Friday, October 3, 2003

Kickoff


A look inside Tristate and national football

Extra Points

SEC's power tilting toward West

Everything is cyclical, and that is certainly evident where the Southeastern Conference's Western Division is concerned.

Eastern Division teams have won nine of 12 SEC championship games, and Tennessee, Florida and Georgia have the league's best overall records the past five seasons.

But there are indications the balance of power is shifting to the West. At the moment, it rests with LSU, Arkansas and Auburn - any one of which could represent the division in the SEC championship Dec. 6 at the Georgia Dome.

LSU might be the toughest team to beat. The No. 6-ranked Tigers are 5-0 after Saturday's 41-6 road win over Mississippi State, their best start since 1973.

No. 8 Arkansas (4-0, 1-0) is the team surprising people, although it probably shouldn't. The Razorbacks returned 18 starters from last year's team, which won the West, and have benefited from the resurgence of Cedric Cobbs, who in his senior season has emerged as the league's best ball carrier.

Auburn, ranked No. 1 in the preseason by some media outlets, was widely considered the SEC's best team before losing to Southern Cal and Georgia Tech in its first two games. But the Tigers outscored Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky 93-10 to even their record.

Poll-sitting

Oklahoma picked up first-place votes in both the media and the coaches' polls without playing. OU benefited from Southern Cal's loss.

TCU dropped from 19 to 20 in the media poll and from 17 to 21 in the coaches' poll. And all the Horned Frogs did was win on the road in overtime without their starting quarterback and top two tailbacks.

Big Ten tidbits

The Big Ten went 6-3 against ranked opponents and 30-14 overall - including 3-0 against Notre Dame - during the nonconference season. ... What a prize: Illinois and Purdue play for the Purdue Cannon, and Indiana and Michigan State battle for the Old Brass Spittoon on Saturday. ... In the conference's rotating schedule, Iowa doesn't play arguably the two weakest teams in the league, Indiana and Northwestern, while Minnesota gets to skip two of the best, Ohio State and Purdue.

Enquirer news services

Rivalry of the Week

John Carroll (3-0) at Baldwin-Wallace (2-1)

2 p.m. Saturday - College football rivalries aren't confined to the big schools. Some of the best rivalries can be found among the smaller schools. This week we look up I-71 for the Division III rivalry between two Cleveland-area schools, both of which are ranked in the current Division III poll and play in the Ohio Athletic Conference.

The Baldwin-Wallace Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 10. The John Carroll Blue Streaks, who count Don Shula (Class of '51) among their alumni, are No. 18. The rivalry dates to 1923 but really picked up steam in 1989, when John Carroll joined the OAC and the Cuyahoga Gold Bowl Trophy was instituted for the rivalry.

The trophy is a plaque with a rock from along the banks of the Cuyahoga River that's painted brown like a football. Since the trophy was first presented, the two schools are 7-7.

Overall, the series stands at 19-19-4, with John Carroll, a national semifinalist last year, having won the last three.

 1. Who is the all-time leader in average points per game in Division I-A?

A: Travis Prentice, Miami.

B: Marshall Faulk, San Diego State.

C: Glenn Davis, Army.

2. The "dotting of the i" tradition during halftime of Ohio State home football games is reserved for seniors of the marching band who play what instrument?

A: Tuba. B: Triangle. C: Sousaphone.

3. Which former president did not play college football?

A. Lyndon Johnson. B. John F. Kennedy. C. Richard Nixon. D. Gerald Ford.

Answers: 1. B; 2. C; 3. A.

MASCOTS OF THE WEEK

Raider, Ranger II and General Scott - the Army mules - are the latest in a tradition dating to 1899. The first mule,

relieved of his job pulling an ice wagon, was dressed in leggings and a collar for the Navy game. Legend has it the mule and Navy's mascot, a goat, tussled, with the mule prevailing. In 1936, Mr. Jackson became the first of the Academy's officially designated mascots. He retired in 1948. The current mules are the 13th, 14th and 15th official Army mule mascots.

