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College Football Season

Longhorns Break Through; Penn State Leads Big 10

by Mike Mitchell

Texas snapped its five-game losing streak to Oklahoma and Penn State found itself on top of the Big 10 after an exciting Saturday of college football.

Texas eased five years of painful memories with an emphatic 45-12 win over the Sooners. The 45 points is more than the Longhorns had scored in the past four meetings combined when they were outscored by a combined 126-40. The 33-point win is their largest in the series since a similar victory margin in 1941 (40-7). Texas stayed unbeaten as it raised its records to 5-0, 2-0. Oklahoma fell to 2-3, 1-1.

Nebraska lost for the first time, and did so in improbable fashion. First, the Cornhuskers rallied from a 21-0 second-quarter deficit to a 31-27 lead with 5 minutes remaining. Second, with Texas Tech driving deep into Nebraska territory, the 'Huskers picked off a pass at the goal line with only 1:11 left in the game. Game over - except Nebraska fumbled the ball on the tackle at their own 18. Third, the Red Raiders converted a 4th-and-2 into a game-winning 10-yard TD pass and a scintillating 34-31 win that handed Nebraska its first homecoming loss since 1968. Texas Tech is now 5-0.

Nebraska's loss, coupled with Colorado's 41-20 rout of Texas A&M, gave the Buffaloes (4-1, 2-0) first place to themselves in the Big 12 north. Texas and Texas Tech are each 5-0, 2-0 in the Big 12 south.

Wisconsin was stricken from the list of undefeated teams when Northwestern outscored the Badgers 51-48 in Evanston. The Wildcats weathered a furious Wisconsin rally in the fourth quarter after they had staked out a 51-34 advantage. But the game was sealed when Northwestern picked off a pass with a minute left in the game as the Badgers were trying to mount a desperation drive from inside their own 10-yard line.

With the help of Wisconsin's loss, Penn State's 17-10 win over Ohio State gave the Nittany Lions the top spot in the Big 10. Penn State is the only team with an unblemished conference record at 3-0 after beating the Buckeyes for the first time since 2001.

UCLA and California put on quite a show between two unbeaten teams. The Bruins improved to 5-0, 2-0 in the PAC-10, with a 47-40 victory that was decided in the final two minutes. UCLA marched 75 yards in 1:30 to take a 41-40 lead with 55 seconds left to play. On Cal's ensuing possession, the Bruins picked off a pass which led to a short, but unnecessary, TD run on the games' final play to provide the final margin. It was UCLA's second consecutive last-minute win. They beat Washington on a 1-yard TD run with a minute left in last week's game.

USC (5-0, 3-0) is the only other PAC-10 team with an unblemished conference record. The Trojans won their 27th straight game by turning back Arizona 42-21. But once again, the game was tight into the fourth quarter before USC scored the final 14 points to pull away from a slim 28-21 advantage.

Meanwhile, Georgia stayed perfect with a 27-14 win at Tennessee. It was the Bulldogs third straight victory at Neyland Stadium.

Virginia Tech and Florida State also remained undefeated. The Hokies dropped Marshall 41-14. The Seminoles downed Wake Forest 41-24.

Unbeaten Alabama was idle.


CUSA was full of surprises. SMU, an overtime loser to Marshall last week, beat east division front-runner UAB 28-27 in Birmingham with a 31-yard touchdown pass on the game's final play. UCF won its third straight game with a 38-17 romp over Memphis and now leads the east division with the only undefeated conference record in either division. Houston handed Tulane its first CUSA loss, 35-14, and leads the west division. The vagabond Green Wave were playing their "home" game at Louisiana-Lafayette's stadium.

In the Mountain West, Colorado State used a goal-line stand in the final seconds to defeat Utah 21-17. The Rams, who improved to 3-2 over-all and 2-0 in the conference, were the computer's preseason pick to claim the Mountain West crown, pointing to a win in this game as the deciding factor. Colorado State and TCU are the only two teams left in the league with unblemished conference records. TCU continues to lead the MWC with a 4-0 conference mark after defeating Wyoming 28-14.

In the MAC, Toledo took sole possession of the lead in the west division with a 30-3 win over Eastern Michigan for the Eagles first conference loss. Bowling Green took control of the east with a 38-14 win over Ohio for the Bobcats first conference loss.

LSU (3-1, 2-1 SEC west) scored the last 22 points of the game to put away Vanderbilt 34-6 and deal the Commodores their first SEC loss. Vanderbilt started the season 4-0 but was upended by Middle Tennessee last week.

Also on Saturday:

A 30-yard field goal with 1 second left gave Minnesota a 23-20 win over Michigan and possession of the Little Brown Jug for the first time since 1986. The Golden Gophers had dropped 16 straight to the Wolverines.

