Notations While Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

Separation Saturday? What was separated, somebody's shoulder? A few teams from the rest of the pack? Some coaches from long term contracts? Several fans from their common sense? If you didn't take note of all the comings and goings in college football over the weekend, take heart, and then take a look at this week's notes' column.

HURRICANE WARNING. Miami downed instate rival Florida State, 22-14, to remain unbeaten this season. Seminoles' coach Bobby Bowden had a chance to tie Joe Paterno as the winningest coach in division 1-A football history with a victory, but was denied. In fact Bowden's career record against the 'Canes now stands at 11-17. Miami's win helped coach Larry Coker move his record to a cool 30-1 in his third season as the team's coach.

       ORANGE CRUSHED? Virginia Tech not only beat Syracuse the Hokies dismantled the Orangemen, 51-7. Syracuse entered the game not having thrown an interception all season. Tech entered the game having picked off at least one pass in 14 consecutive games. Call it a Pyrrhic victory for the 'Cuse as Tech didn't pick off any passes. The Hokies however did everything else that pleased them.

       DeAngelo Hall returned two punts for TDs to give VT its 66th and 67th TDs in 117 games produced by either the defense or special team's components of Frank Beamer's squad. Syracuse RB Walter Reyes entered the game as the nation's leading rusher and was held to 40 yards on 16 carries. Reyes did score a TD, but only after Virginia Tech had established a 27-0 halftime cushion. The Hokies have one game to play before a November 1st date at home with Miami.

      WHERE THERE'S SMOKER. One week after completing a school record 32 passes against Indiana, Michigan State's Jeff Smoker was again on fire. He hit on 23 of 31 throws for 317 yards, threw 2TD passes and ran for another as the Spartans' breezed past Illinois, 49-14.

       COMPLETING THE CYCLE. Purdue limited Penn State to 204 yards on offense and allowed the Nittany Lions to control the ball for only twenty-two and a half minutes in the Boilermakers', 28-14, win in West Lafayette. Purdue's seniors have now beaten every other team in the Big Ten in their careers.

       BOOMER SOONER. Oklahoma may trail Texas 55-38-5 in its epic series with the Longhorns, but this year's seniors couldn't care less. The Sooners posted their fourth straight win over Texas and embarrassed Mack Brown's team from start to finish. The final score was a misleadingly benign, 65-13, as Oklahoma could have scored well into the eighties in this blowout. Even with the Sooners losing their first fumble of the season there wasn't a thing the Longhorns could do to delay the inevitable beating they absorbed.

       OU coach Bob Stoops raised his record to 49-9 in his fifth year as the head man in Norman.  The last time OU kicked Texas four times in a row was during a stretch from 1985 through 1988. Mack Brown wins a lot of games in Austin, but he's running out of excuses as to why his teams cannot beat Oklahoma.

       NOT ALL THEY'RE QUACKED UP TO BE. The Oregon Ducks continue to drop like a rock. Since manhandling Michigan last month the OU of the Pacific northwest, has lost to Washington State, Utah and now Arizona State. The Sun Devils posted an inexplicably easy, 59-14, trouncing of the Ducks and in so doing avoided their first 0-3 Pac 10 start since 1993.

       HOME AWAY FROM HOME. SEC teams know how difficult it is to beat LSU when the Bayou Bengals are playing at home. All SEC teams except Florida that is. The Gators posted their seventh win in eight tries in Baton Rouge on Saturday when they downed LSU, 19-7. LSU entered the game having surrendered no more than three points in the first half of any of its games this season. The Gators notched 13 first half points, which were more than enough to help them continue their mastery over LSU. Florida had been thrashed, 36-7, by LSU last year.

      LUCK OF THE IRISH.Julius Jones runs for a TD (AP) Notre Damemay be struggling this season, but for the Irish there's always the prospect of a game with Pitt. Notre Dame disregarded its five game losing streak on the road and posted its eleventh victory in twelve meetings with the Panthers. RB Julius Jones broke loose for a school record 262 yards and scored 2 TDs as Notre Dame beat Pitt, 20-15. Jones sped past Vagas Ferguson's mark of 255 yards set in a 1978 game versus Georgia Tech.
      
       SUFFERING FROM ANEMIA?  Arizona, the nation's least productive team on offense averaging only 250 yards beginning the weekend, rolled up 519 yards against UCLA. It still did the Wildcats no good. Four interceptions, including one returned 55 yards for a TD in the fourth quarter by Rod Leisle, heralded Arizona's demise. UCLA stole the game 24-21.

       IT WAS ABOUT TIME.QB Brad Smith QB Brad Smith and the Tigers take it to Nebraska (AP-Patterson) led the Missouri Tigers to their first win over Nebraska since 1978 as the Tigers roared backed from a 24-14 deficit by scoring 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter before a delirious, rain drenched crowd in Columbia. The Tigers prevailed 41-24.

       Smith threw his first two interceptions of the season, but overcame those momentary lapses to pass for 180 yards, run for 123 yards and catch one pass for 47 yards. In all, Smith scored four TDs--three on the ground and 1 on the receiving end of a 47 yard option pass. It was the Tigers' first win against a top twenty-five ranked team after twenty consecutive losses to such teams.

