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I-AA No. 1 Southern Illinois Tries to Stop Upset Bug

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  • I-AA No. 1 Southern Illinois Tries to Stop Upset Bug

    Salukis bring balanced offense on the road.

    Sept. 23, 2004

    By Scott Mees
    www.SIUSalukis.com

    CARBONDALE, Ill.- The Southern Illinois University football team returns to Delaware on Saturday.

    No, not to face the team that dominated it in the first round of last season's Division I-AA playoffs -- that rematch could happen later this year.

    This time, the top-ranked Salukis will take on the Delaware State Hornets at Alumni Stadium in Dover, Del., at noon (central time).

    "We're going on the East Coast to a place we haven't played," said SIU head coach Jerry Kill.

    SIU (2-1) is coming off a lopsided 59-9 victory over William Penn, in which most of its starters were on the bench by halftime.

    The Hornets (0-3), on the other hand, have a record of 1-13 since the beginning of the 2003 season. Delaware State was picked to finish last in both Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference 2004 preseason polls.

    Nevertheless, Kill is not underestimating his team's opponent, or the environment it may face.

    "You never know what's going to happen," Kill said. "You've just got to be prepared."

    Kill referred to (then No. 15) Western Illinois' loss at Hampton last weekend as a prime example.

    "It could rain," Kill said. "There are too many things you can't control in football."

    Running back Terry Jackson's playing status was still questionable as of Tuesday evening.

    "Terry practiced today," Kill said. "I don't know if he'll play or not, but he seems to be better."

    The Saluki head coach is pleased with all aspects of how his offense is performing.

    "We are about as balanced as we've ever been, since I've been here," Kill said.

    Kill added that he is happy with the efficiency of the passing game.

    "We're throwing the ball equally, as well as running it," Kill said. "We're throwing the ball very well."

    Through three games, SIU quarterback Joel Sambursky is 37-for-55 passing the ball. The junior has thrown four touchdowns and just one interception. Brent Little leads the team in receptions with 10 for 181 yards. Quorey Payne has five catches, but averages a whopping 29 yards per reception.

    The Saluki backfield continues to get more crowded as freshman Craig Turner is now in the mix. Turner -- in his debut -- led the Salukis with 93 yards rushing in the William Penn game. Arkee Whitlock added 89 yards, and Brandon Jacobs chipped in with 63.

    Freshman wide receiver Phil Goforth remains a couple of weeks away from playing, according to Kill.

    As far as a plan of attack goes, Kill said the Salukis would take what the defense gives them.

    "Hopefully, we'll move the ball and not turn it over," Kill said. "That's the big thing."

    This will be SIU's final non-conference game before it enters Gateway Conference action. The Salukis will host Northern Iowa on Oct. 2.

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  • DJRamFan
    Spartans Prepare For Shootout Against Hawaii
    by DJRamFan
    Michigan State can reach the .500 mark with a win over the Warriors in the season finale.

    Dec. 3, 2004

    HONOLULU (AP) - Before arriving on the islands, Michigan State prepared as best as it could for Hawaii, the tropical climate and the time difference. But there was one factor the Spartans may have overlooked.

    "The other factor is just the beauty of Hawaii," Spartans coach John L. Smith said. "There's so many distractions that it's hard to keep your mind on the game. My goodness, there's beautiful Polynesian gals walking around. The last things these guys are thinking about is football."

    That's just the way Hawaii wants it.

    The Warriors (6-5) need a win Saturday night against the Spartans (5-6) to earn an invitation to the Hawaii Bowl for the third straight year.

    "This game means a lot. If we lose, we don't want to live the rest of our lives saying, `We should've. We could've,'" Warriors running back West Keliikipi said. "If we lose, it'll be devastating. We worked too hard."





    A loss for Hawaii will also close the storied career of quarterback Timmy Chang, who this year became the most prolific passer in college football history. He owns the career NCAA marks for passing yardage (16,251), attempts (2,341), completions (1,328), interceptions (80) and total offense (16,066).

    "It's always hard to see (the seniors) go, but these guys have been here for five years -- since I've been here. So you get attached to them," Hawaii coach June Jones said.

    Chang, who has thrown for 3,437 yards and 30 touchdowns this season, is playing his best football as of late. He has 781 passing yards and 10 TDs in his last two games.

    His favorite target is pint-sized playmaker Chad Owens, who scored five times and had 276 all-purpose yards in Hawaii's 49-41 victory over Northwestern last week.

    The 5-foot-7 Owens is seventh in the nation in receiving with 7.36 receptions per game. He has also returned four punt for touchdowns this season.

    "You got some great talent at wideout," Smith said. "They run down the field and catch the ball. That little Owens guy is probably as good as there is in the country."

    Despite winning six straight at home, Hawaii is an underdog as it tries to beat a second Big Ten opponent in as many weeks.

    "We want to stay alive," Hawaii cornerback Abraham Elimimian said. "If we win this game, it's going to be very magical. If we don't, it's a bad way to end it as a senior."

