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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 3 PRIMER

When You're No. 1, It's One Tough Ticket

GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 1 Nebraska (1-0) at No. 23 Notre Dame (1-0); Saturday, 11:30 a.m., Channel 4

September 08, 2000|CHRIS DUFRESNE

And you thought 25,000 Alabama fans were nuts last week for trekking to Pasadena for the UCLA game?

Hey, at least those people had tickets.

Nebraska's first visit to South Bend since 1947 has set new records on the frenzy meter.

Only 4,000 tickets were allocated to Nebraska, yet 10,000 or more fans will make the trip anyway, ostensibly to congregate outside the stadium in rapt anticipation of victory.

Is there a pill to treat this?

There were reports of people auctioning parking passes this week on eBay.

Granted, this is the kind of game NBC signed up for when it added Notre Dame to its fall programming.

There hasn't been this much buzz under the Golden Dome since No. 1 Florida State visited South Bend in 1993. That game garnered a whopping 16 share for NBC.

Notre Dame and Nebraska have combined for 16 national titles but haven't met since the Cornhuskers clobbered the Irish in the 1973 Orange Bowl, 40-6.

Nebraska, a prohibitive favorite to get back to the Orange Bowl this year, is coming off a 49-13 opening rout over San Jose State while Notre Dame snapped a four-game losing streak with last weekend's 24-10 victory over Texas A&M.

Hard to believe, but a Notre Dame victory would catapult the left-for-dead program back into national title contention and do wonders for Coach Bob Davie's job security.

For Nebraska, well, it's just another big game.

You know these are two heavyweights because each school recruited the other's starting quarterback. Notre Dame's Arnaz Battle took an official visit to Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers' Eric Crouch made a recruiting stop in South Bend, Ind.

* The line: Nebraska by 13 1/2

5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1. Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez joins a Fantasy League? He already has, sort of. Because 26 Badger players were suspended in a discount shoe store caper, Alvarez has to decide how he wants to divvy up the punishment through the first four games. Eleven Badgers received three-game suspensions while 15 others must sit one game. Decisions, decisions. Chances are Alvarez will stack the deck for incoming Oregon this week and let his players serve their suspensions against Cincinnati and Northwestern.

2. The Pacific 10 Conference is 7-0 in nonconference play and has scored major knockouts against Penn State and Alabama, but we'll find out this weekend if the conference is really back. On tap is Ohio State at Arizona, Oregon at Wisconsin, Miami at Washington, Colorado at USC and San Jose State at Stanford. FYI: San Jose State has won two in a row against Stanford.

3. Jason Thomas makes his debut. The former Dominguez Hills quarterback and top USC recruit takes his first collegiate snap when Nevada Las Vegas opens the season at Iowa State. Thomas redshirted at USC in 1998 and sat out last year after former Trojan coach John Robinson took over at UNLV. Thomas, a redshirt sophomore who turns 21 in December, is considered by many the most important recruit in school history.

4. Nick Aliotti gets a second crack at Wisconsin this weekend when Oregon visits Madison. Aliotti was defensive coordinator at UCLA in the 1999 Rose Bowl when Wisconsin flattened the Bruins, 38-31. Aliotti fled to Oregon in the ugly aftermath. Last week, however, his plucky Duck defense held Nevada to 103 yards, fewest given up to an Oregon opponent since 1962.

5. The Great Texas Quarterback debate. The Longhorns' home season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette is more than a game. The battle between Major Applewhite and Chris Simms could set the tone for the season. All indications are that sophomore Simms will make the start over the junior Applewhite, who set 11 school records last year and was the Big 12 Conference's player of the year. But only the quarterbacks and coaches know for sure.

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THE OTHER GAMES

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FAVORITE LINE UNDERDOG SATURDAY Utah 2 at California at Stanford 17 1/2 San Jose St. at Wisconsin 8 1/2 Oregon Oregon St. 9 at New Mexico at Michigan 27 1/2 Rice at Penn St. 15 Louisiana Tech at Alabama 21 1/2 Vanderbilt Brigham Young 2 at Air Force at Northwestern 13 Duke Akron 6 1/2 at Central Michigan Miami, Ohio 10 at Eastern Michigan North Carolina 10 1/2 at Wake Forest at Purdue 43 Kent at Iowa St. 13 Nevada Las Vegas at Iowa 7 1/2 W. Michigan at Minnesota 20 Ohio University at Clemson 17 Missouri Pittsburgh 7 1/2 at Bowling Green Texas Christian 22 at Nevada at Florida 40 Middle Tennessee at Maryland 10 Temple at Rutgers 24 Buffalo Oklahoma St. 13 1/2 at Tulsa at Texas Tech 30 1/2 North Texas at Oklahoma 32 Arkansas St. at Louisiana State 13 Houston Florida St. 22 at Georgia Tech at Memphis 17 Louisiana Monroe SMU 2 1/2 at Texas El Paso

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