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COLLEGE FOOTBALL : Teams Schedule Feathers, Then Pound Them Like Pillows

Penn State humiliates Cincinnati, 81-0? California beats helpless Pacific, 86-24? Florida whips San Jose State, 59-21? Nebraska defeats Utah State, 59-28, and Iowa crushes Hawaii, 53-10?

OK, what in the name of Houston’s John Jenkins is going on?

Well, for starters, there is some serious scheduling of lightweights being done. Cincinnati had about as much business playing the powerful Nittany Lions as Pacific did Cal--which is to say, none at all. Not even Cal State Fullerton, America’s sacrificial stooge, is that desperate for a payday. Or is it?

Cincinnati, 1-10 a year ago, hasn’t had a winning season since 1982, and the Bearcats aren’t going to have one any time soon if they keep agreeing to travel to Penn State. Their away schedule also includes North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Kentucky.

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Actually, Paterno should have known better, but what was he supposed to do? The Nittany Lions have to play USC, Brigham Young, Miami, Maryland, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, among others. They have already beaten Georgia Tech. A couple of less challenging games were understandable . . . but this? It was a tossup who was more embarrassed by the score, Paterno or Cincinnati Coach Tim Murphy.

Said Paterno when the two coaches met at midfield last Saturday: “You’ll have better days, Tim.”

Sure, when the Bearcats start playing someone their own size.

Add routs: In Paterno’s defense, he played everyone but the alumni band. If your name was on the depth chart and you weren’t destined for redshirt status, you played Saturday. Fourth-string quarterback John Sacca, brother of Penn State quarterback Tony Sacca, touched the ball once and scored on a 75-yard run.

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Things got so bad that even the Nittany Lion mascot, who traditionally does a one-armed pushup for each point scored on a cumulative basis by Penn State, collapsed in exhaustion. Instead of doing 543 pushups, Tim Durant, who spends game day in a Lion costume, struggled to finish 300.

The Cal first-teamers were off the field shortly after the beginning of the third quarter. Was it really necessary for quarterback Mike Pawlawski to throw another touchdown pass in the quarter, his sixth of the day? Cal Coach Bruce Snyder should have replaced Pawlawski long before then.

And the same goes for Paterno, who let Tony Sacca run a series to begin the second half. Sacca should have been in civvies by then.

No one asked, but if we were NCAA grand pooh-bah for a day, we would immediately insist on the following 10 measures:

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(1) Order all athletic directors whose programs still use artificial turf to spend some time with players whose careers were prematurely diminished or ended by the stuff. If that doesn’t persuade them to switch to grass, have campus security drag them face-first for a 100-yard rug burn.

(2) Limit the number of times the USC band can play that annoying fight song during a game, from the present 10,000 to, oh . . . two.

(3) Do away with the NCAA rule that requires a player who transfers to sit out an entire season. Coaches who accept job offers at other schools don’t have to wait a year to work, why should the athletes?

(4) Eliminate all Thursday night, Saturday night and Monday games. In this case, television be damned.

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(5) Move the hash marks. The NCAA has taken away the kicking tee, like the NFL. The NCAA has shortened the distance between the uprights, like the NFL. Now it’s time to move the hash marks in, like the NFL.

(6) Have Penn State’s Joe Paterno--check that--Notre Dame’s Lou Holtz give Houston Coach John Jenkins a lecture on scoreboard management.

(7) Lock Ohio State Coach John Cooper and former Ohio State running back Robert Smith in a room until they resolve their much-celebrated differences. College football needs more players like Smith.

(8) Restore the Florida vs. Miami rivalry.

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(9) Allow players the right to test the NFL market without forfeiting their remaining eligibility.

(10) Slip Bevo, the Texas Longhorn mascot, a breath mint.

Two reasons why Mississippi State’s 13-6 upset of No. 13-ranked Texas wasn’t such an upset after all: (1) Newly hired Bulldog Coach Jackie Sherrill entered the game with a five-game winning streak against Texas, and (2) Mississippi State’s defense is better than anyone realized, with the possible exception of Sherrill.

In its first two victories, Mississippi State has allowed only three field goals. Of course, Bulldog followers might want to wait a few more games before ordering Sugar Bowl tickets. Mississippi State has had one winning season in the last 10 years and hasn’t won the Southeastern Conference in 50 years. . . . At last, Air Force is living up to its name--sort of. The Falcons didn’t record a touchdown pass in 1990, but already they have three this season. In Saturday’s victory over Colorado State, Air Force quarterback Rob Perez completed only two passes--both for scores. . . . You make the call: You are Indiana State and you have just scored a touchdown to take a 25-24 lead over Kansas State with 3:32 remaining. Do you kick the extra point or go for the two-point conversion? Indiana State went for two and look what happened: William Price of Kansas State intercepted the pass and returned it 102 yards for two points, enough to give the Wildcats a bizarre 26-25 victory.

