College Football News and Notes Week 14

Re: College Football News and Notes Week 14

Cal RB Jahvid Best probably out for season with hip injury
November 26, 2007

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jahvid Best, California's talented freshman running back, probably will miss the rest of the season with a hip injury.

Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford said Best is unlikely to play in Cal's regular season finale against Stanford on Saturday because of the injury, which kept him out of Cal's previous loss to Washington.

"We don't know the extent of his injury yet," Tedford said Monday at a news conference promoting the 110th Big Game. "We're taking our time, making sure we're right about that. He says he feels good, but we have him on crutches until we know more."

Best is second on the team with 221 yards rushing and two touchdowns, providing a speedy change of pace to the more punishing Justin Forsett, the Pac-10's leading rusher. Best also caught 13 passes for 74 yards and returned 15 kickoffs for the Bears (6-5, 3-5 Pac-10), who have lost five of their last six games.

Tedford said Cal has consulted with hip specialists around the country to decide on the best course of treatment for Best, who could be the Bears' featured tailback next season after Forsett's graduation.

James Montgomery is likely to get more playing time in Best's absence. Cal still doesn't know where it will play in a bowl game, though the Bears are likely to land in San Francisco's Emerald Bowl if they post a sixth consecutive victory over Stanford.

Defensive lineman Rulon Davis, who has a lingering knee injury, could be available for limited play against Stanford, Tedford said. Davis has played in just four games this season because of the injury, making nine tackles and 11/2 sacks.

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Boston College suspends backup RB
November 26, 2007

Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -- Boston College running back A.J. Brooks was suspended indefinitely Monday and will not be with the team Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against Virginia Tech in Jacksonville, Fla.

Coach Jeff Jagodzinski said the junior was suspended for a violation of team rules but did not specify the nature of the transgression.

Brooks played in seven games for the No. 12 Eagles (10-2) and ran 25 times for 79 yards and no touchdowns. His best season came as a freshman when he rushed for 160 yards in his first start and finished the season with 319 yards and three touchdowns on 57 carries.

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Ole Miss hires ex-Arkansas coach Nutt
November 27, 2007

Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) Houston Nutt wasn't out of a job for long: He was hired as Mississippi's football coach just hours after resigning at Arkansas.

Nutt agreed to a contract late Monday night, and replaces Ed Orgeron, who was fired Sunday after the Rebels lost to rival Mississippi State and finished 3-9.

The hiring of Nutt was confirmed by a person close to the program who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made.

Nutt resigned even though the Razorbacks upset then-No. 1 LSU 50-48 in triple overtime last week.

The school planned an announcement on its coaching situation later Tuesday.

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Stoops hopes to get Big 12 sacks leader back from injury
November 26, 2007

Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- The status of Oklahoma defensive end Auston English, the Big 12 Conference's sacks leader, remains in question for the league's championship game, but his backup is expected to be healthy enough to play Saturday against No. 1 Missouri.

English has missed the last three games for the ninth-ranked Sooners (10-2, 6-2) since suffering a hairline fracture in his right leg against Texas A&M. He had a pin surgically inserted two weeks ago.

"He did some jogging and running around, so we'll see," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said after practice Monday night.

English leads the Big 12 with 91/2 sacks, including 11/2 in Oklahoma's 41-31 win against Missouri in October. He also had a career-high nine tackles in that game, four more than he's had in any other game.

"The guy's a really good player," Stoops said. "Hopefully we get him back."

Stoops does expect to have backup Alan Davis back in time for the championship game. Davis started in place of English against Baylor and Texas Tech, but a concussion caused him to miss last week's game against Oklahoma State.

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Connecticut accepts bid to play in Meineke Bowl against ACC team
November 27, 2007

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Connecticut accepted a bid Tuesday to play in the Meineke Bowl on Dec. 29 against an Atlantic Coast Conference team.

The Huskies were selected over Cincinnati as the Big East's representative for the game, which will be played at Bank of America Stadium.

The ACC team is not expected to be named until after Saturday's conference championship game. Wake Forest and Maryland are the leading contenders.

The Huskies are coming off their best season since moving up to the top level of college football six years ago. UConn (9-3, 5-2 Big East) had a chance to win the conference title and capture the league's Bowl Championship Series berth until Saturday's 66-21 loss at West Virginia in their regular season finale.

It will be Connecticut's second bowl appearance. The Huskies beat Toledo 39-10 in the 2004 Motor City Bowl.

Connecticut was selected over Cincinnati, which beat the Huskies 27-3 on Nov. 10, one of two losses in its final three games for Connecticut.

The Meineke Bowl, played at the Carolina Panthers' 73,000-seat stadium, is in its sixth year. It has included a Big East team every year until last season, when it cut a one-year deal to select Navy.

The ACC's Boston College beat the Midshipmen 25-24 on Steve Aponavicius' 37-yard field goal on the final play.

In previous years, the bowl, run by Raycom Sports, has tried to secure a team with a local following, making Wake Forest an attractive option to be UConn's opponent. North Carolina and North Carolina State have played in the game in the past.

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Boston College suspends backup RB Brooks before ACC title game
November 27, 2007

BOSTON (AP) -Boston College backup running back A.J. Brooks has been suspended from the team indefinitely after allegedly beating and kicking a 20-year-old man on campus.
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Brooks was released on $250 bail Monday after pleading not guilty to charges including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, for allegedly kicking the man with his shoe on, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley's office.

Brooks, a junior, will not be with the team Saturday at the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against Virginia Tech in Jacksonville, Fla.

The alleged victim, whom authorities did not identify, required stitches after suffering injuries to his head, neck and face during the fight about 2 a.m. Sunday morning, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Conley's office.

Campus police found the Weston man, who was visiting friends on campus, Wark said. The man was treated and released from Brigham and Woman's hospital.

It was unclear what started the fight, Wark said. Brooks reportedly told police the man pushed him and he responded by punching him and knocking him down.

Campus police arrested Brooks after a witness described him and what he was wearing. Police recognized the description as matching Brooks, whom they spoke to earlier in the evening, Wark said. A call to campus police wasn't immediately returned Tuesday.

Police located Brooks and he was taken into custody after he acknowledged being in a fight, Wark said.

Attempts to call Brooks on campus Tuesday were unsuccessful. A call to his attorney was not immediately returned.

Coach Jeff Jagodzinski said Monday that Brooks was suspended for a violation of team rules.

Brooks played in seven games for the No. 12 Eagles (10-2) and ran 25 times for 79 yards and no touchdowns. His best season came as a freshman when he rushed for 160 yards in his first start and finished the season with 319 yards and three touchdowns on 57 carries.

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USF to face Pac-10 opponent in Sun Bowl
Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas -- South Florida will play in the Sun Bowl for the first time.

The Bulls, ranked No. 25 in The Associated Press poll, announced Tuesday they have accepted a bid to play the third-place team from the Pac-10 on Dec. 31 in El Paso. The Pac-10 race will be decided Saturday.

USF (9-3, 4-3 Big East) rose as high as No. 2 in The Associated Press poll before three consecutive losses. It will be the Bulls' third bowl appearance in the program's 11th season.

The Sun Bowl, sponsored by Brut, is played at Texas-El Paso

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Cal WR Jackson questionable for Big Game
November 27, 2007

Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- California receiver DeSean Jackson isn't sure he'll play in the 110th Big Game after sitting out of Tuesday night's practice because of a bruised right leg.

