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The Inside Track | Chris Dufresne / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Ups and Downs May Not Look Good to Rose Bowl

September 15, 2003|Chris Dufresne

Recapping a weekend of ups and downs during which Ohio State ran its record to 6-0 in games played without the indispensable Maurice Clarett, Notre Dame football went from Gipper to Zipper (a 38-0 loss to Michigan) and UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell, after further review, scored the Mosley-De La Hoya fight, 6-3, in favor of Mosley (with three rounds even).

Up: USC scores 61 against Hawaii. Left-handed sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart shook off a bad game against Brigham Young with a near-flawless effort against Hawaii while the first-string defense would have knocked the Rainbow out of the Warriors had the school not already shortened its nickname for political reasons.

Down: Texas Coach Mack Brown. Saturday's 28-38 Texas back-step loss to Arkansas has rekindled talk that Texas is a country-club franchise that is soft in the middle and coached by a really great recruiter.

For the 1969 Texas-Arkansas game, President Nixon flew to Razorback Stadium via helicopter. Had President Bush, a friend of Brown, attended Saturday's game in Austin, you'd guess he'd have ordered the chopper out.

"Blame me," Brown said of the loss, which dashes but does not extinguish Texas' national-title hopes.

Give Brown credit for facing every last question at the postgame news conference, but the only way he can talk his way out of trouble is by defeating Kansas State in Austin on Oct. 4 and finally defeating Bob Stoops-coached Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout on Oct. 11.

Up: John Robinson. We figured the Nevada Las Vegas coach was one step closer to becoming a casino greeter after last week's ugly loss at Kansas, but the Rebels' 23-5 rebound win at Wisconsin was the upset of the weekend.

Last year's game between the teams, in Las Vegas, was called with 7:41 left after a power outage, with Robinson conceding a 27-7 loss. This year, it was Vegas that went lights out.

Down: Play callers with Southern accents. North Carolina State was down six points in the third overtime and had first and goal at the Ohio State four-yard line and Heisman candidate Philip Rivers at quarterback. Rivers had thrown for 315 yards and four touchdowns to that point, so naturally, they ran him on quarterback sneaks on first and third downs?

Then, on fourth down, the coaches gave the ball to banged-up tailback T.A. McLendon, who was not even supposed to play because of a bad knee.

McLendon is stopped short of the goal line and Ohio State wins. Go figure.

Up: Michigan. This is the best squad Lloyd Carr has assembled since the 1997 Brian Griese-Charles Woodson edition that won the Associated Press national championship (and should have won the coaches' share too). Quarterback John Navarre has matured from erratic to solid and the best part is Ohio State plays at Ann Arbor this year.

Down: Notre Dame. The Irish's 38-0 loss to Michigan was the school's worst since a 58-7 rollover loss to Miami in 1985 in what turned out to be Gerry Faust's last game.

FYI: The Irish were 8-0 last year entering a home game against Boston College when first-year Coach Tyrone "Versace" Willingham decided to trot his team on the field wearing its "lucky" green jerseys. Notre Dame's record since that day is 3-4.

Up: Washington State: The "Cougs" could have easily let last week's bitter road loss to Notre Dame wreck their season, but Washington State walked into Folsom Field and throttled Colorado. Gary Barnett could not have seen that coming.

Down: The Rose Bowl. You can almost feel chief executive Mitch Dorger's migraine coming on. Last year, because of bowl championship series rules, the Rose Bowl had to give up USC-Iowa to the Orange Bowl. This year, there's a distinct possibility USC and Michigan might be No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS standings. Instead of one of the all-time great Rose Bowls, the schools would have to play in the Sugar Bowl for the national title while the Granddaddy might get Plan B: Arizona State-Wisconsin.

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Weekend Wrap

Who said it: "I'm going to put on a full investigation to get to the bottom of this."

A: Willingham after a 38-0 loss to Michigan.

B: Boxer Oscar De La Hoya after his controversial loss to Shane Mosley.

Answer: B.

Conference of the Week: Mountain West. After going 2-6 last week against BCS schools, the MWC finished 6-1 overall last weekend and scored two wins against BCS schools, Utah over California and UNLV over Wisconsin.

Conference of the Weak: Big Ten. Wisconsin, Michigan State and Northwestern all dropped home games to non-BCS foes (UNLV, Louisiana Tech and Miami of Ohio), while Ohio State needed three overtimes to beat North Carolina State. Thank goodness Michigan hasn't dropped football.

Weekend's top outage: Tie between Fox Sports Net missing two USC touchdowns because of power failure and UCLA offense scoring six points against Illinois.

Heisman watch: You figured someone eventually would emerge and that someone is Michigan tailback Chris Perry, who has rushed for more than 500 yards on a team that is competing for the national title.

Looking forward to: Arizona State at Iowa. Never thought we'd see the day when the Sun Devil defense would be ahead of the offense.

Colorado at Florida State. If Bobby Bowden's Seminoles can win this one, they figure to be 5-0 when Miami comes to Tallahassee.

Miami at Boston College: Miami Coach Larry Coker might want to start posting warning signs. The Hurricanes are 3-0 but playing down to the level of competition.

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