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College Football Season

Vandy Finally Beats Auburn;
No. 8 USF Falls To Pitt

by Mike Mitchell and Dave Congrove
October 5, 2008

After USF lost at home to Pitt on Thursday night, the stage seemed to be set for another weekend of upsets. That didn't prove to be the case as most of the top teams won rather handily.

The only other victims among the Congrove Computer Rankings' Top 25 were 14th-ranked Kentucky, 16th-ranked Oregon, 21st-ranked UConn, 22nd-ranked Wisconsin and 23rd-ranked Auburn. None of those losses were shocking.

Vanderbilt is proving to be one of the season's biggest surprises. The Commodores upset Auburn 14-13 for its first 5-0 start since 1941. Vanderbilt had not beaten the Tigers in 13 tries since the 1955 Gator Bowl. The 'Dores improved to 3-0 in the SEC and are the only team in the Eastern Division without a conference loss. Auburn fell to 2-2 in SEC games.

The computer's preseason analysis had Vanderbilt winning just 2-of-12 games, and all of the major preseason publications had the Commodores finishing last in the SEC's Eastern Division.

Alabama handed Kentucky its first SEC loss. The Tide won 17-14 in Tuscaloosa to improve to 3-0 in the SEC.

South Carolina avoided an 0-3 SEC start with a 31-24 win at Ole Miss.

The top teams in the Big 12 all won easily. No. 1 Oklahoma blasted Baylor 49-17 in Waco, 2nd-ranked Texas rolled 38-14 at Colorado, and 3rd-ranked Missouri won 52-17 at Nebraska to end a 15-game losing skid in Lincoln that dated back to 1978.

In other Big 12 games, homestanding Oklahoma State romped past Texas A&M 56-28, and Texas Tech won 56-28 at Kansas State.

Kansas and Iowa State made the day more interesting as the Jayhawks rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit to edge the Cyclones 35-33 in Ames.

In the PAC-10, USC beat Oregon 44-10. The loss dropped the Ducks to 2-1 in league play while the Trojans improved to 1-1.

California and Arizona are the only teams left unbeaten in PAC-10 conference play. Cal beat Arizona State 24-14 to hand the Sun Devils their first PAC-10 loss, and Arizona crushed Washington 48-14.

In the Big 10, Terrelle Pryor's 11-yard run with 2:03 left gave Ohio State a 20-17 win at Wisconsin. Illinois scored a 45-20 win at Michigan, Penn State won 20-6 at Purdue, Michigan State took a 16-13 home victory over Iowa, and Minnesota grabbed a 16-7 home triumph over Indiana.

Notre Dame's resurgence continued with a 28-21 home win over Stanford. The Irish are now 4-1 as they prepare to visit North Carolina next week..

North Carolina improved to 4-1 with a 38-12 home win over Connecticut, handing the Huskies their first loss of the season (5-1).

In other ACC games, Duke took its first conference loss (2-1) in a 27-0 embarrassment at Georgia Tech, Virginia was a mind-boggling 31-0 winner at home over Maryland, and Boston College was victorious 38-31 at N.C. State to make the Eagles 2-0 against former B.C. head coach Tom O'Brien.

The biggest ACC game was the annual Sunshine State rivalry between Florida State and Miami. The 'Noles jumped to a 24-0 lead over Miami, then held on for a 41-39 win. Florida State has now won three of the last four meetings.

Navy won 33-27 at Air Force in the year's first battle for the Commander-in-Chief's trophy, awarded for winning the annual round-robin competition among the three military academies - Air Force, Army and Navy. The Middies have held the trophy for five straight years.

Tulsa took the battle of high octane offenses with Rice. The Golden Hurricane outscored the Owls 42-14 in the second half to pull away for a 63-28 CUSA victory.

One of the weekend's biggest upsets was Hawaii's 32-29 overtime win at Fresno State. The Warriors entered the game without a single win over an FBS team and the "experts" pegged them as 22-1/2-point underdogs. The Bulldogs were ranked in all three of last week's voter polls - Harris (20), Coaches' (21) and the AP (22). Fresno State had a field goal blocked with less than a minute to go in regulation. The Bulldogs had two chances to make a field goal in regulation. After Hawaii was penalized 5 yards for "running into the kicker" on a 40-yard attempt that missed wide left, a 35-yard attempt then sailed wide right. Both of Fresno State's losses this season have come down to missed field goals. The Bulldogs missed three of them in a 13-10 loss to Wisconsin.

Thursday night was crazy as 17th-ranked Utah rallied late to stun Oregon State, and Memphis took a last-second win at UAB. To top it off, Pitt upset USF 26-21 in Tampa.

Friday restored some sanity as BYU beat Utah State 34-14 to give the Cougars a nation-leading 15th straight win. Also, Cincinnati won 33-10 at Marshall with redshirt freshman QB Chazz Anderson completing 16-of-26 passes for 158 yards and 2 TD's and 1 INT. The Bearcats lost season-opening starter Dustin Grutza to a broken fibula against Oklahoma, and backup Tony Pike to a broken left forearm last week against Akron.

