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Friday, November 3

Sooners, 'Huskers could meet again

What a great day of college football we witnessed this past weekend! Exciting, riveting games with spectacular finishes as well as unbelievable individual efforts made it a Saturday to remember.

I have always preferred a 16-team playoff to determine the national champion, but those who argue that the current Bowl Championship Series formula is the ideal way to go will tell you that the BCS has created a situation where there is a playoff atmosphere every Saturday from late October through early December. This was certainly the case Saturday, Oct. 28.

Sooners running back Quentin Griffin scores Saturday in what was basically a playoff game against Nebraska.

The marquee matchup of the day had favored and No. 1-ranked Nebraska traveling to Norman to face the well-coached, extremely confident Oklahoma Sooners and their feared aerial circus.

Could quarterback Josh Heupel continue to post huge passing numbers or would the Nebraska defense, which made some strides in recent weeks, be able to get the job done? Early on, that appeared to be the case.

The first quarter saw Nebraska jump out quickly to a 14-0 lead, successfully keeping the Sooners' defense off-balance with a nice blend of the run and pass. With Cornhuskers quarterback Eric Crouch giving an option look, he dropped back to accurately deliver throws to tight end Tracey Wistrom and wide receiver Matt Davison.

After blasting to that two-touchdown lead, the Nebraska attack was basically shut down. Credit co-defensive coordinators Brent Venables and Mike Stoops for a job well done. The Sooner defense made the right adjustments as the game unfolded, while Heupel began to heat up after a slow start.

Early on, Heupel was rushing things, with the nose down on a few throws. From that midway point of the first quarter though, Heupel served up a Heisman performance, distributing the ball with accuracy and precision.

Also producing big-time results were the Sooners' wide receivers, led by Andre Woolfolk, Curtis Fagan, Antwone Savage and Josh Norman.

The Sooners' victory sets up a potential rematch between Oklahoma and Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship Game. For the Sooners, the next major test comes in two weeks when they travel to College Station to face the underrated Aggies of Texas A&M.

In recent weeks, A&M has been playing a quality brand of football. Sophomore signal-caller Mark Farris, in my opinion, is a rising star. The same is true of junior wide-out Robert Ferguson. The Aggies also have a powerful, Jerome Bettis type in junior Ja'Mar Toombs.

Also on Nov. 11, Nebraska visits struggling Kansas State, which has yet to put the loss to Oklahoma a few weeks ago behind them.

Hokies hoping Vick recovers quickly
This week, though, figures to be equally as riveting as the Saturday we just enjoyed.

Virginia Tech, fresh off a hard-fought 37-34 victory over the steadily improving Pittsburgh Panthers, now have to deal with the injury status (sprained ankle) of super blue-chip quarterback Michael Vick.

This week, the Hokies travel to Miami to face the once-beaten Hurricanes, who realize they are right back in the hunt for the national championship. The winner of the Virginia Tech-Miami game has a great opportunity to be playing in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.

Miami, though, does have some tricky games to deal with, finishing with home contests against a dangerous and well-coached Pittsburgh squad as well as Boston College, which not that long ago spoiled the national championship hopes of Notre Dame at South Bend after they had beaten Florida State and Charlie Ward the previous week. The year I'm talking about was 1993.

The Hurricanes also have to travel to the Carrier Dome to face a Syracuse team that nearly upset Virginia Tech on the same field two weeks ago.

The Hokies have an easier road if they can defeat Miami on Saturday. Virginia Tech finishes with games at Central Florida and in Blacksburg against Virginia for the regular-season finale. In the Big East, there is no conference championship game.

Speaking of Central Florida, how about their huge upset victory over Alabama? The big win featured an opportunistic defense that created all kinds of problems for Crimson Tide signal-caller Andrew Zow.

Tigers finally tamed by Yellowjackets
At Death Valley, Georgia Tech ended the national-championship hopes of the Clemson Tigers, pulling out a thrilling, last-second 31-28 victory.

Yellowjackets junior quarterback George Godsey continues to perform better than anyone could have imagined, considering that he was replacing one of the elite quarterbacks in college football history in Joe Hamilton.

Against the Tigers, Godsey threw for 454 yards and three touchdowns, really impressing me with his poise and awareness in the pocket.

Purdue controls Big Ten destiny
Purdue and quarterback Drew Brees overcame mistakes to pull out a dramatic come-from-behind 31-27 victory at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.

Despite tossing four interceptions, Brees made the plays when he had to, with his final long touchdown strike to Seth Morales proving to be the game-winner.

The Boilermakers control their own destiny in the Big Ten, finishing with a road encounter against Michigan State on Nov. 11 and a rivalry battle with Indiana and Antwaan Randle El at Ross-Ade Stadium the following week. Fortunately for the Boilermakers, they have this Saturday off, which allows for a little more time to celebrate the huge win over the Buckeyes.

The Boilermakers, under the direction of outstanding head coach Joe Tiller, will be looking to make their first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1966 (when they beat USC 14-13). The Boilermakers were coached that year by Jack Mollenkopf, who in 14 seasons at West Lafayette led Purdue to an impressive 84-39-9 record. By the way, one of Purdue's captains for that '66 Rose Bowl victory was Bob Griese.

Irish eyeing BCS bowl game
In South Bend, hopes for a 9-2 record and a spot in a BCS bowl game remain a possibility. On Saturday, though, against a hard-working and a very determined Air Force squad, the opportunity almost came to an end.

Notre Dame blew a 28-10 lead as the Falcons staged a dramatic fourth-quarter rally. And had it not been for a missed chip-shot field goal, the game would have ended with an Air Force victory in regulation.

Instead, Notre Dame prevailed in overtime, thanks to the outstanding efforts of freshman quarterback Matt LoVecchio and senior wide-out Joey Getherall.

After having this Saturday off, the Irish host Boston College on Nov. 11. As I mentioned, it was the Eagles who spoiled Notre Dame's national-championship hopes back in 1993.

This time around, the Irish will have to contain the dynamic one-two punch of running backs Cedric Washington and William Green.

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