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College Football News and Notes Week 9

Re: College Football News and Notes Week 9

Look Ahead and Let Down -- Week 9 

I don’t know what it is about the Fightin’ Irish bringing out those damn green jerseys for their big games, which normally are against the Trojans nowadays. It seems like everyone makes a big deal about them and then they end up losing with their old school duds on. Sorry for the rant, but seeing Notre Dame pull those uniforms out of the closet like it’s the fine china for Thanksgiving just makes me laugh.

As for the week that was in college football, the season standard of Top 10 upsets continued. Kentucky fell to the Gators and South Florida took a tumble on the road against the Scarlet Knights. The Buckeyes got caught looking ahead, failing to cover the spread against Michigan State. And Penn State failed to cover on the road against the Hoosiers as well. So, yeah, there were upsets and close calls this past Saturday.

There are plenty of possible traps for teams to fall into this week, so lets see who falls into what spot.

Looking ahead in the Valley of the Sun…

You can’t help but admire the job that Dennis Erickson has done in his first year at Arizona State. The Sun Devils have already equaled their win total from all of last season and are ranked seventh in the AP poll. Now they’ll get to flex their muscle against a struggling Cal team as three-point home favorites.

The spread might seem low, but there are a pair of factors that you have to consider for this tilt. First, the Golden Bears have owned Arizona State so much that they should be paying property taxes. California is 5-1 straight up and against the spread against the Sun Devils in the last six meetings; two of those victories coming in Tempe. Then, ASU has a true signature game coming up against No. 5 Oregon, which could lead to the inside track of the Pac-10 championship.

So you can see how this could game could throw a monkey wrench into the league and national title hunt.

A sinking ship…

Vanderbilt has been a snake bitten program from what seems like the dawn of man. You remember that Obelisk at the beginning of “2001: A Space Odyssey” that helped the man-apes find weapons to bludgeon opposing tribes? That tribe that got beaten down was from Vandy. The stars were finally aligned for the Commodores to beat South Carolina as 13-point road ‘dogs, 17-6. Vandy can attribute its win to three clutch interceptions, one of which came in the end zone by D.J. Moore as the Gamecocks were driving to pull within three points. It was the Commodores first win over a ranked opponent in over 70 years.

As great as that win was for Vandy last Saturday, you get the feeling that they can fall flat this week as a 14-point home favorite against the Red Hawks. I know that Miami (OH) just lost to Temple, which normally means the team came from Division 3…not to belittle the likes of Mount Union. Still, the Red Hawks are the top squad in the Mid-American Conference East Division. And they have won at Vanderbilt Stadium back in 2000 as seven-point road underdogs, 33-30.

Besides, the Commodores are 12-3 SU and 5-10 ATS when they’re installed as double-digit favorites dating back to 1990.

The return of War Eagle…

The Tigers played as well as one could hope in their 30-24 defeat at LSU as 10 ½-point road ‘dogs. Still, Auburn has to like its chances to bounce back as a 17 ½-point home “chalk” this week when the Rebels come to Jordan-Hare Stadium. Ole Miss has lost five of its last six games: the combined score in those losses was 215-115.

Auburn also has one of the nation’s best defenses, allowing just 305.1 yards per game this season. Never mind the fact the Tigers are 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS versus Mississippi in the past three seasons. Ed Orgeron has stockpiled some good talent at Ole Miss, but this just isn’t there year.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 9

Henne and Hart both questionable for Minnesota

Carr waiting on status

Michigan quarterback Chad Henne and tailback Mike Hart could both sit out when the Wolverines host Minnesota this week.

The senior players are listed as day-to-day. Hart, who is nursing an ankle sprain, didn't even dress for U-M's 27-17 victory at Illinois on Saturday night. Henne went to the locker room twice with an apparent shoulder injury and missed four drives.

Coach Lloyd Carr said he wouldn't know Henne's playing status until the end of the week. Carr said Hart should be feeling better this week, but didn't want to speculate if he would return for the Minnesota game.

"I think he will daily improve," he said. "We will know a lot more (today) when he runs."

It seems unlikely that U-M (6-2) would want to play Henne or Hart unless absolutely necessary.

Minnesota is 1-7 overall and coming off a home loss to North Dakota State. The Wolverines would certainly like Henne and Hart to be as healthy as possible for the tough stretch of games that close the regular season: on the road at Michigan State and at Wisconsin, with a visit by No. 1 Ohio State to Michigan Stadium for the finale.

