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College Football Season

BCS Gets Shaken, Not Stirred

Eight of the Top 25 teams are beaten, including 4 of the Top 7

by Dave Congrove
November 20, 2011

Two weeks before the final BCS Standings are released the upset flood gates opened. Thursday night's crash of No. 20 Southern Miss was just an isolated incident until No. 2 Oklahoma State followed suit the following night at at Iowa State. In retrospect, those events were the precursors to an avalanche of Saturday upsets that would claim No. 4 Oregon, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 7 Clemson among its victims.

One of the biggest questions to be answered is how far Oklahoma State will drop after its 37-31 double-overtime setback at the hands of Iowa State on Friday night. It was the first loss of the season for the Cowboys who are now among just 6 teams with one loss. Considering that only LSU and Houston are still unbeaten, the Cowboys surely won't fall lower than 8th.

Oklahoma State's loss, combined with rival Oklahoma's 45-38 defeat at the hands of Baylor, on a 34-yard TD pass from Robert Griffin III with 8 seconds left, greatly dimmed the spotlight of the "Bedlam" rivalry game on December 3. It was the first loss ever in the series for the Sooners, now 20-1 all-time against the Bears.

Conference Title Games
ACC Clemson vs. Virginia or Virginia Tech
Big Ten Michigan State vs. Penn State or Wisconsin
CUSA Houston or Tulsa vs. Southern Miss or Marshall
MAC Ohio vs. Northern Illinois or Toledo
PAC-12 Oregon or Stanford vs. Arizona State, UCLA or Utah
SEC Georgia vs. Alabama, Arkansas or LSU

Oregon, which had just climbed back into the BCS chase with its win at Stanford last week, fell completely out of the hunt with a 38-35 home loss to USC. A 37-yard field goal missed wide left as time expired. The loss broke a nation's-best 21-game home winning streak for the Ducks and a 19-game winning streak in conference games.

Clemson was the first team to secure a conference championship game berth when it clinched the ACC Atlantic last week, and the Tigers were looking to reach for greater heights until they ran into an N.C. State buzz saw. The Wolfpack became bowl eligible with a dominating 37-13 performance in which they opened a 27-3 halftime lead and never took their foot off Clemson's collective throat.

Clemson could still sink further as it closes the regular season at state rival South Carolina next week before facing either Virginia Tech or Virginia in the ACC title game. The Tigers gave Virginia Tech its lone loss in the regular season, but haven't faced the Cavaliers.

Further down the food chain, No. 16 Nebraska, No. 20 Southern Miss, No. 23 Texas and No. 25 Florida State joined those left crying at the party.

The Cornhuskers were thrashed 45-17 at Michigan in the first regular season meeting between the two historical powers since 1962.

Southern Miss was a shocking 34-31 loser at a UAB team that entered the game with an overall record of 2-8 which included a wild comeback win over hapless Memphis last week. The loss pulls Marshall and East Carolina to within a game of the Golden Eagles in the Conference USA East division race. Southern Miss hosts Memphis on Saturday while the Herd and Pirates meet in Huntington.

Kansas State may be poised to make a huge jump in the BCS Standings after winning 17-13 at Texas for its fourth consecutive triumph over the Longhorns. The Wildcats' only conference losses came in back-to-back weeks to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Virginia stayed in the ACC Coastal division race when Florida State pulled out its patented wide left field goal attempt with 3 seconds left in the game. The 14-13 win for the Cavaliers, its first ever in Tallahassee (1-8), sets up a de facto playoff game next week in Charlottesville against rival Virginia Tech. Virginia has won 4 games in-a-row and is now 8-3 after going 4-8 a year ago and 12-24 over the last three seasons.

Several other upsets took place off the radar of the BCS Standings.

Arizona State furthered its collapse from a 5-1 start to the season by losing at home to rival Arizona 31-27. It was the third consecutive loss for the Sun Devils and the fourth in their last five games. Amazingly, ASU can still win the PAC-12 South, but it must defeat California next week and hope that UCLA loses to USC and Utah beats Colorado.

