Friday, September 30, 2005

One Game, Two Views

Ever wonder how two people can look at the same game so differently? Reggie Hayes and Pete DiPrimio of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel break down the Notre Dame-Purdue game, much the same way Jane Curtain and Dan Aykroyd tackled the issues when they went toe-to-toe during their Weekend Update skit on “Saturday Night Live.”

Does This Count in the BCS Rankings?

The Wall Street Journal has a piece today ranking football's smartest teams. Much of it deals with the NFL but there is a college section. Of course, we like to turn it around and look at it from the other side: football's dumbest teams. Teams were ranked according to how players fared on the Wonderlic Personnel Test. The Average Joe scores 21. Players from the Miami Hurricanes averaged 16.3 to take top honors. Stanford players ranked as the smartest, 28.8. The Journal charges for much of its content, so you might have to run down to the local newstand and pick up a copy or fork over money online, but consider it worthwhile because you will now know what to do with all your gambling earnings.

Crystal Ball

Double D, Boston Herald: Single or Double D, the Wizard doesn't discriminate. Double D's record is 21-15, so maybe he has been distracted as of late.

Ralph D. Russo, Associated Press: Another guy with 'D' in his name. Must be a trend.

Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News: Like many of us, he is still recovering from that historic loss by LSU.

John P. Lopez, Houston Chronicle: He is considering changing the 'P' to 'D,' depending on how Double D and D. Russo do this week.

Betting Fool, San Francisco Chronicle: Record is 18-15. He mixes in some NFL, which probably explains the record.

Fab Five, Detroit News: The paper's panel of experts tackle the lineup after a bruising Week 4.

The Headline Says It All

Michigan is in search of a leader and may have found one in Jason Avant, who let it rip after the tough loss at Wisconsin. Beating red-hot rival Michigan State could turn around the season, and this game will test the Wolverines' character. Can they do it? Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News has the answer.

Columnists' Corner

Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times: Look who's back in town? And for only $90, you can have O.J. Simpson's autograph.

Chuck Culpepper, Newsday: It's his weekly twist on the top 25. One of the better reads out there.

Bud Withers, Seattle Times: Breaking down the Harris Poll. Remember, the only poll that really matters is the last one.

Norman Chad, Houston Chronicle: Exactly what is the criteria for voting in the Harris Poll? You'll have to click here to find out.

Reporters' Notebooks

Keith Whitmire, Dallas Morning News: The muddy waters of the Big 12 North should clear when Iowa State and Nebraska clash (registration).

Chad Hartley, Reno Gazette-Journal: Jerry Glanville has Hawaii playing defense, much to the concern of the rest of the WAC.

Scott Bordow, East Valley & Scottsdale Tribune: Former Arizona State coach Frank Kush says USC is the greatest college team ever.

Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Tennessee's sterling comeback at LSU is the latest example of the brilliance of Phillip Fulmer (registration).

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Unnecessary Roughness

South Florida fans are outraged over the use of force by Tampa police and private security guards at the conclusion of the Bulls' stunning 45-14 victory over Louisville. As fans stormed the field at Raymond James Stadium to celebrate arguably the biggest win in team history, police were waiting with Tasers, batons and handcuffs. South Florida professor Kathleen Armstrong told the St. Petersburg Times that the incident brought back memories of a 1960s or '70s war protest, saying two or three officers would take down one fan, "throwing (the fan) on the ground, punching them in the head, the chest, the back or slamming them against the wall."

Music to Soothe the Savage Beasts?

The pink visitors' locker room at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium might be hogging all the attention, but the Hawkeyes are not alone in trying to make visitors passive. Boise State players say the pregame music played at Hawaii's Aloha Stadium is designed to alter their mood. Warrior Coach June Jones says there is no intent behind such hand-holding songs as "We Are the World" and "Goodtimes Together," but acknowledges that his staff have meetings to select the pregame music.

