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Oklahoma Stumbles; 'Bama Loses To Louisiana-Monroe

by Mike Mitchell
November 18, 2007

Thursday night, No. 2 Oregon lost QB Dennis Dixon and its BCS title hopes. Saturday, the scenario repeated itself with QB Sam Bradford and No. 4 Oklahoma.

Bradford's last snap came with 10:32 to play in the first quarter, one series after he apparently suffered a concussion while making a tackle on a Texas Tech fumble recovery. Oklahoma led 7-3 at that point, but the Red Raiders scored 24 points on their next four possessions to take a 27-7 lead. Texas Tech extended it to 34-10 in the third quarter, then weathered a late rally by the Sooners to post its biggest win of the season.

Oklahoma still controls its own destiny and can punch a ticket to the conference championship game by defeating rival Oklahoma State in Norman next Saturday. However, a loss could send Texas into the title game if the Longhorns defeat Texas A&M.

On Thursday night, Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon left the game with 6:10 remaining in the first quarter, and the Ducks' No.2 ranking went down afterward as Arizona pulled off a 34-24 home upset. Oregon led 8-7 when Dixon went down on his own. It was learned the next day that Dixon had suffered a torn ACL in the win over Arizona State, but felt he could still play. Dixon will miss the rest of the season.

Arizona was further buoyed by two non-offensive touchdowns from a pick-six interception and a punt return that helped the Wildcats build a 31-11 cushion in the second quarter. Arizona won two consecutive home games against PAC-10 opponents for the first time since 1998, and have a three-game winning streak against PAC-10 teams over-all for just the third time in the past seven seasons.

Other Saturday results of interest:

  • Kansas and Missouri each picked up victories. The Jayhawks rolled past Iowa State 45-7, and the Tigers methodically whipped Kansas State 49-32. Kansas and Missouri will clash next Saturday in Kansas City in the Border Showdown to determine the Big 12 North champion.
  • Ohio State became the season's first official conference champion by clinching the Big Ten title and a BCS bowl berth with a 14-3 win at rival Michigan. The Buckeyes held the Wolverines to just 95 total yards. Ohio State is assured of nothing worse than a Rose Bowl bid and isn't entirely out of the BCS title game picture.
  • LSU, the No. 1 team in the BCS Standings, managed an unimpressive 41-24 win at Mississippi. The Tigers clinched the SEC West title last week when Auburn and Alabama both lost.
  • Alabama followed last week's loss at Mississippi State with an embarrassing 21-14 home setback at the hands of Louisiana-Monroe. Four turnovers, a blocked field goal, and three wasted fourth quarter scoring opportunities all seemed to be the product of a team looking forward to next week's Iron Bowl rivalry game with Auburn.

Tennessee rallied from a 24-9 fourth quarter deficit at home against state rival Vanderbilt, pulling out a 25-24 win on a 33-yard field goal with 2:46 left in the game. The Commodores' 49-yard attempt with 33 seconds left nicked the left upright. A Tennessee loss would have given Georgia the SEC East title. Instead, Tennessee clinches the division next week with a win at Kentucky. Georgia can still capture the East title if the Volunteers lose next week.

Vanderbilt would have become bowl eligible with the win. The Commodores haven't been to a bowl game since 1982. Vandy will get one more chance to record the requisite sixth victory when it hosts Wake Forest next Saturday.

In a head-on battle for the ACC Atlantic division title, Boston College won 20-17 at Clemson on a 43-yard TD pass with 1:46 left. The Tigers' 54-yard field goal attempt as time expired fell short.

Virginia Tech walloped Miami 44-14 in Blacksburg and visits Virginia next Saturday to determine the ACC Coastal title. Miami (Fla.) must win at Boston College next week just to become bowl eligible.

Connecticut and West Virginia are the only teams still in the hunt for the Big East title, and they will face-off next Saturday in Morgantown. Cincinnati was eliminated in a 28-23 home loss to the Mountaineers while Pitt was knocked out by its 20-16 loss at Rutgers. Connecticut picked up a 30-7 home victory over Syracuse.

In CUSA, UCF won 49-20 at SMU and can clinch the East division title with a win at home over UTEP next Saturday. If the Golden Knights stumble, East Carolina can claim the division with a home win over Tulane.

Tulsa went out of conference to defeat Army 49-39 on Saturday, and can claim the West division of CUSA with a win at Rice next week. If Tulsa loses to the Owls, Houston advances to the conference title game.

Miami (Ohio) clinched the MAC East thanks to Bowling Green's 31-17 win at Buffalo on Saturday. The RedHawks did their part with a 7-0 win at home over Akron on Wednesday. That yawner was decided on 7-yard fumble return with 5:22 left in a game.

