Inside College Football

November 04, 2002

Hawkeye Visions
After marching into the Big House and whupping Michigan, Iowa is
in the thick of the Rose Bowl race

In his four seasons at Iowa, Kirk Ferentz has repeatedly proved
that patience can be a coach's best friend. As his Hawkeyes lost
18 of their first 20 games, from September 1999 through October
2000, Ferentz kept putting the same young players out on the
field. Last season Iowa went 7-5, including a win in the Alamo
Bowl.

This year, after the Hawkeyes blew a 24-7 third-quarter lead
against Iowa State on Sept. 14 and lost 36-31, Ferentz didn't
panic. Two weeks later, at Penn State, Iowa let the Nittany Lions
back into the game after leading by more than three touchdowns
but recovered to win 42-35 in overtime. "We regrouped and played
the game," Ferentz said. "That's what we couldn't do against Iowa
State. It's a process. You have to have faith."

Patience paid off for the Hawkeyes again last Saturday as they
raised their record to 8-1 (5-0 in the Big Ten). When his team
struggled running the ball in the first half at Michigan, Ferentz
never wavered. "It's a four-quarter ball game," he said
afterward. "I heard Tom Osborne say once that sometimes you have
to stick with [the running game], and it doesn't pay off for you
until the second half." After halftime, as starting tailback Fred
Russell sat on the sideline with a sprained right hand, Jermelle
Lewis rushed for 105 yards and scored twice in a 34-9 Iowa
victory, the Wolverines' worst loss in the Big House in 35
seasons. "In the first half their defense was really fast,"
center Bruce Nelson said. "They had a lot of energy and
intensity. In the second half we kept fighting and working."

Given the strength of Iowa's offensive line, it's no wonder that
senior Brad Banks has become the best quarterback in the Big Ten
(59.2% completion rate, 18 touchdown passes, four interceptions).
The four seniors and one junior on the line have 148 starts among
them. They are led by the 6'4", 290-pound Nelson, who has started
all 44 games of his college career. He, senior left guard Eric
Steinbach and their offensive linemates have allowed only eight
sacks in nine games. The Hawkeyes average 5.0 yards per rush.

Iowa doesn't play Ohio State (9-0, 4-0) this season, so in order
for the Hawkeyes to earn the conference's automatic BCS berth,
they need another team to knock off the Buckeyes. (Overall
winning percentage is the relevant tiebreaker.) Iowa is ideally
suited for this sort of Big Ten race. All the Hawkeyes can do is
be patient.

Undefeated MAC Power
Call It Rolling Green

In December 2000, during his first week as Bowling Green coach,
Urban Meyer received a note from the team's academic adviser
informing him that some 20 players had missed mandatory study
hall or classes that week. Meyer saw this as a chance to make a
thundering statement to a team that had finished the 2000 season
2-9. He told his players to report to the field house the next
morning at five. "I wanted to run guys who weren't committed
right out of the program," says Meyer, 38.

For three hours Meyer had his squad jog and run wind sprints. One
by one the ashen players made trips to garbage cans set up for
them to vomit in. Black Wednesday, as the day came to be known,
was a turning point for Bowling Green. "Five or six quit
immediately," says Meyers. About 20 players left within a few
months. The following season the Falcons went 8-3, and this year
Meyer has led Bowling Green to a 7-0 start and a No. 21 ranking,
the school's highest since 1985.

"The biggest change is the players' attitude," says junior
quarterback Josh Harris, who leads the nation in scoring (13.1
points per game) and is 10th in total offense (287.7 yards per
game). "After Black Wednesday our bad habits went out the
window."

The 6'3", 225-pound Harris, son of former Cincinnati Bengals
tight end M.L. Harris, has developed into a lethal run-pass
threat in the Falcons' spread offense, which is first in the
country in scoring (47.7 points per game) and fourth in total
yardage (492.4 per game). Coming out of Westerville (Ohio) North
High, he was recruited by Ohio State and Penn State, but as a
defensive back. "I threw the ball only a few times a game in high
school," he says, "but I knew I could play at this level."

