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College Football Notebook (11/10)
I have always believed that the number zero is extremely decisive! In the world of sports, as in real estate, it’s all about “location, location and location!” A zero in the right column of the win-loss table is a very good thing, while a one in the left column is not so good!
As college football enters its long streak, anyone connected to the game is well aware that USC, Texas and Alabama (listed in order of the BCS rankings) remain the nation’s only undefeated teams. However, there are several other teams with a zero in that right column when it comes to conference standings.
West Virginia, of the Big East, easily took care of Cincinnati on Wednesday night, moving to 5-0 in league play. The Mountaineers have games left on Nov. 24 against Pittsburgh (in Morgantown) and Dec. 3 at South Florida. The Mountaineers claimed the Big East title last year, but lost at home to Boston College 36-17 and to Pittsburgh (16-13) to end the year. This year’s team shows no signs of imploding, but you never know
TCU has already won the MVC title, in its first year in the league. The Horned Frogs easily knocked off Colorado State (33-6) last Saturday, winning their first outright conference title since winning the SVC crown in 1958. At 7-0 in the MVC, the Horned Frogs (29-point favorites!) need to! only beat UNLV in Fort Worth on Saturday to finish 10-1 overall and 8-0 in the league. Ironically, the team’s only loss in 2005 was against SVC’s old rival, SMU. Just a week after opening the season with a 17-10 win in Norman against the Sooners (as underdogs by nearly four TDs), TCU lost 21-10 at SMU, a team that is just 3-6 on the year.
At least one of the seven remaining undefeated college football conferences MUST lose this weekend. Boise State and Fresno State of the VAC (both 5-0), meet Thursday night on ESPN. Boise State entered the VAC in 2001 and already that first year ended Fresno’s 17-game home streak with a 35-30 victory as a 16-point underdog. After losing at La Tech later that year, Boise began a conference winning streak that reached 31 games! During that streak, the Broncos are an impressive 21-10 ATS.
Despite the fact that Boise owns that long conference winning streak and has beaten Fresno in all four meetings since joining the conference (41-21 average and 4-0 ATS), the Bulldogs are solid favorites (by more than a TD) in the game in Thursday. Fresno State certainly isn’t fazed, as the Bulldogs are 38-5 SU at home since 1998 and enter their showdown with the Broncos at 7-1 (only a loss to 8-1 Oregon, 37-34) and ranked No. 20 in the AP ( current BCS rank is 22).
The winner of Thursday’s showdown will likely win the rest of the road in conference play, but it’s not a ‘lock’. Boise gets an easy game at home against Idaho, but has to play at La Tech (7-1 SU at home since 2004). As for Fresno, after a trip to USC on Dec. 19 for a non-conference game, the Bulldogs must travel to Reno, where Nevada is 9-2 SU and ATS in its last 11 home games. Fresno closes out the season with a home game against La Tech.
Returning to the nation’s top three teams, USC faces the one school that has given them the most trouble over the past few years. USC takes a 31-game winning streak into its game at Cal this Saturday, as well as a 14-game road winning streak and a 21-game Pac-10 winning streak. Cal was the last team to beat USC, 34-31 in triple overtime in 2003. Cal nearly beat the Trojans last year in Los Angeles losing 23-17 and in 2003 losing 30-28. Adding a little more drama to the mix, a USC victory will tie Cal’s Pac-10 record 22-game winning streak, set from 1947-50. USC is an 18 1/2-point favorite and will finish the year with home games against Fresno State and UCLA (the Trojans have won 25 straight at the Coliseum).
Texas, the nation’s No. 2 team, is going for its 17th win this Saturday in Austin against Kansas. While both Texas and USC have won games by similar margins, with Texas outscoring their opponents 48.3-14.3 and USC outscoring their opponents 49.9-20.6 on average, the Longhorns are 8-1 ATS while the Trojans are just 4-5! Texas is a 33-point favorite over Kansas and ends its regular season with a visit to College Station, where the Longhorns face the disappointing Aggies. Texas’ likely opponent in the Big-12 title game is Colorado, a team the Longhorns beat 42-17 in Austin back on Oct. 15.
While few think USC or Texas will stumble down the stretch, the nation’s No. 3 Alabama (but just 3-6 ATS) finds itself a home run (plus-3) this Saturday against No. 5 LSU. Since losing VR Tyrone Protho, the Tide have scored just ONE TD in their last three SEC games. However, Alabama owns the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense (8.2 PPG) and shouldn’t be counted out in either game. If Alabama pulls off a run against LSU, the Tide play Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Dec. 19 in Auburn. Alabama’s likely opponent for the SEC title (if the team makes it that far) is either Georgia or Florida.
The SEC noted that Auburn went 12-0 last year but was left out of the BCS title game and it looks like Alabama could finish 12-0 in 2005 and fall short as well. USC has extended its lead over Texas in the latest BCS standings, and Texas’ lead over Alabama is SIGNIFICANT! BCS history says that the two teams ranked first and second in the opening BCS poll of the season (USC and Texas this year) have NEVER met in that year’s BCS title game. However, USC and Texas already made BCS history in 2005, as the same two teams had never previously been one or two in each of the BCS top-four in a season. Maybe USC and Texas are destined to meet in Pasadena?
I can’t close without listing the winless teams, the ones with zero in the wrong location! Temple is 0-10 (4-6 ATS) in 2005, but gets a week off before the season closes Dec. 19 at Navy. New Mexico State is 0-9 (2-7 ATS) and is home to Nevada, where the Aggies are 9 1/2 points short. Buffalo, also 0-9 (5-4 ATS!) is at Kent State and the Bulls may actually have a chance. Not exactly the Golden Flashes are only 1-8 in 2005, but they are favored around TD. Note: Buffalo also owns the nation’s longest current losing streak at 22 straight.
Rice (0-8 SU and 1-7 ATS) in 2005 and the owner of the nation’s longest current losing streak at 14 years, plays its Homecoming game this week against 2-6 Tulane. The Owls are actually favorites by ONE POINT! Could it be? Otherwise, including Buffalo, New Mexico State and Rice (Temple plays this year as well as Independent), there are still 13 schools still winless in conference play entering action this weekend.
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