Call the Pac-10 anything you want, but don't dare call it boring
Let Florida State, Penn State and Virginia Tech set the standard
for college football this fall. Let the talking heads and the
poll voters mock the Pac-10 as badfootball.com. The league may
be the worst since the League of Nations, but it's also fun.
"You can't see a game where you know who's going to win," says
Washington coach Rick Neuheisel, whose Huskies (5-3, 4-1) are
alone in second place after beating first-place Stanford (5-3,
5-1) last Saturday, 35-30.
Huskies junior quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo became the first
Division I-A player ever to throw for 300 yards and rush for 200
in a game, but not without some anxious moments. A shot from
Cardinal linebacker Sharcus Steen early in the first quarter
sent the 6'2", 215-pound Tuiasosopo ass over tea kettle, and the
tea kettle didn't land first. Tuiasosopo limped into the locker
room for treatment--giving new meaning to the term backside
help--and didn't miss any snaps, though in the second quarter
the pain in his left hip and buttock was so severe that he
thought he might not be able to continue.
Lourdes hasn't healed as many quarterbacks as has the chance to
play against Stanford's defense. Once the Huskies discovered
that the Cardinal had no clue of how to stop the option,
Tuiasosopo went into high gear. "They like to 'stem,' adjust,
after we line up," Tuiasosopo said after the game, "so we
snapped on [my first] sound to keep them from adjusting."
Washington finished with 670 yards of offense as Tuiasosopo
threw for 302 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 207 yards and
two TDs. He's the second quarterback in as many weeks to set a
school single-game record against Stanford, which ranks last
nationally in total defense, having given up 497.9 yards a game.
USC's Mike Van Raaphorst had thrown for 415 yards in a 35-31
loss to the Cardinal. Worse, Stanford gave up 69 points in a
loss at Texas and then was humbled 44-39 by San Jose State.
That the Cardinal continues to lead the Pac-10 has made both
Stanford and the conference laughingstocks. "We're getting used
to it," Cardinal quarterback Todd Husak says. "You can still
sense that people are waiting for the wheels to fall off."
Actually, every team in the conference is searching for lug
nuts. Mention the Rose Bowl to Neuheisel and he recoils. "We
can't afford to get caught up in January 1," he said last
Saturday. "Let's get caught up in November 6."
Amen. The Pac-10 is Saturday-afternoon junk food, the trashy
novel that everyone reads. Speaking of which, Arizona State lost
20-17 at Oregon without star tailback J.R. Redmond, who was
serving a one-game suspension after being caught in a scheme in
which he says he tried marriage as a way to avoid being nailed
for an NCAA violation. The Sun Devils' loss created a four-way
tie for third place in the Pac-10, which means that six teams
entered November with title hopes. One scenario has Stanford
losing its final three games, finishing 5-6 and winning all
tiebreakers for the Rose Bowl berth. Sounds like a must-read.
Colorado's Gutty Quarterback
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE
There's no need to stroke the ego of Colorado senior quarterback
Mike Moschetti. Even after his tour de force against No. 24
Oklahoma last Saturday--Moschetti threw for 382 yards and four
touchdowns and ran for a team-high 64 yards and another
touchdown in the Buffaloes' 38-24 upset victory--he deflected
credit. "It's a team game, 11 guys out there," he said
repeatedly. So, as far as Moschetti is concerned, save the
kudos, except when it comes to acknowledging his toughness.
In the second quarter of Colorado's 31-10 loss at Texas Tech on
Oct. 16, Moschetti's head bounced hard on the artificial turf
after a tackle. For the rest of the game he played with blurred
vision. In the following days, he suffered from migraines and
grogginess, and the Buffaloes announced that he would sit out
the Oct. 23 game against Iowa State because of the migraines.
"When the migraine thing came out, some buddies started calling
me, giving me s---, saying, 'You can't play with migraines?'"
Moschetti said after beating Oklahoma. "Look, I could play with
migraines. I've always played with injuries." History supports
him: Last year at various times he took the field despite a
severely sprained left ankle, a separated left shoulder, a
broken rib, torn rib cartilage and a concussion.