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No matter what Louisville Coach Howard Schnellenberger says, you can kiss the Cardinals’ season goodby. Not only has Schnellenberger lost his star quarterback, Jeff Brohm, for the remainder of the season with a broken leg, he also has to make do with an undersized defense that is bound to be pushed around by Ohio State this Saturday and by Florida State later in the season.

Tennessee, whose offensive line enjoyed about a 30-pound weight advantage over Louisville last Thursday, wore down the Cardinals and cruised to a 28-11 victory. Louisville will be hard-pressed to finish 6-5. Thank goodness for an Oct. 5 game against Cincinnati.

A footnote: Replacing Brohm in the lineup will be Erik Watts, a fifth-year senior. Watts, 6 feet 5 and 240 pounds, has never started during his career at Louisville and has played in five games. “Now it’s my turn to shine,” a hopeful Watts said. Good luck. If nothing else, Watts does offer some combative genes. His father is Cowboy Bill Watts, who all but started the World Wrestling Federation.

Added footnote: Look for freshman Marty Lowe, Mr. Tennessee of football a year ago, to be the Cardinals’ starting quarterback by season’s end.

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‘Tis the season of recoveries.

Among those returning to the field this year are Colorado quarterback Darian Hagan, back after rupturing a tendon in his left knee; Ohio State running back Carlos Snow, who missed the 1990 schedule after doctors removed a benign tumor from his hip; and Alabama running back Siran Stacy, who suffered torn knee ligaments in the Crimson Tide’s opener last season.

Hagan, who must carry the Buffaloes’ offense if Colorado expects to challenge for a second national championship, completed 10 of 15 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown, ran for another score and returned four punts. He accounted for 272 all-purpose yards.

Snow’s return was less spectacular, but no less significant. The Buckeye rushing leader in 1988 and 1989 gained only 16 yards in five carries against Arizona last Saturday, but he received a standing ovation from the Ohio Stadium crowd for his efforts. With Smith gone from the team, Snow’s number of carries will increase.

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Stacy, who gained 1,079 yards in 1989, said he he was so nervous that he had trouble sleeping the entire week leading up to last Saturday’s game against Temple. Not to worry. Stacy gained 95 yards, scored twice and threw a touchdown pass to Prince Wembley, who also missed most of last season because of torn knee ligaments. “I call it the Rehab Connection,” Stacy said.

You don’t think Ohio State’s Cooper was trying to prove a point to his critics and to Smith by running the ball 68 times in the Buckeyes’ 38-14 victory over Arizona, do you? Butler By’not’e, Smith’s backup last year, accounted for 26 of the carries and 189 of the 325 rushing yards. Until last Saturday, he had never carried more than 12 times for Ohio State. . . . Clemson’s home opener, a 34-0 laugher against Division I-AA Appalachian State was noteworthy for one reason: The Tigers held the visitors to 84 yards.

Houston at Miami preview: Hurricane Coach Dennis Erickson envisions a marathon, something in the four-hour range, which is no surprise. The teams probably will combine for close to 100 passes.

In 1988, Erickson’s Washington State team beat Jenkins and his Cougar run-and-shoot in the Aloha Bowl. Erickson studied that game film this week.

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After his Hurricanes started mouthing off late last week about their plans for Houston, Erickson ended all player interviews with reporters. “The media (have) had plenty of time to visit with the players,” he said. When someone suggested that media hype was part of the game’s charm, Erickson snapped: “I just said we’re not going to do it any longer, OK?” Later he relaxed, simply saying the team needed time to focus on the Cougars.

Fair enough.

Top 10

As selected by staff writer Gene Wojciechowski

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No. Team 1. Clemson (1-0) 2. Florida State (2-0) 3. Washington (1-0) 4. Penn State (2-0) 5. Miami (1-0) 6. Florida (1-0) 7. Colorado (1-0) 8. Iowa (1-0) 9. Nebraska (1-0) 10. Notre Dame (1-0)

The waiting list: Houston (1-0), Tennessee (1-0), Oklahoma (0-0), Michigan State (0-0), Pittsburgh (2-0).


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