- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

Game on.

College football makes its return tonight when No. 18 South Carolina (2-0) plays at No. 17 Mississippi State (1-0) in the first Division I-A game since last week's terrorist strikes.

"I think it's the first football game to be played in two weeks," said South Carolina coach Lou Holtz. "I imagine the viewing audience [ESPN] will be quite large … We have to move on and press on and learn, benefit, rally behind the country and hope the people who make the decisions are going to eradicate this from ever happening in the future."

As a result of last week's attacks, the game will have a decidedly patriotic feel. Both teams will wear Old Glory decals on their helmets. The first 30,000 fans to enter Scott Field will be given small American flags. And the pregame activities will include a moment of silence and a medley of patriotic anthems.

"We're going to be playing for a lot of people, not just Mississippi State," Bulldogs safety Josh Morgan said. "We're going to try to put on a good show, and a good showing of Americans, period."

In terms of tightened security, no stadium-side parking will be permitted, backpacks will be banned and purses will be subject to search. Plus, Mississippi State will still have the same cloaking device in effect that has made it invisible to the rest of the nation, much less the world, for decades. It's called Starkville, the location of the Mississippi State campus.

Class struggle

More than 4,000 irate Texas fans no longer have a seat for Saturday's game between No. 5 Texas (2-0) and Houston (0-1) after auxiliary bleachers at Houston's Robertson Stadium were deemed unsafe following a Monday inspection.

Houston had added 4,150 seats to its 32,000-seat stadium to try and accommodate a request for 10,000 tickets from Texas. Houston has agreed to refund the cost of the tickets and allow the Longhorns' faithful to watch the game on the Jumbotron in Hofheinz Pavilion, the Cougars' basketball facility.

As one might imagine, Texas officials found this solution unacceptable.

"We have 6,000 tickets instead of 10,000, which is a breach of our contract," athletic director DeLoss Dodds said. "Our solution was to move it to Rice Stadium or the Dome, and they said they're not going to do that. I'm not happy. I'm appalled. This is simply unbelievable."

Even Texas coach Mack Brown put on his righteous indignation routine upon hearing the news.

"The Houston administration should move the game to Rice Stadium," said Brown. "That's the only classy thing to do."

But Houston refuses to forfeit its home-field advantage by moving the game. And Houston coach Dana Dimel simply waved off Brown's comments after Tuesday's practice.

"Class?" asked Dimel incredulously. "He didn't seem too worried about class last year when he had [Texas QB Chris] Simms throwing deep balls on us when they were ahead 41-0 late in the fourth quarter."

General Toledo

UCLA coach Bob Toledo has been somewhat annoyed by his team's lack of intensity since the terrorist attacks. Upset by several impassive practice sessions as his 14th-ranked Bruins (2-0) prepare to play host to No. 21 Ohio State (1-0) in Saturday's marquee matchup, Toledo gave his team a tongue-lashing and then told reporters:

"I'm not trying to be cold about it. You're never going to forget what happened. But football is a violent game. When the ball is snapped, you'd better be violent or you're going to get hurt."

Alive at 5-5

The NCAA has agreed in principle to grant bowl eligibility to teams with 5-5 records that are unable to reschedule last week's postponed games. Somewhere the folks from the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl are breathing a sigh of relief.

Highest-powered offense

Those of you who didn't even know Middle Tennessee State had a football team might be shocked to learn the Blue Raiders (2-0) lead the nation in total offense at 624.5 yards per game. The first-year members of the Sun Belt Conference and third-year Division I-A participants have rolled up 66 first downs, amassing 300 rushing yards and 300 passing yards in victories over Vanderbilt (37-28) and Troy State (54-17).

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