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CFB (Week 6)
by Larry Ness - 10/04/2006
The third CFB weekend of the season saw seven games between teams ranked in the AP poll, the most-ever on a single day since the AP began including 25 teams in its ranking back in 1969. It should have been a memorable day but rather it turned into an embarrassment, as both on-field officials as well as replay-booth officials affected the outcome of a number of important games, most notably Oklahoma/Oregon but including among others, BYU/Boston College and LSU/Auburn.
With the calendar turning to October, the CFB season has entered its sixth week of play and this coming Saturday, features six games between schools ranked in the AP top-25. The SEC features two such matchups as No. 5 Florida hosts No. 9 LSU and No. 10 Georgia will get a visit from No. 13 Tennessee. It's the annual "Red River Shootout" in Dallas, as No. 7 Texas takes on No. 14 Oklahoma and with both teams already saddled with a loss, the loser is all but out of the BCS title-game picture. In the Pac-10, No. 11 Oregon is at Berkeley to take on No. 16 Cal and in the Big East, No. 21 Virginia Tech is at No. 25 Boston College.
The first BCS standings will be released on October 15 and entering this weekend's play, there remains 13 unbeaten Division I-A teams (last year at this time there were 12). While I often claim (as do many others) that the pointspread tends to be the "great equalizer," that has not been the case so far in 2006. The 13 unbeatens have combined to go 35-18-2 ATS (with six non-lined games), a winning percentage of 66.0. Conversely, the nation's nine remaining winless teams have produced a pathetic 9-30-2 ATS mark (two non-lined games), for a winning percentage of 23.1.
Ohio State is both 5-0 SU and ATS, winning three games over top-25 opponents, including road wins at then-No. 2 Texas (24-7) and then-No. 13 Iowa (38-17). Louisville is the only other team perfect both SU and ATS, at 4-0 in both categories. None of the 13 unbeatens have a losing record ATS but Florida and Michigan (both 5-0) are each 2-2-1 ATS. Among the winless teams, Stanford (0-5 SU and ATS) and San Diego State (0-4 SU and ATS) are the worst of the bunch, while 0-5 Florida International has gone 3-1-1 ATS. The Golden Panthers lost their first four games by one, one, five and four points, before losing 31-6 last Saturday (at home!) to Arkansas State.
BYU beat TCU a week ago Thursday in Fort Worth (31-17), ending the Horned Frogs' 13-game winning streak. TCU is in Provo this Thursday night to play the Utes, a team it beat last year in Fort Worth (also on a Thursday night), 23-20 in overtime. That TCU win ended Utah's 18-game winning streak and I'm sure the Utes would have loved to "return the favor" in Provo but last week's results ruined "the best laid plans." By the way, Utah had a pretty bad weekend themselves, losing 36-3 at home to Boise State, the school's worst home loss in 17 years.
TCU's loss leaves the nation's No. 1 team, Ohio State, with the longest active winning streak (12 straight). The Buckeyes have also 'covered' all 12 wins, an amazing accomplishment. West Virginia is right behind the Buckeyes, having won 11 straight games (9-1 ATS with one non-lined game) . Ohio State hosts Bowling Green (3-2 and 1-3-1 ATS) this Saturday and the Buckeyes are currently favored by 35 points. West Va is at Mississippi State on Saturday and the Mountaineers are an early 24-point choice.
USC owns the longest active home winning streak (28) as well as the longest active road winning streak (18). The Trojans are at home this Saturday to face vastly improved Washington (4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS). USC (20 1/2-point choice) has gone 20-8 ATS during its current home winning streak but this year's team has averaged just 25.3 PPG over its last three games, after scoring 50 points in its season-opener at Arkansas. From 2003 through 2005 (led by Matt Leinart), Pete Carroll's team averaged an amazing 42.8 PPG while posting marks of 37-2 SU and 25-14 ATS.
Trailing USC are Louisville with 14 straight home wins (13-1 ATS!) and Florida with 12 straight home wins (7-4-1 ATS). Texas Tech and Penn State have each won 11 straight at home, with the Red Raiders going 5-3 ATS and the Nittany Lions going 8-2. Louisville and Penn State are on the road this weekend but both Florida and Texas Tech face huge tests at home. The Gators host No. 9 LSU and Texas Tech faces No. 23 Missouri (5-0 SU and 3-1 ATS). Florida is actually a small home dog at the moment (plus-one) while Texas Tech is favored by four points. Not for nothing, but Missouri has yet to trail in a game this year!
Temple owns both the longest active overall losing streak (17 straight losses / 6-10-1 ATS) and the longest active road losing streak (18 straight losses / 8-9-1 ATS). The Owls will only be able to end/extend one of those streaks this weekend, as they host Kent State on Saturday. The Golden Flashes went just 1-10 last year but after losing their opener at home to Minnesota 44-0, have covered their last four games, winning SU in their last three! Kent is favored by 24 points.
There's a huge gap between Temple and the school with the nation's second-longest active losing streak, the Colorado Buffs. Colorado will host Baylor this Saturday, taking a nine-game losing streak (2-6 ATS) into the contest. How did Colorado fall so far, so fast? When Colorado beat Missouri last year 41-12, the Buffs were 7-2. However, they lost their final two games of the regular season and then were beaten 70-3 by Texas in the Big-12 title game (had lost 42-3 to Oklahoma in the 2004 Big-12 title game!).
Colorado then went on to lose Clemson (19-10) in the Champs Sports Bowl. Out went troubled head coach Gary Barnett after the year and in came Boise State's Dan Hawkins, he of the 53-11 record over the past five years. Hawkins has not been able to turn things around so far, as Colorado is 0-5 (1-3 ATS) and that includes an embarrassing 19-10 home loss to I-AA Montana State in the season-opener. It's Homecoming this Saturday in Boulder (Colorado is a 4 1/2-point choice) and if the Buffs can't beat Baylor.....
Closing thought...Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe leads the nation with an average of 236.2 YPG rushing. That total is not only 75 YPG higher than Ray Rice of Rutgers (the nation's 2nd-ranked rusher) but it's more than all but SIX schools average as a team!