Hokies Blow Away Hurricanes; Five of Top 10 BCS Teams Fall
by Mike Mitchell
The BCS Standings will have a new look come Monday after five of the top ten teams were haunted a day after Halloween.
Number 2 Miami was blown away by Virginia Tech, 31-7; number 5 Georgia was kicked by Florida, 16-13; number 8 Washington State was stomped by USC, 43-16; number 9 Nebraska was shucked by Texas, 31-7; number 10 Michigan State was bounced by Michigan, 27-20.
In addition, number 14 Oklahoma State was wrangled by top-ranked Oklahoma, 52-9.
The Congrove Computer Rankings, which more closely resembled the BCS Standings than either of the major polls, had the top five ranked this way heading into Saturday: Oklahoma, Miami, Florida State, Southern Cal, Ohio State. The only difference in the BCS was that Georgia was number 5 and Ohio State stood at number 6.
The survivors on Saturday, aside from Oklahoma and Southern Cal, included Florida State which beat Notre Dame, 37-0, handing the Irish their first shutout loss in South Bend since 1978. The setback puts Notre Dame's record at 2-6 for the first time since 1963.
Also surviving, just barely, was Ohio State. The Buckeyes needed a touchdown pass with 1:35 left, and a 60-yard Penn State field goal that missed by little more than a foot as time expired, to keep their repeat title hopes alive with a 21-20 comeback win. The loss gives Joe Paterno the first five-game losing streak of his head coaching career, and the first by Penn State since Paterno's first year as an assistant coach in 1950.
Michigan State became the last team this season to lose a Big Ten game, throwing the conference into a logjam of four teams with one loss vying for the league title. The Spartans, Wolverines, Buckeyes and Purdue are all precariously perched at the top of the league ladder.
Next week, Michigan State visits Ohio State and Purdue hosts Iowa. Michigan gets a bye week before traveling to Northwestern and ending at home against the Buckeyes. Ohio State also has to play Purdue in between their battles with the Spartans and Wolverines.
Miami's loss ended their streak of 39 regular season wins, 27 Big East wins, and 18 road wins. Their last loss in the regular season was a 43-10 humbling administered by the Hokies in 1999.
Frank Beamer improved to 6-7 in his career against the 'Canes and Virginia Tech beat a top eight team for the first time ever. It was also the first regular season loss ever for Hurricane head coach Larry Coker.
Pittsburgh sits in the driver's seat of the Big East with the conference's only unblemished record in league play, while Miami and Virginia Tech are tied for second. The Panthers host the Hokies next Saturday and visit Miami November 29 in the last regular season game that the 'Canes will play as Big East members.
Saturday's games threw many of the conference races into virtual free-for-alls.
Georgia's 16-13 loss to Florida occurred when Matt Leach connected on the game-winning field goal from 33 yards out with 33 seconds remaining. It marks the 11th loss for the Bulldogs in the last 12 meetings with the Gators. Florida has now scored successive victories over three straight ranked opponents and moved into a tie with Georgia for the SEC East lead. The Bulldogs still have the tie-breaking advantage, however, with one less over-all loss than Florida.
LSU, which had no trouble in a 49-10 romp over Louisiana Tech, still lags behind Ole Miss in the west even though the Tigers are ranked significantly higher than the Rebels. Mississippi took a 43-14 lead in the third quarter over South Carolina, then hung on for a 43-40 win as they improved to 5-0 for the first time since they last won the SEC title in 1963.
Auburn improved to 4-1 in the conference, same as LSU, with a 73-7 wipeout of Louisiana-Monroe.
Mississippi travels to Auburn next Saturday.
Oklahoma's win ended a two-game losing skid to Oklahoma State and kept the Sooners a game up on Texas in the Big 12 south. The Longhorns' win over Nebraska dropped the Cornhuskers to 3-2 in the conference, tied with Kansas State and just a half-game ahead of Missouri in the north. The Wildcats, however, have three over-all losses while Nebraska and the Tigers each have two.