The Eyes of Texas

A contact lens that has been in development for seven years and received FDA approval in April will face its biggest test yet when Texas plays Missouri. Nike Maxsight, designed to cut down on bright sunlight and glare, will be worn by 30 Longhorn players. The lenses, which come in gray-green (favored by skill position players) and amber (favored by linemen), have quickly become popular with the Longhorns. "When you glance up in the sky when the ball is coming, it's a lot clearer," tight end David Thomas said. Other teams using the lenses including Miami, USC and Michigan (some registration required).

Alberts: Broadcasting Career Likely Over

Trev Alberts, who was fired earlier this month as an analyst for "College GameDay," says his "opportunities in broadcasting have probably been destroyed by ESPN." The 35-year-old Alberts was unable to go into details about his departure because of pending litigation, but said, "More than likely, I'll be making a lifestyle and professional change, which I suppose isn't always bad."

A Fatal Melee Caught on Camera

This is disturbing and powerful stuff, we want to warn you. The Orlando Sentinel has obtained photos of Central Florida officer Mario Jenkins holding a gun to someone's head and then tumbling to the ground with tailgaters moments before his death. Jenkins, 27, was working an undercover operation aimed at stopping illegal drinking before Central Florida's game against Marshall. He was shot and killed by a reserve officer for the Orlando Police Department. Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi is calling it "the worst tragedy in Orlando sports history," and it's incredible more people were not hurt. The dramatic photos were taken by a Central Florida graduate who asked that her name not be revealed and first published by the student newspaper, the Central Florida Future.

Crystal Ball

Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette-Journal: It's Week 5 of the Great Handicapper Challenge and the Sooner we get starter, the better.

Lenn Robbins, New York Post: Lenn, you're 8-11-1 and John "Junior" Gotti just got out. You better pick up the pace, brother (registration).

Columnists' Corner

Wally Hall, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: It's not the losses to USC or Alabama that enraged Arkansas fans. It's the loss to Vanderbilt.

Andrew Bagnato, Arizona Republic: USC and its smug, latte-sipping followers get under everybody's skin. But you know what? The Trojans are good for the game.

Bob Wojnowski, Detroit News: Ready to toss old Lloyd Carr to the curb? Think again, Michigan fans, because he's still the man.

Teleconferencing the Conferences

Rivals or Scout? They are so last week. ESPN? Just another corporate behemoth that reacts slowly to the news. The Wizard? He's always on the cutting edge and ready to serve you, the gridiron public. So we bring you links to the weekly teleconference calls with coaches of the Atlantic Coast, the Big Ten, the Southeastern, the Big East, the Pacific 10, the Western Athletic, the Mid-American, the Big 12, and Conference USA. And the Mountain West has a slick production that takes you around the conference. In return, we ask that you give the site a shameless plug. An easy way to let your friends know about us is by clicking on the mail icon below and passing this priceless post to them.

Frank Talk From a Gaming Official

Frank Fahrenkopf, chairman of the American Gaming Association, says he plans to meet with the NCAA amid indications that the governing body of collegiate athletics wants to re-establish a working relationship with Nevada sportsbooks. "It seems to me that our message finally got through to them that we are not the problem, we are the solution."

Reporters' Notebooks

Chris Dempsey, Denver Post: It's time to separate contenders from pretenders as conference play begins in the Big 12.

Brian J. Pedersen, Arizona Daily Star: After being dismantled by USC, what will become of Oregon? History says a downhill slide.

Jeff D'Alessio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: From B.C. to V.T., it's a look around the ACC (registration).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Looking for a Uniform Policy

Western Athletic Conference officials have received complaints about Hawaii's road uniforms, saying the silver-on-white numbers have made it difficult to identify players. Although game officials have yet to file a complaint, fans, broadcasters and statisticians have, according to conference commissioner Karl Benson said. Hawaii said it is working to find a solution to the problem.

Leather Helmets Not Included

Nothing fancy here. In Barry Alvarez's final season as coach, Wisconsin (4-0) is one of 28 undefeated teams (registration). The Badgers ground it out (239.3 rushing yards a game), an old-school formula that has become an Alvarez trademark. Up next is surprising Indiana (plus 18), coached by Terry Hoeppner, who is using the Wisconsin program as his blueprint.

