Duck Duck Goose
Stanford overcame injury and a 14-point deficit to snap an Oregon
While his teammates whooped and celebrated around him on the
field at Oregon's Autzen Stadium last Saturday, Stanford senior
kicker Mike Biselli wept openly. The Cardinal had just ended the
Ducks' 23-game home winning streak, erasing a two-touchdown,
fourth-quarter deficit to win 49-42.
So why was Biselli crying? Was he upset by the uneven
performance of Stanford's special teams, which allowed a PAT
kick to be blocked, missed a field goal and gave up a pair of
touchdowns, one on a punt return and the other on a kickoff
return? Nope. After all, the Cardinal's special teams did a few
things right, too: Stanford's fifth touchdown was set up by the
second of two blocked punts, and its penultimate touchdown was
preceded by Biselli's perfectly placed onside kick, which was
caught on the fly by safety Colin Branch with 9:16 remaining and
the Cardinal trailing 42-35.
"I wanted us to win this one for Randy [Fasani]," said Biselli of
his best friend, the Stanford quarterback who was knocked out of
the game with a sprained right knee early in the second quarter.
Fasani and his Oregon counterpart, Joey Harrington, had presided
over an enormously entertaining first quarter in which the two
offenses combined for 392 yards and five touchdowns. Fasani's
replacement, Chris Lewis, had a tougher time against the Ducks'
blitzes, completing only three of his first 10 passes.
He hung in there, though. Lewis, a junior from Long Beach,
Calif., doesn't lack confidence. Subbing for an injured Fasani
last season, he led Stanford to wins over Texas and USC with
last-minute touchdown passes. "Pressure doesn't bother me," says
Lewis. "My sister [Robyn, a senior setter for the Cardinal's
women's volleyball team] and I are the same way. Our mom and dad
always told us that, no matter what happens, they were still
going to love us. So there's no pressure. Just go out and play."
Lewis did exactly that in the second half, throwing touchdown
passes to wideouts Teyo Johnson and Luke Powell, and directing a
pair of eight-play drives in which running back Kerry Carter
scored the last of his four touchdowns. Give Lewis credit, too,
for running the offense in one of the most hostile environments
in the country.
The defeat ended Oregon's national title hopes. The Ducks had
come into the game 6-0 and ranked No. 5, but they had been living
dangerously. Three times this season they'd needed fourth-quarter
comebacks led by Harrington, but he ran out of magic on Saturday.
After completing 13 of his first 18 passes for 203 yards and
three touchdowns, he fell to earth. He went nine for 23 with a
pair of interceptions in the second half. When his final,
desperation heave went incomplete, a group of giddy Stanford
players made light of the Autzen mystique, dancing and chanting
at midfield: "Whose house? Cardinal's house!"
Having knocked one team from the ranks of the unbeaten, the
Cardinal will attempt to do it again this Saturday, when it hosts
6-0 UCLA. Fasani won't play (he's expected to be out for at least
three weeks), and the Bruins will be favored. No matter. Don't
expect Stanford to be intimidated. --Austin Murphy
Texas Tech's Leading Man
Ricky Williams Is Catching On
He burst onto the scene in 1997, a slighter, slipperier version
of a more celebrated Texas tailback of the same name. Four years
later Ricky Williams's claim to fame isn't as a ballcarrier for
Texas Tech but as one of the nation's leaders in receptions per
game. Including last Saturday's 41-31 loss to Nebraska, in which
he caught five passes for 18 yards, Williams is averaging 7.7
receptions, tied for second behind wideout Kevin Curtis of Utah
State (9.8 per game). Should Williams finish the season atop the
list, he would be the first running back to have done so since
Long Beach State's Mark Templeton in 1986.
"My dad always told me I had great hands," says Williams, who
caught 29 passes for 267 yards as a senior tailback at
Duncanville (Texas) High. "I'm finally getting to showcase all my
In his first two seasons at Tech, the 5'8", 196-pound Williams
was a workhorse running back in coach Spike Dykes's
ground-oriented offense, catching only 10 passes his first year
and 18 his second. However, he set the Red Raiders' freshman
single-season rushing record in 1997 by rushing for 894 yards on
201 carries. In '98 he ran for 1,582 yards to finish fourth in
the nation, behind the other Ricky Williams, Travis Prentice of
Miami of Ohio and Mike Cloud of Boston College. Williams entered
his junior season as a Heisman contender but severely damaged his
left anterior cruciate ligament in the season opener. He missed
the rest of the year, eventually undergoing surgery. "The younger
guys were looking to me to lead," says Williams. "When I was
hurt, they stopped looking me in the eye. I'd go home at night
and wonder if I was ever going to be normal again."