In fact, Moschetti was certain that his most recent ills were
not mere migraines but the result of another concussion. "I went
to two doctors in the week between Texas Tech and Iowa State,
and they both said I had a concussion," Moschetti said. In his
mind Colorado made him seem timid by calling his condition
migraines. Buffaloes coach Gary Barnett says, "Looking back on
it, Mike probably did have a concussion. But--and I told Mike
this--he's got to stop worrying about what other people think of
By the day after Colorado's victory over Iowa State, Moschetti's
headaches had largely subsided, and he prepared for the Oklahoma
game with a vengeance. "I've never seen Mike the way he was all
week," said junior wideout Javon Green. "He was yelling at
everybody. I think he was more intense than the coaches."
Moschetti, a 24-year-old from La Mirada, Calif., who played
three years of minor league baseball before starting his college
football career at Mount San Antonio Junior College in Walnut,
Calif., made only one glaring mistake against Oklahoma, throwing
an interception late in the second quarter. His 88-yard scoring
pass to Green with 7:58 to play was crucial, coming on
first-and-20 after the Sooners had moved to within a touchdown
and seemed to be finding their offensive rhythm.
With Saturday's victory Colorado improved its record to 5-3 and
remained in the hunt for a bowl invitation after a 2-2 start
that included losses to Colorado State and Washington. What's
more, Moschetti (22 of 31) outplayed Oklahoma quarterback Josh
Heupel (26 of 58, 328 yards, two touchdown passes), who came
into the game ranked seventh in the nation in pass efficiency
but threw four interceptions. --Tim Layden
Stabbings at Syracuse
THREE PLAYERS INJURED IN MELEE OUTSIDE BAR
After losing All-Big East quarterback Donovan McNabb and nine
other starters from last year's 8-4 team, Syracuse expected to
rebuild this year, but six weeks into the season the resilient
Orangemen were 5-1 and ranked No. 16. Since then the bottom has
dropped out: Virginia Tech knocked Syracuse out of first place
in the Big East with a 62-0 whipping on Oct. 16, and Boston
College, a 19 1/2-point underdog, edged the Orangemen 24-23 last
Saturday. Approximately 10 hours after that defeat, three
Syracuse players, including two starters, were stabbed during an
altercation at a bar, Sadie's Place, that coach Paul Pasqualoni
had discouraged his players from patronizing because of its
reputation as a hot spot for fights.
The incident, which occurred outside the bar and involved a
crowd of 60 to 75 people, was still under investigation as SI
went to press on Monday, but police indicated that it may have
been set off by patrons merely staring at each other and
exchanging words as bouncers cleared out Sadie's Place around 1
a.m. First-string cornerback David Byrd, a 6-foot, 192-pound
senior, suffered severe neck, back and leg stab wounds and was
listed in serious condition following five hours of surgery at
University Hospital in Syracuse. Junior defensive end Duke
Pettijohn, who led the Orangemen in sacks with six, was stabbed
in the head and right ear and was treated at St. Joseph's
Hospital, also in Syracuse, and released. Sophomore reserve
tackle Giovanni DeLoatch, who was wounded in his right arm,
right ear and back, was also treated at St. Joseph's and was
released on Monday.
On Sunday police arrested two men--Trequill Stackhouse and
Cheiron Thomas, both 22 and from Syracuse--and said that
additional arrests were possible. Stackhouse and Thomas were
charged with assault (first degree for Stackhouse, second degree
for Thomas), first-degree gang assault and third-degree criminal
possession of a weapon.