Laying It On the Line

Despite the best efforts of the NCAA, the governing body has lost the fight against gambling. A study found 35% of male student-athletes and 10% of female student-athletes reported wagering on a sporting event at some point in 2003, an NCAA violation. Football players and golfers comprised the highest percentage, and the NCAA is working with those two sports to cut it down. In reality, all it can hope to do is maintain the integrity of its sports.

Getting Fired Up for the Hokies' Visit

Morgantown firefighters have issued "abatement orders" to 500 residents in preparation for West Virginia's game against Virginia Tech. Any indoor furniture that has been place outside must be removed. Two years ago, after the Mountaineers' 28-7 victory over the Hokies, drunks, dunces and football fanatics set more than 140 street fires. And those West Virginia fans are sure to pick on Marcus Vick. We can't wait!

Everybody Is Jockeying for Poll Position

This is a bad week for the polls. First comes the Harris Poll, which the New York Post has just called a farce, fraud and folly, followed by the Master Coaches Survey, an advisory poll made up of 16 former college coaches, the results of which will be available here.

A Good Place to Do Business (Wink, Wink)

We love San Diego, but something dysfunctional always seems to be going on in America's Finest City. This year alone, it re-elected a mayor who didn't get the majority of votes, then was convicted of talking illegal campaign cash (he eventually resigned), followed by an interim mayor who resigned after being found guilty of conspiracy, extortion and fraud (he accepted money from a Las Vegas strip club owner). So the place had three mayors in four days. Not bad, eh? Now comes word that not all is right with the Holiday Bowl.

Don't Kill Us, We're Only the Messenger

Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution paid a visit to Starkville and it's safe to say he won't be back unless he's ordered to return by some federal parole program. "There's really no way to describe this place. How do you describe nothing?" To add insult to injury, his slam of the city came after Georgia's 23-10 victory over Mississippi State. After word of his column reached Starkville, the comment board had to be shut down (registration).

Interior Decorating 101

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, whose team has staggered to a 2-2 start, says he has more important issues on his mind than pink locker rooms. But that wasn't the case during a public hearing Tuesday night. Erin Buzuvis, adjunct lecturer at the university's College of Law, continued her protest over use of the color in the Kinnick Stadium visitor's locker room (another subscription-only story located in comments). Des Moines Register columnist Marc Hansen says "if David Skorton, the school president, spends more than five minutes on this, it's time to worry."

Columnists' Corner

Carl Dubois, Baton Rouge Advocate: By throwing beer bottles and breaking windows on a bus carrying Tennessee players to Monday's game, Louisiana State fans put another stain on Tigertown.

David Climer, Nashville Tennessean: A week ago, he buried the Tennessee Volunteers. Now he's looking good for next year's NFL Combine, backpedaling like an All-Pro corner.

Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star
: Can you say "must-win?" If Purdue loses to Notre Dame, rest assured the Boilermaker season is going in the tank. Gee, that almost sounds like a threat.

Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News: SMU used to have the best team money could buy. Now, 17 seasons after the NCAA death penalty, the program barely has a pulse (registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: How Tennessee's Rick Clausen got Phillip Fulmer out of a pickle Monday night against Louisiana State (registration).

Terry Bowden, Yahoo! Sports: Journalist? No way. He's just here on a fall internship, and we shall let you, the blogging public, decide his fate. Much the way they did at Auburn.

John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader: His last note won us over. The "Washington-Dallas Monday Night Football telecast averaged 16.1 million viewers. Sunday night's second-season debut of Desperate Housewives averaged 28.2 million viewers."

Luciana Chavez, Raleigh News & Observer: Chuck Amato, this is your life! The North Carolina State coach goes toe-to-toe with Chavez. HBO's Harold Lederman is ringside (registration).

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

LSU-Tennessee Ratings Set ESPN2 Record

Who said football on Monday night was dead? The game between Louisiana State and Tennessee on ESPN2 was seen by 2.76 million households, making it the highest-rated college football game in the network's 12-year history. One of those watching was Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom, whose Bulldogs play host to LSU on Saturday.

