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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / WEEK 11 | In the Spotlight

Hurricanes Check In With Motivation

November 15, 1998

Miami might have been in for an easy game against lowly Temple Saturday, but that didn't stop Hurricane Coach Butch Davis from looking for a way to give his players an extra edge.

Davis invited Philadelphia Flyer Coach Roger Neilson into the locker room for a pregame pep talk.

Neilson, who coached the NHL's Florida Panthers before heading to the City of Brotherly Love, offered stirring motivational words and showed a video full of hard checks.

The result was obvious on the field, where the Hurricanes looked like a gridiron version of the old Broad Street Bullies, racking up 415 yards and forcing the Owls' young, inexperienced offense to fumble six times in a 42-7 Miami romp.

"Excuse my ignorance about hockey, but with all the checking and body-slamming, my kids were 'ooing' and 'aahing' like it was a Dick Butkus highlight," Davis said about the video.

REWORK THE RESUME

Auburn, searching for a coach to replace Terry Bowden, has requested permission to interview Temple's Bobby Wallace.

Wallace said he spoke Friday to Auburn Athletic Director David Housel.

"I have spoken with [Housel] and I'll be talking with Auburn soon," Wallace said on the eve of the Owls' game against Miami. "I will not be meeting with anyone from Auburn over the weekend. We're concentrating on this game."

Not enough, apparently.

ISLAND RESPITE

Northwestern heads to Hawaii next week for some much-needed R&R against the Rainbows, who have a nation's-worst 16-game losing streak.

Was it really only three years ago that Wildcat Coach Gary Barnett was the toast of college football?

Northwestern (2-9) completed its Big Ten Conference schedule 0-8, losing to Penn State, 41-10, on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions scored one touchdown when freshman tailback Eric McCoo fumbled while running along the sideline, but caught the bouncing ball in stride 15 yards downfield and sprinted in for a 57-yard scoring play.

Penn State Coach Joe Paterno didn't really know what to say after the game to Barnett.

"I said, 'Gary, back's running down the middle of the field, a grass field and the ball bounces right back at him. . . . It's really not your season,' " Paterno said.

"The football gods aren't with you," added the head of officials.

Barnett had an inkling it would be like this.

"I knew we were really fragile," he said. "You can talk about it in August, but when you swallow it, it's different. Right now it's hard to swallow."

ANIMATED RESPONSE

With no game Saturday, USC players had plans for the weekend--but nothing too taxing with UCLA and Notre Dame ahead.

Those games will determine whether USC finishes a middling 7-5, an impressive 9-3 or in between.

Said receiver Billy Miller: "I'm going to watch TV and try to not think about football too much. I'll watch cartoons all day. That will get your mind off football."

SORRY SWAN SONG

New Mexico played Utah Saturday, the Lobos' final football game as a member of the Western Athletic Conference.

It was not a fond farewell.

New Mexico lost, 41-7, for its seventh loss in the last eight games under first-year Coach Rocky Long, former defensive coordinator at UCLA.

"I don't know what to say," said Lobo quarterback Graham Leigh, who had four passes intercepted Saturday. "We just played terrible. Everybody."

The Lobos begin play in the Mountain West Conference next season.

"We made way too many mistakes to overcome today, but it's worse than that," Long said. "We didn't play well on offense, defense or special teams. They weren't prepared to play and that's my fault. I apologize to everybody for that."

COSTLY VICTORY

It wasn't all good news for Michigan, despite the Wolverines' 27-10 victory over Wisconsin.

Prize freshman tailback Justin Fargas, from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High, suffered what Coach Lloyd Carr described as a serious dislocation of his right knee while Fargas was performing fourth quarter mop-up duty.

Fargas took a handoff, was stopped, then took a hit on the knee from another tackler while being held up at the line of scrimmage.

"The loss of Fargas at the end is a big blow," Carr said. "That's a real downer on the day, I'll tell you."

PRO POTENTIAL

Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch stood on the sideline as the chant rained down from the Commonwealth Stadium crowd.

"One more year! One more year!"

Couch, who passed for 492 yards in the Wildcats' 55-17 victory over Vanderbilt, says has not decided whether to return for his senior year or enter the NFL draft. He gave no visible response to the crowd, but he heard the plea.

"Now I know they want me to stay," Couch said. "That's going to make it tough to make my decision. It's kind of neat--people actually caring about what I do, but there's no pressure. You have to do what is good for you."

Sounds like a pro already.

HEISMAN HANDICAP

1. Ricky Williams, Texas: Gained 141 yards and scored a touchdown in Longhorns' 42-35 loss to Texas Tech. Red Raiders' Ricky Williams rushed for 148 yards. NCAA determining whether that's a record for most combined yards in one game by two players with same name.

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