Streakin' returns to college campuses

Originally Published: October 10, 2004
By Brad Edwards | Special to ESPN.com

Saturday was a great day of college football.

There were six games between ranked teams, most of them decided in the final moments. There were great individual efforts, and new names etched their places in the public consciousness and probably the Heisman race, as well. Traditional powers such as USC, Oklahoma, and Michigan rose to the moment, as they've done so many times in the past.

Bobby Ross
Bobby Ross finally recorded his first win as Army's coach.
We documented all of those stories on television Saturday. Now, it's time for us to shine the spotlight on the losers of college football. No, not the teams that lost over the weekend. Instead, we want to salute those teams that usually lose, but finally found a way to win.

Though the news was significantly overshadowed by the high-profile games of the day, the three longest losing streaks in major-college football all came to an end. Veteran coach Bobby Ross got his first win at Army, using a potent offensive attack and a shutout effort from his defense in the second half to help the Black Knights end a 19-game skid with a 48-29 win over Cincinnati.

That victory left East Carolina and Louisiana-Monroe tied for the nation's longest losing streak at nine games each. But about an hour after Army's triumph, ECU kicked a field goal in the final seconds to beat Tulane, leaving ULM to hold the dubious distinction by itself. The Indians responded later in the afternoon, though, and held off Idaho to get themselves off the hot seat.

The longest losing streak then rolled over to the University of Central Florida, which trailed by 21 at halftime to Northern Illinois before storming back to take the lead with 45 seconds remaining. But typical of teams that find themselves on these losing lists, UCF couldn't quite hang on and allowed the Huskies to kick a winning field goal as time expired. The Golden Knights now take over as the nation's longest-term losers, having dropped nine straight.

But their time will come. Saturday proved the old adage true: Every dog has its day.

Streakin'
The underdogs were barking almost everywhere, though, not just among the cellar dwellers. Ole Miss won at South Carolina, UTEP won at Fresno State, and a few other teams tasted victory in places where visitors regularly leave with an empty feeling. Boise State had the week off, so the Broncos' 22-game winning streak on the Smurf Turf remains as the nation's best, but their closest competition for that title fell by the wayside.

Ohio State had won 18 straight at the Big Horseshoe, which was the second-longest home streak in the country, until Wisconsin ended the party with a 24-13 decision. It was the Badgers' third consecutive win in Columbus -- a place where they had won only twice between 1920 and 1998.

In addition to ending a four-game losing streak to Georgia, Tennessee also ended the Bulldogs' run of 17 straight home wins, which had been the nation's third-longest active streak entering Saturday. And the Volunteers even extended a streak of their own. Including games at Florida in 2001 and at Miami last year, Tennessee has now won each of the last three times Las Vegas has established it as a double-digit underdog. Maryland had the seventh-most consecutive home wins with 13 before Georgia Tech put the defensive clamps on the Terps in a 20-7 victory. In previous seasons under Ralph Friedgen, Maryland has displayed tremendous offensive improvement over the course of the year, but that trend also ended on Saturday. Maryland managed just 81 yards of total offense against the swarming Yellow Jackets.

Lasting Impressions
College GameDay Final's Trev Alberts, Mark May and Rece Davis weigh in with their biggest impressions from Saturday's action.

Trev's Take
Trev AlbertsTexas realized last year that it had to get tougher in order to beat Oklahoma. Mack Brown brought in new defensive coaches. He started having more contact in practices. He started feeding the ball to Cedric Benson and running his offense between the tackles. Texas came into the game as the top rushing team in the nation, but in the end, Oklahoma ran for 301 yards, and Texas ran for 154. Texas did get tougher, but they're still not tough enough to beat OU.

Mark's Take
Mark MayWhen Bill Callahan came to Nebraska and installed the West Coast offense, most people knew the program might have to take a step back before it could go forward again. But what happened against Texas Tech was an absolute embarrassment to all the players and coaches who once made Nebraska a national power. What I saw was not progress. Frank Solich may not be Tom Osborne, but his teams would have never given an effort like that.

Rece's Take
Rece DavisPete Carroll reintroduced defense to the Pac-10 a few years ago, and you can see the trend is catching on. Despite all the great athletes USC has, Cal was the team with the better defense on Saturday, and Arizona State will bring another pretty good defense to the Coliseum this week. Some people may call me crazy, but I think you can make a case for the Pac-10 as the best conference in college football this season, and solid defense is the reason why.
The best streak of the day belonged to Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He completed his first 23 passes against USC, tying the NCAA record of Tennessee's Tee Martin for consecutive completions in a game. Going back to the previous week against Oregon State, Rodgers had a total of 26 straight completions, which broke Martin's NCAA record for a streak spanning more than one game. Rodgers had thrown only two incomplete passes the entire game until attempts for the go-ahead TD were unsuccessful on first-and-goal, third-and-goal and fourth-and-goal in the final moments. Still, 29-of-34 against the No. 1 team in the nation is an amazing performance, albeit in a losing effort.

As if losing wasn't bad enough. . .
All streaks must come to an end, and all this talk of streaks must do the same. I'll wrap it up with another noteworthy feat in one of the major games of the day. What began as the Red River Shootout finished as the Red River Shutout. Oklahoma held Texas without a point for the first time since their 1972 meeting, but more significantly, it was the first time since 1980 that any team held the Longhorns scoreless. Their 281 straight games with a scoring play was the nation's longest active streak and dated back to a 16-0 loss to Baylor in Mike Singletary's senior season. The NCAA record for such a streak is 361, which ended last year when Utah shut out BYU. The longest current scoring streak now belongs to Washington at 270.

North vs. South
Despite another loss to Oklahoma, most people still believe Texas is the second-best team in the Big 12. Toss Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech into the mix, and you could make a pretty strong case that the best five teams in the conference might all reside in the South division. Missouri can challenge that argument with its games against Texas and Oklahoma State the next two weeks.

Colorado didn't do much for the reputation of the Big 12 North with its 42-14 home loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, but it wasn't even in the same category of embarrassing as Nebraska's debacle in Lubbock. Texas Tech beat the once-proud Cornhuskers 70-10, scoring more points and winning by a greater margin than any opponent in the history of Nebraska football. The Huskers turned the ball over seven more times and are worst in the nation with 23 this season.

Swamped again
Ron Zook probably isn't as embarrassed as Nebraska coach Bill Callahan is today, but that doesn't mean the Florida coach is feeling any better about his latest loss. Saturday's setback against LSU was the sixth home defeat in Zook's two-and-a-half seasons as head coach. That's one more game than Steve Spurrier lost at The Swamp in his 12 years in Gainesville. It's little consolation to Zook that the venue was already losing some of its aura before he arrived. Spurrier lost three of his final 15 games there, so the Gators are now 23-9 at home since the middle of the '99 season after winning 56 of 58 before that.

Helmet Stickers
Trev
Chad Henne, Michigan: 328 pass yards, 2 TD in win over Minnesota.
Sonny Cumbie, Texas Tech: 436 pass yards, 5 TD in win over Nebraska.

Mark
Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma: 225 rush yards in win over Texas.
Tielor Robinson, Army: 193 yards from scrimmage, 5 TD in win over Cincinnati.

Rece
Aaron Rodgers, Cal: 29-of-34, 267 yards, TD pass vs. USC.
Chris Reis, Georgia Tech: 2 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss in win over Maryland.
Kellen Clemens, Oregon: 437 pass yards, 3 TD in win over Washington State.

Brad Edwards is the research coordinator for College GameDay Final and is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. College GameDay Final airs during the season at Midnight ET.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app

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