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College Football Season

SEC Guaranteed A 6th Straight BCS Championship

Championship Games Mostly Uncontested Blowouts

by Dave Congrove
December 4, 2011

See Bowl Schedule and Pairings

LSU spotted Georgia a 10-0 lead before reeling off 42 straight points to take the SEC title game 42-10 in Atlanta and finish the season as the only undefeated team. Houston entered the day unbeaten but lost 49-28 at home to Southern Mississippi in the CUSA Championship, crushing the Cougars' dreams of a BCS bowl bid.

On Saturday night, Oklahoma State stated its case for a BCS title game bid by destroying Oklahoma 44-10 in the de facto Big 12 championship, but the Cowboys were stuck at No. 3 when the final BCS Standings were released on Sunday night.

As a result, the BCS Championship game will match SEC West foes LSU and Alabama, guaranteeing the conference of a 6th consecutive national title. LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime on November 5th in Tuscaloosa in what I considered to be a snooze fest. But while it may be more entertaining to see how Oklahoma State would fare against the Bayou Bengals, it's difficult to deny that LSU and the Crimson Tide are the two best teams in college football this season.

However, 60.9% of voters in a website poll voted for Oklahoma State when asked which team should be playing LSU.

Conference Championship Games
ACC Clemson 38, Virginia Tech 10 (at Charlotte)
Big Ten Wisconsin 42, Michigan State 39 (at Indianapolis)
CUSA Southern Miss 49, Houston 28 (at Houston)
MAC Northern Illinois 23, Ohio 20 (at Detroit)
PAC-12 Oregon 49, UCLA 31 (at Eugene)
SEC LSU 42, Georgia 10 (at Atlanta)

Instead, Oklahoma State will play Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl in a game that will match the Cowboys' QB Brandon Weeden against Andrew Luck of the Cardinal.

In other conference championship games, Clemson broke a 10-10 halftime tie with Virginia Tech with a dominating second half for a 38-10 win in Charlotte and its first ACC Championship since 1991. The victory earned the Tigers a berth in the Orange Bowl against Big East tri-champion West Virginia.

Under first-year head coach Dana Holgorsen, the Mountaineers finished the season tied with Cincinnati and Louisville and all three teams went 1-1 against each other. The final BCS Standings became the determining factor as to which would get the automatic qualifier bowl bid and West Virginia, at No. 23, was the only Big East team in those final standings.

Surprisingly, to say the least, Virginia Tech also received a BCS bowl bid and will play Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. First-year head coach Brady Hoke has the Maize and Blue back in a major bowl game for the first time since 2006. The game will pit the winningest team in college football history (Michigan) against a team on an 8-year streak of 10-win seasons as Virginia Tech heads to its 19th straight bowl game. The Hokies lost two games all season and both losses came against Clemson as it was outscored by a combined 61-13 in those contests. The Wolverines also lost just two games.

Other Conference Champions
Big East Louisville, Cincinnati and West Virginia are co-champions. West Virginia received the automatic BCS bowl bid as the highest-ranked team among those three schools in the final BCS Standings (they were the only ranked team in the standings at No. 23).
Big 12 Oklahoma State - first outright conference title.
Independents Only BYU (Armed Forces Bowl) and Notre Dame are bowl eligible.
MWC TCU - 3rd straight MWC title.
Sun Belt Arkansas State - first outright Sun Belt title.
WAC Louisiana Tech

In Saturday's most exciting game, Wisconsin outpointed Michigan State 42-39 in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game at Indianapolis. The game ended with a controversial penalty against the Spartans for running into the punter, negating a return to the Badger 5-yard line with about 2 minutes left in the contest. The regular season matchup of these teams was won 37-31 by Michigan State on a Hail Mary touchdown pass.

As Big Ten champions, Wisconsin will face Oregon in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks downed UCLA and lame-duck head coach Rick Neuheisel 49-31 on Friday night in the inaugural PAC-12 Championship game at Eugene. The Badgers fell 21-19 to TCU in last year's thrilling Rose Bowl as the Horned Frogs finished the season ranked No. 1 in the final 2010 Congrove Computer Rankings.

Earlier on Saturday, Southern Miss shook up the BCS bowl bids by knocking Houston out of the picture with a 49-28 upset in the C-USA Championship game. The Cougars would have locked up an at-large BCS bowl bid with a victory, as well as a perfect 13-0 season. Instead, record-setting quarterback Case Keenum will take his team up the road to Dallas on January 2 to face Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl.

Southern Miss will play Nevada on Christmas Eve in the Hawaii Bowl

Also on Friday night, a 33-yard field goal as time expired gave Northern Illinois a 23-20 win over Ohio for the MAC Championship, capping a comeback from a 20-0 halftime deficit. It's NIU's second-ever MAC title and first since 1983. The Huskies will play Sun Belt champion Arkansas State in the Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on January 8. Northern Illinois finished the season 10-3 under first-year head coach Dave Doeren who replaced Jerry Kill when he left DeKalb to go to Minnesota. Kill also led NIU to a 10-3 record last year before then-linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz served as interim head coach for the 40-17 Humanitarian Bowl win over Fresno State.

It's another first-year head coach - Hugh Freeze - that led the Red Wolves to their first outright Sun Belt title and first 10-win (10-2) season since 1986.

TCU won its third straight Mountain West crown, all with undefeated a conference marks. The Horned Frogs leave the Mountain West to join the Big 12 after winning their last 24 conference games. They secured the outright title with a 56-9 rout of UNLV on Saturday and will take on WAC Champion Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on December 21.