They're Turning Up the Heat in Tempe

It was the third week of September in 1996. No. 1 Nebraska, a 24-point favorite, was coming to Tempe with a 26-game winning streak. But the Sun Devils did something special by stunning the Cornhuskers, 19-0. Now No. 1 USC is coming to town as a 16-point favorite with a 25-game winning streak. If the Sun Devils are to make a statement, this is their chance.

Knight Wants to Tackle a New Challenge

Marion "Suge" Knight, head of Tha Row Records, told that he is considering walking away from the industry that has made him a multi-millionaire to become a football coach. The 325-pound Knight, who was shot in the leg at a party last month, attended Nevada Las Vegas on a football scholarship and briefly played for the Oakland Raiders.

Just in Case They Feel Insecure

If Michigan State keeps this up, it's going to need a private security detail. First came the planting of the flag at Notre Dame Stadium. Then, clinging to a 61-14 lead with 1:32 remaining against Illinois, the Spartans called for a pass into the end zone on a fourth-and-three play. This did not go over well with Fighting Illini assistant Reggie Mitchell, who reportedly yelled "bleep you!" to Spartan assistant Dave Baldwin. If Michigan State is in search of security, may we suggest Ralphus, above right, the former protector of professional wrestler Chris Jericho.

A Spartan Existence

Michigan State is the next big thing, right? Third in the nation in offense, fifth in scoring, a victory over Notre Dame ... that "other" team in Michigan couldn't beat the Fighting Irish now, could it? Don't look now, but here come the Wolverines. And not everybody says the Spartans will win. Historically, this is not Michigan State's time to shine and Michigan (plus 5) is playing the unfamiliar role of underdog. Plus, the Wolverines just had one of those "players-only" meetings. Do those things ever work?

Loss Cost the Cardinals a Spot in SI

It's called the Sports Illustrated jinx. Appear on the cover — sometimes just get mentioned anywhere in the magazine — and your ecstasy will soon turn into agony. Louisville didn't even get that far. SI followed the Cardinals on their trip to South Florida, then the Bulls scored a stunning 45-14 victory. SI has since canned the story, but at least ESPN is hanging around, sending in a crew to begin taping all-access footage for the show, "The Season."

First the Turnover, Now the Turmoil

North Carolina State had it rolling in 2002, finishing an 11-3 season with a 28-6 pounding of Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. But since that magical season, Chuck Amato has lost five assistants. Now the Wolfpack is stumbling and Amato has received the dreaded vote of confidence from athletic director Les Fowler, who says better days are ahead (registration required).

Reporters' Notebooks

Mike Knobler, Jeff D'Alessio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: This piece breaking down the Atlantic Coast Conference is so involved it took two people to write and countless others to edit (registration).

Paul Zeise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Louisville's loss has suddenly given hope to 1-3 Pittsburgh, which opens Big East play Friday at Rutgers.

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star: A rare — actually, this is probably historic — glimpse into the mind of a Harris Poll voter (registration).

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Back by popular demand, the Hlist, guaranteed to be gathered from sources not based in pink locker rooms (subscription, story is in comments tab).

Now the Big Guy Is Getting Involved

University of Iowa President David Skorton has condemned threats made against a faculty member who is protesting the use of the color pink in the visitors' locker room at Kinnick Stadium. Erin Buzuvis said she has received death threats since telling a reporter the use of the color reinforces sexist and homophobic stereotypes. The Iowa City Press-Citizen chimes in with an editorial.

Monday, September 26, 2005

And the Final Score Is ...

America's finest city certainly deserves a quality football team, doesn't it? Tom Craft, who is 15-25 as San Diego State's coach, wants to soften the schedule. No more Ohio State, no more UCLA. And "it's not an excuse. It's a dose of reality." Craft later said of the 1-3 Aztecs, "Our record is deceiving. We outplayed UCLA offensively." The Bruins won, 44-21.