"When this kind of adversity hits, you become stronger,"
Pasqualoni said on Monday, "and I'll be very disappointed if our
team isn't a stronger, more cohesive unit after what we've been
SMU Upsets Rice
MUSTANGS NOT OUT OF THE BOWL PICTURE YET
"I've never been through a year like this," Southern Methodist
coach Mike Cavan said after his suddenly resurgent Mustangs
stunned WAC-leading Rice 27-2. First, there was the suspension
of defensive assistant coach Steve Malin last August pending an
internal investigation into possible violations involving
recruiting and competitive advantages. Then there was SMU's 0-5
start and the letdown last month of not being invited to join
Conference USA while archrival TCU was asked and accepted. After
the Mustangs' nationally televised 24-14 upset of Fresno State
on Oct. 14, Cavan thought the bad luck had ended. No chance--on
Oct. 23, SMU's WAC game at San Jose State was canceled minutes
before kickoff when an electrical transformer providing power to
Spartan Stadium exploded. "With a young team, once you start
winning, you want to keep playing," Cavan says. "I didn't think
it would have been fair for us to play on Sunday. We didn't know
if we could get home on Sunday." Nor did Cavan want to lose two
days of preparation for Rice.
The Mustangs came home to be greeted by worse news: the death of
SMU alumnus Payne Stewart. To pay tribute to him, the Mustangs
affixed stickers bearing his likeness and initials to their
helmets and then held the nation's fourth-leading running team
to 240 rushing yards.
So Southern Methodist is 2-5 and, Cavan says, not thinking about
a bowl bid. If it defeats Division I-AA Cal State-Northridge and
then Tulsa and TCU, it is scheduled to return to the Bay Area on
the first weekend in December to try to qualify for a bowl by
beating San Jose State.
GAME OF THE MILLENNIUM?
Independence Bowl executive director Glen Krupica, on the
possibility that pass-happy Kentucky and Oklahoma will meet in
his game in Shreveport, La., on New Year's Eve: "Do you think
the game would end by midnight? We might be the last game of
this century and the first game of the new century."...
Maybe Boston College should give wide receiver DuJuan Daniels a
tryout at every skill position. Daniels, a 5'11", 181-pound
sophomore who scored a touchdown on his first play from
scrimmage at Indianapolis's Bishop Chatard High in 1995, caught
a 64-yard touchdown pass against Navy on Sept. 18 on his first
collegiate reception. In Saturday's 24-23 win over Syracuse,
Daniels returned a kick for the first time--100 yards for a
Louisville quarterback Chris Redman needs 25 completions to
become the first player in Division I history to connect on
1,000 passes in a career. He supplanted BYU's Ty Detmer (958
completions) atop the list with 23 in the Cardinals' 23-14
defeat of Alabama-Birmingham last Saturday.
For complete scores, schedules, rosters and stats, plus more
news from Ivan Maisel, go to cnnsi.com/football/college.
Washington (5-3, 4-1) at Arizona (6-3, 3-2)
Is it possible that the Wildcats rediscovered their aggressive
persona in last week's 33-7 victory at UCLA? Let's put it this
way: What isn't possible in the Pac-10 these days? The Huskies
are one of the few teams in the conference with a good kicking
game, although no team approaches Arizona in special teams
ineptitude. Nevertheless, this is the Wildcats' last home game.
Senior offensive stars Keith Smith, Trung Canidate and Dennis
Northcutt figure to go out in style.
Notre Dame (5-3) at Tennessee (6-1)
Fighting Irish coach Bob Davie is undefeated against Top 5
teams. (So what if he has faced only one?) Notre Dame is 8-4
against Top 5 teams in the 1990s. (So what if five of those wins
came when the Irish also were in the Top 5?) Notre Dame proved
during its unbeaten October that it will fight: Three of its
four victories that month were the result of fourth-quarter
comebacks. But the idea of adding the Volunteers to the list of
great Irish upset victims--Oklahoma in 1957, Pittsburgh in
'82--is too far-fetched. Guts and want-to are fine, but not
against Tennessee's guts, want-to and overwhelming talent.
Rice (5-4, 4-1) at Fresno State (6-3, 3-1)
The Owls and the Bulldogs have more in common than being atop
the WAC. Each has been upset by SMU. The winner will move closer
to earning a berth in the Las Vegas Bowl. Rice hasn't been to
any bowl since Hall of Famer Jess Neely coached the Owls to the
1961 Bluebonnet Bowl. Rice coach Ken Hatfield should take a big
step toward becoming the fifth coach to take four schools to