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College Football Season

PSU Loses, 'Bama Escapes, TT Rolls

by Mike Mitchell and Dave Congrove
November 8, 2008

Just another day in the world of college football.

No. 3 Penn State loses, No. 1 Alabama gets an overtime escape, while No. 2 Texas Tech lowers the boom on another top-10 BCS opponent.

Penn State fell 24-23 at Iowa on a 31-yard field goal with 1 second left. The Nittany Lions (9-1, 5-1) haven't won in Iowa City since 1999, and last year's 27-7 Penn State home victory ended a five-game losing streak to the Hawkeyes (6-4, 2-4).

Nick Saban returned to LSU with his undefeated and top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (10-0, 6-0), and clinched the SEC Eastern division title with a 27-21 overtime win against his former team. Saban was the head coach at LSU from 2000-2005, winning the 2003 National Championship. This was his first trip to LSU since taking over at Alabama last season. The Tigers won 41-34 in Tuscaloosa last year. LSU had won 5 straight in the series, and seven of the last eight. The Crimson Tide could have avoided overtime, but a 29-yard field goal attempt was blocked on the final play. LSU had the ball first in overtime, but that possession ended with an interception in the end zone. Saban is the first coach in history to lead a team to a national championship and later defeat that same team on its' own home field.

Texas Tech (10-0, 6-0) made it 7 wins in-a-row for the home team in its' series with Oklahoma State (8-2, 4-2). The Red Raiders never seemed genuinely threatened in the 56-20 win over the 9th-ranked Cowboys at Lubbock. A trip to Oklahoma in two weeks, and a home date with Baylor in the season finale are all that stand in the way of Texas Tech's first Big 12 South division title. Since the formation of the conference in 1996, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M are the only teams that have represented the South in the conference championship game. Texas and Oklahoma have won the last 9 division crowns, and the South representative has captured the last four conference titles.

No. 4 Texas beat Baylor 45-21.

No. 5 Florida (8-1, 6-1) clinched the SEC's Eastern division title and will play Alabama for the coveted crown. The Gators routed Vanderbilt 42-14, to hand the Commodores their fourth straight loss after a 4-0 start. Vandy (5-4, 3-4) is still a win shy of bowl eligibility with two road games (Kentucky and Wake Forest) and one home game (Tennessee) left to play. The 'Dores have not played in a bowl game since 1982, and their lone bowl win came in 1955.

No. 6 Oklahoma breezed to a 66-28 win at Texas A&M.

No. 7 USC (8-1, 6-1) knocked off California (6-3, 4-2) for the 5th straight time, and has now won 7 of the last 8 meetings. The 17-3 win sets up an odd scenario whereby USC could go to the BCS title game but Oregon State could be the top conference team by virtue of its' win over the Trojans. The Beavers (6-3, 5-1) beat UCLA 34-6. USC only has conference games left at Stanford and UCLA. Oregon State hosts Cal next week, before visiting Arizona and closing at home against Oregon in the "Civil War" rivalry. The Golden Bears finish with home games against Stanford ("The Big Game") and Washington after next week's visit to Oregon State.

On Thursday, No. 8 Utah salvaged its' BCS bowl hopes with a 13-10 home win over No. 12 TCU after the Horned Frogs opened the door by missing two field goals in the 4th quarter. A 9-yard TD pass with 47 seconds left provided the game-winning points for the Utes. Both teams entered the contest undefeated in conference play. It was the 11th consecutive overall win for Utah which has defeated TCU in 5-of-6 meetings. Utah's only loss to TCU snapped an 18-game winning streak in 2005, the year after it clobbered Pitt 35-7 in the Fiesta Bowl.

No. 10 Boise State (9-0, 5-0) scored a 49-14 knockout of outmanned Utah State (2-8, 2-4) in a WAC game, giving the Broncos their 48th consecutive regular season home win. Boise State has won all 31 of its' home games against WAC opponents since entering the league in 2001.

