Alabama-Georgia quarterbacks Wilson, Stafford point to big moments in careers Print
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Thursday, 20 September 2007 11:12
NCAAF Headline News

 TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -John Parker Wilson remembers the cheers surging in volume with every completion.
The Alabama quarterback remembers the silence, too. A collective, hold-your-breath stillness every time he needed to call the next play.
``And I don't usually notice the crowd,'' Wilson said.
What he doesn't remember about that game-winning touchdown drive against Arkansas was feeling the pressure even with 92,000 fans putting their hopes on his shoulders.
``Everybody thinks the pressure's on us to go out and score,'' he said. ``I don't think of that. I think we have a chance to go out and win.
``We have whatever time left and if we score we're going to win the game. I just think it's exciting.''
Now, Wilson and the 16th-ranked Crimson Tide (3-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) are hoping to carry the excitement and confidence from a 41-38 win over Arkansas over into Saturday night's game with No. 22 Georgia (2-1, 0-1).
The Tide and Bulldogs will play one of two games this week matching ranked teams. The other is also in the SEC, with No. 12 South Carolina visiting No. 2 LSU.
The SEC's third big game of the day takes place in Fayetteville, Ark., where the Razorbacks will try to bounce back from their loss to Alabama against No. 21 Kentucky.
Elsewhere in the Top 25, No. 4 Oklahoma plays at Tulsa on Friday night and the rest of the ranked teams play Saturday, including No. 1 Southern California at home against Washington State.
No. 3 Florida is at Mississippi; No. 5 West Virginia hosts East Carolina; No. 6 California faces Arizona; and No. 7 Texas hosts Rice.
The Big Ten begins conference play with No. 8 Ohio State hosting Northwestern; Iowa visiting No. 9 Wisconsin; and No. 10 Penn State traveling to Michigan
Mary; and No. 18 Louisville tries to bounce back from the loss to Kentucky against Syracuse.
No. 19 Hawaii plays Charleston Southern; No. 23 South Florida hosts North Carolina; No. 24 Nebraska plays Ball State; and No. 25 Missouri is home for Illinois State.
As for Alabama, that 4-yard touchdown pass to Matt Caddell with 8 seconds left to beat Arkansas was the biggest moment of Wilson's career. Still, it might not be the kind of turning point that Bulldogs quarterback Matthew Stafford had on his team's last visit to this state, though.
Stafford seemed to go from a mistake-prone freshman to a steady leader in last year's 37-15 win over at No. 5 Auburn, which started a three-game, season-ending winning streak. Think that's not as dramatic as a game-winning TD?
Well, the Bulldogs had endured nearly unheard-of losses to Kentucky and Vanderbilt in the month leading up to the game and had dropped four of their last five.
``It was just a game that we really started connecting as a quarterback and a receiving corps,'' Stafford said.
Georgia coach Mark Richt took it a step further.
``The greatest improvement he made began at the Auburn game last year, for him to play the way he did and control the turnovers,'' Richt said. ``That was the thing that was killing him and killing us.
``From that point on, he's really done a good job of taking care of the ball and giving us an opportunity to win every game.''
The Arkansas game marked the first time a Tide quarterback had led a comeback victory in the fourth quarter since Brodie Croyle in the 2001 Independence Bowl against Iowa State. Wilson knows it's also an entry into his Alabama legacy, especially since that final drive vaulted the team into the rankings after more than a year's absence.
``That's stuff that people remember,'' said Wilson, who passed for 327 yards and four touchdowns and committed three turnovers. ``If you can win games like that, it's just special.''
As for Stafford, Tide coach Nick Saban praises his accuracy and ``great arm talent.'' Mostly he looks at his 8-3 record as a starter despite being thrust into the starting job so early. ``He shows a lot of maturity at his position. I think the guy's a fantastic player and he's already one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but he probably soon will be one of the best quarterbacks in the country,'' Saban said.
Northwestern at No. 8 Ohio State
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - It's the yin and yang of college football: Northwestern's spread vs. the Ohio State base 4-3 defense.
Sometimes Northwestern puts four or five receivers in the pattern. At times the Wildcats have a full backfield and at other times there's nobody there but the quarterback. No tight ends, then two of them, a run up the middle followed by a 45-yard bomb.
Even though No. 8 Ohio State is favored by three touchdowns to beat Northwestern in the Big Ten opener for both teams, the Wildcats' offense has the Buckeyes' full attention.
``They make you prepare for a lot,'' Ohio State safeties coach Paul Haynes said of the Wildcats offense. ``You've got to be very, very sound against the run. And they have a very good controlled passing game. We have to make sure we're covering all the bases.''
The Buckeyes rank first in the Big Ten in total defense and pass defense. The Wildcats have the second-best passing game in the conference.
The Wildcats haven't won in Columbus since 1971.
Charleston Southern at No. 19 Hawaii
HONOLULU (AP) - Colt Brennan expects to play against Charleston Southern - though it's unlikely his services will be needed for very long against the Championship Subdivision team.
Brennan was on crutches and sidelined for most of the week because of a sprained right ankle, an injury he picked up before the UNLV game last week. On the swollen ankle, Brennan ran for three TDs and threw two more.
``No matter what, I'm going to take all the precautions in the world,'' he said. ``No disrespect, but this is a I-AA football team. If there is a week for it to happen, this is the week.''
In three games, Brennan has passed for 1,262 yards and 12 touchdowns, while completing 77 percent of his passes.
Hawaii coach June Jones was confident Brennan would start, but said backup Tyler Graunke would also see action. Graunke has seen limited playing time when Hawaii had the game in hand.
Even with Brennan out, Hawaii shouldn't have a problem against injury-ridden and jet-lagged Charleston Southern. Hawaii (3-0), winners of 13 of its last 14 games, is trying to start 4-0 for the first time since 1988.
 

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