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November 04, 1999 - Image 20

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-04

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20A The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 4, 1999

Top teams may be caught looking ahead
Penn State and Virginia Tech face tough competition in crucial week for standings

is
AP PHOTO
Rashard Casey and the Nittany Lions hope to fend off the surprising Golden
Gophers in Saturday's matchup in State College.
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- ° ___
.

By Dan Williams
Daily Sports Writer
While college football fans furiously
debate which unbeaten team deserves
to currently be atop the BCS standings,
it's likely that by the time a brutal
November passes, a one-loss team will
be playing in the Sugar Bowl.
Florida State, Penn State, and
Virginia Tech are all starting to show
the signs of putting a full year's expec-
tations on the line in every game. All
three teams saw'uneasy victories last
week as Illinois, Virginia, and
Pittsburgh tried to play spoiler.
This Saturday, Florida State gets the
week off, but Virginia Tech and Penn
State may find a tougher road than
expected in their week-before-the-big-
game match-ups.
MINNESOTA AT No. 2 PENN STATE:
There is an eerie parallel for Penn State
fans between this year's team and the
one that collapsed late in 1997.
Two years ago, the Lion's narrow
victory over a lowly Minnesota team
foreshadowed their 34-8 debacle
against Michigan a week later.
The seniors on the Golden Gophers
will undoubtedly be noting the similar-
ities between the two years, and
preparing for another chance at an
upset. Seniors Thomas Hamner, Luke
Leverson, and Tyrone Carter were
there. Now Minnesota's upset hopes
rest upon their leadership.
So far this season, the Lion's defense
has played championship-caliber foot-
ball. While the biggest names compose
the Lions' front seven, the secondary
has quietly been one of the best in the
nation. David Macklin is a blanketing
cover man, and defensive backs James
Boyd and Anthony King have been
making bone crushing hits every week.
The Lions will have to again rely on
their physical talent to carry them to
victory if their offense continues to
sputter. Don't be surprised if Penn
State's quality of play against
Minnesota again foretells the outcome
of the Michigan game.
Penn State 20, Minnesota 17
No. 17 PURDUE AT No. 10
WIscoNsiN: Wisconsin's early back-
to-back losses to Cincinnati and
Michigan seem like they occurred
years ago.
Wisconsin has been the most steady
team in the conference since then,
handing embarrassing defeats to Ohio
State, Michigan State, and Indiana.
Ron Dayne's Heisman hopes as well
as his pursuit of Ricky Williams'
career rushing record will likely be
decided this weekend. There's little

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doubt that Dayne will be able to get his
155+ yards Nov. 13 against Iowa, but if
Purdue gets ahead early, Wisconsin
may find themselves passing to catch
up.
Purdue has just gone through the
toughest one-month schedule in col-
lege football history. The Boilermakers
came out of their games against
Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State,
Penn State, and Minnesota with a 2-3
record.
The Boilermakers have reason to be
confident going into the contest.
Purdue coach Joe Tiller has never lost
to a Big Ten opponent other than Penn
State in West Lafayette.
Drew Brees has found three good
receivers in speedy Vinny Sutherland,
physical Randle Lane, and reliable
Chris Daniels.
The achilles' heel for Purdue has
been its tackling, especially in the sec-
ondary. If they don't change against
Wisconsin, Dayne will run through
arm tackles all day long.
Still, Purdue's offense has been in
high gear at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Purdue 28, Wisconsin 21
No. 20 OHIO STATE AT No. 19
MICHIGAN STATE: A loss in this game
for either team. and they can just about
forget about anything more prestigious
than the Outback Bowl.
Michigan State had two weeks to
think about its collapses against
Purdue and Wisconsin. It returns to
com'petition in East Lansing a bit more
humble, with the possible exception of
the great self promoter, Plaxico
Burress.
Despite two straight wins, the
Buckeyes really don't have the person-
nel to expect a return to glory days.
Quarterback Steve Bellisari has shown
elusiveness, which has been necessary
considering Ohio State's offensive line
is the worst the Buckeyes have had all
decade.
If Michigan State isn't moping
around about its lost opportunities, the
Spartans should be able to handle Ohio
State because the physical ability just
isn't there this year for the Buckeyes.
The Spartans have a faster defense,
better blocking, and more depth.
Michigan State 35, Ohio State 17
ILLINOIS vs OwA: Iowa's first year
coach, Kirk Farentz, inherited a talent-
less team with a poor attitude from leg-
end Hayden Fry. Despite the fact that
Iowa has won just one game, Farentz
should be given credit for bringing
more discipline to the program.
Next year, critics can start to judge
Farentz for his ability to harness the
talents of his football team. This year,
Illinois has moved into the pool of
teams Iowa can't realistically expect to
beat.
Illinois's pint-size running back,
Rocky Harvey, racked up 143 yards

