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October 5, 2008

National College Football Notebook

Scores: Top 25 | ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC
Standings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC
Leaders: Rushing | Passing Yds | Passing Rating | Receiving | Receptions | Total Offense | Scoring | By Conference

AP Top 25 Results

No. 1 Oklahoma (5-0) beat Baylor 49-17. Next: vs. No. 5 Texas at Dallas, Saturday.

No. 2 Alabama (6-0) beat Kentucky 17-14. Next: vs. Mississippi, Oct. 18.

No. 3 LSU (4-0) did not play. Next: at No. 12 Florida, Saturday.

No. 4 Missouri (5-0) beat Nebraska 52-17. Next: vs. No. 21 Oklahoma State, Saturday.

No. 5 Texas (5-0) beat Colorado 38-14. Next: vs. No. 1 Oklahoma at Dallas, Saturday.

No. 6 Penn State (6-0) beat Purdue 20-6. Next: at No. 18 Wisconsin, Saturday.

No. 7 Texas Tech (5-0) beat Kansas State 58-28. Next: vs. Nebraska, Saturday.

No. 8 BYU (5-0) beat Utah State 34-14, Friday. Next: vs. New Mexico, Saturday.

No. 9 Southern Cal (3-1) beat No. 23 Oregon 44-10. Next: vs. Arizona State, Saturday.

No. 10 South Florida (5-1) lost to Pittsburgh 26-21, Thursday. Next: vs. Syracuse, Oct. 18.

No. 11 Georgia (4-1) did not play. Next: vs. Tennessee, Saturday.

No. 12 Florida (4-1) beat Arkansas 38-7. Next: vs. No. 3 LSU, Saturday.

No. 13 Auburn (4-2) lost to No. 19 Vanderbilt 14-13. Next: vs. Arkansas, Saturday.

No. 14 Ohio State (5-1) beat No. 18 Wisconsin 20-17. Next: vs. Purdue, Saturday.

No. 15 Utah (6-0) beat Oregon State 31-28, Thursday. Next: at Wyoming, Saturday.

No. 16 Kansas (4-1) beat Iowa State 35-33. Next: vs. Colorado, Saturday.

No. 17 Boise State (4-0) beat Louisiana Tech 38-3, Wednesday. Next: at Southern Miss., Saturday.

No. 18 Wisconsin (3-2) lost to No. 14 Ohio State 20-17. Next: vs. No. 6 Penn State, Saturday.

No. 19 Vanderbilt (5-0) beat No. 13 Auburn 14-13. Next: at Mississippi State, Saturday.

No. 20 Virginia Tech (5-1) beat Western Kentucky 27-13. Next: at Boston College, Oct. 18.

No. 21 Oklahoma State (5-0) beat Texas A&M 56-48. Next: at No. 4 Missouri, Saturday.

No. 22 Fresno State (3-1) vs. Hawaii. Next: vs. Idaho, Saturday.

No. 23 Oregon (4-2) lost to No. 9 Southern Cal 44-10. Next: vs. UCLA, Saturday.

No. 24 Connecticut (5-1) lost to North Carolina 38-12. Next: at Rutgers, Oct. 18.

No. 25 Wake Forest (3-1) did not play. Next: vs. Clemson, Thursday, Oct. 9.

Vanderbilt takes a bow and JoePa takes a seat. The Big 12 threatens to overtake the Southeastern Conference as best in the land. The other coach Stoops can take it easy, his job at Arizona seems safe.

Week 6 of the college football season brought a return to normalcy -- everywhere except Nashville, that is.

The Big Story

Revenge of the nerds, SEC style.

Vanderbilt did it again, finding a way to beat Auburn 14-13 on Saturday night and upping its record to 5-0 and earning a curtain call from its fans. The last time to the Commodores were 5-0 was 1943, when they played a shortened schedule because of World War II that included two victories over Tennessee Tech.

The latest victory helped push Vanderbilt up to No. 13 in the AP Top 25. Which means Vandy now ranks higher in the AP football poll than it does in U.S. News and World Report's list of top academic universities, where it's tied for 18th with Notre Dame.

Vandy is 3-0 in the SEC and leading a division with Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Somewhere Dan McGugin is smiling. For those who don't keep up with turn of the century SEC coaches, McGugin ruled over Vandy's greatest gridiron success.