    The Spartans are trying to finish their season on a winning note to avoid a losing season. Michigan State, eliminated from bowl contention with a 37-13 loss to Penn State on Nov. 20, had two weeks to prepare for Hawaii. ...
    -12-04-2004, 02:05 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Georgia Tech hopes to fare better against another ACC newcomer
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 27, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech wants to avoid being embarrassed by another ACC rookie.

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    The Yellow Jackets already lost to Miami, which joined the Atlantic Coast Conference this season. Now, they have a chance to even their mark against the other newcomer, Virginia Tech, in a home game Thursday night.

    For the incumbent schools in this basketball-crazy league, it's a matter of pride. They don't want to look like pushovers against two schools that were brought in specifically to beef up the ACC's football reputation.

    "That's a big part of it," Yellow Jackets center Andy Tidwell-Neal said. "This is Virginia Tech's first year. I'd like to think we're ready to play them. This was a good conference before they got here. We want to show them, just like every other school in the conference."

    So far, Georgia Tech (4-2, 3-2) and the others haven't had much success. No. 4 Miami is unbeaten and leading the conference standings. Virginia Tech (5-2, 2-1) is one of three schools with just one conference loss.

    Earlier this month, the Yellow Jackets were thoroughly outclassed by the Hurricanes, losing 27-3. If they beat the Hokies, they'll take a major step toward their eighth consecutive bowl appearance. The hometown Peach Bowl will have scouts at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

    Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is understandably concerned about the Yellow Jackets' defense, which is coming off two stellar performances.

    Maryland managed just 81 yards in a 20-7 loss -- the fewest ever allowed by Georgia Tech in an ACC game. Duke didn't do much better, totaling only 184 yards while losing 24-7.

    "They bring a lot of pressure and they disguise it well," Beamer said. "We've got our hands full."

    Likewise for Georgia Tech.

    The Hokies are giving up just 11.6 points per game, including a pair of shutouts. They held their own against top-ranked Southern Cal, losing 24-13 in the season opener, and haven't given up more than 17 points in a game since.

    The only blemish on Virginia Tech's ACC record was a one-point loss to North Carolina State. The Hokies were in position to win, but Brandon Pace missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt as time ran out.

    The Hokies are solid at quarterback with senior Bryan Randall, who holds the school record with 32 consecutive starts. The running game was solidified by the return of diminutive Mike Imoh, who was suspended for the first three games. Only 5-foot-7, he's rushed for 331 yards since getting back on the field.

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    The Yellow Jackets also rely heavily on the running game with P.J. Daniels, who leads the ACC with an average of 105.8 yards per game. For good measure,...
    -10-28-2004, 09:23 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Stanton totals 414 yards as Michigan State rips No. 19 Minnesota
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 16, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton is facing a hefty dinner tab.

    Stanton owes his offensive linemen a meal after setting a school record with 414 yards of total offense in Saturday's 51-17 victory over No. 19 Minnesota.

    Stanton credited the big guys up front for the honor.

    "That's already planned," Stanton said of the upcoming dinner. "I'll get my piggy bank out, because I've got six hungry guys here."

    The win kept bowl hopes alive for the resurgent Spartans (4-3, 3-1 Big Ten). The Gophers (5-2, 2-2) have lost two straight.

    Stanton passed for 308 yards and ran for 102 more. He also had a 4-yard reception.

    Stanton's yardage tops the previous school record of 393 set by quarterback Jeff Smoker against Fresno State in 2001.

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    Michigan State gained 407 yards in the first half, a school record, while taking a 31-10 lead. The Spartans finished with 636 yards of offense.

    "We're putting up a lot of yards, and we've got good balance with the run and the pass," said offensive guard William Whitticker.

    The offense has clicked since Stanton entered the starting lineup four games ago. Stanton, a sophomore, was slowed early in the season because of a lingering injury to his right knee.

    "He has all the confidence in the world, and we have the same in him on the field," center Chris Morris said.

    The offensive production came despite cold, rainy conditions with temperatures in the low 40s at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans are now 9-3 against ranked teams at home since 1998.

    The Spartans rolled up 324 rushing yards. Jehuu Caulcrick had 94 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries for Michigan State.

    Stanton was 20-of-31 with three touchdowns through the air, including two to tight end Eric Knott. Terry Love also caught a touchdown pass. Stanton threw two interceptions.

    Minnesota coach Glen Mason said it was the worst loss he's suffered in his seven-plus years with the Gophers.

    "The big question is why?" Mason said. "I'm really not sure. I don't have the answers and really didn't see it coming."

    Minnesota couldn't get its vaunted running attack untracked, finishing with 102 yards.

    Laurence Maroney had 54 yards on 13 carries for the Gophers. Marion Barber III had 36 yards on eight carries.

    Both Maroney and Barber entered the game among the nation's top 20 rushers. Minnesota entered the game averaging 301 yards rushing per game, third best in the nation behind only Rice and Texas.

