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Time to Take a Look at Halftime Statistics

October 16, 2003|Chris Dufresne

We've reached the halfway point of a half-decent season, so maybe it's time to take half a second and assess the situation.

Halfway there: Oklahoma. The Sooners lead the nation in swagger. Last week's boot-kicking of Texas proved why Bob Stoops is college football's best coach. He has grade-A players and nerves of steel, witness his fake-punt call against Alabama in September.

In its last three games, Oklahoma has outscored UCLA, Iowa State and Texas by 177-44.

Why I still have Miami ranked No. 1 is a private matter between me and my therapist, but it has something to do with stubbornness and refusing to drop my preseason No. 1 until it loses a game.

Half a Heisman: Oklahoma quarterback Jason White wins it in my mind over Virginia Tech running back Kevin Jones and Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons.

While Symons has made headlines with his extraordinary passing numbers, White has guided Oklahoma to a 6-0 record and led the nation's No. 1 scoring offense (47.6 points a game to Texas Tech's 46.8).

White, not Symons, leads the nation in passing efficiency with a 180.2 rating.

Biggest upset: Candidates include Baylor over Colorado, Marshall over Kansas State, Nevada over Washington, Bowling Green over Purdue, Northern Illinois over Maryland, Toledo over Pittsburgh and Nevada Las Vegas over Wisconsin.

Winner: UNLV 23, Wisconsin 5. This victory at Madison ranks up there with John Robinson's more stunning achievements, more so given that Wisconsin just defeated Ohio State, the defending national champions.

Best first-half performance: Candidates: Oklahoma State receiver Rashaun Woods catches seven touchdown passes against Southern Methodist; Symons passes for 661 yards and six touchdowns against Mississippi; Notre Dame tailback Julius Jones rushes for a school-record 262 yards against Pittsburgh; UNLV safety Jamaal Brimmer has two sacks, two interceptions, 11 tackles and a fumble return for a touchdown against Wisconsin; Oklahoma specialist Antonio Perkins scores three touchdowns on punt returns and amasses 277 total yards, both NCAA records, against UCLA.

Winner: Perkins. UCLA won't see a scarier Perkins unless it's in Hitchcock's "Psycho."

Coach of the half-year: Candidates include California's Jeff Tedford, Utah's Urban Meyer, Washington State's Bill Doba, Northern Illinois' Joe Novak, Texas Christian's Gary Patterson, Michigan State's John L. Smith.

Winner: Novak. You want to talk about making slow, steady progress. Check out Novak's seasonal coaching records at NIU since taking over in 1996: 1-10, 0-11, 2-9, 5-6, 6-5, 6-5, 8-4 and 6-0 this year. Most guys at big-time programs would have been fired after year three. Northern Illinois has defeated three bowl championship series schools this year: Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State.

Halfway to getting fired: Jackie Sherrill, Mississippi State.

Play of the half-season: Brock Berlin's pass to Kellen Winslow. Miami trailed West Virginia, 20-19, had no timeouts and faced fourth and 13 at its 25 when Winslow made a leaping, twisting catch of a Berlin pass for a first down. It led to Jon Peattie's game-winning field goal.

Best game: Candidates: Cal defeats USC, 34-31, in triple overtime; Ohio State defeats North Carolina State, 44-38, in triple overtime; Michigan rallies to defeat Minnesota, 38-35; Louisiana State defeats Georgia, 17-10, on a 34-yard scoring pass from Matt Mauck to Sky- ler Green; Miami rallies from a 33-10 deficit to defeat Florida, 38-33.

Winner: Cal over USC. Decision-making principle applied: West Coast bias.

Half-a-clue award: Ohio State linebacker Robert Reynolds knocks Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi out of the game by choking him underneath a player pile. Reynolds received a one-game suspension, but in keeping with this week's theme, we would have recommended half a season.

Halfhearted effort: Texas' 65-13 loss to Oklahoma. Texas Coach Mack Brown put it best when he said, "We were inept and did not make the plays we had to make to make it a game."

Most overrated teams ranked in preseason Associated Press poll: Michigan (4), Auburn (6), Kansas State (7), Maryland (15), North Carolina State (16), Washington (17), Notre Dame (20), Arizona State (22) and Colorado State (23).

Most underrated teams not ranked in preseason AP poll: Arkansas, Washington State, Oregon State, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri.

Most annoying first-half story: Maurice Clarett.

Most overblown story: BCS presidents meet in Chicago with non-BCS presidents (Zzzzzzzzz).

Second-half team to watch: Purdue.

Second-half game to watch: Miami at Virginia Tech, Nov. 1.

Word War III

Venom is spewing in Big East corridors after Boston College's decision this week to become the 12th member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Boston College's decision was not a surprise, given the school was set to follow Miami to the ACC last spring until it was jilted in a last-minute political maneuver. Miami and Virginia Tech received invitations instead.

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