College Football Note-vember Style

Oklahoma's Sooner Schooner sailed/rolled smoothly and thoroughly over the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday as Bob Stoops' crew further entrenched itself atop college football's quixotic regular season throne. From Blacksburg, Virginia to Los Angeles, California teams jostled for position and the right to meet OU next January for a national championship.

AFAFalcon Staff Writer; Chris Field
Chris Field

Staff Writer


       THESE NUMBERS LIE. Virginia Tech managed 11 first downs, a paltry 219 yards of total offense, was forced to punt eight times, was penalized ten times for eighty-five yards and held the ball for barely more than twenty-five minutes. They also beat previously undefeated Miami like the proverbial redheaded step child. The Hokies used defensive TDs by DeAngelo Hall and Eric Green--the fifth and sixth scores by the team's defense this season--to stake the Hokies to a, 17-0, third quarter lead and coasted to a, 31-7, victory over Larry Coker's 'Canes.

       Coker had brought a 31-1 record into the game and was seeking to set a post-1900 mark for best start by a coach in a three year time frame. His 31-2 mark falls just short of Barry Switzer's 31-1-1 mark at Oklahoma.

       SOONER(S) OR LATER. While Switzer still holds that record another one of his marks did fall on Saturday. When the Sooners downed instate rival Oklahoma State, 52-9, Bob Stoops posted the 52nd win in his fifth year in Norman besting Switzer's standard of 51. Stoops' total is the best in a five year run in the post 1900 era.

       Oklahoma had lost three of its past four games in Memorial Stadium versus OSU and two straight to the Cowboys. A record crowd of 84,027 at Owen Field watched the Sooners' balanced offense--which amassed more than 220 yards passing and rushing--establish a 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter. The Sooners' defense was overpowering in holding OSU to 161 yards of offense, while forcing three turnovers, and holding the Cowboys' high powered attack without a TD.

       The Sooners' two most significant games will be played in the Big 12 championship contest and the Sugar Bowl. In advance of those games they'll bide their time with the likes of Texas A & M, Baylor and Texas Tech.

       REMEMBER WHEN? There was a time when Georgia held a 43-22-2 edge in its series against Florida. The Bulldogs still enjoy a comfortable margin, but it's shrinking steadily. The Gators beat the Bulldogs for the thirteenth time in fourteen meetings when they bested their SEC rival, 16-13, on Saturday. PK Matt Leach connected Matt-Leach... kicker for the Gators (AP) on a 33 yarder in the final minute of play to help Florida continue its mystifying, recent dominance of Georgia.

       The Gators simultaneously extended their mastery over Florida while bucking a trend. Florida entered the game having a 9-15-1 record against Georgia when the Bulldogs were a ranked team. This season's win represents the sixth consecutive game in which the Gators have toppled Georgia when the Bulldogs were ranked.

       AS EXPECTED. Southern Cal had little trouble dismissing Washington State in a key Pac 10 game played in Los Angeles. Freshman RB LenDale White carried 12 times for 149 yards in leading the Trojans to a lopsided, 43-16, win over the Cougars.LenDale White, USC Troan RB (AP)

       USC extended its all-time record to 51-8-4 against WSU and is 28-4 in its past 32 meetings against Washington State. The Trojans are 36-5-2 when playing the Cougars in L.A., in spite of WSU's having won its past two games in the Coliseum prior to Saturday's debacle. The loss represents only the second defeat for WSU in its last 12 road conference games. Miami's loss to Virginia Tech allowed USC to jump into second place in all the polls directly behind Oklahoma.

       The Trojans' offense ran and passed for in excess of 200 yards, held WSU to minus twenty-five yards on the ground and improved to 8-1 on the year. The Trojans' only loss came to Cal in triple overtime. USC has an open date before facing hapless Arizona on November 15th.

       IN THE MIX. Florida State went to South Bend on Saturday and shackled Notre Dame with its second most-lopsided home shutout in school history. The Seminoles embarrassed the Irish by a 37-0 score. It was ND's first home whitewashing since Missouri beat the Fighting Irish, 3-0, in 1978. Forty-seven years ago, in 1956, Oklahoma powered past Notre Dame by a, 40-0, score in handing the Golden Domers their worst, home shutout. 

       QB Chris Rix Chris Rix of Florida State Seminoles (AP) and Craphonso Thorpe did most of the damage for FSU. Rix threw for 327 yards and 3 TDs while Thorpe hauled in seven passes for 217 yards and two scores. The 'Noles are in third place in the meaningful college polls and in place to challenge for a spot in the Sugar Bowl. Bobby Bowden's team takes on Clemson this coming weekend.

       FIRST TIME. Ohio State snuck past Penn State, 21-20, on a late TD grab by Michael Jenkins. The Buckeyes' win was only the second by the visiting team in the series matching Big 10 rivals. The Nittany Lions have now lost five straight games for the first time in Joe Paterno's thirty-eight year reign as the team's head coach and in his 53 year tenure at the school. With Northwestern and Indiana next on the schedule for Joe Pa his team may finally have a shot to win two in a row.

       NOT IN A HUNDRED YEARS. If LSU plays Louisiana Tech again next year--for what reason no one knows--the Bayou Bengals will enter the game being able to say that they haven't lost to the Bulldogs in 100 years.

       Nick Saban's team easily dismissed the visitors from Ruston, 49-10, to raise its record to 8-1. LSU's lifetime record against the Techsters is 16-1, including a cool 11-0 in Baton Rouge. LSU's only loss in the series came in 1904 by a 6-0 score. QB Matt Mauck threw two TD passes in the first quarter as the Tigers raced to a 28-0 lead in only thirteen minutes.

       ROAD KILL. The Nebraska Cornhuskers may be invincible at home, but they're just a face in the crowd on the road. The Huskers lost to Texas, 31-7, and saw their record under Frank Solich drop to 12-12 in Big 12 conference road games. Solich's record is now a disappointing 1-9 on the road against ranked teams.

       It shouldn't have come as much of a surprise that Texas throttled Nebraska as Mack Brown is, 31-3, at home while coaching the Longhorns. Defense did the trick for Texas as Nebraska was limited to 53 yards rushing and completed only five passes on the day.

       The Texas offense kicked into high gear and ran for 353 yards as the 'Horns had the game well in hand in building a 17-0 lead entering the fourth quarter.

       QUICK STARTS STOPPED. Michigan State had outscored its opponents 45-0 in the first quarter this year, but Michigan held the Spartans scoreless in the opening stanza of their game on Saturday. The Spartans also saw their streak of eighteen quarters without committing a turnover end when Jeff Smoker was intercepted.

       The Wolverines Michigan's RB Chris Perry (AP) then took a, 13-3, halftime lead and increased it to a, 27-10, margin by early in the fourth quarter. WorkhorseRB Chris Perry carried a school record 51 times for 219 yards to support John Navarre's 3 TD passing effort as Michigan moved to a 5-1 record atop the Big 10 conference. Michigan finds itself in the midst of a, 145-44, scoring binge since its 31 point, fourth quarter eruption against Minnesota last month in the Metrodome. The maize and blue take a week off before resuming conference play against Northwestern--one week before a climactic battle with Ohio State.

       SEVEN'S A WINNER! The Iowa Hawkeyes (7-2) beat Illinois, 41-10, and limited the Fighting Illini to 59 yards rushing. It's the seventh game in row in which Iowa has held an opponent to under 100 yards on the ground. RB Fred Russell gained 94 yards to join Ladell Betts and Sedrick Shaw as the only Iowa players to have compiled consecutive seasons of more than 1,000 yards rushing.

       The Hawkeyes gained over 500 yards in offense and took a, 27-0, lead into the final quarter before allowing Illinois to get on the scoreboard.

       UNINSPIRED. Tennessee's, 23-6, victory over Duke was no masterpiece. In fact, the Vols and Blue Devils were tied, 6-6, at halftime and Tennessee needed two last quarter TDs to put some distance between themselves and the visitors. Nevertheless, the triumph raised Tennessee's record in the month of November to 69-4 (.945) since 1985.