Despite his injuries, Henne returned against Illinois amid lengthy struggles by his backup, freshman Ryan Mallett.

In the second quarter, Henne went 9-for-12 for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He sat out the third quarter before helping break a tie at 17 with 8:12 remaining in the game when he handed the ball off to receiver Adrian Arrington, who threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham.

"He found a way to submerge his pain because of his will to win," Carr said Monday at his weekly news conference. "None of us who are part of this team will ever forget what he did."

It was the second time Henne battled back from injury to help keep Michigan's chances alive in a tight Big Ten race. Against Northwestern three weeks ago, he led three touchdown drives in the second half. This was after missing 2 1/2 games with a knee injury.

After completing 18 of 26 passes for 201 yards against the Illini, Henne is starting to show the form many had predicted when the season started. His completion percentage is above 60. He is completing passes at a 70% clip in the Big Ten, where he also ranks first in QB efficiency.

Yet what grabs his teammates isn't his improving statistical performance. It's that he found a way to lead them in Champaign after he spent time on the sideline physically unable to throw.

"I still don't know how he did it," said safety Brandent Englemon. "We thought he was out. For him to come back and lead us -- that shows you what kind of guy he is."

If Henne doesn't play Saturday, Mallett will get his third start of the year -- he led U-M to victories over Notre Dame and Penn State.

Carr said he has seen progress in Mallett but also said the quarterback is like a lot of freshmen.

"He's got a lot of things he needs to improve on," Carr said.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 9

Booty improves, but Sanchez likely to start

Quarterback is coming along from a broken finger, but is not probably ready enough

October 25, 2007

USC quarterback John David Booty on Wednesday threw passes with better accuracy, timing and velocity than he did the day before, but he is not likely to supplant Mark Sanchez as the starter Saturday against fifth-ranked Oregon.

Booty, who is recovering from a broken middle finger on his throwing hand, took snaps from center for the first time since the Trojans' Oct. 6 loss against Stanford.

The fifth-year senior said he was capable of starting against Oregon, but added that he was not 100% and that he did not want to put the ninth-ranked Trojans at a disadvantage by playing at less than full strength.

Booty is hoping for more improvement today.

"I'm a team guy, I don't think it's fair to the other guys who work their butts off all week and want to go out there and win if I can't help us do that," Booty said. "That will be Coach Carroll's decision."

Pete Carroll has maintained that Booty would not start unless his finger was healed.

After watching him Wednesday, Carroll said Booty was "ahead of schedule."

"He doesn't quite have the feel that he wants on the football right now -- he can't quite control it as much as he would like to -- but he's getting closer," Carroll said.

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian indicated that a decision on the starter would probably be made by tonight.

"This isn't just about this Saturday," Sarkisian said. "Obviously, that's the ultimate goal; we've got to win the game Saturday, but we've got some tough games still ahead of us that we're going to need some healthy quarterbacks in."

Sanchez continued to prepare for his third consecutive start in place of Booty.

"If it's not me, I'll be his biggest cheerleader, but I'm itching to get back out there so I hope it happens," he said.

The Trojans were encouraged by the improved conditions of offensive linemen Sam Baker, who took an anti-inflammatory shot for his injured hamstring, and guard Chilo Rachal (knee). But starting right tackle Drew Radovich did not practice because of back condition that flared up Tuesday.

Radovich, who missed nearly all of training camp because of back soreness, said he had experienced small episodes of discomfort during the last few weeks, but would play Saturday.

Butch Lewis, who played nearly all of the last two games at left tackle in place of Baker, worked in Radovich's spot.

Practice came to a near-standstill when freshman running back Joe McKnight struggled to get to his feet after he was tackled. McKnight said he was hit in the back in the same spot that he had been hit against Notre Dame. "I couldn't move my right leg, but I'm all right now," he said after sitting out the rest of the workout. . . . Sophomore tailback Stafon Johnson (foot) will play Saturday but he is not 100%. "I'm more of an instinctive runner and now you've got to think about different ways to make a guy miss," he said. "Because of the way I run and make different cuts, of course it changes up things I do. . . . You just have to live through it.". . . Freshman running back Broderick Green, who had hoped to come back from a foot injury suffered during training camp, said that he would use a redshirt season.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 9

Cowan is held out of practice

He hobbles around the field but Dorrell says the quarterback will be ready to play against Washington State.

October 25, 2007

UCLA's quarterback situation seemed precarious Wednesday, though Coach Karl Dorrell said all was well.

