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Sports Weekend | WEEK 6 PRIMER

It Might Get Rough Around the Hedges

October 09, 1998|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Tennessee probably couldn't run up the score this year even if it wanted to, what with star back Jamal Lewis out because of a knee injury and Georgia possibly being the better team.

Bulldog fans have been waiting a long time for this day "between the hedges." Tennessee has won seven in a row in the series and last year Volunteer Coach Phillip Fulmer greatly annoyed Georgia Coach Jim Donnan, letting quarterback Peyton Manning direct a fourth-quarter touchdown drive in a game that ended up 38-13.

Donnan gave Fulmer an earful at the postgame handshake, although Fulmer denies he was trying to rub it in. "We were backed up on the 20, and I didn't want to fool with messing with a turnover and getting the onside kick, and next thing you know we're scrambling to make sure we win the ballgame," Fulmer explained of his pour-it-on thinking. "If I had it to do over, I'd probably take [Manning] out when we got to midfield. As it goes, it went."

With Lewis out for the season, Tennessee is in trouble, having to rely on a pair of backs named Travis, Stephens and Henry.

"They're not Jamal Lewis," Fulmer said. "But they're good, solid backs."

Lewis' loss also will put more pressure on quarterback Tee Martin.

There is no excuse for a Georgia letdown after last weekend's emotional victory at Louisiana State, but kids are kids.

"You only play 11 games every year, you ought to be able to play every week," Donnan said. "We've got to be ready to play emotionally, physically and mentally."

Georgia broke down the top-10 door at Baton Rouge and made national names of freshman quarterback Quincy Carter and cornerback-receiver Champ Bailey.

Line: Georgia by 3.

Rating the TV Games

RATINGS

**** Don't leave the recliner

*** The yardwork can wait

** OK to flip to fishing show.

* For arena football scouts only

* Indiana (2-2) at Michigan State (2-3), 9 a.m., ESPN

The fight for mediocrity continues in this Who Cares, Big Deal, Big Ten meeting at East Lansing.

Line: Michigan State by 10.

** Northwestern (2-3) at Iowa (2-3), 9 a.m., ESPN2

Gary Barnett signs a long-term deal, swears he's never leaving, then loses to Illinois; Hayden Fry is just long in the tooth.

Line: Iowa by 10.

** Oklahoma (2-2) at Texas (3-2), 9:30 a.m. FSW2

The game of the week 20 years ago, this matchup between fallen pillars has been reduced to Texas back Ricky Williams' touching tribute to Doak Walker.

Line: Texas by eight.

*** No. 22 Notre Dame (3-1) at Arizona State (2-3), 12:30 p.m., Ch. 7

Irish remember Sun Devil Stadium as site of 1988 championship moment; Sun Devils dread Arizona moving in for 1999 crowning.

Line: Arizona State by 3 1/2.

* No. 20 Arkansas (4-0) at Memphis (0-4), 12:30 p.m., FX

In a state awash in scandal, Razorbacks happy to report the NCAA infractions committee hasn't called once.

Line: Arkansas by 16 1/2.

* Cincinnati (0-4) at No. 24 Syracuse (2-2), 2:30 p.m., ESPN2

Syracuse passes out apology cards to fans while Cincinnati lights 46 candles to mourn defection of Buddy Ryan's son as defensive coordinator.

Line: Syracuse by 43.

** Oklahoma State (2-2) at Texas Tech (5-0), 4 p.m. FSW

While wondering whether Barry Sanders would have scored from the one-foot line against Nebraska, Oklahoma State searches for a reason to continue season in Lubbock.

Line: Texas Tech by 3 1/2.

*** No. 11 Louisiana State (3-1) at No. 6 Florida (4-1), 4 p.m., ESPN

Spurrier uses sophisticated rock, paper, scissors method to choose Jesse Palmer to start this key SEC game.

Line: Florida by 12 1/2.

*** No. 5 Kansas State(4-0) at No. 14 Colorado (5-0), 4 p.m, FX

Fans in Manhattan brace for the inevitable, a game against football players on scholarship.

Line: Kansas State by 15 1/2.

*** Purdue(3-2) at No. 12 Wisconsin (5-0), 5:30 p.m., ESPN2

A week after Drew Brees torches Minnesota for 522 yards and six touchdowns, he makes Swiss cheese out of Wisconsin defense.

Line: Wisconsin by 6 1/2.

5 Things To Look For

1. Frank Murphy's coming-out party. After sitting out four games for accepting money from Kansas State boosters, last year's top junior college tailback starts paying dividends in Saturday's key Big 12 Conference game at Boulder. Despite Murphy's shady past, which includes an arrest for carjacking, Wildcat Coach Bill Snyder calls Murphy "a good young person." Tom Osborne could not have said it better.

2. The thought police invading Lexington, where South Carolina receiver Zola Davis zigzags in silence against Kentucky. In a ridiculous move by officials, Davis was penalized for excessive celebration last week against Mississippi when he pointed to the sky in a brief religious moment after scoring a touchdown.

3. Another scary weekend for

No. 2 Nebraska. A week after nearly having their 18-game winning streak snapped against Oklahoma State, the Cornhuskers travel to College Station to take on pesky Texas A&M. Nebraska quarterback Bobby Newcombe is all but unstoppable when sound, but the knee he injured in the opener is gimpy again.

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