Feature Articles

Wazzu Crush Bruins, 27-7

UCLA players vowed they would not take Washington State lightly, but talk was cheap in Pullman on Saturday as the Cougars crushed the Bruins, 27-7.

With just one minute expired on the clock in the first quarter, Kahlil Bell ran 50 yards for a touchdown to give UCLA a lightning quick 7-0 lead. From that point on, Washington State contained the Bruin lightning in a bottle and scored 27 unanswered points to register the upset.

Cougar running back Dwight Tardy carried the ball 37 times, pounding out 214 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Commentary: The Cougar win temporarily squelched fan board chatter calling for Bill Doba’s head. All three of UCLA’s losses this year came against teams it wwas favored to beat. Three of the Bruins’ final four games are against current top-10 ranked Pac-10 foes (Arizona State, USC and Cal), and this loss to Wazzou will prove to be a back-breaker to their conference title hopes.

Mighty Ducks Down Trojans

The Oregon Ducks defeated USC 24-17 on Saturday to knock the Trojans two games out of first place in the Pac-10 with only four games remaining.

USC moved the ball to the Oregon 33-yard line with 26 seconds left, but Duck defensive back Matthew Harper intercepted Trojan QB Mark Sanchez to squelch the comeback attempt. Heisman candidate Dennis Dixon played a mistake-free game, going 16 for 25 and 157 yards through the air and picking up 76 yards and a score on the ground off 17 carries. Jonathan Stewart added 103 yards and two touchdowns on 25 attempts for the Ducks.

Commentary: USC’s remaining schedule does not get any easier with two tough road games against Cal and Arizona State sandwiched in between home contests with Oregon State and UCLA. Oregon has little time to celebrate its victory over the Trojans with undefeated conference leader ASU invading Autzen Stadium next weekend.

Buckeyes Top Paterno’s Lions

Top-ranked Ohio State proved it deserves to be No. 1 for at least another week with a thoroughly convincing win over 24th-ranked Penn State, 37-17, on Saturday.

Playing before 104,000-plus fans at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, the Buckeyes built a 17-7 halftime lead over the Nittany Lions and never looked back. Ohio State QB Todd Boeckman turned in a fine performance (19 for 26, 253 yards, three TDs, one interception) and Chris Wells provided the ground game complement with 133 yards on 25 carries. Ohio State did not punt the ball once in the game.

Commentary: Ohio State answered its critics with the decisive road win over Penn State, improving its all-time record against Joe Paterno to 12-11. The Buckeyes have three more tough Big Ten contests to close out their regular-season schedule (Wisconsin, Illinois, at Michigan). The Bucks will be more than deserving of a return to the BCS national title game if they can finish the season with a perfect record.

NU Win Thriller Over Indy

The Northwestern Wildcats defeated the Indiana Hoosiers, 31-28, in a thrilling Big Ten Conference contest today in Evanston. The win was the sixth of the season for the Wildcats and made them bowl eligible. Indiana became bowl eligible last week.

Down 28-24 with 44 seconds remaining in the game, Northwestern scored the game-winning touchdown on a 3-yard pass from C.J. Bacher to Ross Lane. Running back Tyrell Sutton paced the Wildcats with 138 yards and a score on 33 carries. Both teams are now 6-5 overall, but Northwestern is 3-4 in Big Ten play, while the Hoosiers are 2-5.

Commentary: With the exception of Minnesota, the Big Ten Conference hasn’t been this balanced since the first half of the 1990s when five different schools won the conference championship. Four teams actually tied in 1990 (Michigan State, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan with Iowa going to the Rose Bowl Game). Michigan won in 1991 and 1992, but Wisconsin won in 1993 (tie-breaker over Ohio State), Penn State won in 1994, Northwestern won in 1995, and Ohio State tied with Northwestern in 1996. Credit Pat Fitzgerald with rebuilding the Wildcats into a bowl-eligible team, as well as Bill Lynch for the job he has done taking over the Hoosier program following Terry Hoeppner’s death.

Air Force Whips Notre Dame

The Air Force Academy Falcons handed the Notre Dame Fighting Irish their record ninth loss of the season today in South Bend, 41-24.

It was the first time since 1944 that two service academy teams had defeated the Irish in the same season, and it was also the largest margin of victory for a service academy since 1963.

The Falcons were paced by the 1-2 duo of QB Shaun Carney (10-16, 120 yards, 2 TDs thru the air, and 41 yards, 1 TD in 9 carries on the ground) and RB Chad Hall (142 yards off 32 carries on the ground and 31 yards on 2 pass receptions). Air Force had 407 total yards on offense, while Notre Dame had 305 yards.

Commentary: Even though Charlie Weis’ job is secure at Notre Dame for at least another year, the Irish faithful are going to have a difficult time ever forgiving him for this utterly humiliating season. At 1-9, the best the Irish can finish this year is 3-9, with seemingly winnable games with Duke and Stanford remaining on the schedule.

Badgers Chew Up Wolverines

The Wisconsin Badgers defended their home turf against the Michigan Wolverines, 37-21, in Big Ten action today.

Playing without the services of RB Mike Hart, the Wolverines struggled from the start of the game in Madison. Things only got worse when senior QB Chad Henne was injured and left the game in the first quarter. Ryan Mallett, his back-up, was 11 of 36, good for 245 yards and 3 TDs, but he also tossed two costly interceptions. Clearly Michigan missed Hart, as they were held to a total 48 net yards on the ground.

Tyler Donovan was 14 of 27, 245 yards and 1 TD for Wisconsin thru the air, and he added another 49 yards and a touchdown on 6 carries to lead the Badgers. RB Zach Brown ably filled in for injured P.J. Hill, logging 128 yards and 2 TDs on 27 attempts.

Commentary: Michigan’s 8-game winning streak came to an end, and the Wolverines lost much needed momentum heading into their annual rivalry game with Ohio State next week. Questions about Lloyd Carr’s future will now resurface and fill the sports radio air time in Michigan this week. The Rose Bowl officials will be rooting for Ohio State to win at Michigan win on November 17 because a Wolverine victory would send a 9-3 Big Ten co-champion ranked lower than the top 15 to the Rose Bowl Game on January 1.