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West Virginia's hearts go out to Connecticut

Mountaineers pay tribute to slain cornerback Jasper Howard. 'Today we are all Huskies.'

October 25, 2009|Mike Hiserman

Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, W.Va., is known as a hostile place for an opposing football team, but not Saturday when Connecticut arrived for its first game since cornerback Jasper Howard was slain outside an on-campus dance.

Heart-shaped foam pins and armbands with Howard's uniform number, 6, were distributed at the main entrance to the stadium, and the Huskies received a long and loud ovation as they took the field. West Virginia fans even signed a banner displayed at the Connecticut tunnel entrance that read, "Today we are all Huskies."

The only place the home team's hospitality fell short was in the score. West Virginia won, 28-24.

"The kids played their hearts out and did what we asked them to do," Connecticut Coach Randy Edsall said. "They did a great job but came up a little short. I know Jazz is proud of their effort."

Howard's jersey and helmet were carried onto the field before the game by running back Andre Dixon and receiver Kashif Moore. Before kickoff, the teams shook hands, and both sides wore No. 6 stickers on their helmets.

Howard, 20, a junior, had worked himself into a starring role in his three years with the Huskies. Eight days ago, he and a few teammates were celebrating a homecoming win over Louisville -- a game in which Howard made 11 tackles and recovered a fumble -- when he was stabbed outside the school's student union building.

He will be buried Monday in his hometown of Miami. No one has been charged in his death.

Attention, Florida

All week, every time Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin talked about Alabama his words seemed pointed at Florida.

For example, he said Alabama definitely should be ranked No. 1 over the Gators, who have won two of the last three national championships. He also gushed that he'd like to use the Crimson Tide program as a model for his.

And it was no different after Alabama needed two blocked field-goal attempts to escape with a 12-10 win over Kiffin's Volunteers.

Asked about the close score being a moral victory, Kiffin started, "You come into a hostile environment and play the No. 1 team in the country -- as I said before by far the No. 1 team in the country -- and the best-coached team around . . ." Then he answered the question. (No.)

He called it

Jacoby Ford made the game-winning touchdown reception against No. 8 Miami -- just after he called the game-winning play.

The Clemson receiver promised the play would work -- coaches confirmed it had never been run before -- and it did, bringing a game that had 11 lead changes after the first quarter to a wild finish.

"I have a birthday next month and I think I'm going to turn 50 instead of 40," Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said after the 40-37 victory.

He may skip another decade the next time these teams play if history keeps repeating. Since Miami joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, all three meetings have gone to overtime and were won by the visiting team.

But can he shoot?

Fill in this sentence: The leading passer in the Atlantic Coast Conference comes from . . .

Miami? Florida State? North Carolina State?

No, no and no.

The leader, Taddeus Lewis, comes from Duke, and he passed for 371 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-13 victory over Maryland.

Imagine, a Duke team passing first. Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski should be proud.

Mistake-prone

Well, this doesn't happen very often. Iowa State's 9-7 win over Nebraska marked the Cyclones' first victory in Lincoln since 1977.

One other thing that doesn't happen very often: Nebraska had more turnovers, eight, than points. Four of the miscues took place inside the Iowa State five-yard line.

"I don't know if I've ever been around that in my coaching career," Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini said.

Something had to give

The Associated Press headline for this one was "Game of the Weak:" Winless Ball State met winless Eastern Michigan.

Ball State won, 29-27, as MiQuale Lewis rushed for 301 yards and a touchdown.

Manhattan magic

That's Manhattan, Kan., as in home of Kansas State, where Coach Bill Snyder appears to be working another miracle.

The Wildcats -- who earlier lost to Louisiana Lafayette, and by a 66-14 margin to Texas Tech, and yes to UCLA too -- beat Colorado, 20-6, and now lead the Big 12 Conference's North Division.

In reserve

You know you're good when people think you're more dangerous with your sophomore backup than with your senior Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback.

Consider these comments after Zach Collaros led No. 5 Cincinnati to a 41-10 win against Louisville:

"I was hoping Tony Pike would play, actually," Louisville Coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "It makes them one-dimensional and a better matchup for us. I knew Collaros could run."

Said Cincinnati receiver Mardy Gilyard: "Personally, I think it adds a little more spice to the offense when we've got Zach there because he can run the ball."

Collaros ran for 52 yards. He also completed 15 of 17 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns.

Pike sat out because of an injury to his left (non-throwing) arm.

Michigan man?

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