Jackson, who has 60 catches for 681 yards and five touchdowns this season, severely bruised his quadriceps during a second-quarter punt return in Cal's loss at Washington on Nov. 17. The junior missed the rest of the game, and a week of rehabilitation hasn't healed him completely before Saturday's meeting with archrival Stanford.

"I'm feeling pretty good, but still not back to where I want to be," Jackson said. "Closer to game time, I'll see how I feel. ... Every year I've played in the Big Game, it's been one of those great years. It would be good to keep that tradition going on. Right now, I just want to protect my knee from whatever it is."

Jackson's knee aches when he moves on it because of the bruise, he said. That's a debilitating problem for a player whose game is based on speed, both as a receiver and a punt returner.

Jackson is expected to declare his eligibility for the NFL draft after the season, perhaps further complicating his decision to play on an injured leg.

"We want to go out on a note showing everybody we are an explosive team," Jackson said.

Cal already will be without freshman tailback Jahvid Best, who's likely out for the season with a hip injury. Best, Cal's second-leading rusher with 221 yards, was hurt while blocking on a kick return at Washington.

Best still holds out hope of returning for a bowl game, though California coach Jeff Tedford said his prized youngster's season probably is over.

"It scares me a little bit, but I think it's more precautionary," said Best, who's making his way around campus on crutches. "We're trying to play it safe and make the smartest decision."

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 14

News and Notes - Week 14
Northcoast Sports 

WEEK 14

Arizona St faced a double digit deficit for the 6th time this season. They rallied to win 4 of those 6 but could not make the comeback vs USC. They key play of the game happened with 7:05 left in the 1H with the score tied at 17, ASU went for it on 4th & 1 and QB Carpenter was sk'd. The Trojans then drove 58/8pl for a 20 yd FG and 54/6pl for a TD, the latter with just :09 left in the half to take command, 27-17. At the half USC did have a 239-132 yd edge. The Trojans scored on their first 3 poss of the 2H to blow it open...

C Michigan had the MAC Title game on deck and trailed by 12 points for most of the 2H but got 2 TD's in the last 6:58 including one with 1:31 left to pull out a 35-32 win at Akron. Thanks to the late drive, CM finished with a 639-323 yd edge...

Mississippi St was outFD'd by Ole Miss 21-10 and trailed 14-0 when Ole Miss went for it on 4th & 1 at the 50 with 10:05 left and was SOD. State went 48/6pl for a TD then after forcing a punt went on a 7 play drive and had a 1st & goal at the 12. All appeared lost when Carroll was int'd and ret'd 32 yds to the 37 but they forced a punt and Pegues ret'd it 75 yds for a TD with 2:38 left. After forcing another punt with :43 left, State got 2 FD's and Carlson hit a career long 48 yd FG for the win with :12 left...

Nebraska trailed Colorado 17-7 with 2:38 left in the 1Q and had zero yards passing. They piled up 274 yds passing in the 2Q and led 35-24 at the half. A pair of int's, the first ret'd 31 yds for a TD, the 2nd setting up a 33 yd TD drive and then a blk'd punt setting up a 25 yd drive for a TD was part of CU's 5 straight TD's in the 2H and Nebraska even got a garbage TD with :26 left to "only" lose by 14 points and seal Bill Callahan's dismissal. Colorado became bowl eligible with the win...

A&M wanted Dennis Franchione out and he accepted a buyout and resigned after upsetting Texas for a 2nd straight year. A&M finished with a 533-357 yd edge and led 17-3 at the half increasing the lead to 38-17 in the 4Q before allowing Texas drives of 80 and 73 yds for TD's, the latter with 2:45 left to make the final respectable. After UT kicked off deep, A&M converted on 3rd & 6 for a FD to the 43 and ran out the clock...

It may have been Sonny Lubick's last game for Colorado St (negotiating buyout) but his team responded giving him a 36-28 win in a game CSU had a 397-328 yd edge. Wyoming ended the season with a 4 game losing streak...

In 2005 Maryland travelled to NCSt with both teams needing 1 win to become bowl eligible but NCSt sent Maryland home for the holidays with their win. The Terps got their revenge as in the identical situation, MD not only won but recorded a shutout. NCSt had not been shutout since 1995, a streak of 150 straight games which was tops in the ACC but were blanked by the Terps 37-0 trailing 24-0 at the half...

Randy Shannon made a bonehead call in the Miami, Fl game. Trailing 7-0 they got an int at their own 12 with :45 left in the half. Instead of taking it to the half with a simple run into the line, Shannon opted to throw and naturally the pass was int'd setting up BC at the 32. After a roughing the passer call 3 plays later they got a TD with :29 left in the half, 14-0. The game was actually tied 14-14 early 4Q but BC got a 20 yd TD pass then a 45 yd TD run by Callender. UM had 4th & 5 at the BC 29 and got a FD but holding wiped it out and they were SOD on 4th & 15...

At the half Pitt had a 195-124 yd edge and led 14-10. USF got an 80 yd QB draw by Matt Grothe on the first play of the 3Q. USF only led 20-14 after 3Q's but got a 37 yd IR TD, 55 yd IR to set up a 1 yd TD and then a 21 yd IR TD to blow it open 41-21. The teams scored 3 TD's in the final 4:27. Pitt RB LaSean McCoy broke Tony Dorsett's frosh record for TD's in a season...

Duke had a 360-249 yd edge vs N Carolina but missed a 39 yd FG on the final play of regulation and a 42 yd FG in OT and UNC's Greg Little rushed for a career high 154 yds including a 25 yd TD run in OT for the win...

Kent St blew another game they could have won. Leading 20-16 they had a 1st & goal at the 12 but settled for a 23 yd FG. After Buffalo tied it with 4:54 left, Kent drove 65/10pl for the game winning 29 yd FG with 1:34 left but it was blk'd and Buffalo won it in OT. Eugene Jarvis rushed for 183 yards on 34 carries in a losing effort for Kent St...

UCF only led UTEP 22-20 in the 4Q. They got a TD with 5:58 left then UTEP went for it on 4th & 10 at its own 37 and UCF added a TD with 2:29 left to win by 16 and advance to the CUSA Title game...

Oklahoma/Oklahoma St was closer than the final for 3.5Q's. In fact after OSU's opening drive of the 3Q ended in a missed 40 yd FG, OU only had a 259-258 yd edge but led 28-10 as OSU also settled for a 28 yd FG and was stopped on 4th & goal at the 1 while the Sooners were able to convert on all of their drives for TD's. OSU got a 23 yd IR setting up a 1 yd TD drive to pull within 28-17 but the Sooners would score TD's on their next 3 poss and even ended the game at the OSU 34 as Allen Patrick rushed for 202 yards...

W Michigan had 19-6 and 438-146 yd edges vs Temple. TU did not get their first FD until 9:00 remained 2Q and at the end of the game WM took a knee at the 8 yd line in their 16-3 win...

Arkansas St just missed out on a 6-6 season. S Miss got a 29 yd FG with 14:54 left and ASU had a 28 yd FG blk'd (8:18). SM went 60/11pl for a 37 yd FG to lead 16-10 with 6:26 left. ASU went 63/12pl but on 4th & 1 from the SM 25 with 1:32 left, they were SOD and despite a 360-300 yd edge, ASU lost by 6 points...

