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Nos. 1 and 2 Go Down;
Hawaii Finishes Undefeated

by Mike Mitchell
December 2, 2007

Just when you may have thought that the 2007 college football season couldn't possibly get more crazy, the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the BCS Standings both lost on the final weekend.

West Virginia lost 13-9 at home to Pittsburgh, and Missouri fell 38-17 to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game at San Antonio, throwing the BCS into one final tailspin in advance of Sunday's final rankings.

Ironically, the Mountaineers' losing score is the exact same score by which USC was eliminated from the equation last year by UCLA on the final week of the season.

It's the second straight week that the BCS has lost its top two teams after LSU and Kansas fell last week.

Further adding to the conundrum is Hawaii which became the only school to finish the 2007 season undefeated with a 35-28 comeback victory over Washington. The Warriors trailed 21-0 in the 1st quarter, and 28-7 in the second. The Huskies were in position to tie the score, but Hawaii intercepted a bobbled fade pass in the end zone with 3 seconds left in the game to seal its first perfect season in school history.

In other Saturday championship games:

  • Virginia Tech won the ACC Championship and avenged a regular season loss when it defeated Boston College 30-16 in Jacksonville.
  • LSU captured the SEC Championship with a  21-14 win over Tennessee in Atlanta.
  • Central Florida claimed the CUSA Championship with a 44-25 win over Tulsa in Orlando.
  • Central Michigan won its second straight MAC Championship with a 35-10 destruction of Miami (Ohio) in Detroit.

The following events also unfolded on Saturday:

  • FIU snapped its 23-game losing streak by popping North Texas 38-19 in the last game to be played at the Orange Bowl.
  • FAU sprung a 38-32 upset at Troy to win the Sun Belt Conference Championship. Troy may have nowhere to go despite its 8-4 record.
  • Navy beat Army 38-3 for its 6th straight win in the series, the longest streak ever accomplished by either team in the 108-game history of the storied rivalry. Navy now leads the series 52-49-7 for its biggest lead in the series that began in 1890.
  • Stanford upset Cal 20-13 in "The Big Game" to give the Golden Bears their sixth loss in their last seven games.
  • Nevada romped over Louisiana Tech 49-10 to become bowl eligible at 6-6. The Bulldogs finished 5-7.
  • Oregon State won "The Civil War" against Oregon in double-overtime, 38-31. The Ducks ended the season with three straight losses after losing the services of QB Dennis Dixon.
  • USC beat UCLA 24-7 to avenge last year's 13-9 upset that kicked the Trojans out of the BCS title game.

As a result of the weekend's events, Ohio State will definitely rise to No. 1 and play in the BCS title game.  The question is who their opponent should be, and the answer is clearly Virginia Tech when you consider all of the possible other candidates. Here's why:

  • LSU, which will likely receive the bid, lost to two teams (Arkansas and Kentucky) that finished a combined 15-9.
  • Georgia did not win their conference, and lost to two teams (South Carolina and Tennessee) that finished 15-10.
  • USC lost to two teams (Stanford and Oregon) that finished 12-12.
  • Virginia Tech lost to two teams (LSU and Boston College) that finished 21-5, were each ranked 2nd in the nation when they played them, and has already gained revenge on one (Boston College).

Frankly, you could make an even better case for Kansas or Hawaii. The only eliminating factor for Kansas is the failure to reach its conference championship. As for Hawaii, at least the Warriors were able to navigate through their comparably weak schedule without losing and no one else can say that.

In early-week action:

Fresno State scored 24 unanswered points to put away New Mexico State 30-23 on Friday night. The Bulldog scoring run converted a 13-6 deficit into a 30-13 third quarter lead that proved too much for the Aggies to overcome. Fresno State improved to 8-4 while New Mexico State closed the season on a five-game losing streak to finish 4-9. The Aggies are 8-29 in three seasons under Hal Mumme.

Louisville scored the final 18 points of the game to rally past Rutgers 41-38 on Thursday night, kicking off the final week of the 2007 college football season. The winning points were provided Art Carmody's 33-yard field goal with just 20 seconds remaining to be played. The victory kept the Cardinals from enduring their first losing season since 1997, and made them bowl eligible at 6-6. It is still doubtful that Louisville will find a spot waiting for them in any of the postseason games, but at least the Cardinals finished the season on an up-note after opening the game with dreadfully sloppy play and falling behind 21-3 in the first quarter.