Must see TV

Mississippi at Florida, 12:30 p.m. Saturday (Ch. 25): This is purely for the Reading fans who want to see DeShawn Wynn again.

Michigan at Iowa, 3:30 p.m. Saturday (Ch. 9, 2): Wolverines' title hopes are on thin ice.

Tennessee at Auburn, 7:45 p.m. Saturday (ESPN): Auburn tries to forget that 0-2 start and jump into the Southeastern Conference race.

Alabama at Georgia, 3:30 p.m. Saturday (Ch. 12, 7): Crimson Tide have had near-misses against three top-20 teams. Can they end that skid?

Washington at UCLA, 6:30 p.m. Saturday (Fox Sports): Huskies have gotten their act together since dreadful loss at Ohio State.

Numbers Game

488: Average passing yards per game for Texas Tech QB B.J. Symons. If he maintains that average, he'll throw for 5,859 yards. The NCAA Division I-A record for a 12-game season is 5,188.

Heisman Watch

Rising

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Pittsburgh: He had seven catches for 135 yards and three touchdowns last week against Texas A&M.

Philip Rivers, QB, N.C. State: He continues to put up sensational numbers, with 423 yards passing last week against North Carolina and 1,748 for the season.

Falling

John Navarre, QB, Michigan: He has been unimpressive in the Wolverines' last two games. After a loss to Oregon, Navarre threw a pair of touchdown passes but also had two interceptions against Indiana last week.

Keep Your Eye On

Cedric Cobbs, RB, Arkansas: Four 100-yard performances in four games, two of which came against Texas and Alabama, and a 6.4-yards-per-carry average do not go unnoticed. Cobbs went for 198 yards on the ground and one rushing and one receiving touchdown last week against Alabama.

B.J. Symons, QB, Texas Tech: If 661 passing yards against Mississippi aren't enough to get some Heisman attention, 1,962 yards on the season should be.

Top five list

 5. Sell every last piece of your State U memorabilia on eBay (including the worn practice jersey from the conference championship season). If your team is going to lose, you might as well make some money.

4. Take a deep breath and change the channel. It won't seem

as bad if you don't actually watch the carnage.

3. Log onto your favorite fan message board and let the coach know exactly what you would do to hold onto a 21-point lead.

2. Threaten to cut off booster donations if the new running back doesn't get more carries. After all, fans have a right to be heard.

1. Relax. It's just a game.




OHIO HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Key league games highlight action
Success is old hat for No.1 Colerain
Playoff projection: Elder, Colerain 1-2
Top Ohio games at a glance
Our Ohio picks
You pick the winners
Top 10 Outlook
More Player of the Year candidates
Ohio Notebook: Injury sidelines St. X back

KENTUCKY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Beechwood-NewCath mirrors playoff race
Top Ky. games at a glance
Our Ky. picks
You pick the winners
Ky. Notebook: Schneider moving up on career win list

OTHER HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Some mascot origins clouded
Nickname can ignite furor
Thursday results | Today's schedule
CHCA golfers head to state
No.4 Highlands earns draw against Holy Cross
Ohio cross country polls

BENGALS
Warrick yin to Johnson's yang
Former Eagles defend McNabb

BASEBALL
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1
Yankees 4, Twins 1
Notebook: Offense is absent for Red Sox vs. Athletics
It's old vs. new as Cubs, Braves meet

REDS
Rumors link Griffey to Seattle

DAUGHERTY COLUMN
This media member's 'desirous' of less Limbaugh

NFL
Boos have Bears fighting critics at Soldier Field

UC BEARCATS
Unknown QB has Bearcats' staff guessing

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Kickoff
Hurricanes stave off upset

SOCCER
Germany rolls over Russia with outburst in second half

TELEVISION
Sports today on TV, radio