YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

College Football Spotlight

Hoosiers Almost Explode With Joy

October 15, 2006|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

The celebration at Indiana Saturday started a little early -- 22 seconds before the game was officially over, to be exact -- but the Hoosiers' excitement should be forgiven.

They had waited all year for something worth celebrating.

A 31-28 upset over No. 15 Iowa provided the impetus for a team whose head coach was diagnosed with a brain tumor, then suffered an embarrassing loss to a Division I-AA team and had to suspend its best player for two games.

So, with the clock at 22 seconds and Iowa out of timeouts, who could blame the stadium crew for setting off fireworks while players stormed the field and even jumped into the crowd to celebrate Indiana's biggest upset since a 31-10 victory over then-No. 9 Ohio State in 1987?

"It's a little crazy. I pretty much lost my voice on the field celebrating," quarterback Kellen Lewis said. "It's just fun right now."

There were other upsets Saturday -- No. 11 Auburn defeated No. 2 Florida, Vanderbilt defeated No. 16 Georgia, and Texas A&M defeated No. 19 Missouri -- but Indiana needed its celebration more.

Coach Terry Hoeppner was diagnosed with a brain tumor after last season and had surgery to remove it in December. He had a second surgery in September, but missed only three games.

In his absence, the Hoosiers lost, 35-28, to Southern Illinois, a Division I-AA team. It was the first time a team from the Gateway Conference had beaten a Big Ten team.

Indiana also suspended receiver James Hardy two games for undisclosed reasons. Hardy, a 6-foot-7 sophomore who was the team's leading receiver last season, was arrested last spring and charged with misdemeanor domestic battery.

He had three touchdown receptions against Iowa -- the first Hoosier to catch three TD passes in a game since 1983 -- and finished with eight catches for 104 yards.

Indiana defeated Illinois a week ago, so the victory also ended a string of four consecutive years in which the Hoosiers (4-3 overall, 2-1 in Big Ten play) have won only one conference game.

"Obviously after last week, this is even bigger," Hoeppner said. "Our football program is a shooting rocket."

Foot Brawl

The first meeting between Miami and Florida International, schools separated by only nine miles, wasn't exactly the goodwill game that was intended.

A wild brawl in the third quarter had fists flying, helmets swinging and even crutches being used as weapons, marring Miami's 35-0 victory and resulting in the ejections of 13 players.

"It was something that neither of us wanted," Miami Coach Larry Coker said.

Both sidelines emptied and several fights broke out during the five-minute melee. More than two dozen uniformed police officers came onto the field trying to separate the teams.

"College football doesn't need it, FIU doesn't need it and certainly we don't need it," Coker said. "It's just not the way we wanted this game to unfold."

Said Florida International Coach Don Strock, whose team will play Miami again next Oct. 6: "It's embarrassing."

Dynamic Duo

If Steve Slaton wants to win the Heisman Trophy, he might want to tell Pat White to cool it.

White, the West Virginia quarterback, ran for a career-high 247 yards and four touchdowns in 15 carries and broke his own Big East and school records for yards rushing by a quarterback as the fifth-ranked Mountaineers defeated Syracuse, 41-17.

Slaton, the Mountaineers running back who has been the main focus of West Virginia's Heisman hype, ran for 163 yards and a touchdown.

Buffaloes Avoid Record

Colorado had become a laughingstock of Division I football -- the brunt of jokes because of turmoil in its program and a 10-game losing streak that included a loss to Division I-AA Montana State this year.

The Buffaloes finally got a laugh, though, defeating Texas Tech, 30-6, to avoid breaking the school record for consecutive losses.

But a 1-6 record is not much of a reason to celebrate.

"They're happy right now, and I want them to be happy," first-year Coach Dan Hawkins said of his players. "But they need to get back to work. I'd degrade the Buffalo tradition if I was going to do back flips over 1-6."

Stuffed Wolfe

Garrett Wolfe of Northern Illinois, the nation's leader in rushing, was held to 25 yards in 18 carries in an 18-14 loss to Western Michigan.

Wolfe entered the game with 1,181 yards -- he was the nation's only 1,000-yard rusher before this week -- and had 11 consecutive 100-yard games.

Sack Exchange

Utah quarterback Brett Ratliff had not been sacked in six games, but Wyoming gave him a taste of what he'd been missing, putting him down six times in a 31-15 victory over the Utes. Ratliff also had troubles with fumbles and interceptions.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Los Angeles Times Articles