A Model Tee
Behind a finally healthy Tee Martin, Tennessee beat Alabama to
continue its climb back up the polls
The best player on the field at Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium
last Saturday was the same Tee Martin who led Tennessee to the
national championship last season, not the quarterback who spent
the Volunteers' first five games picking up injuries the way he
usually picks up first downs. By rushing for two touchdowns and
throwing for a third in the Volunteers' 21-7 defeat of one of
their oldest rivals, Martin served notice that he's healthy.
All right, almost healthy--he was taken to the locker room after
receiving a blow to his left knee as he crossed the goal line on
a six-yard, game-tying touchdown run in the second quarter--but
after a bruised clavicle, a sprained hand and a concussion, all
of which Martin endured over a three-week period, a swollen knee
is of no more concern than a hangnail.
The Alabama-Tennessee game had been billed as a showdown between
Crimson Tide tailback Shaun Alexander, an unofficial Heisman
Trophy finalist, and a Volunteers defense that hadn't allowed a
rushing touchdown all season. Alexander ran for 98 yards, despite
getting only one of his 20 carries in the fourth quarter, when
Alabama quarterback Andrew Zow attempted 18 straight passes in a
fruitless comeback try. Alexander also caught six passes for 50
yards and a touchdown. Tennessee junior Jamal Lewis rushed for
117 yards, 68 in the fourth quarter.
NFL scouts like the 6-foot, 225-pound Lewis better than Alexander
(6'1", 220) because of his power. Alexander doesn't run over
people, but he'll be Alabama's first consensus All-America
running back since 1971. "I think he deserves the Heisman," Vols
defensive end Will Overstreet said after the game. "Boy, he's
hard to tackle, even harder than it looked on film."
November 1, 1999
So is Martin. The best explanation for his success against
Alabama may have been simply that Tennessee had the previous week
off. "I felt the best I've felt coming into a game since we were
going into our second game, against Florida," Martin said after
Saturday's victory. "I didn't run a lot during practice this
week. Running today felt good. It kind of shocked me. The first
quarterback draw I ran, I thought, Man, that felt good." That
draw, for 19 yards, converted a third-down opportunity and kept
the Vols' first touchdown drive alive. Martin also converted a
third-and-14 with a 15-yard gain off a draw, ran two bootlegs for
scores and threw a 43-yard scoring pass to David Martin (no
relation) while absorbing a hit from Crimson Tide tackle
Alabama had come into the game with wins over three consecutive
Top 25 teams, including Tennessee's nemesis, Florida. But the
way the Vols controlled 'Bama, coupled with Nebraska's loss to
Texas, pushed Tennessee to No. 4 in the polls, first among the
once-beatens, and No. 4 in the first BCS ranking. Coach Phil
Fulmer, noting the lack of dominant teams this season, has
adopted the slogan WHY NOT US? He has a point. The Volunteers
have no ranked teams left on their schedule. Unless Florida
loses another SEC game, Tennessee won't have the additional
hurdle of the SEC Championship game, which means they could
finish effectively No. 2 in the SEC East and No. 1 everywhere
else. Chew on that one.
Arizona, UCLA and North Carolina
Going from Bad To Worse to...
Arizona senior kicker Mark McDonald began the season with a
respectable career record of 15-of-27 on field goal attempts, but
he's 1-for-10 this season after missing a 45-yarder with two
seconds to play in last Saturday's 44-41 loss to Oregon. He also
flubbed an extra point in the third quarter that kept the
Wildcats from taking a 28-27 lead. After that, coach Dick Tomey
benched McDonald for walk-on freshman Sean Keel, who made the
next two extra points but doesn't have the leg for long field
goal tries. When McDonald ran onto the field for the game-tying
attempt, the crowd booed him. "He's undergone so much abuse, and
I hurt for him," Tomey said after the game. "People have been
really unkind to him."
It could be worse, Arizona. You could be UCLA, which lost 55-7
to Oregon State. While the win by the Beavers was no surprise,
their dominance demonstrated how far the Bruins have plummeted.
UCLA has been laid low by a combination of injuries,
inexperience and the embarrassment of the handicapped-parking
scam. Now 1-4 in the Pac-10, the Bruins could become the
conference's first champion to go from first to last in one
season since...last year, when Washington State did it.