Still, starter Patrick Cowan did not take a snap and hobbled around the practice field. He spent his time playingde facto quarterback coach, consoling walk-on McLeod Bethel-Thompson and freshman Chris Forcier.

"We're trying to get some other quarterbacks ready to play just in case," Dorrell said. "I did not want Pat to practice today. I wanted to give him some rest. He could have practiced. I chose not to let that happen."

Cowan, though, limped throughout practice and was held out of even basic individual drills. He has played in only two games and practiced only two weeks because of a torn hamstring and a torn ligament in his right knee. He returned to start against California, replacing the injured Ben Olson (knee), last Saturday.

Slowing him further is a sore right calf, an offshoot of his knee injury, though that is not considered serious. But Dorrell was concerned enough to move Forcier back into the mix. He ran the scout team Tuesday.

The Bruins, who normally travel with three quarterbacks, will take four to Washington State on Saturday.

Cowan sat out the final segment of practice Tuesday with what was said to be fatigue.

"He'll be ready, he'll be practicing tomorrow," Dorrell said. "He had a long time off [with injuries] and then played the whole game. He's probably physically not in great condition. We want to make sure we're smart about this."

The injuries and soreness may force the Bruins hierarchy to manage Cowan's practice time the remainder of the season.

Cowan was not available for comment, as quarterbacks are not allowed to speak to the media after Tuesday.

With Cowan limited to limping and watching, Bethel-Thompson ran the first-team offense and Forcier worked with the second unit.

Osaar Rasshan, who moved back to quarterback after switching to wide receiver during the summer, watched. Rasshan, who came to UCLA as a quarterback, is No. 3 on the depth chart for now.

"We're preparing Osaar to play," Dorrell said. "He still needs work, just like all those guys. We wanted Forcier to get more reps today. We'll evaluate the situation."

If Cowan is unavailable, or gets re-injured during the game, the Bruins will have to alter their play selection to a degree.

"Not entirely, but there are certain things guys do well," said Jay Norvell, offensive coordinator. "There are things you pattern for certain guys."

Forcier and Rasshan have good speed, which can make them effective as runners.

"We always ask the quarterbacks on Thursday to go through the game plan and mark the things they feel really comfortable with and what they don't," Norvell said. "That affects our play calling too. We always want to get their feedback."

Bethel-Thompson is the only backup with game experience. He had four passes intercepted by Notre Dame.

Bethel-Thompson, Forcier and Rasshan were not allowed to talk with the media.

Dorrell officially ruled out middle linebacker Christian Taylor (concussion) for Saturday's game. John Hale, Kyle Bosworth and Reggie Carter will rotate filling in at his spot. Taylor was not allowed to talk with the media. . . . Dorrell said he expected defensive tackle Jerzy Siewierski (shoulder) and defensive end Tom Blake (knee) to play this week.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 9

Hokies could be risky pick
October 25, 2007

After Virginia Tech lost to Louisiana State, 48-7, on Sept. 8, Coach Frank Beamer made a drastic move and benched junior quarterback Sean Glennon in favor of freshman Tyrod Taylor.

The No. 8 Hokies (6-1) responded by winning five consecutive games.

But Taylor is questionable for tonight's game against No. 2 Boston College because of an ankle injury suffered last week against Duke and that has made Virginia Tech a risky bet.

The Hokies, who will start Glennon if Taylor can't play, are three-point favorites at home and are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games after an off week.

But the Eagles (7-0) also have a couple of strong betting trends in their favor.

They are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games playing on the road against Virginia Tech; 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 games as a road underdog; and 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 games against teams with winning records.

For Notre Dame supporters, this has been a season to forget.

Not only are the Fighting Irish 1-7 on the field, they are also 3-5 against the spread despite being double-digit underdogs in six games.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 9

Three Michigan State players charged with robbery
October 25th, 2007

East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) - Three Michigan State football players were reportedly charged with unarmed robbery on Wednesday.

Linebacker SirDarean Adams and defensive backs T.J. Williams and Jeremy Ware were arraigned in 55th District Court in East Lansing for an incident that apparently occurred in April, according to WILX-TV in Michigan.

Adams and Williams are starters, and Ware is a reserve. Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio said, in a statement he released Wednesday, that all three players will remain available to play.