Clemson blk'd 2 of S Carolina's punts, one of which was ret'd for a TD and had an additional 3-1 TO edge as well as a 443-364 yd edge but needed a 4th & 4 conversion at midfield to keep alive their final drive and nailed a 35 yd FG on the game's final play to pull out a 2 pt win which may have cost SC a bowl bid. It also gave Steve Spurrier his longest losing streak of his college career...

Florida had a 541-287 yd edge for the game but only a 269-203 edge at half. The key was FSU settled for 4 FG's and while they did hit a 60 yarder on the final play of the half, they settled for 21 and 28 yarders and trailed 24-12. The Gators dominated the 2H...

With the game tied 35-35, Washington fumbled at the WSU 28 with 6:10 to go and then fumbled at the WSU 20 with 2:00 left. The Cougars went 80/6pl and got a 35 yd TD pass with :31 left to pull out the Apple Cup win trying to save Coach Doba's job as his record is now 30-29 after 5 seasons...

Florida Atlantic rolled to a 35-3 lead in the 4Q before allowing 3 late TD's to Florida Int'l in their 55-23 win which sets up the battle for the SBC title between FAU and Troy this week...

ULL RB Tyrell Fenroy had 118 yards vs ULM in a losing effort but topped 1,000 yards late 3Q. He and Darren McFadden are the only 2 juniors that have put together 3 straight 1,000 yard seasons and we have to think McFadden will not be around for his senior season next year...

Marshall must have forgot there was 2H. They had a dominating 1H vs UAB scoring TD's on 4 of 5 poss and led 28-7 at the half but needed a late TD to pull out a 46-39 win over UAB who scored 32 pts in the 2H...

Last week we had a 4'H College Totals GOY which was on Memphis/UAB to go Over 60. Look at how those two preformed this week. The UAB/Marshall game totalled 85 pts and the Memphis/SMU game totalled 107. That was the type of offensive production we expected from both 2 weeks ago. Kansas/Missouri was a battle between #2 and #4 BCS teams in the country and drew 80,507 (2nd largest crowd in 35 year history of Arrowhead Stadium). MO jumped out to a big lead of 28-7 in the 4Q and held on for the 36-28 win. Chase Daniel hit 40-49 passes for 361 yds and certainly a leading Heisman contender...

Miami led Ohio 17-7 at the half but after OU drove 63/9pl for a TD, they got consecutive int's which set up TD "drives" of 19 and 17 yds and stunningly OU led 28-17 6:00 into the 3Q and held on for a 38-29 win despite being outgained 379-199...

Alabama lost its final 4 games to drop to 6-6 and speaking of 6, that is how many times Auburn has beaten Bama consecutively...

Ironically, in the worst season that Notre Dame fans can ever recall, they actually won their final 2 games of the year for the first time since 1992!!...

Nothing fluky about Fresno St's defeat of Big XII foe Kansas St. The Bulldogs piled up 549 yds offense to 382 for Kansas St and led 45-21 before KSU got a garbage TD with 2:55 left...

Rice was extra motivated to take on their former coach who left them for the Tulsa job after signing a new contract last year. They nearly came away with the upset outgaining Tulsa 700-592 but lost by 5...

Georgia began the year with 3 frosh starting on the O-line but were clearly playing their best ball down the stretch and is worthy of a BCS bowl bid. If there was a playoff system, they'd be one of the favorites for the title. UGA wiped Florida 42-30, Auburn 45-20, Kentucky 24-13 and then GTech this past week 31-17. Thomas Brown, who ret'd at RB 2 weeks ago after being inj'd rushed for 139 yds.

I'D RATHER BE LUCKY THAN GOOD

That sums up Tennessee's SEC Championship this year. When UT prevailed in 4OT's vs Kentucky they finished tied for the top in the SEC East with 2 losses but will be in the Title game. In SEC play this year, UT was outgained by S Carolina 501-317 and outFD'd 31-16 but miraculously prevailed 27-24 in OT. They trailed Vandy 24-9 in the 3Q but had the 2nd biggest comeback in school history and rallied for a 25-24 win with VU's final FG bouncing off the upright from 39 yds out. Kentucky, down by 3, had a 3rd & goal then a bad snap forced Woodson to hurry his pass and he overthrew an open receiver in the EZ which would have given them the victory. In the 2nd OT, UT was int'd and UK needed just a FG for the win. Their 34 yd'r which would knock the Vols out of the title game was bkl'd. After each got a TD and missed a 2 pt conv in the 3rd OT, UK's 2 pt in the 4OT came up short and UT got their 3rd win in a game they could have easily have lost.

INJURIES OF NOTE

Without Dennis Dixon, Oregon's offense naturally figured to struggle but they also lost 2nd stringer Brady Leaf to injury. Leaf at least hit 4 of 11 for 45 yds. Oregon used untested frosh Cody Kempt and Justin Roper and those two combined to hit 7 of 28 passes for 60 yards and 3 int's. TO's were the key here. In the 1H UO had a 100-38 yd edge but UCLA had scoring "drives" of -4 and 15 yds after a pair of TO's set up FG's and led 6-0. Late 3Q they "drove" 6 yds after an int for a 28 yd FG to lead 9-0. UCLA put together its longest scoring drive of the game going 31/4pl for a TD with 5:29 left and had just 10 FD's but won 16-0 dealing the Ducks their first shutout in more than 22 years (9/28/85) ...

N Illinois' injury plagued season continued as their starting QB was out for the season finale vs Ball St. The Huskies played scrappy to the end, covering their 3rd straight to end the season. Ryan Morris hit 24-44 for 252 yds. NI has had 24 players miss multiple game with injury including 13 that were lost for the season.

KEY PLAYS

Virginia led Virginia Tech 14-13 and had the ball with :50 left in the half when they were int'd. UVA had a fmbl overturned and VT got a FD then a 40 yd TD pass with :12 left in the half to take a 20-14 lead and would not trail the rest of the game. UVA finished with a 430-241 yd edge.

MISLEADING FINALS, FRONTDOOR AND BACKDOOR COVERS

Folks that played Over 58' in the LSU/Arkansas game appeared to have had an easy win as the two teams combined for 98 points. However, they needed LSU to score a TD with :58 left to tie it at 28 and force OT. After regulation the game was still not Over the Total but thanks to the NCAA's OT rules, 42 points were scored in 3OT's for a very misleading 50-48 final...

BYU got a fortunate cover vs Utah although they deserved better in the 1H. In the 1H BYU had a 206-50 yd edge but fumbled at the Utah 25, missed a 48 yd FG, settled for a 22 yd FG and had a TD called back on offensive pass interference and only led 3-0. Utah got a TD with 1:34 left in the game to take a 10-9 lead. BYU converted on 4th & 18 when QB Hall escaped a sk and hit a 49 yd pass. A pair of penalties gave them FD's setting up for a game winning FG but Unga broke an 11 yd TD run with :38 left to get ahead of the spread. Utah got to the BYU 43 but their Hail Mary pass was knocked down in the EZ...