Wizard Has a 5-2 Week

A stunning second-half collapse by Louisiana State against Tennessee dropped the Wizard's season record to 18-9-1 (64.2%) against the spread. To recap, the winners: Arizona State, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Wisconsin. Losers: Illinois, LSU.

Bellotti: Quack Attack Derailed by Calls

Coach Mike Bellotti is questioning two penalties that cost Oregon touchdowns in its 45-13 loss to USC. "I think they were incorrect. I don't agree with either call and I'll send" in the video to the Pac-10 for a review and explanation. Bellotti also said, "I think it would have been a different football game with those points on the board."

That's Nearly a Vote for Every Loss

The Harris Poll is out and Idaho, with a spotless 0-4 record, received five votes. It must have been that 24-0 home loss to Hawaii — the Rainbows' first shutout since 1999 and first road victory since 2003 — that won over the voters (registration required). While the Fort Worth Star-Telegram appears to be fawning over the poll, the excellent site is putting it in perspective, saying the poll is already on its death bed, noting that 2-2 Illinois, routed 61-14 at home by Michigan State, received 13 votes. The Fighting Illini travel to former top-10 team Iowa this week, which received only seven votes. Guess it's time for that no-respect-from-the-Harris-pollsters speech Hawkeye Coach Kirk Ferentz has been saving up.

You Say Tomato, I Say Amato

North Carolina State has one win in its last seven ACC games, that coming in overtime against Wake Forest. What was viewed as a can't-miss top-20 team a few years ago is now groping for daylight in its own backyard. And the fun has only started. The Raleigh News & Observer has posted a flash cartoon by 1992 North Carolina State grad Grey Blackwell that takes a jab at Coach Chuck Amato, whose undisciplined team is averaging 10 penalties a game (registration required).

It's Dusty Rose, Not Dusty Rhodes

Although a professor at the University of Iowa is wrestling with the pink visitors' locker room at Kinnick Stadium, the real grappling match involved picking the right shade, a job given to associate athletic director Jane Meyer. "You have to realize," Meyer said with a grin, "how many pink colors I looked at for this project." For the record, the shade is Dusty Rose. We know, it rolls off the tongue like Dusty Rhodes, the former professional wrestler.

Week 5

Week 4 still has a game left (Tennessee-LSU), but this is a busy week, with games Tuesday-Saturday. USA Today hasn't posted the lines for the week, so you can click here for the numbers from

Investigation Starts Into Shooting Death

There is outrage in Orlando over the shooting death of Central Florida campus police officer Mario Jenkins, who was working an undercover operation to combat illegal drinking before the Central Florida-Marshall game. Jenkins was killed by a reserve officer for the Orlando Police Department. There was no formal briefing between the agencies before the operation, officials said, and a state agency has started an investigation.

You Thought Only Louisville Was a Fraud

The Harris Interactive Poll is out, and ladies and gentlemen, it's not exactly a collection of rocket scientists we have working on this project. Asked ESPN commentator Joe Theismann, "Terry Bradshaw, college: Do those things belong together?" Hey, but the good people at Harris figured out that USC is No. 1.

Columnists' Corner

Andrew Bagnato, Arizona Republic: A small pocket of resistance to USC's title hopes has flared in Tempe. Reggie Bush and Company have been summoned.

Chuck Culpepper, Newsday: Score one for the regular guy. Notre Dame's Charlie Weis is one of six Division I coaches who, gulp, never played the game. I'm sure he has a bowling shirt, too.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times: Unlike Wall Street, the College Football Market is open 24-7. So he's taking the opportunity to buy and sell as we speak.

Dick Weiss, New York Daily News: We don't want to overdose on Charlie Weis stories, but the man has quickly become part of Notre Dame folklore.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Register: The Crimson Tide's resurgence has once again made Auburn that other team in Alabama.

Bud Withers, Seattle Times: We don't want to overdose on USC stories, but here's a man with a plan on how to beat the Men of Troy.

