Kansas State, supposedly facing a rebuilding year, is 4-0
When the football cognoscenti told coach Bill Snyder he could
never win at Kansas State, he ignored them. When they told him
that a team must control all three phases of the game to win, he
debunked that, too. Judging by the Wildcats' 35-17 romp at
Texas, all a team needs to win big is defense (as in the six
turnovers K-State caused) and special teams (as in Wildcats
junior running back-punt returner David Allen). Offense? "I
think we did a pretty rotten job," Snyder said after the game.
Yes, Kansas State's first 18 snaps yielded minus-two total
yards. Yes, quarterback Jonathan Beasley called an audible on
fourth-and-one at the Longhorns' 20 that resulted in a 13-yard
loss. "That's the one we want to strangle him for," Snyder said.
No matter. Allen tied the NCAA career record for punts returned
for touchdowns with his seventh, a 74-yard score in the third
quarter, and added a 35-yard run from scrimmage for a touchdown
in the fourth period. His first gallop changed the game. Texas
coach Mack Brown said that punter Ryan Long had been told to kick
the ball out-of-bounds to the right. The Longhorns sent their
punt coverage to that side. Not only did Long boot it straight,
but he also outkicked his coverage with a towering 48-yarder.
Allen sped to his right, away from the defenders, and scored
easily to put Kansas State ahead to stay, 15-14.
The Wildcats finished with only four sacks, but Texas
quarterback Major Applewhite ate more grass than Longhorns
mascot Bevo. In the fourth quarter Kansas State linebacker Mark
Simoneau returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown,
stretching the Wildcats' lead to 25-17. K-State defensive
coordinator Phil Bennett had drawn up the coverage on the
sideline before the series. "I can't say that I remember the
last time I did that," Bennett said. Strong safety Jarrod Cooper
and Darren Howard, who shifted from end to tackle for that play,
crashed through to pressure Applewhite into throwing early. In
all, the Wildcats converted the Longhorns' half-dozen turnovers
into 26 points.
In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, Kansas State is 4-0
and is likely to win its next five games before going to Nebraska
on Nov. 13. That's right: Just when it looked as if the Wildcats
would return to Midwestern oblivion, they're back, and they're a
little insecure about it. Last week Kansas State president Jon
Wefald stirred up the nascent Big 12 rivalry between the Wildcats
and the Longhorns by saying that Texas represents "incredible
wealth and arrogance." On Saturday the only hint of arrogance
came from Allen. When asked if he thought teams would continue to
punt to him, Allen said, "I hope so. I wouldn't. But I hope so."
Arizona State's Surprise
UCLA WILTS AS FLOWERS BLOOMS
Four of the most maligned coaches in college football--Bob Davie
of Notre Dame, Mike DuBose of Alabama, Spike Dykes of Texas Tech
and Bruce Snyder of Arizona State--beat back their critics with
an upset and/or comeback victory last Saturday. Snyder's Sun
Devils rallied from 14 points down to defeat UCLA 28-27 when
Delvon Flowers made a 49-yard reception for the winning
touchdown with 23 seconds left.
Snyder's daughter Paige is a recruiting hostess at UCLA. Last
week, before the Bruins left for Tempe, UCLA coach Bob Toledo
said he felt sure that there would be no breach of security.
"She doesn't know our plays," Toledo said. "We don't know our
plays ourselves." The Bruins second-half fade seemed to prove
Florida's Errant Extra Point
GATORS COULD KICK THEMSELVES
What a fitting comeuppance for Florida coach Steve Spurrier that
his Gators lost in overtime to Alabama last Saturday by the
margin of Jeff Chandler's shanked extra point. During the Danny
Wuerffel era, when the Heisman Trophy-winning Florida
quarterback threw touchdown passes as regularly as some teams
punt, Spurrier made his offensive philosophy clear. When a
reporter asked him about the Gators' ability to kick field
goals, Spurrier said, "We don't kick too many of those things
down here. We like to kick extra points."
But Wuerffel graduated, and the Florida offense hasn't operated
with quite the same efficiency since. Margins of victory have
narrowed and kickers have meant more to the Gators' success. A
year ago Spurrier learned that lesson the hard way when Collins
Cooper missed a 32-yard field goal in overtime at Tennessee,
allowing the Volunteers to escape with a 20-17 victory. After
that game Spurrier benched Cooper in favor of Chandler. When the
latter nailed three field goals against Tennessee last month and
the Gators won 23-21, Florida seemed to have raised its kicking
game to national championship caliber. Then last Saturday,
Chandler yanked that extra point, the sixth he has missed (out
of 63) in his career, and the Gators suffered mightily for it.
"I let a lot of guys down," Chandler said. "I tried to make them
forget about what happened last year. Turns out this is worse
than last year."
Texas A&M's Downfall
MORRIS BURNS AGGIES AGAIN
Three years ago Texas Tech fullback Sammy Morris caught a
game-winning, 81-yard touchdown pass against Texas A&M. On
Saturday, in only his second game since that victory, Morris
torched the Aggies again, rushing for 170 yards in a 21-19 upset
of a team that going into last weekend featured the nation's
top-ranked rushing defense (22.7 yards per game). "My teammates
have started calling me Aggie Killer," says Morris, a 6-foot,
212-pound senior who, despite his limited playing time, is rated
by one pundit as the No. 1 fullback prospect in next spring's
NFL draft. "I'm just happy to get back out on the field again."
Morris missed the Red Raiders' final four games in 1996 and all
of the '97 and '98 seasons because he was academically
ineligible, partly because of an administrative error. He had 32
career carries entering Saturday's game, but with Tech star
running back Ricky Williams out for the season with a torn ACL,
Morris was pressed into action and carried the ball 33 times to
help knock A&M from No. 5 to No. 13 in the rankings. --B.J.
