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2003
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Tennessee, Air Force, Louisville Fall From List Of Undefeated Teams

by Mike Mitchell
10/5/03

The list of undefeated teams is down to eleven after Tennessee, Air Force and Louisville were all introduced to the lost column on Saturday. That trio of games led another weekend parade of upsets.

Auburn opened up a 28-7 lead in the fourth quarter and hung on to defeat Tennessee 28-21. The Tigers, who began the year by losing their first two games, have now won three straight and are 2-0 in the SEC West. The loss puts Tennessee and Georgia in a tie atop the SEC East as they prepare to meet in Knoxville this Saturday.

Navy broke a 6-game losing streak to Air Force, knocking the Falcons off of the unbeaten list with a 28-25 win in Landover, Maryland. Chance Harridge scored from 1-yard out with 20 seconds left for Air Force, but the Midshipmen recovered the onsides kick to secure the win. It also puts Navy in position to take the Commander-In-Chiefs Trophy after the Falcons have controlled it for seven years.

South Florida downed Louisville 31-28 in the second overtime of their CUSA game in Tampa. The Bulls scored on a 4th-and-3 option run with 10 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 21, and won it on Santiago Gramatica's 26-yard field goal after intercepting a Louisville pass. The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime and a second extra period was forced by Louisville when they scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper on 4th down. USF is now 3-1 over-all, 2-0 in CUSA. It was the conference opener for Louisville which slipped to 4-1 over-all.

Northern Illinois came close to getting stricken from the list. The Huskies defeated three teams from BCS conferences to open the season, but fellow MAC member Ohio stretched the Huskies into overtime before falling 30-23. Ohio limited NIU running back Michael Turner to 50 yards on 16 carries, but they couldn't stop the combination of Josh Haldi to P.J. Fleck. The duo connected 14 times for 234 yards, including the tying touchdown pass in regulation. Another Fleck reception set up Haldi's 1-yard score up the middle in overtime for the game-winner. Northern Illinois is now 5-0, 1-0. Ohio fell to 1-4, 0-2.

There were several other upsets on the day.

Baylor took advantage of five Colorado turnovers for a 42-30 upset win in Waco. Rashad Armstrong rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns, Aaron Karas threw three touchdown passes, and Jamaal Harper added an 11-yard fumble return for the Bears who were three-touchdown underdogs.

Vashon Pearson scored on a 1-yard run with 1:10 remaining, and Eric Oliver picked off Chris Leak's pass on the ensuing possession, as Ole Miss upset Florida 20-17 in the Swamp. Rebel QB Eli Manning finished 17-of-29 for 256 yards with no touchdowns and 1 interception, but directed a surgical 50-yard drive that began with just over five minutes left in the game.

In the ACC, Georgia Tech tallied a 29-21 upset of N.C. State in Atlanta. Each team is just 1-2 in the conference after the Wolfpack loss. N.C. State got a touchdown and 2-point conversion with 6 seconds left to close within 8 points but the Yellow Jackets recovered the following onsides kick-off. Philip Rivers was 32-of-48 for 334 yards and 2 touchdowns but the loss likely damaged his Heisman chances as the Pack fell to 3-3 over-all.

Iowa improved to 5-1 over-all, 1-1 in the Big 10, with a hard-fought 30-27 homecoming win against Michigan. The Wolverines have lost two of their last three games and fall to 4-2 over-all, 1-1 in the Big 10.

Penn State fell to 2-3 at home this season after a 30-23 loss to Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions dropped to 2-4 over-all, and 0-2 in the Big 10 as Joe Paterno stays stuck on 338 wins, one more than Bobby Bowden. Florida State was idle.

UCLA was a slight underdog to Washington but bombed the Huskies 46-16 with a 39-0 second-half barrage that included an interception return and a fumble recovery for touchdowns.

Idaho broke free of the winless column with a 35-31 upset of heavily-favored New Mexico State. It was the Sun Belt conference opener for both teams.

Rice got their first win, too, edging San Jose State 28-24 in a WAC contest.

Also in the WAC, Tulsa surprised Hawaii 27-16 in the conference opener for the Golden Hurricane.

Nevada (from the WAC) hosted UNLV (from the Mountain West) in the 29th battle for the Fremont Cannon. The Rebels came out the victor 16-12 and John Robinson's team has lost only once in their first five games. The loss dropped the Wolf Pack to 3-2 over-all but they lead the WAC with a 2-0 conference record. UNLV, along with Utah, sits just a half-game behind conference-leader Air Force in the Mountain West standings.

BYU upset San Diego State 44-36 in the Mountain West opener for the Aztecs. Each team is now 3-3 over-all but the Cougars improve to 2-1 in conference play.

Among the games that went as expected, Bryan Randall completed 16-of-22 passes for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns as Virginia Tech built a 41-7 fourth quarter lead and went on to wipe out Rutgers 48-22 in its Big East conference opener. Kevin Jones ran for 118 yards and a score on 26 carries to help the Hokies improve to 5-0. Tech beat Rutgers for the 11th straight time. Rutgers has lost eleven in-a-row to the Hokies, 23 straight to Big East games, and 30 of their last 31 Big East games.

