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Article:Week 8 Postgame: The Team That Won't Lose

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Hawkeye celebrate
Big news here in Hanover, NH. The Dartmouth Big Green (FCS, Ivy League) finally snapped its 17-game losing streak against good ol' Columbia. The win meant that Dartmouth will not hold the dubious distinction of having the nation's longest losing streak in Division 1 football.

Entering Saturday, Indiana State (FCS, Missouri Valley Conference) had the longest losing streak at 33 straight, but on Saturday, the Sycamores beat Illinois State 17-14, thanks to a go-ahead touchdown with 4:12 left in the game. Since starting the 2004 season 4-1, Indiana State is just 2-57. In that time, they have compiled losing streaks of 24 and 33.

With Indiana State's win, Dartmouth would have taken over the streak at 18 had it lost, but it handily beat Columbia 28-6 in the pouring rain. Western Kentucky (FBS, Sun Belt) now has the longest losing streak in the country at 16 games. The Hilltoppers could break that streak this weekend when they take on North Texas, who has won just two games in the last two seasons (one of which was against WKU).

If Western Kentucky snaps its streak, "Big" Ben Roethlisberger's alma mater, Miami (Ohio), is next in line. It has currently lost 13 straight.

Play-by-Play: I-owa-ont Lose

From losing streaks to winning streaks, the Iowa Hawkeyes win streak climbed to 12 this past weekend and they started the season with 8 consecutive wins for the first time ever.

Iowa was lucky just to start this season at 1-0, let alone 8-0!

The Hawkeyes needed to block two last second field goal tries by FCS opponent, Northern Iowa, to pull out the first game of the season. After the shocking struggle, pollsters dropped the preseason #22 Hawkeyes out of the polls, but they wouldn't stay out for long.

After wins against Iowa State and Arizona, Iowa jumped back into the polls with a 21-10 road upset of then-No. 5 Penn State.

However, it struggled the following week, beating Arkansas State at home just 24-21, then in another home game, managed to hold off Michigan 30-28. The Hawkeyes went on the road after that win and fell in a 10-0 hole to Wisconsin before scoring 20 unanswered points for the 20-10 win.

This past weekend, it appeared that weeks of close matchups and inconsistent performance would finally catch up to Iowa.

Playing on the road at Michigan State this weekend, the Hawkeyes kicked a field goal with 2:56 left in a defensive battle to take a 9-6 lead. The defense sacked MSU quarterback Kirk Cousins on two consecutive plays to start the Spartan drive, but then fell victim to a lateral trick play that got the Spartans to the Iowa 30. Two plays later Cousins found Blair White for a 30-yard touchdown to give Michigan State a 13-9 lead with 1:37 left.

Needing to score a touchdown, Iowa quickly marched down the field to the Michigan State 7-yard line. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi proceeded to throw three straight incomplete passes, and with fourth down and time running out, the Hawkeyes season came down to one play. Stanzi found Marvin McNutt on a slant across the middle, McNutt caught the ball short of the end zone, but powered through his defender for the last few feet to give Iowa the 15-13 win as time expired.

Iowa was out of yet another jam and climbed over Boise State and Cincinnati in the BCS Standings to #4. However, it remains to be seen just how many more times the Hawkeyes can pull the rabbit out of the hat this season.

Three of their four games left are at home against Indiana, Northwestern, and Minnesota. Every game sounds like it should be an easy win, but so far, Iowa has made "easy" wins at home look very hard. The biggest game, however, will be their only away game, a road trip to current-No. 17 Ohio State. The Buckeyes still control their own destiny in the Big 10, and have something to prove after being belittled in the news for their loss to Purdue.

This Iowa team can keep winning, but it'll need to go undefeated to prove to me that it truly belongs in the National Championship discussion.

As a Trojan fan, I'd be greatly disappointed if Iowa made the National Championship. Reason one being that USC is a better team than Iowa. Reason two being that as it becomes more and more apparent that the SEC Champion will face Texas in the BCS Championship, I would love USC to get the opportunity to destroy Iowa in the Rose Bowl!

Three Down Conversions

-Prowling Panthers - The No. 20 Pittsburgh Panthers mauled South Florida 41-14 and showed they are a force in the Big East. Pitt is now 4-0 in the conference and 7-1 on the season. Obviously, being undefeated in conference, Pitt controls its own destiny, but it has its work cut out. After a bye week and a game against Syracuse, it'll play Notre Dame before traveling to current-No. 20 West Virginia. If it can win those, the de facto Big East "championship game" could take place when Pitt hosts current-No. 5 Cincinnati the last week of the season.