BAYLOR TAKES A KNEE AND A BOW
Three weeks after Baylor lost to UNLV because the Bears had a
fumble of a handoff returned for a touchdown when they should
have taken a knee to run out the clock, quarterback Jermaine
Alfred kneeled on each of the last two plays of a 23-10 victory
at home over North Texas. After each snap the crowd of 28,743 at
Floyd Casey Stadium responded with a standing ovation.
Titleholder in Trouble
NO WALTZ FOR TENNESSEE
In the wake of a national championship, Tennessee coach Phillip
Fulmer insisted that the Volunteers would not fall prey to
self-adoration. "Pleased, but not satisfied" is the way Fulmer
described his Vols over the summer. "Our players have a quiet
confidence about how they've gone about their business."
After losing 23-21 at Florida on Sept. 18 and after struggling
the following week to beat Memphis 17-16, Fulmer knew
Tennessee's players weren't as hungry as he'd thought. "You
can't assume just because you're good one year you'll be good
the next," he said last week.
The Volunteers found the perfect opponent for getting back on
track--an SEC West team. Tennessee's 15th straight victory
against the West, 24-0 over Auburn, nonetheless showed that the
Vols remain vulnerable on offense. Until the bruised clavicle
that quarterback Tee Martin suffered against Florida, which has
hindered his passing, is healed, defenses are going to load up
to stop tailback Jamal Lewis. The junior is averaging 4.5 yards
per carry, compared with 6.1 in his two previous seasons.
Tennessee's offense made seven trips inside Auburn's 25-yard
line and came away with only 10 points.
Those woes pale, however, compared with Tennessee's troubles off
the field. Last week the university general counsel began an
investigation into whether athletic administrators knew of
allegations that tutors had performed work for athletes and, if
so, whether the administrators took the appropriate action.
Before the game against Memphis, Tennessee suspended four
redshirt freshmen who were allegedly helped by the tutors but
then reinstated them last Friday. Tennessee joins Washington,
Miami, Alabama and Florida State in the ranks of national
champions in this decade to have stepped off the pedestal and
into an investigation.
GOING BIG-TIME IN A BIG HURRY
When Marshall moved up to Division I-A and joined the
Mid-American Conference in 1997, "Everybody in the conference
expected [the Thundering Herd] to take a few years to reach the
pack," says Miami of Ohio coach Terry Hoeppner, whose RedHawks
were pounded 32-14 at home by Marshall last Saturday. "But
Marshall has quickly passed the rest of us, and we're all trying
to catch up."
With its victory over Miami, the No. 15 Thundering Herd is in
position to win its third consecutive MAC title, has a chance to
go undefeated and hopes to play in a bowl of more stature than
the Motor City, in which it has appeared in the last two
seasons. Given the losses by Purdue and Florida last weekend,
Marshall has the longest winning streak (nine games) and home
winning streak (27) in Division I.
Much of its success is attributable to quarterback Chad
Pennington, who picked apart the RedHawks, throwing for 294
yards and three touchdowns, and to its defense, which
neutralized Miami running back Travis Prentice (67 of his 131
yards came against the Herd's second team).
"This is a story made for Hollywood," says Marshall coach Bob
Pruett, who took over for the highly successful Jim Donnan in
1996 and led the Herd to a 15-0 record. "What we've done in a
short amount of time is nothing short of a miracle. Never in my
wildest dreams did I expect this. We set high goals, and if you
shoot for the sun, it doesn't matter if you end up on the
LSU's Narrow Loss
WHAT WERE THE TIGERS THINKING?
Please explain why LSU coach Gerry DiNardo, whose Tigers had
driven 61 yards in 1:08 for a touchdown to pull within a point
of Georgia at 23-22, didn't believe his offense was playing well
enough to win in overtime and therefore went for two. The Tigers
lost when the Bulldogs' Will Witherspoon knocked down the
For complete scores and stats, plus more news from Ivan Maisel,
go to cnnsi.com/football/college.
--Miami (2-2) at Florida State (5-0)
By any measure of Hurricane strength, it's obvious that Miami
didn't pack much punch in its last visit to Tallahassee two
years ago. It lost 47-0, and the game wasn't that close. Coach
Butch Davis has restored enough of the old Hurricanes spirit to
make the emotion of this rivalry a factor again, and Miami
benefits from having had two weeks to prepare. The Hurricanes
still won't have enough to overcome the Seminoles' defensive
depth and offensive magic, but they should make it interesting.
--Michigan (5-0, 2-0) at Michigan St. (5-0, 2-0)
Like the Hurricanes, the Spartans would like to make their
cross-state rivalry interesting again. Michigan State hasn't
stirred this much excitement since, well, two years ago, when it
won its first five games and took a 5-1 record into the Michigan
game. The Wolverines won 23-7 and went on to win a share of the
national championship. This Michigan team has similar promise.
If the Spartans' sixth-year tailback, Lloyd Clemons, gets some
room to run, their terrific defensive front will keep the game
close. The hunch is that Spartans coach Nick Saban will end his
three-game losing streak against the Wolverines' Lloyd Carr.
--Georgia (4-0, 2-0) at Tennessee (3-1, 1-1)
Unhappy people tend to find one another, don't they? The
Bulldogs are trying to figure out why they've won each of their
last two games, against Central Florida and LSU, by one point.
The Vols are trying to rediscover the swagger they had a year
ago, when they went into Athens and triumphed 22-3. Nothing like
a fierce rivalry to sharpen a team's focus. As coach Jim Donnan
has rebuilt the Dawgs, this game has taken on added weight, but
Neyland Stadium is no place for a young Georgia team to discover
how to win the big game. Tennessee will remain on Florida's tail
in the SEC East.