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Sports Weekend | WEEK 5 PRIMER

Ohio State Long on Talent and Memory

October 02, 1998|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Safe to say Ohio State hasn't forgotten last year's 31-27 loss at Happy Valley in which Penn State ran wild for 316 yards through rushing lanes prowled by Andy Katzenmoyer, the Buckeyes' Butkus Award-winning linebacker.

"They put a pretty good whuppin' on us over there last year," Ohio State Coach John Cooper said. "It was probably one of the worst defensive games we've played."

Ohio State will need a better effort to retain its No. 1 ranking and national title aspirations.

Make no mistake. Ohio State is the superior team here. Penn State Coach Joe Paterno may be only sandbagging slightly when he says this may be the best Ohio State team he has ever seen.

Last year, Ohio State platooned its quarterbacks, Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine.

This year, the Buckeyes have a clear No. 1 in Germaine while Paterno continues to juggle Kevin Thompson and Rashard Casey.

How's it going?

"You ought to ask John Cooper that, or Steve Spurrier," Paterno said of coaches familiar with platooning. "This is the first time I've done it. We've only played three games. We're still learning about it, groping with it. I don't know exactly whether we're handling it properly or not, but we're trying."

Don't underestimate Joe Pa. This will be the 536th Penn State game-day sideline he will have roamed as either a head coach or assistant.

Both schools had bye weeks to prepare. Ohio State struggled early against Missouri two weeks ago in Columbus before winning handily, 35-14. Penn State eked out a tougher-than-expected 20-13 victory at Pittsburgh.

This will be the first time Penn State has faced a No. 1 team since 1990, when the Nittany Lions upset top-ranked Notre Dame on Craig Fayak's last-minute field goal.

5 Things To Look For

1. South Carolina, the state, dropping football. The universities of Clemson and South Carolina are a combined 2-6. Worse, Clemson Coach Tommy West and South Carolina's Brad Scott each received dreaded votes of confidence this week from their athletic directors. We all know what that means.

2. The saga of marching bands. The Stanford brass, which pilloried Notre Dame last year with a halftime tribute to the Irish potato famine, has been banished from Saturday's game in South Bend. However, the Prairie View band had its two-game suspension lifted by the Southwestern Athletic Conference so that it could perform at Saturday night's State Fair game against Grambling at the Cotton Bowl. Reason? Fans fill the stadium to see the halftime show, not the football game.

3. The emergence of this year's Charles Woodson. Georgia cornerback Champ Bailey may be the nation's best all-purpose player, and he'll get the chance to woo Heisman voters when his Bulldogs travel to Baton Rouge for a key Southeastern Conference showdown against Louisiana State. In three Georgia wins, Bailey has charted 111 plays on defense, 40 on offense and 27 on special teams.

4. A reality check for Rutgers. In a story lost in last week's Prairie View euphoria, the Scarlet Knights ended a 21-game losing streak against Division I schools with a victory over Army, which does not speak well for our nation's defenses. So much for a two-game winning streak, however, as Rutgers hosts Miami on Saturday.

5. A whiskey bottle throwing contest at West Virginia. Shoot, the Mountaineers are on the road for two weeks, so we'll have to wait until Miami comes to Morgantown on Oct. 24. Background: Against Maryland on Sept. 19, West Virginia was assessed 30 yards in penalties when its fans threw whiskey bottles and golf balls onto the field.

Rating the TV Games


**** Don't leave the recliner

*** The yardwork can wait

** OK to flip to fishing show.

* For pro scouts only

** No. 16 West Virginia (2-1) at Navy (1-2), 9 a.m., FSW

Tailback Amos Zereoue makes Navy defenders look like seals en route to 200-yard rushing day.

Line: West Virginia by 15 1/2

** No. 13 Wisconsin (4-0) at Indiana (2-1), 9 a.m., ESPN2

On Prancer, on Donner, on Dixon, on Wisconsin, which takes the Hoosiers to the woodshed on your favorite cable outlet.

Line: Wisconsin by 9 1/2

** No. 18 Texas A&M (3-1) at Kansas (2-2), 9:30 a.m. FSW2

The "A" in A&M stands for asterisk as long as the Aggies are still taking a "W" for that forfeit loss to Louisiana Tech.

Line: Texas A&M by 13 1/2

** Stanford (1-3) at No. 23 Notre Dame (2-1), 11:30 a.m., Channel 4

Don't miss the Notre Dame band's halftime tribute to Stanford's politically incorrect years as the "Indians."

Line: Notre Dame by 18

** Southern Mississippi (1-2) at Tulane (3-0), 12:30 p.m., FSW

Southern Miss bit off too much schedule in opening losses to Penn State and Texas A&M, but look to start anew in the friendly Conference USA.

Line: No line

**** No. 3 Tennessee (3-0) at Auburn (1-2), 12:30, p.m., Channel 2

A rematch of last year's thrilling SEC championship game, won by Tennessee. Somehow, we don't expect this one will raise goose bumps.

Line: Tennessee by 6 1/2

*** Kentucky (3-1) at No. 22 Arkansas (2-1), 3 p.m., ESPN2

Tim Couch and his 21-gun offense take on the Razorbacks, who have risen out of the slop under first-year Coach Houston Nutt.

Line: Arkansas by 3 1/2

* No. 2 Nebraska (4-0) vs. Oklahoma State (2-1) at Kansas City, 4 p.m., FSW

Oklahoma State has two options: Don't show up for the game or get pounded by Nebraska's option, led by Bobby Newcombe and DeAngelo Evans.

Line: Nebraska by 27 1/2

*** No. 12 Georgia (3-0) at No. 6 LSU (3-0), 4 p.m. ESPN

It doesn't get much bigger than this south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Line: LSU by 8 1/2

* Howard (2-2) vs Bethune-Cookman (3-0), 4 p.m. BET

Sounds more like a court case than a matchup, doesn't it?

Line: No line

*** No. 14 Arizona (4-0) at No. 20 Washington (2-1), 7:15, FSW

Brock Huard steps out of the whirlpool to face another team with an ax to grind. Arizona hasn't forgotten last year's 58-28 loss in Tucson.

Line: Washington by 2

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