TCU not only remained unbeaten, but did it in perfect fashion with a 27-0 win over Army in CUSA play. Southern Miss upset Cincinnati 22-20 to improve to 3-0 in CUSA play, 3-2 over-all.

Minnesota is 6-0 for the first time since 1960 after its 42-17 rout of Northwestern. Asad Abdul-Khaliq threw four touchdown paces for the Golden Gophers including scoring plays of 96 and 82 yards to Jared Ellerson. Marion Barber had two 31-yard touchdown runs.

Also in the Big 10, Michigan State improved to 5-1 over-all, 2-0 in the Big 10, with a 31-3 whipping of Indiana. And Purdue is now 4-1 over-all after crushing Illinois 43-10 in the Boilermakers' Big 10 opener.

Texas got past Kansas State 24-20 in the Big 12 opener for both teams. The Longhorns rallied for the win after giving away a 17-3 halftime lead. The Wildcats scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to grab a 20-17 lead and it looked like they were about to add to it before Ell Roberson fumbled at the Texas 12-yard line. Vince Young then guided the Longhorns on an 88-yard march for the eventual game-winning touchdown which Cedric Benson scored on a 1-yard run with 5:19 remaining.

Also in the Big 12, Nebraska improved to 5-0 with a 30-0 blanking of Troy State. Oklahoma is also 5-0 after ripping Iowa State 53-7 in the conference opener for those two teams.

Four unbeaten teams - Ohio State, Florida State, LSU and Arkansas - were idle this week.

Southern California scored the last 20 points of the game to break away from a 17-17 third quarter tie en route to a 37-17 win at Arizona State. The Trojans bounced back from last week's loss at California while the Sun Devils have now lost three consecutive games.

Oregon State took care of California 35-21 and Washington State blasted Arizona 30-7 as each improved to 2-0 in PAC-10 play to lead the conference. UCLA, 1-0, is the only other PAC-10 team without a conference loss.

Georgia beat Alabama 37-23 to hand Mike Shula's Crimson Tide its third straight loss. The Bulldogs charged to a 37-10 halftime lead and held on for the win "between the hedges" in Athens.

Mississippi State snapped its 9-game losing streak to SEC schools while extending Vanderbilt's conference losing streak to 20 games as the Bulldogs shook off the Commodores 30-21.

In the MAC, Miami (Ohio) downed Akron 45-20 to win its conference opener. Coupled with Kent State's 34-17 loss to Ball State, an upset forecasted by the computer, the RedHawks are now the only East division team without a league loss. Ball State improved to 2-0 in the West division, as did Western Michigan with its 31-3 win over Eastern Michigan. And Bowling Green won its conference-opener over Central Michigan 23-3.

Virginia climbed to 3-0 in the ACC with a 38-13 destruction of North Carolina. That win, and Clemson's 21-7 loss at Maryland, leaves the Cavaliers and Florida State as the only two teams with unbeaten conference records in the ACC.

Passing Fancy: Boise State and Louisiana Tech did all they could to live up to their conference's identity of the "wild" WAC as the Broncos outscored the Bulldogs 43-37. Boise State quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie threw for 532 yards and 3 TDs while Louisiana Tech's Cade McCown passed for 437 yards and two scores. Bronco receiver Tim Gilligan had 16 catches for 255 yards. Three Bulldog receivers went over 100 yards. The two teams combined to throw 118 passes and gain 1,291 total net yards.

Texas Tech QB B.J. Symons threw 8 touchdown passes as he completed 34-of-46 passes for 505 yards in the Red Raiders' 59-28 joy ride over Texas A&M.

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 as John Thompson and East Carolina lost to Houston last Tuesday 27-13. And Charlie Weatherbie and UL-Monroe lost 44-41 to Arkansas State on Saturday.

Mike Hankwitz, who replaced the fired John Mackovic at Arizona last week, saw his team play hard but lose to Washington State 30-7.

Bob Petrino suffered his first loss since taking over for John L. Smith at Louisville. Petrino is 4-1 after the Cardinals' 31-28 double-overtime loss at South Florida.

Former Cardinals coach John L. Smith, by the way, is at Michigan State where his team is 5-1 after drubbing Indiana 31-3 on Saturday.

Unbeaten Ranks: 11 teams remain unbeaten in 1-A football.

The SEC has two - both in the West division - with Arkansas and LSU. Three other conferences also have two unbeaten teams remaining. The Big 12 has Nebraska (North) and Oklahoma (South); the Big 10 has Iowa and Ohio State; the Big East has Miami and Virginia Tech.

Three more conferences have one undefeated team. TCU in Conference USA, Florida State in the ACC and Northern Illinois 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.