last week against Penn State.
The rest of the offense was anemic,
but with lowa's defense replacing Penn
State's, Illinois has reason to be opti-
mistic. Expect much better statistics
from Kurt Kittner and the Illinois pass-
ing attack.
Illinois 34, Iowa 13
No. 3 VIRGINIA TECH AT WEST
VIRGINIA: The Hokies were never real-
ly in danger of losing last week to
Pittsburgh, but the game was still hum-
bling for Virginia Tech as its heralded
defense surrendered over 400 passing
yards to Pittsburgh.
Part of the credit should go to
Pittsburgh's great wide receivers, but
Virginia Tech is also finally feeling the
pressure that goes with national con-
tention.
They can expect to be the "circled
game" for every opponent for the rest
of the season.
While the Panthers are a better team
than West Virginia, Morgantown is a
tougher place to play than Pittsburgh
for road teams.
West Virginia fans are some of the
loudest and most opposing in the coun-
try, and they will fight to get under the
skin of freshman quarterback Michael
Vick.
Virginia Tech has to be careful that
they don't overlook the Mountaineers
while looking ahead to Miami on Nov.
13, the toughest foe the Hokies will
face all season.
The skill gap should propel the
Hokies to victory, but if West Virginia
gets a quick start, Marc Bulger and
Avon Cobourne could lead the
Mountaineers to the upset of the year.
Virginia Tech 31, West Virginia 20
Notre Dame at No. 5 Tennessee:
The Fighting Irish haven't cheated
their fans of any excitement this year,
whether their opponent was Michigan
or Navy.
Notre Dame's team may not be filled
with future NFL-ers, but Jarious
Jackson and Co.'s second-half poise
makes this a game worth tuning in to.
Tennessee seemed to be headed
towards a down year after they lost to
Florida and slipped by Memphis, but
Tennessee's defense has carried them
back to the nation's top five.
Solid victories over Georgia and
Alabama have many of the Volunteer's -
former naysayers back on the band-
wagon.
If Jamal Lewis runs all over Notre
Dame in the first half, don't worry
about the second. But if the Irish
defense keeps the game close down the
wire, don't count out crafty Jarious
Jackson.
Tennessee 24, Notre Dame 16
No. 21 TEXAS A&M AT No. 9
NEBRASKA
The Cornhuskers may not be on the
road to another four-loss season, but

they are vulnerable. Their defense is
still one of the best in the country, but
their offense isn't nearly as effective as
it once was.
A loss to Texas and a squeakei-
against league doormat Kansas is fur-
ther evidence of the Nebraska pro-
gram's decline.
Three weeks ago, many analysts
penciled the Cornhuskers in for the
Sugar Bowl, but now Nebraska is
fighting to avoid their second straight
year in a December bowl.
The best thing going for the
Nebraska offense is their athletic quar-
terback, Eric Crouch, and their former
quarterback, Bobby Newcombe,
who'sdoing a little of everything now.
But tailback Correll Buckhalter and
fullback Dan Alexander do not have
the physical tools' of a Laurence
Phillips or a Cory Schleisinger.
Texas A&M is a program in question
as well, as they've lost two games, and
are in poor shape to get back to the Big
12 title game.
Fullback Jamar Toombs, a produc-
tive runner and blocker will play at the
next level. But tailback Dante Ha ll, the
Aggies' main weapon a year ago, has
nearly disappeared from the national
scene this year.
Two good defenses with overrated
offenses will meet in Lincoln. The
loser will not only likely be relegated
to the Holiday Bowl, but their coach,
either R.C. Slocum or Frank Solich.
will have serious job insecurity.
Texas A&M 20, Nebraska 17
COLORADO Ar No.6 KANSAS STMrE
Fresh off a surprise victory in which
it manhandled Oklahoma, Colorado
looks to take down one of the nation's
last six undefeateds.
Mike Moschetti had his best game of
the year last week, passing for over 300
yards and three touchdowns.
Colorado has two of the most under-
rated wide receivers in the nation in
Marcus Stiggers and Javon Green. Ben
Kelly could be voted an All-American
as either a cornerback or a kick return-
er.
Kansas State should be given some
credit for not packing it in the year
after their national championship
hopes soured in the final two games.
But until Bill Snyder starts schedul-
ing real out-of-conference games, the
Wildcats won't be considered a nation-
al power.
This year, Kansas State has shown a
propensity to rebound from large
deficits.
It has come back against Iowa State,
Oklahoma State and Texas. Still, these
games have been a sign of vulnerably
as much as tenacity.
But this game is in Manhattan,
Kans., where Kansas State has been
nearly unbeatable the last two years.
Kansas State 24, Colorado 13

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