-Aggressive Tigers - Clemson's 40-37 overtime when over No. 8 Miami might have proven more about the Tigers than the Hurricanes. At 4-3 (3-2 ACC), Clemson has been written off mainly because of an ugly 24-21 loss at Maryland, however, the other two losses came against current-No. 8 TCU and current-No. 11 Georgia Tech. What's more? The Tigers are in a three-way tie for the Atlantic Division with Boston College and Wake Forest. They've beat those teams, which means that their road to the ACC Championship (and the Orange Bowl) has no blocks right now.

-Horned Frogs - The afore mentioned "current-No. 8 TCU" should be ranked higher than it is. This past weekend the No. 10 Horned Frogs went into Provo to take on No. 16 BYU and demolished them 38-7. BYU started off the season with a win over Oklahoma, and, with the exception of an embarrassing home blowout against Florida State, it had played some good football this season. TCU proved its for real with this win. I still think it's a disappointment that this team has gotten no hype in terms of the BCS Championship game. Not even the win could propel TCU higher than #8 in the AP or #6 in the BCS, so they'll need a lot of help to get a shot at the Championship.


-Swine Flu - Maybe it's a little insensitive to make a swine flu joke, but with the whole paranoia going around, I can't get a regular flu shot these days. Thus, some doctors believe that with all resources focused on swine flu vaccines, more people might die of the regular flu this winter than those that would have died from the swine flu if there was no vaccine. As a guy that lives in th northeast and likely to get the regular flu, I'm bitter that I can't get my vaccination. Also, for the sake of defending my intelligence, swine flu is not carried by pigs, which is why it was renamed to H1N1.

But, that's all beside my point, my point: the Swine, Hogs, Razorbacks (whatever you will) of Arkansas took a big step back this weekend. I take pride in placing teams in my rankings before the national media, and last week it came down to Arkansas or Arizona at number 25. Arkansas had demolished Texas A+M 47-19 and then-No. 17 Auburn 44-23 and was a few bad referee calls away from upsetting No. 1 Florida on the road. So, I put Arkansas in the rankings over Arizona. It went down 17-0 to Ole Miss in the first half and fell 30-17; looks like I should have picked Arizona.

-The Big 12 North - The North division of the Big 12 hasn't been competitive with the South in years. That's only getting more and more apparent. The Week 5 AP rankings had Kansas (No. 16, 4-0), Nebraska (No. 21, 3-1), and Missouri (No. 24, 4-0) from the North. That weekend Nebraska played Missouri, so something had to give. However, with the exception of that game, which Nebraska won, those teams are a combined 1-6 since Week 5. This week, all three of them lost in poor fashion at home. Missouri was embarrassed 41-7 by No. 3 Texas. Likewise, No. 24 Kansas took a 35-13 beating from No. 25 Oklahoma. And, after a 31-10 drubbing from Texas Tech last week, Nebraska put up its second straight groaner at home, a 9-7 loss to Iowa State.

-Red Raided - Let's not give too much credit to that Texas Tech win over Nebraska. The No. 21 Red Raiders were embarrassed at home themselves this weekend in a 52-30 loss to Texas A+M. TTU certainly knows how to score points and doesn't really miss Graham Harrell or Michael Crabtree that much, but, in three losses this year, they've given up at least 29 points and any time you give up 52 points, you should leave the field with your tail between your legs.

Extra Point

I've made a big stink about the SEC officials in the past few weeks. Last week, after my complaints, I saw that the SEC had suspended the officials from the atrociously reffed Florida-Arkansas game. The suspensions seemed to do little to prevent another clear, bad call in the Florida-Mississippi State game. However, in any instance, when I feel my complaints are heard, I feel obligated to show some kind of gratitude. Props to the SEC for not standing by these horrible calls and making an example out of the refs. Too often referees are let off the hook by the powers-that-be, and, in this case, the SEC's reprimand is commendable. Thank you, SEC for taking on stand on unacceptable refereeing!

Last Week's Final Score

Week Record: 2-1 Season Record: 14-7

Prediction: TCU 16, BYU 13 Result: TCU 38, BYU 7

Prediction: Michigan State 31, Iowa 27 Result: Iowa 15, Michigan State 13

Prediction: Dartmouth 20, Columbia 16 Result: Dartmouth 28, Columbia 8

This Week's Gameplan

No. 4 USC (6-1, 3-1 Pac-10) at No. 10 Oregon (6-1, 4-0 Pac-10), Sat 8 P.M. ET, ABC

This game could easily determine the Pac-10 winner. If Oregon wins, it will be well in control of the Pac-10 and will be two games in front of USC. With the Trojans having won the last seven Pac-10 titles, this is as good a chance as the Ducks might get to ensure that USC is finally dethroned.