       GOOD-BYE COLUMBUS. Craig Krenzel had led his Ohio State Buckeyes to a 19-1 record in games in which he had started. He returned to the lineup against Wisconsin, but it didn't matter as the Badgers posted Wisconsin's Matt katula celbrates win (AP) an upset win over OSU by a, 17-10, score and snapped division 1-A's longest winning streak in the process. OSU had been averaging a conference worst 298 yards on offense in its first five games of the season. Even with Krenzel at the helm the Buckeyes managed only 271 against Wisconsin.

       THE 700 CLUB. Southern Cal beat Stanford, 44-21, to register the school's 700th football victory. The Trojans have quite a way to go to catch Michigan as the Wolverines lead division 1-A with 828 all-time wins.

       LET THE RECORD SHOW. There were some eye-catching performances around the country including the following.

       Louisville QB Stefan LeFors completed just 19 passes, but made them count for 406 yards as the Cardinals decimated Army, 34-10.

       RB Michael "the Burner" Turner came within an eyelash of reaching the 200 yard mark with 199 yards, as Northern Illinois kept its unbeaten season intact with a victory over Central Michigan, 40-24.

       RB Patrick Cobbs of North Texas ran for a school record 249 yards as the Mean Green hung on to beat lowly Idaho 24-14 in a Sun Belt Conference game.

       Texas Tech's B. J.  Symons continued his assault on passing records of every sort. This time he hit on 45 of 65 passes for 487 yards--and didn't play in the last nine minutes of his team's, 52-21, pounding of Iowa State. Symons shattered the four game NCAA mark for passing yardage which had been held by David Klingler of Houston. Klingler threw for 2,276 yards in a four game frame in 1990. Symons bested that with a total of 2,328. Symons' performance helped Tech set a school record for total offense as the Red Raiders scorched ISU for 775 yards.

       Walter Reyes scored Syracuse's lone TD on the day marking the 10th straight game in which he has found the endzone.

       STREAKING. Coaches always talk about how many returning starters they have on a particular team. Duke returned 22 starters to the Blue Devils' 2003 squad. On Saturday, Duke lost its 28th straight Atlantic Coast Conference game. On the other end of the success curve, Oklahoma and Texas Christian have the nation's longest winning streaks in division 1-A football at eight.

       ROAD BLOCK. Virginia Tech blocked a field goal attempt in its game versus Syracuse. It was the Hokies' 100th block of a kick in Frank Beamer's tenure as the team's head coach.

       ROPING A WIN. The Wyoming Cowboys, 6-33 since the outset of the 1999 season as they entered their game against Utah State, uncovered a heretofore dormant running game. The Cowboys ran for 239 yards and Casey Bramlet passed for 211 as Wyo won its first game of the season against a division 1-A team, in Logan by a, 48-21, score. The Cowboys take on BYU in Laramie this week and the Cougars should beware.

       UNEVEN FOOTING. One football adage says that if you can't run the ball you can't win. Florida State gained 61 yards on the ground. Tennessee managed just 61 yards as well. Syracuse was held to 81. Ohio State had a paltry 69 yards. Virginia mustered 53 yards. Baylor could do no better than 32 yards. Pittsburgh was held to minus seven yards by Notre Dame. It should come as no surprise then that all of these ground acquisition-challenged teams lost.

       But there's always one contrarian in every crowd. Michigan played Minnesota on Friday night and was held to 94 yards. No matter. The Wolverines exploded for 31, fourth quarter points--on the road--and won the Little Brown Jug for the seventeenth consecutive time.

       HAVES AND HAVE NOTS. As mid-October arrives and you notice a proliferation of pumpkins in your neighborhood, you've doubtlessly sensed the decrease in the number of teams at either end of college football's food chain.

       Only Miami (Fla.), Northern Illinois, Oklahoma, TCU and Virginia Tech remain undefeated in division 1-A. Miami and Tech appear to be on a collision course for their meeting in Blacksburg on November 1st.

       Still looking for their first win of the season are Army, Buffalo, East Carolina, Louisiana-Lafayette and Southern Methodist, who have compiled a collective 0-32 mark among them.

       HELP IS ON THE WAY. When next week comes into view there'll be one less winless team Army coach Todd Berry on thin ice.  (AP) amongst division 1-A ranks. This of course can mean only one thing, that's right....it's time to announce this week's cure for insomnia... the perfect remedy to counting ceiling tiles instead of sheep. Ladies and gentlemen make sure you have a brand new tape loaded in your VCR to call all the inaction between the homestanding, 0-6, Army Black Knights and the visiting, 0-6, East Carolina Pirates.

       Yes, it promises to be a Conference USA snore-fest that will relax even the most tightly wound, type-A, couch potato and have him or her sawing wood in no time. Misfits everywhere with empty social calendars are awaiting this "war to end all bores" with the winning side escaping the ignominy of finishing at the bottom of its conference. Make sure to be wide awake for this game so its soporific nature can take full effect on you.


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