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November 8, 2010

Monday with Mike: Going strong at 400

If you watched a few hours of college football on Saturday, chances are you saw a Discover card ad featuring Bobby Bowden. Meanwhile, on the field in State College, Pa., Penn State coach Joe Paterno, 83, was winning the 400th game of his career.

Paterno's race with Bowden to become the winningest major-college coach was decided after last season, when Bowden was forced out at Florida State with 389 career victories. Bowden, who turns 81 on Monday, guided FSU to two national titles, the same number as Paterno.

But Saturday, Paterno became the first FBS coach to reach the 400-victory plateau, and two players -- fittingly, offensive linemen -- carried him off the field after the 35-21 victory over Northwestern.

"They had me up there before I knew it. I was hoping they wouldn't, to be very honest," Paterno told reporters afterward. "... Carrying me off the field, we all have a little bit of ham in us. I felt pretty good about it."

On the field after the game, Paterno spoke to the fans.

"People ask me why I've stayed here so long, and you know what -- look around, look around," he said. "Now that the celebration's over, let's go beat Ohio State!"

Paterno's record moved to 400-132-3. He has been a member of the Penn State coaching staff as either an assistant or the head coach since 1950; that means he has been on the sideline for an incredible 57 percent of the games in school history (691 of 1,213).

Paterno became head coach in 1966, and the Penn State sports information office has figured out there have been 863 Division I coaching changes in his Nittany Lions tenure.

Paterno has averaged 8.95 wins per season and has had as many losing seasons as perfect seasons (five). Four of the losing seasons came between 2000 and '04.

"I've been very, very fortunate," he said in the post-game news conference. "I've had some great kids. When I say great kids, I mean not only my own [five] and my [17] grandkids, but the guys that have played here have just been great. And to see those fans and all of them to stick around like that after was a very nice moment for me. It was a great experience and a great evening for us."

The Nittany Lions' win came after they trailed 21-0, tying it for the largest comeback victory in Paterno's tenure, along with a 1994 triumph over Illinois. The victory also made Penn State bowl-eligible, meaning Paterno will extend his NCAA record by coaching in his 37th bowl.

Meanwhile, while Paterno was winning his 400th game, the winningest coach in NCAA history, regardless of classification, was winning his 477th. John Gagliardi, who turned 84 on Nov. 1, led his Division III St. John's (Minn.) team to a 42-17 win over St. Olaf (Minn.) on Saturday. It was Gagliardi's 453rd win in his 58th season with the Johnnies. He is 477-129-11 in 62 seasons overall.

Former Grambling coach Eddie Robinson is the only other NCAA coach with at least 400 victories; he had 408 in 56 seasons with the Tigers. Paterno should pass Robinson in mid- to late-October of next season.

Having fun with numbers
If you like math and are a college football fan, Saturday was like Christmas in November.

Nevada finished with 844 total yards in its rout of Idaho; that's the highest output for any team this season. Boise State rang up 737 yards as it toyed with Hawaii; that's the second-highest output of the season. And Oklahoma State had 725 yards in romping past Baylor; that's the third-highest output of the season.

For good measure, Michigan had the 10th-highest output of the season with 676 yards in its triple-overtime thriller against Illinois.

In addition, Navy put up 76 points in beating East Carolina by 41. That's the highest point total this season. The Midshipmen ran for 521 yards, which is the second-highest output of the season (Oregon ran for 528 against Portland State on Sept. 18).

ECU QB Dominique Davis threw it 65 times against Navy, completing 43 for 413 yards. The 65 attempts are the most by any quarterback this season.

Oklahoma ran 104 plays from scrimmage in its loss to Texas A&M and Texas Tech ran 101 plays in its victory over Missouri. Those are the second- and third-most plays in a game this season. A&M ran 106 in its loss to Oklahoma State on Sept. 30.

Finally, two teams had three 100-yard rushers. Nevada got 113 yards on 18 carries from starting TB Vai Taua, 101 yards on nine carries from backup TB Mike Ball and 116 yards on six carries from backup TB Lampford Mark; in all, the Wolf Pack rumbled for 453 yards in a 63-17 evisceration of Idaho.

Wyoming, meanwhile, received 151 yards on 19 carries from starting TB Alvester Alexander, 122 yards on nine carries from backup TB Robert Herron and 119 yards on 17 carries from QB Austyn Carta-Samuels; in all, the Cowboys had 392 rushing yards. But it wasn't enough as Wyoming fell 34-31 to New Mexico, the Lobos' first victory of the season.