Wyoming (4-6, 1-5 MWC) eliminated Tennessee (3-7, 1-5 SEC) from bowl consideration for just the second time since 1989 with a 13-7 upset in Knoxville. The Volunteers were a 3-1/2 touchdown favorite to win their first game after the ousting of head coach Phillip Fulmer was announced on Monday. However, Tennessee's demise coincides with the loss of offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe to the head coaching position at Duke. Without Cutcliffe, the Volunteer offense has been held to single digits for three straight games for the first time since 1964. Cutcliffe has denied any interest in returning to Knoxville as the Vols' new head coach.

Another early Saturday afternoon upset saw Western Michigan defeat Illinois 23-17 in Detroit. The Illini (5-5 overall, 3-3 Big 10) were picked by several preseason forecasters to finish second in the conference (the Congrove Computer Rankings projected a 7-5 finish for Illinois, and a 4-4 conference mark). The Broncos (8-2, 5-1 MAC) have won seven of their last eight games, and are on a 2-game winning streak against the Big 10. WMU beat Iowa 28-19 in November last season.

Michigan State (9-1, 6-1) eliminated Purdue (3-7, 1-5) from bowl consideration for just the second time since 1997 with a 21-7 win at home. The Spartans will have a chance to play for at least a piece of the Big Ten title with they journey to Penn State for their next game on November 22.

Ohio State (8-2, 5-1), which owns a win over Michigan State and a loss to Penn State, stayed in the conference race with a 45-10 wipeout of Northwestern (7-3, 3-3).

Michigan (3-7, 2-4) gave Minnesota (7-3, 3-3) a 29-6 spanking in front of its' home folks, handing the Golden Gophers their second straight loss after starting the season 7-1. The Wolverines were eliminated from bowl consideration last week in a 48-42 loss at Purdue. The last season that Michigan failed to go bowling was 1974.

Georgia and Kentucky staged a wild shootout in Lexington with the Bulldogs ultimately prevailing 42-38. The lead changed hands seven times in the second half. It ended with Georgia (8-2, 5-2) intercepting a pass in the closing minute after Kentucky (6-4,2-4) had driven to the Bulldogs' 13-yard line. The final points of the game came with 1:54 left when an 11-yard TD pass culminated an 84-yard, 4-play drive by Georgia.

South Carolina (7-3, 4-3) has won six of its' last seven games to recover from a 1-2 start. The Gamecocks picked up a 34-21 home win over Arkansas (4-6, 1-5).

Nebraska (6-4, 3-3) picked up its' best win of the season, by far, beating Kansas 45-35 in Lincoln. The 'Huskers best previous performance this season was a 37-31 overtime loss at Texas Tech. The win over the Jayhawks (6-4, 3-3) avenges last season's 76-39 loss that set a record for the most points ever allowed by a Cornhusker team.

North Carolina (7-2, 3-2) was outgained by more than 100 yards by Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3), but the Tar Heels scored 14 points off three turnovers to win 28-7. Both teams were looking to stay in the tight ACC Coastal division race. Every team in the division, except Duke, entered the week with two conference losses. Furthermore, 11 of the 12 ACC teams entered the week mathematically alive for a berth in the ACC Championship game.

Duke, however, is seeing its' chances diminish at becoming eligible for its' first bowl bid since 1994. The Blue Devils (4-5, 1-4) lost at home to North Carolina State (3-6, 1-4) 27-17 to give the Wolfpack their first ACC win of the season. The Blue Devils close with consecutive road trips to Clemson and Virginia Tech, and a season finale home match with North Carolina.

Wake Forest (6-3, 4-2) became bowl eligible and kept its' ACC title hopes alive with a 28-17 win over Virginia (5-5, 3-3). The Demon Deacons are battling Florida State (7-2, 4-2) for the Atlantic division title, but Wake has the upper hand with its' head-to-head win over the 'Noles.

Florida State (7-2, 4-2) wore down Clemson 41-27 (4-5, 2-4) on Bobby Bowden's 79th birthday. It was the first time since 1998 that this matchup couldn't be referred to as the "Bowden Bowl". Bobby's son, Tommy, stepped down as Clemson head coach on October 13. Tommy won four of the last five meetings with his father.

Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1), West Virginia (6-3, 3-1) and Pitt (7-2, 3-1) all have one loss in Big East play following Saturday's action.

The Bearcats beat the Mountaineers in overtime after giving up a 13-point lead in the final 1:11 of regulation on a safety, touchdown and 2-point conversion, and a field goal. However, in overtime, West Virginia had to settle for a field goal and Cincinnati answered with a touchdown to snag the win. The 'Cats are now 2-10 against WVU since 1969, but have won two of the last three Morgantown meetings.

Earlier in the day, Pittsburgh thrashed Louisville 41-7, dropping the Cardinals to 5-4, 1-3.

Pitt visits Cincinnati on November 22 in a game that could determine the Big East title as each controls their own destiny.

Boston College (6-3) won the 18th Holy War 17-0 over Notre Dame (5-4), the first shutout by either team in the history of the series. The rivalry features the only catholic schools playing football in the FBS. The series, which began in 1975 at Foxboro, is now tied 9-9, but the Eagles have won 6 in-a-row and 7-of-8. The Fighting Irish are 3-3 in games played at Chestnut Hill, losing the last three.

Oregon (7-3, 5-2) beat Stanford 35-28 on a 3-yard run with 6 seconds remaining. The Cardinal (5-5, 4-3) had just taken a 28-27 lead with 2:18 left to play.

East Carolina won 19-16 in overtime at Marshall in a game that matched the CUSA East division co-leaders. The Pirates (6-3, 4-1) kicked a 27-yard field goal for the win after the Herd (4-5, 3-2) missed on a 42-yard boot. Overtime was forced after East Carolina missed a 42-yarder at the end of regulation. Marshall tied the game with 1:21 left on a 34-yard touchdown pass that was set up by a 15-yard ECU punt.

Fresno State continued its' poor showing in 2008, losing 41-28 to Nevada on Friday night. Their third home loss of the season dropped the Bulldogs to 5-4 overall, 2-3 in the WAC. Fresno State was selected by the WAC media and several national publications as the preseason favorite to win the conference. Our preseason projections, based on the Congrove Computer Rankings, projected Fresno State as the 2nd-place team in the conference. The win provided Nevada with renewed bowl hopes as it improved to 5-4 overall, 3-2 in the conference.

On Thursday, Virginia Tech rehabilitated its season with a 23-13 win over ACC Atlantic division leader Maryland (No. 23, BCS). The Hokies halted a 2-game losing streak and control their own destiny in the ACC Coastal division race. Both teams are now 6-3 overall, and 3-2 in the ACC.

Ball State (No. 17, BCS) remained undefeated at 9-0 with a 45-14 home blowout of Northern Illinois (5-4, 4-2) on Wednesday night, ending the Huskies' 3-game winning streak and keeping the Cardinals' BCS bowl hopes alive.

In another Wednesday MAC game, Akron moved back into a tie with Buffalo in the east division after a 47-30 home win over Toledo whose head coach, Tom Amstutz, announced Monday that he is stepping down at the end of the year. Amstutz is 57-39 almost 9 full seasons.

Buffalo had briefly gained sole possession of first place with a 37-17 win on Tuesday over Miami (Ohio) that gave the Bulls their first win over the RedHawks in ten tries as MAC rivals. Buffalo and Akron are each 5-4 on the season, 3-2 in the conference, and meet in Akron next Thursday. In 2-plus seasons under head coach Turner Gill, the Bulls are 9-12 in MAC games. They are 8-5 in their last 13 conference games. Before Gill took over the team in 2006, Buffalo was a woeful 7-49 in MAC games, and only 10-69 overall.

Penn State's 24-23 loss at Iowa leaves 5 teams undefeated: Alabama, Ball State, Boise State, Texas Tech, and Utah.

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.

Washington is the only remaining winless team.

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).

4 teams have yet to defeat a FBS school: SMU, Washington, Washington State and Western Kentucky.

