BYU Upset of Boise State Opens Door To Host of Teams for New Year's Six.
As long as Boise State remained unbeaten it was almost a forgone conclusion the Broncos would represent the Group of Five in the New Year's Six arrangement in the College Playoff format, but Brigham Young's 28-25 dramatic win changed all assumptions in a flash. Boise State certainly remains in contention, but a host of other team's aspirations certainly became more realistic. In the AAC, undefeated SMU and one loss Cincinnati, Memphis and Navy all took a giant leap forward as well as the Sun Belt's undefeated Appalachian State. In the Mountain West, Boise must contend with fellow conference member San Diego State who also sports only one loss. I wouldn't even count out C-USA's Louisiana Tech and UAB out of contention. Both have only one loss. Around the nation: Double digit underdog upsets dotted the landscape over the weekend. Georgia Tech surprised Miami (Fla.) 28-21, Illinois shocked the college football world by beating Wisconsin 24-23 on a last second field goal, UCLA went on the road and beat Stanford 34-16, Pac 12 cellar dweller Oregon State stunned California in Berkeley 21-17 and Vanderbilt topped visiting Missouri 21-14. Penn State took a leap in the Billingsley Report this week, moving from #7 to #3 based on a big win over #12 Michigan. The Nittany Lions took a 21-7 lead and held on for a 28-21 win in "White Out" conditions at University Park. Kansas scared the bee jabbers out of the Longhorns, falling 50-48 in Austin. Texas survived the upset with a Cameron Dicker field goal as time ran out. Surprising Baylor, Minnesota and SMU all moved to 7-0 on the season, making for some interesting conference races as we move into the second half of the season. Oregon took a giant leap forward toward the Pac 12 North Division crown with a 35-31 win over Washington in Seattle. The 6-1 Duck's lone loss came in the season opener to Auburn. The SEC continues to dominate the Top 10 with LSU, Alabama, Florida and Auburn all scoring easy wins over the weekend, but the Nation's eyes turn to another showdown coming next Saturday as the Billingsley Report's #8 Auburn Tigers travel to Baton Rouge to take on the #1 Bayou Bengals of LSU. Sure to be a dandy.
LSU Tops Florida 42-28 in SEC Showdown
The Bayou Bengals hosted the Florida Gators Saturday night in Baton Rouge and survived a scare, but came away victorious after a hard fought 42-28 win. The undefeated Gators, already having defeated SEC West foe Auburn, appeared poised to take down another West Division heavy weight, but late 4th quarter offensive fireworks by Joe Burrow led the Tigers to a solid victory. The win vaulted LSU to # 1 in this week's Billingsley Report. Around the Nation: Wisconsin continues their stunning defensive performance with a 38-0 win over Michigan State. The Badgers are 6-0 with 4 of those victories coming as shutouts. Penn State traveled to Iowa and posted a 17-12 win over the Hawkeyes, lifting the Nittany Lions to 6-0 on the season. Likewise Minnesota jumped to 6-0 after mauling Nebraska 34-7. The upstart Gophers have yet to hit the meat of the Big 10 schedule with Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin upcoming. The Oklahoma Sooners turned in the best defensive performance since the early 2000's with a 34-27 win over arch rival Texas in Dallas. The Sooners sacked Longhorn QB Sam Ehlinger 9 times, tying a series record that dates to 1900. Baylor remained undefeated but needed double overtime at home to outlast Texas Tech 33-30. Notre Dame, now 5-1 on the season survived a furious upset attack from rival Southern California. The Irish held off the Trojans 30-27. Boise State smothered the visiting Hawaii team 59-37. The Broncos remain the highest ranked Group of Five team in the nation, keeping them in line for a New Year's Six Bowl Game. But don't lose sight of undefeated SMU and Appalachian State in addition to one loss Cincinnati. Alabama traveled to College Station and came away with a solid win, defeating Texas A&M 47-28. And finally, in the weekend's and perhaps the season's greatest upset thus far, Georgia was shocked by the visiting Gamecocks of South Carolina, falling 20-17 in double overtime.
