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News Nuggets, 09.20.03

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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Conference call raises questions about league's future


09.19.03: Hokie masses defy Isabel to watch Tech blow down Aggies... .. Concussion sidelines USM's D'Angelo for month... .. B.C. coach asks students to cool it when Canes come to town... .. More...
09.18.03: QB's status still uncertain as Cornhuskers loom for Southern Miss... .. Good deeds net big honor for Tulane's Moore... .. Blazers-'Cocks battle set for delayed telecast... .. More...
09.17.03: Surgery on Blazers assistant coach turns up malignancy... .. Bearcats basketball player cleared of charges... .. D'Angelo's status unknown for Huskers visit... .. More...
09.16.03: USM turns self in for basketball infractions... .. Green Wave's game at Texas selected for national telecast... .. Famed Blazers assistant coach has surgery... .. Tulane grabs two-thirds of league's awards... .. More...
09.15.03: College football weekend: The good, the bad and the ugly... .. Frogs hop higher in polls despite idle weekend... .. AP and USA Today/ESPN Polls... .. More...
09.14.03: Conference USA rings up profitable Saturday against BCS foes... .. More...
09.13.03: Madison lost for season as injury toll rises in Texas Christian backfield... .. Staff 'fixture', air horn guru gets props at Southern Miss... .. More...
09.12.03: After two emotional weeks, can Miami's Berlin relax?... .. Frogs coach to strum and croon for fans... .. Fundraiser in the works for former Louisville hoops star... .. More...
09.11.03: Billikens old-timers to be managed by Herzog... .. Injuries sideline TCU quarterback, running back... .. Professional wrestling barreling toward Minges Coliseum... .. NCAA sentences Fresno State to four years... .. More...
09.10.03: Fowler, Corso and Herbstreit to set up shop at West Point... .. Surprising Deacs roll towards Boilermakers... .. Charlotte hoops recruit postpones enrolling... .. More...

Click here for an expanded version of this story...

While much of the Conference USA media media has been drawn to speculate that an announcement is impending that the Big East will pursue all-sports C-USA members Louisville and Cincinnati, a few of the non-BCS league's basketball-centric schools may also be preparing to bolt.

According to a source, C-USA basketball mainstays Charlotte, DePaul, Marquette, and Saint Louis have expressed an interest in fleeing the league. The source noted that a conference call will be held Sunday with presidents from all 15 of C-USA's member schools, but the purpose of the teleconference was not disclosed.

C-USA members agreed over the summer that the league would remain intact through at least the 2004-05 season. Whether or not league presidents will revisit that Sunday is unknown.

Click here for an expanded version of this story...

Rejuvenated Duke aspires to keep streaking

DURHAM — Duke coach Carl Franks would love to have another first. Last week, Duke beat Rice for its first two-game winning streak in Frank's five years as coach. The Blue Devils (2-1) are looking for three in row when they play Northwestern on Saturday. Duke's last three-game winning streak? 1994, under Fred Goldsmith.

"It's something we haven't done before," Franks said. "It would be, so far, unprecedented in our program. It would be big."

Last week, Duke survived against Rice by winning 27-24 in overtime after blowing a 10-point lead in the final 6½ minutes of regulation. In '94, the Blue Devils won their first seven and finished 8-4. Since then, Duke has not won more than four games in a season. The Blue Devils were 5-40 in Franks' first four seasons, including 0-11 seasons in 2000 and 2001. Now they're in the middle of a four-game homestand.

"We've been playing what we call the season of September," Franks said. "We knew we needed to come out of September with a winning record."

Duke hosts Florida State next week, beginning a stretch that includes home dates against Wake Forest and North Carolina State, and games at Maryland and Tennessee. All five teams have been ranked this season.

"We really need the momentum going into those games," said freshman quarterback Mike Schneider, who threw two touchdown passes in the win against the Owls. "It would be great going into Florida State 3-1. Hopefully we'll play well against Northwestern and won't look past that."

Duke leads the series 7-6, but Northwestern has won the last four meetings, including three straight at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Gunn understudy takes center stage for Horned Frogs

FORT WORTH — Brandon Hassell gets to find out what it's really like to be Texas Christian's starting quarterback. Hassell ran the first-team offense in the spring while Tye Gunn recovered from knee surgery. Hassell finally gets to do it in a game Saturday night when the No. 20 Horned Frogs (2-0) play Vanderbilt (1-2).

Gunn, who took every offensive snap the first two games to improve to 6-0 as the TCU starter, will be out another two-to-four weeks after injuring his right shoulder in practice Sept. 9.

"It's not so much of a whirlwind. I've been in the situation of looking at the same offense in the spring, it just wasn't in a real game," Hassell said. "I know it's going to be different."

Hassell, a junior in his fourth season with the Frogs, has never thrown a pass in a game. He has played only twice, at the end of games in each of the past two seasons. TCU coach Gary Patterson doesn't sound concerned. He actually feels better about Hassell starting now than he did last season when Gunn started for the first time as a freshman in place of an injured senior.

