On dull Saturday, BC-Wake, USC-Stanford brought back memories of '03
Posted: Monday September 27, 2004 12:20PM; Updated: Monday September 27, 2004 12:49PM
Willie Idlette and the Demon Deacons provided one of the few bits of excitement on a dull college football Saturday.
Before we begin, please turn off all portable electronic devices, including cellular phones, pagers, and the computer that you are currently using ...
On an otherwise relatively boring college football Saturday ("relatively" because there is no such thing as a bad college football Saturday; well, maybe if you're at a wedding and you're missing all the games; people can be so inconsiderate that way) two of the better games played out like deja vu.
First, there was the Boston College-Wake Forest contest, which for lack of anything to judge it against, now ranks as the most exciting game I've ever seen televised from Wake Forest's Winston-Salem, N.C., campus. Wake Forest won 17-14.
The Demon Deacons scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:09 left on a 40-yard pass from Cory Randolph to Willie Idlette. The Wake Forest wideout ran a simple down-and-out pattern. The Eagle safety went for the interception and came tantalizingly close but just missed putting a hand on the ball. Idlette caught it, turned and sprinted the last 20 yards into the end zone untouched.
A year ago Wake Forest scored the game-winner with 1:47 left on a 43-yard pass from Randolph to Chris Davis. Both losses were BC's first of the respective seasons.
Meanwhile, out in Palo Alto, USC found itself traveling to northern California on the final Saturday in September ranked No. 1 and staring at an upset for the second year in a row. The men of Troy trailed Stanford by 11 points at halftime. Last year USC lost in overtime to Cal, the Trojans' only blemish of the season. This time, however, they spoiled the first weekend back at school for Cardinal students by totally shutting down Stanford's offense in the second half. The Cardinal gained 291 yards in the first half and scored 28 points ... and then gained only 36 total yards in the second while being shut out. As many a Stanford alum and dotcom billionaire might describe coach Buddy Teevens' post-halftime attack, "the system crashed."
Southern Cal won, 31-28.
Oh, and please turn off your Blackberrys. And blueberries. And Marv Throneberrys. And Halle Berrys (as if you could turn her on in the first place).
How about Wisconsin fullback Matt Bernstein? He entered the Penn State game with six career carries but was inserted at tailback due to injuries. And, because of the Jewish holiday, Bernstein fasted for 24 hours leading up to the game. On an empty stomach he rushed for 123 yards on 24 carries in the Badgers' 16-3 win over the Nittany Lions. Win one for the Kippur?
The UW-Penn State game was one of many snoozeworthy affairs on Saturday. Notre Dame and Washington basically took the second half off during the Irish's 38-3 win. Question for NBC: How much time and effort does it take to get head shots of all the players on both teams the way real college football networks do? Notre Dame senior wideout Matt Shelton's parents must have been so thrilled when, after each of his two touchdown catches, the best you could do was show a shot of him from behind sitting on the Irish bench.
Watching Miami's mauling of Houston Thursday night, it occurred to me that the Hurricanes can win the national championship if they can just keep their offense off the field. Miami won 38-13 but two of its TDs were scored by the defense. Quarterback Brock Berlin -- remember when then-Florida coach Steve Spurrier absolutely coveted this kid? -- was 13 of 23 for 99 yards. Berlin was sacked seven times. And Berlin's wall, i.e. the 'Cane O-line, was not to blame for most of them.
The Weekly Blitz
Each week at Sports Illustrated On Campus, for which I more than happily work, we receive stringer files from dedicated college students from all over the country. Our students kick ass on this task, and I'd like to recognize them by including some of the best news items sent in each week:
PENN STATE: Channeling Seinfeld ... from the "Why You Not Wear the Ribbon?!?" file, State College, Pa., police are investigating a strange potential assault allegedly involving Penn State's cheerleaders. On the Friday before the Sept. 18 home game, the cheerleaders were standing outside a store and passing out Penn State stickers and signs as they normally do. A woman declined the paraphernalia and, according to reports, "a group of people in Penn State cheerleader uniforms" tossed about 20 stickers at her.
SOUTHERN CAL: Before the Trojans' Sept. 18 game at BYU, freshman defensive end Jeff Schweiger forgot to pack his pads in the equipment truck. And so he had to take his helmet and shoulder pads onto the plane as carry-on luggage.
TEXAS: Longhorn rusher Cedric Benson raised eyebrows by telling ESPN radio that he'd rather win the Heisman trophy than beat Oklahoma. Hey, it is the Lone Star State after all. Benson was only being honest. And realistic. Texas doesn't beat Oklahoma any more. By the way, Benson gained 126 yards -- in the first quarter --during the Longhorns' 35-13 win against Rice on Saturday. He finished with 189 yards.
UTAH: Utes walk-on kicker Dan Beardall drove himself to the Sept.18 game at Utah State (less than an hour's drive from Salt Lake City). Beardall didn't even have a jersey, but when the Utes' starting kicker struggled, he borrowed a jersey and kicked for the remainder of the contest.
My top eight teams, based entirely on how they've done this season and that's all (eight, for the four BCS bowls)
1. Southern Cal ... better than Pete Carroll's Jet squads 2. Oklahoma ... waiting for a test 3. Miami ... could rise with an injury to Berlin (Did I just write that? Not a serious injury, of course. Like, maybe gout) 4. Purdue ... 49 points per game thus far. South Bend awaits. 5. Georgia ... getting healthy for upcoming hellacious schedule 6. Ohio State ... All hail Buckeye kicker Mike Nugent. Not since Ted followed Cat Scratch Fever with Double Live Gonzo has a Nugent put together a stretch this impressive. 7. Texas ... Cedric Benson may be the country's top rusher and LB Derrick Johnson the top defender. 8. Auburn ... Tigers have "that look"
And finally ...
The quote of the week comes from Dallas, where my cousin Maryann was attending a business meeting. Listening to some of her male Texan colleagues' raunchy comments, Maryann, a native New Yorker, gently chided them about setting themselves up for a sexual harassment suit.
"You're in Texas," one of the men replied. "Down here, 'harass' is still two words."
John Walters is a staff writer for Sports Illustrated On Campus.