They grew up and played high school football a few miles apart. But they probably wouldn't know each other if they bumped heads on the street.
And Saturday they'll be meeting as starters for the first time--3,000 miles from their South Bay homes--with the No. 1 ranking in college football at stake.
This week's showdown between top-ranked Oklahoma and second-rated Miami will have South Bay roots thanks to the presence of Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Jamelle Holieway, the phenomenal sophomore out of Banning High, and Miami junior offensive lineman Scott Provin, a West Torrance-El Camino College product entrusted with the safety of Miami's own star QB, Vinny Testaverde.
The team whose quarterback has the big game figures to win. So far, Holieway has led an Oklahoma juggernaut that has steamrolled to 1,002 yards in two games. Holieway, the little Svengali of the option, leads the Sooners with 142 yards rushing (an average of 8.4 per carry) and three touchdowns. He has also hit five passes for 56 yards.
More amazing, the Sooners are riding a 10-game winning streak and haven't lost since Holieway, then a freshman, replaced Troy Aikman as the starter. Aikman was injured last year in Oklahoma's last loss--27-14 to Miami.
Provin is also on a roll. Considered somewhat small for a big-time offensive lineman at 247 pounds, Provin, who redshirted last season, got an opportunity to start after a teammate's injury. Shifted from guard to starting tackle, he impressed the Miami coaches as the Hurricanes beat rival Florida in hostile Gainesville and has remained a starter.
Thus, the big game in Miami's Orange Bowl is causing ripples on the West Coast.
"Jamelle calls every week," Banning Coach Chris Ferragamo said. "Last week he wanted to talk to us about our game with Fontana. He's got a teammate from Fontana and they had a big bet on the game (Banning won, 28-14). He calls Coach (Joe) Dominguez all the time."
Ferragamo said he so enjoys watching Holieway when the Sooners are on television that he schedules practices around the games. He said Holieway's heroics are surprising even to him. "He gets more surprising every game.
"He's just so exciting to watch, he makes the game fun. So far I haven't seen anybody defense him the way I would defense him. You can't defense him, not with that backfield. If you key on him, Tillman (Oklahoma's tailback) will kill you."
Holieway was in such demand by the news media this week that efforts to reach him were rebuffed by Oklahoma sports publicists, who set up a press conference for him instead.
No such problem for Provin. The Torrance native is surprised by the celebrity status of his team around Miami. "The atmosphere is incredible," he said. "California has so many more things going on. Here we have the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Hurricanes. We get a lot of attention. This is the first time I've ever done interviews."
Provin said he was nervous before his start in Gainesville but described it as fun. A school spokesman said the coaches were impressed with Provin's baptism under tough conditions.
"You go to places like Gainesville and South Carolina and you realize what a big part the home crowd plays," Provin said. "Sometimes it's hard to hear Vinny. The linemen have to pass the audibles down the line to each other."
Provin said game preparations are intense under Coach Jimmy Johnson. A typical day after classes: weightlifting at 1:30, game films at 2:30, practice from 3:30 to 6:30, a quick dinner, then meetings until 9. "Then it's sofa city," he said. "Coach Johnson doesn't give us much time to relax."
Provin took recruiting trips to some Pac-10 schools after finishing at El Camino but opted for Miami, where his grandparents live. "It was an opportunity to try something different," he said.
"I think I made the right decision. I've got the best of both coasts."
Provin may have left California, but California hasn't necessarily left him. His teammates have tagged him "Driftwood." He explained with a laugh, "They like Californians out here. They think we're all laid back. I guess it fits."
Provin's parents travel to as many games as possible, and Provin said they and his West High coaches "are my No. 1 fans."
So who's really the No. 1 team? "We've got to get by Oklahoma, but we're right in there," Provin said. "Whoever wins will be No. 1."
Ferragamo said Holieway and Oklahoma "want Miami really bad, more than anything else."
What more is there to say?
Provin: "Say hi to everybody back home."