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News Nuggets, 11.27.04
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Center of gravity in ACC shifting to state of Virginia?


11.26.04: Still poor-mouthing, Holtz leaves coaching door open ... Guidugli status in doubt after home accident ... More...
11.25.04: Stockstill among trio of assistants retained by Spurrier ... UTEP mines berth in Houston Bowl ... More...
11.24.04: Bowl-bound UTEP eyes winning exit from WAC ... MAC to sub for Pac-10 in Silicon Valley Bowl ... More...
11.23.04: Fox snatches up BCS rights for $320 million ... Brawl scratches bowl trips for Clemson, South Carolina ... BCS football rankings ... AP basketball poll ... More...
11.22.04: Cincinnati-Louisville game to air on ESPN2 ... C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... Associated Press college football poll ... More...
11.21.04: Utah rout of old nemesis BYU forces BCS hand ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
11.20.04: ABC TV backing out of BCS sweepstakes? ... Former Louisville hoops star dead at 48 ... More...
11.19.04: Holtz paves way for ascension of Spurrier at South Carolina ... Mountain West Conference bonanza rides on Utah-BYU game ... More...
11.18.04: No separate divisions planned for future Big East ... Old nemesis stands in Utes' path to BCS bid ... More...
11.17.04: National talent hunt lands 12 diamond prospects for ECU ... BCA tourney takes on distinct Wolfpack flare ... More...
11.16.04: Badiane joins Heels' Felton on one-game suspension ... BCS football rankings ... AP college basketball poll ... More...
11.15.04: C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... Utes close in on BCS berth ... AP football poll ... More...
11.14.04: Cancer-stricken USF basketball player to miss season ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
11.13.04: Herrion seals the deal with New Jersey prep target ... Tigers tune up for Pirates with win over USM ... More...
11.12.04: Cook, Badiane fuel ECU win in final preseason test ... Hard-luck Louisville big man lost for season ... More...
11.11.04: Spurrier signals desire for warm weather college job ... LeFors leads Louisville rout of Horned Frogs ... More...

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Virginia Tech's first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference has gone much better than expected, but the No. 11 Hokies aren't the only team in the Commonwealth challenging for supremacy in the league.

Tech can move one step closer to winning the ACC title with a home victory Saturday over No. 16 Virginia, which is trying to hold on to slim Bowl Championship Series hopes.

The Cavaliers were expected to be one of the premier teams in the new and improved league, while prognosticators pegged Virginia Tech as a second-division finisher, whose days of dominance seemed a thing of the past.

``Being (picked to finish) eighth, we had to show people what we were all about and get back to that team instead of individual stuff that I think we had in the past,'' said guard James Miller, one of 19 seniors playing his last home game in Blacksburg.

The Hokies (8-2, 5-1) have used the perceived slight weekly.

``We went in every week saying this team was ranked ahead of us — let's show them what we've got,'' reserve tight end Jared Mazzetta said. ``Now we're in a different position. It's a great turnaround.''

The Hokies can complete a surprising title run by beating the Cavaliers (8-2, 5-2) and then longtime Big East rival Miami the following week in South Florida. That would put Virginia Tech in the BCS for the second time.

The Cavaliers, meanwhile, would gain a share of the ACC title with a victory.

``It's a huge game,'' Mazzetta said.

In a season when coach Frank Beamer has stemmed a three-year trend of late-season fades by the Hokies, playing a rival like Virginia has made it easy for Virginia Tech to focus on the task at hand and not Miami.

``It's definitely the biggest game of my career,'' quarterback Bryan Randall said.

``It means the world to them and the world to us,'' added defensive end Jim Davis, who missed the Cavaliers' 35-21 victory last season with a torn chest muscle.

Virginia got a look at how good the Hokies can be when many of the Cavaliers watched the Hokies beat Maryland 55-6 in a Thursday night game. The victory came about 10 days after Virginia blanked the Terps 16-0 at home.

``They're a very good team and they really seem to feed off their crowd,'' Virginia tight end Heath Miller said. ``They really seem to capitalize off other teams' mistakes, so we're going to have to limit our mistakes and play a good game just to be competitive.''

Virginia coach Al Groh has preached to his team that the venue doesn't matter, but some Cavaliers seem to view playing on the road as a chance to sweeten the outcome.

``We really don't like them and they don't really like us,'' said tailback Alvin Pearman, a North Carolina native. ``It didn't take me but so long to figure out the significance of this rivalry, from the student body to the faculty to the staff around the university to the coaches and players. It's really amazing.''

And playing for an ACC title to boot?

``We couldn't ask for a better script to end the season,'' he said.

Guard Elton Brown agreed, and said how it ends is up to Virginia to decide.

``This is like a storybook ending,'' the senior captain said. ``Everything is in place. It's going to be a tremendous challenge, but it's there.''

Even with a win, the Cavaliers will need some help to make the BCS because they can't break ties with Florida State and Miami, the other teams in contention for a piece of the league title.