It could be worse, UCLA. You could be North Carolina, which
finished 11-1 two years ago and, after collapsing in a 45-7 loss
to Maryland, is 1-6. Without exciting sophomore quarterback
Ronald Curry, who ruptured his right Achilles tendon on Sept. 30
and is out for the season, the Tar Heels' offense is rudderless.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Luke Huard didn't mimic the
success his older brother Damon has had filling in for Dolphins'
quarterback Dan Marino. Linebacker Marlon Moore picked off
Luke's second pass and returned it 51 yards for the Terps' first
touchdown. On North Carolina's second series Maryland sacked
Huard on three straight plays, whereupon Tar Heels coach Carl
Torbush yanked Huard after that series in favor of junior Antwon
Black, who, until Curry's injury, had played safety. That didn't
help. Maryland, which came into the game +10 in turnover margin,
forced eight fumbles, recovered four of them and added three
interceptions. "I've probably never been through a more
frustrating loss," Torbush said.
Georgia's Double Threat
He Runs the Ball, He Tackles Ballcarriers
Two years ago Michigan cornerback-wideout Charles Woodson won the
Heisman Trophy after demonstrating how one player could decide a
game from either side of the ball. Woodson's skills translated
easily from defense to offense. That's not usually the case with
defensive ends, but Georgia freshman Charles Grant is a special
talent. Last Saturday against Kentucky, Grant made his first
collegiate start and responded with five tackles, including three
sacks. The 6'4", 261-pound Grant also rushed for two touchdowns,
including a 42-yarder on which he charged untouched through the
left side of the line for the score. Grant, a running back and
linebacker at Miller County High in Colquitt, Ga., who scored 101
touchdowns in three years and has been used mainly as a power
back in short yardage situations by the Bulldogs, has now carried
the ball 15 times for 78 yards. On seven of those carries he has
either come up with a first down, a touchdown or, as was the case
last Saturday, both.
South Carolina's Woes
The Gamecocks Are Still 0-for-Holtz
South Carolina is 114th and last in the country in total offense,
hasn't won in eight games this season under Lou Holtz and owns
the nation's longest losing streak (18), a slide likely to
continue given that the Gamecocks' three remaining games are
against Tennessee, Florida and Clemson. So imagine the somber
look on Holtz's face last Saturday as he tried to explain South
Carolina's 11-10 loss to Vanderbilt. In the fourth quarter the
Gamecocks failed to stop a 90-yard touchdown drive and then
missed a 46-yard field goal attempt with 1:04 to play. "This one
is really difficult," Holtz said, his voice fading.
When the 62-year-old Holtz came out of retirement last December
to take over the once proud South Carolina program, he was given
a five-year contract worth approximately $600,000 annually and
was anointed a savior. Gamecocks fans bought a school record of
nearly 54,000 season tickets and raised some $8.4 million for the
athletic department. Holtz, after all, had won 216 games in
previous stints at William and Mary, North Carolina State,
Arkansas, Minnesota and Notre Dame, taking each of those schools
to a bowl game by his second year at the helm. He vowed to
establish a similar winning tradition in his new job, but over
the last 10 months he has sustained one setback after another. In
September his son Skip, who left a head coaching job at
Connecticut to become the Gamecocks' offensive coordinator, was
hospitalized for a couple of days with a severe abdominal
infection. A month later Lou's wife, Beth, who recently recovered
from a bout with throat cancer, had to have surgery to remove an
adrenal gland and a noncancerous mass from an ovary.
On the field Holtz's offense has been plagued by injuries,
forcing him to use 16 linemen and six quarterbacks. The unit has
produced only five touchdowns and averaged only 223.4 yards per
game, 10.8 yards less than the nation's next-worse attack.
Those close to Holtz say he hasn't lost heart. "I constantly
marvel at the energy and drive he exhibits every day," says Skip.
"He hasn't let up from the day we got here. The more we lose, the
more determined he is. He's working harder than he ever has.
Believe me, there is no retire in him. We're all in this for the
long haul, and with my father as the leader of this program we're
going to win, and we're going to win a lot."
But not this year. --B.J. Schecter
Illinois's Big Knockout
The Fight Is Back In the Fighting Illini
Though his team was coming off an embarrassing 37-7 loss at home
to Minnesota, Illinois coach Ron Turner didn't bother to deliver
a Win One for the Gipper speech as the Illini prepared to face
No. 9 Michigan at the Big House last Saturday. "How we played and
how we responded to our worst loss of the season was more
important to me than winning the game," said Turner after the
game in Ann Arbor. "I told the players not to worry about the
score and, no matter what happened in the game, to keep
That was sage advice, given what happened on the field. Illinois
fell behind Michigan 27-7 in the third quarter but rallied for a
35-29 upset victory, only its second win over the Wolverines
since 1984. Quarterback Kurt Kittner passed for 280 yards and
four touchdowns, one of them a 59-yarder to halfback Rocky
Harvey, who also ran 54 yards for a score. With the win, the
Illini ran their record to 4-3 after having finished 0-11 two
years ago in Turner's first season and 3-8 last year.