On the other side, if you consider that USC has been Superman in college football for the last decade, consider the state of Oregon its kryptonite. USC has lost three straight games played in the state and hasn't won there since the Matt Leinart/Reggie Bush days. Those three losses amount for half of the Trojans losses in the last four seasons. USC's only loss last year came at Oregon State, and its previous loss before that was a 24-17 loss at Oregon in 2007.

This much I'll guarantee. If USC's defense plays like it has in the past two weeks (34-27 win at Notre Dame and 42-36 win vs. Oregon State), the Trojans will lose this game. However, the past two games aside, this is a team that has been known for a stringent defense in recent years. This year it limited Ohio State to 15 points (two of those came on a safety) and Cal to three.

The USC defense handled QB Jeremiah Masoli and the Ducks easily last year, winning 44-10. Playing in Autzen is a much different beast, and while talk has been about how Matt Barkley will handle the away crowd, he's already won games in stadiums just as difficult to compete in (Ohio State and Notre Dame).

From a Trojan standpoint, I haven't been this nervous before a game since USC lost at Oregon two years ago. However, that might be in part because I don't want to see USC lose its stronghold on the Pac-10 and the Rose Bowl.

I'll take USC, which is no surprise. I certainly wouldn't have put this game in here if I was going to pick against them, I'd give Benedict Arnold a hug before I did that! I'm hoping the Trojan defense can get its form back. If it does, USC should pull this one out by about a touchdown. If not then it's time for the Trojans to start scouting the Holiday Bowl (where the Pac-10's second place team goes) for the postseason.

USC 27, Oregon 23

No. 3 Texas (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) at No. 13 Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-0 Big 12), Sat 8 P.M. ET, ABC

If you're looking for a snake in the grass, you better check Stillwater, OK. If a metaphor holds, the Cowboys of Oklahoma State could lasso the Longhorns of Texas this weekend.

Oklahoma State lost the national spotlight when it lost to Conference USA's Houston earlier this year. To compound the problem, standout wide receiver Dez Bryant has officially been suspended for the rest of the season. Even so, the Cowboys have quietly ridden to a 6-1 record and could figuratively take the reigns in the Big 12 South if it wins this weekend.

All that hype might not be enough though. Texas was extremely convincing on both sides of the ball in a 41-7 win at Missouri last weekend. The road game makes this more intriguing, but with Dez Bryant gone, Zac Robinson has been a consistent but not awe inspiring quarterback for OSU.

I think Texas can force Robinson to make some bad decisions, while the offense will rack up enough points to require the Cowboys to pass all day. That combination spells defeat for Oklahoma State.

Texas 44, Oklahoma State 28

No. 1 Florida (7-0, 5-0 SEC) vs. Georgia (4-3, 3-2 SEC) in Jacksonville, Sat 3:30 P.M. ET, CBS

Aside from the two big primetime matchups on ABC, there aren't any other games between two ranked opponents, so I might as well defer to a rivalry.

Florida has a clear advantage and have clearly had a better season. But, in the case of any rivalry, spoiling the other team's season is a great motivator for Georgia. The Bulldogs still have pictures hanging up around their practice facility of Florida Coach Urban Meyer calling a timeout with less than a minute left in a 49-10 Florida win last year, when the Gators shoved the Bulldogs nose into the ground.

Georgia has looked somewhere between mediocre to less-than-average this season, but most recently, it played its best game of the season, a complete 34-10 win over Vanderbilt.

In regards to Urban Meyer's crew, the Gators haven't looked as dominant as they did the second half of last season, which made them nearly unanimous favorites to go back-to-back entering this season. Florida had a gritty 13-3 win at LSU, followed by a near-loss to Arkansas, and a 29-19 win over Mississippi State in a game that was just a field goal difference at halftime and in which Florida got a charity touchdown call on what should have been a turnover.

I'm not saying that Florida will lose, I'm simply pointing out that the Gators could ripe for a loss and that Georgia is a team that would love to take them down. Florida's noticeable advantage in talent should be enough to win this one, but it could well come down to the fourth quarter (and possibly another bad call by the refs).

Florida 20, Georgia 14

My Top 25

1. Texas (Last week: 2) 2. Alabama (1) 3. Florida (3) 4. Cincinnati (5) 5. USC (4) 6. TCU (6) 7. Boise State (8) 8. Iowa (10) 9. LSU (7) 10. Oregon (11) 11. Penn State (12) 12. Georgia Tech (16) 13. Oklahoma State (14) 14. Ohio State (17) 15. Virginia Tech (13) 16. Pittsburgh (22) 17. Miami (9) 18. Oklahoma (18) 19. Notre Dame (21) 20. Houston (19) 21. West Virginia (NR) 22. Arizona (NR) 23. Clemson (NR) 24. Utah (23) 25. Central Michigan (NR)

OUT - BYU (15), Texas Tech (20), South Carolina (24), Arkansas (25)

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