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News Nuggets, 11.06.04
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

USM poised to increase its dominance of C-USA


11.05.04: Pirates overpower Newberry in preseason warmup ... Cardinals gun down Memphis in wild shootout ... More...
11.04.04: Pirates poised to hit hardwood amidst news aplenty ... Primetime TV preview: Louisville at Memphis ... More...
11.03.04: Primetime TV preview: South Florida at UAB ... Almond back in the saddle for No. 21 Southern Miss ... More...
11.02.04: Army game once again the charm for ECU honors ... No. 25 Miners digging out of rut under Price ... Tar Heels savor first victory over Top 5 opponent ... More...
11.01.04: Games of interest: Hurricanes stall in Chapel Hill ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
10.31.04: Games of interest: Hurricanes stall in Chapel Hill ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
10.30.04: ECU shot-blocking wizard sidelined by thumb injury ... Utes tune out Meyer speculation, BCS chatter ... More...
10.29.04: Football grad rates keep Division I average from sinking ... Despite miscues, Hokies handle Georgia Tech ... More...
10.28.04: CBS, Fox poised to challenge ABC for BCS rights ... Injury sidelines prolific Blue Devils newcomer ... More...
10.27.04: Coaches predict Cards to dominate, Pirates to improve ... Seahawks undergo management shuffle ... More...
10.26.04: Mountain West outsider banging hard on BCS door ... Southern Miss dominates league's weekly awards ... More...
10.25.04: C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... Associated Press college football poll ... More...
10.24.04: Bearcats stagger heavily-favored Memphis ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
10.23.04: Blue Raiders go hip-hop to fill empty seats ... No. 15 Louisville makes mince meat of Bulls ... More...
10.22.04: Black coaches issue report cards to Division I schools ... Mountaineers QB rumbles over Syracuse ... More...
10.21.04: Holland successor to head NCAA selection committee ... New BCS model already begging to be recalled ... More...
10.20.04: Cards shake off loss to Miami, target USF for payback ... McCants clarifies Chapel Hill 'jail' remarks ... More...
10.19.04: Utah earns lofty spot in BCS poll; Louisville, UAB on list ... Bad back hounds Marquette basketball coach ... ACC rolls out new seal, future division names ... More...
10.18.04: New look BCS to debut: Let the bickering begin ... C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... AP college football poll ... More...
10.17.04: Army streaking; C- USA, Carolinas scoreboard ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...

JACKSON — Southern Mississippi hasn't lost a Conference USA game in nearly two years, but some Golden Eagles players aren't all that impressed.

That's because it's happened in Hattiesburg before.

No. 21 Southern Miss has won 13 straight conference games and can tie its league record with a victory Saturday against Cincinnati.

``It's something to have after the season's over,'' defensive lineman Chad Ruffin said of the streak. ``Right now, you can't really look at it like that. You have to look at it step by step and game by game. We have a goal, and that's getting back to the Liberty Bowl.''

The Golden Eagles (5-1, 4-0) haven't lost a league game since they were beaten at Tulane in November 2002. They defeated East Carolina to end that season, won the league title by going 8-0 last year and have four straight C-USA victories in 2004.

``They're a very, very good football team, and their record indicates that,'' first-year Cincinnati coach Mark Dantonio said.

Southern Miss set the conference mark with 14 straight league wins between October 1998 and November 2000. Louisville ended that string with a 49-28 blowout.

Four years later, the Golden Eagles can equal the mark by beating Cincinnati (4-4, 3-2).

``You like to have streaks, because that means you're winning conference games,'' Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower said. ``You've got to treat every game like a championship in this league. Whether we're playing the eighth game or the first, they're equally important.''

The Golden Eagles are neck and neck with Louisville as the only perfect teams in Conference USA this year, and are pushing for their second straight league title and fifth in nine seasons.

``We've got the bull's-eye from last year,'' said quarterback Dustin Almond, who has won 10 straight regular-season starts for the Golden Eagles and returns after injuring his hamstring a month ago.

Perhaps no Conference USA team made Southern Miss work harder for a win last year than Cincinnati.

Darren McCaleb's 26-yard field goal with 1:10 remaining lifted Southern Miss past the Bearcats 22-20 in a game Cincinnati led by 14 points.

