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The Inside Track | Chris Dufresne / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The Power of the Pac-10 Sits in Utah, of All Places

October 06, 2003|Chris Dufresne

Excerpts from a national college football writer's imaginary postgame news conference:

First off, I thought the student-athletes fought hard and showed tremendous character, but rather than me blathering about what happened from Fort Lewis to Wabash I'd prefer to go directly to the question-and-answer period.

Question: Could you identify the best team in the Pac-10?

Answer: Right now I'd have to say Utah. I know the Utes play in the Mountain West Conference, but Friday's win over Oregon makes Utah 2-0 in Pac-10 play this year. That would put the Utes in a tie for the conference lead with Oregon State and Washington State.

Q: How do you think Alabama's loss to Georgia went over with Crimson Tide fans?

A: I'm sure the suicide-watch mood brightened Saturday night after hearing Texas Tech crushed Texas A&M, 59-28. Although Alabama fans hate losing, they hate Aggie Coach Dennis Franchione even more after he bolted Tuscaloosa for College Station without even saying goodbye.

See, when you're really down, there's nothing more uplifting than knowing someone you hate is sick to his stomach too.

Q: What planet is Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons from?

A: Astronomers believe it's the Planet (David) Klingler. Obviously, Symons is making a mockery of modern defenses. He passed for eight touchdowns against Texas A&M and has amassed 1,752 passing yards in his last three games, roughly equivalent to what Nebraska quarterbacks totaled from 1972 through 2001. The question about Symons is whether he's the real deal, or the product of the kind of crazy pass-happy factory that produced the likes of Andre Ware and Klingler at Houston a few years back.

Call me if Symons throws for eight touchdowns against Texas and Oklahoma.

Q: Can Miami win the national title now that star tailback Frank Gore has been lost to a season-ending knee injury?

A: My short answer is no. Gore's backup, Jarrett Payton, is a really nice kid and the son of Walter, but you can make a sandwich in the time it takes Jarrett to get around the corner. Miami is going to move receiver Jason Geathers back to tailback to shore up the position, but there's not much time to fiddle around with Florida State on the docket Saturday.

Q: What was the more shocking upset this weekend, Navy over Air Force or Baylor defeating Colorado?

A: I'd say the Baylor win, given that I thought the Bears dropped football six or seven years ago. Actually, they had only lost 37 of their last 38 Big 12 Conference games before Gary Barnett's blundering Buffaloes rolled into Waco. You know what just has to just kill Barnett? He's in this 2-3 mess of a season because Craig Ochs, his quarterback of the future, got mad last year and transferred to Montana. On the day Colorado was losing to Baylor, Ochs passed for 168 yards and a touchdown to lead Montana to a big win over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Thanks to Ochs, Colorado is San Luis Abysmal.

Q: You think California had a letdown after its big win over USC last week?

A: I'd call it more of a meltdown. The weird thing is Cal Coach Jeff Tedford, all but canonized after he bamboozled USC last week, let quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffer through a horrible day in the loss to Oregon State. Rodgers completed nine of 34 passes for 52 yards. Rodgers was so torn up afterward he said, "I embarrassed my family, myself and my team." Meanwhile, Tedford has a capable backup, Reggie Robertson, sitting on the bench.

Q: Do you have any funny stats on how pathetic Rutgers is?

A: As a matter of fact, yes ... Saturday's loss to Virginia Tech was Rutgers' 23rd straight Big East defeat. That means the Scarlet Knights have not won a conference game this century. Yeah, but you say Rutgers is 3-2? There are eight winless teams in Division I-A and Rutgers has beaten two of them, Buffalo and Army. Rutgers scored its other win against Navy.

Q: Are you going to rag all over Kansas State in light of the Wildcats' loss to Texas?

A: No, that is not my style. I would only remark that Kansas State is now 0-70 against ranked opponents on the road. Of course, not all of those losses can be pinned on Coach Bill Snyder, who has turned the Kansas State program from laughingstock into a respected power. Snyder's road record against ranked opponents is only 0-17.

Q: Did you jinx Northern Illinois by giving them some publicity in last week's column?

A: No and yes. Northern Illinois pulled out an overtime win over Ohio to run its record to 5-0, but someone definitely turned the pilot down on my man Michael "the Burner" Turner, who rushed for only 43 yards in 15 carries.

Q: How could Arizona afford to pay almost a million dollars to buy out John Mackovic's contract?

A: Easy. According to the Arizona Republic, the man who picked up the tab was Angel owner Arte Moreno, a Valley resident and friend of the U of A program. Moreno released a statement to the newspaper saying, "I'm a Wildcat and I'm supportive of [Athletic Director] Jim Livengood."

Remember that when the Angels cite "fiscal restraint" for not signing top free agents this winter.

Q: Which two teams have the best chance of going undefeated?

A: Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. Saturday's 53-7 win over Iowa State tells me Oklahoma may have separated itself from the field. Virginia Tech has three tough games left: Miami, without Gore, Pittsburgh and Boston College.

Q: Is Nevada Las Vegas Coach John Robinson OK?

A: Yes. Some kook in the stands at Nevada hit Robinson in the head with a bottle at halftime of Saturday's game. But any local fan who remembers how long the onetime Ram coach stuck with Dieter Brock at quarterback knows how hardheaded Robinson is.

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