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AROUND THE COLLEGE NATION
September 16, 2004

ENOUGH OF IVAN ALREADY

The weather experts have been talking about Hurricane Ivan since the middle of last week. Now it's finally making landfall and will soon be dumping rain from the coast of Mississippi to the hills of Tennessee and into major northeastern cities like New York and Boston over the next few days.

Unfortunately, Ivan's effects also stretch onto the playing surfaces of several college campuses with plans to host games this week. The Thursday night showdown between (10) California and Southern Miss in Hattiesburg was called off by Cal officials on Monday evening. On Tuesday, it was announced that Saturday's CUSA matchup between Louisville and Tulane, set to take place in New Orleans' Super Dome, had also been postponed. The only other matchup that seems to possibly be in jeopardy is SCS.com's Game of the Week in Auburn, Alabama where two groups of Tigers, Auburn and LSU, get together for the SEC's biggest game of the season to date.

Though other teams like Mississippi, Georgia, Middle Tennessee, Florida State, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Alabama, and Tennessee are hosting games in locations that will likely be wet on Saturday, none of those schools have announced plans to postpone their games.

BIG XII NORTH FALLING APART?

The Big XII North has always been inferior to the Big XII South (in most people's opinions), at least in football, but the division took an especially hard hit last weekend when several of its top contenders fell hard to non-BCS opponents. Missouri got things started on Thursday night with a road loss at Troy State. Kansas State was knocked off by a non-BCS team on their home field for the second straight season, this year falling to the WAC's Fresno State after dropping a decision to the MAC's Marshall last year. Nebraska also lost a rare home game in Lincoln, losing to Southern Miss by four points.

The three teams one would expect to stumble in the North actually represented the league well. Iowa State fell by just seven points to in-state rival Iowa on the road, one of the favorites and most successful teams in the Big Ten over the past few years. Even Kansas throttled Toledo, one of the preseason MAC favorites.

But the biggest performance of the week came in Pullman, Washington where Colorado knocked off the Washington State Cougars. After a tumultuous offseason for CU and coach Gary Barnett, the Buffaloes have gotten off to a fantastic start with a season-opening win over in-state rival Colorado State and then last weekend's victory at WSU.

Off to a 2-0 start, the Buffs have a great chance to move to 3-0 with a home win over North Texas this weekend. The Mean Green was hammered by Texas to start the season and was then knocked off by D-IAA Florida Atlantic last week. After a week off, CU will then head to Missouri to get the conference season underway. Consecutive home games against Oklahoma State and Iowa Sate followed by a road trip to Texas A&M provide Barnett's team a chance to make some noise early in conference play. One could certainly see Colorado sitting pretty at 6-1 or 7-0 heading into an October 30 home showdown with the Texas Longhorns.

WAC DADDIES

Fresno State and Boise State have certainly stepped to the front of the pack in the WAC so far this season.

Coach Pat Hill's Bulldogs have already knocked off two BCS league teams this season, grabbing a win over Washington in Seattle to start the season and then slamming Kansas State in Manhattan last week. The second victory vaulted FSU into the SCS.com Fab 15 for the first time this season.

Meanwhile, Boise State hammered in-state rival Idaho in Week One and then continued the misery of Oregon State by beating the Beavers in Boise last Friday night. The Broncos have had to replace one of the nation's top QBs, Ryan Dinwiddie, from a year ago, but the offense does not seem to have missed a step. BSU scored 65 points in the season-opener and then put 53 on the board against Oregon State, a defense that held LSU to just 22 points the week before.

Two other teams to keep an eye on in the WAC this season are Louisiana Tech and Rice. The Bulldogs seem to have a more balanced club in 2004 and could make a run at third place in the conference this year. The Owls, meanwhile, got their season off to a fabulous start with a victory over in-state rival Houston. The Cougars, who had perhaps the CUSA's best offense in 2003, were held to just one touchdown by the Rice defense...and that came with just seconds to go in the game.

FAU DIDN'T GET THE MEMO?

