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College Football Notebook (11/10)

I have always believed that the number zero is extremely decisive! In the sports world, as in real estate, it’s all about “location, location and location!” A zero in the right column of the win-loss standings is a very good thing, while one in the left column is not so good!

As college football enters its stretch phase, anyone remotely associated with the game is well aware that USC, Texas and Alabama (ranked in order of BCS team rankings) remain the only undefeated teams in the country. However, there are a few other teams with a zero in that right column, as far as conference standings go.

Big East West Virginia easily took care of Cincinnati on Wednesday night, going 5-0 in the league. The Mountaineers still have games to play on Nov. 24 against Pittsburgh (at Morgantown) and Dec. 3 at South Florida. The Mountaineers had the Big East title within reach last year, but lost at home to Boston College 36-17 and Pittsburgh (16-13), to end the year. This year’s squad show no signs of implosion but you never know

TCU has already clinched the MWC title, in its first year in the league. The Horned Frogs easily got rid of Colorado State last Saturday (33-6), winning the school’s first all-time conference title since winning the SWC crown in 1958. At 7-0 at the MWC , the Horned Frogs (29-point favourites!) need only beat UNLV in Fort Worth on Saturday to finish 10-1 overall and 8-0 in the league. Ironically, the team’s only loss in 2005 came against former SWC rivals SMU. Just a week after opening the season with a 17-10 win at Norman over the Sooners (as nearly four TD underdogs), TCU lost 21-10 to SMU, a team that is just 3-6 over the year.

At least one of the college football conference’s seven remaining undefeated players must lose this weekend. Boise State and WAC’s Fresno State (both 5-0), meet Thursday night on ESPN. Boise State entered the WAC in 2001 and in that very first year ended Fresno’s 17-game home winning streak with a 35-30 victory as a 16-point underdog. After losing at The Tech later that year, Boise began a conference winning streak that reached 31 games! During this run, the Broncos are an impressive 21-10 ATS.

Despite Boise having that long conference winning streak and defeating Fresno in all four meetings since joining the conference (won by an average score of 41-21 and 4-0 ATS), the Bulldogs are solid favorites (more than a TD) in Thursday’s game. Fresno State is surely no slouch, as the Bulldogs are 38-5 SU at home since 1998 and come into their showdown with the Broncos at 7-1 (only loss at 8-1 Oregon, 37-34) and ranked No. 20 in the AP (the current BCS ranking is 22).

The winner of Thursday’s showdown will likely win the rest of the way in conference, but that’s not a “lock.” Boise gets an easy game at home against Idaho but has to play La Tech (7-1 SU at home since 2004). As for Fresno, after traveling to USC on Dec. 19 for a non-conference game, the Bulldogs must travel to Reno, where Nevada has gone 9-2 SU and ATS in its last 11 home games. Fresno ends the season with a game against La Tech at home.

Going back to the top three teams in the country, USC faces the one school that has given them the most trouble in recent years. USC pulls off a 31-game winning streak in its game at Cal this Saturday, as well as a 14-game winning streak on the road and a 21-game winning streak in the Pac-10. Cal was the last team to beat USC, 34-31 in triple-OT in 2003. Cal nearly beat the Trojans last year in Los Angeles losing 23-17 and in 2003 losing 30-28. Adding a little more drama to the mix, a USC win will tie the Cal Pac-10 record winning streak of 22 straight, set from 1947 to 1950. USC is an 18 1/2 point favorite and will close the year with home games against Fresno State and UCLA (the Trojans have won 25 straight games at the Coliseum).

Texas, the No. 2 team in the nation, is aiming for its 17th straight victory this Saturday in Austin against Kansas. While Texas and USC have won games by similar margins, Texas outscores its opponents 48.3-14.3 with USC outscoring its opponents by an average of 49.9-20.6, the Longhorns have an 8-1 ATS record while the Trojans are only 4-5! Texas is a 33-point favorite against Kansas and ends its regular season with a visit to College Station, where the Longhorns face the disappointing Aggies. Texas’ likely opponent in the Big-12 title games is Colorado, a team the Longhorns beat in Austin 42-17 on Oct. 15.

While few think USC or Texas will stumble on the stretch, the nation’s No. 3 team Alabama (but only 3-6 ATS) finds itself a “dog” at home (plus- 3) this Saturday at No. 5 LSU. Since losing WR Tyrone Protho, the Tide have only scored ONE TD in their last three games with the SEC. However, Alabama has the No. 1 ranked scoring defense in the nation (8.2 PPG) and shouldn’t be left out of any game. If Alabama escapes against LSU, the Tide will play Auburn in the “Iron Bowl” on Dec. 19 at Auburn. Alabama’s likely opponent for the SEC title (if the team gets that far) is either Georgia or Florida.

The SEC saw Auburn go 12-0 last year but got kicked out of the BCS title game and it seems likely Alabama could go 12-0 in 2005 and also be kicked out. USC has increased its lead over Texas in the latest BCS rankings and Texas’ lead over Alabama is SUBSTANTIAL! BCS history indicates that the two teams ranked first and second in the first BCS poll of the season (this year it was USC and Texas), NEVER met in this year’s BCS title game- the. However, USC and Texas already made BCS history in 2005, as the same two teams have never before been one or two in each of the top four BCS rankings in a season. Maybe USC and Texas are destined to meet in Pasadena?

LOVELY LOSERS

I can’t finish without listing the teams without a win, those with the zero in the wrong place! Temple was 0-10 (4-6 ATS) in 2005 but got a week off before ending his season Dec. 19 at Navy. New Mexico State is 0-9 (2-7 ATS) and is home to Nevada, where the Aggies are 9 1/2 underdogs. Buffalo, also 0-9 (5-4 ATS!) is at Kent State and the Bulls might actually have a chance. The not-so-great Golden Flashes are only 1-8 themselves in 2005, but are favored by about a TD. Note: Buffalo also has the longest current road losing streak in the nation with 22 straight losses.

Rice (0-8 SU and 1-7 ATS) in 2005 and owner of the nation’s longest current losing streak at age 14, is playing his Homecoming game this week against 2-6 Tulane. Owls are actually a ONE-POINT favorite! Could it be? By the way, including Buffalo, New Mexico State and Rice (Temple is playing this year as in Independent), there are still 13 schools that are still winless in conference games entering the action of this week-end.

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