Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spartans, Wolverines set to mark 100th meeting in rivalry


By TIM MARTIN
Associated Press Writer


EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -
Former Michigan State running back T.J. Duckett says his lifelong best friend, fellow Kalamazoo native John Bradford, ``is the biggest Michigan fan in the history of the state.''

In 2001, Duckett irritated his buddy - and millions of other Wolverines fans - by catching the game-winning touchdown as time expired in one of the most controversial games in a rivalry that celebrates its 100th game Saturday.

Measured by a century or a second, time is a recurring theme in the Michigan-Michigan State football series.

In the 'Clock Game' of 2001, Michigan fans swear time stood still in Spartan Stadium long enough for Michigan State and Duckett to pull off a last-second 26-24 victory. Duckett says that to this day, Bradford claims Michigan State didn't really win the game.

This year, clocks in football training facilities at Michigan State (5-4, 1-4 Big Ten) began counting down the days to kickoff against No. 15 Michigan (7-2, 5-0) before the season started.

It's the latest edition of a rivalry that began in 1898. Except for a two-year break caused in part by World War II, it's been an annual affair since 1910. That's plenty of time to develop millions of split allegiances between friends and families that roar to the surface during Michigan-Michigan State week.

Michigan State usually has measured its football success against neighboring Michigan, college football's all-time winningest program. The Wolverines have dominated the series with a 66-28-5 advantage.

All but a few games were played in Ann Arbor until Michigan State became a full-fledged member of the Big Ten in the 1950s. That's when the teams began playing for the Paul Bunyan Trophy and the Spartans had equal standing for a home-and-home series.

The only prolonged streak of Spartan superiority over the Wolverines came in the 1950s and '60s, when Michigan State held a 14-4-2 edge while winning at least one version of a national championship in six different seasons under Biggie Munn and Duffy Daugherty.

Before and since, it's been pretty much all Michigan. The Wolverines have won five straight headed into Saturday's contest and own a 29-8 record in the series since 1970. No wonder some Wolverines say the Spartans have an inferiority complex.

First-year Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio this week asked his players, none of whom has ever beaten Michigan, if they were ready to stop bowing to the Wolverines. He says the Ann Arbor school, located roughly 60 miles southeast of East Lansing, is a measuring stick for the Spartans - and they haven't measured up lately.

``We compete against them in everything that we do every day, whether it's for a recruit, whether it's for a fan, or whether it's for a 9-year-old's heart,'' Dantonio said. ``Whatever it is, we are going to compete against those people down the road every single day.''

Some Michigan alums say the rivalry means much more to Michigan State than it does to them. No wonder some Spartans say the Wolverines are arrogant.

``I've always considered Ohio State and Notre Dame to be our rivals, not Michigan State,'' former Michigan receiver and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. ``As a player, I always had the impression from State that if they could beat us it would make their season. However, it was never like that for us. We expected to win and beating them held no more significance to us than a victory against Purdue or Minnesota.''

The Wolverines established their football program in 1879 and were considered a powerhouse well before what was then Michigan Agricultural College fielded its first team in 1896.

Michigan won the programs' first meeting 39-0, en route to a perfect 10-0 season in 1898.

A 0-0 tie in 1908 prompted wild celebration in East Lansing. About 6,000 fans threw their hats and pennants in the air and carried Michigan State players off the field. Then some 600 students took streetcars to nearby Lansing and partied in the streets, starting a big bonfire near the state Capitol.

Michigan State's first win, 12-7 in 1913, came in Ann Arbor and ruined Michigan's unbeaten season. Michigan State fans celebrated on the Wolverines' field for a half-hour after the game. Back home, the win prompted another celebration near the state Capitol and a building fire on campus that some suspected may have been set by rowdy celebrants, although that was never proven.

Police still marshal a larger-than-normal force whenever the Wolverines visit East Lansing.

The teams have traded massive upsets over the years.

In 1955, Michigan State's only loss was 14-7 in Ann Arbor. Although the Spartans would win the Rose Bowl and a minor version of the national title that season, the loss to Michigan likely cost them the consensus national championship.

In 1990, Michigan was ranked No. 1 in the nation and hosting the underdog Spartans in the Big House. The Spartans escaped with a controversial 28-27 win. On a potential game-winning 2-point conversion pass late in the game, Howard looked for a penalty flag against Michigan State's Eddie Brown, but it never came.

In 1999, Spartans quarterback Bill Burke passed for a school record 400 yards to lead No. 11 Michigan State past No. 3. Michigan in East Lansing, 34-31.

``You got the idea that a lot of people were affected by the outcome of that game,'' said Burke, an Ohio native who didn't know much about the rivalry until he arrived at Michigan State. ``You drive down almost any street in East Lansing and you'll see a lot of Spartan flags, but you'll see some Michigan flags too. Michigan State grads marry Michigan grads. A lot of families are split right down the middle.''

Ron Bellamy, a former Wolverine receiver who like Duckett is now with the NFL's Detroit Lions, grew up in Louisiana but quickly learned about the Great Lakes State rivalry.

``Michigan State is like the neighbor that keeps coming on your property, and you say, 'We're going to have to handle this if you keep coming on my side,''' Bellamy said. ``We hate them, and they hate us and it's a dirty game with a lot of trash talking.''

Bellamy is among those who believe the Wolverines were robbed by the clock operator and game officials as time wound down in the 2001 game at Spartan Stadium.

Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker spiked the ball during a last-chance drive in time to preserve one second on the clock, officials ruled, despite Michigan's objections that time should have run out.

Frank Beckmann, a longtime radio announcer for Michigan football games, called the clock incident ``criminal'' on the air.

Smoker, scrambling and off-balance, then lobbed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Duckett as time expired.

``I don't know if it was criminal, but it definitely was a great play in Spartan history,'' Duckett said.

SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL; PHOTO CREDIT: COLLEGIATE IMAGES

McFadden, Razorbacks hoping for big November


By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer


LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Darren McFadden agrees with the critics who say he's lagging in the Heisman Trophy race.

He also remembers how important a few late-season performances can be.

``I don't feel like I've done enough to be worthy of top consideration,'' the Arkansas star said Monday. ``I'm not really concerned. I don't feel like I came on to the Heisman scene until around this time last season.''

McFadden was the Heisman runner-up in 2006 after sensational November efforts against South Carolina, Tennessee and LSU. All three of those teams are still to come on Arkansas' 2007 schedule, starting with the No. 23 Gamecocks this weekend in Fayetteville.

``I feel like if I go out there and just play my game and do my best, then everything else will take care of itself,'' McFadden said.

McFadden started this season the way he ended the previous one. He rushed for 195 yards in the Razorbacks' second game, a 41-38 loss at Alabama. Arkansas lost again the following week, but McFadden ran for 173 yards against Kentucky.

His Heisman hopes were still strong, but his health was becoming a concern.

McFadden missed the end of the Alabama game with a concussion. A few weeks later, he was bothered by sore ribs in a win over Chattanooga.

``I'm not going to blame my playing on an injury,'' McFadden said.

Maybe not, but McFadden hasn't looked like himself lately. In October, he has rushed for a very un-Heisman 4.0 yards per carry. Now, McFadden is having to work to hold off Felix Jones for Arkansas' rushing lead. McFadden has run for 993 yards this season, Jones for 863.

Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt dismissed talk of McFadden dropping in the Heisman race, pointing out that the junior has been a marked man all season for opposing defenses.

``If you go by the best player _ the player that's supposed to be the best in the country, he's got to be up there,'' Nutt said. ``I'm just amazed at how he could be slipping. I don't see it.''

Nutt hopes McFadden can finish strong.

``I think now, he's just about healthy,'' Nutt said. ``Hopefully he'll be almost 100 percent during the last stretch of the season.''

McFadden has addressed the Heisman only when asked. Even then, he often directs the discussion back toward team goals. Arkansas fell out of the Top 25 early this season, but this last month will still determine the Razorbacks' postseason fate.

``I'm just focused on playing ball,'' McFadden said. ``I'm just trying to help the team out - get us back on the right track.''

At this time last year, Arkansas was in the midst of a 10-game winning streak that sent the Razorbacks to the Southeastern Conference title game. McFadden began November by rushing for 219 yards in a 26-20 win at South Carolina. That's still his career high.

He followed that up with a 181-yard performance in a win over Tennessee, and he finished the regular season by running for 182 yards in a loss to LSU.

In a Heisman race that's still pretty muddled, there's time for McFadden to make a last-ditch push - and Arkansas has a chance to work its way up the bowl pecking order. But McFadden and the Razorbacks need to play well in their final four games, and three of them are against teams currently in the Top 25.

It's a challenge, but it's also an opportunity.

``We have a four-game stretch that we have to finish up strong in,'' McFadden said. ``We have a very tough SEC schedule that's left.''


SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL; PHOTO CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS

ASU QB Carpenter unable to throw during practice due to sprained right thumb


TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter was unable to throw in practice Tuesday due to swelling in his sprained right thumb.

But coach Dennis Erickson said Carpenter is almost certain to play when the sixth-ranked Sun Devils visit No. 4 Oregon on Saturday.

Carpenter took snaps and handed off but didn't throw Tuesday, his first practice since he sprained the thumb handing off to tailback Keegan Herring in a 31-20 victory over California last weekend.

``He couldn't throw,'' Erickson said. ``His thumb swelled up. It bothers him a little bit.''

