INSIDE THE ACC
The sky is falling?
Thank goodness nobody was hurt last week when the parachutists hired by North Carolina to bring the game ball mistakenly landed at Duke. With all the fireworks, aerial stunts and other shenanigans going on at college stadiums, it seems inevitable that somebody will get hurt or even killed. Ask yourselves, athletics directors – is it worth it?
Would you be nutty?
Houston Nutt was a great hire for Mississippi. But if youhave to choose between a team with Nutt coaching his second game and Jim Grobe in his eighth season, take Grobe and Wake Forest every time.
On no fast track
By hitting Clemson in the mouth last week, Alabama made it clear that Tommy Bowden has built a track team masquerading as a football team. Speed is important in football, but the Tigers have sacrificed blocking and tackling to get fast guys on the field.
0 Net rushing yards for Clemson against Alabama
1998 The last time Duke started a season with consecutive wins. The Blue Devils will be 2-0 today if they defeat Northwestern – the opponent they crushed 44-10 in 1998 to get to 2-0.
1999 The last time Duke beat the same team in consecutive seasons (Wake Forest). The Blue Devils beat Northwestern 20-14 in 2007.
Players to Watch
N.C. STATE, QB, 6-2, 200
Coach Tom O'Brien was careful not to criticize Evans much after his difficulties replacing injured Russell Wilson at South Carolina. O'Brien said all facets of the passing game – the protection and receivers as well as the quarterback – were anemic. Evans will make his 18th start and makes good decisions when he's at his best. N.C. State doesn't need him to win this game single-handedly. It just needs him to avoid mistakes that could prime William & Mary for an upset.
ALPHONSO SMITH, WAKE, SR, CB, 5-9, 190
He collected his 15th interception at Baylor and is the NCAA's active career leader. Wake Forest's school record is 17, shared by Ronnie Burgess an A.J. Greene. When he's not pilfering passes, the Pahokee, Fla., native is returning kickoffs and punts. This is his first season in that role.
Duke's Running backs
Despite rushing for 218 yards last week, Duke's running backs coughed up the ball three times (losing it twice) – something that can't happen tonight in what could be soaked, slippery conditions. “The guys understand that's unacceptable,” running backs coach Zac Roper said. Senior Clifford Harris //will// start at tailback after gaining 95 yards against James Madison.
3 Things to Watch
QBS IN THE SWAMP. Florida has Heisman winner Tim Tebow (above). Miami has … ummm … Robert Marve (left), a redshirt freshman making his first start. The Hurricanes can't possibly be good enough at the rest of the positions on the field to overcome that mismatch at quarterback.
PAGING TYROD TAYLOR. It took just one week for Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer to come to his senses and take the redshirt off Tyrod Taylor (right). Beamer's //previous//decision to exclusively use drop-back passer Sean Glennon seemed questionable after the Hokies lost virtually their whole receiving corps.
KEVIN JONES. Duke sophomore leads the Bowl Subdivision in punting at 53.5 yards per kick. When a Duke player leads the nation in anything – it qualifies as big news.
AROUND THE NATION
By J.P. Giglio and Ken Tysiac
486 Passing yards for BYU quarterback Max Hall in the Cougars' 41-17 win //against//Northern Iowa.
5 Touchdown passes for West Virginia's Pat White last week. He had 14 last season.
6 Appeals to the NCAA for a sixth-season of eligibility by Cincinnati quarterback Ben Mauk, who spent his first four seasons at Wake Forest. Mauk has been denied on each appeal.
Irish get into action, sort of
Coming off a 3-9 season, Notre Dame plays its long-anticipated opener against ... San Diego State? Cancel “The Office,” your ratings problems are solved, NBC.
Hooray for Holland
Remember when people thought East Carolina athletics director Terry Holland was too ambitious with his scheduling a few years ago? Now that the Pirates have defeated then-No.17 Virginia Tech and have a nationally televised meeting with No.8 West Virginia in the biggest game of the day, Holland looks like a genius.
It's Chow time around UCLA
UCLA doesn't play today, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the big overtime win against Tennessee on Labor Day couldn't have happened to a less-likable person than Rick Neuheisel. On the other hand, the legend of Norm Chow grows with his tutelage of UCLA quarterback Jason Craft.
3 Things to Watch
1 THE OTHER FLORIDA SHOWDOWN. Watch on ESPN2 as Central Florida hostsNo.17 South Florida. Do you think former N.C. State quarterback Mike Greco, who's now at Central Florida, could help the Wolfpack now? While you're watching, look at South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe and the read option scheme that will challenge N.C. State on Sept.27.
2 THE BEAVERS IN BEAVER STADIUM. Penn State suspended three players, including two starters, for today's game with Oregon State. The Pac-10 is feeling its wings after UCLA upset then-No.18 Tennessee and would love to strike another blow for its West Coast brethren against a ranked Bowl Championship Seriesteam. The Beavers lost to Stanford last week, but Penn State opened with Coastal Carolina so who knows how good the Nits really are?
3 DID YOU DVR THE NEW “90210”? Maybe you have a couple of beta tapes of “Super Password” archived in your wood-paneled family room. Either is an appealing option to today's college football menu. There isn't a single game between ranked teams. No.1 is off, Nos.2 and 3 are challenging Mid-Americanteams. The password is “honey-do.”
INSIDE THE SEC
UP: ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Tide wiped out Clemson, made the cover of SI
DOWN: TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
They need stay off the west coast if at all possible.
UP: VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Made life miserable for the Gamecocks on Thursday night
3 Things to Watch
1 It will be interesting to see how Georgia handles Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour, who last season became the second Football Championship Subdivision quarterback to pass for more than 3,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000.
2 Miami isn't what it used to be and will go into the Swamp with a freshman quarterback making his first start. It'll be Robert Marve against a secondary that had four interceptions last week and returned two for touchdowns.
3 Bobby Petrino didn't exactly wow Arkansas' faithful with a come-from-behind, four-point win against Western Illinois. His team needs a better showing against Louisiana-Monroe, especially with Texas next week.
Years since Florida has beaten Miami (1985)
Years since Vanderbilt has finished with a winning record
Games Auburn had gone without a punt return for a touchdown ñ the longest streak in the nation ñ until Robert Dunn went 66 yards for a score last week against Louisiana-Monroe.
3 Key Matchups
1. Central Michigan (1-0) at No. 2 Georgia (1-0), 3:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs easily won their opener but were leap-frogged by Southern Cal, which took over the No.1 ranking in the country. It shouldn't affect Georgia unless it's casting a glance toward South Carolina next week.
2. Miami (1-0) at No. 5 Florida (1-0), 8 p.m.
For years, the college football world stopped to watch this rivalry game. They haven't played as often recently, and the Hurricanes have lost their edge, which doesn't bode well going into the Swamp where the Gators look loaded.
3. Southern Miss (1-0) at No. 9 Auburn (1-0), 12:30 p.m.
The Tigers showed the strength of their ground game while piling up 321 rushing yards in the season opener, getting 115 from Ben Tate in what was the debut of a spread offense. Look for the Tigers to try to control the clock and the ball in this one.