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College Football Notebook (11/10)
I’ve always believed that zero is a highly defined number! In the world of sports, just like in real estate, it’s all about “location, location and location”! A zero in the right-hand column is a good thing, while a one in the left-hand column, not so good!
As college football enters the game, anyone remotely related to the game knows that USC, Texas and Alabama (listed by the team’s BCS standings), remain the nation’s only undefeated teams. However, there are a few other teams with zeros in the right-hand column when it comes to the 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’ remaining games are Nov. 24 at Pittsburgh (at Morgantown) and Dec. 3 at South Florida. The Mountaineers won the Big East title last year but lost at home to Boston College 36-17 and at Pittsburgh (16-13). This year’s team shows no signs of exploding but one never knows
TCU won the MWC title in its first year in the league. The Horned Frogs easily dispatched of Colorado State last Saturday (33-6), clinching the school’s first outright conference title since winning the SWC crown in 1958. At 7-0 in the MWC, the Horned Frogs (29-point favorites!) need only beat UNLV in Fort Worth on Saturday, finishing 10-1 overall and 8-0 in league play. Ironically, the team’s only loss in 2005 came against old SWC rival, SMU. Just one week after opening the season with a 17-10 win in Norman against the Sooners (almost as four-TD underdogs), TCU lost 21-10 at SMU, a team that’s just 3-6 on the year.
At least one of college football’s seven remaining conferences is undefeated this weekend. Boise State and Fresno State of the WAC (both 5-0), meet Thursday night on ESPN. Boise State joined the WAC in 2001 and, in its first year, ended Fresno’s 17-game home winning streak with a 35-30 win as a 16-point underdog. After losing to La Tech later that year, Boise went on a conference winning streak that extended to 31 games! During that run, the Broncos are an impressive 21-10 ATS.
Despite Boise owning that long conference winning streak and having beaten Fresno in all four meetings since joining the conference (winning by an average score of 41-21 and winning by 4-0 ATS), the Bulldogs are solid favorites (more than one TD) in Thursday’s game. Fresno State is certainly no slouch, as the Bulldogs are 38-5 SU at home since 1998 and are 7-1 with the Broncos (lost only to 8-1 Oregon, 37-34) and ranked 20th. AP (current BCS ranking is 22).
The winner of Thursday’s showdown is likely to win the remainder of conference-play but is not a ‘lock’. Boise gets an easy game at home against Idaho but must play at La Tech (7-1 SU at home since 2004). As for Fresno, after traveling to USC for a non-conference game on Dec. 19, the Bulldogs must travel to Reno, where Nevada is 9-2 SU and ATS in its last 11 home games. Fresno finished the season at home against La Tech.
Returning to the top-three teams in the country, USC faces a school that has troubled them the most over the years. USC takes a 31-game winning streak into its game at Cal this Saturday, along with a 14-game road winning streak and a 21-game Pac-10 winning streak. Cal was the last team to back a triple-OT in 2003, 34-31 to USC. Cal beat the Trojans 23-17 last year in Los Angeles and 30-28 in 2003. Adding some more drama to the mix, a USC victory would tie Cal’s Pac-10 record streak of 22 games set from 1947-50. USC is an 18 1/2-point favorite and will close 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, went for its 17th win Saturday against Kansas in Austin. Texas and USC have both won games by the same margin, with Texas outscoring its opponents 48.3-14.3 and USC outscoring its opponents by an average of 49.9-20.6, the Longhorns are 8-1 ATS while the Trojans are just 4-5! Texas is a 33-point favorite over Kansas and finishes 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 defeated in Austin 42-17 on Oct. 15.
While some thought either USC or Texas would stumble down the stretch, the nation’s No. 3 team, Alabama (but only 3-6 ATS), found a home ‘dog’ (plus-3) to No. 5 LSU this Saturday. Since losing WR Tyrone Protho, the Tide have scored just one TD in their last three SEC games. However, Alabama owns the nation’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense (8.2 PPG) and shouldn’t be counted out of either game. If Alabama pulls through against LSU, the Tide will play Auburn in the “Iron Bowl” on Dec. 19 at Auburn. Alabama’s likely SEC title game opponent (if the team makes it that far) is either Georgia or Florida.
Auburn went 12-0 in the SEC last year but appears to be out of the BCS title game, and Alabama will finish 12-0 in 2005 and be eliminated as well. USC extends its lead over Texas in the latest BCS standings, and Texas’ lead over Alabama is significant! BCS history states that the two teams ranked first and second in the BCS poll at the start of the season (this year it was USC and Texas) 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 before been one or two in the top-four BCS standings for a season. Maybe USC and Texas want to meet in Pasadena?
I can’t close without listing teams with zeros in the wrong place! Temple is 0-10 (4-6 ATS) in 2005 but gets a week off before closing the season Dec. 19 at Navy. New Mexico State is 0-9 (2-7 ATS) and is at home at Nevada, where the Aggies are 9 1/2-point underdogs. Buffalo, also 0-9 (5-4 ATS!) at Kent State, and the Bulls might actually have a chance. The Golden Flashes are only 1-8 in 2005 but are favored by about a TD. Note: Buffalo has the nation’s longest current losing streak with 22 straight losses.
Rice (0-8 SU and 1-7 ATS) since 2005 and owner of the nation’s longest current losing streak at 14 years, plays its homecoming game this week against 2-6 Tulane. Owls are truly one-point favorites! Could it be? By the way, there are still 13 schools in conference play entering this weekend’s action, including Buffalo, New Mexico State and Rice (Temple is playing as an independent this year).
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