"I talked with my seniors during the week," Cincinnati coach Rick Minter said after the Bearcats stunned the eighth-ranked Badgers 17-12 before an equally stunned crowd of 27,721 at Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium. "We don't have a lot of seniors, just six, and most of them don't play very much, but I told them this was a great chance for a last hurrah. This was their last home game against a big-time, out-of-conference opponent. This was a game to make memories, just a big old game against a big opponent."
The Bearcats' defense spent long stretches of time on the field—Wisconsin held the ball for more than 37 minutes and Dayne rushed for 231 yards on 28 carries to supplant Archie Griffin of Ohio State as the all-time Big Ten rushing leader—but surrendered only one touchdown. (A Dayne fumble near the Cincinnati goal line in the fourth quarter cost the Badgers a seemingly certain touchdown.) The Bearcats offense, outgained 425 yards to 261, made the most of its opportunities. Running back Robert Cooper, one of the seniors, rolled 51 yards to give Cincinnati a 7-3 lead in the second quarter. Freshman kicker Jonathon Ruffin, as nervous as he had ever been in his life, pumped home a 41-yard field goal with 5:01 left to give the Bearcats their 17-12 margin.
The final Wisconsin drive ended with an incomplete pass in the end zone with six seconds left. Spectators rolled onto the field. The goalposts disappeared in a hurry. "This was the biggest win in UC history," strong safety Tinker Keck said, who, of course, didn't know that Heather Renee French, a Cincinnati graduate student, would be named Miss America four hours later. "Fans told me this was the best game they'd ever seen, people who had been coming here for 25, 30 years. They said they'd never seen the goalposts torn down."
"Let's buy some more," Coach Minter said, "and tear 'em down again."
Irish History 101
A Horse of a Different Color
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Notre Dame's most famous backfield, this season's Fighting Irish football tickets picture the Four Horsemen. Printed on the back of each ticket is a short explanation of how Grantland Rice coined the nickname after Notre Dame defeated Navy 13-7 in 1924. Except that he coined the nickname after the Irish beat Army in '24. Maybe next year's tickets will depict scenes from the celebrated Notre Dame-UCLA rivalry.
The intelligence of Stanford must be questioned. When Cardinal coach Tyrone Willingham told his players after their season-opening 69-17 loss at Texas that they had done some good things and could build on them, the players were dumb enough to believe him. Fortified by Willing-ham's reassuring words, Stanford bounced back with routs of Washington State (54-17) and preseason Pac-10 favorite Arizona (50-22).
The Cardinal offense has been an effective blend of stars old and new. Against the Wildcats, senior wideout Troy Walters, generously listed at 5'8", had a typical eight-catch, 168-yard day. Freshman Kerry Carter, a 6'2", 225-pound tailback, rushed for 79 yards on 20 carries, three of them first-half touchdowns. Stanford's best big runner since Tommy Vardell in 1991, Carter, who hails from Vaughn, Ont., chose the Farm after a hot recruiting battle between the Cardinal and Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin, even though a teachers' strike in Ontario canceled all but one game of his senior season. He has adjusted well from Canada's 12-to-a-side football to the 11-man game. "The instincts he has," Willingham says, "they don't change."
The Stanford defense, under new coordinator Kent Baer, is more physical up front. Baer moved end Riall Johnson to outside linebacker, where he already has 5½ sacks, nearly equaling the six he had last season. The defenders call themselves the Trenchdogs, an echo of the legendary Thunder-chickens of 1971. That year's Rose Bowl team, Stanford's last, started league play 3-0. A win over UCLA on Saturday would echo that, too.
Brown versus Yale
Another Wild Finish