Florida Atlantic has not yet advanced to D-I college football, but the Owls might as well be. After coming from behind in the final minutes to force overtime against Hawaii and then winning the game in the extra period, FAU stayed on the road and knocked off North Texas in Week TWo. Ironically, FAU will move to D-I and be a member of the Sun Belt Conference for football in 2005, the same conference UNT belongs to. The Owls will join the SBC for all sports in 2006.

Looking down the road on FAU's schedule, it would appear legendary coach Howard Schnellenburger's team has already played two of its toughest opponents this season. Florida Atlantic travels to Middle Tennessee this week and should be able to win a game over the Blue Raiders, who have fallen back to the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt in recent years. Three games against D-IAA teams follow, which could possibly put FAU at 6-0 heading into late October.

A home game with D-I Louisiana-Monroe is on the schedule prior to a game with Florida A&M to close out the month of October. The biggest game on the Owls' schedule kicks off the month of November. On November 6th, FAU will travel to take on Troy University, the early favorite to win the Sun Belt in 2004. It's also interesting to note that Troy is a first-year member of the SBC.

Following that showdown, the Owls host the Sun Belt's New Mexico State before finishing up the campaign with two D-IAA games. Since Florida Atlantic is in a transition stage from D-IAA to D-I, the Owls are not eligible for either the D-IAA playoffs or a D-I bowl game. Next year, however, look for Coach Schnellenburger and FAU to be a major contender in the Sun Belt Conference from the very beginning.

HITS & MISSES FROM WEEK TWO

HIT: Fresno State...The Bulldogs destroyed Kansas State and appear to be a leading contender for the WAC title and possible BCS berth in 2004.

MISS: Florida State...The Seminoles had their game with Miami under control but let it slip away in the fourth quarter. Neither team is BCS-worthy this season.

HIT: Troy State...The Trojans fell behind Missouri 14-0 in the first quarter but mounted a rally, got the crowd behind them, and pulled off the upset of Missouri.

MISS: Oregon...You cannot lose to Indiana on your home turf. The Hoosiers, whom no one thought had a chance, deserve some credit, but UO has a long way to go in the PAC 10.

HIT: Texas...The Longhorns faced a pesky Razorback team in Fayetteville and escaped with a win. Oklahoma is beatable this year, but that wouldn't have mattered as much in BCS terms if UT had not win at UA.

MISS: Rutgers...After pulling a huge upset over Michigan State to start the season, the Scarlet Knights fumbled away a home game against New Hampshire.

HIT: Georgia Tech...Wonder why they say "never give up"? Ask Georgia Tech. The Jackets hung in there to the end and snatched away a huge victory at Clemson.

MISS: Toledo...What's up with the Rockets? After being pounded at Minnesota (understandable), Toledo went on the road and was smoked by Kansas. It's not hoops season yet.

OTHER NOTEABLE HITS: Florida Atlantic, New Mexico, Colorado, Southern Miss, Arizona State, Georgia, and Utah

THREE THINGS TO WATCH IN WEEK THREE:

(1) Hurricane Ivan. I know, I know...we're all sick of hearing about it. But forecasts have the storm dumping heavy rains from the southeast to the northeast this weekend, and the downpours will obviously affect the games themselves, as well as attendance at those games, this weekend.

(2) LSU at Auburn. This is perhaps the biggest game in the country so far this year. AU has the ability to run the ball as well as any other team in the nation thanks to RBs Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown. Meanwhile, LSU is still trying to solve a QB controversy and return to their style of play from a year ago. The winner of this one gains a huge edge in the SEC West race.

(3) Upset alert. The are several upset possiblities out there this week. Here are a few to consider: (a) Boise State at UTEP, (b) Clemson at Texas A&M, (c) Wisconsin at Arizona, (d) (13) Iowa at Arizona State, (e) (11) Ohio State at NC State, (f) Maryland at (6) West Virginia.

WHAT WE WATCHED LAST WEEK

Here's a look back at the three things we watched for last week and what took place...

(1) Fresno State at Kansas State...Like SCS.com predicted, the Bulldogs took down Darren Sproles and the Wildcats.

(2) Texas at Arkansas...As we expected, this one went down to the wire. Texas pulled it out as we said they would.

(3) Sylvester Croom...We said we would find out how good the Bulldogs were after they played Auburn. They've got a long way to go.

 > Talk about it in The College Corner...

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