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College Football Season

Two Unbeatens Fall, As Expected

by Dave Congrove
October 31, 2010

A pair of teams saw their dreams of an undefeated season come to an end, but you have to stop short of calling their losses "upsets". Michigan State, which was crushed 37-6 at Iowa, and Missouri, which fell 31-17 at Nebraska, were both underdogs in their respective games. The Congrove Computer Rankings tapped the Hawkeyes as 11.54-point favorites over the Spartans and projected the Cornhuskers to win by 9.07.

Those losses trimmed the list of unbeaten teams to five which is half as many as we had just two weeks ago, and eight fewer than were left three weeks ago.

Auburn, Oregon, TCU and Utah all held court during a Saturday slate that saw all six unbeaten teams in action hit the road. Boise State took care of its business on Tuesday when the Broncos kicked off the 55-game college football week with a 49-20 home rout of Louisiana Tech.

BCS No. 1 Auburn got an early fight from Ole Miss, then put the Rebels away 51-31.

BCS No. 2 Oregon trailed 32-29 at USC with 11 minutes left in the 3rd quarter before scoring the final 24 points of the game for a 53-32 win.

BCS No. 4 TCU had no issue with UNLV as it rolled to a typical 48-6 victory. The Horned Frogs entered the game having outscored its 8 previous opponents by an average of 40-9.

BCS No. 8 Utah established a 28-10 lead on Air Force through 3 quarters and halted a 4th quarter surge by the Falcons to win 28-23.

TCU visits Utah next Saturday.

The biggest upset of the day was, arguably, Tulsa's 28-27 win at Notre Dame. The Golden Hurricane has the smallest undergraduate enrollment of any school in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) with 2,987 students, yet managed to knock off one of the most-storied programs in college football history in the first meeting ever between the two schools. And it accomplished the monumental feat at Notre Dame. As if simply winning wasn't enough, Tulsa did so by kicking the go-ahead field goal with 3:23 left and sealed the deal with an interception in the endzone with just 36 ticks left on the clock. The Irish were in position to attempt a game-winning field goal, but opted to have backup QB Tommy Rees throw on 2nd-and-8 from the Tulsa 19. Rees is a true freshman who was called to duty after starting QB Dayne Crist suffered a season-ending knee injury on Notre Dame's second series of the game.

Want another story of David slaying Goliath?

Some will argue that this was a bigger upset than Tulsa winning at Notre Dame. Baylor (12,000 undergrad enrollment) came from 9 points down in the third quarter to win 30-22 at Texas (38,000 undergrad enrollment). The Bears (7-2, 4-1) top the Big 12 South by a half game over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, each of which are 7-1, 3-1. Baylor travels to Oklahoma State next week and has Oklahoma at home for the regular season finale. The Bears are eligible to go bowling for the first time since 1994 while the Longhorns (4-4, 2-3) need two wins in their final four games to avoid the end of a 12-year bowl appearance streak.

Miami was also a victim of the upset bug as it lost 24-19 at Virginia. The final score doesn't sound so bad, but the Hurricanes trailed 24-0 before mounting a 4th quarter desperation comeback bid. The 18.68-point computer favorites lost QB Jacory Harris to an apparent concussion in the 2nd quarter and two backups combined to add 4 INT's to the 1 that was thrown by Harris. It was the first ACC win of the season for the Cavaliers.

Miami's loss gives Virginia Tech a 2-game lead over everyone else in the Coastal division, but the Hokies still have crucial games coming up with Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami in consecutive weeks.

Boston College also pocketed its first ACC victory of the year with a 16-10 upset of Clemson in Chestnut Hill.

N.C. State began the spate of ACC upsets with a 28-24 home win over Florida State on Thursday night to put the Wolfpack in control of their own destiny in the Atlantic division race.

However, Maryland may be in the best shape in that division. The Terps, 'Noles and 'Pack all have one league loss and Maryland gets each of the other two schools at home in the last two weeks of the regular season.

Navy, a 2-TD home favorite Duke, fell 34-31 to the Blue Devils. The Midshipmen are now tied with Army for the best record (5-3) among the three Independent programs while Notre Dame (4-5) brings up the rear.

The Big East is one giant logjam after Syracuse walked out of Cincinnati with a 31-7 win. The Orange find themselves in second-place in the conference, behind Pitt, and just one win away from becoming bowl eligible. Syracuse owns the best overall record in the conference at 6-2 while the Bearcats now possess the worst mark at 3-5. In conference play, Pitt is 3-0, Syracuse is 2-1, Rutgers is 1-1 and the other five institutions are each 1-2.