Another PAC-12 upset witnessed Washington bowing 38-21 at Oregon State giving the Beavers just their third win of the season.

Meanwhile, Nevada suffered its first WAC loss as Louisiana Tech scored 21 unanswered points in the last 8:30 of the game at Reno to upend the Wolf Pack 31-27. The Bulldogs, 5-7 a year ago and 4-4 in the WAC, improved to 7-4 overall and 5-1 in the conference to take first-place.

Also in the WAC, Fresno State won 24-21 at Hawaii. The bowl-ineligible Bulldogs (4-7) dropped the Warriors to 5-6 and in need of victories in their final two games if they want to fulfill their obligation to the Hawaii Bowl.

Navy was eliminated from bowl consideration with its 27-24 upset loss at San Jose State. Both schools are now 4-7. Navy had a preseason commitment to the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. if it achieved the minimum requirement of 6 wins. The Midshipmen last missed the postseason in 2002.

Almost lost in the story lines of the upsets were the stories of teams clinching division or conference titles.

Georgia won its 9th straight game after starting 0-2, and clinched the SEC East title, with a 19-10 home win over Kentucky.

Michigan State secured the Big Ten Legends division title with its 55-3 win over Indiana and Michigan's destruction of Nebraska.

A 23-yard field goal as time expired gave Ohio a 29-28 win over Bowling Green on Wednesday and the MAC East title. The Bobcats will face either Northern Illinois or Toledo in the conference championship game.

TCU clinched its third consecutive Mountain West title with a 34-10 home win over Colorado State, its 23rd MWC win in-a-row.

Arkansas State clinched the Sun Belt with a 45-19 win at Middle Tennessee. The Red Wolves also accepted a bid to play in the Bowl.

BYU also accepted a bowl bid on Saturday. The Cougars were guaranteed an invitation if they qualified, but further padded their resume by improving to 8-3 with a 42-7 rout of New Mexico State.

Among the ranked teams that managed to keep winning were No. 1 LSU, No. 3 Alabama, No. 6 Arkansas and No. 8 Virginia Tech.

The Bayou Bengals embarrassed Ole Miss in front of its own home crowd, 52-3, to give the Rebels their 13th consecutive SEC loss.

Alabama didn't look great in its 45-21 win over FCS member Georgia Southern. The Tide allowed 302 rushing yards and only led 31-21 halfway through the 3rd quarter. Still, it became clear that any win for a ranked team this week was a good win.

Arkansas had no trouble in dispatching Mississippi State 44-17, running off 30 unanswered points after they pulled to within 14-10 early in the second quarter.

Virginia Tech led North Carolina 24-7 after three quarters, then held on for a 24-21 win on Thursday night in the fourth-coldest game ever played at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg. The 10-1 Hokies then saw their zero BCS Championship game possibilities rise to slim after watching the carnage unfold on Friday and Saturday.

No. 9 Stanford also managed a 31-28 win over California in the annual "Big Game" rivalry that has been won by the Cardinal in 8 of the last 10 meetings.

10th-ranked Boise State rebounded from last week's home loss to TCU with a 52-35 triumph at San Diego State.

No. 11 Houston stayed perfect with a 37-7 victory over SMU on Saturday night after hosting ESPN's College GameDay crew in the morning. Cougar QB Case Keenum set another FB record, this time for most career completions when he passed Graham Harrell's mark of 1,403 set at Texas Tech from 2005-2008. He became just the second QB to reach 4,000 yards passing in three seasons and tied the FBS record of 36 career 300-yard passing games, milestones that were first reached by Hawaii's Timmy Chang from 2000-2004. Ironically, Keenum set those marks against SMU head coach June Jones who coached Chang at Hawaii.

Tulsa romped past UTEP 57-28 to set up a de facto Conference USA West division playoff game against Houston on Friday in Tulsa.

