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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Ohio State junior Ted Ginn Jr. began the season as a Heisman candidate. He has done nothing to suggest that he is not the receiver and kick returner that everyone expected to wear No. 7 for the Scarlet and Gray.
But there's one issue with his Heisman candidacy. He may not be the best receiver on his team. Redshirt junior Anthony Gonzalez is narrowly ahead of Ginn in catches (24-23) and yards per catch (15.5-14.7). The 6-foot, 195-pound Gonzalez has blossomed from role player to star this season. He caught only 28 passes last season, when he made eight starts.
Byron Hetzler/US PRESSWIRE
Anthony Gonzalez and Troy Smith hooked up for two touchdowns against Iowa.
Gonzalez's emergence puts even more pressure on defenses concerned with Ginn and his speed. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said last week that he would not stray from his philosophy of using linebackers extensively in pass coverage.
That came back to bite the Hawkeyes in their 38-17 loss to the Buckeyes, especially in the case of Gonzalez, who lines up frequently in the slot.
The most shining example came on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Troy Smith to Gonzalez in the third quarter that put Ohio State ahead, 28-10. From the right slot, Gonzalez slanted into the middle of the field and caught the pass. As he approached the left hash, Gonzalez said, "I saw the two safeties coming at me. I just tried to bounce it outside."
Gonzalez circled back to his right, well back of the 20-yard-line, found a seam, got a crushing block from receiver Brian Hartline near the right sideline, and sped into the end zone. Four different Hawkeyes got a hand of Gonzalez, but none of them came close to bringing him down.
"You're going to give me a weird look when I say this," Gonzalez said. "That was a total team effort. Hartline comes out and gets a huge block at the end. Ted said he knocked down two guys. I can't wait to watch it on film to see all the blocks that took place. That's how you play as a team."
Gonzalez praised Iowa's defense, while at the same time acknowledging that Ohio State could exploit it because they knew what was coming (It helps that the Buckeyes are faster and quicker than the Hawkeyes). But he said his eyes don't light up at the sign of a linebacker covering him.
"I try to play as emotionless -- not emotionless, but I try not to get all caught up in [that]," Gonzalez said. "It's more or less, 'This is the play call, this is what they're in, my job on this play is to do x, y or z,' and just do it, no matter what the situation."
Gonzalez has an analytical mind, as you would expect of someone who aspires to be a Rhodes Scholar. Perhaps he understands that without Ginn on the outside, he would get more attention from the opposing defense. The surprise is that Gonzalez may begin attracting that sort of defensive attention in his own right.
MIAMI -- A one-point victory against a 16-point underdog may not be very impressive, but the Miami Hurricanes (2-2, 0-1 ACC) will take it.
Miami's slumbering offense woke up long enough to put together a game-winning 8-play, 84-yard drive in the third quarter during a 14-13 win over previously undefeated Houston in the Orange Bowl.
The win was the Hurricanes' first this season against a Divison I-A opponent.
The victory may slightly mute the wave of criticism directed at Miami coach Larry Coker this season. Before Saturday's game, several airplanes hauling anti-Coker signs flew over the Orange Bowl.
"People are going to have opinions," Coker said Sunday. "My old college coach said there are five percent of the people in the world that hate motherhood. You're going to have a lot of 'againsters' in the world. If you can't handle that, go do something else. I respect people's opinions. I just chose not to be a part of it."
Besides winning, the biggest positive coming out of Saturday's game was the performance of Javarris James, who gained a school freshman record of 148 rushing yards in his first career start.
With Saturday night's win, the Hurricanes can pick up momentum before their Oct. 28 showdown in Atlanta against Georgia Tech in a game that could decide the Coastal Division champion.
Miami faces North Carolina (1-3) on Saturday followed by Florida International (0-5) and Duke (0-4).
"This was a very good win for us, one we needed for our program and, more importantly, ... for our players," Coker said.
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE
Last week began with 19 undefeated teams in Division I-A football, and Saturday ended with just 13 still standing. Georgia Tech was one of the parties responsible for the number being trimmed.
The Yellow Jackets went up to Blacksburg, Va., and achieved the always-difficult task of knocking off an unbeaten Virginia Tech team on its home turf, 38-27. The Hokies don't lose at home very often -- and they give up 38 points in a home game even less often. The last visiting team to score so much at Lane Stadium was Virginia in November 1994 (a 42-23 win over Va. Tech).
But perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Georgia Tech lost 51-7 on that same field last season, and the Jackets have recently made a habit of exacting revenge for embarrassing losses. Last year's 44-point defeat was the sixth time in the previous three seasons that Georgia Tech was beaten by 21 points or more. Saturday marked the fifth time in as many tries that the Yellow Jackets followed up one of those big losses with a win over that same opponent the following season.
The only bad loss Georgia Tech has not yet had the chance to avenge was the 38-10 humiliation against Utah in last year's Emerald Bowl. Right now, the Jackets have their sights set on a BCS game, but if they end up in another bowl this season, the Utes might be wise to avoid being their opponent.
