Only 13 of the top 120 teams remain undefeated after the fifth week of a 16-week college football season. They are Florida, Texas, Alabama, LSU, Boise State, Cincinnati, TCU, Iowa, Kansas, Auburn, South Florida, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
On the other hand, only 7 teams have yet to win a game: Rice, New Mexico, Eastern Michigan, Florida International University, Florida Atlantic, Western Kentucky, and Miami (OH). So ironically, 20 teams still have perfect records: 13 are excellent and 7 are terrible.
Considering most teams are now playing a 12-game season, we’re over the one-third mark all the way. Many fans may have thought that Virginia Tech, USC, Ohio State, BYU, Oklahoma, and even Mississippi could still be undefeated. Not so.
The biggest upset of the week came to the 123rd ranked University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Miners, who outplayed and outplayed the 12th ranked Houston Cougars, 58-41. , in a stable full of competitive excitement. With the score tied at 17 in the first half, Houston gave up too early as UTEP won the second half 41-24.
Coach Mike Price’s Miners could only amass 53 yards of total offense in losing 64-7 to second-ranked Texas last week on the road, but they rebounded from the humiliation to amass 581 yards of offense at home. Donald Buckram had 262 rushing yards and scored 4 TDs. UTEP really found their mojo in the second half, putting up 20 points in the 3rd quarter and 21 in the 4th.
Houston’s high-powered offense, led by quarterback Case Keenum with 536 passing yards and 5 touchdowns, couldn’t keep up with UTEP in the scoring. The loss was the first for the Cougars after scoring 55, 45 and 29 points in their first 3 wins; Unfortunately, this had to happen because Houston has 11 defensive players, they just don’t play defense well, allowing an average of 32 points per game.
If Houston coach Kevin Sumlin ever decides to hire a good defensive coordinator and recruit some defensive players, Houston will become a much more important player against quality competition.
The second biggest upset was that 17th-ranked Miami (FL) overcame last week’s 31-7 road loss to sixth-ranked Virginia Tech by returning home to beat Eighth-ranked Oklahoma, 21-20. The Hurricanes led 21-17 after 3 quarters and managed to hold the Sooners to a field goal in the fourth quarter to win.
Unranked Michigan State, which has looked terrible with 3 losses in the last 3 weeks, successfully defended its turf by defeating 22nd-ranked Michigan 26-20 in overtime. The loss was the first for the Wolverines, who trailed 10-6 at the half, but managed to send the game into overtime at 20-20. Spartans’ true freshman running back Larry Caper rushed for 23 yards, eluding at least 2 tacklers along the way, to score the game-winning touchdown for Michigan State.
Whoever said it’s so hard to win away from home forgot to say that to most quality teams. Of the 12 ranked teams that played road games this week, only 3 (Oklahoma, Houston, and Michigan) lost while 9 won. Winners included:
Third-ranked Alabama beat Kentucky 38-20; Fourth-ranked LSU needed two touchdowns in the final 2:53 of the game to defeat 18th-ranked Georgia 20-13; and 6th ranked Virginia Tech managed to edge out the 97th ranked Duke team 34-26, an unimpressive victory despite being on the road. Giving up 26 points to Duke is like taking your sister to prom. Seventh-ranked Southern California tore apart the 24th-ranked California Bears 30-3; the Bears seem to fold every season, and sometimes even that early.
Ohio State, ranked ninth, traveled to Indiana and won 33-14. Apparently, they still play football in Indiana, but with the Hoosiers, it’s sometimes hard to tell. 10th-ranked Cincinnati topped 150th-ranked and winless (you read that right) Miami of OH, 37-13. Another less than impressive performance from a highly ranked team. 15th-ranked Penn State defeated 85th-ranked Illinois 35-17; at least the Nittany Lions weren’t playing at a 1-AA school this week.
Twenty-first ranked Mississippi, the season’s most hyped new “good” team, defeated Vanderbilt, ranked 77th, 23-7; the score was 23-7 after the 3rd quarter, both teams decided to walk to the 4th quarter, saving some energy for the after party. Georgia Tech, ranked 25th, defeated Mississippi State 42-31, proving that the top 25 teams can give up too many points to an opponent and still win with too little effectiveness on the defensive side of the ball.
Five other ranked teams had home victories. They included 11th-ranked TCU over 117th-ranked SMU 39-14; 16th-ranked Oregon over inept and hapless 101st-ranked Washington State, 52-6-Oregon led 42-0 at the half, showered early and still won by 46; and 20th-ranked BYU had an unimpressive victory over 119th-ranked Utah State, 35-17.
Fifth-ranked Boise State pulled off a ridiculous 34-16 victory over 1-AA 139th-ranked University of California at Davis (UC Davis), another part of the Broncos schedule. The 13th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, who defeated 13th-ranked Penn State 21-10 in a road game last week, had the dreaded disappointment and edged out 13th-ranked Arkansas State. 125, 24-21. Hawkeye’s defense, seemingly ground down from their effort at Happy Valley, allowed Arkansas State to score 14 points in the fourth quarter to get too close. Without a field goal in the fourth quarter, Iowa would have gone into overtime.
Three unranked teams went 5-0 in their bid to break into the Top 25 AP Poll. They included Wisconsin road over Minnesota 31-28, South Florida road over 95th-ranked Syracuse 34- 20 and Auburn over Tennessee 26-22.
Eight other teams not ranked 4-1 went on to win. Notre Dame had to go to overtime at home to defeat Washington, 37-30, marking the third straight game the Fighting Irish have won in the last 60 seconds. They don’t call the Irish lucky for nothing. 89th ranked Idaho defeated visiting 62nd ranked Colorado State 31-29. Boston College beat Florida State 28-21 at home.
Pittsburgh traveled to Louisville and won 35-10; the Central Michigan Chippewas traveled to Buffalo and beat the Bulls 20-13 in the 127th ranking; South Carolina won at home over in-state rival 1-AA South Carolina State, ranked 158th, 38-14; and Tulsa traveled to Rice and beat the inept, hapless, winless Owls 27-10. Owls do not eat rice, apparently they are called rice owls; maybe they are smart birds that don’t earn much.
Stanford also beat visiting UCLA 24-16 to go 4-1.
Six Top 25 teams were inactive this week-No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Texas, No. 12 Oklahoma State, No. 16 Kansas, No. 23 Missouri and No. 24 Nebraska.
Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley