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The Inside Track | Chris Dufresne / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Oklahoma, Miami Have a Great View at the Top

October 13, 2003|Chris Dufresne

A few soggy thoughts after returning from the Amazon rain forest to witness Miami defeat Florida State in a kayak race ...

Or, to paraphrase singer Johnny Nash, "I can see clearly now the rain is gone."

This partial parting of college football clouds has revealed:

* Oklahoma and Miami are the two best teams.

Oklahoma's 65-13 win over Texas in the Red River Shootout proved again that Bob Stoops is the best big-game coach and Texas Coach Mack Brown isn't.

You almost feel sorry for Brown. Someone wrote Stoops versus Brown was as big a mismatch as Pedro Martinez versus Don Zimmer, but as yet an ambulance has not been required to dispatch a dazed Brown from a stadium.

Was it Brown's fault that, in his prime, he has been pitted against two of the best coaches ever? He left North Carolina for Texas because he couldn't beat Florida State's Bobby Bowden. Austin seemed the perfect fit for Brown until 1999, when Oklahoma hired Stoops.

Now, in Texas, they compare the magnitude of the blowouts, as in, "What was worse, Oklahoma's 63-14 win in 2000 or Saturday's 65-13 assault?"

Any way you add it up -- Oklahoma has won the last four games by the cumulative score of 177-54 -- Brown can win 10 games a year at Texas but is in over his 10-gallon hat head against Stoops.

Brown must lay awake at night cursing Iowa, which was expected to hire Stoops after Hayden Fry's retirement. Stoops played for Iowa under Fry, but the school sent out the wrong back-channel hiring signals and Stoops went to Oklahoma instead.

Miami, of course, suckered everyone into thinking its regular-season reign was in peril after a close-call win against West Virginia, but Saturday's 22-14 victory at Florida State was about the most lopsided eight-point win imaginable.

"People doubted us," Miami quarterback Brock Berlin said after the game. "Doubted our offense, doubted our team. We showed today we are a great team."

No doubt.

* All you one-loss teams are back in the hunt. Five undefeated teams in last week's Associated Press top 10 lost over the weekend, leaving Oklahoma, Miami and Virginia Tech as the only unbeaten teams in title contention.

Miami and Virginia Tech play Nov. 1 in what amounts to the "Next Big Game," so one team there will come out with a loss.

Oklahoma looks invincible now, but if you can put a knock on Stoops it's that he has a history of losing the "little ones." Oklahoma, for instance, has lost to Oklahoma State each of the last two years.

If Miami defeats Virginia Tech, well, the Hurricanes still have to play Tennessee and Pittsburgh.

This year's bowl championship series title game may include one or two teams with one loss. Schools such as USC, which thought a triple-overtime loss to California ended its Sugar Bowl dreams, can still get there with the right combination of victories and computer help.

In 1998, remember, Bowden won a trip to the national-title game while he was sitting on his couch after UCLA and Kansas State losses unexpectedly vaulted Florida State into the Fiesta Bowl.

The point here is to keep playing to the echo of the final BCS whistle.

* Someone was going to clip Ohio State sooner or later. The defending national champions had been fire-walkers the last two seasons, winning 10 of 19 games by seven or fewer points. Saturday night in Madison, Wisconsin ended the streak with a 17-10 victory. To boot, this was the same week former tailback Maurice Clarett filed a $2.5-million lawsuit against the school.

You know what they say about the good times not lasting forever

It was a remarkable, seat-of-their-pants run for the Buckeyes, who have been so resilient/lucky you thought they were going to find some way to win until the final minute.

The game wasn't really secure until backup quarterback Matt Scharbert's six-yard run gave Wisconsin a first down in the final two minutes and Ohio State was out of timeouts.

*

Weekend Wrap

With Penn State and Florida State both losing, Joe Paterno kept his one-game lead over Bowden in the race for all-time major coaching victories. Paterno remains at 338 wins, and Bowden is at 337. The real question is how much longer can Paterno hold Bowden off? Penn State is headed for its third losing season in the last four while Paterno even admitted that his team took a step backward in Saturday's loss at Purdue. Penn State is 2-5 for only the second time in the last 38 years under Paterno. The last time it happened was in 2000.

Northern Illinois and Texas Christian, both non-BCS schools, are two of the five remaining undefeated teams in Division I-A, yet probably have no shot at making a major bowl. To qualify for a BCS game, the schools would have to finish sixth or higher in the final BCS rankings, the first of which will be released next Monday.

With a 44-0 victory over Carleton on Saturday, St. John's (Minn.) Coach John Gagliardi is four wins shy of breaking Eddie Robinson's all-time victory mark of 408. If St. John's, a Division III school, keeps winning, Gagliardi would surpass Robinson with a home win against Bethel on Nov. 8.

With Boston College leaving the Big East to become the 12th member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, look for the Big East to make a run at South Florida, which would give the conference a recruiting foothold in a hotbed state for talent.

How high can he go? Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons has already had a dream season, with 2,954 passing yards and 27 touchdowns, but consider his team still has at least six games left, seven if the Red Raiders make a bowl game.

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