The Sorry Seven
Seven teams in Division I-A remain undefeated, and coincidentally seven teams are still looking for their first victory. Here is a look at the unmagnificent seven and when each might have its best shot to pick up a win.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
*Program started in 2002; has never had winless season
Big 12 Foes Seek Identities
The Big 12 season has played out with relatively little notice, as the conference's teams have been overshadowed by the Big Ten's top-ranked Ohio State and surprising No. 3 Michigan, by the Pac 10's unbeaten and always glamorous USC, and, it seems, by the entire SEC. But the meeting of Nebraska and Texas, the respective leaders of the Big 12 North and South, this Saturday in Lincoln is a matchup worthy of the spotlight.
A victory for the Longhorns (3--0 in the Big 12, 6--1 overall) not only would establish them as the class of the conference but also could help them gain ground in the BCS rankings. Despite being ranked No. 5 in the AP poll, the defending national champions were only ninth when the first BCS numbers were released on Sunday, and it's tough to tell which ranking is more accurate. The Longhorns are not in the same class as Ohio State, which beat them 24--7 in Austin last month, but their schedule of mostly nondescript opponents has not revealed much else. Defeating the Cornhuskers would keep Texas, which rolled over Baylor 63--31 last Saturday, among the cluster of one-loss teams with a realistic hope of slipping into the national-title game.
A victory for Nebraska (also 3--0, 6--1) would indicate that the rebuilding of the program under third-year coach Bill Callahan has moved into high gear. The last time the Cornhuskers had a chance to make that kind of statement, on Sept. 16, they lost to USC 28--10. Nebraska's offense played it so close to the vest—quarterback Zac Taylor threw only 16 times despite trailing nearly the entire game—that it seemed Callahan's main priority was to avoid a blowout. Texas presents the Huskers another chance to prove they can compete with Top 10--caliber teams.
Lately the West Coast offense that Callahan installed has given way to a punishing ground game reminiscent of the Huskers' glory days. Nebraska has four backs—Marlon Lucky, Brandon Jackson, Cody Glenn and Kenny Wilson—who each have at least 60 carries and 300 yards, and the team's 207.7 rushing yards per game ranks 11th in the country. But the Longhorns excel at shutting down the run. They allow an average of 47.7 yards per game, second best in the country.
Regardless of the outcome, the Texas-Nebraska matchup could be a preview of the Big 12 title game on Dec. 2 in Kansas City, Mo. By then the Longhorns and the Cornhuskers will know each other quite well. By the end of the day on Saturday, they will know themselves even better.