Cincinnati and Syracuse traded TD's in the 2nd and 3Q with UC leading by either 4 or 11 points. Leading by 4, UC got a 16 yd fumble return for a TD late 3Q. Leading 45-31 UC's chances at a cover appeared gone when their 4th & 5 pass from the SU 25 was incomplete with 2:55 left. SU went for it on 4th & 10 and was sk'd back at their 18 and UC got a TD on 3rd & 6 with a 13 yd run by Mauk 3 plays later to give them the frontdoor cover with 1:02 left...

TCU piled up a school record 694 yds offense 1 week after SDSt had allowed Air Force 670 yards. It would have been an outstanding frontdoor cover for TCU which trailed 17-0 after 1Q and 24-21 at the half laying 12' points. TCU dominated the 2H as Joseph Turner ran for a career high 226 yds for the Frogs and they took a 45-27 lead. SDSt got a TD with 1:37 left and even though they missed the 2 pt conversion, SDSt still got the backdoor cover, 45-33.

BCS TROUBLES

As we've seen many times in recent years, the team that has the BCS Championship Game invite in their control, struggles and that happened once again this past week. For an amazing 6th time on the season, the #1 or #2 ranked team lost to an unranked team. We used a 3H LPS on Arkansas +13' over LSU and they delivered the outright upset. Ark led or was tied for the entire 2H with LSU getting a TD with :57 left to force OT. In the first OT Ark converted on 4th & 10 for a FD when trailing by 7 and on 3rd & 8 got a TD. In the 3rd OT, after each team had scored a TD, Arkansas got their 2 point conversion but LSU's 2 pt pass was int'd in the EZ and Ark piled up 385 yds rushing and 513 yds overall vs LSU's defense...

Hawaii did not succumb to the BCS pressure. They did struggle early vs Boise and trailed 27-26 mid-3Q but scored the game's next 2 TD's then went on a long drive where they were SOD at the Boise 33. On 4th & 7 BSU was sk'd and fmbl'd at the UH 36 with 6:26 left and the Warriors went on a 63/13pl drive taking a knee at the half yard line after coming up a foot short of the EZ converting on 4th down on a play that would have made it 46-27...

W Virginia felt some BCS pressure in the 1H vs Connecticut, perhaps celebrating LSU's loss to Arkansas the night before which put them in the drivers seat for a possible National Title game, WV was fortunate to lead 24-14 at the half as CT actually had a 261-200 yd edge. The 2H was all WV as they scored TD's on 5 of their first 6 poss and the only time they did not score, was when they were int'd at the 5. WV got a FR for a TD 2 plays later and led 66-14 with backups playing the entire 4Q.

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 14

College Football - Week 14 Predictions
SportsNetwork.com

Miami-Ohio (6-6) vs. Central Michigan (7-5), Saturday, 11 am

The Chippewas' offensive unit could be one of the best in the history of the Mid-American Conference. While the team's defensive play is suspect, the Chippewas should have no trouble racking up points against Miami en route to their second consecutive MAC title.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Central Michigan 38, Miami-Ohio 27


Navy (7-4) vs. Army (3-8), Saturday, 12 pm

In the 107-year history of this rivalry, no team has ever won six consecutive meetings. However, that will change this Saturday as the Middies are the much better team offensively, and should have no trouble against the weak rushing defense of the Black Knights.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 35, Army 14


Tulsa (9-3) at U-C-F (9-3), Saturday, 12 pm

This should be a classic, as Tulsa's passing game goes against UCF's dominant ground attack. The Knights have the edge playing at home and they should be able to keep the Hurricane's offense off the field with their running game, as they get their revenge with a win this weekend.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 42, Tulsa 31


(6) Virginia Tech (10-2) vs. (12) Boston College (10-2), Saturday, 1 pm

This game reeks of revenge, as Virginia Tech let a victory slip away late against Boston College during the regular season. Expect a tight contest from start to finish, and don't be surprised if a big special teams play proves to be the difference for the Hokies.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 24, Boston College 21


(14) Tennessee (9-3) vs. (5) L-S-U (10-2), Saturday, 4 pm

Go with LSU in this contest, as the Tigers have yet to be beaten in regulation this season. The Vols will keep it close, however, as they enter with a wealth of confidence.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 30, Tennessee 23


Oregon State (7-4) at (18) Oregon (8-3), Saturday, 4:30 pm

Oregon State enters this contest with significantly more momentum and confidence than does Oregon. Still, playing at home is a huge advantage in this series, and Stewart will salvage some pride for his Ducks.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon 24, Oregon State 20


U-C-L-A (6-5) at (8) U-S-C (9-2), Saturday, 4:30 pm

The Bruins won a big game last week against Oregon, but they will get a USC squad at full strength and a conference crown within grasp. The Trojans are the more experienced team in critical games and that, along with a deep talent pool, should sway the outcome in their favor.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: USC 31, UCLA 17


(21) B-Y-U (9-2) at San Diego State (4-7), Saturday, 6:30 pm

The Cougars still have something to play for, as going perfect in the MWC is certainly a worthy accomplishment. Although the chances of earning a BCS Bowl bid are slim, there is still that added incentive as well. SDSU has struggled in stopping anyone this year and that trend will likely continue in the season-finale.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: BYU 33, San Diego State 16


Pittsburgh (4-7) at (2) West Virginia (10-1), Saturday, 7:45 pm

It all comes down to this for WVU, which showed it can win a big game by pounding UConn last weekend. The Mountaineers are now facing a lesser opponent, but in a year of consistent upsets, they must not overlook their long-time rival. Still, WVU is just too talented for the Panthers to handle, so expect them to run away with this one behind the duo of Pat White and Steve Slaton.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 44, Pittsburgh 21


(9) Oklahoma (10-2) vs. (1) Missouri (11-1), Saturday, 8 pm

With so much on the line, Missouri has to keep its emotions in check and focus on beating the Sooners. That will not be easy, however, as Oklahoma remains one of the nation's most talented teams. Give the edge to Chase Daniel and company, although a win by Sam Bradford and his teammates would not be surprising.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 34, Oklahoma 31


Arizona (5-6) at (13) Arizona State (9-2), Saturday, 8 pm

Arizona needs this game to become bowl-eligible, so expect it to come out fired up. ASU though, is the more balanced team here and it should be able to wear down the Wildcats and outlast them for the victory.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona State 31, Arizona 28


Washington (4-8) at (11) Hawaii (11-0), Saturday, 11:30 pm

Facing off against Boise State last week was more pressure than the Warriors had ever imagined, yet they still fought through it and came out on top. A healthy Colt Brennan still has an outside chance at being invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation, but he'll need to be at the top of his game this weekend to earn the trip to the mainland.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hawaii 49, Washington 27

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No. 20 Cincinnati accepts invitation to Papajohns.com Bowl
November 28, 2007

CINCINNATI (AP) -No. 20 Cincinnati accepted an invitation Wednesday to play Southern Mississippi in the Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 22.

Cincinnati has won the Fort Worth Bowl and the International Bowl in the last two years.

The bowl will complete a breakout season for the Bearcats, who went 9-3 and were in contention for the Big East title until they lost to West Virginia. Cincinnati finished 4-3 in the league with a 52-31 victory over Syracuse on Saturday.

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Baylor picks Houston's Briles as new football coach
November 28, 2007

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -Houston coach Art Briles is the next to take on the task of pulling Baylor out of the Big 12 basement.

Briles' hiring was confirmed Wednesday by a person with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition on anonymity because the formal announcement had not be made.