"We were notified about an alleged incident back in late April, and this week charges were filed. We have closely monitored this situation for over six months. Throughout this process, our student-athletes have been cooperative with the authorities, and they have maintained their innocence to all parties involved. In fairness to the student-athletes alleged to have been involved in the incident, the prudent decision is to allow the legal process to continue to run its full course and for the truth to be determined. These student- athletes will remain on the roster and continue to have the opportunity to play in games. We take allegations of this nature very seriously, and we will not discuss this issue any further until there's a legal resolution," said Dantonio.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 9

Pac-10 Notebook

The preliminary rounds of the Pac-10 season are over now with two high-profile contests taking place this weekend. Heavyweights Arizona State, Oregon, USC and California all play each other the next few weeks that will help determine the conference champion.

With that in mind, we are going to focus on just two Pac-10 games this week. Seventh-ranked Arizona State faces its toughest test of the season by hosting 18th-ranked California, who reached as high as second in the Associated Press poll just a few weeks ago. The Golden Bears have since dropped back-to-back games, but have won four consecutive contests against the Sun Devils.

Arizona State currently sits atop the Pac-10 standings with unranked UCLA, but the Sun Devils are a combined 4-14 against their next four opponents the past five years. However, new head coach Dennis Erickson really has this team playing well, and they have already equaled last year’s win total. Arizona State is off to its first 7-0 start since the 1996 Rose Bowl season, but none of those victories this year were against ranked opponents. Five of those outings took place at Sun Devil Stadium.

The other marquee matchup involves ninth-ranked Southern Cal traveling to fifth-ranked Oregon. The Trojans are an underdog in a conference game for the first time since 2001 when they were a three-point ‘dogs to crosstown rival UCLA. USC ended up cruising to a 27-0 victory over the Bruins in that contest. This also marks the first matchup between top-10 teams in the 41-year history of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium.

USC has won or shared five consecutive Pac-10 titles while going 37-4 against conference opponents. The Trojans are seeking yet another BCS berth behind a defense that ranks second nationally in total defense (252.1 yards per contest) and scoring defense (16.6 points).

Oregon is winning its games behind a lethal offense spearheaded by quarterback Dennis Dixon. The Ducks rank second in the country in yards per game (550.9) and scoring (46.6). Oregon had beaten Southern Cal four times in a row before dropping the last three matchups in this series.

The other Pac-10 games this weekend pit conference co-leader UCLA against last-place Washington State. The Bruins have been tabbed as a six-point road favorite over the Cougars, with the total set at 54 ½.

Arizona travels to Washington as a four-point underdog in a matchup for eighth-place in the Pac-10. The total on this contest is 55. The Wildcats are a dismal 1-4 in the conference, while the Huskies have stumbled to a 0-4 Pac-10 record after opening the season with non-conference victories over Syracuse and Boise State.

The Oregon State-Stanford game is a battle for sixth place in the conference and a lower-tied bowl. The Beavers entertain a 13 ½-point home favored status, with the total set at 53. The Beavers were in a similar situation last season before winning eight of their last nine games including the Sun Bowl. Stanford has won two of its last three conference road games, including its historic upset of then second-ranked USC.

Now let’s break down the two major matchups in the Pac-10 Conference this weekend.

**Southern Cal at Oregon**

-Caesars Palace installed Oregon as a three-point home ‘chalk’ over Southern Cal, with the total set at 60 ½. FOX Sports Net will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.

-Southern Cal (6-1 straight up, 3-4 against the spread) returns to conference action after blanking rival Notre Dame last weekend as a 17-point road favorite, 38-0. The Trojans had failed to cover their previous three games before cruising past the Fighting Irish.

-Quarterback Mark Sanchez was 21-of-38 passing for 235 yards with four touchdowns, while running back Joe McKnight also enjoyed a solid game with seven carries for 65 yards and a score. Wideout Vidal Hazelton caught three passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

-USC finished the contest with advantages in first downs (24-10), rushing yards (227-48), passing yards (235-117) and turnovers forced (3-1). The Trojans scored in every quarter, and never looked back after entering halftime with a 17-0 advantage.

-Oregon (6-1 SU and ATS) roughed up rival Washington last weekend as a 13-point road ‘chalk,’ 55-34. The combined 89 points soared ‘over’ the 65 ½-point closing total, ending back-to-back ‘under’ outings.

-This contest was tied at 31 at the end of the third quarter before the Ducks outscored the Huskies in the final stanza, 24-3. Oregon finished the game leading Washington in first downs (39-17), rushing yards (465-164) and time of possession (34:23-25:37).

-Quarterback Dennis Dixon was 19-of-30 passing for 196 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while rushing 12 times for 99 yards and a score. The real story of the game was running back Jonathan Stewart, who carried the ball 32 times for 251 yards and two touchdowns.