"The offense hasn't changed here the last few years and Brandon has worked with it the entire time," Patterson said. "Brandon will probably run the option better than Tye, and Brandon probably has a better arm. Tye makes people play better around him. That's what Brandon has to do. We won't change what we do."

Vanderbilt, playing its first road game and coming off a 45-7 loss to Auburn, won't try to make its defense more complicated against the inexperienced quarterback. "I think we would end up confusing ourselves more than we would confuse TCU," said Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson. "If you have a lot of changes, your players have to take up that much practice time on that, and it takes away from what you normally do."

The Frogs have also lost senior running back Ricky Madison. He tore a ligament in his right knee during the 17-3 win over Navy on Sept. 6 and has since had season-ending surgery.

TCU has won eight straight home games since Oct. 30, 2001, the same week Vanderbilt last won on the road. The Commodores have lost 10 of their last 11 road games. "I'm really not worried about the road part. It's playing the game, another chance to get better," said Vandy safety Kelechi Ohanaja.

The two teams last played in 1998, when TCU won 19-16 in double overtime in Vanderbilt's only trip to Fort Worth. They split two other games in the series.

College football Saturday TV capsules

Noon, ESPN: North Carolina (0-2) at Wisconsin (2-1).

Opening Line: Wisconsin by 15.
Series Record: First meeting.
Last Meeting: First meeting.

What to Watch: Wisconsin has to put things back together after a potentially confidence-shattering 23-5 loss to UNLV. First, RB Anthony Davis, limped off the field with an injured ankle after his second carry. Then QB Jim Sorgi was sacked eight times and overthrew eight passes, two of which were intercepted by Jamaal Brimmer, setting up UNLV touchdowns. Davis, who has rushed 61 times for 425 yards this season, is day to day and coach Barry Alvarez is otherwise keeping mum. Dwayne Smith ran for 92 yards in place of Davis last week. Things might not be as bad as they seem — the Badgers were inside the 20-yard line five times against the Rebels and inside the 5 three times and only came away with one FG. North Carolina could use a pick-me-up, too. The Tar Heels are 0-2 for the third season in a row, following a 49-47 triple overtime loss to Syracuse. QB Darian Durant makes the Heels' offense go. He's 49-of-75 this season, for 461 yards. WR Jarwarski Pollock (18 catches) is his favorite target. The Heels' offensive line is also a strength.

Streaks, Stats and Notes: North Carolina TE Bobby Blizzard is still recovering from a viral illness and is doubtful for this weekend's game. ... Wisconsin has won 19 of its last 21 non-conference home games. ... Wisconsin opponents are converting third downs 31 percent of the time this season. ... Camp Randall Stadium is in the middle of renovations. Its capacity has been increased to 79,500 and a new, softer FieldTurf field has been installed.

Noon, ESPN2: Texas Tech (2-0) at N.C. State (1-2).

Opening Line: N.C. State by 7.
Series Record: N.C. State leads, 3-1.
Last Meeting: 2002, N.C. State, 51-48, OT.

What to Watch: N.C. State's T.A. McLendon, who had a breakout game against Texas Tech last season, has just 22 carries in three games. He says he's 90 percent healthy. Without him, N.C. State has to rely more on the pass — and they have an excellent QB in Philip Rivers, who became the ACC's leading passer last week. WR Jerricho Cotchery leads the ACC with 93 yards per game. Even with McLendon limited, the Wolfpack almost upset Ohio State. Rivers led them back from a 24-7 deficit with just over 8 minutes remaining in regulation. The Buckeyes' Will Allen barreled into McLendon, stopping him inches short of the goal line to preserve the 44-38 win. Texas Tech has a good passer of its own in B.J. Symons — the senior has thrown for 715 yards and eight touchdowns and leads the Big 12 in passing. The do-everything WR Wes Welker has more than 2,000 yards receiving at Tech and has returned seven punts for TDs. RB Johnnie Mack is also a threat on kick returns. The Red Raiders have scored 100 points in wins over SMU and New Mexico this season. Their defensive front four, however, is inexperienced — they've played all freshmen at times.

Streaks, Stats and Notes: Rivers has thrown for 10,061 yards, topping the mark of 9,839 set by Florida State's Chris Weinke. ... Texas Tech's Mike Leach is 25-16 in his fourth season. ... Tech S Ryan Aycock has three interceptions this season after just one all last season. ... N.C. State coach Chuck Amato is 27-14 in his fourth season. ... Rivers has been wearing a Texas Tech basketball shirt around campus. He got it from Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight last season. Knight heard Rivers grew up wanting to play basketball at Indiana, and sought him out before the game.

News Nuggets are compiled periodically from staff, ECU, Conference USA and its member schools, and from Associated Press and other reports. Copyright 2003 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Page Updated: 02/23/2007

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