To add insult to injury, Williams heard through the grapevine
that new coach Mike Leach, hired in December 1999 to replace the
retiring Dykes, ran an offense that was about 95% passing.
Shortly after Leach arrived in Lubbock, he called Williams into
his office and told him he envisioned Williams's role in Leach's
pro-style system as similar to Marshall Faulk's with the St.
Louis Rams and Ricky Watters's with the Seattle Seahawks. The
object, Leach says now, is "to get Ricky the ball in key
However, with Williams unable to make sharp cuts on his
still-tender knee for much of 2000, he amassed only 421 rushing
and 228 receiving yards. Last summer he hauled a stack of cones
to the practice field almost every night to perform solitary
agility drills, and this fall he's flourishing in his dual role,
averaging 63.2 yards per game rushing and 55.5 yards receiving.
Although he has gone downfield for passes of as long as 32 yards
from quarterback Kliff Kingsbury (from whom he catches an
additional 25 or so balls after each practice), Williams speaks
almost gleefully of "the little screen plays" that constitute the
bulk of his receptions.
After doing so little for so long, Williams relishes doing it
all. --Kelley King
The Cure for Carolina's Blues
In his 40 years of coaching, North Carolina offensive
coordinator Gary Tranquill, 61, has never liked the idea of
using two quarterbacks. However, now that the Tar Heels have
rebounded from an 0-3 start and won five straight games,
including last Saturday's 38-3 rout of Clemson, while platooning
senior Ronald Curry and freshman Darian Durant, Tranquill says,
"As long as we're winning, I'll go along with it."
Curry, the quarterback-point guard whose years at Chapel Hill
could serve as a primer on how not to be a two-sport star,
mimicked his coach on Saturday night. "As long as we're winning,"
Curry said, "it's good. I'm a team guy. I'm not a selfish
In North Carolina's losses to Oklahoma, Maryland and Texas (all
Top 10 teams), its offense averaged 16.0 points and 259.0 yards
and held the ball for 28:09 per game. Curry, whose work in the
preseason earned him raves from Tranquill and coach John Bunting,
looked so bad passing in the opener against the Sooners (five
completions in 14 attempts for 74 yards, no touchdowns and one
interception) that the coaches went to Durant in the first game
in search of a spark. He led the Tar Heels to three second-half
touchdowns in a 41-27 loss. But the platooning of the two
quarterbacks on a set rotation didn't begin until North
Carolina's fourth game.
In their five victories the Tar Heels have averaged 30 points and
395.4 yards and held the ball for 33:33 minutes per game. Curry,
who completed 27 of 55 throws for 468 yards and four touchdowns
with one interception in those wins, has started each game and
played two series. Durant, who had 51 completions in 74 attempts
for 653 yards and seven TDs with four interceptions in the five
games, has then come in for two series. Ideally, the two
quarterbacks have alternated every two series for the rest of the
Tranquill believes the platooning works because Curry can pull
down the ball and run--he has rushed for 182 yards this
season--while Durant excels at operating in the pocket. The
latter, who completed all 11 of his passes against the Tigers for
97 yards and a touchdown, ranks fifth in the ACC in passing
efficiency. "It's not two offenses," Tranquill says. "It's two
things to prepare for."
Durant has played more than Curry in the last two weeks because
of injuries to Curry's left leg. A sore Achilles tendon caused
him to sit out the fourth quarter of a 30-24 win over Virginia on
Oct. 13, and a strained hamstring caused him to miss most of the
second half against Clemson. He's expected to be ready for North
Carolina's next game, at Georgia Tech on Nov. 1. As he stood on
the tarmac at the Greenville, S.C., airport on Saturday night,
his leg wrapped tighter than a new CD, Curry said, "I feel like
I'm 50. If I make it through a game without being hurt, I'll be
Durant says that he and Curry exchange tips that they pick up on
the field and that Curry has helped him learn how to read
defenses. "The main thing I'm learning from Ronald is to be
patient," Durant says.
One thing they don't discuss is platooning. "Nobody wants to be
switching in and out," Durant says. Tranquill isn't crazy about
it either. Asked his opinion of the system, he says, "I'm not
totally opposed to it."