Baylor spokesman Nick Joos said the school had called a news conference scheduled for later in the day on the Waco campus to announce the school's new football coach.

Briles led Houston to four bowls in his five seasons. He was offered the job after meeting with Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw on Tuesday in Dallas.

Briles replaces Guy Morriss, who was fired Nov. 19 after five seasons. Morriss' firing came the day after the Bears completed their 12th straight losing season with their 12th consecutive Big 12 loss.

Houston (8-4) has already accepted an invitation to play in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 28 in Houston against an undetermined opponent. The Cougars won the Conference USA title last season.

Briles is 34-28 in five seasons at Houston with only one losing season. Before his arrival, the Cougars had only two winning seasons in the previous 12 years.

Before going to Houston, where he was a four-year letterman as a receiver and played in the 1976 Cotton Bowl, Briles spent three seasons as running backs coach at Texas Tech. His previous head coaching job had been at Stephenville High School, where in 12 seasons he was 136-29-2 and won four Texas state championships.

Morriss was 18-40 the past five seasons at Baylor.

The leading candidate initially was Mike Singletary. But the Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker and Baylor icon took his name out of consideration after a lengthy meeting with McCaw last week in California.

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Key Stats for Conference Championships

MAC

Central Michigan-Miami Ohio


The Chippewas have the upper hand in most offensive categories, but the RedHawks have the statistical advantage defensively.

CMU amasses 78.9 more total yards per game on .7 more yards per play. One of the more prominent areas is in rushing yards per attempt where Central has the edge by 1.1. Miami Ohio though relies much more on the big play. Despite completing 11.2 percent less of their passes, the RedHawks get 1.7 more passing yards per reception.

On defense, it’s Miami with a superiority of 94.3 fewer yards allowed per game on .8 less yards per play. They also allow a completion percentage of 7.2 less.

Conference USA

Tulsa-Central Florida


It’s yet another contest where one team has a fairly significant edge on offense, while the other gets the numbers their way on defense. Offensively, Tulsa has a yards per game pre-eminence if 124.9 total yards per game. But it’s because of 181.4 yards per game passing difference as UCF rushes for 56.5 more yards per game. The Golden Hurricanes do average 1.2 more yards per play, a telling statistic say most top gamblers.

However, likewise UCF accrues .5 more yards per rush, but Tulsa 2.3 more yards per pass and 3.6 more yards per catch.

The Golden Knights allow 102.1 fewer yards on .9 less yards per play allowed. Perhaps the biggest numerical disparity is in turnover ratio. Tulsa is -7, but UCF +5, a net advantage of 12 for Central.

ACC

Virginia Tech-Boston College


Although BC has an edge of 105.5 more total yards per game, Tech rushes for 27.8 extra yards. The Eagles get 7.6 more first downs per game. In the ever important yards per play category, it’s Boston College getting .7 more. Tech though has a pretty significant numerical dominance of 1.1 more yards per catch.

On defense, the check marks favor V Tech by 48.7 total yards per game and .4 yards per play. BC though allows 20.6 fewer rushing yards on a few half-yard less per attempt. The Hokies have a huge turnover margin upper hand by 10.

SEC

Tennessee-LSU


Numerically, the Tigers are better on both sides of the ball. LSU gets 44.8 more yards per game, though the Vols accumulate 27.8 more passing yards. The biggest discrepancy is in passing yards per reception where LSU gets 2.0 more. With Tennessee completing 7.3 higher percent of the passes, the overall offensive upper hand for LSU is fairly nominal.

Defensively LSU permits 121.8 fewer yards on 1.2 less yards per play. Tennessee is less vulnerable to the big play, allowing 1.3 fewer passing yards per attempt. LSU has a turnover ratio better by 12.

Big 12

Oklahoma-Missouri


These two teams are fairly close on paper. In fact, while Mizzou gets 49.8 more yards per game, Oklahoma accumulates .3 more yards per play. Oklahoma has the edge in both rushing yards per attempt and passing yards per attempt by .2 and 1.4 respectively and they also get 2.4 more passing yards per reception.

Also the Sooners have slight edges in most defensive categories including yards per game of 56.2 and .4 fewer yards per play allowed. Yet the Tigers allow .1 less passing yards per attempt and .4 less passing yards per reception.

OffshoreInsiders.com

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EARLY COLLEGE "LOOKING FOR AN ANGLE"

Rutgers at LOUISVILLE (Thursday)...Revenge-minded L’Ville needs win here to keep 10-year bowl streak alive. In LY’s 28-25 loss, Rutgers kicked game-winning 28-yd FG with :13 on clock. L’Ville star QB Brohm bombed-out in 2nd H, failing to generate any points in blowing 25-14 halftime lead.

Fresno State at NEW MEXICO STATE (Friday)...Prolific NMS QB Holbrook looking forward to rematch after going 39 of 51 for 367 yds. & no ints. despite 5 sacks in combative 23-18 loss at Fresno State LY. Bulldogs, however, might need victory to keep alive minor bowl hopes.

Arizona at ARIZONA STATE...U of A QB Tuitama eager for rematch after completing 6 of 10 for 1 TD before sidelining injury in 2nd Q of LY’s 28-14 loss in Tucson. Tuitama’s seldom-used backup QB Austin couldn’t pick up slack, completing only 11 of 30 for 99 yds. & 2 ints.

Army vs. Navy (at Baltimore)...Navy has won 9 of past 10 SU vs. Army, covering 8 of those 10 (last 5 wins by avg. 40-14 score). And Cadets got “backdoor” cover in 26-14 setback LY by scoring on 12-yd. TD pass with :02 to go.

Oregon State at OREGON...Home team has won 10 straight (8-2 vs. spread) in the “Civil War” rivalry. Special teams were the difference in LY’s thrilling 30-28 OSU victory, as Beavers nailed all 3 FG attempts, while Ducks missed all 3 of their tries, including potential game-winning 44-yd. attempt in final secs. U of O outgained State 427-343, but Ducks were also hurt by back-breaking 34 yd. int. return for TD, giving Beavers 17-7 2nd Q lead. Oregon’s backup QB Leaf (now injured) played for benched Dixon in ‘06, hitting 25 of 42 for 274 yds.

Ucla at SOUTHERN CAL...USC has been waiting all year for huge payback game vs. crosstown rival UCLA following mortifying 13-9 upset loss in Rose Bowl LY, knocking Trojans out of BCS title game. Southern Cal QB Booty threw for 274 yds., but struggled in red zone, manufacturing just 1 TD. Before ‘06 shocker, Trojans had won 7 straight in series, covering spread in 6 of those and has covered last 5 meetings at Coliseum.

Cal at STANFORD...After dropping 7 straight in the “Big Game,” Cal has reversed trend under 6th-year HC Teford, who has won all 5 meetings since taking over in Berkeley (4-1 vs. spread). Bears, however, just 2-11 vs. spread last 13 in Pac-10, including 6 straight Ls vs. spread.

Pitt at WEST VIRGINIA...Highly-ranked WV has won & covered 4 of past 5 in the “Backyard Brawl,” including 45-27 victory at Heinz Stadium LY. Mounties dynamic duo of QB White & RB Slaton (hails from Levittown, Pa.) were nearly unstoppable, combining for whopping 435 in ‘06.

