Gators' win is Huskers' gain in poll

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

September 09, 1994|By DON MARKUS

Here we go again. What would a college football season be without a little controversy in the polls? Based on what happened this week, this year might even be wilder than last season.

You might not have noticed -- Tom Osborne barely did -- but Nebraska slipped ahead of Florida in the Associated Press poll of writers and broadcasters.

That was after the Gators pummeled New Mexico State, 70-21, in their first game while the Cornhuskers were idle after a 31-0 victory over then-24th-ranked West Virginia in the Kickoff Classic.

Question: If the voters didn't see fit to move Nebraska up after its first game, why did they drop Florida? New Mexico State might not be a very good team, but should you get penalized for 49-point victories?

"In the long run, it doesn't mean bupkus, but the danger of this kind of flip-flop early in the season is that it encourages coaches to run up the score," said WBAL sports anchor Gerry Sandusky, who has voted Florida No. 1 since the preseason.

Gators coach Steve Spurrier, unlike West Virginia's Don Nehlen last year, wasn't bemoaning his team's apparent slight. It must have been hard for Spurrier, who's known to shoot from the lip, to bite it this time.

"I said it was an honor to be No. 1, but that there was no guarantee we'd be there next week or the week after," said Spurrier. "There is still so much football left to be played by us and others."

There's a possibility that Florida could keep moving down even if it continues to win. If third-ranked Notre Dame wins convincingly over No. 6 Michigan in South Bend tomorrow, it might not matter what the Gators do to Kentucky.

This new-found respect for Nebraska is interesting. It began when the Cornhuskers nearly beat Florida State in last year's Orange Bowl, was evidenced by a No. 3 ranking in the preseason poll and continues to grow.

Not that Osborne suddenly has gained respect for those doing )) the voting.

"Well, I hope they're right," said Osborne, whose Cornhuskers defeated Texas Tech, 42-16, at home last night. "It's very early in the season and we just hope the voters know what they're voting for."

Said Nebraska's Donta Jones, a senior linebacker from La Plata, Md., "I guess we have to go out and prove to everyone we deserve to be No. 1."

Give me Liberty . . .

Of the five former Division I-A players who took advantage of an NCAA rule that allows transfers to become immediately eligible at I-AA schools, two are playing for Sam Rutigliano at Liberty University.

Quarterback Antoine Childs, who never played at Florida, completed 18 of 27 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-0 rout of Division II Concord, and J. T. Morris, who played two years at Penn State, rushed 12 times for 52 yards and a touchdown.

"The biggest adjustment is being on the field again," said Morris, who returned to his hometown of Lynchburg, Va.

Morris doesn't miss Happy Valley or Penn State coach Joe Paterno, for that matter. After starting early in his sophomore year, Morris saw his playing time decrease steadily. Unlike many Nittany Lions who keep their mouths shut, Morris didn't.

"It was either Joe's way or the highway," said Morris.

One of Morris' former Nittany Lions teammates, quarterback John Sacca, was seven of 19 for 136 yards and two touchdowns in Eastern Kentucky's 24-21 loss at Western Kentucky. One of his current teammates, freshman tailback Lawrence Worthington of Edgewood, rushed for 134 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.

(No) Prair-ie View

Unquestionably college football's worst program, Division I-AA Prairie View A&M has lost 36 straight with last week's down-to-the-gun seven-point defeat to Texas Southern.

But the Panthers have more problems than just losing. The athletic program is severely under-funded and the woebegone football team now practices in the powder-blue hand-us-down uniforms of the nearby Houston Oilers.

"People come around and look at our pants and they say, 'Those aren't [school colors] purple and yellow,' " said coach Ronald Beard, who has been around for 34 of the losses. "I say, 'Those are the colors that are free.' We take whatever we can get."

What Prairie View can't seem to get is a win. Last week, the Panthers drove down to the Texas Southern 2-yard line when time ran out.

Upset pick of the week (0-1)

Northwestern over No. 24 Stanford. The Wildcats played respectably against Notre Dame at Soldier Field last week and the home crowd should help. So should the fact that it's Stanford's opener, something the Cardinal hasn't won since 1986.

Stat of the week

The past six Notre Dame-Michigan games played in South Bend have been decided by a total of 15 points.

Quote of the week

"It's green -- just like the Orange Bowl." Miami defensive tackle Warren Sapp, when asked about the field at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., where the Hurricanes lost, 29-0, to Arizona in last year's Fiesta Bowl and where they play Arizona State tomorrow.

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