Erickson reacted with disbelief when asked if there was any chance Carpenter would sit out against the Ducks.

``He'll play,'' Erickson said. ``I would be shocked if he didn't come out throwing by Thursday, but I'm not a doctor.''

Carpenter didn't speak to reporters.

If Carpenter can't play, the Sun Devils would turn to sophomore Danny Sullivan, who has completed 11 of 14 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown in mop-up duty this season.

SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL; PHOTO CREDIT: COLLEGIATE IMAGES

New Mexico's Smith nominated for FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award


DALLAS (FWAA) – New Mexico's Marcus Smith has been nominated for the FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the 2007 season. Smith, a senior wide receiver who leads the Mountain West in receptions and receiving yards, has overcome the death of his mother in September to help the Lobos contend for the Mountain West title.

Sheila Smith, 52, died in her sleep of natural causes Sept. 16. A few hours earlier, Marcus Smith had 11 catches for 164 yards in New Mexico's 29-27 win at Arizona. Shortly afterward, Smith learned he would have to pay funeral expenses of approximately $6,000. Through a memorial fund, donors raised the money.

I got a few letters from BYU fans -- fans from a team that we have an intense rivalry with," Smith told The Associated Press. "I didn't expect that. Fans in Virginia, fans in northern California sent stuff. It was really, really shocking."

Smith credits his mother with insisting he remain at New Mexico when he wanted to transfer; he didn't want to move from tailback to receiver.

"She made me stay," Smith said. "Me being here and on track to graduate is all from her influence on me."

He leads the Mountain West in receptions (7.38 average) and receiving yards (90.4 average). The Lobos (6-2, 3-1) play at TCU on Saturday.

For the second straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the winner from all of the nominees. The winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award will be announced in December and be presented with the trophy.

WISCONSIN-WHITEWATER WINS TOP 5 MATCH-UP WITH MARY HARDIN-BAYLOR TO SHAKE UP AFCA DIVISION III COACHES’ POLL


WACO, TEXAS— The Top 5 in this week’s AFCA Division III Coaches’ Poll has a new look this week after Wisconsin-Whitewater downed Mary Hardin-Baylor in a late-season non-conference match-up of highly-ranked teams on Saturday.

The homestanding Warhawks defeated UMHB 41-14 to move up one spot to No. 3 in this week’s rankings. Mount Union remains in firm possession of the top spot after pitching its fourth consecutive shutout, a 37-0 blanking of then-No. 14 Capital. St. John’s (Minn.) climbs one spot to No. 2 after downing arch rival St. Thomas, 51-34. Wheaton moves up one spot to No. 4 after rolling past Elmhurst, 48-7. Central (Iowa) rounds out the Top 5 after the Dutch pushed their record to 9-0 with a 40-14 win over Cornell (Iowa).

Washington & Jefferson climbs one spot to No. 6 this week after slipping by then-No. 21 Waynesburg, 22-21. Mary Hardin-Baylor falls to No. 7 after its loss to Whitewater. No. 8 Wabash is 8-0 following the Little Giants’ 21-0 win over Wooster. Wesley is up two spots to No. 9 after downing then-No. 8 Salisbury, 20-13. St. John Fisher remains at No. 10 after the Cardinals beat Utica, 38-0.

St. Norbert is up four spots to No. 11 after the Green Knights dispatched Beloit, 55-9. Muhlenberg made a five-spot jump to No. 12 with a 29-24 victory over Dickinson. Rensselaer climbs three spots to No. 13 after winning a double-overtime thriller, 20-14, over Worcester Tech. Wartburg is up four spots to No. 14 after a 41-5 win over Simpson. Salisbury tumbles seven spots to No. 15 after its loss to Wesley.

Trinity (Texas) climbs four spots to No. 16 after the Tigers scored a miraculous 28-24 win over Millsaps. Trinity successfully completed 15 laterals on the game’s final play to score the winning touchdown. Bethel (Minn.) is up six spots to No. 17 after a 28-10 win over Hamline. The College of New Jersey also jumped up seven spots to No. 18 after a 30-0 win over Cortland State. Linfield is up five to No. 19 after a 37-6 win over Menlo. Capital tumbles six spots to No. 20 after its loss to Mount Union.

No. 21 Case Western Reserve is one of three new teams in this week’s Top 25. The Spartans are 8-0 after a 35-3 win over Chicago. Alfred falls nine spots to No. 22 after its 41-22 loss to Hobart. Mount St. Joseph returns to the rankings this week at No. 23 after a 10-0 win over Defiance. Franklin makes its first appearance in the Top 25 this year at No. 24 after a 52-33 win over Manchester. Waynesburg falls four spots to No. 25 after its loss to Washington & Jefferson.

Conference Breakdown: Ohio (Mount Union, Capital), Wisconsin (Wisconsin-Whitewater), Atlantic Central (Salisbury, Wesley), Heartland (Mount St. Joseph, Franklin), Iowa (Central {Iowa}, Wartburg), Minnesota (St. John’s, Bethel), America Southwest (Mary Hardin-Baylor), Centennial (Muhlenberg), Empire 8 (St. John Fisher, Alfred), Illinois-Wisconsin (Wheaton), Liberty (Rensselaer), Midwest (St. Norbert), New Jersey (College of New Jersey), North Coast (Wabash), Northwest (Linfield), Presidents (Washington & Jefferson, Waynesburg), Southern Collegiate (Trinity), UAA (Case Western Reserve).

Head-to-Head

There are no match-ups of Top 25 teams this week.

Poll Points
Mount Union is surrendering an average of 3.0 points per game and has not allowed a touchdown since its second game of the season ... St. John’s quarterback Alex Kofoed became the 18th Division III player to pass for more than 10,000 yards in his career on Saturday ... Wisconsin-Whitewater scored 24 points off of five turnovers in its win over Mary Hardin-Baylor ... Wheaton held Elmhurst to -10 yards rushing in the Thunder’s 48-7 win ... Central quarterback Tim Connell threw for a career high 325 yards and four touchdowns in Central’s win over Cornell ... Wabash linebacker Adrian Pynenberg had 13 tackles in the Little Giants’ win over Wooster ... Wesley’s Sean Matthews had 14 tackles in the Wolverines’ overtime win over Salisbury ... Muhlenberg quarterback Eric Santagato threw a career-high four touchdown passes to rally the Mules from a 17-0 deficit to a 29-24 win over Dickinson ... Rensselaer’s 21-14 win over Worcester Tech was the 101st meeting between the two schools. RPI has won the the last 11 meetings and leads the all-time series 53-43-5 ... Wartburg rolled up 459 yards in total offense in the Knights’ win over Simpson ... Bethel quarterback Ben Wetzell moved to fourth place on the school’s all-time passing list on Saturday ... The College of New Jersey recorded its first shutout since 2004 when it blanked Cortland State, 30-0, on Saturday ... Linfield extended its college football-record string of winning seasons to 52 with its victory on Saturday.

CFI: THIS DATE IN HISTORY


Oct. 31, 1914: Cincinnati’s Bearcat mascot is “born” as the unnamed team plays on the moniker of its standout fullback Leonard K. “Teddy” Baehr. Cheerleader Norman Lyon invents the cheer “Come on, Baehr-cat!” as UC upsets Southern power Kentucky 14-7. The student paper adapts the cheer and nicknames the team the “Bearcats,” complete with a cartoon with a bear’s face and cat’s body.


Courtesy: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2007 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award® Semifinalist List


FORT WORTH, Texas (October 29,2007) - The polls have closed, the votes have been tallied and the quarterbacks have been selected. The Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award® (The O'Brien) today proudly announced its 2007 Semifinalist List, which features top quarterback talent from across the country.

Members of the 2007 O'Brien National Quarterback Award Semifinalist List:

· Todd Boeckman, Ohio State, JR
· Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, FR
· Colt Brennan, Hawai'i, SR
· Brian Brohm, Louisville, SR
· Shaun Carney, Air Force, SR
· Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State, JR
· Chase Daniel, Missouri, JR
· Dennis Dixon, Oregon, SR
· Graham Harrell, Texas Tech, JR
· Corey Leonard, Arkansas State, SO
· Todd Reesing, Kansas, SO
· Matt Ryan, Boston College, SR
· Tim Tebow, Florida, SO
· Pat White, West Virginia, JR
· Andre' Woodson, Kentucky, SR

When voting, the Selection Committee for The O'Brien is asked to evaluate each candidate on quarterback skills, athletic ability, academics, reputation as a team player, character, leadership and sportsmanship. The combination of votes from the Selection Committee and fan vote will determine the Finalists as well as the Winner this season, with 5% of the total vote coming from dedicated fans.

"The Semifinalist List confirms that being a player of strong character and leadership combined with talent and academics can translate into more than just wins on the field," said Danielle Moorman, executive director of the Davey O'Brien Foundation. "The O'Brien recognizes the diligence and commitment of these young men to their teams, their schools and the true spirit of the game."

This talented group of 15 quarterbacks will continue to jockey for position until the balloting for the three Finalists closes at noon Central Time on Sunday, Nov. 18. All Finalists will be in attendance in Orlando, Fla., where The O'Brien Winner will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN Dec. 6.