Cop Kills Campus Police Officer at Game

Central Florida ended the nation's longest losing streak, but the victory over Marshall was marred by the pregame shooting death of a campus police officer. Mario Jenkins, 27, was working an undercover operation aimed at stopping illegal drinking when he was shot and killed by a reserve officer for the Orlando Police Department.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bobby Wallace and the Temple of Gloom

It was considered Temple's best shot. The game the Owls would win to salvage the season. Western Michigan was coming to town, a middle-of-the-road team from the Mid-American Conference. But true to form, Temple blew a 13-2 lead and lost, 19-16 (registration required).

One Is High Tech, the Other Georgia Tech

There are pretenders and there are contenders. Virginia Tech is a contender. Georgia Tech? It's merely a pretender. That was made clear during the Hokies' thorough lashing of the Yellow Jackets (registration required).

Kentucky Continues to Lose Ugly

Don't let that 49-28 loss to Florida deceive you. Kentucky is worse than the score indicates. You know it, I know it, and now the American people know it, thanks to the Wizard bringing you the filthy details.

Has USC Solved Its No. 1 Problem?

Oregon was supposed to be the stumbling block for USC. A capable opponent in the toughest environment in the Pac-10. The 24-game conference winning streak would end in Autzen Stadium, right? Forget it. USC spotted Oregon a 13-0 led, then turned on the juice.

Wizard Is 5-1 With a Game Remaining

Winners: Arizona State, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Wisconsin. Loser: Illinois. Game Outstanding: Louisiana State. Currently, the season record stands at 18-8-1 against the spread (66.6%). You listening out there in TV land?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Raising a Stink About Pink

A professor at the University of Iowa says she has received numerous Internet threats after it was reported she planned to protest the pink visitors' locker room at Kinnick Stadium. Erin Buzuvis said she has had "death threats and rape threats. I'm not having a fun day." Buzuvis is among a group that plans to raise the issue at a public hearing next week. The group claims the pink lockers are an attempt to demean opposing teams by suggesting they're gay or women. Buzuvis also has a blog.

Boys With the Most Toys Don't Always Win

Three 60-inch plasma televisions. Wood-paneled lockers with Internet ports and ventilation systems. Plush sofas. A security system that reads thumbprints and an automated locker-room door to Autzen Stadium that opens and shuts vertically. Oregon's locker room is second to none, but many think it has made the team, coming off a 5-6 season, complacent (registration, also posted in comments).

In Any Language, It Was a Victory

At least one of the Bay Area teams can beat a team nicknamed the Aggies. California took another important step with a 41-13 road victory at New Mexico State. It was the first college sports event believed to be broadcast in Navajo. After the loss, Aggie coach Hal Mumme would not allow his players to be interviewed.

It Was No Breeze for Cyclones

Iowa State lost style points and the statistical battle, but escaped West Point with a 28-21 victory over Army (subscription, so story is in comments tab). The victory raised more questions about the Cyclones, who have a showdown at Nebraska next week. Earlier, outgoing ISU athletic director Bruce Van De Velde expressed his displeasure over Army backing out of a return game in Ames in 2006.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Wizard and Week 4

The man stands at 13-7-1 (65% against the spread) entering play. He's fired up! Click on the comments tab for his seven selections.

Problems Start Up Front for Hawkeyes

Iowa is a team without an identity and a serious problem along its defensive front because of defections from the 2002 and 2003 recruiting classes (subscription, so story is in the comments tab). The Hawkeyes have spent the fall trying to piece together a unit that averages 261 pounds a man and they promise adjustments for Saturday’s game at Ohio State, which is angry over getting drilled by Iowa, 33-7, last season, but struggling on offense (registration).

Colorado Comes Down From the Mountain

The last time Colorado played on a September 24 came in 1994, when Michael Westbrook caught Kordell Stewart's miracle 64-yard scoring pass to beat Michigan, 27-26. Can the Buffaloes do it again? They get a shot against Miami and slim and trim Tyrone Moss (registration required). If Gary Barnett, right, doesn't win Saturday, he may have lost his lost chance at glory as Colorado's coach.