USF, ranked 8th in the CCR Top 120, fought back from a 17-7 halftime deficit to take a 21-20 lead with 5:47 remaining on Jessie Hester's 22-yard TD reception from Matt Grothe. But the Panthers began the ensuing drive from their own 40 after the Bulls' kick-off went out of bounds, and needed just three plays to go back on top 1:14 later on LeSean McCoy's 3-yard run.

USF had to punt on its next possession and by the time it stopped Pitt, only 22 ticks were left. A Hail Mary fell incomplete just short of the goal line.

After the game, USF head coach Jim Leavitt said, "Nobody’s gone through the Big East undefeated in all the years we’ve been in it. We’ve got to find a way to put it behind us."

The Bulls lost their conference opener after winning five straight non-conference games to open the season. Pitt improved to 4-1, 2-0 in the Big East.

The Panthers dominated the first half with 171 total yards to USF's 77. A 16-play, 72-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter ate up 7:54 as Pitt had the ball for 21:03 of the first 30 minutes. For the game, the Panthers out-gained the Bulls 374-245 and had a 12-minute advantage in time of possession. An 82-yard Pitt drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters lasted 17 plays while consuming over 8 minutes, though it only produced a field goal.

LeSean McCoy rushed for 142 yards and a TD on 28 carries. QB Bill Stull was 16-of-27 for 228 yards and a score.

USF took an early 7-0 lead when Carlton Mitchell blocked a Pitt punt and Charlton Sinclair returned it 27 yards to the end zone.

Neither team plays again until October 18 when USF hosts Syracuse and Pitt visits Navy.

Also on Thursday, Utah scored 11 points in the final 1:29 of the game to stun Oregon State 31-28. The comeback began after the Beavers had seemingly secured their win at 28-20 on a touchdown with just 2:18 left.

First, Utah went 60 yards in four plays to tie it at 28-28 with 1:29 still left. Then, the Utes forced Oregon State into a three-and-out series and got the ball back after only 23 seconds elapsed. Starting at their own 45-yard line, Utah took five plays to drive to the Oregon State 20 and Louie Sakoda nailed a 37-yard field goal as time expired.

In Birmingham, Memphis kicked the game-winning 25-yard field goal with 2 seconds left to beat UAB 33-30 in a CUSA game.

No. 15 Boise State ran its record against WAC opponents to 29-0 on its blue field with a 38-3 smackdown of Louisiana Tech on Wednesday night. The win put the Broncos in a familiar place, atop the WAC standings.

The Broncos have not a lost a home game to a conference opponent since falling to state rival Idaho in the 1998 season finale when they were members of the Big West.

FAU snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, falling 14-13 at Middle Tennessee on a 32-yard TD pass on the game's final play. The Owls won the first 54 minutes and 38 seconds of the contest, but the resolute Blue Raiders won the final 5 minutes, 22 seconds 14-3.

Middle Tennessee cut the gap to 10-7 on a 25-yard TD pass with 5:22 left, only to see FAU kill over 4 minutes of the clock on its' ensuing possession and stretch the lead to 13-7 with 1:15 remaining.

MTSU started the game-winning drive on its own 35-yard line and fought its way to the Owls' 32. There, the magic appeared to run out as the Blue Raiders faced 4th-and-8 with no timeouts and just 9 seconds left in the game. But QB Joe Craddock heaved a prayer to the front right corner of the end zone where several receivers and defenders waited for the ball. Freshman Malcolm Beyah outjumped the contingent and snared the pass.

The win improved MTSU to just 1-2 in Sun Belt play, 2-3 overall.

The loss dropped FAU to 1-4 overall, 0-1 in the Sun Belt. The defending conference champions won't have it any easier next week when they host Troy. It was last year's victory at Troy in the season finale that lifted FAU to the Sun Belt title and sent the school to the New Orleans Bowl where it defeated Memphis.

The week began with 18 unbeaten teams, but you can cross off Connecticut, Kentucky, and USF. Here are the remaining 15 undefeated teams: Alabama, Ball State, Boise State, BYU, LSU, Missouri, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Texas, Texas Tech, Tulsa, Utah and Vanderbilt.

Only Hawaii made it through the 2007 regular season unscathed, and the Warriors were blown out 41-10 by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. It was the first season since 2002 that no team recorded a perfect record.

Boise State was the only team to finish the entire 2006 season undefeated, while Texas did it in 2005. Auburn, USC and Utah all had unblemished records in 2004.

Only 2 teams remain winless - North Texas and Washington. Army fell from the list with a surprising 44-13 victory at Tulane.

Last season, FIU beat North Texas in its final regular season game to avoid being the only winless team. FIU was one of two schools to go winless in 2006 (Duke was the other), and had lost 26 of its last 27 games before winning 35-16 at Toledo last Saturday. FIU won again on Saturday, taking advantage of North Texas 42-10 in Denton.