Florida Hands Auburn First Loss of the Season In SEC Showdown
In the Nation's premier game of the week, the Florida Gators edged the Auburn Tigers 24-13. The win catapulted Florida into national title contention, but far from removes Auburn from the discussion. Scheduling is the Tiger's best friend in the sense that Auburn has the opportunity to play and beat LSU and Alabama, both current Top 5 teams. Moving forward undefeated, which would include a win over Georgia (or a rematch win over Florida) in the SEC Championship game would most certainly place Auburn in the College Football Playoff. Lots of football still to be played in 2019. Around the nation: Cincinnati took a huge step towards the American Conference Crown Saturday as the Bearcats sneaked by UCF 27-24. This conference crown looks wide open though, with Memphis and SMU still undefeated and Temple, Tulane and Navy raising some eyebrows. Michigan State has a great defense which makes Ohio State's 34 points that much more impressive. The #1 Buckeyes were just too much for the Spartans to handle with Ohio State posting a 34-10 victory. Speaking of defense, Michigan managed to post a big conference victory over Iowa, 10-3. Wisconsin and Penn State rolled along with Minnesota, who is still undefeated and putting together quite a season, under the radar. Oklahoma and Texas both posted victories on the way to their Red River game in Dallas Saturday. The Sooners will be slightly favored and go into the game undefeated at 5-0. Hmmmm.....the last three times Oklahoma went into the game undefeated Texas won. The Sooners are hoping to start a new trend. Baylor remained unbeaten moving to 5-0 after traveling to Manhattan and surprising Kansas State 31-12. Oregon took one step closer to becoming the cream of the Pac 12 crop by beating California 17-7. Later that night Stanford shocked visiting Washington 23-13. Earlier Saturday Arizona went on the road and surprised Colorado 35-30. The 4-1 Wildcats are quietly putting together a good season. The upcoming schedule is daunting though, Washington, USC, Stanford, Oregon, Utah and arch rival Arizona State. YIKES! The SEC owns 5 spots in this week's Billingsley Report Top 7: #2 LSU, #4 Florida, #5 Georgia, #6 Alabama and #7 Auburn. Something has to give again this week as Florida travels to Baton Rouge to battle the Bayou Bengals of LSU in one of the season's blockbuster games.
California Falls to Arizona State 24-17 In Friday Night Thriller
The last undefeated Pac 12 team fell from grace Friday night as the visiting Sun Devils pulled off an upset, defeating the hosting Bears 24-17. The loss potentially leaves the Pac 12 on the outside looking in for a playoff spot among the four participants chosen by the CFP Committee. At least one of the several one loss teams would need to run the table and finish 12-1 to attract the Committee's attention, a long shot considering the extreme balance within the league this year. Oregon, Utah, Washington, California, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State all have only one loss on this early season, but unless one team steps up and creates a serious run, we may be looking at a two, or possibly three loss champion from the Pac 12 in 2019. Around the Nation: North Carolina scared the beejabbers out of a sloppy Clemson team Saturday afternoon. The game's outcome was decided in the last minute as the Tar Heels tried unsuccessfully on a two point try, falling to the Tigers 21-20. Wake Forest remains unbeaten at 5-0 as the Demon Deacons went on the road and survived Boston College 27-24. Likewise SMU remained unbeaten, improving to 5-0 by rolling over South Florida on the road, 48-21. This is the best start for the Ponies since the old SWC days of the 1983 season when they also started 5-0 before falling to #4 Texas 15-12. The Mustang's best season in program history was a 10-0 run in 1982. A 17-17 tie with Arkansas in the regular season finale was the only blemish on the 1982 record. SMU went on to defeat Pittsburgh 7-3 in the Cotton Bowl. SMU finished 11-0-1 on the 1982 season with a #3 ranking in the Billingsley Report and #2 in the AP and Coaches Polls. Looks like Sonny Dykes may be putting together something special in Dallas. Stay tuned. Opposite the Pac 12, the Big 10 flourishes with undefeated teams. Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin and Minnesota all remain unbeaten after 5 weeks of play. That ties the SEC for the most unbeaten teams in a conference. The SEC boasts 5 unbeaten teams as well, with all 5 among the nation's Top Ten Teams, #3 LSU, #4 Auburn, #5 Alabama, #6 Georgia and #7 Florida. Amazing. It will be interesting to see how conference play in the SEC shakes down in 2019. Can one or even two teams comes out of that slug fest unscathed? Hard to imagine. The Oklahoma defense is noticeably improved. The Sooners demolished Texas Tech 55-16 with the defense, at times, making plays reminiscent of the glory days of old. But the real test won't come until they face Texas. My eyes are already glued toward the Red River Showdown on October 12.
