Duke Hears a Happy Noise

Times Staff Writer

More seasons than not, Duke's football team serves as mere background noise before the opening of basketball season, and the pleasant squeak of sneakers on the hardwood at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Blue Devils went four seasons without a victory in Atlantic Coast Conference play before playing host to Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Strange as it might sound, the Blue Devils ended their 30-game conference losing streak with a 41-17 victory over the Yellow Jackets, and it might have something to do with the background noise the players had been hearing during practices the last two weeks.

In an attempt to better prepare the team for the noise at Tennessee's Neyland Stadium the previous week, interim Coach Ted Roof brought a white moving van filled with speakers to the Duke practice field and blared "Rocky Top" at full volume.

Duke gave the Volunteers a tough time before falling, 23-6.

Roof unloaded the speakers again last week, playing the music of Kid Rock while the Blue Devils went through their preparations for the Georgia Tech game. At that point, what did they have to lose?

"There's a reason you sing songs in church before you pass the offering plate," said Roof, a defensive coordinator who took over after Carl Franks was fired Oct. 19. "Music stirs the soul."

Consider the Blue Devils stirred.

Chris Douglas ran for a career-best 218 yards and two touchdowns Saturday against Georgia Tech. Blue Devil players dumped a water cooler over Roof's head. Duke fans celebrated by charging onto the field and tearing down a goal post.

Going, Going, Gone?

The wolves are at Coach Joe Paterno's door, scratching louder than ever.

Penn State's 17-7 loss to Northwestern was bad enough, but a columnist from Detroit wrote Saturday, "Why can't Penn State fire Joe Paterno?"

The Nittany Lions certainly looked as if they had given up on their coach during a dreary loss at snowy Evanston, Ill. If one play summed up their season, it was the go-ahead touchdown for Northwestern late in the game.

Quarterback Brett Basanez's fourth-quarter toss toward the goal line was batted into the air by not one but two Penn State defenders, only to land in the hands of Brandon Horn in the end zone.

It was a touchdown for the Wildcats and, soon enough, the first six-game losing streak since 1931 for the Nittany Lions.

Hold the Anchovies

Minnesota Coach Glen Mason promised kicker Rhys Lloyd all the pizza he could eat if he made a 35-yard field goal as time expired against Wisconsin.

Lloyd had something other than food on his mind, as it turned out, racing after Paul Bunyan's Ax on the Wisconsin sideline the instant the football split the uprights to give No. 24-ranked Minnesota a 37-34 Big Ten Conference victory and possession for a year of the trophy awarded to the winner, a rivalry that dates to 1890.

"I'm just glad he didn't go for the ax before he kicked the ball," Mason said after Lloyd led the Gophers on a victory lap around the Metrodome.

Said Lloyd of a timeout conversation he had with Mason: "He was saying, 'If you make this, you get all the pizza you can eat.' And I was like, 'Fair enough.' "

Somebody Get Rewrite

Mike Price wants to be the next coach at Arizona.

Perhaps that's why he's finally discussing the allegations that led to his firing at Alabama earlier this year.

In a recent interview with a newspaper in Spokane, Wash., Price said he did not have sex with two women in a hotel room in Pensacola, Fla.

The newspaper has unearthed inconsistencies in the statements of the women, and others at a topless bar that Price had visited.

"That story destroyed my reputation," Price said, referring to an account of his activities in Sports Illustrated. "Hurt my family. Hurt me. And it was nothing but lies. There were never [two] women in my room. There was never a sexual encounter. There was no adultery.... I never broke any laws. Too much drinking led to poor judgment, that was it."

Defining a Bad Season

Seeking to change his team's sagging fortunes, Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney gave Waye Terry his first start at quarterback. Terry got sacked on the opening play and it went downhill quickly for the Cyclones during a 45-0 loss to Kansas State that was played in one-degree wind chill.

Iowa State (2-7, 0-5 in Big 12 play) was held to 140 yards and lost its seventh consecutive game. The Cyclones also were shut out for the second consecutive game, the first time that has happened since 1958.

Kansas-Nebraska Act

Some Cornhusker fans staying in motels in Lawrence, Kan., the night before the Nebraska-Kansas game found their tires had been slashed. Police said 30 cars with Nebraska license plates were vandalized around town.

Lew Perkins, Kansas athletic director, apologized to "our guests from Nebraska," by issuing a statement during the game. No word on whether he arranged for free tire service for the damaged cars.

The No. 19-ranked Cornhuskers didn't get mad but got even with a 24-3 rout of the unranked Jayhawks.

Wake Up, Dude

Maurice Clarett, suspended Ohio State running back, reportedly is flunking two classes, including a physical education course in which he has failed to turn in assignments.

Clarett also was caught sleeping during an African American studies class.

In addition to his academic troubles, Clarett faces a misdemeanor charge of lying on a police report about the theft of items from a car he had borrowed from a dealer at Columbus, Ohio.

Return Raider

Texas Tech's Wes Welker broke a 54-year-old NCAA record for career punt return yardage with 1,714 yards after a 22-yard return in the Red Raiders' 62-14 victory over Baylor.

Lee Nalley set the previous record of 1,695 yards while at Vanderbilt from 1947 to '49.

Welker this season set an NCAA record with his eighth career punt return for a touchdown.

Cannonball Run

Wabash's Chris Morris gained 240 yards and scored four touchdowns in an 81-0 victory over Hiram College -- the Little Giants' largest margin of victory in 91 years.

In 1912, Wabash bashed Moore's Hill, 102-0.

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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BY THE NUMBERS

Consecutive Victories

12 Oklahoma's 77-0 rout of Texas A&M; was its 12th consecutive victory, moving the Sooners one game ahead of Texas Christian for the longest current winning streak in Division I-A.

15 Ohio State extended its home winning streak with a 33-23 victory over Michigan State.

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Consecutive Losses

40 Navy's 27-24 loss to Notre Dame extended its losing streak to the Fighting Irish, which is also the longest losing streak to one school in Division I-A.

6 Penn State has not lost this many games in a row since 1931 and it is also the longest losing streak for Coach Joe Paterno.

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Streaks Ended

26 Tennessee ended the nation's longest home winning streak with its 10-6 victory over Miami in the Orange Bowl.

30 Duke ended its Atlantic Coast Conference skid, dating to 1999, with a 41-17 victory over Georgia Tech.

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