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CFB Week 8
by Larry Ness - 10/19/2006
The college football season is basically half-over (hard to believe), as 114 of the 119 Division I-A schools have played at least six games, with 64 schools having already played seven games. The first BCS standings came out last Sunday and as expected, Ohio State was No. 1, although the Buckeyes had a computer average which was just third-best in the nation. USC was No. 1 according to the computers, which luckily for Trojan fans, doesn't figure in margin of victory.
USC's computer average left it No. 2 behind Ohio State with Michigan coming in third. USC's No. 2 ranking means the Trojans have been either No. 1 or No. 2 in the last 25 BCS standings. Michigan did move up to No. 2 in the AP's latest rankings (after Auburn lost to Florida and USC had its third straight close call), giving the Big 10 the nation's top-two teams in that poll for the first time since Iowa was No. 1 and Michigan was No. 2 back in 1985. For history buffs of the Big 10, for two weekends back in September of 1976, Michigan was No. 1 and the Buckeyes were No. 2 under head coaches Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, respectively (those were the days!).
While everyone seems to get excited over the year's first BCS standings, there is a long way to go. After all, last year was the first time that the top-two teams in the initial BCS standings both made it to the national title game (USC was No. 1 and Texas was No.2, which is also the way the two teams finished in the regular season), since the BCS began ranking teams back in 1998. If Ohio State and Michigan win-out (as expected), the winner of their November 18 game in Columbus will surely be one of the two teams playing in this year's national title game.
This year's BCS championship game will be played at the site of the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, on January 8. That would mean if the above scenario were to play out, either Ohio State or Michigan would have a 61-day wait between games! If USC were to win-out, the Trojans would almost assuredly be back in the title game for the third straight year. While USC critics will point out that the Trojans still have to face a tough three-game stretch beginning on November 11 against Oregon (No. 14 in the BCS), Cal (10) and Notre Dame (8), it should also be noted that all three are home games, where USC has won 30 straight!
West Va (No. 5 in the BCS) and Louisville (7) will meet in Louisville on November 2 (a Thursday night) but while the winner of that game will likely finish the year unbeaten, neither of those schools has any chance of finishing higher than an unbeaten Ohio State, USC or Michigan. For that matter, it's unlikely West Va or Louisville would finish higher than a once-beaten Auburn or Florida, either.
Last year's BCS champ Texas, has to feel a little slighted by its computer average of just 15. Despite being ranked fifth in both the human polls, Texas found itself ranked just ninth in the first BCS standings because of its low computer average. West Va was hurt by its No. 14 ranking in the computers (keeping it behind once-beaten Auburn) and some may have been surprised to see Rutgers ranked No. 16 overall, due to its computer average of nine. Tulsa at 5-1, came in at No. 25 in the BCS standings despite being unranked in the top-25 of either the Coaches' or Harris polls (were ranked No. 20 by the computers).
Utah crashed the BCS bowl party two years ago when the 11-0 Utes finished No. 6 in the final regular season BCS standings. This year, with an extra BCS bowl game, a non-BCS conference school need only finish No.12 in the final standings to automatically qualify for a BCS bowl. The team to watch this year is Boise State, which opened at No. 15 in the year's initial standings. The Broncos are off to a 7-0 start and until they visit Reno on November 25 (the team's final game), it's highly unlikely they'll be tested.
This weekend's action features just two games between top-25 teams in the AP poll. No. 5 Texas will visit Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the 17th-ranked Cornhuskers in the Big 12 (12 noon ET) and No. 13 Georgia Tech will be in "Death Valley" to take on 12th-ranked Clemson in the ACC (7:45 ET). For Texas, it will be its first "true" road game of the 2006 season and its first outside the state of Texas. The Longhorns played Rice at Reliant Stadium (home of the Houston Texans) back on September 16 and took on Oklahoma on October 7 in Dallas.
While the Longhorns' saw their 21-game overall winning streak (as well as their 17-game home winning streak) end back on September 9 when they were beaten by Ohio State in Austin (24-7), Texas enters its game with Nebraska still owning a 13-game road winning streak (9-4 ATS). The Longhorns are the nation's second-highest scoring team (42.7 PPG) while the Cornhuskers average 37 PPG (9th-best). Texas is favored by 4 1/2-points and the total is 50. USC, which owns the nation's longest active home winning streak (30 straight), also owns the longest active road winning streak at 18 straight (10-8 ATS) but the Trojans do not play this weekend.
The Georgia Tech/Clemson game offers some unique pointspread history as the underdog has actually covered in 16 of the last 17 meetings between these two teams, with nine of the last 10 games being decided by five points or less. Clemson (6-1) enters the game as the nation's top-scoring team (43.9 PPG) while Ga Tech has won five straight since a season-opening loss to Notre Dame (14-10). The Tigers are currently favored by 7 1/2 points.
The nation's top-two winning streaks belong to No.1 Ohio State and No. 4 West Va. The Buckeyes have won 14 straight games (13-1) as they get ready to host Indiana, a school they've gone 14-0-1 against since 1989, including 10-4-1 ATS. Ohio State is favored by 30 1/2 points. The Mountaineers play Friday night at U Conn, as they put their 13-game winning streak on the line (10-2 ATS) as 22-point favorites. West Va is the nation's top-ranked rushing team, averaging 328.3 YPG on the ground and 7.0 YPC!
Temple continues to own the nation's longest active overall losing streak at 19 straight (7-11-1 ATS), the nation's longest active road losing streak at 18 straight (8-9-1 ATS) and the nation's longest active home losing streak at eight straight (4-4 ATS). The Owls will have a chance to extend two of those three streaks when they visit DeKalb, Illinois this Saturday to face Northern Illinois. Temple, owners of the nation's third-worst rushing defense (allows 248.1 YPG / 6.0 YPC / 27 TDs) must face the Huskies' Garrett Wolfe (the nation's top-rusher averaging 195.4 YPG), who is coming off a 25-yard effort (18 carries) in his last game. Talk about bad timing? Northern Illinois is favored by 33 1/2 points.
Duke owns the nation's 2nd-longest losing streak at 14 straight (4-9 ATS), as well as its 2nd-longest home losing streak (seven straight, going 0-6 ATS). The Blue Devils will host Miami-Florida this Saturday and despite the Hurricanes' numerous suspensions, Duke is still a sizeable home 'dog' of 17 1/2 points. San Jose State with 14 straight road losses (7-7 ATS) and UNLV with 12 straight road losses (2-10) are both on the road this week. San Jose St is at Nevada (Wolf Pack are favored by 13 1/2 points) and UNLV is at BYU (Cougars are favored by 28 1/2 points).
With Florida and Missouri losing last week, we enter the weekend with just seven remaining unbeatens. Those teams are a combined 45-0 SU and 27-14-1 ATS (65.9 percent). After wins by Colorado (30-6 over Texas Tech) and Miami-Ohio (38-31 over Buffalo), six schools remain winless. They are a combined 0-38 SU and 10-25-2 ATS (28.6 percent).