- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

FORTUNES RISING

MICHIGAN

The Wolverines had never won at Notre Dame under Lloyd Carr and had lost six straight road openers before demolishing the Fighting Irish on Saturday. Michigan has an above-average quarterback (Chad Henne), a bruising rusher (Mike Hart) and a stable of wideouts (Steve Breaston and Mario Manningham for starters). Navigating the Big Ten will be difficult, but Michigan is certainly a BCS contender.

FORTUNES FALLING

VIRGINIA

Lord Groh of Hooville — and his increasingly restless vassals — cannot be happy with the first three weeks of the season. An opening drubbing at Pittsburgh was bad enough, but needing overtime to dispatch Wyoming and then losing at home to Western Michigan is even more troubling. The Cavaliers needed three quarterbacks to get through the 17-10 loss. Remember this adage: When you have three quarterbacks, it means you have none.

NON-BCS SPOTLIGHT

TEXAS CHRISTIAN

Let the talk of an unbeaten season commence. The Horned Frogs held explosive Texas Tech to a mere field goal in a 12-3 victory. That’s 13 wins in a row for Texas Christian, which plays eight of its last nine games against Mountain West foes. No single player has emerged as the face of the balanced Horned Frogs, who meet Brigham Young and Utah on consecutive Thursdays starting next week in their toughest remaining games.

HEISMAN QUICK SIX

1. Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma: Who cares whether the Sooners lost to Oregon? Don’t blame A.P. and his 211 yards rushing.

2. Troy Smith, Ohio State:

Like it or not, the quarterback of an unbeaten No. 1 team will wind up high in the balloting.

3. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame:

Still plenty of time for Irish quarterback to recover from Michigan mauling.

4. Steve Slaton, West Virginia:

Someone put out an APB — he’s probably still running past hapless Maryland defenders from last week.

5. Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State:

No one is quite so electrifying, but he’s in an uphill fight with limited touches each game.

6. Chris Leak, Florida:

Might as well mention the Gators quarterback who tossed three TDs against Tennessee and has an efficiency rating of 177.5.

SET YOUR TiVO

WISCONSIN (3-0, 0-0, Big Ten) at No. 6 MICHIGAN (3-0, 0-0)

Noon, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich., ESPN

Outlook: Welcome to the big time — and the Big House — Bret Bielema. The new Wisconsin coach is the beneficiary of a fairly favorable schedule, but this trip might not be much fun for the Badgers. Tailback P.J. Hill (5.9 yards a carry) is the first Wisconsin freshman to run for 100 yards in three straight games since Anthony Davis in 2001, and the Badgers will need a similar effort against the Wolverines. Michigan is coming off an emotional rout at Notre Dame and also will look to its run game for a spark; the Wolverines are 12-1 when Mike Hart rushes for 100 yards, as he did against Notre Dame.

No. 8 LOUISVILLE (3-0) at KANSAS STATE (3-0)

12:30 p.m., Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan., CSN

Outlook: Hey, what’s Kansas State doing playing a real team in its nonconference schedule? Ron Prince’s first season at K-State has started smoothly, thanks to a soft slate bequeathed to him by former coach Bill Snyder. That ends with the Cardinals coming to town after an impressive victory over Miami. That win was costly for Louisville, which lost quarterback Brian Brohm for at least a month after he tore ligaments in his throwing hand. The Cardinals are also without tailback Michael Bush (broken leg), but a victory at K-State would clear the way for Louisville to be unbeaten when West Virginia visits the Oven in November.

No. 24 PENN STATE (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at No. 1 OHIO STATE (3-0, 0-0)

3:30 p.m., Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Chs. 7, 2

Outlook: A year ago, a “white-out” under the lights in Happy Valley greeted the Buckeyes, and linebacker Paul Posluszny turned in a performance that spurred both the Nittany Lions’ magical season and his own run to the Butkus Award. Ohio State should be ready to return the favor, especially after struggling early against Cincinnati last week. The Nittany Lions bounced back from a demoralizing loss at Notre Dame with a rout of Youngstown State, though they will need better play from quarterback Anthony Morelli to topple the nation’s top-ranked team.

No. 12 NOTRE DAME (2-1) at MICHIGAN STATE (3-0)

8 p.m., Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich., Chs. 7, 2

Outlook: It’s too early to call this a Heisman Trophy knockout game, but it could work out that way. Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn was frazzled throughout Saturday’s loss to Michigan, throwing three interceptions as the Irish stumbled at home. The Spartans’ Drew Stanton received less offseason hype, but an impressive performance in prime time would do wonders for both his and Michigan State’s profiles. Look for Stanton to pick at the Notre Dame defense in much the same way Michigan’s Chad Henne did last week. However, the Irish should get their offense going as well, making a high-scoring game like last year’s 44-41 Spartans victory a possibility.

NUMBERS OF NOTE

3-0Record for Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons’ first perfect record through three games since 1987. With Ole Miss and Liberty up next, Wake could easily get to 5-0 before welcoming Clemson to Winston-Salem on Oct. 7.

31Career touchdown receptions for Southern Cal’s Dwayne Jarrett, a school record. Jarrett caught two touchdowns from John David Booty in Saturday’s victory over Nebraska and passed Mike Williams for first on the Trojans’ career list.

69Career victories for Tom O’Brien, the most in Boston College history. The no-nonsense 10th-year coach passed Joe Yukica (1968-77) with the Eagles’ double-overtime victory over Brigham Young.

124Points surrendered by Temple in consecutive 62-0 losses to Louisville and Minnesota, the largest combined margin of defeat for the Owls in back-to-back games. Temple has managed only three points in its first three games, the program’s fewest at this stage of the season since failing to score during an 0-1-2 start in 1916.

STORIES OF THE WEEK

1. Keys to SEC-cess: Auburn and Florida both earned vital early season victories over top-15 teams. The Tigers held off Louisiana State 7-3 to establish themselves as the SEC West’s best national title hope, while the Gators rallied past Tennessee to emerge as a favorite in the East.

2. Play like a 7-5 team today: Michigan manhandled Notre Dame in South Bend, wrecking the Fighting Irish’s title hopes. Sure, they could climb back into the championship hunt, but yielding 47 points at home is not a good sign.

3. Beasts of the East: The Big East improved to 4-1 against the ACC this season as West Virginia and Louisville cruised to easy wins. In a related note, the MAC is ahead 2-1 in the unofficial ACC-MAC challenge with three games left to play later in the year.

4. That’s quackers!: Two lousy calls helped Oregon score twice in the closing minutes to edge Oklahoma 34-33. On a review that could have reversed a penalty, the referee said, “There is no evidence the ball was tipped,” prompting ABC’s Tim Brant to intone “Unless you count the ball changing direction.”

5. The U, where are you?: The answer: out of the top 25 for the first time since 1999. Cries for Miami coach Larry Coker’s job were amplified after a blowout loss at Louisville. However, a stretch that includes Houston, North Carolina, Florida International and Duke should aid a midseason recovery.

Patrick Stevens

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