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September 30, 1999 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-09-30

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Thursday, September 30. 1999 - The Michigan Dail - 13A
Showdown between Buckeyes and Badgers highlights national slate

By Brm GaMn
For the Daily
With the non-conference schedule
behind them, most coaches have an estab-
lished quarterback going into the regular
season. But that's not always the case.
Traditional powerhouses (see
*higan, Ohio State, Florida) have ques-
ti.ns at the most important position,
throwing conventional wisdom out the
window and putting the ball up for grabs.
Expect quarterbacks to be on the hot seat
this weekend, as defenses force inexperi-
enced signal-callers to make quick deci-
sions under pressure.
The following is a guide to this week-
end in college football. All of these pre-
dictions were made without the aid of a
essee tutor.
(ABC 3:30)
The Badgers take another trip to the
state of Ohio, the scene of their loss to
Cincinnati two weeks ago, the same team
that gave Ohio State all they could handle
last week.
'Wisconsin's so-called "Great Dayne"
is looking to get back on track following
another subpar afternoon against
higan, one that may have cost him a
s at the Heisman trophy. Dayne will be
countered by the Buckeyes' Butkus award
candidate Na'il Diggs, as Ohio State
stackĀ§ the line to stop the run.
After a solid showing last week, the
Badgers will use sophomore quarterback
Brooks Bollinger more this week.
Bollinger will be forced to throw early
and often if Dayne is unable to crack the
On the other side of the ball, Ohio
will look to settle its quarterback
controversy with Steve Bellisari will be
pressured by a Wisconsin defensive line
that gave Michigan fits last week but has
plenty of deep threats to throw to, includ-
ing ken-Yon Rambo, who caught two
Touchdown passes against Cincinnati.
What looked to be one of the first big
showdowns of the Big Ten season has lost
its luster as Wisconsin has fallen out of the
Td 25 and Ohio State has struggled with
n iocre in-state opponents.
Michigan State may be looking ahead
to its annual grudge match with Michigan
next week. But that won't matter, as Iowa
isn't good enough to take advantage of the
Spartans' daydreaming.
Michigan State continues to improve,
as senior quarterback Bill Burke has
f d a big play receiver in Gari Scott.
EWScott and tight end Chris Baker will
have to pick up the slack for all-Big Ten

split end Plaxico Burress, who has been
nursing a sprained thumb.
The Spartans had -been playing run-
ning back by committee until last week,
when Lloyd Clemons rushed for 141
yards and claimed the starting role.
Iowa has yet to pass for a touchdown
this year and will face considerable pres-
sure from Spartan defensive end Robaire
Smith, who caused two fumbles last week
against Illinois. Spartans' defensive back
Amp Campbell, thought to be doubtful
will play Saturday, icing the Hawkeyes
already cold passing attack and forcing
them to rely on tailback Ladell Betts to
move the chains.
The historically self-destructive
Spartans should remain undefeated for
the Wolverines' trip to East Lansing next
week and could take advantage of a big
first half by resting their starters and
developing capable backups.
These Big Ten also-rans are not as bad
as you think. Thanks to some weak com-
petition, the Gophers, who haven't been to
a bowl game since 1986, are unbeaten
thus far. The Wildcats also led No. 11
Purdue well into the second half last
The Minnesota defense has given up
just 14 points in three games (second in
the country), albeit against subpar teams.
The Gophers should give a Northwestern
offense averaging less than 12 points per
game fits.
Northwestern's defense has been
stingy as well, stifling Purdue's Drew
Brees for most of Saturday's game. While
Minnesota has posted big numbers thus
far, quarterback Billy Cockerham has
struggled and will be challenged by the
Wildcat secondary.
Expect the Wildcats to key on the run,
hoping for Cockerham to make mistakes.
These two teams will make traditional
Big Ten coaches cringe, as off-tackle
rushing and possession passing give way
to the option and the long ball.
Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle
El may be the most exciting player in the
Big Ten but has struggled behind a weak
offensive line so far this season. Against
the Illini, Randle El will have a chance to
both run and shoot and will most certain-
ly entertain.
Across the field, Illinois quarterback
Kurt Kittner has thrown only one inter-
ception to ten touchdowns and threw the
ball 54 times against Michigan State last
week. The Illini game plan has been less
by design and more by necessity, as

opposing defenses have had little trouble
stopping the run.
Randle El will get back on track and
onto SportsCenter with his performance
against a porous Illini defense.
This ACC matchup features two
schools that have dominated the 1990s.
The Blue Devils' dominance has been in
basketball, while the Seminoles' dynasty
is on the gridiron.
Florida State sports the nation's most
explosive offense, with quarterback Chris
Weinke throwing to big play threats Peter
Warrick and Laveranues Coles. Warrick,
considered by many to be the front-runner
for the Heisman trophy, returned a punt
for a touchdown last week against North
Carolina and will give the Blue Devils fits
on special teams.
With Duke's defense spread out to
stop the pass, holes should open for run-
ning back Travis Minor, tied with Warrick
for the team lead in touchdowns.
If Florida State has a weakness, it
could be its defense, which has given up
336 yards per game. But like the offense,
the Seminoles' defense produces big
plays, forcing nine turnovers already this
Defensive lineman Corey Simon
leads the team with six tackles for a loss.
Duke's offense has used three quarter-
backs already this year, each of which will
need a strong game from the offensive
line to give them time to think.
The Seminoles can look ahead to their
showdown with Miami next week.
No. 21 Alabama at No. 3 Florida
(CBS 3:30)
Surf's up for the Crimson Tide fol-
lowing last week's victory over Arkansas.
But the reward is a trip to the Swamp,
where Florida has lost only twice in the
Florida's offense has excelled despite
injury, ranked second nationally with 43.5
points per game. But against Tennessee,
the Gators only posted 23 points. The
Gators have relied on a strong running
attack, with three backs averaging over six
yards per carry. That experience at run-
ning back may be crucial on Saturday
with starter Earnest Graham questionable
with a thigh bruise.
Alabama's defense appears up to the
challenge of shutting down the Gators.
The Tide has surrendered only 18.7
points/game this season. True freshman
defenseive end Kenny King leads the way
for Alabama's aggressive front seven,
which leads the SEC in sacks.
Alabama's offense is led by tailback

