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CFB (Week 7)
by Larry Ness - 10/12/2006
Will Week 7 of CFB be a "lucky-seven" for CFB's 2nd-ranked team in the AP? So far, being ranked No. 2 in the writers' poll has been has not a good position. In Week 1, No.2 Notre Dame barely escaped in Atlanta against Ga Tech, 14-10. The poor showing saw the Irish fall to No. 4 in the next week's poll. The nation's new No. 2 was Texas, which promptly lost at home to No. 1 Ohio State, ending the defending champs' 21-game winning streak.
Note Dame was back at No.2 the following week and of course got crushed by Michigan in South Bend, 47-21. Auburn took over the No. 2 spot in Week 4 and beat Buffalo (38-7) and South Carolina (just 24-17) in successive weeks but last Saturday became the first top-10 team to lose to an unranked opponent in 2006, when the Tigers lost to Arkansas, 27-10. Florida is the AP's latest No. 2 and as luck would have it in this "never get a breather" conference, the Gators must travel to Auburn Saturday night to face the Tigers (now ranked just 11).
The Florida/Auburn game (Gators are currently favored by two pointa) happens to be the lone game among AP top-25 opponents on this weekend's schedule. The big news that's coming this weekend will be of course, the release of the season's first BCS standings (Sunday). The AP is no longer a component of those standings, so the Gators may not find themselves No. 2 (behind Ohio State) come Sunday, even if they win at Auburn. Then again?
The Pac-10 is actually the No. 1 conference in three of the six computer rankings (go figure that out!), meaning that USC (No. 2 in both the coaches' and Harris polls), could very well be No.2 if the Trojans beat Arizona State (if they don't, they should be barred from ANY bowl appearance this year!). It should be noted that last year was the first time since the beginning of the BCS (1998) that the two schools ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the initial BCS standings (in LY's case it was USC and Texas), actually wound up playing in the national title game, so maybe it's not a big deal which school is No. 2 come Sunday.
The school that can't wait for the first BCS standings to come out is Boise State (you think Dan Hawkins misses that blue turf?). The Broncos are No. 19 in the coaches' poll and No. 21 in the Harris poll but are averaging a No. 10 ranking in the computers. Under new rules this year, a school from a non-BCS conference need only finish among the top-12 (previously it was the top-six) to qualify for a BCS bowl bid. The Broncos just may be a top-10 team come Sunday. West Virginia is a team that may be dreading Sunday's first rankings. The Mountaineers are No. 5 in both human polls (I love that term) but have a pathetic computer average of just 17.
There were 13 unbeaten Division I-A schools entering last weekend's action (all but Rutgers were in action) and Auburn was not the only unbeaten team to lose. Also losing for the first time in 2006 were Georgia, Oregon and Wake Forest. That leaves nine Division I-A unbeatens and all nine will play this weekend. The teams have a combined 30-14-2 ATS mark (68.2 percent), so the pointspread has not been too much of an equalizer.
Nine schools were winless entering last weekend's play (only Eastern Michigan didn't play) but only Utah State got off the schneid, beating Fresno State 13-12. All of the eight remaining winless teams, which own a combined 12-29-2 ATS mark or 29.3 percent, will play this weekend. Temple, owners of the nation's longest active losing streak (18 straight losses), gets things started with a Thursday night game against Clemson at Charlotte.
In Temple's case, the pointspread has been an equalizer, as the Owls are a much more respectable 7-10-1 ATS during their 18-game losing streak. Temple is a 45-point dog on Thursday night and since this game is being played at a neutral site (home of the Carolina Panthers), the Owls won't be able to extend their 18-game road losing streak (also the longest active among Division I-A schools), only their 18-game overall losing streak.
Behind Temple in the losing department is Colorado with 10 straight losses (2-7 ATS) and Stanford (eight straight losses with an ATS mark of 2-6). Colorado is home to Texas Tech on Saturday (Red Raiders are favored by seven points) and Stanford is home to Arizona (Wildcats are favored by 3 1/2-points). Trailing Temple for the most road losses are San Jose State (14), Duke (14) and UNLV (12). However, all three of the schools play at home this weekend.
No. 1 Ohio State owns the nation's longest active winning streak at 13 wins in a row (12-1 ATS, as last week's non-cover ended that streak!) and West Va is right behind the Buckeyes with 12 consecutive wins (10-1 ATS). Ohio State is at Michigan State (Buckeyes are favored by 14 points) and West Va hosts Syracuse (Mountaineers are favored by 25 points). USC has looked shaky the last two weeks, edging Washington State in Pullman (28-22) on 9/30 and beating Washington in the Coliseum last Saturday, 26-20.
However, those two unimpressive wins continued two very impressive winning streaks for the Trojans. The win on September 30 at Pullman gave USC its 18th straight road win (just 10-8 ATS) and last Saturday's win gave them a 29-game home winning streak (20-9 ATS). Both streaks are the longest active among Division I-A teams. As mentioned earlier, USC hosts Arizona State on Saturday and is favored by 19 points. FYI...ASU (under Dirk Koetter) is 0-11 against Pac-10 teams in games played in California.
Louisville has won 14 straight at home (13-1 ATS) to rank second to USC and will host Cincinnati on Saturday (Cards are favored by 25 points ). Florida has the third-longest home winning streak (13) but are playing at Auburn but Penn State will put its 11-game home winning streak (8-2 ATS) on the line when it hosts No. 4 Michigan Saturday night. The Wolverines (minus Mario Manningham) are favored by 5 1/2-points.
With Ohio State's non-cover last week, none of the nation's remaining nine unbeatens are without at least one pointspread loss. However, four schools are still unbeaten ATS. Central Michigan at 3-3 SU, is either 6-0 or 5-0-1 ATS, East Carolina at 2-3 SU is 5-0 ATS, Wisconsin at 5-1 SU is (4-0-1 ATS) and San Jose State at 3-1 is 3-0 ATS.
Conversely, San Diego State (at both 0-5 SU and ATS), is the lone winless team (of eight) to also be winless ATS. Joining San Diego State as schools still seeking their first pointspread wins of the 2006 season are Fresno State (1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS), La Tech (1-4 SU and 0-4 ATS), Marshall (1-4 SU and 0-4 ATS) and North Carolina (1-4 and 0-4 ATS). La Tech, Marshall and North Carolina's SU wins this year have come in non-lined games against Division I-AA opponents.
There can be little argument that zero is a "defining" number! Heading into this weekend's action, these schools own some defining zeroes! Colorado State and Iowa have yet to recover a single fumble in 2006, the only two schools among 119 in Division I-A that can make that claim. Just three schools have yet to intercept a pass in 2006. La-Lafayette has zero interceptions while facing 148 attempts, Arkansas has yet to intercept a pass in 141 attempts and Fresno State has yet to come up with a 'pick' in 138 attempts.