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Nebraska will delay PSU's return to national prominence

Friday, September 13, 2002

By Bob Smizik, Post-Gazette Sports Columnist

There was a time when a Penn State-Nebraska matchup likely would have national championship implications and certainly be the top game of the day. That's no longer true as both teams, particularly the Lions (1-0), seek to re-establish themselves nationally when they play tomorrow night at Beaver Stadium.

The Cornhuskers (3-0) have had three games to iron out any deficiencies and give quarterback Jamaal Lord an opportunity to get comfortable as the starter.

Neither team attracts the high-quality athletes it once did, but, in Zack Mills, the Lions have their best quarterback since Kerry Collins. The key to the game is Penn State's ability to stop Nebraska's running game. Nebraska, 28-14.

In other games:

Pitt (1-1) at UAB (1-1): The Panthers handled the Blazers easily enough last season, and it should be even easier this year -- if Coach Walt Harris and his staff have updated themselves on the rules of football. Note to Walt: Forget the swinging gate. Just kick it. Pitt, 29-7.

West Virginia (1-1) at Cincinnati (1-0): The growing pains continue for the Mountaineers, who match up against a confident quarterback in Gino Guidugli, who led the Bearcats to three fourth-quarter comebacks last season and added another two weeks ago against Texas Christian. Cincinnati, 27-21.

Washington State (2-0) at Ohio State (2-0): The Buckeyes' outstanding secondary will be soundly tested by a Cougars' passing attack that features wide receivers Devard Darling, who caught three touchdown passes last week, and 6-foot-6 Mike Bush, a top scorer on the basketball team. Freshman tailback Maurice Clarett ran for 175 yards and scored three touchdowns in his first game, a Buckeyes win against Texas Tech. Ohio State, 24-20.

Southern California (1-0) at Colorado (1-1): The Buffaloes figure to be without starting quarterback Craig Ochs, and career backup Robert Hodge will start. Ochs has had three concussions in the past 13 months. Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards in the Trojans' win against Auburn. The Buffaloes will need a strong running game, and Chris Brown, who ran for 175 yards last week, looks to be ready to give it to them. Colorado, 24-17.

Michigan (2-0) at Notre Dame (2-0): Tyrone Willingham's West Coast offense isn't exactly wowing them at Notre Dame. The Irish are still looking for their first offensive touchdown. The Irish completed only one pass in the second half against Purdue. Michigan tailback Chris Perry is averaging 5.9 yards a carry. Notre Dame, 17-15.

Indiana (1-1) at Kentucky (2-0): The Wildcats already have equaled their victory total of last year and a win here, with Middle Tennessee next week, could put them at 4-0 for the first time in almost two decades. Kentucky, 33-20.

Florida State (2-0) at Maryland (1-1): The Seminoles ran for 397 yards against Virginia, including 173 by Greg Jones. For the 10th consecutive year, this game features the defending ACC champion, but for the first time it's not Florida State. The Terrapins are 0-10 against the Seminoles in the ACC. Florida State, 31-17.

Texas (1-0) at North Carolina (1-1): Mack Brown returns to Chapel Hill to a sellout crowd and brings with him a national powerhouse, just what he was trying to build before he left. The Tar Heels are a mystery, losing at home to Miami of Ohio and winning on the road at Syracuse. Longhorns tailback Cedric Benson should have his way with a rush defense that has allowed an average of 179 yards a game. Texas, 33-13.

UCLA (1-0) at Oklahoma State (1-1): In their 101-year football history, the Cowboys have never lost to a team from California. Of course, they've played only three. Quarterback Cory Paus moved into third place on the UCLA all-time passing yardage list in the Bruins' opener, moving ahead of Troy Aikman and Tommy Maddox. UCLA, 34-14.

Georgia (1-0) at South Carolina (1-1): The Gamecocks committed seven turnovers in their loss to Virginia last week. The Bulldogs go with two quarterbacks, which sometimes can be dangerous. But not this week. Georgia, 27-21.

Louisville (1-1) at Colorado State (2-1): Only a fourth-quarter collapse against UCLA kept the Rams from being undefeated. The Cardinals, stunned in their opener against Kentucky, had an easy time with Duke, but there's still doubt if they can handle big-time teams despite the presence of quarterback Dave Ragone. Colorado State, 34-29.

Last week: 7-5, .583; season (15-9), .625.

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