West Virginia helped set the Big East on its ear with a 16-13 loss at UConn on Friday night, the Mountaineers' first-ever loss to the Huskies in 7 meetings.

UCF took command of CUSA's east division with a 49-35 home win over East Carolina. Both teams entered the contest with undefeated records in conference play.

Florida and Georgia staged an epic battle in Jacksonville for their annual get-together with the Gators prevailing 34-31 in overtime. The Bulldogs outscored Florida 21-10 in the fourth quarter to knot the score, but were intercepted on their first play in overtime. The pick, which was almost returned for a TD, allowed Florida to need nothing more than a field goal to claim victory over Georgia for the 18th time in the last 21 meetings. The Gators trail SEC East leader South Carolina by a full game but host the Gamecocks in two weeks.

The Sun Belt conference tossed a couple of games in the upset ring yesterday, as well. Troy, the league's perennial best team, was shocked 28-14 at UL-Monroe. And FIU, which entered the day 2-0 in conference play, lost 21-9 at home to a rival FAU team that entered the contest with an 0-3 league mark and a 1-5 record overall. FAU has dominated the series between the two south Florida schools with victories in 8 of the 9 meetings.

Roy Helu, Jr. ran for a school-record 30-7 yards in Nebraska's 31-17 win over previously undefeated Missouri and the 'Huskers opened a 24-0 lead in the first quarter.

Michigan lost its 3rd straight game when it fell 41-31 at Penn State after opening the season with 5 straight wins. Last year, the Wolverines started 4-0 only to finish the season at 5-7 and never defeating another FBS school. Under Rich Rodriguez, Michigan is 2-17 vs. FBS schools in the months of October and November.

The state of Washington was shut out 83-0 as the Huskies lost 41-0 at Stanford and the Cougars lost 42-0 at Arizona State.

Temple scored a second straight shutout when it skunked Akron 30-0. Last week, the Owls blanked Buffalo 42-0. The last time the school posted consecutive shutouts was the 1971 season when it turned the trick on UConn and Xavier. Temple also tied a school record with its 10th straight home win.

Losses by Michigan State and Missouri cut the unbeaten list to five schools. In alphabetical order, they are Auburn (SEC), Boise State (WAC), and Oregon (PAC-10), along with TCU and Utah from the Mountain West.

New Mexico and Akron are the only teams left that are still searching for that elusive first win.

FBS vs. FCS:
Two games this week involved Bowl Subdivisions (FBS) schools playing Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams. Army was a methodical 29-7 winner over VMI, but North Carolina had to rally for 14 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to thwart William & Mary's upset bid 21-17. In postgame interviews, William reportedly blamed Mary for the loss. Naturally, Mary blamed William.

FBS schools are 77-7 (.917) this season in such games and 541-49 (.917) since 2003.

Here are the results of every FBS loss to the FCS this season:
9/4: Jacksonville State 49, Mississippi 48 (2 OT's)
9/4: North Dakota State 6, Kansas 3
9/11: Gardner-Webb 38, Akron 37
9/11: Liberty 27, Ball State 23
9/11: South Dakota 41, Minnesota 38
9/11: James Madison 21, Virginia Tech 16
10/2: Cal-Davis 14, San Jose State 13

This year, 85 FBS teams play a total of 90 games against FCS foes. Five schools play two such games - Arizona State, Ball State, San Jose State, Syracuse and Virginia.

Boise State has streaks of 21 overall wins, 32 regular season wins, 29 home wins, 59 regular season home wins, and 43 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (37-0). The Broncos' last home loss to a conference foe occurred in 1998 when they were a member of the Big West and fell to Idaho in the final regular season game. The Broncos are 6-1 in their last seven matches against BCS conference schools. Boise State won 49-20 vs. Louisiana Tech.

Auburn has 10 straight wins overall. The Tigers won 51-31 at Ole Miss.

Oklahoma has 35 straight home victories. The Sooners won 43-10 vs. Colorado.

Utah has 21 straight home wins. The Utes won 28-23 at Air Force.

Washington State has lost 17 straight to FBS schools. The Cougars lost 42-0 at Arizona State.

Akron has lost 9 straight games overall. The Zips lost 30-0 at Temple.

New Mexico has lost 9 straight games overall. The Lobos lost 38-14 at Colorado State.


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