CFI: PENN STATE’S DEFENSE CRUMBLES


BY PAUL ASPAN
PENN ST. INSIDER


Momentum and 110,134 screaming fans were squarely behind the Penn State defense as Ohio State’s offense came back on the field with 4:59 left to play in the first quarter. The Lion offense had just responded to an early Buckeye field goal with a 9-play 78-yard touchdown drive to put the home team on top 7-3. Anthony Morelli and company had picked up where they left off against Indiana and looked equally effective on the ground and in the air. Seven points weren’t going to be enough to win, but it should have been enough to keep Penn State in a game billed as a defensive showdown. However, the Nittany Lions’ momentum lasted about as long as the post-touchdown pushups. Six plays and a little more than three minutes later, Ohio State went back ahead 10-7 with a touchdown of its own, and this time…it didn’t look back.

After its first drive, the Nittany Lion offense was unspectacular. However, it was the nation’s seventh-best defense that failed to show up against the top-ranked Buckeyes. Penn State’s defense stopped Ohio State only twice in the first half: once on an interception that the offense failed to convert into points, and once thanks to the clock which read 00:00 indicating halftime. The result was a 17-7 halftime deficit that the Lions could not recover from. The Penn State offense stalled out, but it didn’t put the defense in the tough position of defending a short field. All of Ohio State’s touchdown drives started at or inside its own 20. Morelli did throw an interception returned for a touchdown with ten minutes left in the game, but by that point, the game was out of reach.

The Buckeye offense was equal parts pass (253 yards) and run (200 yards) -- equal part big plays and methodical drives. Ohio State’s first touchdown was due largely in part to a 60-yard pass from quarterback Todd Boeckman to Ray Small. Its ensuing touchdown drives were 15 and 13 plays respectively. The Buckeyes weren’t forced to punt all game and converted 12-of-16 third downs. The 37-17 defeat was Penn State’s worst home loss in six years and it dropped the Lions from both the Top 25 and the BCS standings.

At 6-3 Penn State can still finish at a respectable 9-3 if they win out against Purdue, Temple, and Michigan State. However, for that to happen, the defense will have to regroup after allowing 68 points in the last two games.

CFI: THE BIG TEN REPORT


BY MICK MILLER
BIG TEN INSIDER


Ohio State bounced back from a scare last week versus Michigan State with a monster performance in Happy Valley. Every perceived trap or bump in the road the Buckeyes have faced has been met head on and defeated or flattened. The goal of conference champion is turning into playing for bowl eligibility as the race is narrowing down to its contenders and pretenders. It is the season for tricks and treats, wins and defeats for the rest of the conference as teams are hoping for sweet rewards in their bowl-season bags.

(1) Ohio State 37 (24) Penn State 17

The Buckeyes remain number one in the nation and undefeated in the conference with a convincing win in Happy Valley. Quarterback Todd Boeckman continues to evolve and threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns while Chris “Beanie” Wells put 133 yards up on the ground against a usually stout Nittany Lion defense. While defeating only their second ranked opponent this season, the Buckeyes were playing with the “respect” chip on their shoulder and came into the game upset with the a perceived slight on their standing as the number team in the conference and country. Penn State running back Rodney Kinlaw gave his team a brief 7-3 lead in the first quarter with a touchdown run and led the team with 81 rushing yards in the only offensive performance worth noting.
Next up: Ohio State welcomes Wisconsin; Penn State hosts Purdue

(19) Michigan 34 Minnesota 10


The Golden Gophers jumped out to a 10-0 lead at the Big House as the Wolverines were slow getting started. But with the oldest trophy in college football at stake (the Little Brown Jug), Michigan, playing without starters Chad Henne and Mike Hart, scored the final 34 points of the game as their running game took over. Running backs Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor rushed for 289 yards combined on 34 attempts (8.5 avg.) and three rushing touchdowns while the defense stifled the Minnesota offense, holding them to 231 (99 passing) total yards and only 2-13 conversions on third down. The lone bright spot for the Gophers was halfback Duane Bennett, whose 106 rushing yards was the first time a freshman ran over the century mark since Lawrence Maroney in 2003.
Next Up: Michigan goes to Michigan State; Minnesota invites Illinois

Purdue 35 Northwestern 17

A couple things not normally discussed in a Purdue victory carried the team to just that: a win. Running back Jaycen Taylor rushed for a career high 157 yards and two touchdowns in his second game back from injury and the Boilermaker defense shutdown a Northwestern offense that had been averaging 41 points per game in its last three contests. Instead of a pass-happy attack this week, record-setting Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter played a complimentary role with six completions to three different receivers, gaining 182 yards and two touchdown passes. Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher came back down to earth with a dismal three-interception performance.
Next Up: Purdue at Penn State; Northwestern hosts Iowa

Wisconsin 33 Indiana 3

The Badgers’ big win may have come at a big price as running back P.J. Hill left the game with a lower-leg injury in the first quarter. While back-up Lance Smith picked-up the slack with 79 yards and two touchdowns, the Wisconsin defense smothered a Hoosier offense that had been averaging 35 points per game this season and dealt them their third consecutive loss. The usually explosive Indiana quarterback, Kellen Lewis, threw for only 113 yards and 3.4 yards per attempt and was sacked three times. Record-setting wide receiver James Hardy mustered a mere four receptions for 17 yards and a costly holding penalty, nullifying an 84-yard touchdown run by Hoosier halfback Marcus Thigpen (whom got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty celebrating the non-score). The Badgers needed little else than their running game, piling up 279 rush yards at five yards a pop.
Next Up: Wisconsin is at Ohio State; Indiana brings in Ball State

Iowa 34 Michigan State 27

Iowa got something this past week that had been horrifically absent all season long: offense. Hawkeye halfback Albert Young unleashed a flurry of rushing yards (finishing with 179 for the game) in the second half, scoring twice to erase a 17-3 deficit. While being out-gained 468-283 in total yards with a 6-to-1 ratio in passing yards, Iowa scored when it was most important. Quarterback Jake Christensen, who threw for only 53 yards in the game, hit freshman receiver Paul Chaney with a 23 yard touchdown in overtime to force an extra stanza which allowed another freshman, halfback Jevon Pugh to score on a three-yard run to win it. Spartan running back Jehuu Caulcrick scored three rushing touchdowns, giving him 16 for the season.
Next Up: Michigan State hosts Michigan; Iowa goes to Northwestern

Illinois 28 Ball State 17

Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Juice Williams contributed another 99 on the ground and two more scores as the Illini got it rolling in the second half and locked up their first bowl trip since 2002, their last winning season. Ball State returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown and Cardinal quarterback Nate Davis threw a 24-yard touchdown to pull them within four 21-17 entering the fourth quarter, but Williams’ four-yard touchdown sealed the deal at home for Illinois.
Next Up: Illinois travels to Minnesota

LOSSES BY TWO TOP TEN TEAMS CAUSE SHAKE-UP IN AFCA DIVISION II COACHES’ POLL


WACO, TEXAS--No. 2 North Alabama lost to No. 11 Valdosta State and No. 8 Tarleton State fell to No. 19 Abilene Christian, causing a shake-up in the 2007 American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches’ Poll in the 10th week of action.

Grand Valley State is still the undisputed No. 1 team as the Lakers posted a 34-7 victory over Ferris State. Chadron State jumps up to No. 2 this week after the Eagles won a close game over then-No. 18 Mesa State, 7-6. No. 3 Nebraska-Omaha is 8-0 on the season after a 13-3 win over St. Cloud State. No. 4 West Texas A&M is 9-0 for the first time in school history after the Buffs beat Angelo State, 38-17. California (Pa.) handed then-No. 24 Slippery Rock a 22-13 loss and moved up one spot to No. 5.

Northwest Missouri State is up one spot to No. 6 after the Bearcats escaped with a 28-27 win over Washburn. No. 7 North Dakota is 7-1 on the season after handing Minnesota-Duluth a 31-14 loss. Valdosta State moved up three spots to No. 8 after upsetting then-No. 2 North Alabama, 27-24. Delta State dominated West Georgia, 41-9, and is up to No. 9 while North Alabama tumbled eight positions to No. 10 after its loss to Valdosta State.

West Chester is No. 11 this week after the Golden Rams went out of conference to beat St. Joseph’s (Ind.), 34-20. Carson-Newman moved up a spot to No. 12 after beating Brevard, 52-13, while Catawba jumped two to No. 13 after its 45-20 victory over Wingate. No. 14 Tuskegee is 8-0 on the season after a 49-10 win over Kentucky State. Shepherd stays in the 15th position despite its 38-21 win over West Liberty State.

Tarleton State fell eight spots to No. 16 after its 70-63 loss to No. 19 Abilene Christian. The 63 points scored by the Texans set a new NCAA Division II record for most points scored by a losing team in regulation. Central Washington is still ranked No. 17 after a 27-16 win over Augustana (S.D.). Pittsburg State moved up a notch to No. 18 after blanking Fort Hays State, 35-0. No. 19 Abilene Christian jumped up two spots after its 70-63 shootout win over then-No. 8 Tarleton State, while Indiana stays at No. 20 after beating Clarion, 38-31.

Midwestern State moved up two to No. 21 after a dominating 41-19 win over Southeastern Oklahoma State. Mesa State fell to No. 22 after its loss to Chadron State. Newberry jumped two spots to No. 23 after the Indians handed Tusculum its first conference loss of the season in a 17-14 decision. Winona State makes its first appearance in the Coaches’ Poll this season at No. 24. The Warriors are 8-1 after blanking Minnesota-Crookston, 37-0. Virginia Union is back in the poll at No. 25 after a two-week layoff as the Panthers beat Virginia State, 42-27.