Georgia Outlasts Notre Dame 23-17 in Classic Defensive Slug Fest
In an age where scoring 50 points a game is common place, Georgia made a statement that defense may still win championships. Saturday night in Athens, defense won the game over the Fighting Irish, that's for sure. With the Irish leading 10-7 at the half, the record Sanford Stadium crowd of 93,246 watched as QB Jake Fromm efficiently passed for 20 of 26 for 187 yards and the Bulldog offense pulled ahead, scoring 16 points in the second half and held Notre Dame to only 7. The win certainly solidified Georgia's National Championship hopes and temporarily, at least, derailed title hopes for the Irish. Across the Nation: One week after I touted Central Florida's Championship potential, The Golden Knights promptly went on the road and were surprised by Pittsburgh 35-34 on a last second trick play. Welcome to the big leagues UCF, you have to focus on every game, one at a time, to win National Championships. Wisconsin dismantled Michigan 35-14, sending the Wolverines home with question marks galore about the direction of the Michigan program under Harbaugh. The Texas Longhorns finally broke the Cowboy jinx in Austin Saturday night, winning at home for the first time in 10 years by surviving Oklahoma State 36-30. Boise State now appears to be the top dog among the Group of Five after soaring past Air Force Friday night 30-19. With the UCF loss, the #9 Broncos are the highest rated G5 team. The Pac 12 is topsy turvy in 2019. Only California remains unbeaten after Utah, Washington State, and Arizona State were all upset. Auburn traveled to College Station and held off a furious Aggie rally in the 4th quarter to escape with a 28-20 win over Texas A&M, and the Arkansas Razorback program hit a new low Saturday night, falling to #130 San Jose State 31-24. The #120 hapless Hogs are 2-2 on the season with one of those wins coming over FCS Portland State and the other over #123 Colorado State, a far cry from the National Championship years under Frank Broyles. Of course, fellow SEC conference member Tennessee is giving Arkansas a run for their money to see who can sink to the lowest possible place. The Volunteers managed only a field goal against arch rival Florida in a 34-3 loss to the Gators in Gainesville.
UCF Makes Playoff Statement in 45-27 Rout of Stanford
The Central Florida Golden Knights have posted two consecutive unbeaten regular seasons and appear to be heading for a third after blasting the Stanford Cardinal 45-27 Saturday. The College Football Playoff Committee has virtually ignored UCF in the past, stating concerns over strength of schedule.. The Golden Knights are making that angle in conversation more difficult in 2019 after upgrading their schedule and soundly defeating perennial Pac 12 power Stanford. Pittsburgh (#49), is on the schedule this week and if fellow conference members Cincinnati (#19), Temple (# 51), Houston (#65) continue their winning ways, and a potential AAC Championship game against a high ranked possibly undefeated Memphis materializes, UCF stands to present a formidable schedule this year. If the Golden Knights go undefeated playing a Top 50 schedule, it will be interesting to see how the CFP Committee handles it. In the ACC Clemson soundly defeated Syracuse 41-6, Virginia dramatically came from behind to top Florida State 31-24, and the Les Miles led Kansas Jayhawks shocked 18 point favorite Boston College 48-24. Wake Forest moved to 3-0 on the season by holding off North Carolina 24-18. In the Big 10 Iowa recovered a fumbled punt with just over a minute left in the game and ran out the clock on in state rival Iowa State 18-17. It was the Hawkeyes 5th consecutive win in the series. In the Big 12 Kansas State traveled to Starkville and withstood the cowbells, surprising favored Mississippi State 31-24. Jalen Hurts continues to impress as the Sooners went to Los Angeles and dominated UCLA 48-14. Reports state there were as many Sooner fans in the crowd of 52,578 as there were Bruin fans. Texas blasted Rice 48-13 at Houston's NRG Stadium in front of a disappointing crowd of 42,417. When