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COLLEGE FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT / WEEK 5

Paterno Record March Becoming a Slow Crawl

September 24, 2000

A thunderstorm delayed the kickoff of the Penn State-Ohio State game by 20 minutes Saturday, but that was nothing compared to the downpour thrust upon Nittany Lion Coach Joe Paterno during the subsequent three hours.

JoePa probably would have preferred curling up with a good book in front of a fire than endure the 45-6 pasting the Buckeyes handed the Nittany Lions as a horrifying season continues to unravel before his eyes.

It was the worst loss in Paterno's 35 seasons as a head coach. The loss also gave Penn State its first 1-4 start under Paterno, matching the school's worst record through five games since 1964 when Rip Engle was coach.

The margin eclipsed a 49-11 loss to UCLA in 1966--Paterno's first season as coach at Penn State--and a 44-6 loss to Nebraska in the 1983 Kickoff Classic.

"We can't go out and buy a bottle of medicine that will make everybody better," Paterno said. "We have to work at it."

The days of Penn State squeezing past its adversity on reputation and Paterno's sideline presence are long over.

And to think that only last month all anyone could talk about was how Paterno was primed to break Bear Bryant's record for most victories by a major college coach.

Instead, he's only at 318, five shy of tying the mark and surely having to wait until next season to get another shot.

Paterno seems resigned to the notion.

"I don't know what to do except for the way I've always done it," he said.

Asked what his next move was, he said, "I don't know. Really, I've got to sit back and take a look at it. If I felt strongly about something, I'd tell you."

Even Ohio State Coach John Cooper couldn't fathom what his team had just done to the coaching legend.

"Never did I dream we would beat Penn State as badly as we did," he said.

One man's dream is another's nightmare.

RUNNING IT UP

It's an election year, so it's no surprise that serious campaigning is in full swing all over the country.

But we're not talking presidents, senators or congressmen here.

Rather, college football's spin doctors are positioning themselves to plead their cases for the sport's great equalizer--the Bowl Championship Series.

Early returns are trickling in, but it's clear Florida is doing all it can to impress the pollsters.

How else can you explain Coach Steve Spurrier allowing backup quarterback Rex Grossman to throw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Jabbar Gaffney with five seconds to play in Saturday's 59-31 victory over Kentucky?

OK, we're talking about Spurrier, so maybe that's a bad example.

Still, teams--especially those with cupcake schedules--justify running up scores because otherwise it might hurt their standing within a formula that decides who plays for the national championship.

Which brings us to No. 4 Kansas State--king of the cream-puff schedule.

The Wildcats knocked off North Texas, 55-10, doing enough to make things look good but actually holding back by not scoring in the fourth quarter.

They did the same last week in a 76-0 victory over Ball State.

Tennessee, ranked No. 13 and already with a loss, thus forcing it to impress in other ways, didn't lose out on its chance to "make a statement," taking out mighty Louisiana Monroe, 70-3.

But do all these blowouts really help the game in the long run?

Delaware isn't taking any chances. The Blue Hens made their mark Saturday with an 84-0 victory over West Chester.

Are you listening, BCS?

DEFINITELY CATCHING ON

As Jerry Rice continues to fall out of favor for his incessant complaints about not getting the ball enough in the San Francisco 49er offense, his name continues to fall from the college record books.

Well, pretty soon anyway.

Jaquay Nunnally threw another dagger at Rice one week after Chattanooga's Cos DeMatteo bumped the future Hall of Famer from the top of the list for most touchdown receptions in a game.

Nunnally is closing in on Rice's Division I-AA record of 303 career receptions. With nine catches for 113 yards in a 31-6 victory over Tennessee State, the Florida A&M senior pushed his total to 256, passing Brown's Sean Morey, who caught 251 passes from 1995 to 1998.

But first, Nunnally has Idaho's Kasey Dunn in his sights. Dunn ranks second on the list behind Rice with 268 receptions.

If Nunnally keeps his pace, he could have Rice's record the weekend before Halloween.

SACKED AGAIN

After Nevada quarterbacks David Neill and Brett Staniger were sacked 15 times two weeks ago against Texas Christian, the Wolf Pack thought pileups were a thing of the past.

Nevada was unlucky in a different way Saturday, but the offensive line couldn't be blamed this time.

Instead, the start of the Nevada-Wyoming game was delayed after the Nevada team bus became stuck behind a 12-car pileup about 10 miles from Laramie, Wyo.

The team stayed in Cheyenne, 50 miles east of Laramie, on Friday night and left at 3:15 p.m. Saturday but did not arrive at War Memorial Stadium until 6:40, 20 minutes before the scheduled kickoff.

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