Conference Breakdown: Lone Star-4 (West Texas A&M, Tarleton St., Abilene Christian, Midwestern St.); Gulf South-3 (Valdosta St., Delta St., North Alabama); North Central-3 (Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, Central Washington); Pennsylvania State Athletic-3 (California (Pa.), West Chester, Indiana (Pa.)); South Atlantic-3 (Carson-Newman, Catawba, Newberry); MIAA-2 (Northwest Missouri St., Pittsburg St.); Rocky Mountain Athletic-2 (Chadron St., Mesa St.); CIAA-1 (Virginia Union); Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic-1 (Grand Valley St.); Northern Sun Intercollegiate-1 (Winona St.); Southern Intercollegiate Athletic-1 (Tuskegee); West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic-1 (Shepherd).

Head-to-Head
There is only one game featuring teams ranked in the AFCA Division II Coaches’ Poll in this weekend’s action. In the match-up, the two top teams in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference face off as No. 12 West Chester hosts No. 5 California (Pa.). These two teams have only met four times, with West Chester winning all four contest. The Golden Rams won their last meeting, 25-24, in 1995.

Poll Points
With California’s (Pa.) 22-13 win over Slippery Rock, the Vulcans tied team records for most wins in a season (nine) and most wins to start a season (nine), both set by the 1946 squad in its first season after a four-year hiatus because of World War II ... Abilene Christian runningback Bernard Scott was named Lone Star Conference South Division Offensive Player of the Week after he set the school’s single-game rushing record with 283 yards in a 70-63 win over Tarleton State. He scored six touchdowns on 29 carries, completed a 66-yard halfback pass and caught five passes for 54 yards as he accounted for 403 of the Wildcats’ 715 yards of total offense ... West Texas A&M runningback Keithon Fleming tied an NCAA and Lone Star Conference record with a 99-yard touchdown run in the Buffs’ 38-17 victory over Angelo State ... West Chester wide receiver Mike Washington set the school’s all-time receiving yardage record in the Golden Rams’ 34-20 victory over St. Joseph’s. He finished the day with 162 yards on nine catches and two touchdowns, and now has 3,287 yards receiving in two-plus seasons.

CFI: THIS DATE IN HISTORY


Oct. 30, 1993: Auburn retires the No. 34 jersey worn by Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson from 1982-85 at weekend ceremonies before the AU-Arkansas game. The 1985 Heisman recipient is the Tigers’ second player so honored along with 1971 Heisman honoree and fellow College Football Hall of Famer Pat Sullivan. Auburn and Arkansas play to a 24-24 deadlock.

Courtesy: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Kansas is Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week


DALLAS (FWAA) - With their 19-11 win at Texas A&M, the Kansas Jayhawks (8-0) are the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week for games of the weekend of Oct. 27.

Brandon McAnderson rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries as Kansas forged a 19-0 lead after a scoreless first half.

The eight straight wins gives Kansas its best record after eight games since the 1909 team was 8-0. The winning streak is also KU's longest since a 9-game streak in the 1951-52 seasons.

"It's been extremely exciting," Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing said. "We're thrilled to be where we're at right now."

Other Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Bowl National Team of the Week nominees for the weekend of Oct. 27 included:

· Connecticut (7-1): Andre Dixon ran for a career-high 176 yards and the Huskies defeated a ranked team for the first time in school history with a 22-15 decision over South Florida.

· Mississippi State (5-4):
Anthony Dixon scored two touchdowns as the Bulldogs upset Kentucky, 31-14, in Lexington.

The FWAA has named a national team of the week since the 2002 season. This is the third season that the award has been sponsored by the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

CFI: HAWKEYES FIGHT BACK TO WIN 34-27


BY JJ PESAVENTO
IOWA INSIDER


When the Iowa Hawkeyes and Michigan State Spartans locked horns on Saturday in Iowa City, it was a battle of two teams with only one win in the Big Ten conference.

The Spartans were not the same team they were a year ago by any means. They came in at 5-3 and looked to become bowl eligible with a win over Iowa.

For the Hawkeyes, the game would have major bowl implications. Entering the contest at 3-5, a loss would almost guarantee Iowa would not compete in postseason action for the first time since the 2000 season.

But even with their bowl hopes on the line and a vocal sellout crowd behind them, the Hawkeyes experienced the same problems on offense that have been haunting them the entire season to fall behind.

Even worse was the fact that the strength of the team, the defense, could not find a way to stop the Spartans from moving the ball in the early going.

While the score was only 7-0 at the end of the opening quarter, MSU totally dominated the action. The Spartans amassed 176 yards of total offense as compared to minus one yard of total offense for the Hawkeyes.

To say things looked bleak would be an understatement.

Finally, after going three and out on their first three possessions, the Hawkeyes found a spark in running back Damian Sims. A 30-yard run by the senior put Iowa in MSU territory for the first time in the game. A personal foul penalty at the end of the play added 15 yards to the run. The Hawkeyes moved the ball to the MSU 11-yard line before they reverted to their old form. After back-to-back penalties turned a third-and-one into a third-and -6, Iowa couldn't convert and had to settle for a 43-yard Dan Murray field goal.

But the Spartans rolled down the field on the Iowa defense and answered with a Jehuu Caulcrick one-yard touchdown run to up the score to 17-3.

Considering how lopsided the first half statistics were, it could have been much worse for Iowa.

MSU had held the ball for over 20 minutes in the first half and came away empty handed on their initial drive thanks to kicker Brett Swanson pushing a 39-yard attempt wide left.

And maybe the best term one could use for the Iowa offense considering Halloween is upon us would be ugly.

Iowa quarterback Jake Christensen completed only one pass for nine yards the entire first half.

The Hawkeyes could only muster 71 yards of total offense in the half and converted only once on third down.

As lopsided as the stats were, it looked as though the Hawkeyes could again be on the wrong end of a blowout.

But something happened at halftime.

At the end of the first half, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz appeared incensed with officials over what he viewed as a blown call. Ferentz is normally calm and collected and in control. Maybe the emotion he displayed entered into his halftime talk with his players, maybe it didn't.

Whatever the case, it was a totally different Iowa team that came out of the locker room for the remainder of the game.

The Hawkeyes seemed to be on a mission in the second half. They were relentless on both sides of the ball.

After a personal foul penalty following a MSU punt gave the Hawkeyes their best field position of the day at the MSU 30-yard line, senior Albert Young put Iowa back into the game.

Young ripped off a 26-yard run on the second play of the drive to close the score to 17-10 and it seemed to bring the entire team back to life.

After the Iowa defense slammed the door on the MSU offense that appeared unstoppable in the first half, Young went back to work.

Young accounted for 62 yards on six carries during a 75-yard drive that he put the finishing touches on with a three-yard scoring run to tie the game 17-17.

The Iowa offense that was nowhere to be found for the most part in the first half had come to life. The offensive line was winning the battle up front. Wide receivers were literally fighting with defensive backs downfield on their blocks.

Even punter Ryan Donahue got into the action. The freshman launched an 81-yard punt to start the final quarter.

And somehow, after being dominated for an entire half, Iowa fought back and took the lead with 10 minutes left in the contest after a second Dan Murray field goal from 42 yards out.

But the Spartans came back with a last minute drive to tie the game on a 29-yard Swenson field goal and sent it into overtime.

The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime then Iowa took the lead in the second overtime on a short run by Jevon Pugh after Young, who rushed for 179 yards with a pair of touchdowns on the day, had to leave the game due to injury.

The defense rose the occasion this time for Iowa. A sack by Adrian Clayborn put the Spartans in a hole they could not dig themselves out of. Iowa stopped the Spartans on a fourth-and-16 and came away with the win.

Kirk Ferentz, his staff and the Iowa players have taken a ton of criticism for the lackluster play of the Hawkeyes this season.

The youth, inexperience and lack of execution on offense have hurt them much of the season and the first half against Michigan State was no different.

But in the second half, the Hawkeyes showed what they were made of. They showed their heart, they fought back and refused to lose even when forced into overtime.

They overcame...and they won.

Ohio State, BC top BCS, Arizona State positioned to make push


By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer


NEW YORK (AP) -
While Boston College gained some cushion on third-place LSU in the Bowl Championship Series standings and Ohio State held firm to first place, Arizona State moved into position to make a big stretch run.

The unbeaten Sun Devils raised their BCS average to .849 after beating California 31-20 on Saturday. Arizona State, with its most challenging games still to play, might not need teams ahead of it to lose to move up the standings.

The Sun Devils play at Oregon, which is fifth in the BCS standings, on Saturday, then finish with games against USC, UCLA and Arizona.

``If they win all of those games, that type of run would be difficult for voters to ignore,'' said BCS analyst Jerry Palm, who runs collegebcs.com.

The top seven teams in the BCS standings remained the same this week, with Ohio State and Boston College still in position to play for the national title in New Orleans on Jan. 7 if they can maintain their rankings.

Ohio State was No. 1 in both the Harris and coaches' polls and tied for second in the computer ratings with Arizona State. The Buckeyes had a BCS average of .976.

BC was second in both polls and first in the computer rankings. The Eagles have a BCS average of .956 and a lead of .068 on LSU.

The Tigers who were off this week, have a BCS average of .888.

Ohio State, Boston College and LSU also are the top three teams in the AP Top 25.

