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The Race is On

   by Larry Ness - 09/07/2005

The race for college football's national championship began last weekend and as expected, everyone's still chasing the two-time defending champs, the USC Trojans. USC had little trouble winning at Hawaii last Saturday, taking care of the Rainbows 63-17. The 63 points were the most scored by a Trojan team since 1989 and the 46-point margin of victory was the second-biggest in the Pete Carroll era.

USC has now won 23 straight games and 34 of its last 35. When the latest AP poll was released on Tuesday, USC was naturally, still No.1. That makes it 20 straight polls that the Trojans have been No. 1, just one shy of Miami-Florida's record 21-poll run set during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. With USC idle this week, the Trojans are assured of at least tying Miami's record when next week's poll is released.

While USC had a 'vacation' in Honolulu last Saturday, SIX top-25 teams lost on opening weekend, four to unranked opponents. Most notable, was Oklahoma. The seventh-ranked Sooners lost at home to unranked TCU, 17-10. The loss was Bob Stoops' first-ever September loss while at Oklahoma and it also ended a 19-game home winning streak for the Sooners (all 19 had been by double-digits). No. 9 Miami-Florida lost an "ugly" game at Tallahassee, 10-7. The win ended No. 14 FSU's six-game losing streak to the Hurricanes, despite the fact that the Seminoles gained just 170 total yards and QB Drew Weatherford completed 7-of-24 passes for 67 yards.

No. 16 Auburn saw the nation's third-longest winning streak end at 15, when the Tigers were upset at home by unranked Georgia Tech, 23-14. No. 17 Texas A&M lost at unranked Clemson 25-24, No. 18 Boise State got crushed at No. 13 Georgia 48-13 and No. 23 Pittsburgh lost at home to unranked Notre Dame, 42-21.

The four unranked teams that pulled upsets over their ranked opponents, were all rewarded by spots in the latest AP top-25. Georgia Tech is 17th, Notre Dame 20th, TCU is 22nd and Clemson claimed the final spot at No. 25. Oklahoma's loss dropped the Sooners all the way to No. 18, the first time they've been out of the AP's top-25 since December 2, 2001. Auburn, which finished No.2 in last year's final poll to USC, dropped out of the top-25, as did A&M, Boise State and Pittsburgh.


USC owns the nation's longest current winning streak at 23 with Utah second at 17. With Auburn's loss, the third-longest winning streak now belongs to Iowa, at nine. The Hawkeyes play at Iowa State this Saturday. Boise State owns the longest current home winning streak at 25, followed by USC's 22 straight home wins. Oklahoma's 19-game streak was third but after the Sooners' loss, Iowa now has the third-longest home winning streak with Saturday's 56-0 win over Ball State giving them 19 straight home wins.

Boise State also owned the nation's longest road winning streak (10) but of course that ended with its 48-13 loss at Georgia. USC's win at Hawaii moves the Trojans to the top of yet another list, with 10 straight road wins. Following the Trojans are Utah (9) plus Texas and Oklahoma, both win eight straight road wins. The No.2 Longhorns will put their eight-game road winning streak on the line this Saturday, with a visit to Columbus, Ohio where they will meet No. 4 Ohio State.

Central Florida was the only team to go winless in 2004 (0-11) and entered the 2005 season with a nation-worst 15 straight losses. After losing to South Carolina 24-15 last Thursday, in Steve Spurrier's return to college football, the no-so Golden Knights stand head-and-shoulders in front of the nation's other losers with 16 straight losses.

The nation's two longest road losing streaks came to end last weekend. Baylor, which had lost 24 straight, won at SMU 28-23 and Vanderbilt, losers of 18 straight on the road, won at Wake Forest 24-20. While UCF has lost 14 straight road games, the Golden Knights do not now own the nation's longest current road losing streak as well. That 'honor' goes to Buffalo, as the Bulls have now lost 18 straight on the road after losing 38-0 at Connecticut last Thursday.


As part of my college preview series, I did an article on the 23 head coaches that were either opening the 2005 season with their first-ever head caoching job or were in their first year at a new school. This past weekend, 20 of them were in action. While Charlie Weis' 42-21 win with Notre Dame at Pittsburgh made the biggest 'splash', as a whole, the group didn't fare that well. Three schools with new head coaches, Marshall, Oklahoma State and San Jose State, played non-lined games and all three won. As for the other 17, they went a collective 8-9 SU and a poor 6-11 ATS. LSU's Les Miles, Stanford's Walt Harris and Utah State's Brent Guy make their debuts this weekend.

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