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Streaking Into College Football 2013

   by Larry Ness - 08/26/2013

The BCS began back in 1998 and the 2013 season will be its final season. College football’s 2014 national champion will be crowned in a new four-team playoff. As the old Chinese proverb says, “be careful what you wish for.” I, for one, am not a big fan of the new format but that’s a discussion for another day. With the current season opening this Thursday (August 9), the most significant current streak in place is the SEC’s SEVEN consecutive BCS titles. Tennessee was a surprise winner in the first-ever BCS title-game, 23-16 over Florida State, but I sure don’t remember anyone predicting (back then) the kind of domination we’ve seen by SEC teams, since.

SEC teams won just two of the first eight BCS titles (Tennessee that first year and LSU in 2003) but beginning with Florida’s 41-14 rout of Ohio State in the 2006 national championship game, the SEC has won and covered each of the last seven BCS title games, outscoring their opponents by the combined scores of 225-to-106 (or 32.1-to-10.6 PPG). Maybe the most frustrating of all years (for the rest of college football) came in 2011, when Alabama beat LSU 21-0, in an all-SEC affair. Speaking of Alabama, the Tide have won THREE of the last four BCS titles (including two in a row), with head coach Nick Saban owning four national tiles (he also won as LSU’s head coach in 2003).

While Alabama won its second straight title last year (third in four years), 2012’s lone unbeaten team was Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes, who finished 12-0. The Buckeyes were on probation last year so were ineligible for both the Big Ten championship game and a bowl berth. That’s no longer the case and Ohio State will open its 2013 season at home against Buffalo on August 31, as owners of CFB’s longest-active win streak at 12 in a row (Buckeyes lost their final game of the 2011 season, 24-17 to Florida in the Gator Bowl). However, as is so often the case, the pointspread is the great equalizer, as Ohio State is a modest 7-5 ATS in its 12 consecutive wins (note: Alabama was 13-1 last year but just 7-7 ATS).

Lining up behind Ohio State are Arkansas State and Stanford, each with eight straight wins (Ark St is 7-1 ATS and Stanford 6-2). San Jose State and Utah State own seven-game winning streaks heading into 2013, with each school sporting 6-1 ATS marks. Arkansas St opens at home this Saturday vs Arkansas-Pine Bluff and San Jose St opens at home Thursday night against Sacramento St. Those schools should have little trouble winning their games but Utah State opens Thursday night at Utah (Utes are favored by 2 1/2 points), which is looking to avenge a 27-20 OT loss from last year, one which ended a 12-game winning streak in the series by Utah. Stanford doesn’t play this first weekend but the Cardinal will open at home on September 7 with San Jose State, which like Stanford, should be on an eight-game winning streak after beating Sacramento St.

Strange as it may seem, Oregon’s 15-game road winning streak (Ducks are 11-4 ATS), is longer than that of Michigan, which heads into 2013 with the longest-active home winning streak of 14 in a row (Wolverines are 9-5 ATS). Alabama owns the second-longest active road winning streak at nine in a row (7-2 ATS) and South Carolina the second-longest home winning streak at 11 in a row (8-3 ATS).

Looking at the other end of the ‘food chain’ we find Southern Mississippi, which is coming off an 0-12 season, entering 2013 with the longest active losing streak (12 in a row). Incredibly, Southern Miss beat then-No.6 Houston (12-0) on the road in the C-USA championship game late in 2011 and then beat Nevada 24-127 in the Hawaii Bowl, to finish 12-2. One wonders how a team can go from 12-2 to 0-12 (3-9 ATS) in one season, but that’s exactly what happened to the no-so Golden Eagles. Southern Miss opens this Saturday at home vs Texas State and is favored by 8 1/2 points. Will the team's losing streak end right here?

Right behind Southern Miss are New Mexico State and Kansas, each with 11 consecutive losses (NMSU is 3-8 ATS and Kansas 3-7-1). Illinois and Akron each open 2013 on nine-game losing streaks (Illini are 1-8 ATS and the Zips, 4-5). New Mexico St opens Saturday at Texas, where the Aggies are 42-point underdogs (good luck with that one). Kansas doesn’t play until September 7, opening at home vs South Dakota. Charlie Weis knows how to schedule an opener. The only previous meeting between these two schools came back in 1900, when the Jayhawks won, 42-0! Akron opens Thursday at UCF (Zips are 21-point ‘dogs) and Illinois opens at home on Saturday, vs Southern Illinois (another good scheduling coup).

When Akron visits UCF on Thursday night, the Zips will not only be on a nine-game overall losing streak, but they will also bring along the nation’s longest-active road losing streak, one which has reached 26 in a row (Zips were 6-14 ATS before going 5-1 ATS in losing all six road games in 2012). UNLV has lost 22 straight road games (2-18-2 ATS) and opens the 2013 season Thursday night at Minnesota. The Rebels are 14-point underdogs but let me remind all that UNLV barely lost to Minnesota last year, falling 30-27 in triple-OT in Las Vegas. Kansas doesn’t play its first road game of 2013 until September 14 at Rice but when it travels to Houston, the Jayhawks will bring along a 19-game road losing streak (4-14-1 ATS).

It’s hard for even bad teams to lose too many in a row at home but both Colorado and Southern Miss will each open 2013 on six-game home losing streaks (the Buffs are 1-5 ATS and the Golden Eagles, 2-4). Colorado plays Colorado State this coming Sunday up in Denver (neutral site), with its first home game coming September 7 vs Central Arkansas. New head coach Mike MacIntyre, who did a great job at San Jose State last year, had sure better win that one. As for Southern Miss, the Golden Eagles open at home this Saturday with Texas State and if they don’t win that one, the team's next home game isn’t until September 28 against FIU. Southern Miss plays at Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise St after this Saturday’s game and if the team doesn’t end its 12-game losing streak against the Bobcats, Southern Miss will likely be on a 16-game losing streak come its September 28 meeting with the Panthers. UMass, which just entered the FBS in 2012 as a member of the MAC, went 0-5 SU at home last year (2-3 ATS) and will play its first home game of 2013 on September 7 vs Maine.

Good luck...Larry

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