Both the Eagles and Buckeyes are coming of big road wins. Boston College rallied from 10 points down in the final 2:11 behind quarterback Matt Ryan to beat Virginia Tech 14-10 on Thursday night.

Ohio State had little problem staying unbeaten at Penn State, beating the Nittany Lions 37-17 on Saturday night.

The rest of the BCS top 10 was Oklahoma in sixth place, followed by West Virginia, unbeaten Kansas, Missouri and Georgia.

Unbeaten Hawaii moved up three spots to 14th place in the BCS standings. The Warriors of the Western Athletic Conference need to be in the top 12 of the final BCS standings to earn an automatic bid to one of the five marquee bowl games.

SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL.COM; PHOTO CREDIT: COLLEGIATE IMAGES

Michigan's turnaround hinges on three tests in November


By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer


ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Michigan has distanced itself from an awful start with seven straight wins.

If the 15th-ranked Wolverines (7-2, 5-0 Big Ten) can close the regular season with three more victories, it will be hard to snicker about their loss to Appalachian State without also giving them credit for an impressive turnaround.

The Wolverines rose four spots in this week's Associated Press poll after beating Minnesota 34-10 at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.

Michigan's regular season ends with three challenging matchups: at Michigan State, at Wisconsin and at home against top-ranked Ohio State.

``We're about to see three different teams,'' coach Lloyd Carr said.

While the reeling Spartans (5-4, 1-4) might seem to be the easiest remaining opponent to beat, anyone who has followed the first 99 games of the rivalry knows they are capable of beating Michigan - especially in East Lansing.

The Badgers (7-2, 3-2) are always tough to beat at home, where they beat Michigan two years ago.

Since Jim Tressel took over, the Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0) have won five of six against the Wolverines.

``It's going to be a test,'' Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable said. ``All of those are games with bad blood.''

The Wolverines have beaten Michigan State five straight times - their longest winning streak in the series since 1979-83 - but they know it would make the Spartans' season to win for the first time since the infamous ``clock game'' six years ago.

``They're going to want to knock us off, no doubt,'' offensive tackle Jake Long said. ``But we have a lot at stake with the Big Ten title still in reach, so we'll be motivated too.''

Michigan says it expects to have running back Mike Hart and quarterback Chad Henne in the lineup Saturday against Michigan State, after holding both out against the Golden Gophers.

Carr said he's optimistic Hart and Henne will return and both the star seniors said they would play the Spartans.

Hart has missed 2 1/2 games since appearing to hurt his right ankle. Henne was on and off the field in the previous win at Illinois with a shoulder injury, but said he and the coaches decided not to push him on the field against Minnesota.

``There was a lot of pain (at Illinois) but the team needed me and I put my body out there to give us a win,'' Henne said.

Michigan has been hurt by slow starts and Crable said the team can't afford for the offense to struggle anymore early in games.

``If they do that, we're going to be in a tough situation,'' the defensive captain said.

Minnesota (1-8, 0-5) started strong on both sides of the ball on the road against the Wolverines, but could not sustain success.

The Gophers held Michigan to 49 yards on its first four drives and scored off a turnover to build a stunning 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Then, the Wolverines went 54 yards on their fifth drive to set up a field goal and Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber fumbled on the ensuing possession. Michigan went ahead after its next two possessions and ended up routing the last-place Gophers.

``We came in and got off to a good start, but after that we lost our momentum,'' linebacker Steve Davis said.

The Gophers are relying on a ton of young players in Tim Brewster's first season as coach, and one of them joined good company.

Duane Bennett ran for 106 yards, becoming the first true freshman to surpass the mark for the Gophers since Laurence Maroney in 2003.

``I was getting into a nice little groove and it was working,'' said Bennett, who averaged 5-plus yards on his 20 carries. ``It's a great confidence booster to do it against a good team.''

SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL.COM; PHOTO CREDIT: COLLEGIATE IMAGES

No. 1 Buckeyes roll over No. 24 Penn St., 37-17


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Maybe now No. 1 Ohio State will get the respect it's looking for.

Todd Boeckman threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns and Chris Wells ran for 133 yards, leading the Buckeyes to another easy victory, 37-17 over No. 24 Penn State on Saturday night.

The Buckeyes' vaunted defense didn't play up to its typical stingy standards, but it didn't need to be at its best with Boeckman on a roll and Ohio State's massive offensive line dominating.

``We couldn't stop them,'' Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. ``That was a good football team and they played really well.''

Several Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0, Big Ten) earlier this week complained they weren't getting enough respect despite their No. 1 ranking in the polls and Bowl Championship Series standings. Penn State (6-3, 3-3) was only the second ranked team Ohio State has faced. While the competition has been so-so, the Buckeyes have been blowing out their opponents.

This was Ohio State's toughest test yet, a night game one of the loudest venues in the country. A crowd of 110,134, the second-largest in Beaver Stadium history, started out loud but was quieted quickly and the Buckeyes went on to their seventh double-digit victory.

Ohio State has won 19 straight Big Ten games, tying the mark set by Michigan in 1990-92. The Buckeyes' last Big Ten loss came Oct. 8, 2005, 17-10 at Penn State.

This time, they left Happy Valley in a very good mood.

``They were one step ahead of us all night,'' Paterno said.

Boeckman, a first-year starter, silenced the Nittany Lions' rowdy white-clad student section early with two long first-half touchdown drives. He finished 19-of-26 passing with one interception.

Wells softened the defense by getting Ohio State into short-yardage situations on second or third downs.

Penn State's experienced secondary got burned for long gains by Boeckman.

The Nittany Lions, seventh in the nation in total defense coming in, had breakdowns on numerous third-down plays. Ohio State was 7-of-8 alone in the first half on third-down conversions and gained 453 yards in total offense.

The Buckeyes scored on five of their first seven possessions, each of their scoring drives starting at no better than their own 22.

A 15-play, 91-yard drive that ate up 6:26 of clock in the first half exemplified the Buckeyes' success.

After three straight runs by Wells of at least 6 yards, Boeckman rolled right from the Penn State 31 and threw a perfect pass through coverage to Brian Robiskie for a 19-yard gain.

Three plays later, a holding call negated Wells' touchdown from the 4 and pushed the Buckeyes back to a third-and-14 from the 16.

No matter.

With Penn State playing back in a zone, Boeckman hit Brian Hartline for a short pass left. Left tackle Alex Boone threw an open-field block on cornerback Lydell Sargeant, and Hartline eluded safety Anthony Scirrotto's tackle to get into the end zone for a 17-7 lead.

A 13-play, 87-yard drive in the third quarter proved to be decisive.

Penn State stopped Wells for a 1-yard gain on third-and-2, ending a streak of seven consecutive third-down conversions. Boeckman converted on a quarterback sneak to give Ohio State a first-and-10 from the Penn State 23.

Three plays later, Boeckman hit tight end Jake Ballard in the end zone - on third down, of course - for a 21-yard touchdown to put the Buckeyes ahead 24-7.

Buckeyes cornerback Malcolm Jenkins intercepted a wobbly pass by quarterback Anthony Morelli and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to increase the lead to 34-10 with 9:36 left in the game, sending sad Nittany Lions fans to the exits early.

SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL.COM; PHOTO CREDIT: COLLEGIATE IMAGES

CFI: THIS DATE IN HISTORY


Oct. 29, 1960: Sixteen football student-athletes from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are among the 22 people killed when an Arctic Pacific flight crashes just after takeoff from the airport in Toledo, Ohio.

Courtesy: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dog bites cat: Miss. State blasts No. 14 Kentucky, 31-14


LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Wesley Carroll threw for two touchdowns and Mississippi State forced a season-high six turnovers in a 31-14 victory over No. 14 Kentucky on Saturday.

Kentucky (6-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) has lost two straight since knocking off then-No. 1 LSU in triple overtime. A loss to Florida last Saturday dashed the Wildcats' national championship hopes, and the Homecoming loss to the Bulldogs likely knocks them out of the SEC title race, too.

Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson was sacked three times and threw three second-half interceptions.

A year after the Wildcats turned their season around with a victory in Starkville, the Bulldogs returned the favor in Lexington to put themselves one win away from bowl eligibility.

Coach Sylvester Croom led Mississippi State (5-4, 2-3) to its third road win this year, including another signature victory last month at Auburn. The Bulldogs hadn't won three road games since their Independence Bowl season of 2000, the last time they appeared in postseason play.

Carroll, a freshman, threw for 152 yards and doubled his career TD total. Christian Ducre rushed for a career-high 119 yards, and his 34-yard TD run in the fourth quarter was the Bulldogs' longest running play of the year.

Kentucky committed five turnovers in the second half, including two big special teams disasters.

Alfonso Smith fumbled the opening kickoff of the half, setting up a 31-yard field goal by Mississippi State's Adam Carlson.

Then, punter Tim Masthay dropped the ball while trying to compensate for a high snap by running toward the first-down marker. The fumble set up Anthony Dixon's 1-yard TD that put the Bulldogs up 24-7.

Woodson and receiver Steve Johnson answered with a dazzling scoring play. Faced with fourth-and-8, Woodson threw an arching 37-yard pass to the end zone, and Johnson leapt over a defender to bring it in.

It was Johnson's second TD reception of the game and team-leading eighth of the year.

That was one of the few highlights for the Wildcats. One week after his best statistical game of the season with 415 yards and five TDs, Woodson wasn't nearly as sharp.