Purdue was beaten badly at home for the second straight time as Iowa pulled away to a 34-17 win. The Boilermakers lost 49-28 at home to Notre Dame last week. It was the Hawkeyes first road win this season.

Louisville treated North Carolina like they were Florida Atlantic. A week ago, the Cardinals stomped the Owls 61-10. This week, they demolished the Tar Heels 69-14.

Stanford got a big win for first-year head coach Walt Harris when The Cardinal beat Washington State 24-21 in Pullman. The Cougars suffered their second straight defeat after a 3-0 start. Stanford improved to 2-2.

West Virginia beat Rutgers 27-14 in a battle of Big East leaders.

Boston College beat Virginia 28-17 to improve to 5-1 (2-1 ACC Atlantic) and drop the Cavaliers to 3-2 (1-2 ACC Coastal). It was Virginia's second conference loss in-a-row as they were also beaten at Maryland last week 45-33.

South Carolina scored the last 27 points of the game to pull away from Kentucky for a 44-16 victory. A Steve Spurrier-coached team has never lost to the Wildcats. It was his first SEC win at South Carolina which climbed to 3-3 over-all and 1-3 in the conference.

Navy kicked a 46-yard field goal with less than a second remaining to sink Air Force 27-24. The Falcons had led the entire game until the Midshipmen tied it on a 40-yard run with 2:22 left. A shanked punt on Air Force's next possession helped set up the game-winning kick. The win put Navy in position to win its third straight Commander-In-Chief's trophy which goes to the winner of the annual round-robin competition between Air Force, Army and Navy. The Midshipmen face Army in the season finale.

Speaking of Army, the Black Knights lost 14-10 to Central Michigan for their 10th straight setback.

Ball State pocketed its first victory, a 60-57 five-overtime marathon win over Western Michigan.

Friday night, Connecticut downed Syracuse 26-7 to win its Big East opener and improve their record to 4-1, 1-0. The Orange, under first-year head coach Greg Robinson, were relegated to last with a record of 1-4, 0-2. The Huskies, West Virginia and idle South Florida are the only Big East teams that do not have a conference loss.

On Thursday night, Georgia Tech had the potential game-winning pass deflect off the hands of the intended receiver and into the arms of a trailing N.C. State defender with approximately 30 seconds left on the clock as the Wolfpack upset Georgia Tech 17-14 in Atlanta. N.C. State had lost six of its last seven regular season games and six ACC contests in-a-row.

In another Thursday night contest, Florida Atlantic won 28-10 at Louisiana-Lafayette to give the Owls their first Sun Belt conference victory and their first win of the season. FAU improved to 1-5, 1-1. The Ragin' Cajuns slipped to 1-4, 0-1.

Northern Illinois beat Miami (Ohio) 38-27 on Wednesday night in a MAC battle in DeKalb. NIU opened up a 28-7 halftime lead only to watch Miami creep within 35-27 midway through the fourth quarter. But Northern Illinois used a ball-control offense to embark on a game-clinching drive that ended with a field goal and a 38-27 lead with under two minutes remaining.

Tuesday night, Troy beat North Texas 13-10 to halt the Mean Green's winning streak versus Sun Belt opponents at 26 games. North Texas had not lost to a conference foe since the first year of the league in 2001 when they fell to Louisiana-Monroe in their first Sun Belt game. They also lost to Troy, 18-16, that year when the Trojans went 7-4 as an Independent in their first season as a 1-A program.

The New Road Warriors: Baylor scored a big win in the Big 12 with a 23-13 upset at Iowa State. It was the Bears first road win EVER in the Big 12 where they had gone 0-37 in such games until Saturday. They had lost 38 straight road conference games dating back to the old Southwest Conference and a 48-7 win over SMU on November 11, 1995. The victory improved the Bears to 1-1 in the conference's south division while the Cyclones fell to 0-2 in the north division.

From Worst To First: Central Florida, which ended a 17-game losing streak with a 23-13 home win over Marshall 2 weeks ago, is now on a 3-game winning streak after a 38-17 win over Memphis. The Golden Knights are now 3-2 over-all, 2-0 in CUSA, and sit atop the east division standings.

Still Perfect, One Way Or the Other: With California, Nebraska and Wisconsin dropping by the wayside we are left with nine teams who have yet to be beaten: USC, Texas, Virginia Tech, Georgia, UCLA, Texas Tech, Alabama, Penn State and Florida State.

Following the first wins of the season for FAU and Ball State, five teams remain winless: Army, Buffalo, New Mexico State, Rice and Temple.

Say What?
Jim Donnan on ESPN - "Mississippi State's a good football team". This was stated AFTER their 35-9 blowout loss to Florida in which the Bulldogs surrendered two safeties and a touchdown via a blocked punt. MSU fell to 2-4 with the loss, 0-4 in the SEC, and its only wins have come against 1-AA Murray State and Tulane.