North Texas at FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL...Downtrodden FIU believes it has its best chance to snap 23-game losing streak following 25-22, 7 OT loss at North Texas LY. Golden Panthers missed 35-yd. FG attempt, while Mean Green made 34-yarder in final extra period. Teams missed 8 of 13 FG tries in OT!

Washington at HAWAII...BCS bowl-seeking Warriors are 15-7 as chalk in Honolulu since ‘04.

Louisiana Tech at NEVADA
...Bowl-seeking Nevada is 12-2 as home chalk since ‘04 (just 1-2 TY), while La. Tech is a bankroll-depleting 4-17 as road dog over same time frame (2-2 TY). Wolf Pack’s workhorse RB Lippincott motored for 122 yds.& 3 TDs in 18 carries in 42-0 whipping in Ruston LY (Nevada led 35-0 at H!).

goldsheet.com

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CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP NOTEBOOK

Historically-speaking, conference championship games are a rather new addition to the college football landscape. Prior to 1992, they didn’t exist at all. It was the SEC that broke rank and introduced what was a revolutionary concept 15 years ago, taking advantage of a loophole in NCAA bylaws that permitted conferences with 12 teams or more (of which the SEC was the first) to conduct league championship games. The rest of the college football world watched the profitable SEC “experiment” closely, and its success served as the impetus for many of the changes we’ve seen in the college landscape since. Indeed, the success of the SEC title game was undoubtedly one of the triggers in the creation of expanded “mega-conferences” (such as the Big XII and ACC) and definitely blazed a trail for other leagues to conduct their own championship contests.

Now, for the third straight year, five conference title games will be contested. And, for the most part (especially in the SEC, Big XII, and now the ACC), conference title games have been a box-office bonanza. With the absence of a true national playoff, they have become important sources of revenues for their leagues. The conservative Big Ten has also mulled expansion and the possibility of adding its own title game, while there are indications the Big East would seriously consider it if it could increase its football membership. Of the major conferences, only the Pac-10, which exists in a sort of parallel universe with the Rose Bowl (prompting the league to say it would bolt the current BCS arrangement if any sort of a playoff were instituted), appears uninterested in moving toward further expansion and a conference title game.

By this stage, we’ve had enough of a sampling of league championship games to detect an emerging trend or two. Although cumulative results haven’t been terribly illuminating (indeed, in the 43 conference title games since 1992, favorites lead by a narrow 23-20 count), it’s worth noting that double-digit underdogs have fared well, covering in 10 of 15 opportunities, reflecting a similar pattern in bowl games over the past several decades.

Mostly, however, there have been some interesting conference-specific pointspread and “totals”-related trends that merit some extra attention. The most noteworthy of those are highlighted in the following league-by-league title game histories. Included are results for the past four seasons.

SEC...Fifteen games since 1992, with favorites 12-3 straight up, but only 7-8 vs. the pointspread. The first two (1992 & ‘93) were held at Birmingham’s Legion Field; since ‘94, all have been played at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. Note the one-sided title games recently in the SEC; the last 9 have been decided by double-digit margins. The favorites, however, have covered only 5 of those 9, and have been on the losing end of some of those lopsided results. Note “overs” in last 4 renewals as well. 2006-Florida (-2½) 38 - Arkansas 23 (“over” 44); 2005-Georgia (+ 1½) 34- LSU 14 (“over” 40 1/2); 2004-Auburn (-14½) 38 - Tennessee 28 (“over” 47½); 2003-LSU (-3) 34 - Georgia 13 (“over” 42).

BIG XII...Eleven games since 1996, with favorites winning and covering 8 of those. First game held at St. Louis’ Edward Jones Dome (1996), then next four at San Antonio’s Alamodome (1997-2000), which will host this year’s game. The 2001 renewal was at Texas Stadium, Irving; 2002 & 2005 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium; 2003, ‘04 & ‘06 at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City. Much like the SEC, recent Big XII title trends have featured many blowout wins. The last four have been decided by 14 or more, including ferocious beatings absorbed by Colorado in ‘04 (lost 42-3 vs. Oklahoma) & ‘05 (lost 70-3 vs. Texas). Historically, however, there have been some upsets in Big XII title games, most recently Kansas State’s 35-7 stunner over unbeaten Oklahoma in 2003. Shock wins by a couple of other double-digit dogs, Texas (over Nebraska) in 1996 and Texas A&M (over K-State) in 1998, knocked the losers out of the respective national title games in those years. 2006-Oklahoma (-3½) 21 - Nebraska 7 (“under” 45½); 2005-Texas (-26½) 70 - Colorado 3 (“over” 60½); 2004-Oklahoma (-22) 42 - Colorado 3 (“under” 54½); 2003-Kansas State (+14) 35 - Oklahoma 7 (“under” 54).

MAC...Ten games since 1997, with favorites 6-4 straight up and 5-5 vs. the pointspread. Prior to 2004 (when the game was moved indoors to Detroit’s Ford Field), MAC championships had been contested at campus sites. Marshall participated in the first five MAC championship battles, winning four of them. 2006-Central Michigan (-3½) 31 - Ohio 10 (“under” 45½) 2005-Akron (+13) 31 - Northern Illinois 30 (“over” 52); 2004-Toledo (+1½) 35 - Miami-Ohio 27 (“under” 64); 2003 - Miami-Ohio (-7) 49 - Bowling Green 27 (“over” 58½).

ACC and Conference USA...Both staged their initial title games in 2005. This will be the third straight ACC title game at Jacksonville’s Municipal (nee Alltel) Stadium; C-USA uses alternates home field between East and West winners. ACC: 2006-Wake Forest (+2) 9 - Georgia Tech 6 (“under” 40); 2005-Florida State (+14) 27 - Virginia Tech 22 (“over” 44 1/2); CUSA: 2006-Houston (-5) 34 - Southern Miss 20 (“over” 53½) 2005- Tulsa (-2) 44 - Central Florida 27 (“over” 56½).

WAC...Three title games at Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium between 1996-98, with favorites winning all 3, and covering 2.

goldsheet.com

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Wisconsin headed to Outback Bowl
November 28th, 2007

Madison, WI (Sports Network) - The University of Wisconsin has accepted an invitation to play in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida on January 1, 2008.

The Badgers (9-3), who will be playing in the 19th bowl game in school history, will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent from the Southeastern Conference.

It will be the Badgers' third trip to the Outback Bowl. Wisconsin knocked off Duke, 34-20, in the 1995 game (then known as the Hall of Fame Bowl). UW then dropped a pair of games with Georgia in 1998 and 2005, respectively.

"We're absolutely thrilled to be returning to Tampa for the Outback Bowl," UW director of athletics Barry Alvarez said. "It has been a tremendous destination for us the previous three times we have been there. Our players and fans have always enjoyed the Tampa area and everything the bowl brings to the table."

The Badgers will be participating in their 13th bowl game in the past 15 seasons, including their school-record sixth consecutive appearance this year.

"Our entire team is excited to be returning to Florida for our fourth straight January bowl game," head coach Bret Bielema said. "We've always heard terrific feedback from our fans who have followed us to Tampa in the past and I know we'll have a big sea of red down there again. We're looking forward to the warm weather, hospitality and a great game on New Year's Day."