He completed 24 of 42 passes for 230 yards, but threw several ugly passes. Among them was a wobbler that was tipped before Keith Fitzhugh grabbed it for the first interception.

The Bulldogs compiled six first downs during an 80-yard drive on their opening possession to take a 7-0 lead. Dixon accounted for nearly half of those yards on the ground before Carroll found Jason Husband for an 11-yard TD.

Woodson tied with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Johnson but Carroll led Mississippi State back down the field on its next possession. Dixon failed to score on three carries from inside the 2 but Carroll then used play action to find Dixon wide open in the corner of the end zone, putting the Bulldogs ahead 14-7.

The Bulldogs converted their first six third-down attempts. When Kentucky finally got a stop midway through the second quarter, Blake McAdams boomed a 55-yard punt over the head of DeMoreo Ford to pin the Wildcats inside the 10.

Kentucky had a chance to pull closer before halftime, but Lones Seiber missed a 34-yard field goal.
SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL; PHOTO CREDIT: SEC SPORTS MEDIA

No. 20 Georgia upends No. 9 Florida, 42-30


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Georgia Bulldogs celebrated in the end zone early and on the sideline late.

They probably should have hoisted Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford on their shoulders for both.

Moreno ran for a career-high 188 yards and three scores, Stafford threw three touchdown passes and No. 20 Georgia upset ninth-ranked Florida 42-30 on Saturday in a game filled with big plays and momentum shifts.

The Bulldogs (6-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) sacked Tim Tebow six times and contained the Gators' high-scoring offense most of the game. The result was a rare Bulldogs victory in one of the South's most heated rivalries.

Florida (5-3, 3-3) had dominated the series known as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party since 1990, winning 15 of the last 17 meetings and eight of nine. Georgia turned it around Saturday, taking advantage of Tebow's bruised non-throwing shoulder and Florida's porous defense.

Bulldogs coach Mark Richt set the tone for before the game. Richt, who had been 1-5 against the Gators, uncharacteristically orchestrated an on-field celebration following his team's first touchdown.

``I told them if they didn't get a penalty for celebrating after the first score I would be mad at them,'' Richt told CBS Sports as he headed to the locker room.

The Bulldogs came through for their coach in a big way, when the entire team ran on the field and into the end zone to celebrate Moreno's first TD run. The Bulldogs bounced around and drew two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

Georgia was forced to kickoff from the 8-yard line and the brazen show of emotion drew the ire of Florida coach Urban Meyer.

Just two weeks ago, Richt chastised his players for jumping on Vanderbilt's midfield logo following a 20-17 victory.

Meyer huddled his players on the sideline and had them jumping up and down. The Gators may have felt dissed but that wasn't enough to make up for defense that's struggled all season.

The defending national champions were exposed in losses to LSU and Auburn, and Kentucky's Andre Woodson picked them apart in a close game last week.

Georgia was even better, gouging every aspect of Florida's defense.

Stafford was 11-of-18 for 217 yards with an interception by that was returned for a touchdown early.

Moreno did most of the damage on 33 carries, picking up yards inside and out, breaking tackles and outrunning defenders all over the field. Stafford took advantage, using play-action passes to make Florida's secondary look silly. The Gators' pass rush rarely got close to Stafford.

The Bulldogs sealed the victory when Tebow fumbled a snap with 2:23 remaining. The turnover started a raucous celebration on the Georgia sideline, then at midfield and again in the same end zone.

Georgia finished with its most points in the series since a 44-0 win in 1982.

Florida simply wasn't as effective as it had been on offense. Tebow injured his shoulder last week against the Wildcats and was clearly favoring it Saturday. He ran very little in the first half, and the Gators just weren't the same.

Tebow finished 14-of-22 for 236 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Percy Harvin picked up the slack, running for 97 yards and catching two passes for 41 yards. A fumble by Kestahn Moore and another fumbled snap by Moore helped Georgia build an early lead.

Stafford never let the Bulldogs relinquish it.

He connected with Mohamed Massaquoi for an 84-yard score that made it 14-7. He flipped a 1-yarder in the flat to Brannan Southerland to make it 28-17 early in the second half. Stafford's 53-yarder to Mikey Henderson was the topper, making it 35-24 with about 11 minutes remaining.

Florida also dropped to 7-1 in rivalry games under Meyer, losing its first game against Tennessee, Georgia or Florida State.

SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL; PHOTO CREDIT: SEC SPORTS MEDIA

Brennan throws 6 TDs as No. 16 Hawaii beats New Mexico State 50-13


By JAYMES SONG
AP Sports Writer


HONOLULU (AP) -
Colt Brennan is doing his part to keep Hawaii perfect.

The senior threw for 425 yards and six touchdowns as No. 16 Hawaii remained undefeated with a 50-13 victory over New Mexico State on Saturday night.

The six TD passes gave Brennan 119 for his career, two shy of tying the record held by Brigham Young's Ty Detmer, who played from 1988-91.

Brennan passed former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang for second on the list. He entered the game in fifth place and quickly passed Florida's Danny Wuerffel (114) and Louisiana Tech's Tim Rattay (115).

The Warriors (8-0, 5-0 Western Athletic Conference) have won 18 of their last 19 games, a school-record 12 straight conference games and matched the best start since 1973, when Hawaii was an NCAA Division II team called the Rainbows.

Ryan Grice-Mullen had 13 receptions for a career-high 195 yards and three TDs, including an 11-yard score that gave the Warriors a 36-13 lead and moved Brennan past Chang on the career list.

Brennan, who was 29-for-46, was intercepted on the game's opening play by a lunging Davon House, then hit his next 10 passes in the quarter for 140 yards and two TDs.

The second scoring pass, a 20-yard rainbow to Grice-Mullen, put Hawaii up 13-0. Grice-Mullen also caught a short pass and sprinted untouched along the Aggies' sideline for a 42-yard score to give the Warriors a 23-0 lead.

Paul Young kicked a 34-yard field goal for New Mexico State just before halftime and also booted a 41-yarder to open the second half. But the Aggies (4-5, 1-3) would get no closer.

Davone Bess added seven catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns for Hawaii. His 12-yard TD catch in the fourth tied a school record with 38 career scores.

Jason Rivers extended his streak of receptions to 45 games, which leads the nation, on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Brennan that gave Hawaii a 6-0 lead. Dan Kelly's missed extra point was his first of the season. He also missed another in the third quarter.

Kelly had previously converted 50 straight, breaking Jason Elam's school record of 46.

The Aggies used a no-huddle offense all game, but was stymied by the Warriors' blitzing defense. New Mexico State threatened to score in the first quarter, but Adam Leonard intercepted a pass at the Hawaii 16.

Hawaii's defense also held the Aggies on fourth-and-4 from the Hawaii 7 late in the game.

Holbrook had success moving New Mexico State but the offense sputtered in the red zone. He was 37-for-52 for 328 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.

Holbrook's lone touchdown was a 19-yard pass to Wes Neiman in the third quarter.

Derek Dubois led the Aggies with eight catches for 106 yards in a game that featured about 1,000 yards of offense.

SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL; PHOTO CREDIT: COLLEGIATE IMAGES

Business as usual: No. 6 WVU pounds No. 25 Rutgers, 31-3


PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- No. 6 West Virginia kept its BCS hopes alive with yet another win over Rutgers.

Steve Slaton ran for three touchdowns and quarterback Pat White rushed for 156 yards and a score as the Mountaineers beat the No. 25 Scarlet Knights 31-3 on Saturday, their 13th straight victory in the series.

Slaton went from sideline to sideline on a spectacular 38-yard run that gave West Virginia (7-1, 2-1 Big East) the early lead, and he scored on second-half runs of 1 and 6 yards to bury Rutgers (5-3, 2-2).

White, who missed last year's wild 41-39 triple overtime win over Rutgers with an ankle injury, scored on a 1-yard run. He drove Scarlet Knights defenders crazy with an elusiveness that had to excite the seven bowl representatives at the game. He also threw for 144 yards, highlighted by a 51-yard screen pass to Slaton to set up a touchdown.

Pat McAfee added a 42-yard field goal into the wind on the final play of the first half, and he also helped out when one of his punts hit off the foot of a Rutgers player and was recovered at the Scarlet Knights 31. That set up White's score.

Jeremy Ito kicked a 39-yard field goal for Rutgers, which was hurt by missed tackles and dropped passes. The Scarlet Knights saw their chances of a first BSC berth ended by the Mountaineers for the second straight year.

Had Rutgers beaten West Virginia last December, it would have won the conference title and the BCS berth.

The Mountaineers handed Rutgers its worst loss since a 56-5 drubbing by Louisville on Nov. 11, 2005.


SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL; PHOTO CREDIT: SEC SPORTS

No. 13 Missouri downs Iowa State, 42-28


COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Lorenzo Williams recovered a fumble in the end zone at the start of the second half, giving No. 13 Missouri breathing room and momentum in a 42-28 victory over stubborn Iowa State on Saturday.

Jimmy Jackson, Tony Temple, Martin Rucker and Jeremy Maclin each scored for the Tigers (7-1, 3-1 Big 12), who had been four-touchdown favorites against the downtrodden Cyclones (1-8, 0-5). Missouri, which entered the game seventh in the nation in total offense at 518 yards per game, was held to a season-low 366 yards.

