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College Football Kickoff (Part 2)
by Larry Ness - 09/03/2010
The 2010 college football season got underway Thursday night with four ranked teams taking the field. No. 2 Ohio State had little trouble with Marshall, beating them 45-7 in Columbus. Terrelle Pryor opened his Heisman 'campaign' by completing 17 of 25 passes for 247 yards and three TDs (one of 65 yards) and adding 17 yards rushing. No. 13 Miami-Florida crushed Florida A&M 45-0, as QB Harris threw for three TDs and the Miami 'D' held the Rattlers to just 110 yards. No. 14 USC, starting outside of the top-10 for the first time since 2002, opened the "Lane Kiffin era" with a 49-36 win at Hawaii. The good news was that QB Barkley led an offense which totaled 588 yards as he threw for five TDs (zero INTs) but the bad news was that the USC defense allowed 524 yards. No. 15 Pitt (highest-ranked team in the Big East) didn't open the way it had hoped, as the Panthers lost to the Utes in Utah, 27-24 in OT.
The first weekend of action continues on Friday night as Arizona is at Toledo, then it's a busy Saturday schedule followed by a handful of games on Sunday and Monday. All teams ranked in the AP's preseason top-25 will play this weekend but there are only three games involving top-25 opponents on tap. The biggest is No. 3 Boise State taking on No. 10 Virginia Tech at FedEx Field (home to the Redskins) on Labor day night in what has to be the biggest game in Boise State history. The other two games are set for Saturday, as No. 6 TCU (which Boise beat 17-10 in last year's Fiesta Bowl) takes on No. 24 Oregon State at Cowboys Stadium and No. 18 North Carolina takes on No. 21 LSU at the Georgia Dome in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
No. 1 Alabama opens with a home game Saturday vs San Jose State, No. 4 Florida (minus Tim Tebow) hosts Miami-Ohio and No. 5 Texas takes on former SWC-rival Rice at Reliant Stadium (home of the Houston Texans). No. 7 Oklahoma (highest ranked preseason team to not finish among the AP's final top-25 last year) hosts Utah State and No. 8 Nebraska (in its final year in the Big 12, as the Cornhuskers move to the Big-10 in 2011) hosts Western Kentucky. No. 9 Iowa is home to Eastern Illinois, No. 11 Oregon hosts New Mexico, No. 12 Wisconsin is at UNLV, No. 16 Georgia Tech hosts South Carolina State and No. 17 Arkansas hosts Tennessee Tech.
No. 19 Penn State opens its 45th year under Joe Paterno (he's 394-129-3) by hosting Youngstown State while No. 20 Florida State plays its first game without Bobby Bowden since 1975, hosting Samford. The final three top-25 teams in action this weekend are No. 22 Auburn hosting Arkansas State, No. 23 hosting Louisiana and No. 25 West Virginia hosting Coastal Carolina. Let's take a look at the teams which are 'streaking' in the 2010 CFB season, both in a good or bad way.
No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Boise State own college football's longest active winning streak, as each program opens the 2010 season with 14 consecutive victories. Clearly, Alabama a 37 1/2-point favorite over San Jose State will have a much easier time extending its winning streak than will Boise St, which must get by No. 10 Va Tech on Monday night (Broncos are favored by two points). Utah beat No. 15 Pittsburgh on Thursday, extending its home winning streak to 18 in a row. However, that's just the third-best active streak as the Sooners have won 30 in a row at Norman and Boise State has won 26 straight on the school's famed "blue turf." Anyone want to bet against Oklahoma making it 31 straight home wins on Saturday vs Utah State (Sooners are favored by 33 1/2 points)? Texas and Houston own 15-game home winning streaks and Alabama and TCU have each won their last 14 home games.
Boise State's game vs Va Tech on Monday night will be considered a neutral site game, so the Broncos can't either extend nor see the nation's longest active road streak come to an end against the Hokies. Boise St has won 12 consecutive road games since losing at Hawaii 39-27 in its final regular season game of 2007 (year the Rainbows went 12-0 in the regular season before losing 41-10 to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl). Alabama owns an eight-game road winning streak with Texas and TCU each owning six straight road wins, to find themselves tied for the third-longest steak.
At the other side of the 'food chain' we find Western Kentucky, which enters the 2010 season on a 20-game losing streak. It's almost a given it will climb to 21 on Saturday, as the No. 9 Cornhuskers can hardly be expected to lose their home opener to the Hilltoppers on Saturday (Nebraska is favored by 37 1/2 points), in what will be the school's final season in the Big 12. Eastern Michigan has lost 12 in a row but opens the 2010 season with a home game with Army on Saturday. The Cadets are a 9 1/2-point road favorites but EMU fans should have a glimmer of hope considering Army is just 8-42 SU on the road the past decade.
Washington State and Colorado State check in with nine-game losing streaks heading into their season-openers while Vanderbilt owns the nation's fifth-longest active losing streak at eight in a row. Washington State opens at Oklahoma State on Saturday (Cougars have also lost 11 straight road games), where it is a 17-point underdog. Colorado State gets in-state rival Colorado on Saturday with the game being played at Invesco Field in Denver, the home of the Broncos. The Rams are 11 1/2-point underdogs but CSU fans might want to remind everyone the Rams beat the Buffs last year in Boulder, 23-17. Vanderbilt will host Northwestern on Saturday and fine themselves four-point home 'dogs in a game which will mark the first one for Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell, who is one of 11 new FBS head coaches in 2010.
Washington owns the nation's longest active road losing streak at 12 straight but hopes are high for the Huskies with QB Jake Locker not only a Heisman-hopeful but he's expected to be the first QB taken in next April's NFL draft. However, Washington opens Saturday at BYU, where the Cougars have won 22 of 24 games the last four seasons (BYU is favored by two points). Four schools are right behind the Huskies, having lost their last 11 road games. The group includes Western Kentucky, Colorado, Eastern Michigan and Washington State. Western Kentucky and Washington State open on the road (see above) while EMU opens at home and Colorado plays that neutral-site game in Denver vs CSU.
Western Kentucky also owns the nation's longest home losing streak, having lost 10 in a row. Ball State owned the second-longest one at six straight but ended that slide Thursday night with a 27-10 over SE Missouri state (good scheduling). Western Kentucky plays at home for the first time vs Indiana on September 18. Have a great opening weekend and I'll be back with my first Heisman update on Tuesday.