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Missouri now has title hopes, and Oklahoma will play spoiler

The teams in the Big 12 championship game look as different six weeks later as their interpretations of the regular-season meeting.

Oklahoma’s Sooners say they won on the evening of Oct. 13 by a 41-31 count.

“It’s a win, no matter what anybody says,” Oklahoma wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias said. “You can’t change it.”

Missouri’s Tigers say they lost that game in Norman.

“We definitely shot ourselves in the foot, didn’t give ourselves a chance to win that game with our turnovers,” Missouri tight end Martin Rucker said.

What the Tigers and Sooners can agree on is the rematch brings together teams that have changed since that night.

Missouri entered that October showdown ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll, while the Sooners were fifth with designs on a national championship.

Headed into Saturday’s game in San Antonio, the Tigers are the nation’s top-ranked team and stand on the edge of playing in the BCS national championship game on Jan. 7.

The Sooners were tripped up at Texas Tech two weeks ago and eliminated from the national title picture. Ninth-ranked Oklahoma has been reduced to the role of Mizzou spoiler but covets the opportunity to become the first team in Big 12 history to repeat as league champion.

“A lot of good teams have tried, but none have done it,” Oklahoma wide receiver Malcolm Kelly said. “That’s a goal we’ve talked about the last few days.”

What else is different? Personnel.

Missouri running back Tony Temple didn’t play against the Sooners while nursing an ankle sprain. In the Tigers’ previous four games, the team hadn’t gained fewer than 195 yards rushing. Without a Temple-led attack, Missouri was held to 57.

Mizzou averages 170 rushing yards, and Oklahoma is tied for the Big 12 lead with Kansas in stopping the run, allowing 91.4 yards per game.

“With Tony Temple in there, they run it well,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “More than anybody wants to talk about. That’s a big factor that we’re focusing on.”

Temple spent Oct. 13 at his Columbia apartment.

“I was at my house, by myself, on the couch,” Temple said. “It was hard. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”

Just as it will be for a pair of Oklahoma standouts. Running back DeMarco Murray, who set up the Sooners’ go-ahead touchdown with a 34-yard kickoff return against the Tigers, is out because of a dislocated kneecap.

Defensive end Auston English, who leads the Big 12 in sacks with 9 1/2 and recorded 1 1/2 against Missouri, is probably not going to play. Two weeks ago he had a rod inserted in his broken right ankle.

“He’s a great player,” Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel said. “He sacked me twice, or something like that. We’re a whole bunch better on offense this time around.”

The Tigers will be even better if tight end Chase Coffman plays. He’s listed as questionable after rolling an already injured ankle during Missouri’s first extra-point attempt Saturday against Kansas.

Coffman originally hurt the ankle late in the first half against Oklahoma, “and it’s been nagging me ever since,” he said.

Would Coffman sit out? He gave it a zero-percent chance.

“You just have to try and play through it,” he said.

Oh, there is a subtraction for the Tigers. Safety Pig Brown was on his way to a terrific season. Against Oklahoma he forced a fumble and was credited with a tackle for loss among his eight stops.

But two weeks later he blew out his Achilles’. The Tigers have absorbed his absence, with William Moore especially coming up big in the secondary.

What hasn’t changed is Missouri’s confidence. The Tigers believed they could win in Oklahoma, and their resolve grew when that didn’t happen.

“That game made us the team we are today,” Missouri wide receiver Will Franklin said. “We saw we could be good. And we have done everything we’ve had to do to put ourselves in the position we are in now.”

Against Oklahoma, the Tigers fell behind but took a 24-23 lead early in the fourth quarter. Sooners running back Chris Brown answered with one of his three touchdowns for the go-ahead score, and Missouri’s next possession ended in disaster when linebacker Curtis Lofton scooped up a botched exchange between Daniel and Jeremy Maclin and returned it for a touchdown.

Four turnovers killed the Tigers that night, but Stoops is quick to remind you that Oklahoma also lost two fumbles. Add it up, and the Sooners beat Missouri for the 16th straight time in Norman.

“People want to focus on certain times of the game,” Stoops said. “I know that with about 20 seconds to go, it’s 41-24 and I’d be willing to be in that situation every time. It’s all about (the score) at the end of the game. You can’t erase it.”

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LSU, UT see close encounters

OT has decided 2 of 5 games in this decade

KNOXVILLE — It's doesn't have the tradition of Auburn-Alabama. It's not Florida-Georgia. It's not even Auburn-Georgia.

But during this decade, whenever Tennessee and LSU have met, the implications have been more far-reaching and have had more impact on the postseason than almost any other Southeastern Conference matchup.
   

The two teams will continue the trend on Saturday when they meet in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta at 3 p.m.

"I think it's two really good football teams, two really good programs," UT quarterback Erik Ainge said. "When you play LSU, you're going to see their best, and they're going to see our best."

When the Tennessee and LSU football programs meet up, it isn't your classic SEC rivalry game. They've played only 12 times in the past 31 years. The winner doesn't get some weird traditional trophy. And there's no nickname for the duel. But when you break down their recent games, maybe it's time to reconsider all that.

LSU is 3-2 against UT since 2000.

The average score in those games is LSU 28, UT 26, and two games have gone into overtime.

Furthermore, in 2001 the Tigers knocked UT out of the national championship game by defeating the Vols 31-20 in the SEC Championship game.

Title dreams gone

"If we won the game, I think we were going to play Miami for the national championship, which would have been the second time in four years," UT Coach Phillip Fulmer said. "It was a tough loss for us. But there's no one on either team that's still there now. That doesn't hold a lot of water in my book right now. Last year's game probably does."

Ah, last year. Ainge was suffering from an ankle injury suffered the week before at South Carolina, but tried to play through the pain.

Ainge was eventually replaced by backup quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who played well and threw two touchdown passes.

UT held a 17-7 lead in the third quarter before the Tigers rallied. The Vols managed to grab a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter, but former LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell — who would go on to be drafted No. 1 overall — threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Early Doucet in the final seconds for the 28-24 win in Neyland Stadium.

It still leaves Fulmer fuming.

"Nine seconds to go and we had a chance to win that cotton-picking thing with our backup quarterback playing," Fulmer said.

The win helped LSU finish the season with six consecutive wins and an appearance in a BCS bowl.

LSU defeated Notre Dame 41-14 in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

Bringing their best

"The only thing I can say is it's certainly two quality teams, two talented teams with guys who are competitive," LSU Coach Les Miles said. "We certainly enjoyed the competition in Knoxville. What a great place it was to play. What a competitive game that was. I can only tell you that we would expect nothing less."

The players and coaches said two teams don't necessarily need to play every year for there to be a rivalry. Considering the hardware that seems to be on the line every time these two teams face off, it actually makes the games that much more intense.

"They still have a lot to play for even though their national championship is kind of out the window," UT tight end Chris Brown said. "It's a pretty big deal to win the SEC Championship, and I'm sure they'll be on their high motors for us. We have a lot to play for. We've been trying to fight and get our program back to where it needs to be, and I think this would be a big statement."

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BC's goal the same in rematch - play its best

The field will be neutral this time for the Boston College football team (although its fans still will be outnumbered), hopefully the weather will be better, and the Eagles once again will be underdogs.

It was business as usual for BC yesterday as it began preparation for its rematch against Virginia Tech in Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in Jacksonville, Fla.