``I know they will come and play hard here to beat us and get their revenge,'' Ruffin said.

Cincinnati gained infamy earlier this season by losing to lowly Army, snapping the Black Knights' 19-game losing streak. The Bearcats had five turnovers that day, with one fumble recovered for an Army touchdown.

Since then, Cincinnati has won two straight. The Bearcats played turnover-free football in victories over Memphis and Texas Christian, and are two victories shy of bowl eligibility with South Florida and Louisville also scheduled.

``They haven't turned the ball over,'' Bower said. ``They've played with more emotion and confidence. When you beat Memphis and TCU like they did, that will give you both.''

Juggernaut Utah team downplays distractions

SALT LAKE CITY — Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick is impressed with what former Rams assistant Urban Meyer has done in just two years at Utah.

The No. 7 Utes are one win away from the best start in school history and three victories away from a perfect regular season. Next up are Lubick's Rams on Saturday.

``Since I've been here, I think this Utah team probably is as good as any of them,'' Lubick said of the conference teams he's seen in 11-plus years at Colorado State.

Utah (8-0, 4-0 Mountain West) is trying for the first 9-0 start in school history. The Utes have opened the season with eight straight wins twice, most recently 10 years ago.

If that isn't distracting enough, there is also the rampant speculation that Florida may be interested in hiring Meyer, Utah's Bowl Championship Series standing and quarterback Alex Smith's Heisman Trophy candidacy.

Yet none of it seems to faze the Utes.

``I'm glad to say this. There's nothing phony about (Smith), me, the staff, the team. It's one of the most unselfish programs I've ever been around,'' said Meyer, who has refused to comment on the Florida job since Ron Zook's firing was announced last Monday.

The Utes have maintained they don't closely follow the BCS list, which could put them in one of the top four bowls when the season ends. Utah has been at No. 6 the last two weeks, although No. 4 California and No. 5 Wisconsin both jumped ahead of the Utes, who beat San Diego State 51-28 last week.

It was a reminder that teams from larger conferences have a chance to pass up the lesser-known Utes, even if they keep winning.

``We could care less about the BCS. We have no control over it. All we have control over is winning games. That's all Coach Meyer expresses to us,'' defensive back Eric Weddle said. ``If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.''

Smith learned this week that he officially is a semifinalist for the Heisman, which has never gone to a Ute. Smith is third nationally in passing, completing 131 of 203 passes for 1,905 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has also run for eight touchdowns.

``What makes them so good is their quarterback (Alex Smith) is very fluid and just very composed. Not only can he run the ball, he is very smooth in running it and makes people miss,'' Lubick said. ``He reminds you of a nice sleek halfback. But then he also has the real poise to sit back there and is a very accurate thrower.''

Smith shrugs off Heisman questions. He's still a little bit baffled by all the attention he's been getting and tries not to focus on the early Heisman lists.

``If I'm out there thinking about the Heisman on Saturday, that's going to be bad for me and this team. The bottom line is to win,'' Smith said. ``If you think about it, of the 15 guys on that list, I doubt any one of them is on a losing team. Winning is all that matters.''

Utah edged Colorado State on the road last year, 28-21, on an 80-yard fumble return with 1:33 remaining. It broke a five-game losing streak against the Rams and was especially nice for Meyer, who was an assistant to Lubick from 1990-95.

The Rams (3-5, 2-2) were the preseason pick to finish second to Utah in the MWC, but have struggled this season. Starting quarterback Justin Holland broke his leg Oct. 16 against San Diego State, leaving the offense in the hands of freshman Caleb Hanie.

Hanie completed 20 of 36 passes for 285 yards last week, but the Rams still lost at home to New Mexico. He also gets the start against a team trying to become the first from a non-BCS conference to play in the Fiesta, Rose, Orange or Sugar bowl during the BCS era.

Lubick said he wants the Rams to think of the Utes more as an MWC opponent than a BCS contender.

``Like it's New Mexico, like it's Wyoming,'' Lubick said. ``We want to win this game as badly as any game we'd played. We want to win it as badly as we can. We don't think about (other) things.''

News Nuggets are compiled periodically from staff, ECU, Conference USA and its member schools, and from Associated Press and other reports. Copyright 2004 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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