Shaun Alexander, who is sixth in the
nation in rushing with 153.5 yards per
game. Sophomore quarterback Andrew
Zow will handle the snaps for the Tide,
which committed six turnovers last week.
They'll have to be much more careful
with the ball against Florida, which has
caused eight turnovers of its own this year.
Alexander, who needs less than 700
yards to become Alabama's all-time rush-
ing leader, has his work cut out for him
against a defense that has allowed less
than 60 rushing yards a game. If he can
keep Florida's offense off the field, the
Tide has a chance.
Otherwise, the Gators will simply
outscore them.
Michigan and Florida aren't the only
states anticipating backyard brawls
between ranked in-state opponents. The
unbeaten Hokies will try to defend their
lone first-place vote in the AP poll on the
road against the rival Cavaliers.
The Hokies lead the nation in total
defense (165 yards allowed per game) but
will have their hands full with Virginia
running back Thomas Jones. Jones is fifth
in the country with 155 rushing
yards/game, so expect Virginia Tech to
stack the line of scrimmage. If so, quar-
terback Dan Ellis will have to beat the
Hokies through the air with a defensive
line that tallied 26.5 sacks last year in his
On offense the Hokies are vulnerable,
starting redshirt freshman Michael Vick
at quarterback. Vick threw three intercep-
tions last week but will be face a Cavalier
defense that hasn't proven they can stop
the pass. Virginia has been tough against
the run (109 yards per game) and will
force the freshman to beat them with his
With both teams looking to stop the
run, this game has the potential to be a
shootout. The outcome will be decided
by turnovers, as in-state rivalries often are.
With the home-field advantage
against an inexperienced quarterback,
Virginia will pull off the upset.
This Big 12 showdown pits the running
game of the post-Michael-Bishop
Wildcats against the passing game of the
life-after-Ricky-Williams Longhorns.
A year ago Texas had one offensive
gameplan -give the ball to Williams and
block whenever possible.This year Texas
has discovered the forward pass with
quarterback Major Applewhite.
Applewhite has thrown for nearly 1500

After losing Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, Texas has found Its passing
game behind quarterback Major Applewhite.

yards in five games, with only one inter-
ception for his nine touchdowns.
Even more comforting tor Texas fans
is that the Longlho,,ms have developed
another 100-yard back, iodges Mitchell,
who is also a threat to catch the ball out of
the backfield. While Kansas State's
defense hasn't been as dominant as they
were a year ago, the Wildcats still rank
1 1th in the country, giving up 245 yards
per game.
The Wildcats' offense has given the
defense considerable help, grinding out
rushing yards and keeping opposing
offenses off the field. Without Bishop
throwing the ball, running back Frank
Murphy is averaging 8 yards per carry,
allowing first-year starter Jonathan
Beasley freedom to learn at quarterback.
Texas' defense has caused an NCAA-
leading 14 turnovers this year, and may
prey on the inexperience of Beasley.
After weeks away from home due
to Hurricane Floyd, the Pirates stunned
then No. 9 Miami (ironically nicknamed
the Hurricanes) at North Carolina State,
which volunteered the use of their stadi-
um to the homeless Pirates.
The gracious guests rejoiced by tearing
down North Carolina State's goalposts, a
gesture frowned upon by Miss Manners
but celebrated by the rest of the nation.
East Carolina now finds itself ranked
nationally and undefeated with its tough-
est opponents behind them. The Pirates
are led by quarterback David Garrard and
running back Jaime Wilson, whose two
second-half touchdowns kept the come-

back alive.
They will be countered by an Army
offense ranked first nationally in rushing,-
prompting the obligatory slogan, "These
Colors DO Run".
The Pirates are riding high and looking'
to start 5-0 for the first time in a quarter
century. If they can slow Army's running
attack, they will achieve that mark and be
on the way to much more.
The Bulldogs are playing for offensive
line coach Pat Watson, who died ofa heart
attack earlier this week. While their minds
have undoubtedly been unfocused on
football this past week, the Bulldogs are
committed to playing for their coach's
memory at home on Saturday.
Sophomore quarterback Quincy Carter
leads the Georgia offense, both through
the air and on the ground. He has con-
nected with wide receiver Terrence
Edwards for four touchdowns already and
is averaging over six yards per carry run-
ning the ball.
Tiger quarterback Josh Booty is grow-
ing into the LSU offense, aided by their
week off to get familiar with his receivers.
Running backs Rondell Mealey and
Domanick Davis power the Tiger ground
game, which is averaging over 180
Georgia has everything to play for this
weekend, and will be doing it in front of
their home fans in Athens. With emotions
running high, the Bulldogs need to main-
tain composure and prevent turnovers to
win one for Coach Watson.
Georgia 28, Louisiana State27

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