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October 10, 2011
Monday with Mike: A look at the unbeatens
We're six weeks into the season – the halfway point for more than half of the 120 FBS teams – and there are just 13 unbeaten teams.
Every team in the Big East, MAC, Sun Belt and WAC as well as the independent ranks has at least one loss. Conference USA, the Mountain West and the Pac-12 have just one unbeaten team each. The Big Ten and Big 12 have three unbeaten teams each, followed by the SEC and the ACC with two each.
Here's a look at the 13 unbeatens and the likelihood they remain unbeaten.
But by the next time KU scored, Oklahoma State had scored on eight consecutive possessions and was leading 56-7. The carnage ended with a 70-28 Cowboys victory.
"I've never been a part of anything like that," said Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden, who threw for 288 yards and five TDs in a little less than two quarters of action. "We scored every time we touched it."
That was the case in the first half, when Oklahoma State scored on all eight possessions. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy pulled most of his starters in the second quarter, after the Cowboys had built a 49-7 lead. Oklahoma State's final first-half TD, which made it 56-7 at halftime, was on a pass from backup quarterback Clint Chelf, who threw two TD passes on the day.
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In all, eight Oklahoma State players scored. Oklahoma State rang up 600 yards of offense, 27 first downs and was 8-of-12 on third-down conversions. The Cowboys did punt four times, all in the second half. They scored TDs on their other 10 possessions.
"We have some work to do on that side of the ball," Kansas coach Turner Gill said. "Or on all sides of the ball, for that matter."
Kansas has played four FBS opponents this season and allowed at least 42 points to all of them (KU is 1-3 in those contests). In those four games, the Jayhawks have allowed 2,360 yards (590.0 yards per game) and 31 TDs. Last season, 18 teams allowed fewer TDs -- for the whole season.
In its past 12 games against FBS foes, Kansas is surrendering 46.5 points per game.
KU's secondary has been egregiously bad this season. The Jayhawks have allowed 16 TD passes, with just one pick, and opposing quarterbacks have completed 73.3 percent of their passes.
The flipside: Kansas' offense has been good. KU is averaging 459.8 yards and 34.6 points per game. The offense has turned it over nine times, which isn't that bad. But the defense has forced a nation's-low two turnovers, leading to a minus-7 turnover margin.
Gill is in his second season, but you have to wonder about his job security. There looks to be just one more potentially winnable game on the schedule, and that's a road game against Iowa State. The Cyclones beat the Jayhawks by 12 last season in Lawrence, Kan. In addition, Kansas has lost 11 in a row on the road.
You want to know why you can't take Tennessee seriously as a SEC East title contender? In their two games against league competition (Florida and Georgia), the Vols have rushed for minus-29 yards. Yes, minus-29. They had minus-20 in losing to Georgia on Saturday and had minus-9 when they lost to Florida on Sept. 17. What has to really turn coach Derek Dooley's stomach is that the next two games are against -- gulp -- LSU and Alabama.
Michigan QB Denard Robinson did his best to keep the Wolverines' game at Northwestern an exciting one. Well, for one half, at least. Robinson ran for 48 yards and threw two TD passes in the first half, but he also tossed three picks and Northwestern led 24-14 at the break. In the second half, Robinson rushed for two TDs and was interception-free as the Wolverines pulled away for a 42-24 win.
[The Wolverine: Hoke happy with victory]
Florida followed up a 38-10 loss to Alabama with a 41-11 loss to LSU. It's the first time since 1971 that the Gators have lost back-to-back games by at least four TDs. And the last time the Gators allowed more than 79 points in back-to-back games was '71, when they gave up 89 in back-to-back losses to Auburn and Georgia. Coincidentally, the Gators' next two games are against Auburn and Georgia. LSU's 41 points were the most surrendered by Florida since allowing the same number to Michigan in the Outback Bowl following the 2007 season.
At one point in its one-sided loss to Oklahoma, Texas faced a fourth-and-49 in the third quarter. Georgia did the Longhorns one better, facing a fourth-and-56 early in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs went from a first-and-10 at Tennessee's 23 to the fourth-and-56 from their 31 thanks to three holding calls and a personal foul. To add insult to injury, Georgia was called for another personal foul on the ensuing punt.
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From the "I wonder if Mike Leach noticed" dept.: Texas Tech's Adam James caught a TD pass in the Red Raiders' loss to Texas A&M. It was his first TD catch since the opener of the 2009 season, and Saturday was the first time this season he had caught a pass (four receptions for 28 yards). He had two receptions last season.
Like Kansas, Kentucky scored on its first possession Saturday, kicking a field goal after recovering a South Carolina fumble. That field goal was the highlight of UK's day, as it was blasted 56-3 by the Gamecocks. UK managed 96 yards of total offense (it allowed 639) and had as many interceptions as completions (four). In three games against SEC opponents (Florida, LSU and South Carolina), UK has been outscored 137-20 and outgained 1,507 yards to 550.
Notre Dame whipped Air Force 59-33 and it wasn't really that close; the Irish led 59-19 before Air Force scored twice in the final 5:30. The Irish have won four in a row and now are 4-2. They committed five turnovers in each of their first two games but have committed just five since. The Irish easily could be 9-2 heading into their regular-season finale against Stanford, which means the opening losses to USF and Michigan could keep Notre Dame out of the BCS.
Give it up for Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns were picked to finish last in the nine-team Sun Belt Conference, but after beating Troy on Saturday, ULL is in the driver's seat in the league race. The Ragin' Cajuns won at preseason league favorite Florida International last month and the victory against Troy came over a Trojans program that has won or shared five consecutive league titles. ULL is 5-1, with the only loss in the opener at Oklahoma State. ULL's coach is Mark Hudspeth, who is in his first season after serving as Mississippi State's wide receivers coach for two seasons. Before that, he was coach of perennial Division II power North Alabama.
South Alabama beat UT San Antonio 30-27 in double overtime in a game between schools that will be in the FBS ranks next season -- USA in the Sun Belt and UTSA in the WAC. A crowd of 32,886 was in the Alamodome for the festivities.
Going into Saturday's game with Miami (Ohio), Army QB Trent Steelman had completed just six passes in his previous four games and just 11 all season. Steelman was 8-of-8 against the RedHawks, for 124 yards and a TD. But it wasn't enough as Miami got its first win of the season, 35-28.
Arizona State has forced 14 turnovers in its past three games and has forced 18 this season, which is third-most in the nation.
In four career games against East Carolina, Houston QB Case Keenum was 129-of-168 (76.8 percent completion rate) for 1,337 yards and 12 TDs after going 30-of-37 for 304 yards and three TDs in Saturday's 56-3 beatdown of the Pirates.
The most unbelievable finish this week came in a FCS game, with Howard beating host Florida A&M 29-28. Howard scored all of its points in the fourth quarter, including three scores in the final 1:27 -- two TDs and a field goal on the final play of the game. The field goal came after FAMU fumbled while trying to run out the clock in the final 15 seconds.
For the first time this season, there were no FBS-FCS matchups this past week.
The first BCS standings of the season come out Sunday.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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