- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2008


No. 23 UCLA: The Rick Neuheisel era got off to a nice start as the Bruins overcame four early interceptions before fending off visiting Tennessee in overtime. It was an unexpected result, but this doesn’t mean the Bruins are a Top 25 team. Considering the limitations Neuheisel faces in his first year, UCLA has the look of a 7-5 team - even if it did beat a program that hasn’t won a league title since 1999.


Cincinnati: The Bearcats ripped Eastern Kentucky in their opener and won 10 games a season ago, but love from the electorate is hard to come by. They will get some attention if they can stun host Oklahoma on Saturday. Dustin Grutza fared just fine in his return to the quarterback spotlight, and Cincinnati has the tools and the coaching to keep things interesting against the Sooners.


Clemson’s response: All those title hopes in Tigertown were dashed before Labor Day. Is it that big a surprise given Clemson’s history? There’s plenty still in front of the Tigers despite their humbling at the hands of Alabama. After ABC showed a few shots of sideline sniping, it will be interesting to see how cohesive Clemson is this week. Facing The Citadel won’t hurt the Tigers’ chances.


Six suggested games to devour during an afternoon on the couch:

Georgia Tech (1-0) at Boston College (1-0), noon, Chs. 20, 54: The Paul Johnson Experiment looked great against Jacksonville State. But will it translate immediately in the Yellow Jackets’ ACC opener?

San Diego State (0-1) at Notre Dame (0-0), 3:30, Chs. 4, 11: Want to know why Notre Dame will get off to a better start this year? Hint: The Irish open with a team that lost to Cal Poly last week.

Cincinnati (1-0) at Oklahoma (1-0), 3:30: The Bearcats have a couple extra days of rest and an underrated coach in Brian Kelly. Could be the recipe for an upset in Norman.

Mississippi (1-0) at Wake Forest (1-0), 3:30: Houston Nutt would win a lot of support in Oxford with an early road victory. It won’t be easy against the efficient Riley Skinner and the Demon Deacons.

West Virginia (1-0) at East Carolina (1-0), 4:30, ESPN: Don’t put it past the Pirates to make it two in a row, though West Virginia’s Pat White is a better quarterback than Virginia Tech’s Sean Glennon.

Miami (1-0) at Florida (1-0), 8, ESPN: Dear Robert Marve. Greetings and salutations as you prepare for your first career start at quarterback - at the Swamp, no less. We eagerly await your arrival. Sincerely, the Florida defense.


Five predictions for the coming weekend:

1. Ty Willingham will be closer to being fired Saturday night. Washington was blitzed at Oregon in its opener and now faces Brigham Young and Oklahoma. The Huskies are headed to 0-3.

2. Mike Sherman’s honeymoon in College Station is over. Nothing like an 18-14 loss to Arkansas State to give you an evaluation of your program. There will be lean times at Texas A&M; this fall.

3. David Cutcliffe will pull a Lou Brown. It’s time to define “winning streak” at Duke. The Blue Devils hammered James Madison, and a victory over Northwestern makes it two in a row for only the second time in 10 seasons.

4. Ohio State will not keep its best players in too long. Losing tailback Chris Wells early in the second half last week should give the Buckeyes pause if they happen to build a big lead on Ohio.

5. P.J. Hill will run wild again. The Wisconsin tailback rumbled for 210 yards in the Badgers’ opener. Expect more of the same against Marshall - and the Heisman buzz to begin for the junior.


A look at the contenders for the Heisman Trophy:

1. QB Pat White, West Virginia: You mean he can run AND throw? In the same game? That’s interesting.

2. QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma: Carved up hapless Chattanooga before his backup managed to attempt nearly as many passes. Things get tougher against Cincinnati.

3. QB Tim Tebow, Florida: He lands on the list by virtue of winning the award last year. He played effectively when needed in a rout of Hawaii.

4. RB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia: Eight carries, three touchdowns. The Bulldogs tailback just got himself warmed up in a blowout of Georgia Southern.

5. SB Shun White, Navy: No, he’s probably not a long-term Heisman candidate. But anyone who runs for 348 yards in his season opener (as White did against Towson) merits a mention somewhere.

6. QB Brian Johnson, Utah: Guess that offseason shoulder surgery worked out well for the Utes’ signal-caller. Johnson threw for 305 yards in a mild upset of Michigan.

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