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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 4 PRIMER

Michigan Returns to Scene of Prime

September 15, 2000|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

This is UCLA's home turf, but it was Michigan's field of dreams on Jan. 1, 1998, when a 21-16 victory over Washington State in the Rose Bowl lifted the Wolverines to a share of their first national title in 50 years.

Michigan is back in the national title chase again and, if things go well, the Wolverines will bypass this year's Jan. 1 Rose Bowl for a title trip to the Orange Bowl.

Both schools are without their starting quarterbacks. Michigan lost Drew Henson to a broken foot in fall camp, and UCLA's Cory Paus was knocked out on the first series against Alabama on Sept. 2.

Michigan may have tried to rush Henson back for this game if not for the superlative play of redshirt freshman John Navarre, who has thrown for 394 yards and seven touchdowns against Bowling Green and Rice.

"He's a pretty quiet guy," Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr said of Navarre, "but deep inside he possesses a fire and a passion to be as good as he can be."

Carr said, however, that when Henson recovers, "he's the starting quarterback."

UCLA's quarterback situation is more unsettled. Ryan McCann rescued the Bruins in the Alabama upset but struggled last week against Fresno State and was replaced by Scott McEwan.

McCann gets first shot at the Michigan defense, but Coach Bob Toledo won't wait long to make a switch if McCann falters.

Saturday's game is also a homecoming for 10 Southern California players on the Michigan roster, including former Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High star Justin Fargas, who sat out last season because of a broken leg.

RATING THE TV GAMES

* The line: Michigan by 5

**** Whoa, Nellie

*** The yardwork can wait

** OK to pay bills while watching

* For XFL scouts only

** California (1-0) at No. 19 Illinois (2-0), 9 a.m., ESPN.

There are rumors, unsubstantiated, that Cal may have an offense this year.

* The line: Illinois by 14 1/2.

** Maryland (1-0) at West Virginia (1-0), 9 a.m., ESPN2.

Maryland provides the crab cakes, West Virginia the drunken rowdies.

* The line: West Virginia by 10.

** Northwestern (2-0) at No. 20 Texas Christian (1-0), 9 a.m., FSN.

Strange but true: Gary Barnett never led Northwestern to a 2-0 start.

* The line: Texas Christian by 12 1/2.

** Minnesota (1-1) at Baylor (1-0), 9:30 a.m., FSN2.

Gophers try to rebound from odorous loss to Ohio.

* The line: Minnesota by 8 1/2.

*** Purdue (2-0) at No. 21 Notre Dame (1-1) 10 a.m., Channel 4.

No truth NBC hocked Notre Dame's TV rights to Nebraska fans last weekend.

* The line: Purdue by 6.

*** Florida (2-0) at Tennessee (1-0), 12:30 p.m., Channel 2.

Once, the schools boasted quarterbacks named Wuerffel, Manning and Martin.

* The line: Florida by 3.

* Tulsa (0-2) at Rice (1-1), 12:30 p.m, FSN.

You have a screw loose if you're watching this game instead of Florida-Tennessee or UCLA-Michigan.

* The line: Rice by 10.

** Indiana (0-1) at Kentucky (1-1), 3 p.m., ESPN2.

Wildcats hire Bob Knight as interim special teams coach.

* The line: Kentucky by 4.

** No. 22 Michigan State (1-0) at Missouri (1-1), 4 p.m., FSN.

One hundred yards rushing should be drop in bucket for Michigan State's T.J. Duckett.

* The line: Michigan State by 10 1/2.

*** Louisiana State (2-0) at Auburn (2-0), 4:30 p.m., ESPN.

Being promoted as the Booty (LSU quarterback Josh) vs. Rudi (Auburn tailback Johnson) show.

* The line: Auburn by 7.

*** No. 25 Southern Mississippi (0-1) at No. 15 Alabama (1-1), 6 p.m., ESPN2.

Crimson Tide, this is your Sept. 15 wake-up call.

* The line: Alabama by 5 1/2.

*** No. 5 Texas (1-0) at Stanford (1-1), 7:15, FSN.

Stanford rejuvenated after getting annual loss to San Jose State out of the way.

* The line: Texas by 13.

THE OTHER GAMES

SATURDAY

*--*

FAVORITE LINE UNDERDOG at Colorado 3 1/2 Washington at Oregon 21 Idaho Colorado State 3 at Arizona State at Arizona 17 1/2 San Diego State at Utah 10 Washington State at Virginia Tech 33 1/2 Rutgers Iowa State 2 1/2 at Iowa at Ohio State 23 Miami, Ohio Mississippi 5 1/2 at Vanderbilt at East Carolina 20 1/2 Tulane at Clemson 32 Wake Forest at Wisconsin 14 Cincinnati at Florida State 25 North Carolina Penn State 6 at Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech 16 Navy Virginia 20 at Duke at Temple 9 1/2 Bowling Green at Arkansas 13 Boise State Memphis 7 at Arkansas State Connecticut 14 at Buffalo at Kansas 9 Alabama Birmingham at North Carolina State 9 1/2 Southern Methodist at South Carolina 23 Eastern Michigan at Texas Tech 32 Louisiana Lafayette at Kansas State 46 Ball State at New Mexico State 3 1/2 New Mexico at Texas A&M 24 1/2 Texas El Paso at Houston 14 1/2 Army at Nevada Las Vegas 15 North Texas

*--*

5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1. Gary Barnett pickets Big 12 offices. The second-year Colorado coach is miffed and he has a right to be. When a reporter showed Barnett his team's 2000 schedule last fall, Barnett quipped, "This can't be our schedule." It was. Bad enough Colorado opened against Colorado State, USC and Washington, but the Buffaloes' first three conference games are against No. 7 Kansas State, Texas A&M and No. 5 Texas.

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