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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / WEEK 9 | IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Martin Turns Tennessee Rout Into Tee Party

November 01, 1998

It's Tee Time at Peyton's Place.

Tee Martin, who took over for Tennessee hero Peyton Manning this season, has rarely been confused with an accurate passer, but he set three NCAA records Saturday as he completed 23 of 24 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns in the third-ranked Volunteers' 49-14 victory over South Carolina at Columbia, S.C.

Martin, a junior from Mobile, Ala., who hit on 51.7% of his passes before Saturday, set an NCAA record by completing 95.8% against the Gamecocks, beating the mark of 92.6% set by UCLA's Rick Neuheisel in 1983, when he completed 25 of 27 passes in a 27-24 victory over Washington.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder also set NCAA records for consecutive completions in one game (23) and two games (24). He completed his final pass against Alabama last week.

"It's hard to set a lot of passing records here in only two years," said Martin, referring to the dozens set by Manning in his four years.

Martin's 23 consecutive completions in one game topped the NCAA mark of 22 by Iowa's Chuck Long in 1984, the Southeastern Conference mark of 20 set by Mississippi's Ken Austin and Manning's school mark of 12. The two-game total topped the mark of 23 shared by USC's Rob Johnson and Maryland's Scott Milanovich.

Martin had touchdown passes of 21 and two yards and then hooked up with Peerless Price on touchdown passes of 13 and 71 yards as the Volunteers, 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC, built a 42-0 lead after three quarters.

On the play after Martin broke the consecutive completion record--a 10-yard pass to Price in the third quarter--Martin's bid at perfection ended when he threw too high on a pass intended for David Martin.

A loud cheer went up, half Tennessee appreciation, half South Carolina frustration.

"I didn't know what was happening; I didn't know about the record," Martin said. "I thought, 'Was that something good?' "

CHAMP NO CHUMP

Georgia cornerback Champ Bailey frustrates wide receivers like Michigan's Charles Woodson did last season. He returns kicks like the 1997 Heisman Trophy winner, and even has caught more passes.

That's where the comparisons end.

While some college football analysts say Bailey is having a better season than Woodson, the two-way Georgia star isn't getting much support for the Heisman Trophy because voting for a defensive player was a one-year "fad," in the words of ESPN analyst Lee Corso. Bailey has gone so unnoticed that UCLA quarterback Cade McNown, a Heisman favorite, didn't know who he was.

"He's from Ohio State right?" McNown asked. "Georgia? No? Then I definitely haven't seen him."

Woodson, the first defensive player to win the Heisman in the 63-year history of the award, emerged late last season after Tennessee's Manning lost his status as the runaway favorite. Woodson intercepted eight passes and caught 12 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns, a novelty that some analysts said gave voters a reason to vote against Manning.

Bailey has better offensive statistics than Woodson had at the same point last season and only one fewer interception. He has 35 receptions, 23 more than Woodson had, and five touchdowns--three more than Woodson.

He also has two interceptions.

"I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing, putting up the numbers and making sure we get the wins," Bailey said before catching eight passes for 99 yards in Saturday's 38-7 loss to Florida. "Charles opened the door for defensive players. I think you're going to see more defensive players win it in the future."

Bailey has found it hard to understand why he hasn't captured the attention of many of the 922 voters who must return their Heisman ballots before Dec. 10, two weeks after Georgia closes its regular season against Georgia Tech.

"The numbers are there," he said.

LEAF DROPS 200 GRAND

Former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf donated $200,000 to the school during a ceremony before the Cougars' game against Arizona State at Pullman, Wash.

Half the donation--for scholarships--was in honor of the late Andrew Rypien, the 3-year-old son of former Cougar quarterback Mark Rypien. Andrew died this fall after a lengthy battle with cancer. Mark Rypien was also at the ceremony.

The other $100,000 will go toward construction of a new field house on the campus.

"It's a love-love relationship between me and Washington State," said Leaf, who passed up his senior year to make himself available for the NFL draft.

He was the No. 2 pick in the draft and signed with the San Diego Chargers, who do not play this week.

Leaf recounted how Washington State recruited him from Great Falls, Mont., and credited the school with preparing him for success.

"I'm giving back what they have given me in a sense," Leaf said.

HEISMAN WATCH

1. Ricky Williams, Texas: Rushed for 150 yards in 37 carries, moving to within 294 of breaking Tony Dorsett's all-time mark of 6,082 yards.

2. Cade McNown, UCLA: Completed 19 of 31 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions, in victory over Stanford.

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