Austin Murphy was in East Lansing, Mich., last Saturday and filed this report.
This time the Wolverines had no excuses. Until last Saturday, Michigan hadn't lost to archrival Michigan State since 1990, when Spartan cornerback Eddie Brown got away with one. Brown, you may recall, tripped Wolverine wideout Desmond Howard as he ran into the end zone on a two-point conversion attempt that would have won the game. No flags were thrown and Michigan State prevailed 28-27.
This year's game didn't turn on one play. As Spartan quarterback Jim Miller said as he walked off the field after the 17-7 victory, "We just kicked their butts for four quarters."
Tyrone Wheatley, the splendid tailback for the Wolverines, was in no position to disagree. He had only 33 yards on 11 carries. Michigan's 23 rushes were the fewest in school history. "We've got to be tougher than we were today," said Wolverine coach Gary Moeller, who saw his team fall to 3-2. "Maybe we're not that good."
Maybe? Penn State, which plays the Wolverines on Saturday in Happy Valley, is eager to help them find out for sure. Like the Spartans, who are now 3-1, the Nittany Lions have a superb defensive line. Like the Spartans, they will have had two weeks to prepare for the Wolverines, who no longer strike fear in the hearts of their opponents. "We knew we could flat outplay them," said Miller, whose 18-for-24 passing performance was masterly.
For Miller, a junior, the victory was sweet revenge for two reasons: The last two seasons his team lost to the Wolverines by a combined score of 80-38; and 13 years ago his sister, Sue, in a fit of pique, took a shovel and opened a gash on his chin that needed 40 stitches to close. Sue is now a graduate student at Michigan.
After West Virginia moved to 5-0 with a 36-34 win over previously unbeaten Louisville, Mountaineer coach Don Nehlen was positively euphoric—for him. "We beat one very good team," said the normally taciturn Nehlen. "I don't want to play them again."
Forgive Nehlen his unabashed delirium; he had just beaten a Top 25 team for the first time since 1989. After he looks at the film, however, Nehlen may not be quite so ecstatic. For more than three quarters, the game revolved as much around lousy defense as it did around outstanding offense. West Virginia had no more luck stopping Jeff Brohm, who became the first visiting quarterback to throw four touchdown passes at Mountaineer Field, than Louisville had stopping Mountaineer tailback Robert Walker, whose 161 rushing yards included three TD jaunts. But the Cardinals, who had gone into the game leading the nation in turnover margin, fumbled twice and had two interceptions in a span of 6:38 during the fourth quarter to end their chances of winning.
The anticipated duel between Brohm and West Virginia quarterback Jake (the Snake) Kelchner didn't come to pass, mainly because Nehlen decided to emphasize the running game against Louisville. He even replaced Kelchner for two series in the second quarter with Darren Studstill, an option quarterback. Kelchner, who was leading the nation in passing efficiency before the game, ended up completing 13 of 20 throws for 112 yards and no TDs.
How good are the Mountaineers? Some of their fans are comparing them favorably with the 1988 team that was 11-0 before losing a national championship game to Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Nehlen isn't ready to go that far; his team still has to face Miami on Nov. 20. "The '88 team had more experience," says Nehlen. "But this team is reckless and can fly around, so hopefully we can keep it going."
If anyone knows reckless, it's Nehlen.
A FRESH START
J.B. Morris reports from Brookville, N.Y.
Perry Klein was a 6'3" hotshot quarterback prospect when he signed with Cal in 1989. However, after redshirting his freshman year, he found himself backing up Mike Pawlawski in 1990 and '91 and sophomore Dave Barr last year. Klein thought that he wasn't getting a fair chance to earn the starting job under Keith Gilbertson, who had become Cal's coach before last season, so in October 1992, he reluctantly decided to transfer to a program that would showcase his talents. "It wasn't a good situation for me," says Klein. "I like everyone there. I even like Coach Gilbertson. I just wish they could've seen what I can do."
