Ole Miss, a 35-29 winner over Kentucky in Oxford, is 4-1 for the first time since Archie Manning was a senior, in 1970. In giving coach Billy Brewer his 100th career victory, the Rebels spotted the Wildcats a 7-0 lead but ripped off 35 of the game's next 42 points before surrendering a couple of meaningless touchdowns late in the game. Only three Mississippi teams have won more than six games since '71, but these Rebels could easily win eight or nine.
Georgia Tech, which lost 16 ACC games in a row from 1986 to 1989, has an eight-game winning streak and a 4-0 record this fall. The Yellow Jackets, who will face Clemson on Saturday in Atlanta in an ACC showdown, rely mainly on a defense that has not given up a touchdown yet this season. In a 31-3 win at Maryland last week, Georgia Tech had 11 sacks, including five by sophomore outside linebacker Marco Coleman.
SI's Tim Crothers reports on Houston quarterback David Klingler.
When the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Andre Ware announced in March that he intended to enter last spring's NFL draft as a junior—he went to Detroit in the first round—the Houston run-and-shoot offense seemed destined to become the run-and-misfire. So why was everybody on the team smiling?
"When Andre decided to go to the pros, the reaction of the guys was bordering on cocky," says Cougar coach John Jenkins. "It wasn't, 'Oh, dang, what are we going to do now?' It was, 'All right, David, load the cannon.' "
David is David Klingler, a 6'3", 205-pound junior, and sure enough he has come out firing. Last Saturday he threw 68 passes—five short of the NCAA record set by N.C. State's Shane Montgomery in 1989—completing 35 for 405 yards and two touchdowns, as Houston beat Baylor 31-15 in Waco. The Cougars are now 4-0, and Klingler has passed for more than 400 yards in every one of the victories.
His performance to date comes as no great surprise to the Houston coaches. Klingler was a gifted athlete at Stratford High in Houston. He long-jumped 24', high-jumped 6'9" and was offered a basketball scholarship to Pitt. He and Ware roomed next door to each other in Bates Hall during their first two years at Houston and spent hundreds of hours side by side scratching their heads over the intricacies of Jenkins's offense. Klingler was a little less developed at the outset, so he was redshirted. Like Ware, he had run the option in high school and recalls that his best passing game was a 7-for-9 performance in his senior year. "That was really airing it out," says Klingler. "Now I'll throw nine passes in one drive."
When he arrived at Houston he had an awkward sidearm delivery, and he was dubbed Slinger by Jenkins. But Slinger developed into one of the best quarterbacks nobody had ever heard of. Last season, when he got into eight games as Ware's backup, he passed for 865 yards and eight TDs. That was good enough to make him the second-rated quarterback in the SWC, behind Ware, and he would have been rated 10th-best in the nation in passing efficiency had he thrown enough times to qualify. "David was capable of starting for just about any other team in the country last year," says Jenkins. "When he came into the game, we didn't miss a lick."
Opposing coaches who saw films of Klingler might have thought that the best way to stop the run-and-shoot this season was to let the air out of the ball. That is almost what happened in the 1990 Cougar opener, against Nevada-Las Vegas. On Houston's initial possession, Klingler threw three straight incompletions with a partially deflated football. "It felt like a Nerf ball in my hands," he says. "My first start and I'm passing with a ball leaking air. That did wonders for my confidence."