From 1904-34, he went 197-55-19 -- and the Commodores just haven't been the same since. The 16 coaches who have followed McGugin are 284-468-24.

Current Vandy coach Bobby Johnson knows his history. When it was suggested by a reporter that the Auburn victory was the greatest in school history, he reminded everyone about McGugin's teams.

"I don't know where this one ranks. Back when Dan McGugin was the coach, his teams beat teams 150-0," Johnson said.

He was only exaggerating a little. In 1915, Vandy beat Mississippi 91-0 and followed it up a week later with a 35-0 victory over Tennessee. Apparently, coach McGugin had a little Steve Spurrier in him.

These Commodores aren't quite so dominant. Vanderbilt ranks in the back half of the SEC in most offensive and defensive categories.

The key has been turnover ratio. Vandy is No. 1 in the country at an average of plus 1.80 per game. Also, Vanderbilt has been among the least penalized teams in the land.

"We still have a lot of work. We can improve in so many ways and we're going to try and get better," Johnson said.

The Commodores don't beat themselves and take advantage of the other team's mistakes.

Eventually, the Gators and Bulldogs will pass Vanderbilt in the SEC East, but the first winning season and bowl appearance by the Commodores since 1982 is looking good.

Paterno's perch

At 81 years old, coming off a broken leg and nursing a sore hip, Joe Paterno is having a difficult time roaming the sideline.

JoePa watched his team's 20-6 victory over Purdue from the press box Saturday. It's the second time this season he's had to take to the box because standing was too uncomfortable.

There were already plenty of signs pointing toward Paterno's possible departure from coaching after this season. He doesn't have a contract for next year and recruits have reportedly been told the next coach will be a member of his staff. Penn State president Graham Spanier seems intent on taking control of the program and being the man to oversee the changing of the guard.

Sitting at No. 6 in the nation, Penn State (6-0) is poised for a run at the Big Ten title, maybe even a national championship. At the very least, the Nittany Lions should be on their way to a nine- or 10-win season. Even all the off-field problems Penn State players have had over the past couple of seasons are being overshadowed by the team's success.

The stage is perfectly set for Paterno to walk away on top after this season.

Best game you didn't see

UTEP 40, Southern Miss 37 in double OT.

Heisman-worthy

Being the top running back in the Sun Belt won't get you invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but Tyrell Fenroy of Louisiana-Lafayette deserves some love after running for 297 yards on 20 carries in a 44-35 victory against rival Louisiana-Monroe. Fenroy is third in the nation in rushing (150 ypg).

Quick hits

-While Bob Stoops has his Oklahoma team No. 1, little brother Mike has to be feeling better about his job status at Arizona. The younger Stoops' team is 4-1 and seems on his way off the hotseat and into a bowl for the first time in five seasons with the Wildcats.

-The worst team in major college football? How about North Texas? Only the Mean Green and Washington remain winless after Army beat Tulane. The combined record of Washington's foes is 22-6. North Texas has lost to teams with a 17-8 record, including a 42-10 loss at home to Florida International (2-3) on Saturday night.

Lookahead

The Big 12 is making a serious run at the SEC for title of best conference. Both leagues have six teams in the Top 25.

The SEC teams have already started to beat each other up, which dropped Auburn, Florida and Georgia in the rankings over the last few weeks.

The Big 12 battles heat up this week, when No. 1 Oklahoma plays No. 5 Texas in the Red River Rivalry at Dallas. Drawing less attention, but maybe just as interesting, No. 17 Oklahoma State visits No. 3 Missouri. The Cowboys and Tigers combine to average 106 points per game. The Sooners and Longhorns combine for 96 a game. Add in Texas Tech and the Big 12 has the Nos. 2-6 scoring teams in the nation.

The SEC likes to tout its vaunted defenses, but the league is clearly down offensively, in large part because of new schemes and inexperienced or ineffective quarterbacks.

Is the Big 12 better than the SEC? Hard to say. The Big 12 is definitely more exciting.

STARS

-Georgia Tech receiver Demaryius Thomas caught nine passes for 230 yards, the second-most in school history, to help the Yellow Jackets beat Duke 27-0. One of the catches was an 88-yard score, the third-longest in Tech history.

-Kansas' Todd Reesing threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns and the 16th-ranked Jayhawks rallied to beat Iowa State 35-33.