Klein contacted Gary Wichard, a friend of the family. Wichard had been an All-America quarterback in 1971 at C.W. Post, a Division II school on Long Island. Wichard called Tom Marshall, who was his offensive coordinator at C.W. Post and is now head coach there, and said, "Wait until you see this quarterback."
Marshall didn't wait. "I said we'd take Perry without even looking at him," says Marshall. He figured that anyone who was recommended by Wichard, who now happens to be a sports agent, would be a valuable addition to his team.
Marshall was right. In leading the Pioneers to a 4-1 record, Klein has completed 133 of 219 passes for 1.963 yards and 19 touchdowns, including a 35-of-47, six-touchdown, 520-yard passing performance in a 55-15 rout of Gannon last week. "Coaches always say, 'Boy, if I ever got the guy, this is what we'd do,' " Marshall says. "Well, I got the guy, and now we can do anything."
Although Klein admits that he went to C.W. Post to improve his chances of playing in the pros, he's not particularly comfortable with the position NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has put him in: Going into the season Kiper ranked Klein as the nation's fifth-best pro quarterback prospect, ahead of Florida State's Charlie Ward and Stanford's Steve Stenstrom. "That's just embarrassing," says Klein. "I've hardly played at all."
Still, the NFL is where Klein longs to be. Every night before he falls asleep, he tucks an NFL football under his arm, believing that his dream can come true.
When the NCAA put Auburn on probation in August, the sanctions included no TV appearances for one season. This, of course, angered Auburn fans. It also frustrated fans of Auburn's opponents.
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley contacted the NCAA to see if it would approve a closed-circuit telecast of the Florida-Auburn game, which will be played at Auburn this Saturday. Foley was told that SportsChannel Florida, which televises Gator games on tape delay, could show the game live at one location on campus.
The Florida athletic department chose Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as the site and rented a portable 20-by 30-foot television screen. To cover the estimated production cost of $60,000, the athletic department plans to charge $10 ($6 for students) for admission to the stadium.
While it's true that Auburn's opponents should not be penalized for the Tigers" infractions, it's not quite true that Auburn will reap no benefit from the closed-circuit telecast. One reason the NCAA imposes television sanctions is to deprive cheaters of their share of TV revenue, but another is to limit the exposure that's so important to recruiting. Because Auburn recruits heavily in Florida, it's reasonable to assume that Florida won't be the only school benefiting from Saturday's telecast.
How deep in the pits is Pitt? In a 44-0 loss to Notre Dame, the Panthers got past midfield only once, never forced the Irish to punt and, in the second half, failed to get a first down....
Stanford will not hold its traditional bonfire on Nov. 18, two nights before the Cal game, because the site, the dry bed of Lake Lagunita, has become a residence of the California tiger salamander, a black-and-yellow-spotted amphibian that is expected to be put on the endangered species list. The bonfire would roast the salamanders, which live in the cracks of the lake bed....
In Cornell's 27-0 defeat of Harvard, Big Red quarterback Bill Lazor's 151 yards passing and 11 rushing gave him a school-record 4,871 total yards for his career. The previous mark of 4,715 was set by Ed Marinaro from 1969 to '71....
Baylor didn't attempt a pass in its 31-12 win over SMU—the first time a Division I-A team didn't venture to the air since Oklahoma ground it out against Colorado in 1986.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Eric Zeier, a junior quarterback at Georgia, completed 30 of 47 passes for lour touchdowns and an SEC-record 544 yards in a 54-24 victory over Southern Mississippi.
Massachusetts cornerback Breon Parker, a sophomore, had seven tackles and three interceptions, one of which he returned for a TD, in a 36-14 win over Rhode Island.
Running back Carey Bender of Coe College, a Division III school in Cedar Rapids. Iowa, ran 33 times for a collegiate-record 417 yards in a 69-7 defeat of Grinnell.