In other action, Penn State won 20-14 at Ohio State to drop the Buckeyes to 6-5, their most losses since fired head coach Jim Tressel's inaugural season in 2001. The Nittany Lions travel to Wisconsin next Saturday for a de facto playoff game to determine the Leaders Division representative in the first-ever Big Ten Championship game against Michigan State.

Notre Dame improved to 8-3 with a much-closer-than-expected 16-14 win over Boston College. The Irish have won the last three meetings in the series after dropping the previous six. The Eagles fell to 3-8, well past becoming ineligible for the bowl season for the first time since 1998.

Missouri rallied from a 27-17 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Texas Tech 31-27. The Tigers played without head coach Gary Pinkel on the sideline after he was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of drunken driving. Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel served as acting head coach as Missouri obtained bowl eligibility with its sixth win and evened its conference mark at 4-4. The Red Raiders fell to 5-6 overall and just 2-6 in the Big 12.

Miami (Fla.) kicked the game-winning 36-yard field goal as time expired to win 6-3 at USF, avenging last season's 23-20 overtime home loss to the Bulls that directly led to the firing of Randy Shannon. USF dropped to 5-5 while the Hurricanes became bowl eligible at 6-5. But Miami officials said Sunday the school will not accept a bowl invitation in response to the NCAA's ongoing investigation into the scandal revolving around former booster and jailed Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro.

Tennessee moved one game closer to bowl eligibility when an interception return for a TD in overtime gave the Vols a 27-21 win. Both teams are 5-6 heading into the last week of action with the Commodores visiting Wake Forest and Tennessee visiting Kentucky. As of now, only seven SEC teams have become bowl eligible - Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and South Carolina. Mississippi State can also get to the postseason with a home win over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl rivalry in the regular season finale.

Florida overcame early deficits of 15-0 and 22-7 to beat FCS member Furman 54-32. The victory made the Gators bowl eligible for the 21st consecutive season.

Despite Penn State's win at Ohio State on Saturday, happiness has not been restored at Happy Valley. News emerged over the weekend that fired football coaching legend Joe Paterno had been diagnosed with lung cancer, though doctors reportedly say that his prospects are good for a full recovery. Meanwhile, in last week's postgame article, I commented that I was relieved to see that receivers coach Mike McQueary had been suspended from his duties (McQueary, of course, is the receivers coach who witnessed the alleged child sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky in the showers in 2002). I stated in that article that the one question I want answered by McQueary is how in God's name he simply walked away from the incident. In news interviews early in the week he claimed he put a stop to the situation and discussed the matter with police. Meanwhile, Sandusky said he is not a pedophile and characterized the incident as "horse play".

In the wake of the Sandusky allegations at Penn State, two former Syracuse basketball team ballboys reiterated earlier charges of sex abuse by Orange assistant coach Bernie Fine in the 1980's. Fine has been suspended while an investigation is being conducted.

FBS vs. FCS:
The season's final 4 FBS-FCS games took place this week and all four games involved the SEC. Alabama downed Georgia Southern 45-21, Auburn edged Samford 35-16, Florida beat Furman 54-32 and South Carolina defeated The Citadel 41-20.

FBS teams improved to 91-6 (.938) in such games for the year and 638-55 (.921) since 2003.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/24: North Dakota St. 37, Minnesota 24
9/24: Sam Houston State 48, New Mexico 45 (OT)
9/24: Southern Utah41, UNLV 16
9/17: Indiana State 44, Western Kentucky 16
9/3: Richmond 23, Duke 21
9/3: Sacramento State 29, Oregon State 28

93 FBS teams played at least one FCS foe this year and four of those schools played two such games - Air Force, Eastern Michigan, N.C. State and Wyoming.

Oklahoma State - 11-game winning streak ended with 37-31 double-overtime loss at Iowa State on Friday.

LSU - 12 straight wins overall. The Tigers won 52-3 at Mississippi.

Houston - 11 straight wins overall. The Cougars won 37-7 vs. SMU.