Backup Alexander Robinson had 149 yards on 21 carries with a 37-yard scoring run for Iowa State, his first career 100-yard game, and Devin McDowell had a 25-yard interception return. The Cyclones had 389 yards total offense and played their second straight Top 25 opponent tough after holding down No. 4 Oklahoma in a 17-7 loss last week.

Chase Daniel was 28-of-37 for 250 yards with one touchdown and one interception for Missouri.

Missouri's play at the end of the half and right after the break was instrumental in winning for the 14th time in its last 15 home games. Iowa State's Bret Meyer scored on a 1-yard run with 24 seconds left in the half to cut the deficit to 17-14, and Missouri got downfield fast enough for Jeff Wolfert's 48-yard field goal on the final play.

Stryker Sulak stripped Meyer on a sack inside the 5 on the third play of the second half. Williams fell on the ball in the end zone and Missouri converted a 2-point conversion for a 28-14 cushion.

Iowa State scored on its next drive on a 1-yard pass from Meyer to Marquis Hamilton before Missouri put the game away on Rucker's 10-yard reception and Maclin's 17-yard run on a reverse, the latter coming early in the fourth quarter to make it 42-21.

Meyer became the second quarterback in Big 12 history to pass for 9,000 yards and Todd Blythe caught six passes for 54 yards to become the school's career reception leader. Blythe has 168 career catches, four more than Lane Danielson from 2000-03.

Daniel was 11-for-11 for 103 yards on Missouri's first two drives, both ending in touchdown runs by Jackson and Temple, for a 14-0 lead with 6:52 to go in the first quarter. Missouri didn't face a third down until its 18th play, and Daniel also tied a school record with 15 straight completions set by Kent Kiefer in 1990, counting the end of last week's victory over Texas Tech, before throwing the ball away on the next-to-last play of the first quarter.

Missouri had dominated before McDowell's 25-yard interception return on a ball off Rucker's hands midway through the second quarter.


SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL; PHOTO CREDIT: MIZZOU SPORTS MEDIA

Vols outlast No. 15 Gamecocks in OT, 27-24


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- All those complaining about Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer will have to quiet down for a while. The Volunteers are in position to play for a conference title again.

Daniel Lincoln kicked a game-tying 48-yard field goal with 5 second left, then provided the only points in overtime, and Tennessee recovered after blowing a big lead to beat No. 15 South Carolina 27-24 Saturday night.

The victory, coupled with No. 20 Georgia's victory over ninth-ranked Florida earlier Saturday, puts the Volunteers (5-3, 3-2) atop the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division. The Vols are tied with Georgia but hold the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating the Bulldogs earlier this month.

Lincoln got two chances to force overtime. He hooked a 43-yarder wide left, but a false start penalty on the Vols gave him another chance. This time, Lincoln sent the 48-yarder through to tie the game at 24.

Then he won it with his 27-yarder in overtime.

Steve Spurrier came in with his Gamecocks (6-3, 3-3) in charge of the East and needing to win out for South Carolina to become the first SEC team other than Tennessee, Florida or Georgia to win the division title.

But Ryan Succop, who gave South Carolina its only lead of the game at 24-21 with 1:24 left with his own 49-yard field goal, was wide right on a 40-yarder on fourth-and-8.

Fans filled talk radio shows calling for Fulmer's firing after the Vols were embarrassed in a 41-17 loss to Alabama last week. Fulmer's in his 16th season at Tennessee, but his last SEC title was in 1998, when the Vols also won the national championship. Their last SEC East title was 2004.

The Vols have been good, but that's not good enough for many in Knoxville.

Georgia gave the Volunteers a fresh opportunity in the SEC East before they took the field Saturday night and Fulmer's guys came through - barely.

South Carolina came in looking for its best start since 2001. But two of its four turnovers came in the final 6:52 of regulation. Spurrier threw his headset to the turf in disgust after Blake Mitchell, who came off the bench in relief of Chris Smelley, overthrew Kenny McKinley on third down.

That forced the Gamcocks to settle for Succop's field goal.

Tennessee had gained only 70 yards in the second half, but got a huge lift from LaMarcus Coker on special teams after South Carolina took the lead. He took the kickoff up the right sideline to the 31, stopped and went back across the field to the left to set up a struggling Erik Ainge at the 47.

It didn't help.

Three plays later, Caspser Brinkley sacked Ainge after the Vols used their last timeout. Ainge spiked the ball to stop the clock with 9 seconds left.

Lincoln came in and made the longest kick of his career when it counted most.

South Carolina chose to start on defense in overtime, and the Gamecocks held Tennessee to Lincoln's field goal.

But Mitchell bobbled the snap on the Gamecocks' first play, and his pass to Cory Boyd resulted in a 5-yard loss. He found Freddie Brown for a short pass, then Mitchell overthrew McKinley in the left corner of the end zone.

South Carolina outgained Tennessee 501-317 and held the ball for more than 36 minutes. Boyd finished with 20 carries for 160 yards and a 29-yard touchdown run.

Mitchell was 31-of-45 for 288 yards, and he ran for a TD and threw for another, an 8-yarder to McKinley that tied it at 21 in the fourth quarter.

Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty each ran for touchdowns, and Ainge threw for a TD and 216 yards on a night where he bounced a handful of passes and overthrew others.

The Vols improved to 6-1 in overtime. This was South Carolina's second overtime game and first since Sept. 27, 2003. Both were in Knoxville, and the Gamecocks now have lost both.

SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL; PHOTO CREDIT: SEC SPORTS

THIS DATE IN HISTORY


Oct. 28, 1978: The late College Football Hall of Fame running back Joe Delaney of Northwestern State has his “breakout” game in a 28-18 triumph over Nicholls State. He volunteers to play tailback after several NSU players are injured in preseason and responds with an 87-yard run early in the third quarter. He tallies 28 carries for 299 yards on the day, still the Demons’ single-game mark and a former NCAA FCS (I-AA) record.

Courtesy: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Saturday, October 27, 2007

LIONS GET THEIR SHOT


BY PAUL ASPAN
PENN ST. INSIDER


The game Penn State fans have had circled since the summer has finally arrived. No. 1 Ohio State comes into Happy Valley Saturday night to defend its top ranking on national television against the No. 24 Lions and a rockin’ Beaver Stadium. The Buckeyes have won 26 straight regular season games, but their last loss came at State College, a 17-10 victory for the Lions.

Saturday night’s game sets up to be a good old fashioned Big Ten defensive showdown. Both teams rank in the top ten in defense, personified by a pair of All-American linebackers, James Laurinaitis (OSU) and Dan Connor (PSU). Laurinaitis and the Buckeyes are best in the nation, holding teams to under 210 yards per game and less than eight points per game. Connor and the Lions are almost as stingy, allowing only 15 points per game. Penn State also leads the nation in sacks (4.38/game).

As good as the Ohio State defense has been, it hasn’t faced any sort of challenge. The Buckeyes are 117th in strength of schedule and they haven’t faced any of the other top teams in the Big Ten. Not only does this suggest the relative weakness of the Big Ten, but also hints at the fact that Ohio State is not the best team in the nation. Much like Penn State’s early season No. 10 ranking was a mirage, so too is the Buckeyes’ No. 1 ranking.

The Lions are, by far, the Buckeyes’ toughest test to date. Looking at last week’s games, turnovers could play a significant role in deciding the outcome of this game. Ohio State almost came from ahead to lose to Michigan State thanks to two consecutive turnovers, which resulted in touchdowns, and nearly a third. All of a sudden -- a 24-0 lead was 24-14, but Ohio State held on for a 24-17 win. If the Buckeyes are careless with the ball this week, Penn State has to capitalize. The Lions forced three fumbles (and a fourth to end the game) against Indiana last week and only managed three field goals as a result. Penn State has to turn those opportunities into touchdowns if they want to drop Ohio State from the top slot.

The key to this game for Penn State is quarterback Anthony Morelli. The senior play-caller has been good – not great – the last few weeks, but if the Lions want to win, he’ll have to play very well. Morelli has averaged 215 yards per game to go with four touchdowns and three interceptions over the last three Penn State wins. He has done a solid job of managing these games. But, to beat Ohio State, Morelli will have to win this game as opposed to manage it. This isn’t exactly a warm thought to the Nittany Lion faithful as Morelli has struggled in big games. However, if there’s one thing to take hope from, it is last week’s 9-play 77-yard drive Morelli led against Indiana to answer a Hoosier touchdown and put Penn State back on top by two touchdowns with four minutes left. That’s as close as the Nittany Lion quarterback has gotten to winning a game this year. If he builds on that experience this weekend, the Lions could very well pull the upset.

The running games will have a tough time against two tough running defenses. Penn State is battle hardened with tough road losses at Michigan and Illinois, and a good road win against Indiana. The Nittany Lions “White-Out” the Buckeyes’ national title hopes 16-13.


PHOTO CREDIT: COLLEGIATE IMAGES

USC's defense looks to stop Oregon's prolific running game


By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer


EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -
Southern California understands that slowing down Oregon's offense is best accomplished by keeping it off the field.

That means stopping the Ducks' rushing game.

Fifth-ranked Oregon features the country's third-best rushing offense, and second-best overall offense. No. 9 USC has the nation's third-ranked defense. The two sides will collide Saturday at Autzen Stadium.

``They run the ball. That's the main thing we're going to focus on. ... Stop the run and make them pass,'' USC cornerback Terrell Thomas said. ``It's going to come down to everyone doing their job. We're going to have to execute, no matter what they call.