Turner got the Illini's attention the day after the Minnesota
debacle--their third straight Big Ten loss--by putting them through
a 1 1/2-hour scrimmage in full pads. "We took a big step back when
we hit the Big Ten schedule, but now we're back on track," he
says. "This group has been through a lot of tough times, but I
think they've seen that hard work and commitment eventually are
USC's Disturbing Trend
The Trojans Are Their Own Worst Enemy
Three days after USC raced to a 21-0 lead at Notre Dame on Oct.
16 only to lose 25-24, Trojans coach Paul Hackett lambasted his
seniors for their lack of leadership. "I think a good, contending
team that sees itself as a champion will win those games," he
said. "That has to do with seniors, with the older players
stepping up and getting the job done.... We have some veteran
players and some senior players who, quite frankly, are playing
at a level that will not allow us to be a true contender in our
conference.... That's the thing that is most disturbing."
Hackett pegged his team perfectly. Southern Cal raced to a 21-0
lead against Stanford last Saturday, only to lose 35-31.
Hadl and Sayers Fire Up the Jayhawks
Two keys to Kansas's surprising 21-0 shutout of Missouri: One,
the Jayhawks got 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Moran
Norris, a 245-pound fullback who was converted from tight end two
years ago, and two, they got Friday-night pep talks from Kansas
greats John Hadl and Gale Sayers.... Mississippi State is 7-0 and
one of six remaining Division I-A unbeaten teams. The Bulldogs
have defeated only one team with a winning record: Vanderbilt.
The four teams left on the Bulldogs' schedule--Kentucky, Alabama,
Arkansas and Ole Miss--are a combined 19-9, and each has been
ranked this season....
Kansas State has outscored its opponents 158-3 in the second
Senior fullback Paul Smith of Division III Gettysburg (Pa.)
College set an NCAA record for all divisions with 527
all-purpose yards in a 42-28 win over Muhlenberg College of
Allentown, Pa. Smith had 390 yards rushing, 80 yards receiving,
46 yards on three kickoff returns and 11 yards on a punt return.
He surpassed the old mark of 525 yards, set by Andre Johnson of
Division II Ferris State of Big Rapids, Mich., against Clarion
In a season-and-a-half, sophomore Quincy Carter of Georgia has
already thrown for more yards (4,108) than either Peyton Manning
or Danny Wuerffel did in each of their first two seasons at
Tennessee and Florida, respectively, and should soon surpass the
two-year totals of Tim Couch (4,160 at Kentucky) and Doug Flutie
(4,401 at Boston College)....
Oklahoma senior Brandon Daniels played wide receiver and
returned kicks as a freshman three years ago under coach John
Blake. Daniels started the 1997 season at strong safety and the
1998 season at quarterback. This year, under first-year coach
Bob Stoops, Daniels has come full circle. He has caught 23
passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns and leads the nation in
kickoff returning, with a 40.3 average.
Stanford (5-2, 5-0) at Washington (4-3, 3-1)
The Cardinal has the Pac-10's worst defense and hasn't won in
Seattle since 1975, which was pre-Mariners and pre-Seahawks. In
other words, prehistoric. Given the way things are going in the
conference, it seems that Stanford's time has come. On the plane
home from a 31-27 victory at Cal last Saturday, Washington coach
Rick Neuheisel said, "We need some Husky weather" for the
Cardinal, as in rain, wind and cold. No, Rick. Bad weather isn't
necessary. Stanford doesn't win at Washington.
Air Force (4-2, 3-1) at BYU (6-1, 3-0)
The Falcons have had two weeks to prepare their option rushing
game for the Cougars, who have been vulnerable against good
running teams. Virginia tailback Thomas Jones went for 210 yards
and two touchdowns in a 45-40 win at Cougar Stadium on Sept. 25.
But this isn't the pure matchup of rushing versus passing that
this rivalry traditionally has been. Sure, BYU quarterback Kevin
Feterik is dangerous, but the Cougars' offense isn't
one-dimensional. Freshman tailbacks Lucas Staley and Fahu Tahi
have combined for 11 touchdowns on the ground and 5.5 yards per
carry. Brigham Young has more talent and the home field
advantage. That ought to do the trick.
Georgia (6-1, 4-1) vs. Florida (6-1, 4-1)
Gators coach Steve Spurrier promises he'll no longer berate
senior quarterback Doug Johnson for making poor decisions at the
line of scrimmage. Instead he'll bench him. Remember Jesse
Palmer, named the starter just before breaking his right clavicle
in Florida's sixth game last season? He's waiting in the wings.
The guess, though, is that after two weeks of preparation,
Johnson and the refreshed Gators will live high on the Dawgs.
For complete scores, schedules, rosters and stats, plus more
news from Ivan Maisel, go to cnnsi.com/football/college.