The Falcons can go undefeated and untied in the regular season
for the first time since 1959; their biggest obstacles are a
showdown with MAC West rival Northern Illinois on Nov. 9 and a
Nov. 30 date at Toledo. "We've come together even faster than I
had hoped," says Meyer. "I guess I got their attention back on
Black Wednesday." --Lars Anderson

Arizona State Revival
Clearing the Air, Then Airing It Out

Arizona State quarterback Andrew Walter is proving that there's
nothing like making a good second impression. After a dominating
27-16 victory over Washington, the Sun Devils are 7-2 overall and
4-0 in the league, tied for first with Washington State, which
they visit on Saturday. Walter, a sophomore who took over as
starter from Chad Christensen after four games, has thrown for
more than 400 yards in three of his five starts. He had long been
regarded as having more talent than Christensen, but second-year
coach Dirk Koetter had chided him for his flawed fundamentals,
particularly poor footwork and inconsistent throwing motion. A
summit meeting last spring among Koetter, Walter and his parents
wasn't "touchy-feely," Koetter said last week.

Walter laughed at that description on Sunday and said that
Koetter was half right: "Touchy was the word for it. He didn't
think I could run the offense the way he wanted." Walter
considered transferring but decided to keep working. Asked if his
fundamentals had improved since last spring, Walter said, "No,
not really. A lot of it is confidence. Getting the chance to
perform has helped--knowing I can lace it in there or put touch on
it. Coach and I have a good relationship. It's not like it was
last spring."

Read Ivan Maisel's Inside College Football each week at
cnnsi.com/football/college.

COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS Tight end Dallas Clark and the Hawkeyes' offense bulled their way past the Wolverines. COLOR PHOTO: WINSLOW TOWNSON Running as effectively as he passes, the Falcons' Harris leads the nation in scoring.

Head to Head

Colorado TB Chris Brown
versus
Oklahoma MLB Lance Mitchell

Brown has become the Diana Ross of the Buffaloes' supreme trio of
tailbacks, which includes Bobby Purify and the injured Marcus
Houston. A 6'3", 220-pound junior, Brown leads the nation in
rushing, with 162.9 yards per game on a workhorse average of 24
carries. The 6'3", 245-pound Mitchell, a junior who transferred
to Norman in December 2001, has made a seamless transition from
City College of San Francisco. In the win over Texas he had a
team-high 11 tackles as the Sooners held Cedric Benson to 54
rushing yards.

Extra Points

Tennessee offensive coordinator Randy Sanders drew up a game plan
against Alabama that focused on getting the ball to wide receiver
Kelley Washington--only to learn after last Thursday's practice
that Washington wouldn't play because of a concussion suffered
against Georgia two weeks earlier. "I knew there was a chance
[Washington would be out]," Volunteers coach Phil Fulmer said,
"[but he was] making good progress, and I thought we were beyond
that." Tennessee scored one touchdown on offense as Alabama won
34-14. Washington is, once again, expected to play at South
Carolina on Saturday.... The return of two defensive stars helped
Syracuse (2-6) hold Rutgers to no offensive points in a 45-14
victory. Free safety Maurice McClain, out since breaking his
right leg during spring practice, started and made the first
tackle of the game. "An inspiration," defensive coordinator Chris
Rippon called him. The other returnee, Miami Dolphins linebacker
Morlon Greenwood, spent time with the team during his off
weekend, Rippon said, "telling the kids that he's where he is
because of Syracuse." ...Maryland tailback Bruce Perry, out
since August because of a torn left groin muscle, gained 19 yards
on his first carry against Duke and headed straight for the
sideline with a strained left shoulder. "He can't seem to catch a
break," Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen said. Maryland, after a
1-2 start, has won five straight, all by at least 24 points....
Kentucky players said they'd tear down the goalposts at
Commonwealth Stadium if they upset Georgia. "They should have
kept their mouths shut," Bulldogs offensive tackle Kareem
Marshall said. "All they did was make us mad." After Georgia's
52-24 victory, the Dawgs celebrated at the base of the goalposts
they had saved.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)