-Minnesota receiver Eric Decker tied a school record with 13 catches for 190 yards in the Golden Gophers' 16-7 win over Indiana 16-7.

-Cornell's Nathan Ford threw a 20-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the game to lead the Big Red to a 25-24 win over Lehigh. Ford, who finished with 438 yards passing, threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third.

-Navy's Matt Harmon tied a school record with four field goals in the Midshipmen's 33-27 victory over Air Force. Harmon hit field goals of 35, 48, 44 and 32 yards to tie a school mark held by five other kickers.

JUICED UP

Illinois quarterback Juice Williams threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 121 yards and two scores to lead the Fighting Illini to a 45-20 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor. The quarterback's 431 yards of total offense were the most any player has had at Michigan Stadium and it matched an opponent record against the Wolverines.

The Illini set a school record for points against Michigan, surpassing the 39 points Red Grange helped them score in 1924 as Memorial Stadium was dedicated, and they scored the most any team has at the Big House since Florida State had 51 in 1991.

Michigan is 2-3 under new coach Rich Rodriguez, who is in the first year of a six-year deal worth $2.5 annually. It's the Wolverines' worst record after five games since they started 1-5 in 1967, two years before Bo Schembechler arrived.

ROCK CHALK

No. 16 Kansas' rally from a 20-point deficit to beat Iowa State 35-33 was its biggest comeback since 1992, when the Jayhawks came back from a 26-point deficit to beat -- you guessed it -- Iowa State 50-47.

With the Jayhawks trailing 20-0 at halftime, Kansas coach Mark Mangino figured his team was bound to start playing better. It would be hard for them to play worse.

"'We've played very poorly," Mangino said he told his team. "'But we can win this game, and we will win this game, if you keep your poise, you stay calm."

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, GINO TORRETTA?

Once upon a time, Florida State-Miami mattered. No longer.

The Seminoles beat the Hurricanes 41-39, dropping once-mighty Miami to 0-2 and last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division.

The 'Canes could use Torretta, the 1992 Heisman Trophy winner. Miami had 31 yards in penalties and 38 passing yards at halftime. Hurricanes quarterback Robert Marve finished 17-of-41 for 121 yards and threw two interceptions.

PIGSTY

After opening the Bobby Petrino era with narrow victories over Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe, the Arkansas Razorbacks have been outscored 139-31 in three straight losses to then-No. 9 Alabama, then-No. 7 Texas and No. 12 Florida.

IN MEMORIAM

Craig Fertig, the record-setting quarterback for Southern California who later became the Trojans' TV voice, died Saturday of kidney failure at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, USC athletic director Mike Garrett said. Fertig was 66.

Fertig was a teammate of Garrett's in 1963 and 1964, when the quarterback set eight USC passing records. Fertig was also a member of USC's 1962 national championship team.

Fertig will always be remembered for throwing the winning touchdown pass in the final two minutes to upset unbeaten, top-ranked Notre Dame in 1964. The Trojans trailed by 17 at halftime.

BY THE NUMBERS

Arizona State won its first eight games under Dennis Erickson. Since then, the Sun Devils are 4-6 with a visit to USC next week. ... Florida quarterback Tim Tebow threw an interception in the Gators' 38-7 victory at Arkansas, ending a string of 203 passes without an interception. ... Duke's 27-0 loss at Georgia Tech was its 17th straight Atlantic Coast Conference road defeat and came one week after the Blue Devils snapped a 25-game ACC losing streak. The Blue Devils had averaged 30.8 points in their first four games before being shut out. ... Don't look now, but Columbia has dropped 11 in a row -- a quarter of the way to matching its 44-game skid from 1983-88, second-longest in college football history. The Lions fell to Princeton 27-24 in the Ivy League opener for both squads. ... Notre Dame has won five straight games in South Bend, where it dropped a school-record six in a row last year. ... Michigan has 16 turnovers and 14 touchdowns this season. ... San Diego extended its home win streak to 27 games, the longest in the nation, with a 42-14 win over Valparaiso.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

"I'm not letting anybody get near me with a knife." -- Penn State coach Joe Paterno, whose lingering right hip injury has forced him to coach from the press box. The sixth-ranked Nittany Lions beat Purdue 20-6.

"I'd use the word awful." -- Florida coach Urban Meyer, describing the Gators' offense.



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