I was living in Houston in the 1970's and attended Rice/Texas games, 70,000 seat Rice Stadium was sold out. What has happened to the Longhorn fan base in Houston? Independent Brigham Young marked a second straight shocking overtime upset by downing visiting USC 30-27. The Cougars beat Tennessee in overtime last week 29-26. Nationally ranked Washington comes to Provo this week. Could we be in a a three-peat? My life long friend Royce Hull is smiling ear to ear. In the Pac 12 Arizona State traveled to East Lansing and squeaked by Michigan State 10-7. The Spartans kicked a tying field goal which was taken off the board by a penalty of 12 men on the field. The subsequent field goal attempt was missed. The upcoming week 4 schedule finds undefeated Utah traveling to the Coliseum to face USC, Michigan visiting Wisconsin for an early season Big 10 showdown, undefeated Auburn facing Texas A&M in College Station, Utah State visiting San Diego State, and the much anticipated, certainly the game of the week, Notre Dame between the Hedges at Georgia. Stay tuned.....the season is well underway.
LSU Starts Strong and Holds on Tight to Top Texas 45-38
What started as a defensive struggle in the first half ended in an offensive onslaught in the second half as LSU built a 20-7 halftime lead then watched Texas fight back within two points before eventually falling to the spirited Tigers 45-38. It was a huge road win for LSU which has sputtered offensively for several years. Tiger QB Joe Burrow will certainly get Heisman Trophy consideration for his performance of 31 of 39 passing for 471 yards. Around the Nation Top teams kept pace with LSU as Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, and Oklahoma blew out lesser opposition. Only Michigan was tested Saturday as Army traveled to the Big House and scared the mighty Wolverines by taking Michigan into double overtime before losing 24-21. The game was very reminiscent of last years Oklahoma game where Army almost pulled an huge upset before falling to the Sooners in the Palace on the Prairie 28-21. Clemson handled Texas A&M 24-10. Mack Brown is 2-0 after another dramatic finish, this time North Carolina came from behind to defeat Miami (Fla.) 28-25. Maryland is raising eyebrows after the 2-0 Terps demolished favored Syracuse 63-20. Nebraska led old Big 8 rival Colorado 17-0 at the half and appeared to be rolling toward a great victory until the Buffaloes came to life in the second half, storming back to win in overtime 34-31. California stunned Washington in Seattle 20-19 in a game very few witnessed in the stands or on TV after a severe lightning storm delayed the game for over two hours. The conclusion finally came in dramatic fashion at 1:22 AM (PDT) 4:22 AM (EDT) by California kicking a 17 yard field goal with 8 seconds left on the clock. 18 year old reserve USC QB Kedon Slovis led the Trojans to a huge victory over Stanford 45-20. Tennessee appeared headed towards a much needed rebound win from last week's disaster until BYU snatched away a 29-26 win in overtime. The Vols are 0-2 for the first time since 1988.
Rocky Top Crumbles in Season Opener
The once proud Tennessee football program has hit a new low. In one of the most shocking season openers in college history, Georgia State, a heavy 25-30 point underdog, brought Neyland Stadium to it's knees Saturday, surprising the Volunteers 38-30. No time to rest. Brigham Young comes to Knoxville this week. Around the country, the Nation's Top Teams all rolled as expected. Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia all prevailed over lesser competition. Oklahoma handled a slightly better team in Houston. LSU vaulted to the top of the Billingsley Report on the strength of beating the Sun Belt's top team in Georgia Southern. The Bayou Bengals travel to Austin, Texas Saturday in the Nation's premier college game to take on the Texas Longhorns. Boise State was impressive in a come from behind win over Florida State as was Auburn against Oregon. The SEC suffered a disappointing weekend with Missouri, South Carolina and Mississippi all falling in their opening games.
