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NATIONAL INSIDER

Tigers' Tale: No. 3 vs. No. 6

September 16, 2006|Peter Yoon

With all the big matchups in college football today, some are calling it "Showdown Saturday."

Perhaps a better name would be "Satellite Saturday" because it's a good day for college football fans to sit in front of television sets and watch the national championship picture unfold.

Ranked teams will meet in seven games. Since the Associated Press poll went to 25 teams in 1989, there has never been a day with as many heavyweight bouts.

With all due respect to the games involving No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 11 Michigan, and No. 4 USC and No. 19 Nebraska, nowhere in the country is this weekend bigger than in the Southeast, where No. 3 Auburn plays No. 6 Louisiana State, and No. 7 Florida squares off with No. 13 Tennessee.

Whichever Tigers have emerged victorious from the Auburn-LSU game have gone on to represent the Southeastern Conference Western Division in the SEC title game four of the last five years. Florida and Tennessee have been the Eastern Division representative in 11 of the last 14.

"It's a big day in the SEC," Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville said.

Across the nation, seven top-25 teams will probably take losses, deflating their national title aspirations. USC and No. 18 Oregon, which plays No. 15 Oklahoma, hope to get the Pac-10 some national respect against Big 12 teams.

Michigan and No. 17 Miami, which plays No. 12 Louisville, could be playing for their coaches' jobs. No. 20 Texas Christian not only has a 12-game winning streak on the line against No. 24 Texas Tech, but so are its hopes of making a BCS bowl game.

There will also be Heisman Trophy implications with candidates such as Brady Quinn of Notre Dame, Kenny Irons of Auburn, Chris Leak of Florida and Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma on national display.

Still, the magnitude of such a day has been lost on some.

"Honestly, I don't even know who's playing each other," Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said.

Suspect Sought in Stabbing

Police said Friday they were looking for a second suspect in the stabbing of Northern Colorado's starting punter.

Evans, Colo., police Lt. Gary Kessler said witnesses saw an alleged accomplice standing near the getaway car Monday night, just after punter Rafael Mendoza was stabbed in his kicking leg outside his apartment.

"He didn't play a role in the assault, but he played a role in the crime," Kessler said of the second suspect.

Northern Colorado backup punter Mitch Cozad is accused of stabbing Mendoza in his kicking leg outside his apartment in Evans, a small town adjacent to Greeley and about 50 miles north of Denver.

The Small Dog Is Still Scary

The trend of Division I-AA teams defeating I-A teams in the first two weeks is frightening to Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, whose team plays Division I-AA Youngstown State.

"They have a good program and good tradition," Paterno said about Youngstown State, which won four Division I-AA titles during the 1990s under Jim Tressel, now the coach at No. 1 Ohio State.

"I think that when we start labeling people I-A and I-AA and that kind of stuff, that bothers me a little bit."

In Week 1, Montana State defeated Colorado, and last week New Hampshire defeated Northwestern.

Youngstown State Coach Jon Heacock says he's aware that the odds are stacked against his team becoming the third giant killer.

"They're bigger, they're faster and all those things," Heacock said. "In reality, they have more guys on scholarship probably than we have on our team, so you have to be somewhat realistic."

Bowden Bowl VII

Tommy Bowden gets another crack at his father, Bobby, when Clemson visits No. 9 Florida State.

The younger Bowden has defeated his father in two of the last three seasons, but he hasn't turned the trick at Tallahassee, where Clemson hasn't won since 1989.

"We proved we're getting closer," Tommy Bowden said. "But we haven't won down there in 17 years."

Tommy's Tigers won last year's game, 35-14, and he improved to 2-5 against his father, but his team is reeling from a double-overtime loss to Boston College that knocked Clemson out of the top 25.

Still, he said, the gap has closed between Clemson and Florida State.

"We don't have to play perfect," Tommy said. "It used to be, when I first got here and played them, we had to play perfect and they had to mess up."

Sparkling Stadium

Stanford will unveil its renovated stadium for its home opener against Navy.

The $90-million renovation project was begun late last year and Stanford had to move its Sept. 9 game against San Jose State to the road so the project could be completed.

The biggest change is in the seating capacity, which was reduced from 85,000 to 50,000 to make for a more intimate setting and, it is hoped, more of a home-field advantage.

"I would like to think the crowd is going to make a huge difference in the outcome of the game," Coach Walt Harris said. "I hope we can invigorate the crowd."

So far the Cardinal (0-2) has done little of that. Stanford lost at Oregon, 48-10, then blew a 34-14 lead against San Jose State and lost, 35-34.

Quick Hits

An assault charge against South Carolina quarterback Blake Mitchell was dropped Friday when a bouncer withdrew a complaint, after having first told police the player punched him. Mitchell, suspended from the team Wednesday, will be reinstated and in uniform tonight against Wofford but won't play, Coach Steve Spurrier said.

Coach Tom O'Brien of No. 23 Boston College will set the school record for coaching victories if he gets his 69th against Brigham Young.... Stanford fullback Nick Frank has been diagnosed with a narrowing of a vertebra in his spine, an injury that will end his football career.

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-- Compiled by Peter Yoon

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