Rare changes at Penn State loom

Nickel Package looks at the top five statistical storylines for the week ahead in college football.

1. Joe Paterno’s tenure as Penn State’s head coach spanned 46 seasons, and we may never see another of its kind. But looking further, Penn State has been known for incredible stability in its football program even before Paterno. Over the last 94 seasons (since 1918), Penn State has had only five different head football coaches (not including interim coaches), easily the fewest among all FBS teams.

How does that compare to the other end of the spectrum? Five schools are tied for the most head coaches in that same stretch with 24 each (Arkansas State, Idaho, Mississippi State, San Jose State, Wyoming). Furthermore, since Paterno’s first year in 1966, San Jose State has had 14 different head coaches.

2. With Oklahoma State rising to No. 2 in the BCS Standings, the prospect of advancing to the BCS Championship Game is very real. If that happens, they would be a somewhat unique participant. Since the BCS began in 1998, no team has played in the national championship game without appearing in a previous BCS bowl game since Oklahoma in 2000, which was only the third year of the BCS system. In fact, Oklahoma State hasn’t participated in any of the current BCS bowls since the 1974 Fiesta Bowl.

3. Despite Alabama’s loss to LSU last week, the Tide has kept an incredible streak alive. Alabama hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in any game this season. With at least four games remaining (including bowl), the Tide still has work to do, but it’s worth noting the last FBS team to go an entire season without allowing more than 14 points in any game was Oklahoma in 1974. That year, the 11-0 Sooners won the national championship and allowed just 8.4 points per game.

4. Florida looks to snap an eight-game losing streak against AP top 25 opponents dating back to last season (South Carolina is 15th in the AP Poll). It is the longest such losing streak for Florida since losing 14 straight against ranked opponents from 1977-81. Also of note, Will Muschamp has lost four straight against AP ranked opponents in his first season on the job. In Steve Spurrier’s 11 seasons at Florida, his longest losing streak against AP ranked opponents was three games, done twice (1991-92; 1999). Spurrier can add to Muschamp’s misery this week.

5. Western Kentucky (at LSU this week) has won five straight, is one win away from bowl-eligibility, and can still win the Sun Belt championship. That’s pretty impressive for a team that just became an official FBS member in 2009, and lost 34 of its previous 36 prior to this win streak. Of the current 120 FBS teams, three have never been to a bowl game, all of whom come from the Sun Belt (Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette).

But two could get to the postseason this year (Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Lafayette, who is 8-2), possibly leaving Louisiana-Monroe as the only current FBS team to never appear in a bowl. The Warhawks are 2-7 this season and cannot become bowl-eligible.