We're No. 1 — at Losing

Meet Central Florida, losers of 17 in a row, the nation's longest losing streak. Former Georgia Tech (and Notre Dame, remember?) coach George O'Leary was brought in to fix the mess. It hasn't worked. And a 17-point loss to South Florida got the fans howling. Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi is among the throng. But at least the cheerleaders rank among the nation's best.

Is Iowa State the Cream of the Big 12 North?

The Cyclones and quarterback Bret Meyer get a chance to show their stuff tonight before a national audience when they play at Army. Iowa State hasn't played since beating rival Iowa on Sept. 10 and could be looking ahead to a showdown against Nebraska on Oct. 1.

High Noon in Death Valley for B.C.

Boston College might be wondering what it got itself into (the Atlantic Coast Conference, for one) when it watches Clemson players come down The Hill, touch Howard's Rock and roll onto the field (registration required). The electricity created on game day at Memorial Stadium is unmatched, and to win the Eagles may have to call on backup quarterback Matt Ryan. To make matters worse, Clemson has speed and athleticism.

Up Next, the University of Creampuff

Remember back in the day when Kansas State's Bill Snyder was roasted for playing a cupcake nonconference schedule? Take a look around these days and all the big boys are regulars at the bakery, sampling the likes of Maine, Sam Houston State and, opps, UC Davis. And the Big 12, for one, will profit by fattening up against the softies (registration required).

Reporters' Notebooks

Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth Star-Telegam: Big 12 coaches talk about running up the score and at what point you enter the humiliation zone (registration required).

Chad Hartley, Reno Gazette-Journal: Fresno State's Pat Hill is still steaming over the officiating in the Bulldogs' loss at Oregon.

Columnists' Corner

Norman Chad, Houston Chronicle: Holy Leprechaun! Grab your Charlie Weis bobblehead doll, he's now a Notre Dame fan.

Bud Withers, Seattle Times: A letdown? Would never happen to Seattle's pillar of knowledge. And it won't happen to USC, either.

Bob Wojnowski, Detroit News: Michigan State's victory over Notre Dame was a stepping stone. Illinois will not be a stumbling block.

Crystal Ball

Fab Five, Detroit News: The newspaper's top college analysts picked up the pace last week and get top billing as a reward.

Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News: He has five picks, hopefully all winners, because his season record is 7-9.

Betting Fool, San Francisco Chronicle: Again, skip past all that NFL nonsense and get to the prime rib, college football.

Jeff Schultz, Atlanta Journal Constitution: He's 11-9 against the spread. It's good he lives in Atlanta, which is 1966 miles from Vegas, a place he could get into some real trouble (registration required).

Brian Bennett, Louisville Courier-Journal: A new entry into the Crystal Ball. Bennett is a pedestrian 12-12 against the spread.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Back in Black in Lincoln

Nebraska middle linebacker Corey McKeon, the team's leading tackler, has started a campaign for fans to wear black to the Big 12 opener against Iowa State on Oct. 1 at Memorial Stadium. The Cornhusker defense has long been known as the "Blackshirts," and the unit has keyed a 3-0 start. As for the offense, averaging 271.3 yards a game, well, that's another matter.

Duke Mascot Sacked for a Big Loss

During Saturday's game against VMI at Durham, a member of the Keydets band leapt over a wall and sacked the Duke Blue Devil. Charlie Suwankosai, the Duke student inside the costume, declined to press charges against the unidentified VMI student. The Blue Devils recovered from the loss and defeated VMI, 40-14.

Gators' Defense Is Covering the Spread

Urban Meyer's spread option offense is all the rage, but the secret to Florida's success thus far has been the defense. The Gators rank No. 2 nationally in defense and the offense is a pedestrian 60th.

Tech's Talk of 100 Upsets Sycamores

Indiana State Coach Lou West promises to use the talk by Texas Tech players of scoring 100 points this week into a motivational tool. "Obviously, that's bulletin board material, and I've put it up on ours," West said (registration required, story also in comments tab).

