BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
As we draw closer to the BCS Computer Rankings coming out, there were certain teams which bolstered their chances to get a premium bowl bid. This week, it's time to examine the ones that are getting closer to mega paydays.
1. There is no better place to start off than the Miami Hurricanes. On September 8, 2007, the Oklahoma Sooners handed the Hurricanes a 51-13 loss in Norman. Miami finished the year 5-7. But things changed this time as Miami sophomore Jacory Harris passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 17 Miami (3-1) to a 21-20 triumph while senior running back Javarris James amassed 150 yards rushing. Despite playing without Heisman Trophy quarterback Sam Bradford, this game was close in a couple major offensive categories. Miami out gained No. 8 Oklahoma (2-2) 342-341 in total yards and in time of possession, 30:43-29:17. Bradford's replacement Landry Jones did throw for 188 yards and a touchdown. Even though Jones was named after former Dallas Cowboys legend Tom Landry, his name defines his position. Former Detroit Lions quarterback Greg Landry and former Baltimore Colts signal caller Bert Jones had good careers in the professional ranks.
2. Which team needed to win it's in state rivalry worse, No. 22 Michigan or Michigan State? Depending on who you talk to, you'll get different answers. For a young Michigan (4-1, 1-1) team to win in East Lansing, this would be a huge triumph as the Wolverines aim to get back into the national spotlight. For Michigan State (2-3 1-1) , a win over the Wolverines could save the season. Michigan State jumped out to a 20-6 lead but the Wolverines rallied to tie the the game 20-20 before the Spartans emerged in overtime thanks to a 23-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Larry Caper. The Spartans defense held Michigan's offense to 251 yards and limited Michigan's running attack to 28 yards. Michigan freshman quarterback Tate Forcier threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns. This was the first time Michigan State has defeated Michigan in successive seasons in 42 years. Michigan still leads the all-time series 67-30-5.
3. The http://www.scottsports33.com/ jinx bit the No. 12 Houston Cougars. As we gave them some publicity and respect, Houston was hammered by the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) 58-41 at the Sun Bowl. These two teams were tied 17-17 at halftime before the Miners pulled away in the second half. Miners junior running back Donald Buckram rushed for a career high 262 yards and four touchdowns to overshadow the performance of Houston junior quarterback Case Keenum, who had a career night by completing 51 of 76 passes for 536 yards and five touchdowns. Houston (3-1) out gained UTEP (2-3) 664-581, but lost two fumbles and had to settle for two field goals. Keenum's 76 passing attempts were seven shy of the FBS record set by former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees, who is now putting up record numbers with the New Orleans Saints.
4. On paper, the No. 13 Iowa Hawkeyes versus the Sun Belt Conference Arkansas State Red Wolves looked like a mismatch. When the game it was over, Arkansas State earned respect while Iowa was thankful it came away with a 24-21 win, has the nation's second longest winning streak at nine games and left the game with a 5-0 record thanks to junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi's 296 yards and three touchdowns performance. This was the first time Iowa has started 5-0 under coach Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes have a huge challenge at home against the upstart Michigan Wolverines in a prime time affair in week six. Arkansas State (1-3) outscored Iowa 14-3 in the fourth quarter. The Red Wolves fell to 0-9 against Top 25 teams.
5. Very few college football followers would classify this game as a major in-state rivalry because these schools play in totally different divisions. The South Carolina State Bulldogs most notable NFL player is former Detroit Lion Robert Porcher, but he couldn't help his Alma mater defeat the South Carolina Gamecocks this week. South Carolina (4-1) rolled to a 38-14 victory in Columbia as sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another against his Football Championship Subdivision opponent. South Carolina State (3-1) fell to 0-5 against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.
6. There is no better way for a new quarterback to start his career than by winning on the road in two successive weeks. That's what the University of South Florida Bulls (5-0) freshman signal caller B.J. Daniels did as he led USF to a 34-20 win over Syracuse (2-3) in the Carrier Dome. Daniels threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns. In week four, USF defeated Florida State 17-7. But in this contest, Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus, a former Duke point guard, found out that if you turn the ball over too many times in football or it will cost you. He threw five interceptions and was sacked three times. Paulus equaled the school mark for interceptions set by Todd Norley in a 28-7 loss at Penn State in 1982. Anyone who thought USF would let down and lose after a monumental win against the Seminoles was proven wrong.
7. Two years after Coach Dennis Erickson departed for Arizona State after a 4-8 record with The Idaho Vandals (U-I) in 2006, it looks like things are going well for U-I. The Vandals, who play in the Western Athletic Conference have rebounded to a 4-1 record with their latest win against the Colorado State Rams (3-2). Erickson did serve as Idaho's head coach from 1982-85 where he posted a 32-15 record when the Vandals were playing in the Big Sky Conference. He returned for the one season at Idaho then bolted for the warm dry climate of Tempe, AZ.
8. Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin's ride to Rocky Top has hit a bumpy road in the Southeastern Conference. The Volunteers are now 0-2 in the SEC with their latest defeat coming at the hands to the Auburn Tigers 26-22 in Knoxville in front of 102, 941 fans at Neyland Stadium. Tigers senior quarterback Chris Todd threw for 218 yards and a touchdown, and senior running back Ben Tate rushed for 128 yards and a score to give Auburn its first 5-0 start since 2006. The Tigers have now defeated Tennessee for the fifth consecutive time. The Volunteers are now 2-3 overall.
9. Former Michigan Wolverines quarterback Ryan Mallett is alive and well in Arkansas. The sophomore transfer threw for 271 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Razorbacks (2-2) to a 47-19 win over the Texas A&M Aggies (3-1) in a battle of former Southwestern Conference rivals at Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington. A crowd of 71,872 fans attended this "Southwest Classic" the beginning of a 10-year series in hopes of cashing in on recruiting and alumni riches in the Dallas area. Thus far in 2009, Mallett has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 1,148 yards. He has a passer rating of 159.13 for Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Alma-mater.
10. This week's blog started out with one of Howard Schnellenberger's transformation projects the University of Miami Hurricanes and will end with another one. Former Miami Dolphins Coach Dave Wannstedt's Pittsburgh Panthers (4-1) clobbered the Louisville Cardinals 35-10 in the house the Howard built Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in front of 39,948. Louisville (1-3) took an early 10-7 lead at halftime but the Panthers scored 28 unanswered points thanks to the passing of senior quarterback Bill Stull, who threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com
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