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NATIONAL INSIDER

How Will Irish Get Up for Game?

September 09, 2006|Peter Yoon

If not for some game tonight down in Austin, Texas, the national spotlight probably would be shining on the game between No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 19 Penn State -- a game that by season's end could factor into the national championship picture.

The game pits two teams with as much tradition and history as any in college football, but they have not played since 1992 and the importance of the game has not been lost on South Bend, Ind.

Tickets for the game are among the most sought after in Notre Dame history, with some selling for more than $1,000. Some hotel rooms were going for more than $600 a night -- with a minimum three-night stay.

"It's a nice, natural rivalry, but it's been a long time," Irish Coach Charlie Weis said.

Penn State Coach Joe Paterno also realizes the importance of the game. He did not allow his players to speak with members of the media this week for fear of their saying something to give Notre Dame extra motivation.

"It's been a bad week," said Weis, who is known for searching newspaper clippings for bulletin board material. "There hasn't been anything."

Back to the Well

Nate Longshore will start again at quarterback for California, even though backup Joe Ayoob replaced the sophomore from Canyon Country Canyon High in the third quarter last week and rallied the Golden Bears to 18 unanswered points in a 35-18 loss at Tennessee.

Longshore, who sat out most of last year after an opening-game ankle injury, completed 11 of 20 passes for 85 yards. Ayoob completed nine of 22 for 187 yards and a touchdown in a game that caused Cal to drop from No. 9 to No. 22 in the national rankings.

"I felt like he did some good things, and I'm looking forward to seeing him this week, going back out there and getting another shot at it," Cal Coach Jeff Tedford said of Longshore.

No Peeking

No. 10 Michigan could easily be looking ahead to next week's clash with Notre Dame, but this week's opponent, Central Michigan, seems to have the Wolverines' undivided attention.

That's because the Chippewas gave Boston College all it could handle last week in a 31-24 opening-week loss.

"If you saw the Boston College game, then you know that Central is a dangerous team," Michigan offensive lineman Adam Kraus said. "Their defense is full of a bunch of tough, strong guys. They swarm around the ball, and they have a motor. We need to put all of our energy into Central, and I think we're going to do that."

Hey, Remember Me?

Lost in the Rhett Bomar hubbub at Oklahoma is that running back Adrian Peterson is back and healthy.

Peterson was the Heisman Trophy runner-up to Matt Leinart in 2004, when he rushed for an NCAA freshman-record 1,925 yards. Last year, hobbled by a bad ankle that forced him to sit out all or parts of four games, he had 1,108 yards.

He left a pretty good impression on Alabama Birmingham Coach Watson Brown after he led the No. 15 Sooners to a 24-17 victory over UAB last week with 139 yards and a touchdown in 24 carries and a 69-yard touchdown reception.

"He is the best player we've seen in 12 years here, maybe the best player I have ever seen," Brown said.

Oklahoma plays Washington today.

High-Flying 'Huskers

Nebraska's 584 yards of offense last Saturday in a 49-10 win over Louisiana Tech was its biggest output since Bill Callahan installed the West Coast offense in 2004.

It was the first time since 1996 that the Cornhuskers had at least 250 yards rushing and 250 passing in the same game.

Callahan called it "indicative of the efforts we've been putting into the program."

Helping Hand for Band

Miami officials apparently were feeling generous despite Monday night's 13-10 loss to Florida State.

When the university discovered that this week's opponent, Florida A&M, did not have the budget to bring its band, Miami ponied up an unspecified portion of the band's travel expenses.

The 300-member Florida A&M band has been called one of the best in the country and has appeared at the Grammy Awards and Super Bowl.

Quick Hits

Texas Christian quarterback Jeff Ballard, knocked out of a 17-7 victory over Baylor with a concussion on Sunday, will start for the No. 23-Horned Frogs today against UC Davis.... No. 8 Louisiana State brings a streak of 10 quarters without giving up a touchdown into its game against Arizona.... Mikey Henderson, the punt returner for No. 12 Georgia who fumbled in celebration before crossing the goal line on an apparent touchdown, then returned the next punt for a touchdown, will sit out today's game against South Carolina because of a strained hamstring.... Kolby Smith and George Stripling will share running back duties for No. 13 Louisville, replacing Michael Bush, the nation's scoring leader last year who broke his leg Sunday against Kentucky.... Steve Slaton of No. 6 West Virginia is aiming to become the first Mountaineers running back to gain 200 yards in three consecutive games.... Big Ten teams were 11-0 last week, the first time that has happened.

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-- Compiled by Peter Yoon

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