Utah Goes To 2-0 Against PAC-10

by Mike Mitchell
10/4/03

Utah should apply for membership to the PAC-10. After the Utes beat Oregon 17-13 on Friday night, Utah is 2-0
against PAC-10 teams this season.

When Urban Meyer replaced popular head coach Ron McBride in the off-season, more than a few heads turned. However, just as he did at Bowling Green, Meyer seems to have provided an instant resurrection to a program reeling after last year's 5-6 finish.

Meyer took over the Bowling Green program in 2001 and spent just two seasons at the MAC school. There, he took a program that had gone 2-9 the year before and engineered the best one-year turnaround of any 1-A team that season with an 8-3 finish. He followed that up with a 9-3 mark in 2002.

Now, he has Utah off to a 4-1 start and just three points from being undefeated (they lost 28-26 at Texas A&M). The Utes are 2-0 against PAC-10 teams this season, having already dispatched the same California team that knocked Southern California from the unbeaten ranks. More importantly, they are 1-0 in the Mountain West as conference teams fill their remaining schedule beginning with San Diego State next week (10/11).

Oregon, meanwhile, has suffered back-to-back losses after looking so strong in handing Michigan its first loss back on September 20. That game must now seem like it occurred years ago to the Ducks.

Berlin Leads Another Miami Rally

by Mike Mitchell
10/2/03

Brock Berlin took Miami from its own 28-yard line to the West Virginia 6 in the final two minutes, setting up Jon Peattie's 23-yard field goal with 11 seconds left as the Hurricanes rallied to down the Mountaineers 22-20.

West Virginia had taken the lead at 20-19 with 2 minutes left when Quincy Wilson caught a short pass from Rasheed Marshall and bowled over would-be tacklers for a 33-yard scoring play.

The go-ahead drive for the Mountaineers began when Jarrett Payton fumbled at Miami's own 48-yard line as the 'Canes were trying to run out the clock with a 19-13 lead. Payton became the primary back for the Hurricanes when Frank Gore went down early in the game with a knee injury.

After the West Virginia touchdown, Miami faced a fourth-and-13 on the final drive from its own 25-yard line. But a super catch by Kellen Winslow resulted in an 18-yard gain to keep the drive alive.

Peattie's game-winner was his fifth field goal of the night, a Hurricane record. It preserved Miami's multitude of winning streaks that include 37 consecutive regular season games, 26 games over Big East opponents and 25 home games. They face Florida State in Tallahassee next week.

The computer won the game straight up and against the spread.

Houston Beats Another Winless Team

by Mike Mitchell
10/1/03

Here I sit almost 24 hours after Houston beat East Carolina 27-13. I had been told that I could file a post-game report if I wanted, but it wasn't required. Good thing. I watched all of about fifteen minutes of the game.

But I did make a few observations.

The first thing that registered with me was that I was watching a very bad football game.

Sure, Houston is 4-1. But they have beaten four teams that are winless.

Week 1: Houston beat Rice 48-14. The Owls are now 0-4 and have been outscored 164-76.

Week 2: Houston lost to Michigan 50-3.

Week 3: Houston beat La.-Lafayette 21-14. The Ragin Cajuns are now 0-5 and have been outscored 161-61.

Week 4: Houston beat Mississippi State 42-35. The Bulldogs are now 0-4 and have been outscored 156-138.

Week 5: Houston beat East Carolina. The Pirates are now 0-5 and have been outscored 187-42.

What are the odds that you would face four winless football teams in a season? This is a rhetorical question as I surely don't know the answer.

The second thing that registered with me is that both ECU and Houston have new coaches. The Pirates hired a defensive guy in former Florida defensive coordinator - John Thompson. Houston hired an offensive guy in Art Briles, Texas Tech's running backs coach.

Houston's offense, under Briles, is scoring 28.2 points per game. That's not too bad.

East Carolina's defense, under Thompson, is allowing 37.4 points per game. That's horrible.

The final thing that registered with me is how suddenly East Carolina has descended the ladder of success that it worked so hard to climb for most of the 90's. This is a team that had won two straight from Miami, Fla. before losing this year. This was a team that had spent years gaining momentum on receiving the one thing every school covets - national respect.

Now, they are back on the bottom rung of the ladder. I can not think of a better example in college football that demonstrates how fleeting success can be.


2003 POST-GAME ARCHIVES
12/07: Kansas St. Surprises Everyone But Themselves...
11/30: Miami Takes Big East Title; BCS Must...
11/23: Oklahoma, USC Each One Win Away....
11/16: Conference Races Come Into Focus....
11/09: 8 Of Top 25 BCS Teams Take A Hit
11/02: Hokies Blow Away Hurricanes....
10/26: NIU Dropped From List Of Unbeatens....
10/19: Michigan State and Purdue Remain....
10/12: Win Streak Ends At 19 For Ohio State; Six....
10/05: Tennessee, Air Force, Louisville Fall
09/28: Unbeaten Ranks Shrink With Losses By USC...
09/21: Marshall Leads Mighty MAC Conquest .....
09/14: Upsets Will Rock The Rankings.....


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