2019 Early Season Schedule Highlights
More often than not the greatest games during a season occur in October and November as conference races heat up and national implications rise to the surface, but in every year, there are early season games that shape the landscape of those later important games. Here is my list of games played in the first 4 weeks of the season that are must watch contests, listed in order of importance. ********** 10 Star Games: LSU @ Texas - September 7: A team is never REALLY back until they establish consistency in winning. Texas had an amazing season in 2018, beating hated rival Oklahoma in the regular season Red River Showdown, and surprising Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to finish 10-4 and #8 in the Final Billingsley Report. This game will go a long way to answer the question of whether the Longhorns can be CONSISTENT winners. LSU is expected to be a contender in the always tough SEC West race. It would be a huge feather in the cap of the Bayou Bengals to return home with a win under their belt in Austin. Texas 27 LSU 24 Notre Dame @ Georgia - September 21: This is a much anticipated return trip of the series which saw the Bulldogs travel to South Bend in 2017 and escape with a thrilling 20-19 win. Both of these teams have National Championship aspirations in 2019, and this game will determine which of these two teams will be propelled into the conversation really fast. As much as I like Notre Dame's chances for repeated success this year, the Bulldogs prevail Between the Hedges, Georgia 28 Notre Dame 24. Texas A&M @ Clemson - September 7: If anyone is going to disrupt Clemson's quest for an undefeated regular season, the Aggies are the team to do it. I'm tempted to pick an upset, but at home in Death Valley, it's hard not to go with the Tigers. Clemson 28 Texas A&M 27. Oregon vs Auburn - Arlington, Texas - August 31: The reputation of the entire Pac 12 Conference is on the shoulders of this game. No doubt there are other non-conference games that are important, USC hosting Fresno State and both USC and Washington travelling to BYU, but there is nothing greater to shout about than beating an SEC West stand out like Auburn. This is a very tough call because these are very evenly matched teams. The early Las Vegas Line has Auburn by 2 and I'm ever so slightly inclined to agree. Auburn 31 Oregon 30. ******* 7 Star Games Boise State vs Florida State - Jacksonville - August 31: A great opening weekend game which will tell right away if the Seminoles have turned a corner. The Broncos are a very well coached, talented team which has shown the consistency in the program that the above mentioned Texas team so desperately needs to show. The early Las Vegas Line has Florida State favored by 3, but I'm inclined to go with the Broncos here, very close. Boise State 31 Florida State 30. Florida vs Miami (Fla.) - Orlando - August 24: The opening game of the 2019 season. I can say the same thing about Miami as I did Florida State, how improved are the Canes? Florida is the frontrunner for the SEC East crown. A lot is expected of the Gators and these two teams, well, have a history to say the least and it ain't pretty. These teams have played 55 games with Miami holding a slight edge 29-26. They last met in 2013 and Miami squeaked out a 21-16 win. Florida has lost an unbelievable 7 of the last 8 games in this storied rivalry. The Gators are hungry and out to prove a point. Florida 35 Miami (Fla.) 17. ***** 5 Star Games Utah @ Brigham Young - August 31: The Holy War used to be an end of season ritual for the Nation to feast on, but Utah joining the Pac 12 changed all that (For the most part. They did play November 24 last year). Thankfully, the two teams made keeping this game on the schedule a priority. The reason I value this game so highly is because the Utes are considered to be the frontrunner for the Pac 12 crown, and folks, this is a tough opening game. If the Utes stumble here, they may win the conference crown, but making a run for the National Championship will be in doubt. The Cougars want this game BAD. They have lost 8 in a row in this series. Again, I'm tempted to pick an upset. BYU is very capable. But, I just can't do it. Utah 27 BYU 24. Stanford @ Central Florida - September 14: I must admit, I thought the 2017 undefeated season by UCF was a fluke. No way they could repeat. So, what did they do? Go undefeated in the regular season for the second year in a row. The schedule has always been questionable in strength, so what did the Golden Knights do? Invite Stanford for an early season showdown. I certainly admire them for upgrading the schedule. Question is, are they still good enough to back it up? I think so....barely. UCF 31 Stanford 24. Nebraska @ Colorado - September 7 : So much has been written about Scott Frost's return and the Cornhusker's late season surge last year. This game will tell us what we need to know about expectation levels for Nebraska. These two old Big 8 rivals will pull out all the plugs to win this game. Not a lot is expected of Colorado in 2019, but playing on the road early in the altitude of Boulder against a hated rival is a very tall order for the Huskers. Beware. A slip here and it could spoil a good season before Nebraska even gets started. Nebraska 35 Colorado 28.
