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CFB Notes

   by Larry Ness - 11/04/2004

Checking out the latest BCS standings finds Auburn (9-0) at No. 3, California (6-1) at No. 4 and Wisconsin (8-0) at No. 5. That's some pretty heady company considering Auburn was 8-5 in 2003 while Cal finished last year at 8-6 and Wisconsin at 7-6!...

Looking back to 2003, the year's most dramatic turnaround from the 2002 season was made by Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane went 1-11 in 2002 but finished the 2003 season at 8-5, a 6 1/2-game improvement. However, the 2004 season finds Tulsa going "Back to the Future", as the team's record through the end of October is just 2-6.

Seven schools in 2003 fell off four games or more from their 2002 records. The three schools at the top of last year's list (that no one wants to be on!) were three of the biggest names in college football history! Alabama fell to 4-9 in 2003, after going 10-3 in 2002. The Tide's six-game fall represented the worst drop-off of any school last year. Penn State followed a 9-4 season in 2002 by going 3-9 in 2003, a 5 1/2-game fall. As for the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame fell from 10-3 in Ty Willingham's first year at South Bend to 5-7 last year, a drop-off of 4 1/2 games....

Alabama and Notre Dame have rebounded to go 5-3 through the end of October but Penn State continues its slide with a current 2004 mark of 2-6. While much has been made of Paterno's problems this decade (see my CFB Notes from last week) after Florida State lost to Maryland last Saturday 20-17 (FSU's first loss in 15 all-time meetings with Maryland!), maybe we should begin taking a closer look at college football's all-time winningest coach, Bobby Bowden?...

Bowden's Seminoles won two national titles from 1990 through 1999 ('93 and '99) as his teams compiled an overall record of 109-13-1 (.890). However, since 2000 the Seminoles are 44-16-0 (.733), an impressive mark by most standards but not when it's compared to the FSU teams of the 1990's....

TURNAROUNDS in 2004....The season still has a month to go but there are more than a few schools working on some notable turnarounds (both good and bad!). Besides Auburn, California and Wisconsin two schools that opened the year against each other are poised to make major improvements in 2004....

Arizona State (5-7 in 2003) opened 2004 by beating UTEP 41-9. Although the Sun Devils couldn't compete against USC or Cal in October, they enter November at 6-2. ASU has just Stanford (4-4) and Wash State (3-5) left at home plus Arizona (1-7) remaining on the road....

UTEP (2-11 in 2003) has lost just once since the Arizona State game (47-31 to unbeaten Boise State) and at 6-2 has matched its win total from the three previous years combined! UTEP does not play this weekend but then has home games with Rice (3-5) and SMU (1-7) the following two Saturdays. Fittingly, Mike Price's team ends its regular season with a road game at last year's turnaround champ, 2-6 Tulsa....

No fewer than nine bowl teams from 2003 are in danger of finishing the 2004 season with LOSING records! In alphabetical order the list includes (with this year's record followed by last year's) Arkansas (3-4 / 9-4), Hawaii (3-4 / 9-5), Houston (2-5 / 7-6), Kansas State (3-5 / 11-4), Maryland (4-4 / 10-3), Mississippi (3-5 / 10-3), TCU (4-4 / 11-2), Tulane (2-6 / 8-5) and Washington State (3-5 / 10-3)....

As I mentioned last week, the Pac-10 is the only BCS conference that has not had a school participate in a BCS title game. However, things are looking up for the conference after the release of the most recent BCS standings as California moved up to No. 4. With some luck (meaning losses by Oklahoma and Auburn), the Pac-10 has an outside chance to go from being the only conference to have never had a school appear in the title game to having this year's BCS title game feature TWO Pac-10 schools, USC vs Cal!...

While the Pac-10 may bemoan the lost opportunities of the last six years, the conference should look no further than these six schools for some perspective. Since the BCS was formed in 1998 there are only six schools playing in BCS-affiliated conferences that have failed to make a bowl appearance of any kind during that time….

The list includes Baylor, Duke, Indiana, Rutgers, Temple and Vanderbilt. Duke held the worst six-year record of any of these schools at 13-55 entering 2004 and the Blue Devils have been true to form going 1-7 so far this year. Indiana had the best record at 21-47 and although the Hoosiers are just 3-5, they do own wins over Oregon and Minnesota, schools that were nationally ranked at the time of those games. Rutgers, just 17-51 entering 2004, was the only one of the schools to own a winning ATS mark during that span at 33-31-1....

Indiana and Rutgers could still become bowl eligible but it's not likely. The Hoosiers would have to win-out at Illinois (2-7), home to Penn State (2-6) and at Purdue (5-3) while the Scarlet Knights would need to take two of their remaining three games. Rutgers finishes with games at Boston College (5-2), at Navy (7-1) and home to U Conn (5-3).....

The Big-12 takes center stage this Saturday with the only two games which feature BCS-ranked opponents. No. 2 Oklahoma visits No. 22 Texas A&M and No. 7 Texas hosts No. 19 Oklahoma State. Other games that could have a major impact on the BCS standings are No. 4 California hosting Oregon, No. 5 Wisconsin hosting Minnesota, No. 7 Utah hosting Colorado State, No. 8 Georgia visiting Kentucky and No. 9 Tennessee hosting Notre Dame....

While the Big-12 features the Saturday's most important games, it's the Pac-10 that features the week's SORRIEST game! Washington, at 1-7 but 0-8 ATS (the nation's LONE winless pointspread team!) hosts 1-7 Arizona. Arizona's only win this year came over Division 1-AA Northern Arizona, 21-3....

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