The Tar Heels don't have to love it. But if they want to win,
they have to use it.
For complete scores, schedules and stats, plus Ivan Maisel's
exclusive weekly Heisman Watch, go to cnnsi.com/football/college.
YA GOTTA LOVE THIS GUY
Miami of Ohio coaches love freshman quarterback Ben
Roethlisberger, and not only because he has thrown for 1,685
yards and 17 touchdowns for the 5-2 RedHawks. The 6'5",
209-pound Roethlisberger is his own man. Three years ago, a full
year before he moved from wideout to quarterback as a senior at
Findlay (Ohio) High, Miami began recruiting him. Ohio State,
however, wasn't interested until Roethlisberger started proving
himself, throwing for 4,041 yards and 54 touchdowns. He turned
down the Buckeyes and signed with the coaches who wanted him
before he became Ohio's Division I Offensive Player of the Year.
The RedHawks don't enjoy many favorable comparisons to the
Buckeyes, but they can enjoy this one: Roethlisberger is 16th in
the nation in passing efficiency, while Ohio State quarterback
Steve Bellisari is 81st.
An NFL scout assesses 6'1", 200-pound Texas senior cornerback
Quentin Jammer (left), who has made 36 tackles (32 solo), broken
up 12 passes and intercepted two others this season.
He's got the best arms of any corner I've ever graded. He's a
physical, even explosive, hitter. The one knock on him is that he
has trouble playing the deep ball. People throw a fade, and he
has trouble finding it. He's big enough to be a safety. He's got
the size and speed to contribute on special teams right away.
That's big for first-year players. This is not a strong class of
corners. He's not a top 10 pick in the draft, but he's a
HERO TO GOAT
The first time that Fresno State sophomore Kendall Edwards
flattened a punt returner before he could catch the ball, against
Oregon State on Sept. 2, Edwards got a 15-yard personal-foul
penalty. Nonetheless, coaches from eight schools, including Notre
Dame and Texas, called Fresno State and asked for a video of the
play as an example of hustle, and Edwards's own coaches praised
him for the play. Last Friday, in the second quarter against
Boise State, Edwards ran full speed into returner Tim Gilligan
long before the punt came down. Edwards got another personal-foul
penalty and was ejected from the game. The play seemed to
galvanize the Broncos, who trailed 20-7 at the time and rallied
to win 35-30, killing Fresno State's hopes of gaining a BCS
berth. Gilligan suffered swelling in his throat but no serious
injury. Saying he was "totally sickened" by the play, Bulldogs
special teams coach John Baxter banned Edwards from the punt
coverage team for the rest of the season.
HEAD TO HEAD
Syracuse right defensive end Dwight Freeney vs. Virginia Tech
left offensive tackle Anthony Davis
Is Freeney, a 6'1", 250-pound senior, a one-man defense? Check
out the numbers. He has 13 1/2 sacks and 19 quarterback hurries,
both three fewer than all his teammates combined. He has also
forced five fumbles, two in Syracuse's 45-3 rout of Temple last
Saturday. Those stats are all the more impressive because
Freeney is often double-teamed. Which brings us to the 6'4",
314-pound Davis, a first-year starter who is counting on getting
help in dealing with Freeney. Davis, a junior, might fare even
worse than his predecessor, Anthony Lambo, who couldn't stop
Freeney from getting 4 1/2 of Syracuse's eight sacks of Michael
Vick last year. Grant Noel, Vick's successor, is a more
The Best of the Old Boys
After failing in his first four attempts to tie the record for
the most Division I-A coaching wins (323), Joe Paterno finally
pulled even with Bear Bryant last Saturday with a 38-35 upset of
Northwestern. But 74-year-old JoePa is in a class by himself when
it comes to victories after the age of 65.
COACH* TEAMS COACHED AFTER TURNING 65 WINS
Joe Paterno Penn State (1992-present) 84
Amos Alonzo Stagg Chicago (1927-32), Pacific (1933-46) 80
Bobby Bowden Florida State (1994-present) 73
Bear Bryant Alabama (1978-82) 49
LaVell Edwards BYU (1995-2000) 48
Hayden Fry Iowa (1994-98) 32
George Welsh Virginia (1998-2000) 22
Warren Woodson Trinity (Texas) (1972-73) 16
Jess Neely Rice (1963-66) 14
Jim Sweeney Fresno State (1994-96) 14
Pop Warner Temple (1936-38) 12
*Minimum 155 career victories