Kansas State was a 38-10 winner over Baylor on Saturday while Missouri was idle.
Top games in the Big 12 next Saturday include Texas A&M at Oklahoma and Texas at Oklahoma State.
Southern California's win over Washington State, and UCLA's surprising 21-14 loss to Stanford, put the Trojans on top of the PAC-10 by virtue of a better over-all record than the two teams it's tied with in conference play. UCLA and Washington State are 4-1 in league games, but the Bruins have three losses over-all and the Cougars have two. USC is 8-1 over-all.
Washington State hosts UCLA next Saturday while Southern California is idle.
Also on Saturday, Arkansas once again found itself playing the role of marathon men. The Razorbacks snapped a three-game losing streak by repelling Kentucky 71-63 in 7 overtimes. It matched the longest game in NCAA history, a 58-56 Arkansas win in 7 overtimes over Mississippi in 2001. The Razorbacks lost to Tennessee in six overtimes last year and beat Alabama in double-overtime this season.
Here's how the other conference standings are shaping up:
Florida State has a two-game advantage over all of the ACC challengers. The annual Bowden Bowl takes place in in Tallahassee next Saturday when son Tommy brings Clemson to Doak Campbell Stadium with his 5-4 Tigers on the verge of failing to become eligible for a bowl bid.
TCU and Southern Miss are both unbeaten in CUSA and face each other on November 20.
Miami (Ohio) and Bowling Green are the only teams unbeaten in MAC play but will square off on Tuesday night in Oxford, Ohio as leaders of their respective divisions.
Utah seized control of the Mountain West by virtue of their triple-overtime 45-43 win over Air Force and upset losses by Colorado State and New Mexico.
North Texas is 4-0 in Sun Belt play and the only team with an unblemished league record as the Mean Green shoots for its third consecutive conference crown.
Boise State is the only undefeated team in WAC play and leads Hawaii and Fresno State which each have one loss. The Broncos still have to travel to Fresno on November 21 and Honolulu on November 6.
Connecticut is the top Independent with a 7-3 record after its 41-27 defeat of Western Michigan. Navy is a surprising 6-3 following a 35-17 sinking of Tulane.
Still Streaking: Army has lost 11 straight after its 24-9 loss to UAB.
SMU has lost 9 consecutive games after falling 20-11 to Fresno State.
Duke lost for the second time under interim coach Ted Roof when Tennessee beat the Blue Devils 23-6. It wasn't a conference loss, however, so Duke's ACC losing streak stays stuck on 30.
Vanderbilt, which has lost 22 straight games to SEC foes and 12 straight to 1-A teams, was idle. The Commodores have already clinched their 21st consecutive losing season.
Baylor fell to 5-56 lifetime in the Big 12 with its 38-10 loss to Kansas State.
Conference Realignment: Rice, SMU and Tulsa will leave the WAC to join CUSA. Marshall may also get an invitation to CUSA.
Utah State and New Mexico State will head to the WAC from the Sun Belt.
Boise State may move from the WAC to the MWC.
It appears Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida are headed to the Big East. Further expansion could open the door for UCF.
It is widely speculated that Boise State will leave the WAC and join the Mountain West.
It all began with the migration of Miami, Virginia Tech and, most recently, Boston College from the Big East to the ACC.
Coaching Milestone: Bobby Bowden put some distance between Joe Paterno and himself with the 37-0 win over Notre Dame and Penn State's 21-20 loss to Ohio State.
Bowden is now 340-97-4 in 38 seasons, 28 at Florida State. Paterno is 338-107-3 at Penn State.
Tracking the new coaches: There were eighteen head coaching changes in the off-season and all of them now have at least one win this year. But there have been three new coaches taking over teams since the season began.
John Mumford is 0-3 with Army after the Cadets lost 24-9 to UAB.
Mike Hankwitz is 0-4 with Arizona following the Wildcats' 52-23 loss at Oregon State.
Ted Roof is 0-2 at Duke after the Blue Devils fell 23-6 at Tennessee.