St. Upsets Gators;
Several Others Narrowly Escape
by Mike Mitchell
10/24/04 1:30 pm edt
Ron Zook's seat got a lot hotter as Mississippi State upset Florida in Starkville 38-31 on a 37-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds left in the game. It was the Bulldogs' first win since a victory over Tulane in their season-opener and snapped a 9-game losing streak against SEC teams. It's only Mississippi State's second win over a SEC team in their last 20 tries and first under head coach Sylvester Croom.
LSU barely avoided an even bigger upset on Saturday night. The Tigers prevailed against Troy State in Baton Rouge when they answered the Trojans' late go-ahead field goal with a 54-yard drive for the game-winning touchdown with just over two minutes remaining.
SEC division leaders Tennessee and Auburn each picked up wins. The Volunteers edged Alabama 17-13 for Phil Fulmer's tenth win in twelve tries against the Crimson Tide. Auburn walloped Kentucky 42-10 to keep their perfect record intact and a two-and-a-half game lead on their closest challengers (LSU and Mississippi).
Georgia stayed in the east division title hunt with a 20-14 win over Arkansas. The Bulldogs have the same over-all and conference records as Tennessee but the Vols own the head-to-head tie-breaker by virtue of their 19-14 win in Athens on October 9.
Texas A&M avoided the upset to Colorado when a Todd Pegram field goal tied the score on the last play of regulation just 65 seconds after Colorado had taken the lead on Bobby Purify's two-yard plunge. The win was sealed when Purify fumbled on the Buffaloes' overtime possession after the Aggies scored on another Pegram field goal.
Missouri and Nebraska continue to be co-leaders of the Big 12 north despite suffering losses on Saturday. Missouri fell 20-17 to Oklahoma State on a field goal with 55 seconds left in the game. Nebraska was spanked 45-21 by Kansas State. Still, their 2-2 conference marks are the best that their division has to offer. Colorado, Kansas, Iowa State and Kansas State are all 1-3 after Saturday's games.
Kansas was bounced 41-10 by Oklahoma, and Iowa State edged Baylor 26-25. Texas provided a shock with its 51-21 devastation of Texas Tech in Lubbock as Cedric Benson became just the sixth player in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
Xavier Beitia's short field goal with just over a minute remaining gave Florida State a 20-17 comeback win at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons fell to 0-4 in ACC play after losing two games in overtime (Clemson, N.C. State) and the other two with 2:10 or less left in the game (Virginia Tech, FSU).
The win kept the Seminoles (6-1, 4-1) in sole possession of second place in the ACC. Virginia improved to 6-1, 3-1 with a 37-16 lambasting of Duke. Idle Virginia Tech (5-2, 2-1) is the only other ACC team with no more than one conference loss.
Miami (6-0, 3-0) kept first place all to themselves with a 45-31 win over North Carolina State in Raleigh.
Also in the ACC, Clemson beat Maryland 10-7 on a 2-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds left to give the Terrapins its first three-game losing streak under Ralph Friedgen.
Tulane dealt UAB a serious blow to its CUSA title hopes, upsetting the Blazers in New Orleans 59-55. Lester Picard threw six touchdown passes for the Green Wave who entered the game winless in conference play and 1-4 over-all. UAB came into the contest at 5-1 over-all and tied for the CUSA lead with a 3-0 mark.
Memphis was inexplicably bombed by Cincinnati. The 49-10 loss dropped the conference's preseason title favorites to 2-2 in league play, 5-2 over-all.
Louisville (5-1, 3-0) stayed unbeaten in CUSA play with a 41-9 rout of South Florida on Friday night as the Cardinals successfully regrouped from their 41-38 come-from-ahead loss to Miami a week ago.
Southern Miss (5-1, 4-0) is the only other team with an unblemished league record in CUSA after the Golden Eagles pillaged the East Carolina Pirates 51-10.
Michigan stayed in the Big Ten title hunt and likely knocked Purdue out of the chase. The 16-14 win by the Wolverines gives Michigan a 5-0 conference mark, same as Wisconsin which knocked off Northwestern 24-12. The Wolverines and Badgers are the only teams left with unbeaten Big 10 records but Wisconsin has the better over-all record at 8-0 while Michigan is 7-1.
Elsewhere in the Big 10, Ohio State avoided its first 0-4 start since 1922 by throttling Indiana 30-7.
Arizona State scored two touchdowns and a field goal in a span of less than three minutes to rally past UCLA 48-42. Andrew Walter threw six TD passes and three INTs for the Sun Devils who, along with the Bruins, were two of five teams that entered the weekend with one conference loss in the PAC-10.
A similar PAC-10 showdown pitted Oregon against Stanford with the Ducks prevailing 16-13. California protected its one-loss conference record with a 38-0 shellacking of Arizona.
USC entered the weekend as the only team with an unbeaten PAC-10 record and the Trojans kept it that way with a 38-0 romp over Washington, the Huskies' first scoreboard goose egg since 1981.
In the MAC, Marshall easily improved to 4-0 in league play with a 48-14 romp over Buffalo. Miami (Ohio) and Akron trail the Herd in the east division with 4-1 conference marks. The RedHawks handed UCF their eleventh consecutive loss, 43-7. Akron took care of Ball State, 35-23.
Northern Illinois and Toledo share the MAC West lead at 6-2, 5-0. The Huskies dispatched Western Michigan 59-38 while the Rockets slid past Central Michigan 27-22. Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan sit behind the front-runners with 3-1 conference records.
