Teams Lose For First Time
by Mike Mitchell
The college football week began last Tuesday with 27 undefeated teams. Since then, fifteen have suffered their first loss - Minnesota, Florida, Michigan State, Virginia, Toledo, Washington State, Kansas State, Kansas, Texas-El Paso, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Baylor and Indiana.
In six head-to-head battles of unbeaten teams, two were surprisingly lopsided. Penn State demolished Minnesota 44-14; Alabama crushed Florida 31-3;
Three others went about as expected. Wisconsin controlled Indiana 41-24; and Virginia Tech methodically beat West Virginia 34-17; Texas Tech turned back Kansas 30-17.
The other one went the distance, and then some. Nebraska needed two overtimes to down Iowa State 27-20 and prevent the Cyclones from winning in Lincoln for the first time since 1977.
Michigan State fell 34-31 to rival Michigan in overtime when the Spartans failed to connect on a 37-yard field goal in overtime. That gave Michigan kicker Garrett Rivas a shot at redemption for missing a a 27-yarder with 48 seconds left in regulation. Rivas hit the game-winner from 35 yards out.
Virginia lost 45-33 at Maryland; Toledo was bombed 44-14 earlier in the week at Fresno State.
Washington State, whose 3-0 record had been built against Idaho, Nevada and 1-AA Grambling, was a 44-33 victim at Oregon State. Texas Tech beat Kansas 30-17 to improve to 4-0 after winning their first three games against one of 1-A's two newest members (FIU) and two 1-AA teams (Sam Houston St. and Indiana St.).
Kansas State was no match for Oklahoma as the Sooners kicked the offense into gear, even without Adrian Peterson, for a 43-21 win. Oklahoma State was exposed in front of the Stillwater home folks by Colorado's 34-0 rout.
Vanderbilt was welcomed back to Earth by Middle Tennessee as the Blue Raiders earned their first victory while handling the Commodores their first loss, 17-15, in Nashville (see "Unlikely Domination" below).
UTEP and Baylor exited the unbeaten ranks, too, but went down swinging. The Miners lost at Memphis 27-20 in the final minute. The Bears too Texas A&M into overtime at College Station before submitting to a 16-13 defeat.
Other undefeated teams tried their best to lose, including the nation's consensus top-ranked team. USC trailed Arizona State at the half 21-3 but rallied for a 38-28 win. The Trojans grabbed their first lead with 8:46 left in a wild fourth quarter that saw three lead changes, 28 points scored and two interceptions of ASU quarterback Sam Keller.
Their Los Angeles counterpart, UCLA, also rescued victory from the jaws of defeat. The Bruins secured a 21-17 win over Washington on a 1-yard touchdown with a minute left after the Huskies had led the entire game.
Meanwhile, Missouri stayed with Texas for about a quarter-and-a-half before the Longhorns began pulling away to a 51-20 romp; California put the clamps on Arizona's offense in a 28-0 win; Florida State was never threatened in a 38-14 victory over Syracuse.
The twelve teams that still possess unblemished records are USC, Texas, Virginia Tech, Georgia, UCLA, California, Texas Tech, Alabama, Wisconsin, Penn State, Florida State and Nebraska.
At the other end of the spectrum, four teams joined MTSU in bagging their first wins. Idaho bopped Utah State 27-13; FIU used 1-AA Florida A&M for a 23-6 victory; Navy scored a last-minute 28-21 win at Duke; Louisiana Tech kept New Mexico State winless with a 34-14 win in Ruston.
That leaves just Rice, Buffalo, Ball State, New Mexico State, Army, Florida Atlantic and Temple in the winless category. Army and Rice each lost for the ninth straight time and hold on to the nation's longest current losing streak.
In other key weekend action, Notre Dame brought out the whipping stick on Purdue. The Irish jumped to a 28-0 halftime lead and led 42-14 in the fourth quarter before Purdue tacked on a couple of scores for the final 49-28 margin.
Louisville took advantage of 1-A upstart FAU to rebound from last week's vicious loss at South Florida. The Cardinals took awhile to get going but ultimately strolled to a 61-10 rejuvenating win.
Speaking of South Florida, the Bulls were no match for Miami (Fla.). In a sloppy game, USF committed 5 turnovers in the first half and had less than 100 yards of offense through the first three quarters as the Hurricanes won 27-7. South Florida avoided being shut out for the first time in its short 93-game history by tallying a TD with just under six minutes left in the game.
Rutgers jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead on Pittsburgh Friday night, then held on for a 37-29 win. The Scarlet Knights improved to 3-1 with their first victory in a conference opener since 1994. It's hard to imagine but Rutgers would be undefeated right now had they not surrendered a 27-7 lead over Illinois to lose in overtime in the season opener. Conversely, Pitt fell to 1-4 over-all and 0-4 against 1-A teams in their inaugural season under Dave Wannstedt.
Colorado State pulled away for a 41-23 victory in their conference opener over Air Force on Thursday. The loss dropped the Falcons to 1-3 in the Mountain West and, almost certainly, out of the conference championship race.
Miami (Ohio) rung up Cincinnati 44-16 on Wednesday night in the Battle for the Victory Bell. It was the 110th meeting between the two teams who first squared-off in 1888.
For the second time in six days a top MAC team journeyed west to face a top team from the WAC and got whacked in the process. The previous week, Bowling Green was thumped 48-20 by Boise State. Tuesday night, Toledo took a 44-14 spanking from Fresno State. The Rockets' career passing leader, Bruce Gradkowski, did not play.
