In his second season as Arizona coach, Mike Stoops has learned an important lesson about the Pac-10. "You can't win in this conference without a great quarterback," says the former Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator. "We finally feel like we have one." In just two starts, Willie Tuitama (left), a true freshman whom Stoops had planned to redshirt, has transformed a team that had lost 24 of its previous 28 conference games. In consecutive wins over Oregon State (29-27) and No. 7 UCLA (52-14), the Stockton, Calif., native has completed 27 of 46 passes for 539 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. In last Saturday's stunning rout of the previously undefeated Bruins, he completed his first seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns to stake the Wildcats (3-6) to a 21-0 lead. "Everything we tried to do, we did," said Tuitama. "I'm sort of shocked." Tuitama's emergence has allowed Arizona to be more aggressive in its play-calling and has opened up the running game, which gained a season-high 315 yards against UCLA. "This kid is freakish," said Stoops. "There isn't a throw he can't make."
UNDER THE RADAR
"You see the smiles on the fans' faces who have been around through all of this," Kansas defensive end Charlton Keith said after the Jayhawks snapped a 36-game losing streak to Nebraska with a 40-15 victory. "It's good to see them smiling." Keith has plenty of reason to smile too. He finished with eight tackles, three for losses, a sack and a pass deflection for a defense that is ranked first in the country against the run and fifth overall. The 6'5", 225-pound Keith (right) left after his redshirt freshman season at Minnesota and spent a year at Minnesota West Community and Technical College before landing with the Jayhawks in 2004. Though undersized for a defensive end, he has used his quickness to rack up eight sacks. "When he left Minnesota there was some talk that he wasn't good enough to play at this level," says Kansas coach Mark Mangino. "I think he is bent on proving all the doubters wrong." Next up for Keith and the Jayhawks: a trip to Austin this Saturday to face second-ranked Texas.
November 14, 2005
THREE AND OUT
1 It's time for Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn to give embattled coach Gary Barnett a long-delayed contract extension. The Buffs (7-2) can clinch their fourth Big 12 North championship in the past five seasons with a win over either Iowa State or Nebraska, and Barnett has weathered investigations into the school's recent recruiting scandal.
2 South Florida (4-3), whose nine-year-old football program joined the Big East this season, will reach a BCS bowl if it wins its remaining four games, against Syracuse, Cincinnati, Connecticut and West Virginia. After a 45-31 victory at Rutgers last Saturday, the Bulls, who have never been to a bowl game, are in second place behind West Virginia, whom they host on Dec. 3.
3 Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry would be wise to retire at the end of the season. The winningest coach in the program's history (164-101-1 in 22 seasons), DeBerry was reprimanded for his recent comments about race, and the team (3-7) will have consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1980 and '81. Plus, for the first time since 1996 the Falcons were swept by the other two service academies.
• More from Stewart Mandel five times a week at SI.com/collegefootball.