    Minnesota quarterback Bryan Cupito was 11-of-33 for 211 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions....
    -10-16-2004, 02:40 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Purdue, Michigan headed in opposite directions
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 25, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Just over two weeks ago, Purdue was undefeated and looked to be shifting the balance of power in the Big Ten.

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    Wisconsin and Michigan had other ideas.

    The Boilermakers had Bowl Championship Series aspirations heading into their two-game homestand against the Badgers and Wolverines, but those hopes were dashed after two losses by a combined five points.

    Purdue (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) has slipped from No. 5 in the AP Top 25 to No. 17 and now is left looking for answers.

    "Things haven't really gone our way lately," running back Brandon Jones said. "We've made a couple key mistakes in key situations. We just have to look past that and bounce back as a team."

    The Boilermakers lost 16-14 on Saturday to streaking Michigan (7-1, 5-0). The Wolverines have won six in a row and every week look more like the most complete team in the Big Ten.

    Michigan kept pace with Wisconsin as the only teams with perfect conference records.

    The Wolverines' two freshmen -- quarterback Chad Henne and running back Michael Hart -- have led the way, improving with each game.

    Hart has been sensational the last two weeks, running for 234 yards against Illinois and 206 against Purdue. And he's benefiting from the considerable talent around him that has come together after an early season loss to Notre Dame.

    "I think Michael Hart has a good offensive line in front of him, he's got good receivers that will block well, and he's got coaches that always seem to design a way to get him the football," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "He's a special kid."

    Purdue's defense would find it hard to argue after being carved up by the teenager.

    "He's a freshman, but that boy has three more years of dominating," Purdue safety Bernard Pollard said. "He's a very good back."

    And the kind of player that always seems to choose Michigan over Purdue.

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    In his eighth season at Purdue, coach Joe Tiller has helped the once-moribund Boilermakers move into the upper echelon of the conference. But after being pushed around by the bigger, stronger, faster Wolverines for the fourth consecutive time, it's clear he still has some work to do.

    "All we need is to be able to recruit everybody two inches taller than (the Boilermakers) are today, 25 pounds heavier than they are today and two or three-tenths of a second faster than they are today," Tiller said. "All of those guys happened to be on the other sideline. So we will continue in our system, and our guys playing their tails off. Given the ability they have, we'll continue to fight the good fight."...
    -10-25-2004, 06:03 AM
  • DJRamFan
    I-AA Wrapup: Shakedown Saturday
    by DJRamFan
    Changes in the elite are emerging

    Oct. 3, 2004

    By David Coulson, Senior Columnist, I-AA.org
    Special to CollegeSports.com from I-AA.org

    As a youngster, I used to watch reruns of Star Trek every day after school. And I always wondered what it would be like to have Scotty's transporter in my house.

    Just think about how cool it would be to quickly beam yourself from one place to another.

    I could have used that device on Saturday to keep track of some great matchups in I-AA football -- matchups that will have obvious repercussions on the NCAA playoffs in the next month and a half.

    I would have started my journey by beaming to Tubby Raymond Field for the Delaware-Maine showdown in the Atlantic 10. As it was, I had to settle for watching the No. 4 Blue Hens and No. 8 Black Bears play a instant classic on my trusty, though less flashy VCR.

    This was a game that many thought would be a defensive struggle, but instead the two teams combined for 81 points and 954 yards of total offense.





    Delaware, which had showed almost no offensive consistency this season, jumped to a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter and had beaten its best scoring output of the season by the middle of the second period with a 27-7 advantage.

    Maine, which usually likes to control the ball on the ground behind big, senior tailback Marcus Williams, was forced to almost completely abandon its rushing attack and came charging back behind the arm of sophomore quarterback Ron Whitcomb.

    Whitcomb completed 22-of-40 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns, two of the scoring aerials to Christian Pereira (nine catches for 143 yards).

    When Whitcomb connected with Pereira on a 10-yard scoring strike early in the fourth quarter, the Black Bears pulled within 37-35 and Mike Mellow's 21-yard field goal finally gave Maine the lead with 7:12 to play, 38-37.

    But Saturday was the day that Delaware quarterback Sonny Riccio finally arrived. Much was expected when Riccio transferred last spring from Missouri to fill the void left by the graduation loss of I-AA.Org offensive player of the year Andy Hall.

    Riccio struggled in his first three games as a Blue Hen, games that included a loss to New Hampshire and two unimpressive wins over Towson and Division II West Chester.

    But Riccio hit 33-of-51 passes for 415 yards and a 28-yard touchdown and added a 12-yard scoring run against Maine. And he led Delaware on a clutch drive that resulted in a last-minute, game-winning touchdown.

    As soon as the gun sounded in Newark, Del., I would have been ready to say: "Scotty, beam me to Carbondale, Ill. for the Southern Illinois-Northern Iowa showdown."

    It looked for a half like it would be another week for the curse...
    -10-04-2004, 11:58 AM
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