1-AA Schools Strike Out: Two games were played between 1-AA schools and their higher-classified brethren. Ole Miss beat The Citadel easily, 27-7. But Boise State trailed Portland State 14-7 at halftime, and 14-13 into the fourth quarter, before reallying for a 21-14 win.

1-A teams are now 48-2 in such games this season.

From the beginning of the 2003 season through Saturday, 1-A teams have won 160-of-178 such games or 89.99 percent.

Streaks: USC extended the nation's longest winning streak to 27 with a 42-21 win over Arizona. That victory gave the Trojans their 23rd straight home win and 18th consecutive PAC-10 victory. They have now won 38 of their last 39 games. USC owns the longest winning streak in PAC-10 history, breaking their own record of 25 games set in 1931-1933.

Virginia Tech has 14 consecutive regular season wins.

Boise State owns nation-leading streaks of 27 straight home wins and 27 straight conference victories. The Broncos beat 1-AA Portland State 21-14.

Iowa has 21 straight home wins. That streak didn't change as their win over Purdue was a road game.

North Texas saw its string of 26 straight wins over Sun Belt conference opponents come to an end on Tuesday night when the Mean Green fell to Troy 13-10.

Army has dropped 10 straight after losing to Central Michigan 14-10. 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, when UCF ended its 17-game losing streak earlier this season, Army re-inherited the ubiquitous honors.

Rice has lost 10 straight games after falling at East Carolina 41-28.

New Coaches: The 2005 season began with 23 coaching changes.

San Jose State has not beaten a 1-A team yet. New Mexico State is still looking for its first win over anybody under Hal Mumme.

Two coaches picked up their first wins over 1-A teams on Saturday. Dave Wannstedt's Pittsburgh Panthers beat Cincinnati 38-20. Bronco Mendenhall's BYU Cougars scored the game's final 14 points to rally past New Mexico 27-24 in Albuquerque.

Here is how each has fared thus far (list compiled alphabetically by team):

BYU, 2-3 under Bronco Mendenhall, won at New Mexico 27-24.
East Carolina, 2-3 under Skip Holtz, beat Rice 41-28.
Florida, 5-1 under Urban Meyer, beat Mississippi State 35-9.
Illinois, 2-4 under Ron Zook, lost at Indiana 36-13.
Indiana, 4-1 under Terry Hoeppner, beat illinois 36-13.
LSU, 3-1 under Les Miles, won at Vanderbilt 34-6.
Marshall, 2-3 under Mark Snyder, lost at Virginia Tech 41-14.
Miami, O., 2-3 under Shane Montgomery, lost at No. Illinois 38-27.
Mississippi, 2-3 under Ed Orgeron, beat 1-AA The Citadel 27-7.
Nevada-Las Vegas, 2-4 under Mike Sanford, upset SDSU 13-10.
New Mexico St., 0-6 under Hal Mumme, lost 37-7 to Fresno State.
Notre Dame, 4-1 under Charlie Weis, idle.
Ohio, 2-3 under Frank Solich, lost at Bowling Green 38-14.
Okla. St, 3-2 under Mike Gundy, lost to Missouri 38-31.
Pittsburgh, 2-4 under Dave Wannstedt, beat Cincinnati 38-20.
San Jose St., 1-4 under Dick Tomey, lost at Utah State 24-17.
South Carolina, 3-3 under Steve Spurrier, beat Kentucky 44-16.
Stanford, 2-2 under Walt Harris, won at Washington St. 24-21.
Syracuse, 1-4 under Greg Robinson, lost at Connecticut 26-7.
Utah, 3-3 under Kyle Whittingham, lost at Colorado State 21-17.
Utah State, 2-2 under Brent Guy, beat San Jose St. 24-17.
Washington, 1-4 under Ty Willingham, idle.
Western Mich., 3-3 under Bill Cubit, lost to Ball St. 60-57 in 5 OT's.

Relive the 2005 season with detailed accounts of each week's games.

01/22: 2005's Top Over-Acievers and Under-Performers
12/04: Trojans and Longhorns Crush Foes 136-22
11/27: Conference Title Games Set
11/20: USC Dodges Fresno St. Bullet; Ga. Tech Upsets Miami
11/13: Alabama Suffers First Loss; Spurrier Gets Win Over Gators
11/06: Hokies, Bruins Go Down In Flames
10/30: Georgia Loss Trims List Of Undefeated Teams To Five
10/23: Six Teams Still Undefeated
10/16: USC-ND Tops Day Of Fantastic Finishes
10/09: Longhorns Break Through; Penn State Leads Big 10
10/02: 15 Teams Lose For First Time
09/27: Tennessee Rallies Past LSU; Louisville and Purdue Fall
09/18: Miami, Michigan St. Win OT Games
09/11: Bad Week For Big 10
09/05: College Football Weekend Recap


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