Week 3: College football rolls a seven
No. 1 versus No. 2 didn't quite live up to the hype. The pregame did, though. Along with the game between the same two teams in Columbus last year (something about this matchup apparently brings out the best in fans), the scene in Austin, Texas, on Saturday was the best I've experienced in my six years of road shows for "College GameDay" on ESPN Radio.
This excludes games on SEC campuses, which truly are a world unto themselves. If you live west of the Mississippi and north of the "Grits Line" (that portion of the nation in which grits are part of the morning buffet), please do yourself a favor and attend a game in the SEC. Immediately. But I digress.
Although last week was anticlimactic, you've got to think this week will be different, with an amazing seven games between top 25 teams. There is safety in numbers. Speaking of which, I'll get you at least one good digit for every one of those marquee matchups. Let's go between the numbers:
108: Miami has been ranked in the AP poll for 108 consecutive weeks, the longest streak in the nation. With the 17th-ranked Canes heading to Louisville this week, you have to wonder whether this might be the week the streak comes to an end due to numbers like these:
188: Leon Camel, Florida A&M's 5-foot-6 walk-on, backup QB put up 188 total yards against the Canes last week. Not a number that will set the world on fire until you consider it's 12 more yards than FSU's entire team got against Miami in the opener. Speaking of I-AA QBs
0: Nicholls State completed 0 passes in its 56-7 loss to Nebraska. Nicholls is the first team not to complete a pass in a game involving at least one I-A team since Rice turned in a goose egg against BYU in 1996.
A few things to consider. First off, the Colonels are an option team (they threw only 68 passes all of last year and managed to make the I-AA playoffs). Also, they lost their starting QB in the first series. But, still, they only threw the ball three times the entire game -- just once in the second half. I mean, you're down 49 points; clearly Plan A isn't working. Wouldn't you toss it up a few times, just out of curiosity?
6: Nobody takes advantage of the turnover better than Notre Dame's Tom Zbikowski, whose 25-yard fumble return TD last week against Penn State was touchdown return No. 6 of his Irish career (two on fumbles, two on interceptions and two on punts). Despite the fact that Zbikowski has never touched the ball on offense, only three current Notre Dame players have found the end zone more times than Tommy Z: Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight and Darius Walker.
6: That's also the number of consecutive road openers that Michigan has lost heading into Saturday's showdown in South Bend. That six-game streak is the longest in school history. In fact, the Wolverines have lost more than two consecutive road openers only three times. They lost three in a row from 1936-38 and four in a row from 1960-63 and again from 1980-83.
2: If the Irish are able to extend Michigan's struggles on the road, you'd really have to like their chances of heading into the USC game Thanksgiving weekend undefeated. That's because they'd have just 2 games before then against teams that had winning records last year -- UCLA and Navy, who, oh by the way, they've beaten 42 straight times. Then again, no game is a sure thing
$40,000: Division II Chadron State got $40,000 for being I-AA Montana State's sacrificial lamb on Saturday. Problem is, it was the Bobcats who were sacrificed, losing 35-24.
$275,000: On a positive note for the Bobcats, they took home $275,000 the week before and also got a victory against Colorado. So, they're even in the won-loss column, but $235,000 up on the balance sheet.
42: As for the Buffs, they can't feel good knowing they lost to a team (Montana State) that lost to a team (Chadron State), that gave up 42 points last year to something called Fort Lewis, whose previous claim to fame was as the first college head coaching gig for Gary Barnett.
Speaking of Gary, the whole I-AA thing hasn't worked well for any of his former employers, as Northwestern lost to New Hampshire this week. The victims of I-AA upsets can take a little solace in the next two numbers
Sadly for New Hampshire, the Scripps Howard computer is no longer part of the BCS Formula, perhaps due to the fact that it would spit out New Hampshire at No. 6. By the way, the next highest I-AA team is Montana State at 54. Maybe that loss to Chadron State wasn't as bad as it seemed.
4: In a five year span between 1999 and 2003, 4 Associated Press NFL MVP's hailed from I-AA schools (Steve McNair, Rich Gannon, and Kurt Warner, who won it twice). Still, no matter how many numbers we throw at you, the I-AA loss can't exactly be construed as a good thing. Neither can these numbers
0: Illinois crossed midfield 0 times against Rutgers. The Illini's "deepest penetration" was their own 46.
11: Florida State's longest run from scrimmage this year is 11 yards, by QB Drew Weatherford.
1904: Mississippi State has been shut out in consecutive games to start the season for the first time since 1904.
1921: Speaking of ancient history, Ohio State comes into its game with Cincinnati having won 21 straight games against in-state opponents, a streak that dates back to a 1921 loss to noted powerhouse Oberlin. The 7-6 nail biter was, by definition, a yeoman's effort by the Yeomen (yes, that's actually their nickname).
8: Although they're 0-2, the Rice Owls are among the most improved teams in the country early on, particularly on defense. The Owls have 8 sacks this year. They had 12 all of last season. Rice has given up 57 total points to two teams (Houston and UCLA) that combined to score 98 on them last year.
78: Still, the Owls face a formidable task this week against a Texas team that figures to be a tad perturbed after the loss to Ohio State. Odds aren't exactly with Rice. Texas hasn't lost back to back games since losing three in a row to end the 1999 season. That's a span of 78 straight games, which is the longest streak without consecutive losses for any college team in the nation. Or any pro team, for that matter.
TCU against Texas Tech is an intriguing nonconference matchup, to be sure, but the SEC is where it's at this week. Two SEC conference games on Saturday could go a long way toward determining who plays for all the conference marbles in Atlanta in December.
398: The matchup in the East features two teams whose offenses are clicking after struggling last season. For instance, Florida rolled up 398 yards of total offense against Central Florida in the first half last week, exceeding the Gators total in six of their 12 games last season.
412: As for Tennessee, its biggest single game output was 412 yards last season. The Vols got 514 in the opener against Cal and 412 against Air Force, meaning they've either equaled or exceeded their best offensive output from last season in both of their games this year.
9: No. 3 Auburn and No. 6 LSU come in with a combined ranking of 9, which is the best in the history of this series. It's just the second time ever that both have come in ranked in the top 10 and the first time since 1972.
1: Speaking of low numbers, somehow Oklahoma has managed to win seven national titles with just 1 player ever from the state of Oregon. Milwaukie, Ore. native Ivan Preston played wingback for the Sooners in 1944. That's all I've got on Ol' Ivan. The Internet is good, but not that good.
1: As for the Sooners' opponent this week, Oregon has lost just 1 nonconference home game in 24 outings under Mike Bellotti. The only coach to beat them? Gerry DiNardo, whose Indiana Hoosiers topped the Ducks 30-24 in the 2004 season opener. The postgame celebration must have been epic. Meatballs all around.
We'll talk to you on Saturday.
Dave Revsine is the host of "College GameDay" on ESPN Radio. Listen every Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. ET as Gerry DiNardo, Todd McShay and Revsine break down the action.
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