Grid bits
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson threw two TD passes in a season-opening win over North Carolina, including one on the first play of the game. He didn't throw another until the third quarter of Saturday's game with Alabama, connecting with Rueben Randle on a 75-yard pass-and-run that gave LSU a 10-7 lead on the way to a huge 24-21 win. LSU has thrown just six TD passes this season; only two teams (Army and UCLA) have thrown fewer, with five each. LSU averages just 146.4 passing yards per game, but the Tigers threw for 208 against the Tide.

Walking the walk
The National Football Foundation recently announced the 2010 recipients of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards. There were 16 recipients, from a group of 121 semifinalists. A lot of people blow a lot of smoke -- on both sides -- about the student-athlete dichotomy, but these 16 perform at a high level on the field and in the classroom. Here are the 16, who receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship to further their education:
Texas DE Sam Acho (3.55, business)
Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo (3.45, biochemistry)
Indiana QB Ben Chappell (3.70, accounting)
Columbia LB Alex Gross (358, sociology)
Stanford FB/LB Owen Marecic (347, human biology)
Alabama QB Greg McElroy (3.83, business marketing)
California LB Mike Mohamed (3.43, business)
Bucknell LB Travis Nissley (3.96, mechanical engineering)
Minnesota-Duluth RB Isaac Odim (3.85, mechanical engineering)
Florida State QB Christian Ponder (3.73, finance)
Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod (3.54, business)
Colorado OT Nate Solder (3.51, biology)
Notre Dame G Chris Stewart (3.54, history)
Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien (3.50, consumer affairs)
St. Thomas (Minn.) RB Ben Wartman (3.89, finance)
Penn State G Stefen Wisniewski (3.91, secondary education)
Saturday was not a good day for the Stoops brothers. Bob's Oklahoma team allowed 382 yards in a devastating 33-19 loss at Texas A&M, devastating in that any hope OU had of playing for the national title is gone. Mike's Arizona team allowed 510 yards as Stanford carved up the Wildcats 42-17; as with Bob's OU team, it was the second loss for Mike's Wildcats squad. And Mark's defense at Florida State was torched as well, allowing 473 yards -- including 439 through the air -- in a 37-35 loss to North Carolina.

Florida State led North Carolina 28-21 at halftime, but the Seminoles scored just seven points in the second half and that came after a botched punt snap gave them the ball at UNC's 1. FSU had 249 yards of offense in the first half but just 125 in the second.

Iowa State rallied from a 24-10 deficit to send its game against visiting Nebraska into overtime tied at 24, but a gamble by Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads backfired. Nebraska scored first in OT, on a 19-yard run by TB Rex Burkhead. Iowa State matched the TD, but instead of going for the tying extra point, Rhoads decided to gamble and call for a fake off the extra point. But the Huskers weren't fooled. "I think about half the people on the team had just expected it to be some kind of fake," Nebraska defensive back Austin Cassidy told reporters afterward. "The coaches, they kind of prepared us. They knew that coming into this game that they'd have something up their sleeve." DB Eric Hagg intercepted the pass from holder Daniel Kuehl and the Huskers prevailed 31-30. It was Nebraska's 29th victory in their past 33 meetings with the Cyclones and it kept Nebraska's faint -- mighty faint -- national title hopes alive.

Arkansas' win at South Carolina means the SEC West has won 15 of 17 games against SEC East teams this season. The two wins by the East: Vanderbilt over Ole Miss and South Carolina over Alabama.

Getting whipped 39-14 by Kansas State is bad enough for Texas. But getting whipped by a one-dimensional offense is embarrassing. K-State completed two passes, for 9 yards, yet the Wildcats rolled. K-State led 24-0 at halftime despite not completing a first-half pass. In essence, Texas knew what was coming from K-State, yet still couldn't stop it. The Longhorns are 4-5 and staring at the realistic possibility of not going to a bowl. Yes, one season after playing in the national title game, Texas could be sitting at home this holiday season. The Longhorns finish with Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic and Texas A&M. FAU is a sure win, but can the Longhorns regroup in time to win one of the others? If they don't, there will be no bowl -- and if Texas doesn't go bowling, you have to figure some staff changes are in the offing. Texas has lost five of its past six and is under .500 for the first time since losing the 1999 season-opener.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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