Virginia leads the ACC in offense at 415 yards per game, and the Hokies have the league's second stingiest defense, allowing just 267.5 yards per contest.

The 86th meeting between the Hokies and Cavaliers may be the biggest yet, Beamer said.

``It's been a fun year so far. Part of that has been because our senior leadership has been good, trying to lead this football team right,'' he said. ``I think the seniors deserve a lot of credit for getting us this far. We sure would like to send them out of here right.''

Cardinals aim to exit C-USA as champions

The Louisville Cardinals are guaranteed at least a share of the Conference USA championship. They want more.

``We definitely want to be greedy and have it all to ourselves,'' senior cornerback Antoine Harris said.

Seventh-ranked Louisville (8-1, 6-0) looks for its third straight league championship when it faces Cincinnati (6-4, 5-2) in its final home game of the season Saturday.

The Cardinals are undefeated in league play, winning six straight games, including a 65-27 win over Houston on Saturday for at least a share of the title. However, Louisville, which will move to the Big East next season along with the Bearcats and fellow C-USA member South Florida, want to exit the conference on top.

'`This is our championship,'' Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. ``I think our players will be excited. This is the kind of game you want to prepare for and the kind of game you want to play in. It's sold out, it will be loud and it's a lot of the line and it's two good football teams. So it should be a lot of fun.''

The Cardinals boast the nation's No. 1 offense, led by quarterback Stefan LeFors — the nation's leader in pass efficiency. He threw for 317 yards and three touchdowns and Eric Shelton rushed for three more scores last Saturday.

Louisville had little trouble moving the ball Saturday and finished with 666 yards of offense and scored more than 50 points for the fifth time this season. The Cardinals lead the nation in total offense with 543.4 yards per game and are second in scoring, averaging 47.6 points.

Cincinnati also has been on a roll with its own red-hot quarterback, but Gino Guidugli could miss this game due to a broken bone in his throwing hand suffered Saturday night when he slipped outside his home.

``I slipped on the top step, tried to brace my fall and hurt my hand,'' said Guidugli, who holds most of the school's passing records.

He's been at practice with his hand wrapped, though doctors told him not to throw this week. Guidugli wants to play Saturday, but a decision won't come before then.

``It's not a break that's a season-ending break,'' coach Mark Dantonio said. ``If we play in a bowl game in two weeks or three weeks, he should be able to play for sure.''

Guidugli is a big reason the Bearcats have turned their season around, winning four in a row after opening 2-4. He's thrown thrown for 1,022 yards and 12 touchdowns during the win streak.

He threw for three touchdowns in Saturday's 45-23 victory over South Florida to move within one TD pass of tying the single-season school record of 25.

That win made the Bearcats bowl eligible and moved them into a tie with UAB for second place in C-USA. The offense has averaged 41.8 points and 460.3 yards in the last four games while the defense has held opponents to an average of 18.8 points.

``They're playing really good defense...and they don't make many mistakes,'' Petrino said. ``We're going to have to be able to move the ball and run it at them. We have to be able to protect long enough were we can get the ball off down the field to make some plays. It should be a real hard fought, tough, physical contest.''

Petrino's team, ranked 10th in this week's BCS standings, has only a slim chance of getting an invite to one of the four big-money bowls. Even with wins over Cincinnati and Tulane in its final two regular-season games, the Cardinals will still likely be shut out of the BCS.

``All we can do is keep winning,'' LeFors said.

Louisville has won five of the last six meetings, including a 43-40 victory last season in Cincinnati. The winner will take home the Keg of Nails rivalry trophy.

Cincinnati leads the series 26-17-1, and is 10-9-1 all-time in Louisville.

Odd 1-point play aids Horns' win over Aggies

AUSTIN — No. 6 Texas came from behind to defeat Texas A&M 26-13 Saturday, with a rare 1-point safety early in the third quarter playing a role in helping the Longhorns overcome a 13-6 halftime deficit.

On the peculiar play, Texas defensive back Michael Griffin returned a blocked punt 10 yards for a touchdown, setting up what would have been the game-tying extra point kick.

But holder Matt Nordgren dropped the snap, kicker Dusty Mangum kicked the ball into the line and it rolled away just shy of the goal line. In the ensuing scramble for the football, officials ruled that A&M had gained possession of the ball then fumbled it into the end zone.

Aggies safety Jaxson Appel recovered the fumble just before several Texas defenders pounced on him.

Game officials conferred for about a minute before ruling that the Longhorns would get a point for downing Appel in the end zone. The mostly orange-clad crowd of 83,891 exploded into cheers once the scoreboard recorded the point, tying the game at 13-all.

The initial impetus rule is listed under Rule 8, Section 3, Article 2, in the NCAA football rulebook.

Mangum kicked two field goals later in the third quarter and running back Cedric Benson scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the final frame to account for the final margin.

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2004 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:06 PM


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