Idaho failed to beat a team from the bowl subdivision last season and has yet to do so this year. in fact, the Vandals are one of 12 teams that have only defeated a FCS school. The others are Kent State, Louisiana-Monroe, Miami (Ohio), Mississippi State, Ohio, Rutgers, SMU, Syracuse, UAB, Washington State and Western Kentucky.

UCF, Hawaii and Virginia notched their first wins over FBS schools on Saturday. The Golden Knights beat SMU 31-17, the Warriors upset Fresno State 32-29 in overtime, and the Cavaliers blanked Maryland 31-0.

FBS vs. FCS:
The divisions were re-named late in 2006. 1-A was given the new moniker of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) while 1-AA was labeled the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Only 1 FBS vs. FCS matchup took place this week as Alcorn State lost 45-10 at New Mexico State. The Aggies scheduled Alcorn State when Nicholls State had to back out of the September 6 season opener due to Hurricane Gustav.

FBS teams are 81-2 (.976) against FCS teams this season, and 371-37 (.909) since 2003.

Here are the losses by the FBS so far this season:
Cal Poly 29, San Diego State 27 (Week 1)
New Hampshire 28, Army 10 (Week 2)

This year, 82 different FBS teams will participate in a total of 87 games that will pit the FCS against the FBS. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Western Kentucky each play two such games.

ACC teams have more games versus FCS schools than any other conference. Here is the number of FCS games for each conference:

Conference Teams In Conf. Games vs. FCS Avg. Per Team
ACC 12 14 1.167
Big East 8 7 0.875
Big 12 12 10 0.833
Big 10 11 9 0.818
MWC 9 7 0.778
WAC 9 7 0.778
SEC 12 9 0.750
Independents 3 2 0.667
MAC 13 8 0.615
CUSA 12 7 0.583
Sun Belt 9 5 0.555
PAC-10 10 2 0.200
Totals 120 87 0.725

BYU owns the nation's longest current winning streak at 15 games. The Cougars have also won 17 consecutive MWC games. BYU won 34-14 at Utah State on Friday night.

Penn State has won 7 straight games. The Nittany Lions won 20-6 at Purdue.

Utah has won 7 straight games after beating Oregon State 31-28 on Thursday night.

Alabama has won 7 straight games. The Tide beat Kentucky 17-14.

Texas Tech has won 7 straight games. The Red Raiders won 58-28 at Kansas State.

Boise State has won 46 consecutive regular season home games, and the Broncos have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (29-0). They have won 35 straight conference home games since losing to Idaho in the final game of the 1998 season in the Big West. Boise State beat Louisiana Tech 38-3 on Wednesday night.

Army ended a 10-game losing streak with a 44-13 rout at Tulane.

Washington inherits the nation's longest losing streak at 7 games after falling 48-14 at Arizona.

Idaho has lost 20 straight to FBS schools. The Vandals lost 49-14 at home to Nevada.

SMU has dropped 15 straight games to FBS teams. The Mustangs fell 31-17 at UCF.

Kent State has dropped 12 straight to FBS teams. The Golden Flashes were defeated 30-27 in 2 OT's at home by Akron.

UAB has a 11-game losing streak against FBS schools. The Blazers lost 33-30 to Memphis on Thursday night.

NEW COACHES: The 2007 season featured 24 new head coaches. Nine led their team to a bowl game. This year, there are 18 coaching changes.

Two teams have yet to defeat an FBS school - SMU, and Washington State.

Only Baylor, Duke, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Mississippi, Navy, UCLA and West Virginia have defeated a team from one of the "big 6" conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-10 or SEC).

Arkansas 2-3 Bobby Petrino Lost to Florida 38-7
Baylor 2-3 Art Briles Lost to Oklahoma 49-17
Colorado State 3-2 Steve Fairchild Won vs. UNLV 41-28
Duke 3-2 David Cutcliffe Lost at Georgia Tech 27-0
Georgia Tech 4-1 Paul Johnson Won vs. Duke 27-0
Hawaii 2-3 Greg McMackin Won at Fresno State 32-29 in OT
Houston 2-3 Kevin Sumlin 10/9, vs. UAB
Michigan 2-3 Rich Rodriguez Lost to Illinois 45-20
Mississippi 3-3 Houston Nutt Lost to South Carolina 31-24
Navy 4-2 Ken Nuimatalolo Won at Air Force 33-27
Nebraska 3-2 Bo Pelini Lost to Missouri 52-17
Northern Illinois 2-3 Jerry Kill Lost at Tennessee 13-9
SMU 1-5 June Jones Lost at UCF 31-17
Southern Miss 2-3 Larry Fedora Lost to UTEP 40-37 in 2 OT's
Texas A&M 2-3 Mike Sherman Lost at Oklahoma State 56-28
UCLA 2-3 Rick Neuheisel Won vs. Washington State 28-3
Washington State 1-5 Paul Wulff Lost at UCLA 28-3
West Virginia 3-2 Bill Stewart Won vs. Rutgers 24-17


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