Air Force, BYU and Utah all kept their hopes alive of at least sharing the MWC title. The Falcons (9-3, 6-2) stomped San Diego State 55-23 to complete a 5-win turnaround from last season under first-year head coach Troy Calhoun. BYU (8-2, 6-0) crushed Wyoming 35-10, and Utah (8-3, 5-2) thumped New Mexico 28-10.

BYU can claim the Mountain West title outright with a win in either of its final two games - vs. Utah next week, or at San Diego State on December 1.  Should the Cougars slip and lose both games, the conference title would be split three ways between Air Force, BYU and Utah with 6-2 conference marks. Those teams would also end up 1-1 against each other.

Thanks to Oregon's loss at Arizona, idle Arizona State regained the inside track to the outright PAC-10 title and could clinch it as early as next week. ASU can eliminate USC with a win over the Trojans, and an Oregon loss at UCLA would eliminate the Ducks.

FAU at Troy on December 1 will decide the Sun Belt title if those teams win their respective games next week. The Trojans host Middle Tennessee on Tuesday night while the Owls play FIU in the Orange Bowl. Troy was idle this weekend. FAU trailed Florida 28-20 late in the first half but allowed the Gators to score the final 31 points of the game to lose 59-20 in Gainesville.

The WAC champion will be determined next Friday when Boise State goes to Hawaii. Both teams are 7-0 in the conference. On Friday night, a 45-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining lifted the Warriors to a 28-26 comeback victory over Nevada to keep their undefeated season alive and extend their winning streak to 11 games. (See Late Field Goal Lifts Hawaii Past Nevada). On Saturday, Boise State crushed Idaho 58-14 for the Broncos' 44th consecutive regular season home win.

Also worth noting:

  • Illinois (9-3, 6-2) completed a 7-win improvement over last season with a 41-22 home victory over Northwestern. The Fighting Illini locked up a tie for 2nd in the conference after finishing in the cellar last year. It is very much a possibility that Illinois head coach Ron Zook could face his former team in the Outback Bowl or Capital One Bowl.
  • Iowa lost 28-19 at home to Western Michigan to fall to 6-6. The Broncos had won just three games all year prior to the upset and will finish the year with a better record against Big Ten teams (1-1) than MAC teams (currently 2-4).
  • California dropped to 6-5 with a 37-23 loss at Washington. The Golden Bears have lost five of their last six since being ranked 2nd in all of the voter polls (AP, Coaches, Harris) on October 6.
  • Notre Dame beat Duke 28-7 to end a 4-game losing streak and improve to 2-9.
  • Memphis has won four of its last five games. The Tigers improved to 6-5 and became bowl eligible with Saturday's 25-9 win over UAB.

In coaching developments over the weekend:

  • Lloyd Carr reportedly will step down from Michigan as early as Monday.
  • Weekend reports said Houston Nutt would not be back at Arkansas next season.

In other games played earlier in the week:

  • Friday night, Central Michigan missed a 52-yard field goal with 22 seconds left to fall 48-45 to Eastern Michigan. The Chippewas had already clinched a spot in the MAC Championship game with last week's win at Western Michigan, but fell to 6-5 over-all with their first conference loss of the season (5-1). The Eagles finished their 11th consecutive losing season at 4-8 over-all, 3-4 in the MAC.
  • On Thursday night, North Texas blew a 27-17 lead in the final 5:15 and lost 31-27 at Arkansas State.  The Indians never led until the winning touchdown was scored on a 27-yard pass with 2 seconds left. The Mean Green missed a 26-yard field goal with 1:18 remaining that would have given them a 7-point advantage. Just five days ago, North Texas blew leads of 21-0 and 42-24 in losing 74-62 to Navy in the highest-scoring regulation game on record for FBS teams.
  • On Tuesday night, Ball State achieved the required 6th win for bowl consideration, and prevented Toledo from doing the same, with a 41-20 home win over the Rockets in a game that kicked off a 5-day week of college football. The Cardinals can enhance their bowl stature next week if they defeat Northern Illinois to finish 7-5.  Toledo can get to 6-6 with a win at Bowling Green. Toledo led Ball State 20-13 mid-way through the second quarter but never scored again after losing QB Aaron Opelt to injury. Opelt was 20-of-30 for over 202 yards and a TD. His replacement, D.J. Lenehan, was 0-for-4 with an interception. Ball State QB Nate Davis threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored two rushing TD's from a yard out.

UNBEATEN TEAMS
Hawaii and Kansas are still undefeated. The Warriors won 28-26 at Nevada on Friday night, while Kansas blasted Iowa State 45-7 on Saturday.

WINLESS TEAMS
Utah State's 353-17 win at New Mexico State left FIU as the only winless team. The Golden Panthers lost 38-28 at home to Louisiana-Lafayette.

Idaho has yet to beat a team from the bowl subdivision. The Vandals lost 58-14 at Boise State.

