a 31-17 win over Indiana. John Navarre threw two TD passes but also got picked twice. The Hoosiers closed a 31-3 deficit with two touchdowns in the final 4 minutes and 12 seconds of the game.
N. C. State Heisman candidate, quarterback Philip Rivers, was 25-of-33 for 432 yards and a touchdown as the Wolfpack outscored state rival North Carolina 47-34 in Raleigh.
Pittsburgh rebounded from the loss to Toledo last week with a 37-26 win at Texas A&M. Larry Fitzgerald, the Panthers' Heisman candidate wide receiver, caught 7 passes for 134 yards and 3 TDs.
Notre Dame suffered its third straight loss, losing to Purdue 23-10. The Irish dropped to 1-3 with their only win coming in the season-opener when they rallied past Washington State for a 29-26 overtime victory.
Wisconsin ran away from Illinois, 38-20. Dwayne Smith, filling in for preseason Heisman hopeful Anthony Davis, rushed for 193 yards on 34 carries and scored three times for the Badgers. Lee Evans caught four passes for 45 yards as Wisconsin only threw the ball fourteen times the entire game.
Kent State spit in the face of odds makers who made the Golden Flashes a 10-point home underdog to UCF. They also ran all over the Golden knights with a 36-16 win as Kent State moved to 2-0 in the conference and 3-2 over-all.
Memphis trailed Arkansas State 10-3 at halftime but used a 21-0 fourth quarter, and a 35-6 second half blitz, for the 38-16 win. The non-conference victory pushed Memphis to a 3-1 start.
Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt jumped on the overtime bandwagon. Their game was one of five that needed extra time to settle the score and the Yellow Jackets prevailed 24-17. Trailing 17-10 late in the game, true freshman quarterback Reggie Ball threw a touchdown pass to John Paul Foschi with 32 seconds left in regulation. Ball then scored on a 25-yard run on the first play of overtime. The Commodores' ensuing possession ended with an interception.
Pass It On, And On, And On, And....: Texas Tech's B.J. Symons and Mississippi's Eli Manning combined for 1,070 yards passing, 9 TDs and 3 INTs in a 49-45 victory by the Red Raiders in Oxford. Ole Miss took a 22-21 lead just before halftime and didn't relinquish it until there was only 1 minute and 40 seconds left in the game when Symons hit Carlos Francis on a 9-yard scoring pass. It was Francis' ninth catch of the game and second touchdown pass as he hauled in 184 yards worth of B.J.'s tosses. Texas Tech had four receivers catch at least eight passes, and three went over the 100-yard mark.
Symons' totals: 44-of-64 for 661, 6 TDs, 1 INT
Manning's totals: 29-of-49 for 409 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs
Oh, by the way, Symons was also the leading rusher for Texas Tech with 20 yards and 1 TD on 6 carries. And Francis was second with 1 run for 13 yards. The Red Raiders only ran the ball 16 times the entire game.
Symons threw for 586 yards and ran for 32 in last week's loss at N.C. State. In just four games, Symons has 1,955 yards passing and 65.3 completion percentage with 16 TDs and 4 INTs.
Four 1-A teams took on division 1-AA opponents, and one lost as Montana beat Idaho 41-28. The Vandals are 0-5 this season after going 2-10 last year and have lost four-in-a-row to the 1-AA Grizzlies.
Tracking the new coaches: There were eighteen head coaching changes in the off-season and sixteen of them have at least one win this year.
Two are still winless - John Thompson at East Carolina (which was idle this week) and Charlie Weatherbie at UL-Monroe (lost 28-10 to Utah State).
Bob Petrino still has not suffered a loss since taking over for John L. Smith at Louisville. Petrino is 4-0 after the Cardinals' 21-12 win over Temple.
John L. Smith, by the way, is at Michigan State where his team is 4-1 after the Spartans put an end to Iowa's undefeated season.
Unbeaten Ranks: 14 teams remain unbeaten in 1-A football.
The SEC has three with Arkansas, LSU and Tennessee. Four conferences have two each - the Big 12 with Nebraska (North) and Oklahoma (South); the Big 10 with Iowa and Ohio State; the Big East with Miami and Virginia Tech; CUSA with Louisville and TCU.
Florida State is the only unbeaten team in the ACC. Air Force is flying solo in the Mountain West. Northern Illinois is the last one standing in the MAC.
Every PAC-10 and WAC team has at least one loss. Every Independent team has a minimum of two losses, and every Sun Belt conference member has at least three losses.