``That's our No. 1 goal, that's our main job, to shut the run down.''

The Trojans (6-1, 3-1 Pac-10) are allowing only 252 yards a game, but they will be tested in a key conference game that ultimately could have national championship implications. The Ducks (6-1, 3-1) average 551 yards a game, but haven't seen a defense the caliber of Southern Cal.

``They're unbelievable. They're a real active D-line up front, and they got the best defense we'll face in a long time,'' Oregon center Max Unger said. ``We've got our work cut out for us. We'll pretty much have to play a perfect game. It's going to be a barn-burner. It's going to be cool.''

The Ducks, with a speedy spread-option offense, average 46.6 points a game.

Quarterback Dennis Dixon has completed 138 of 199 passes for 1,728 yards and 16 touchdowns with just three interceptions, and he has 416 yards rushing and seven touchdowns this season. As a result, Dixon is averaging 308.2 yards in total offense, 11th-best nationally.

Tailback Jonathan Stewart, who is averaging 134 yards a game, rushed for a career-best 251 yards and two touchdowns in Oregon's 55-34 victory over Washington last weekend.

``They're extraordinary,'' USC coach Pete Carroll said. ``They're the best offense we've seen probably since we've been here. Nobody's even gotten close to slowing them down.''

The Trojans announced Thursday evening after practice that Mark Sanchez would make his third start. John David Booty had thrown in practice but continued to nurse a broken middle finger on this throwing hand.

``Mark's going to start. John had a great week. We decided this afternoon to go in that direction,'' Carroll said. ``He (Booty) will be able to go if we need him, it's just the uncertainty that John feels. Hopefully Mark can make it through the game, we can get a win.''

Sanchez passed for 130 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted twice in a 20-13 victory over Arizona. He improved in last weekend's 38-0 victory over Notre Dame, throwing for 235 yards and four TDs with no interceptions.

The quarterbacks were not available for comment after Thursday's practice.

USC has won the last three games against the Ducks, including last year's 35-10 victory in Los Angeles. The Trojans have won their last two in Eugene.

It is the first time in Autzen Stadium's 41-year history that two top 10 teams will meet.

``We need this ball game,'' Carroll said. ``We need to get back into Pac-10 play and do something about our situation that we face with a front-running team and a team that's really out there.''

SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL.COM; PHOTO CREDIT: COLLEGIATE IMAGES

No. 15 Gamecocks, Vols playing for pride, SEC East prominence


By BETH RUCKER
Associated Press Writer


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -
Both South Carolina and Tennessee have something to prove.

The No. 15 Gamecocks were booed on their home field last weekend in a 17-6 loss to Vanderbilt while the Volunteers fell apart on the road in a 41-17 loss to bitter rival Alabama.

A win Saturday night in Knoxville would help either team prove those losses were flukes.

``We have to get that out of our system,'' South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. ``It's history. It was a lousy offensive game. We have to get our confidence back and get ready to play Tennessee.''

A win still means more than just pride.

Both teams are in the middle of a free-for-all in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division and can't afford another loss. The Gamecocks (6-2, 3-2) and Volunteers (4-3, 2-2) are among five teams with two SEC losses.

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer compares the SEC race to the playoffs fans have long wanted.

``The highs are high, and the lows are low. It's important to put each one of those behind you as fast as you can,'' he said. ``You can look at this like a single-elimination tournament. I told the guys on Sunday, it's like the NFL trying to get in the playoffs. It's one and done.''

Spurrier and Fulmer haven't had time for the trash-talking they enjoyed when Spurrier coached the Florida Gators. They've had too much to worry about trying to salvage this season.

The Gamecocks haven't scored a touchdown in six quarters, and Spurrier isn't sure who will be his quarterback on Saturday.

Freshman Chris Smelley has started the last four games. But after throwing two interceptions against Vanderbilt, Smelley may be sharing time Saturday with fifth-year senior and former starter Blake Mitchell and third-stringer Tommy Beecher.

Regardless of who is throwing the passes, Kenny McKinley will be at the other end to catch. The junior is averaging 65.6 yards receiving a game.

Tennessee's defense has struggled all year against the pass, ranking 11th in the SEC with an average 249 yards passing allowed. The Vols' young secondary gave up 363 yards through the air to Alabama.

``We've got a lot of things to correct, and certainly that's one of them,'' Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis said.

Some sacks might help the Vols slow Spurrier's ``Cock-n-Fire'' offense. Tennessee has only gotten to the opposing quarterback nine times this season, an SEC worst, but South Carolina has allowed the most sacks in the conference at 26.

Tennessee has been able to protect its passer, Erik Ainge. The Vols have allowed only two sacks all season.

But Ainge's top target, receiver Lucas Taylor, injured a toe at Mississippi State two weeks ago and was ineffective at Alabama. Josh Briscoe suffered a concussion in a catch at Alabama, leaving starter Austin Rogers and freshmen Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore to carry the load.

Taylor and Briscoe are expected to play Saturday. Whether they'll be in top form is another concern. Neither practiced much this week.

South Carolina ranks first in the Football Bowl Subdivision in pass defense, but has struggled against the run. Arian Foster, Montario Hardesty and LaMarcus Coker are itching to carry the ball after the Vols ran only 19 times for 103 yards at Alabama.

``When we were winning, we could run the football and use a lot more clock,'' Tennessee tight end Chris Brown said. ``Things go a lot better when you're running the football well.''

The winner won't face an easy road to the SEC championship game. Tennessee still must play Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Kentucky while needing at least a Florida loss to play for the title.

A South Carolina win, and the Gamecocks control their own destiny with games against Arkansas and Florida.

And Spurrier is hoping that history is on his side, especially after winning in Knoxville two years ago, 16-15.

``Two years ago we beat these three teams,'' he said. ``We beat Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida somehow. We were underdogs in about every game, so it worked out. We believe we have a chance.

``We have to 'one game at a time' it, get some breaks and not beat ourselves and play with a lot more effort and smarts than we did last week.''

SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL.COM; PHOTO CREDIT: SEC SPORTS

'Cocktail Party' Tasty for Florida



By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Quarterback Tim Tebow grew up in Jacksonville and went to the Florida-Georgia game just about every year. Although he knows plenty about the storied rivalry, his memories are pretty much one-sided - much like the series has become.

Tebow's earliest recollections begin around 1990, the same time Steve Spurrier arrived in Gainesville and turned the ``World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party'' into his own little shindig.

The Gators have celebrated nearly every one since.

They have won eight of nine and 15 of the last 17 in the series, giving Tebow plenty of fond memories heading into his first Florida-Georgia game as a starter.

``Any time Florida won was a good one,'' Tebow said.

The ninth-ranked Gators (5-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) will try to extend their dominance Saturday when they face the 20th-ranked Bulldogs (5-2, 3-2) for the 63rd consecutive year.

This one, like many others, has implications.

Florida controls its path in the conference race. The Gators beat Kentucky 45-37 last week and got losses from South Carolina and Tennessee to move back in the driver's seat.

But the next three games - against Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina - will determine whether the Gators head to Atlanta for a shot at the league title and a Bowl Championship Series berth or slide into a second-tier bowl one year after winning the national championship.

``It's the best feeling in the world,'' defensive tackle Clint McMillan said. ``You don't ever want to have to be dependent on someone to lose. It's good that we got all of that out of the way. In three hours, we went from fourth in the SEC East to back on top. All we have to do is handle our business, win the rest of our games.''

Georgia, meanwhile, has a much tougher road.

The Bulldogs need a rare victory against the Gators, then would have to beat Auburn and Kentucky next month and hope the Volunteers and Gamecocks falter down the stretch.

Nonetheless, those losses by Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee last weekend put Georgia in a much better position than it was a few weeks ago.

``It's a wild year, isn't it?'' coach Mark Richt said. ``I'm just taking this baby one at a time. I quit worrying about the other stuff. I'm worrying about who we have this time around. I'm done looking too far ahead into the future, at least this year.''

No one really knows what will happen to the series in the future.

The current contract expires after the 2010 game, and Georgia officials haven't committed to keeping it in Jacksonville. They seem to prefer moving it to campus sites or alternating years in Jacksonville and Atlanta or possibly mixing the two.

Florida fans, naturally, argue that Georgia's complaint stems from the recent lopsidedness of the series. They might have a point, too. After all, aside from wins in 1997 and 2004, the rivalry has been more frustrating than fulfilling since 1990 - a big turnaround after the Bulldogs pretty much controlled it in the 70's and 80's.

``A rivalry game needs to be more equal in who wins and who loses, which it hasn't been lately,'' Richt said. ``It's been a rivalry of streaks, and I don't know how often it's been back-and-forth, back-and-forth like our rivalry with Auburn, which just seems to be very, very close games but also spread out pretty good where no one had a huge run.

``Florida's just been dominating as of late.''

Yep, just ask Tebow.

Although he has read and heard about famous plays like Florida's costly ``fourth-and-dumb'' call in 1976 or Buck Belou's 92-yard touchdown pass to Lindsay Scott that gave Georgia a win in 1980 or Antoine Lott's touchdown-saving timeout in 1993 that propelled the Gators to victory, Tebow has only experienced Florida's recent winning stretch.

What about those games in 1997 and 2004?

``It was a bad day,'' he said.


SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL.COM; PHOTO CREDIT: SEC SPORTS