1-A vs. 1-AA
The divisions were re-named late last year. 1-A was given the new moniker of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) while 1-AA was labeled the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Only one team faced an FCS school this week. Georgia Southern scored the final 17 points of the contest but still lost 42-34 at Colorado State.

Bowl Subdivision teams are 68-10 against FCS teams this season.

The ten losses were:
Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32 (Week 1)
Nicholls State 16, Rice 14 (Week 1)
Northern Iowa 24, Iowa State 13 (Week 2)
Southern Illinois 34, Northern Illinois 31 (Week 2)
New Hampshire 48, Marshall 35 (Week 3)
McNeese State 38, Louisiana-Lafayette 17 (Week 3)
North Dakota State 44, Central Michigan 14 (Week 4)
*-Western Kentucky 20, Middle Tennessee 17 (Week 4)
North Dakota State 27, Minnesota 21 (Week 8)
Delaware 59, Navy 52 (Week 9)

Bowl subdivision teams were 71-7 in 2006 against FCS schools. FBS teams are 288-35 (.892) in such games since 2003.

This season, 78 bowl subdivision teams face schools from the championship subdivision. WAC members New Mexico State and Hawaii double-dipped.

*-Western Kentucky is currently in transition to become the ninth Sun Belt Conference football playing institution and the 120th Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) member. The Hilltoppers will play six SBC teams in 2008 and will be eligible for the conference title and a bowl berth in 2009.

STREAKS
Hawaii has won 11 straight games. The Warriors won 28-26 at Nevada on Friday.

Kansas has won 11 in-a-row, and 14 consecutive regular season games. The Jayhawks won 45-7 at home over Iowa State.

Boise State has won 10 straight games, 43 consecutive regular season home games, and 17 consecutive WAC games. The Broncos also have a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (28-0). Boise State won 58-14 at home over Idaho.

FIU owns the nation's longest current losing streak at 22 games. The Golden Panthers lost 38-28 at home to La.-Lafayette.

Utah State snapped its 16-game losing streak. The Aggies won 35-17 at New Mexico State.

Minnesota has lost 10 straight. SMU and Idaho have each lost 9 in-a-row.

NEW COACHES
The 2006 season featured 11 new head coaches. Five led their team to a bowl game.

This year, there are 24 coaching changes for the highest number since 2001 when there were 25. We'll track their progress throughout the season.

This week, there were two games where new coaches faced each other - Tulsa won 49-39 at Army; Tulane won 45-31 at Rice.

FIU is the only team that has yet to snag a win with its new head coach. Idaho has yet to defeat an FBS team.

Here is how each of the new coaches are faring, in order, by won-loss record.

Arizona State, 9-1 under Dennis Erickson, was idle.
Boston College, 9-2 under Jeff Jagodzinski, won 20-17 at Clemson.
Cincinnati, 8-3 under Brian Kelly, lost 28-23 at home to West Virginia.
Air Force, 9-3 under Troy Calhoun, won 55-23 at home over San Diego State.
Tulsa, 8-3 under Todd Graham, won 49-39 at Army.
Alabama, 6-5 under Nick Saban, lost 21-14 at home to Louisiana-Monroe.
Central Michigan, 6-5 under Butch Jones, lost 48-45 at home to Eastern Michigan on Friday.
Indiana, 7-5 under Bill Lynch, won 27-24 at home over Purdue.
Michigan State, 7-5 under Mark Dantonio, won 35-31 at home over Penn State.
Louisville, 5-6 under Steve Kragthorpe, lost 55-17 at USF.
Miami (Fla.), 5-6 under Randy Shannon, lost 44-14 at Virginia Tech.
N.C. State, 5-6 under Tom O'Brien, lost 38-18 at Wake Forest.
Louisiana Tech, 5-6 under Derek Dooley, won 27-23 at home over San Jose State.
Army, 3-8 under Stan Brock, lost 49-39 at home to Tulsa.
North Carolina, 3-8 under Butch Davis, lost 27-25 at Georgia Tech.
Rice, 3-8 under David Bailiff, lost 45-31 at home to Tulane.
Stanford, 3-7 under Jim Harbaugh, was idle.
Tulane, 4-7 under Bob Toledo, won 45-31 at Rice.
Iowa State, 3-9 under Gene Chizik, lost 45-7 at Kansas.
UAB, 2-9 under Neil Callaway, lost 25-9 at Memphis.
North Texas, 1-9 under Todd Dodge, lost 31-27 at Arkansas State on Thursday.
Idaho, 1-10 under Robb Akey, lost 58-14 at Boise State.
Minnesota, 1-11 under Tim Brewster, lost 41-34 at home to Wisconsin.
FIU, 0-10 under Mario Cristobal, lost 38-28 at home to Louisiana-Lafayette.