Auburn Celebrates 35th Anniversary of 1983 Team
On Saturday June 1, players, members and staff of the Auburn Tigers will gather for the 35th reunion of the great 1983 War Eagle team that finished 11-1, won the SEC Championship, and the National Championship as awarded by the Billingsley Report. The Tiger's only loss was an early season 20-7 decision to national powerhouse Texas on September 7. Auburn then sailed through the #1 most difficult schedule of the 1983 season, capped by a 9-7 win over highly regarded #8 Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. Led by quarterback Randy Campbell and fueled by Bo Jackson, the 1983 Auburn team is ranked #4 on the list of All Time Tiger Teams which covers 126 years of Auburn football. 1983 is eclipsed only by the 1972 (10-1) "Punt Bama Punt" team, and the undefeated teams of 2004 (13-0), and 2010 (14-0). The 2010 team, Auburn's All Time Best, is ranked as the 9th greatest college football team in the entire 150 year history of the sport according to Billingsley's Encyclopedia. Richard Billingsley, and the Staff of The College Football Research Center Salute the 1983 National Champion Auburn Tigers!
Alabama Continues Dominant Pace in All Time Top Programs
All files have been updated in The Billingsley Encyclopedia, and results reveal that Clemson may have won the battle for the 2018 National Championship, but Alabama is winning the war. The Crimson Tide has continued to pull away from #2 Notre Dame as the Nations All Time Top College Football Program. Clemson jumped California and North Carolina to move up to #32 on the Top 106 list.
Clemson Defense Dominates Alabama 44-16 in Championship Game
The Clemson defense did what few thought anyone could....shut down one of Alabama's most prolific offenses in Tide history. The Tigers matched Alabama score for score in the first quarter, pulled ahead in the second quarter, and shut out the Tide in the second half to complete a shocking 44-16 rout of Alabama for the 2018 College Football National Championship. Where will this amazing 15-0 2018 Clemson team fall in the Historical Rankings of the Billingsley Encyclopedia? Stay tuned as the archives are updated through February 2019.
It's Alabama and Clemson.....Again!
The college football fan base may be sick of these two teams, but if they are looking for a true national championship between the best two teams, it's the right match, hands down, no questions asked. Both the Crimson Tide and the Tigers blew away their competition in semi-final matches at the Orange and Cotton Bowls on Saturday. Clemson rolled over Notre Dame 30-3 and Alabama jumped out to a 28-0 lead and then held on for a 45-34 win over Oklahoma. This will be the third time in four years that Alabama and Clemson have met in the National Championship Game with each team winning one contest apiece. The game is set for Monday January 7th in Santa Clara, California. December 31 and January 1 Bowl Games are still to be played. The next Billingsley Reports will be released Wednesday after the completion of all bowl games.
Army Beats Navy 17-10 for 3rd Straight Win over Midshipmen
The 2018 Black Knights of the Hudson are in pretty good company.....historically speaking. Army beat Navy for the 3rd consecutive time Saturday for the first time since winning 5 straight from 1992-1996. In 2016 Army snapped a 14 game losing streak to Navy and hasn't looked back since. Army dominated the game for 3 quarters as Navy struggled to get a running game untracked, but the Midshipmen offense came to life in the 4th quarter, and coupled with a stifling defense, had an opportunity to pull even. But turnovers doomed the vaunted comeback and Army survived a very hard fought game. In other news over the weekend, Kyler Murray of Oklahoma won the Heisman Trophy. Billingsley's Bowl Game Predictions will be posted Monday, December 10. Bowl Games begin Saturday December 15.