COMPUTER SUCCESS
In the face of the strangest college football season in memory, the computer still performed remarkably well. Its preseason forecast correctly projected the champions of all six major conferences - the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, PAC-10 and SEC. It also projected the division winners of the ACC Coastal, Big 12 South and SEC West.

The preseason forecast projected the exact records of 11 teams, and came within just one loss on 33 other teams. The computer's weekly picks correctly selected the outright winner of 74.2% of all games played, and had a .510 winning percentage against the spread.

NEW RECORDS
Louisville kicker Art Carmody not only kicked the game-winning points - the first of his career - in Thursday night's 41-38 comeback win over Rutgers, he also broke the career NCAA points record for a kicker with 433 points, topping the mark of 423 set by Houston's Roman Anderson from 1988-1991.

UCF running back Kevin Smith moved into second place behind Barry Sanders for career rushing yards with 2,448. Smith ran for 284 yards and 4 TD's as the Golden Knights won the CUSA Championship game over Tulsa. Sanders' record total is 2,628 and Smith could pass that mark with 181 yards in the Liberty Bowl.

UNBEATEN TEAMS
Hawaii is the only team left with an unblemished record. The Warriors won 35-28 at home over Washington.

WINLESS TEAMS
FIU defeated North Texas 38-19 to avoid ending the season as the only winless team. The Golden Panthers had lost 23 straight games and were one of two schools to go winless in 2006 (Duke was the other).

Idaho failed to beat a team from the bowl subdivision.

FBS vs. FCS
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).

This season, 78 bowl subdivision teams played a total of 80 games against schools from the championship subdivision (WAC members New Mexico State and Hawaii double-dipped). The FBS schools went 70-10 to improve to 290-35 (.892) since 2003.

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)

*-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 13 straight games over-all, and 15 consecutive WAC games. The Warriors won 35-28 at home over Washington.

BYU has won 9 straight games, and 16 consecutive MWC games. The Cougars won 48-27 at San Diego State.

Boise State has won 44 consecutive regular season home games, and has a perfect home record against their fellow WAC conference members (28-0). Those strings will continue into next season.

FIU halted the nation's longest current losing streak at 23 games. The Golden Panthers won 38-19 at home over North Texas to complete their season at 1-11.

Minnesota, Idaho and SMU have each lost 10 straight. All three teams had already completed their seasons with 1-11 records.

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 was only one game where new coaches face each other - North Texas at FIU. The Golden Panthers won 38-19.

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

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

Arizona State, 10-2 under Dennis Erickson, won 20-17 at home over Arizona.
Boston College, 10-3 under Jeff Jagodzinski, lost 30-16 to Virginia Tech  in the ACC Championship at Jacksonville.
Air Force, 9-3 under Troy Calhoun, had already completed its regular season.
Cincinnati, 9-3 under Brian Kelly, had already completed its regular season.
Tulsa, 9-4 under Todd Graham, lost 44-25 at UCF in the CUSA Championship at Orlando.
Central Michigan, 8-5 under Butch Jones, won 35-10 over Miami, Ohio in the MAC Championship at Detroit.
Indiana, 7-5 under Bill Lynch, had already completed its regular season.
Michigan State, 7-5 under Mark Dantonio, had already completed its regular season.
Alabama, 6-6 under Nick Saban, had already completed its regular season.
Louisville, 6-6 under Steve Kragthorpe, won 41-38 at home over Rutgers.
Louisiana Tech, 5-7 under Derek Dooley, lost 49-10 at Nevada.
Miami (Fla.), 5-7 under Randy Shannon, had already completed its regular season.
N.C. State, 5-7 under Tom O'Brien, had already completed its regular season.
North Carolina, 4-8 under Butch Davis, had already completed its regular season.
Stanford, 4-8 under Jim Harbaugh, won 20-13 at home over California.
Tulane, 4-8 under Bob Toledo, had already completed its regular season.
Army, 3-9 under Stan Brock, lost 38-3 to Navy at Baltimore.
Iowa State, 3-9 under Gene Chizik, had already completed its regular season.
Rice, 3-9 under David Bailiff, had already completed its regular season.
North Texas, 2-10 under Todd Dodge, lost 38-19 at FIU.
UAB, 2-10 under Neil Callaway, had already completed its regular season.
FIU, 1-11 under Mario Cristobal, won 38-19 at home over North Texas.
Idaho, 1-11 under Robb Akey, had already completed its regular season.
Minnesota, 1-11 under Tim Brewster, had already completed its regular season.