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Steve Spurrier couldn't imagine anything worse than not having the football for an entire quarter. He gets more satisfaction out of running his ball plays than anything else, but his Gamecocks didn't get to run a play for the entire third quarter in Thursday night's 24-17 loss to No. 2 Auburn at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The NCAA doesn't keep records for time of possession in a single quarter, but the Tigers at least tied the record. Auburn's offense controlled the football for all 900 seconds of the period.
Richard Shiro-US PRESSWIRE
Auburn didn't allow Steve Spurrier and Syvelle Newton to be factors in the third quarter.
After leading 14-10 at halftime, the Tigers took the opening kickoff of the second half and put together a 17-play drive that took 8 minutes, 38 seconds off the clock. Auburn kicked a field goal to go ahead 17-10, then recovered a nicely executed onside kick to keep the football.
A 12-play drive ran off the remaining 6:22 of the third quarter, and tailback Kenny Irons scored on a 1-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to put Auburn ahead 24-10.
"I loved it, but I was ready to get on the field," Tigers cornerback David Irons said. "We took the whole quarter off."
Auburn's defense stayed on the field for nearly the entire fourth quarter, as the Tigers offense ran only three plays after Kenny Irons' touchdown run. South Carolina had the football for 11:15 in the fourth, and nearly tied the game in the closing minutes.
But Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier wasn't looking for consolation prizes.
"I don't want our fans to boo, but please don't clap when we come close," Spurrier told reporters on Friday. "I think it sends the wrong message. Our guys thought we'd done something pretty good, when in essence we didn't do anything but let a game get away that we were in a position to win."
"I don't know if any coach has ever told our fans, 'Please don't clap after we get beat. Even after the Clemson game (a 13-9 loss in 2005), they were clapping like, 'Well, we thought we were going to get clobbered and we didn't get clobbered. So that's OK.' It's not OK. We had a game we had a chance to win ... and we didn't do it."
While most college football fans were watching Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia or USC roll up another victory on Saturday evening, Northern Illinois running back Garrett Wolfe was busy putting on a show for the 10,128 folks gathered at Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Ind. Despite being interrupted by a 55-minute weather delay during the first quarter, Wolfe rushed for 353 yards -- the 13th-highest total in Division I-A history -- in NIU's 40-28 win over Ball State. And that after his first two carries of the game both lost yardage.
You can't say he caught the Cardinals by surprise. Not only was Wolfe already the nation's rushing leader entering the game, but he had also run for 280 yards on that same field two years earlier. Ball State was simply overmatched by the diminutive Wolfe -- just like every other opponent has been for the last three seasons. In early September, he gained 285 yards from scrimmage against Ohio State. Last year, he gained 179 against Michigan and 261 more against Northwestern. Pity the fools who think he just beats up on the MAC.
All of a sudden, Wolfe is within range of a record many college football fans thought would never fall. Barry Sanders averaged an astounding 238.9 rushing yards per game in 1988, and no player has even reached 200 ypg in a season since then. After five games in 2006, Wolfe is averaging 236.2 yards on the ground. Sure, it hardly seems conceivable to keep up this pace, but if he stays anywhere close to his current clip of 9.3 yards per carry, anything's possible.
And if he gets there, he will have earned it. In addition to the remainder of the conference schedule and a possible bowl game, Wolfe and his teammates make a trip to Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 28 to face the Iowa Hawkeyes.
TAMPA, Fla. -- It wasn't exactly a victory that would solidify Rutgers' place among the top 25 programs in the country, but Friday night's 22-20 win at South Florida was significant for the No. 23 Scarlet Knights on several fronts.
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Ray Rice rushed for 202 yards against the Bulls on Friday.
They won their first game as a ranked team in nearly 30 years -- the Scarlet Knights hadn't played a game as a nationally ranked team since they were ranked No. 19 and beat Colgate 17-9 on Nov. 18, 1976.
"This is huge for the program," tailback Brian Leonard said. "Coming down to Florida, playing in front of a hostile crowd and finding a way to win the game is huge."
Just as importantly, Rutgers won a game in the state of Florida after failing to do so in their previous eight tries. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, a former defensive coordinator at Miami, has invested heavily in recruiting the Sunshine State. The Scarlet Knights have 21 players from Florida and seven of those players were starters at some point this season.
During the past two years, Rutgers has leased billboards to advertise its football program in the Miami/Dade County and Tampa/St. Petersburg areas. The investments have paid off again this year with three players from the state already committing to sign with Rutgers in February 2007.
The exposure could be big for Schiano, too. If Miami decides to fire coach Larry Coker after this season, Schiano might be among the front-runners to replace him. Schiano already is a recognizable face in Florida high schools, and his assistants spend a lot of time recruiting the state.
But the Scarlet Knights' presence in Florida also has created a budding rivalry with South Florida, even though the Big East schools are separated by more than 1,100 miles.
After South Florida failed to covert a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the score at 22 with 12 seconds to go, the clock ran out. Schiano and South Florida coach Jim Leavitt made their way to midfield. They shook hands and neither coach spoke a word.