Arkansas Fans Put Perspective on Losses

Where does USC's 70-17 bashing of Arkansas rank with the Hog Nation? There was the 10-3 loss to The Citadel, a Division I-AA team, in 1992, and a 51-7 loss to Miami in 1987. What about the 31-7 loss in 1997 to SMU? Or the 63-20 loss to Tennessee in 2000? Hog fans debate the question.

Huskies' Willingham Is a Forward Thinker

He has been a winner at every stop, but he didn't win enough at Notre Dame and was fired. Tyrone Willingham got up, dusted himself off, and took the Washington job. Now he is preparing his new team to face his old one (registration required).

Vandy's Johnson: No Bells or Whistles

He's not a screamer. He's not a sulker. His facial expressions are, well, expressionless. Meet Bobby Johnson, the coach of the 3-0 — yes, 3-0 — Vanderbilt Commodores.

In Blacksburg, He's the Miracle Worker

Name the third-winningest active coach behind Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno? It's Frank Beamer, who has accomplished what was thought to be next to impossible, bringing a Virginia Tech program to elite status (registration required).

Crystal Ball

Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette Journal: Week 4 of the Great Handicapper Challenge is upon us (ignore these fools who pick NFL games).

Lenn Robbins, New York Post: Gambling problem? Like they say, Lenn, gambling is only a problem when you lose (registration required).

LSU and Tennessee Is More Than a Game

Louisiana's first major sporting event since Hurricane Katrina devastated the state is scheduled for Saturday night. Tennessee is coming to Baton Rouge to play LSU, and although life might never be the same again, it marks an important step forward for the state. "When the Tigers take the field, everything is right in Louisiana," LSU Coach Les Miles said. But with Hurricane Rita lurking in the Gulf of Mexico, ESPN officials scrapped plans to broadcast its "GameDay" show from the LSU campus.
Update: Game is now scheduled for Monday because of the threat of Hurricane Rita. Click the comments tab for details.

Utes Need a Beaut Against Falcons

If Utah has any hope of repeating as Mountain West champion, it must defeat rival Air Force tonight at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The teams have a knack for creating suspense and given the condition of the Utes, a nail-biter is expected.

Reporters' Notebooks

Michael Pointer, Indianapolis Star: Ohio State is plotting its revenge for Iowa, a team that has yet to find an identity.

Jeff D'Alessio, Atlanta Journal Constitution: A team-by-team look at the Southeastern Conference (registration required).

Brian J. Pedersen, Arizona Daily Star: Those who suggest Oregon has a chance against USC might be living in the past.

Columnists' Corner

Berry Tramel, Oklahoman: Don't count out the Sooners. Under that 1-2 record is a team that is improving (registration required).

Andrew Bagnato, Arizona Republic: Score one for the Pac-10, whose teams are averaging 40.2 points a game, most among I-A conferences. The busy Bagnato also has a nice breakdown on each Pac-10 team.

Jake Curtis, San Francisco Chronicle: Before we can look ahead, we must look back at the true meaning of zero.

Chuck Culpepper, Newsday: Mr. Culpepper doesn't vote in the Harris poll because he's simply overqualified.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Dreaded Penguins of Youngstown State

You know times are tough when the Division I-AA Youngstown State Penguins, fresh off a 42-0 rout of Liberty, are looking forward to invading your stadium. But that's the way it is these days for the winless Pittsburgh Panthers. Can you say UC Davis?

Golden Bears Are Not Half Bad

How good of a coach is California's Jeff Tedford? He lost starting quarterback Nate Longshore in the season opener, then got Joe Ayoob up and running for a rout of Washington. Against Illinois, the Golden Bears trailed, 17-7, at halftime, but rallied for a 35-20 victory. It's all about halftime adjustments, and Tedford is among the best. Cal plays Friday night at New Mexico State.

Beavers Put Up No Defense

Oregon State gave up 553 yards and 63 points at Louisville, and now high-flying Arizona State comes to Corvallis. The Sun Devils ripped through Northwestern for a team-record 773 yards in a 52-21 victory. Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller, left, is among the national leaders in passing and total offense. But the Beavers say they won't have a hangover from the loss to Louisville.