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).

Auburn beat Tennessee-Martin 37-20 in the only game this week that matched FBS and FCS teams.

FBS teams are 83-2 (.976) against FCS teams this season, and 373-37 (.910) 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

Texas Tech has won 12 straight games. The Red Raiders routed Oklahoma State 56-20.

Utah has won 11 straight games. The Utes beat TCU 13-10 on Thursday.

Alabama has won 11 straight games. The Tide won 27-21 in OT at LSU.

Penn State saw its' winning streak at 10 games with a 24-23 loss at Iowa.

Ball State has won 9 straight games. The Cardinals crushed Northern Illinois 45-14 on Wednesday night.

Boise State has won 9 in-a-row overall, 18 consecutive home games, 48 straight regular season home games, and has never lost at home to a fellow WAC conference member (31-0). Overall, the Broncos have won 37 straight conference home games since losing to Idaho in the final game of the 1998 season in the Big West. Boise State beat Utah State 49-14.

Oklahoma has won 22 straight home games. The Sooners won 66-28 at Texas A&M.

BYU has won 18 consecutive home games after beating San Diego State 41-12.

Washington has the longest losing streak in the nation at 11 games, and has lost 7 consecutive home games. The Huskies lost to Arizona State 39-19.

SMU has lost 8 overall, 15 straight conference games, 14 consecutive road games, and 19 straight to FBS teams. The Mustangs lost 31-26 at home to Memphis.

NEW COACHES: The 2007 season featured 24 new head coaches. Nine led their team to a bowl game. This year, there were 18 coaching changes in the offseason, and one more took place when Tommy Bowden stepped down from Clemson on October 13.

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

Colorado State, Hawaii, Houston, Northern Illinois, SMU, Southern Miss, and Washington State have yet to defeat a team from one of the "big 6" conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-10 or SEC).

Arkansas 4-6 Bobby Petrino Lost at South Carolina 34-21
Baylor 3-7 Art Briles Lost at Texas 45-21
Colorado State 4-6 Steve Fairchild Lost at Air Force 38-17
Duke 4-5 David Cutcliffe Lost to N.C. State 27-17
Georgia Tech 7-3 Paul Johnson Lost at North Carolina 28-7
Hawaii 5-5 Greg McMackin Won at New Mexico State 42-30
Houston 5-4 Kevin Sumlin Defeated Tulane 42-14
Michigan 3-7 Rich Rodriguez Won at Minnesota 29-6
Mississippi 5-4 Houston Nutt 11/15, vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Navy 6-3 Ken Nuimatalolo 11/15, vs. Notre Dame (at Baltimore)
Nebraska 6-4 Bo Pelini Defeated Kansas 45-35
Northern Illinois 5-4 Jerry Kill lost at Ball State 45-14
SMU 1-9 June Jones Lost to Memphis 31-26
Southern Miss 4-6 Larry Fedora Won at UCF 17-6
Texas A&M 4-6 Mike Sherman Lost to Oklahoma 66-28
UCLA 3-6 Rick Neuheisel Lost to Oregon State 34-6
Washington State 1-9 Paul Wulff Lost to Arizona 59-28
West Virginia 6-3 Bill Stewart Lost to Cincinnati in OT 26-23

Midseason Change:      
Clemson 1-2 Dabo Swinney Lost at Florida State 41-27

COACHES WHO WON'T BE BACK: The 2008 season wasn't close to being over when jobs started opening up for 2009. Here are the teams with vacancies heading into next season:

Clemson - It was announced on October 13 that Tommy Bowden had agreed to step aside, and left the reigns to Dabo Swinney on an interim basis.

Washington - Ty Willingham was told on October 27 that he was out at the end of the season.

Tennessee - It was revealed on November 3 that Phillip Fulmer had been forced out at Tennessee, effective the end of the season.

Toledo - It was announced on November 3 that Tom Amstutz will be replaced at the end of the year.

Kansas State - It was revealed on November 5 that Ron Prince isn't welcomed back at Kansas State next season, but he will finish the year.


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