Only 13 among the 120 major teams remain undefeated after the 5th 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 flip side, 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, with tongue in cheek, 20 teams still have perfect records–13 are excellent and 7 are terrible.
Considering that most teams are now playing a 12-game season, we have passed the one-third mark to the finish. Many fans may have thought that Virginia Tech, USC, Ohio State, BYU, Oklahoma and even Mississippi might still be unbeaten. Not so.
The biggest upset of the week belonged to the 123rd-ranked University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Miners who outlasted and outplayed the 12th-ranked Houston Cougars, 58-41, in a barn-burner of competitive excitement. With the score tied at 17 in the first half, Houston quit too early as UTEP won the 2nd half 41-24.
Coach Mike Price’s Miners could only muster 53 yards of total offense in losing 64-7 to 2nd-ranked Texas last week on-the-road, but arose from the humiliation to amass 581 yards of offense at home. Donald Buckram picked up 262 yards rushing and scored 4 TDs. UTEP really found its mojo in the second half, putting 20 points on the board 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—could not keep up with UTEP on the scoreboard. The loss was the Cougars’ first after scoring 55, 45 and 29 points in their first 3 victories; unfortunately, this was bound to happen because Houston has 11 players on defense, they just don’t play good defense, giving up 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 saw 17th-ranked Miami (FL) get over last week’s 31-7 away loss to 6th-ranked Virginia Tech by returning home to beat 8th-ranked Oklahoma 21-20. The Hurricanes led 21-17 after 3 quarters and managed to hold the Sooners to a field goal in the last quarter to win.
Unranked Michigan State, which has looked terrible with 3 losses in the last 3 weeks, defended its turf successfully by upending 22nd-ranked Michigan 26-20 in overtime. The loss was the first for the Wolverines, who were behind 10-6 at the half but managed to send the game into OT at 20-20. The Spartans’ true freshman tailback Larry Caper scampered 23 yards, eluding at least 2 tacklers on the way, to score the winning touchdown for Michigan State.
Whoever said it’s so hard to win victories on the road forgot to tell the majority of quality teams. Of the 12 ranked teams playing away games this week, only 3–Oklahoma, Houston and Michigan–lost while 9 won. The winners included:
Third-ranked Alabama beat Kentucky 38-20; 4th-ranked LSU needed two touchdowns in the last 2:53 of the game to nip 18th-ranked Georgia 20-13; and 6th-ranked Virginia Tech managed to get by a 97th-ranked Duke team 34-26, a very unimpressive victory despite being on-the-road. Giving up 26 points to Duke is like taking your sister to the senior prom. Seventh-ranked Southern California ripped apart the 24th-ranked California Bears, 30-3; the Bears seem to fold every season, and sometimes even this early.
Ninth-ranked Ohio State traveled to Indiana and won 33-14. Apparently they still play football at Indiana, but with the Hoosiers, it is sometimes hard to tell. Tenth-ranked Cincinnati got by 150th-ranked and winless (you read it right) Miami of OH, 37-13. Another less than impressive performance by a highly-ranked team. Fifteenth-ranked Penn State beat 85th-ranked Illinois 35-17; at least the Nittany Lions were not playing a 1-AA school this week.
Twenty-first-ranked Mississippi, the most-hyped new “good” team of the season, put down 77th-ranked Vanderbilt, 23-7; the score was 23-7 after the 3rd quarter, both teams decided to walk through the 4th quarter, saving some energy for party-time later. Twenty-fifth-ranked Georgia Tech beat Mississippi State 42-31, showing that Top 25 teams can give up way too many points to an opponent and still win with very little effectiveness on the defensive side of the ball.
Five other ranked teams scored home victories. They included 11th-ranked TCU over 117th-ranked SMU 39-14; 16th-ranked Oregon over inept, 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 win over 119th-ranked Utah State 35-17.
Fifth-ranked Boise State notched a ridiculous 34-16 victory over 139th-ranked, 1-AA University of California at Davis (UC Davis), another part of the Broncos’ cream puff (some say powder puff) schedule. The 13th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, who upset 5th-ranked Penn State 21-10 in an away game last week, had the feared letdown and just got by 125th-ranked Arkansas State, 24-21. The Hawkeye defense, apparently plumb tuckered out from their effort at Happy Valley, let Arkansas State score 14 points in the last quarter to make it too close. Without a 4th quarter field goal, Iowa would have gone into overtime.
Three unranked teams went 5-0 in their bid to get into the AP Top 25 Poll. They included Wisconsin on-the-road over Minnesota 31-28, South Florida on-the-road over 95th-ranked Syracuse 34-20, and Auburn over Tennessee 26-22.
Eight other 4-1 unranked teams continued to win. Notre Dame had to go to overtime at home to turn back Washington, 37-30, marking the 3rd consecutive game that the Fighting Irish have won in the last 60 seconds. They don’t call the Irish lucky for nothing. Idaho, ranked 89th, beat visiting Colorado State, ranked 62nd, 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 127th-ranked Bulls 20-13; South Carolina won at home over 158th-ranked, in-state rival 1-AA South Carolina State 38-14; and Tulsa traveled to Rice and beat the inept, hapless, winless Owls 27-10. Owls don’t eat rice, they are just apparently called the Rice Owls; maybe they are smart birds who don’t win a lot.