But will the result be the same? In the first meeting, BC claimed a 14-10 win in the rain on the strength of quarterback Matt Ryan's two TD passes in the final 2:11.

"Sometimes you have to be careful of what you wish for," said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer on a conference call yesterday. "After the game, we said we wished we might get them again. Now we have to figure out a way to beat them."

BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski knows his team will have to play better than it did in Blacksburg, Va., where it was outplayed for 56 minutes before Ryan waved his magic arm and turned a loss into a win - the springboard to BC's first-ever ACC title game appearance.

It always has been about Ryan this season. Without him, the Eagles would be back among the ACC pack, wondering whether they would be headed to Charlotte, Nashville, or Orlando on their annual postseason trip. But with Ryan, even the task of beating a team as good as Virginia Tech - which climbed to No. 6 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and the Associated Press poll yesterday after beating Virginia Saturday to win the ACC Coastal Division crown - seems easier to achieve.

Ryan, whose 28 touchdown passes this season set a school record, did his thing late against the Hokies Oct. 25. He did it Nov. 17 in a 20-17 win at Clemson, which clinched the Atlantic Division crown for the Eagles. And he did it in Saturday's 28-14 win over Miami in which the Eagles broke away from a 14-14 fourth-quarter tie to beat the Hurricanes for the first time in 23 years.

Now BC and Ryan must do it again, and they must do it against a Tech team that has another offensive weapon in quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He missed the first game because of an injury, Sean Glennon getting the start, but Taylor was very much a force (two rushing TDs) in the Hokies' 33-21 win over the Cavaliers.

"Rotation at QB gives you some problems," said Jagodzinski. "We're going to have our hands full coming up with a plan trying to contain both of those guys.

"Familiarity is a good thing and a bad thing. I don't think there will be any surprises."

With that in mind, the coach said it would be a matter of correcting the breakdowns that led to Tech's early lead in Blacksburg. In the win against Miami, the Eagles had to deal with their own mistakes as much as anything the Hurricanes did, as they had two interceptions and two fumbles.

"I don't think we can turn the ball over," said Jagodzinski, who said the game again might come down to the last play. And if that is the case, the edge would seem to be in favor of Ryan and the Eagles.

Jagodzinski dismissed the suggestion the Eagles sometimes wait for Ryan to make a play to spark them.

"Good players do that, they take the game over," he said. "With the best players, that's what happens."

The Eagles are seeking a title that has eluded them at least twice with this senior class. "They have been close the last couple of years," said Jagodzinski. "We felt that we could get to this game and compete for the championship."

The Eagles have done that. Now they must defeat a team they have beaten once this season and one that has no intention of letting it happen again.

boston.com

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Re: College Football News and Notes Week 14

Hawaii trip no luxury cruise for Huskies

Huskies to face potent Warriors passing attack

Saturday's game against No. 11 Hawaii was supposed to be a treat at the end of a long season for the Washington Huskies, some icing on the cake after playing the nation's most difficult schedule.

Instead, traveling over the Pacific Ocean suddenly seems like a weird obligation after a backbreaking 42-35 loss to Washington State in the Apple Cup last Saturday at Husky Stadium.

Still, Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham is throwing around the word "opportunity."

Before the season began, Willingham sold his players on the idea that playing the country's toughest schedule gave the UW a chance to win some marquee games. But the Huskies (4-8, 2-7 Pac-10) squandered most of those opportunities and sit all alone in last place in the conference.

The Washington defense is well on its way to becoming the worst in program history.

After giving up 509 yards to Washington State -- including 399 passing yards to quarterback Alex Brink -- the Huskies are surrendering 438.8 yards per game.

The Huskies are yielding more than 400 yards per game for just the fifth time in program history and are set to break the previous high of 419.1 yards per game, set in Willingham's first season in 2005.

Washington is giving up 31.3 points per game, just the fifth time the Huskies have allowed more than 30 points. That is also the second-highest total in program history (the 1973 team allowed 34.2 points per game).

Those kinds of numbers take the shine off even a tropical paradise. The fact that Hawaii puts up phenomenal offensive numbers on a weekly basis makes Huskies fans think dark rain forest rather than sandy beaches.

Especially since Hawaii (11-0, 8-0 WAC) is fighting for a berth in one of the five BCS bowl games.

"I think our guys felt like we left a little on the table Saturday and (this week) it's against a ranked team seeking something special and we have an opportunity to be involved in that," Willingham said Monday.

Willingham's defensive staff is on the hot seat, and calls for a staff overhaul have increased after the loss to Washington State.

Willingham defended his defensive coaches after the Apple Cup, saying they can put together a successful game plan against a prolific passing attack. In that regard, Hawaii presents another opportunity.

Led by senior quarterback Colt Brennan, the Warriors are the nation's highest-scoring team (47.2 points per game) and rank third in total yards (539.6 per game).

Willingham said the key to slowing Hawaii is to pressure Brennan.

"You don't have to worry about the run," he said. "You can think pass and go play. This one is just pretty much going to be pass."

The Huskies' worst games against the pass this season were against Arizona (510 yards) and Washington State (399), which are ranked eighth and 10th in rushing offense in the Pac-10, respectively.

"As a D-line, we have to get a fanatical pass rush," Washington senior defensive tackle Wilson Afoa said.

Afoa is one of four Huskies players with ties to Hawaii and one of three born there. The Honolulu native said the atmosphere at 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium could factor into the outcome. The game is sold out and tickets are going for as much as $800.

"You're basically going against the entire state of Hawaii when you're in that stadium. Their fans are crazy," Afoa said. "For us to go in there, we have to not fall for the hype and go play football."

"This will be a championship environment for them," Willingham said. "Hopefully this puts us in a mind-set that, with ranked opponents, this is the kind of environment we should be in, and that we should be playing these kinds of ball games."

ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Hawaii clinched its first outright Western Athletic Conference championship on Friday when it beat Boise State -- this from a team that went winless nine seasons ago. Hawaii bottomed out after the departure of coach Bob Wagner, who left in 1995 after a 4-8 season. Over the next three years, Hawaii went 5-31 under Fred vonAppen. After an 0-12 season in '98, the school hired June Jones and a turnaround occurred. In his first season, June led the team to a 9-4 mark, a tie for the WAC crown and a 23-17 win over Oregon State in the Oahu Bowl. Jones is 75-40 at Hawaii and will take the team to its sixth bowl game this season.

RESILIENT WARRIORS: The faces of Warriors football -- Jones and quarterback Colt Brennan -- went through trying times before this special season. In February 2001, Jones suffered life-threatening injuries when his car hit a concrete pillar on a highway near the Honolulu airport. He was in the hospital for three weeks and had two major surgeries. Brennan was accused of sexual assault as a freshman at Colorado in 2004. The misdemeanor charge was vacated, but damage was done as he was dismissed from the team. He went to a junior college then walked on at Hawaii.

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING:
The Huskies and Hawaii have played just twice, splitting the series. The first meeting was on Jan. 1, 1938, in the Pineapple Bowl, or a postseason exhibition. The Huskies won 53-13. Then called the Rainbows, Hawaii traveled to Seattle to open the 1973 season. Pete Taggares scored the only touchdown for the Huskies on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. Hawaii won 10-7 in a game that had five interceptions and 13 fumbles (six lost).

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