       WORKING HARD/HARDLY WORKING. In the Mountain West Conference coach Urban Meyer's Utah team hit the road for a morning game against Air Force. The Utes' 23-7 lead at the end of three quarters didn't prepare them for what followed. The Falcons staged a, 16-0, fourth quarter comeback and had a chance to win the game on a fifty yard field goal attempt--which was blocked by Spencer Toone--in the final minute of regulation.

       The Utes needed a one yard TD run by tight end Ben Moa--who took a direct snap in the shotgun formation--and then a two point conversion from Moa to Mike Hansen, another TE, to win the game 45-43 in triple overtime.

       That game was a flash of lightning compared to the epic struggle Kentucky and Arkansas produced on Saturday night. For the second time since the inception of overtime football at the division 1-A level of play, Arkansas won a seven OT game. In 2001 the Razorbacks topped Mississippi, 58-56.

       Arkansas QB Matt Jones Arkansas QB Matt Jones (AP) played in that titanic battle as well as this most recent game that didn't seem to want a resolution. DeCori Birmingham bolted in from the twenty-five yard line and Jones found Jason Peters with a two point conversion for the game's final points as Arkansas beat Kentucky, 71-63, in Lexington.

       A ROUND OF APPLAUSE. Purdue's John Standeford caught four passes for 88 yards and became the Big 10's all-time leading receiver passing with 3,355 yards in receptions. David Williams of Illinois set the previous record of 3,330 yards from 1983-85.Illinois' Antonio Mason (AP)

       N.C. State's QB, Philip Rivers completed 29 of 34 passes for 410 yards and 4 TDs and became the fifth player in division 1-A history to surpass the 12,000 yard mark in passing. The Wolfpack beat Virginia, 51-37, in Raleigh.

       John Gagliardi celebrated his seventy-seventh birthday in historic fashion. His division 3, St. John's team, defeated St. Thomas, 15-12, giving him the 408th victory of his career. The win ties him with Eddie Robinson as the winningest coach in college football history at any level. Now in his 55th year of coaching--and 51st at St. John's--Gagliardi can set a new mark next week if his team defeats Bethel.

       NUMERICALLY SPEAKING. Joe Paterno has four losing seasons in his long tenure as Penn State's head coach. Three of them have come in the last four years.

       Maryland scored an Atlantic Coast Conference record thirty-nine points in the second quarter on its way to dismantling North Carolina, 59-21. The Terps scored five TDs in their landmark quarter.

       Tyrone Willingham's warm welcome has all but run its course and been forgotten in South Bend. In its past ten games Notre Dame has been beaten by 31 or more points four times.

       THE HOLIDAYS ARE APPROACHING. Everyone's social schedule around the holidays takes an anticipated jump in activity, even for the most savvy and much sought, "A-list", bon-vivant. There are parties to attend, festivities to host and responsibilities which even the most socially derelict recluse cannot ignore. In order to meet the taxing physical demand waiting in store for you, a regular schedule of sleep is an absolute necessity.

       Mindful of this Inidian defensive end Victor Adeyanju (AP) seasonal deprivation you may be forced to endure, the schedulers of division 1-A football games have taken it upon themselves to provide a satisfactory preamble to your holiday social whirl by bringing you this weekend's rendezvous with the arms of Morpheus.

       Two paperweights among the behemoths of college football, the 1-8, Indiana Hoosiers and the equally listless and lifeless, 1-9, Fighting Illini of Illinois will meet this weekend in Bloomington. The most frequently posed question surrounding this game is, "When the hell does basketball season start?"

       Five minutes of watching this game will have you in REM sleep mode faster than several well placed wallops to the head from Sammy Sosa's favorite corked bat. Spectators who willingly plan to watch this game are advised not to operate heavy machinery immediately after viewing same and are reminded that consuming alcohol before or while watching said event may lead to mandatory psychiatric evaluation.

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