Utah (7-0, 3-0) had no trouble with UNLV and the Utes' 63-28 win keeps them in control of the Mountain West. BYU has rallied from a dismal start to improve to 3-1 in the conference, 4-4 over-all, after a 41-24 win at Air Force. Colorado State is the only other MWC team with just one loss. The Rams improved to 3-4, 2-1 with a Friday night 30-7 home win over border rival Wyoming (4-3, 1-2).
UTEP scored a huge win in the WAC, handing Louisiana Tech a 44-27 setback in Ruston. It was the first conference loss of the season for the Bulldogs while the Miners won their fourth straight and improved to 5-2, 3-1.
Boise State is the only team in front of the Miners. The Broncos (7-0, 4-0) stayed perfect with a 33-16 home win over Fresno State for their fourth straight win in the series, 18th consecutive over-all win, 23rd straight at home, 22nd straight over WAC foes and 31st win in their last 32 games.
Also in the WAC, Nevada and Tulsa played a marathon three-overtime game in Reno before the Wolf Pack came out on top by a 54-48 count. The game ended when Tulsa fumbled the ball through the end zone from the 1-yard line. The two teams scored four touchdowns in the final 2:18 of regulation with Tulsa tying it up at 41 with no time left on the clock.
West Virginia solidified its spot atop the Big East with a 27-6 win on Thursday night over Syracuse. The Mountaineers and Orangemen entered the game as the only two teams without a conference loss. Now, WVU's closest challengers are Pittsburgh (5-2, 3-1), Boston College (5-2, 1-1) and Syracuse (3-4, 1-1).
The Panthers rolled over Rutgers 41-17. Boston College scored the winning touchdown with 54 seconds left and extended its winning streak over Notre Dame to four with a 24-23 win in South Bend.
Navy beat Rice 14-13 when the Owls missed the extra point after scoring the potential tying touchdown with 4:41 left in the game.
How Many Innings Did It Last? Penn State and Iowa combined to produce a total of 315 yards and 10 points in the Hawkeyes' 6-4 win.
Somethin' Had To Give: When Baylor and Iowa State met on Saturday, the two teams had combined to lose 23 straight Big 12 games. The Cyclones halted their 13-game skid to conference teams with a 26-25 squeaker over the Bears who have now lost 11 league games in-a-row.
FAU Finally Beaten: Florida Atlantic, a school transitioning from 1-AA to 1-A and entering the Sun Belt conference next season, lost for the first time in four tries against 1-A schools this season. Louisiana-Monroe upended the Owls 17-13 in what could actually be termed an upset victory for the Indians even though they are the larger-classified school.
FAU opened the season with consecutive road wins over Hawaii, North Texas and Middle Tennessee.
Louisiana-Monroe notched its third straight win and this one counts in the Sun Belt conference as a designated league game. Last week the Indians beat Florida International which is also moving up to 1-A next season and entering the Sun Belt conference. The Indians edged lowly Idaho the week before that for their only win this season against a 1-A program.
On the whole, 1-AA schools have won just 6-of-52 games against their 1-A brethren and Florida Atlantic has half of those wins.
The only other game on Saturday that matched a 1-A team against a 1-AA school saw Vanderbilt beat Eastern Kentucky 19-7.
Computer Hits and Misses: The computer has a perfect mark on straight up picks with 21 teams, including 4 in the PAC-10 conference and 3 in the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12. It no longer has a perfect ATS record with any team but has missed just one ATS pick with 6 teams.
The computer has just one correct ATS pick with 14 teams.
It is 42-18 ATS with Sun Belt teams.
Computer Nails The Upsets Again: The computer's weekly picks based on the Congrove Computer Rankings picked four outright upsets against the Vegas spreads and went 7-2 ATS on upset calls. Over the last three weeks its upset picks have gone 11-9 SU and 15-5 ATS. It is 32-17 ATS for the season with its upset picks.
This week, it nailed the "upsets" of BYU over Air Force, Michigan over Purdue, Iowa over Penn State and Oklahoma State over Missouri.
No Blemishes: Auburn, Boise State, Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma, USC, Utah and Wisconsin entered the weekend with perfect records and all survived.
There are no undefeated teams in the Big East, CUSA, MAC or Sun Belt. Additionally, there are no unbeaten teams in the north division of the Big 12 or the east division of the SEC.
Streaking: Boise State has won 18 straight games over-all, 23 straight at home, and 22 straight over WAC foes after a 33-16 win over Fresno State.
USC extended the nation's second-longest winning streak to 16 with a 38-0 rout of Washington. The Trojans have won 19 straight home games and 11 consecutive PAC-10 games.
Utah has won 11 straight games and Auburn has won 10.
North Texas has won 21 straight over Sun Belt conference foes. The Mean Green topped New Mexico State 36-26.
Southern Miss has beaten 13 consecutive CUSA opponents after a 51-10 win over East Carolina.
Central Florida ran the nation's longest losing streak to 11 games with a 43-7 loss at Miami (Ohio).
Illinois has lost 13 straight Big 10 games after a 45-0 loss at Minnesota.
Temple has dropped 11 straight Big East games after losing 45-31 at UConn.
Iowa State ended its 13-game losing streak to Big 12 teams with its 26-25 win over Baylor.
Baylor has lost 11 straight Big 12 games after the 26-25 loss to Iowa State.