Stats & Info: Skip Holtz

1. The Oregon-LSU game is the first matchup of top-five teams in the AP Preseason Poll since 1999 when No. 3 Penn State walloped No. 4 Arizona 41-7. This is bad news for fourth-ranked LSU. There’s been three matchups of top-five teams in the AP Preseason Poll and the No. 4 team lost all three. None of those games was even competitive. To make matters worse, two of the three losing teams ended the season unranked.

2. Oklahoma is ranked No. 1 in the AP Preseason Poll for the 10th time in school history, the most among all schools. The Sooners have never dropped a season opener while being ranked No. 1. In fact, no preseason No. 1 has lost an opener since Miami (FL) in 1990.

Since the preseason poll began in 1950, teams ranked No. 1 are 54-6-1 all-time in their season openers. Can you name the only school to lose more than once? Try Michigan. The Wolverines are 0-2 all-time in season openers after being ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll (1981, 1989).

3. Georgia is opening up against a top-five team for the first time since 1965 when it beat fifth-ranked Alabama 18-17 in Athens. The Boise State game is the first of two big games to start Georgia’s season.

The Bulldogs host No. 12 South Carolina next week. Georgia is just one of three FBS teams to play consecutive currently-ranked opponents to start the season and the only team from a BCS-AQ conference to do so. The others are East Carolina and Florida Atlantic. This would be the first time Georgia has opened a season playing two ranked opponents.

4. Back to School! There will be five FBS head coaches this weekend taking on their alma maters. Marshall’s Doc Holliday (vs West Virginia), South Florida’s Skip Holtz (vs Notre Dame), Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson (vs Western Carolina), Cal’s Jeff Tedford (vs Fresno State), and Alabama’s Nick Saban (vs Kent State). Speaking of the Tide, there are four Alabama alums coaching FBS teams (Dabo Swinney, David Cutcliffe, Mike Riley, Neil Callaway). That’s tied with Iowa for the most in FBS.

5. Four ranked teams enter this weekend with coaches making their career debuts (Stanford’s David Shaw, Ohio State’s Luke Fickell, Florida’s Will Muschamp, and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen). This is the first time in the BCS era (since 1998) that there have been four head coaches from preseason ranked teams making their career debut. In fact, the last time there were three such coaches was in 1995 (Miami’s Butch Davis, Michigan’s Lloyd Carr, Colorado’s Rick Neuheisel).

Skip Holtz trying to avoid another 3-3 start

October, 14, 2010
Previewing tonight's Big East game between South Florida at 25 West Virginia, 7:30 ET on ESPN.

This is West Virginia’s Big East opener, and the Mountaineers look to be the favorite to win the conference title. But in each of the last four seasons, the Mountaineers have finished 5-2 in Big East play and haven’t won the conference outright in any of those seasons.

South Florida is 3-0 this season against non-BCS AQ conference teams (beating Stony Brook, Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic). However, the Bulls have lost to their only two major conference opponents -- Florida and Syracuse.

If the Bulls fall to 3-3, it will be familiar territory for first-year USF head coach Skip Holtz. At East Carolina from 2005-09, Holtz’s teams were 3-3 after six games each season except 2006, when the Pirates started 2-4.

Is West Virginia forging a new identity this season? Among 120 FBS teams, the Mountaineers’ offense ranks in the fifties in both scoring and yards per game, but their defense ranks seventh in scoring and yards allowed. Last season, that defense didn’t crack the top 30 in either category.