Late Saturday night, Boise State rallied from a 20-7 halftime deficit at Hawaii to stun the Warriors but it's how they stuck the nail in the coffin that's really wild.
Now, mind you, I wasn't there and it wasn't on TV so this isn't a first-hand account - it's simply the best I account I could piece together from the "live stats" on Boise State's website.
It appears that Hawaii scored a touchdown with 3:03 left to play to pull to with 42-41. June Jones opted to kick the PAT and tie the score, but an unlikely event unfolded. Boise State blocked the kick and returned it the length of the field for two points of their own and a 44-41 lead. The Broncos then received the kick-off and proceeded to run out the clock to secure the win.
Sure, Vanderbilt has had a world of trouble getting over the hump in football. But it is still hard to believe that the Commodores have NEVER beaten Middle Tennessee even though ALL of the meetings have taken place on their own field. Including Saturday's 17-15 loss, Vanderbilt is 0-3 versus the Blue Raiders. All the games have been played since 2001. This last one has to be the toughest to swallow as it was MTSU's first win of the year and Vanderbilt's first loss of the year. Worse still, the loss was secured when Vanderbilt's potential game-winning field goal was blocked on the last play of the game.
Let's Settle This Later:Last week, six games were extended to overtime. This week, four more games needed at least one extra session.
Texas A&M beat Baylor 16-13, Michigan topped Michigan State 34-31, and Marshall edged SMU 16-13 in single-overtime games.
Nebraska took two OT's to defeat Iowa State 27-20.
1-AA Schools Strike Out: There were 2 games played between 1-AA schools and their higher-classified brethren. The smaller schools went 0-2 and fell to 2-46 for the year.
From the beginning of the 2003 season through Saturday, 1-AA teams are 18-158 in such games, an 89.77 losing percentage.
Florida International beat Florida A&M 23-6. Tulane downed Southeastern Louisiana 28-21.
Streaks: USC owns the nation's longest winning streak at 26. The Trojans also have streaks of 22 straight home wins and 17 consecutive PAC-10 victories. They have won 37 of their last 38 games. The Trojans overcame a 21-3 halftime deficit - and 4th quarter deficits of 21-17 and 28-24 - to beat Arizona State 38-28 on Saturday. USC now owns the longest winning streak in PAC-10 history, breaking their own record of 25 games set in 1931-1933.
Boise State owns nation-leading streaks of 26 straight home wins and 27 straight conference victories. The Broncos beat Hawaii 44-41.
Iowa beat Illinois 35-7 in front of the home folks at Kinnick Stadium for their 21st straight home win.
North Texas has won 26 straight over Sun Belt conference opponents. UNT has also won four consecutive Sun Belt titles as they have topped the conference in every year of its existence. However, they have lost 9 straight to non-conference foes after falling 54-7 at Kansas State last week. The Mean Green was idle this past week.
Central Florida, which ended a 17-game losing streak with a 23-13 home win over Marshall a week ago, is now on a 2-game winning streak after a 24-21 road victory over Louisiana-Lafayette snapped a string of 10 straight away losses.X
Rice has lost 9 straight games after falling to UAB 45-26.
Army has dropped 9 straight after losing to Connecticut 47-13. It was Army's win over Cincinnati on October 9th last year that ended the Black Knight's 19-game losing streak and handed the losing streak honors over to Central Florida. Ironically, UCF has now handed it back to Army.
Western Michigan ended its 10-game losing streak against MAC teams with a 31-21 win over Buffalo.
New Coaches: The 2005 season began with 23 coaching changes. Here is how each has fared thus far (list compiled alphabetically by team):
BYU, 1-3 under Bronco Mendenhall, lost at San Diego State 31-10.
East Carolina, 1-3 under Skip Holtz, lost to Southern Miss 33-7.
Florida, 4-1 under Urban Meyer, lost at Alabama 31-3.
Illinois, 2-3 under Ron Zook, lost at Iowa 35-7.
Indiana, 3-1 under Terry Hoeppner, lost at Wisconsin 41-24.
LSU, 2-1 under Les Miles, won at Mississippi State 37-7.
Marshall, 2-2 under Mark Snyder, beat SMU in OT 16-13.
Miami, O., 2-2 under Shane Montgomery, beat Cincinnati 44-16.
Mississippi, 1-3 under Ed Orgeron, lost at Tennessee 27-10.
Nevada-Las Vegas, 1-4 under Mike Sanford, lost at Wyoming 42-17.
New Mexico St., 0-5 under Hal Mumme, lost at La. Tech 34-14.
Notre Dame, 4-1 under Charlie Weis, won at Purdue 49-28.
Ohio, 2-2 under Frank Solich, was idle.
Okla. St, 3-1 under Mike Gundy, lost to Colorado 34-0,
Pittsburgh, 1-4 under Dave Wannstedt, lost at Rutgers 37-29.
San Jose St., 1-3 under Dick Tomey, lost to Nevada 30-23.
South Carolina, 2-3 under Steve Spurrier, lost at Auburn 48-7.
Stanford, 1-2 under Walt Harris, lost to Oregon 44-20.
Syracuse, 1-3 under Greg Robinson, lost at Florida State 38-14.
Utah, 3-2 under Kyle Whittingham, lost at North Carolina 31-17.
Utah State, 1-2 under Brent Guy, lost at Idaho 27-13.
Washington, 1-4 under Ty Willingham, lost at UCLA 21-17.
Western Michigan, 3-2 under Bill Cubit, beat Buffalo 31-21.