-USC is 3-0 SU and ATS the previous three meetings with Oregon after prevailing last season as a nine-point home favorite, 35-10. The combined 45 points failed to topple the 55-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash the second straight matchup in this series.

-USC quarterback John Booty (finger), offensive tackle Sam Baker (hamstring), offensive guard Chilo Rachal (knee), offensive tackle Charles Brown (knee), offensive tackle Thomas Herring (knee), running back Joe McKnight (back) and center Kris O’Dowd (knee) are ‘questionable’ versus the Ducks.

-Oregon running back Jeremiah Johnson (ACL), wide receiver Derrick Jones (suspension), wide receiver Cameron Colvin (ankle) and linebacker A.J. Tuitele (foot) are ‘out’ against the Trojans.

-Southern Cal follows this contest with a home game against Oregon State before traveling to Cal. Oregon hosts Arizona State next weekend before going on its bye week.

-Saturday’s forecast for Eugene, Oregon lists sunny skies with a high of 63 degrees and a low of 39.

**California at Arizona State**

-Caesars Palace opened Arizona State as a three-point home ‘chalk’ over California, with the total set at 60 ½ ‘under’ (minus $1.10). FOX Sports Net will start its coverage of this contest at 10:00 p.m. ET.

-California (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) is currently mired in a two-game SU and ATS losing skid after falling to UCLA last weekend as a three-point road favorite, 30-21. The combined 51 points went ‘under’ the 56 ½-point closing total, leaving the ‘over’ at 4-2.

-The loss was sealed when UCLA’s Alterraun Verner returned an interception 76 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The Golden Bears finished the contest trailing the Bruins in first downs (22-19), rushing yards (183-67) and turnovers forced (4-2).

-Quarterback Nate Longshore completed 22-of-34 passes for 232 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Justin Forsett paced the ground game with 76 yards on 25 carries, while wideout DeSean Jackson caught nine passes for 136 yards with two scores.

-Arizona State (7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS) is coming off its bye week after thumping Washington two weeks ago as an 11 ½-point home ‘chalk,’ 44-20. The combined 64 points eclipsed the 54-point closing total, ending back-to-back ‘under’ outings.

-The Sun Devils were trailing at halftime, 17-13, before blitzing the Huskies in the second half, 31-3. Quarterback Rudy Carpenter was 20-of-31 passing for 227 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while running back Keegan Herring had 10 carries for 119 yards and a score.

-The Golden Bears are 4-0 SU and ATS the previous four matchups with the Sun Devils after prevailing last season as an eight-point home favorite, 49-21. The combined 70 points eclipsed the 58-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 3-1 the last four games in this series.

-Cal wide receiver Robert Jordan (shoulder) is ‘probable’ versus the Sun Devils, while defensive end Rulon Davis (foot) is ‘questionable.’ Strong safety Marcus Ezeff (quad) is expected to miss this matchup.

-Arizona State running back Ryan Torain (foot) is ‘out’ for the season, while linebacker Gerald Munns (knee) is ‘probable’ against the Golden Bears. Tight end Brent Miller (knee) is ‘questionable.’

-Cal hosts Washington State and Southern Cal following this weekend’s game. Arizona State embarks on a tough two-game road trip following this contest against Oregon and UCLA.

-Saturday’s forecast for Tempe, Arizona calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high of 92 degrees and a low of 67.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 9

Georgia Tech down another running back
October 26th, 2007

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Georgia Tech running back Rashaun Grant could miss the rest of the season with a lower leg injury, the team announced Friday, continuing its running back woes.

Grant got hurt Saturday, in Tech's 34-10 win against Army, as the redshirt senior rushed 11 times for 119 yards and one touchdown.

After the team has a bye week this Saturday, it expected Grant to start November 1 against Virginia Tech. But further tests revealed Grant's injury was more serious than initially thought.

Grant also missed the first two games of 2007 with an injured hamstring, and has 39 carries for 231 yards. He last started in 2004, for three games.

"I feel badly for Rashaun," Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey said. "It's tough to lose guys, especially now, when he was going to get an opportunity to start."

Grant would have taken the place of injured starter Tashard Choice, who was injured in the same game as Grant. Choice, the ACC's leading rusher at 108 yards per game, had surgery on Oct. 23 on his right knee.

Choice could possibly return for a few games at the end of the Yellow Jackets' season, but not Virginia Tech.

That leaves Georgia Tech with sophomore Jamaal Evans and freshman Jonathan Dwyer in the backfield.

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