TCU - 23 straight conference wins. The Horned Frogs won 34-10 vs. Colorado State.

Oregon - Streaks of 21 home wins and 19 conference wins ended with a 38-35 loss to USC.

Virginia Tech - 12 straight road wins. The Hokies won 24-21 vs. North Carolina on Thursday.

FAU - 13 straight losses overall. The Owls lost 34-7 at Troy.

Colorado - 22 straight road losses. The Buffaloes lost 45-6 at UCLA.

New Mexico - 21 straight road losses. The Lobos lost 31-10 at Wyoming.

Mississippi - 13 straight conference losses. The Rebels lost 52-3 vs. LSU.

Bob Davie was hired November 16th by New Mexico. Mike Locksley was fired from the Lobos on September 25th. Defensive coordinator George Barlow was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Lobos, who are 1-6 under Barlow, did not play this week.

Joe Paterno was fired from Penn State on November 9th. Named defensive coordinator Tom Bradley interim head coach (1-1).

Houston Nutt was forced to resign on November 7th from Mississippi, effective at the end of the year. The Rebels have lost 13 straight SEC games.

Tulane's Bob Toledo resigned on October 18th. Named offensive line coach Mark Hutson interim head coach. The Green Wave are 0-5 under Hutson.

Mike Stoops was fired from Arizona on October 10th. Named defensive coordinator Tim Kish as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Wildcats are 2-3 under Kish.

At the start of the season, 24 FBS teams had a new head coach. Last season saw 23 new head coaches, only 8 of whom matched or exceeded the W-L record of their predecessors' final season.

Based on their performances so far this season, only 6 of these teams are guaranteed of equaling or exceeding their predecessor's win total from a year ago. Another 6 teams have no chance of matching or outperforming their predecessor. (2011 Coaching Changes).

Only 1 game this week matched new head coaches against each other as Pete Lembo and Ball State visited Dave Doeren and Northern Illinois on Tuesday.

Here is how each of the new head coaches is faring this season:

Team Coach Game
Arkansas State Hugh Freeze (9-2) Won 45-19 at MTSU
Ball State Pete Lembo (6-5) Lost 41-38 at Northern Illinois (Tuesday)
Colorado Jon Embree (2-10) Lost 45-6 at UCLA
Connecticut Paul Pasqualoni (4-6) Lost 34-20 vs. Louisville
Florida Will Muschamp (6-5) Won 54-32 vs. FCS member Furman
Indiana Kevin Wilson (1-10) Lost 55-3 at Michigan State
Kent State Darrell Hazell (5-6) Won 28-22 vs. Eastern Michigan
Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth (8-3) Idle
Maryland Randy Edsall (2-9) Lost 31-10 at Wake Forest
Miami (Fla.) Al Golden (6-5) Won 6-3 at USF
Miami (O.) Don Treadwell (4-7) Lost 24-21 vs. Western Michigan (Wednesday)
Michigan Brady Hoke (9-2) Won 45-17 vs. Nebraska
Minnesota Jerry Kill (2-9) Lost 28-13 at Northwestern
North Carolina Everett Withers (Interim) (6-5) Lost 24-21 at Virginia Tech (Thursday)
North Texas Dan McCarney (4-7) Lost 31-21 vs. Western Kentucky
Northern Illinois Dave Doeren (8-3) Won 41-38 vs. Ball State (Tuesday)
Ohio State Luke Fickell (Interim) (6-5) Lost 20-14 vs. Penn State
Pittsburgh Todd Graham (5-5) Idle
San Diego St. Rocky Long (6-4) Lost 52-35 vs. Boise State
Stanford David Shaw (10-1) Won 31-28 vs. California
Temple Steve Addazio (7-4) Won 42-14 vs. Army
Tulsa Bill Blankenship (8-3) Won 57-28 at UTEP
Vanderbilt James Franklin (5-6) Lost 27-21 in OT at Tennessee
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen (7-3) Idle


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