Louisiana Tech clinched the WAC with Nevada's 21-17 loss at Utah State last Saturday and then defeated New Mexico State 44-0 that same day in Ruston. The Bulldogs, who last won the title in 2001, finished the regular season on a 7-game winning streak after losing 4 of their first 5 games.

Ball State (6-6) and Western Kentucky (7-5) were the lone available bowl qualifiers that were left uninvited to the postseason. Southern California (10-2) was ineligible due to NCAA probation and the Miami Hurricanes (6-6) said they would not accept a bid in the wake of a continuing NCAA probe into allegations brought forth by convicted ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro That left a pool of just 72 eligible teams to fill 70 slots and one of those included a UCLA team that was granted a waiver to be qualified at 6-7 as the loser of PAC-12 Championship game.

Based on the computer's preseason forecast,'s preseason bowl projections placed 11 teams in the correct bowl, including the Florida-Ohio State matchup in the Gator Bowl. Half of its national title projection became reality when Alabama received the bid to play LSU. Overall, 51 of its 70 projected bowl teams wound up receiving a postseason bid.

Half of the teams picked to play in major bowl games were indeed selected and three are in the exact game forecasted.

FBS vs. FCS:
All of the FBS-FCS games have been played and FBS teams finished the season 91-6 (.938) to raise their record to 638-55 (.921) vs. the FCS 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.

LSU - 14 straight wins overall and 17 straight home wins. The Tigers beat Georgia 42-10 in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta on Saturday.

Houston - 12-game win streak ends with 49-28 home loss to Southern Miss in the CUSA Championship game on Saturday.

Georgia - 10-game win streak ends with 42-10 loss to LSU in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta on Saturday.

TCU - 24 straight conference wins. The Horned Frogs won 56-9 at home over UNLV on Saturday.

Virginia Tech - 13 straight wins in true road games (at opponents' venue). The Hokies lost 38-10 to Clemson in the ACC Championship game in Charlotte on Saturday.

Kansas - 10 straight losses overall. The have completed their season.

Tulane - 10 straight losses overall. The Green Wave have completed their season.

New Mexico - 21 straight road losses. The Lobos are at Boise State on Saturday.

Mississippi - 14 straight conference losses. The Rebels have completed their season.

See Coaching Changes.

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.

14 members of this year's class guided their team to a bowl game. Miami's Al Golden would have made 15 had the school not opted out of playing a postseason game.

Three teams won conference championships with their new head coach - Arkansas State, Northern Illinois and West Virginia.

Notable success stories include Hugh Freeze, who led Arkansas State to its first outright Sun Belt title. Ball State's Pete Lembo improved the team's record from 4-8 in 2010 to 6-6 this year. Mark Hudspeth steered Louisiana-Lafayette into its first bowl game as the school improved to 8-4 for its best record since 1993. Brady Hoke has Michigan in a BCS bowl game for the first time since 2006. Everett Withers is worthy of a mention for getting North Carolina to a 7-5 record and a bowl game as its interim head coach for the entire season. Dan McCarney came out of a 4-year retirement to guide North Texas to a 5-7 season for its best win total since 2004. Dave Doeren led Northern Illinois to just its second-ever MAC title and first since 1983. Rocky Long is within a bowl win of equaling San Diego State's record last year when Brady Hoke was the head coach. Stanford's David Shaw is a bowl win away from matching Jim Harbaugh's 12-1 record last year. Steve Addazio matched Al Golden's 8-4 performance with Temple last year, but Addazio's squad can eclipse Golden with a victory in the New Mexico Bowl. Bill Blankenship had Tulsa (8-4) on the cusp of a CUSA Championship game berth before losing to Houston in the final regular season game. James Franklin has Vanderbilt (6-6) in just its 5th-ever bowl game and only its second since 1982. And Dana Holgorsen has taken West Virginia to the Orange Bowl with the school's third consecutive 9-3 season.

Team Coach Game
Arkansas State Hugh Freeze (10-2) Won 45-14 vs. Troy
Ball State Pete Lembo (6-6) Regular season complete
Colorado Jon Embree (3-10) Regular season complete
Connecticut Paul Pasqualoni (5-7) Lost 35-27 at Cincinnati
Florida Will Muschamp (6-6) Regular season complete
Indiana Kevin Wilson (1-11) Regular season complete
Kent State Darrell Hazell (5-7) Regular season complete
Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth (8-4) Regular season complete
Maryland Randy Edsall (2-10) Regular season complete
Miami (Fla.) Al Golden (6-6) Regular season complete
Miami (O.) Don Treadwell (4-8) Regular season complete
Michigan Brady Hoke (10-2) Regular season complete
Minnesota Jerry Kill (3-9) Regular season complete
North Carolina Everett Withers (Interim) (7-5) Regular season complete
North Texas Dan McCarney (5-7) Won 59-7 vs. Middle Tennessee
Northern Illinois Dave Doeren (10-3) Won 23-20 vs. Ohio in MAC Championship game (Friday)
Ohio State Luke Fickell (Interim) (6-6) Regular season complete
Pittsburgh Todd Graham (6-6) Won 33-20 vs. Syracuse
San Diego St. Rocky Long (8-4) Won 35-28 vs. Fresno State
Stanford David Shaw (11-1) Regular season complete
Temple Steve Addazio (8-4) Regular season complete
Tulsa Bill Blankenship (8-4) Regular season complete
Vanderbilt James Franklin (6-6) Regular season complete
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen (9-3) Won 30-27 at USF (Thursday)


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