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Ness Notes -- College Football Week 5
by Larry Ness - 10/06/2004
"BCS Busted" is what happened last Saturday to Fresno State, when the Bulldogs lost at Louisiana Tech, 28-21! The Bulldogs' loss not only killed any chances they had at flirting with BCS bowl consideration this year, but their loss took all the luster off of their game at Boise State on October 23rd, basically ending any hopes that the Broncos had of moving up the polls with a win!
Utah, ranked No. 11 in the current AP poll, and Louisville (ranked No. 20) are the only non-BCS schools with even a slim chance at crashing the party. Utah has a great chance to stay unbeaten, but will rightly suffer from having beaten only one team of consequence. That's assuming of course that Texas A&M continues its current rebirth!
Louisville is loaded offensively with two very good quarterbacks in Lefors and freshman Brian Brohm, plus a deep running back corps led by Eric Shelton. The Cardinals however will take their 43.3 points per game average (against opponents that are 3-14 .176 this year) into Miami a week from Thursday. Of course the Hurricanes' defense may put a little dent into those gaudy offensive numbers as they've allowed just one offensive touchdown in four games.
Through the first Saturday of October, there are 19 teams that are still unbeaten! Five schools remain winless. In alphabetical order they are Army (0-4), Central Florida (0-4), East Carolina (0-4), La-Monroe (0-4) and Washington (0-4). Those schools are also a combined 6-14 ATS!
Army lost its 19th straight game this past Saturday, as well as its 15th straight home game! Both of those streaks are the longest current streaks in the nation. Considering that Army's opponent TCU entered last Saturday's game averaging 43 points per contest and Army had scored a total of just 45 points in its first three games, there was little reason to expect a close contest. The Cadets, however, held a 17-0 lead mid-way through the third quarter. TCU capped a 75-yard touchdown drive with just under six minutes left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 17-7. On its next possession TCU drove 89 yards for a touchdown (now 17-14) and with just 41 seconds left in the game, capped a 62-yard scoring drive for the 21-17 win.
Showdowns galore dot the schedule for this coming Saturday. No. 1 USC hosts No. 7 Cal, the last team to have beaten the Trojans. No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 5 Texas meet in Dallas, No. 3 Georgia hosts No. 17 Tennessee, No. 12 Florida hosts No. 24 LSU, No. 13 Minnesota visits No. 14 Michigan, and No. 15 Wisconsin visits No. 18 Ohio State.
Cal upset USC 34-31 in triple-overtime last year, USC's last loss. The Trojans haven't lost since with 13 consecutive wins (11-2 ATS). USC opened an 11.5-point favorite, but all the action has been on Cal (line has dropped to 7.5 points). Oklahoma has beaten Texas four straight years in the Red River Shootout by the combined score of 177-54. The loser of this game will be virtually shut out of a spot in the Big-12 title game, as the winner would have to lose two of its remaining six conference games for them to a have a chance to represent the Big-12 South.
Georgia and Auburn meet in Alabama on November 13 and are favored to meet again in the SEC title game in early December. While Georgia is ranked No. 3 and Auburn No. 6, the Bulldogs have a tougher path to the title game. They host Tennessee this Saturday, play at Arkansas on October 23 and meet Florida in Jacksonville on October 30. A loss to either Tennessee or Florida could cost them the SEC East title in a tie-breaker.
The early betting action has shown little respect for traditional Big Ten powers Ohio State and Michigan. Ohio State opened as a six-point favorite over Wisconsin and is now favored by only a field goal. Wisconsin has opened its season by holding its first five opponents to a touchdown or less for the first time since 1951. Anthony Davis returned for the Badgers last week and posted his fifth career 200-yard game!
Michigan has beaten Minnesota 15 consecutive times, including last year in Minnesota when the Wolverines overcame a 28-7 fourth-quarter deficit to win, 38-35! Minnesota has opened 5-0 in back-to-back seasons (they opened 6-0 in 2003 before losing to Michigan) for the first time since 1940-41! It's fair to say this game will be decided at the line of scrimmage. Minnesota is rushing for 323.4 yards per game (6.0 yards per carry) which is third-best in the nation while Michigan owns the nation's top-ranked rush defense, allowing 47.2 yards per game (2.5 yards per carry)! Michigan opened a seven-point favorite but is now just a 3.5-point favorite.
What's in a number? Northwestern beat Ohio State last Saturday for the first time since 1971 (33 years ago!). The final score in overtime was 33-27! The game-winning touchdown was scored by number 33 Noah Herron on his 33rd carry of the game.