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Careful what you promise

Just because it's a rivalry

USF coach Jim Leavitt said this week that today's game at Central Florida is "absolutely" a rivalry game, albeit one he no longer wants to see played. However, just because it's a rivalry, doesn't mean it's particularly competitive — on both ends of the series.

It's among the most lopsided series in the programs' histories.

UCF, for instance, has 42 opponents it has played at least three times. But of those, none has an average margin of defeat as harsh as USF, which has beaten the Knights by an average of 25.3 points. Virginia Tech is next at 24.3 followed by Miami (Ohio) at 18.

The Bulls, by the way, are one of six schools with 3-0 records against UCF and would be the only one at 4-0.

USF, meanwhile, has played 15 schools three times or more, and UCF isn't the most lopsided of those. It's second. Charleston Southern has lost four games to USF by an average of 35 points. Syracuse and Liberty aren't far behind, losing by an average of 25.

Big hurdle to clear

As much as it would like to make a move like USF into a BCS conference, UCF has yet to show it can beat opponents from those conferences. In 41 previous games against BCS schools, the Knights are 2-39, beating Alabama in 2000 and North Carolina State last season.

The Knights certainly have been close in their losses. Thirteen have come by seven points or fewer, including Texas by three last season as well as scares of Georgia (by one in '99) and Penn State (by three in '02) in the post-Daunte Culpepper era.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

Quotable

"Speed was the difference. They're so much faster than Michigan was."

Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards on the difference between the Division I-AA team's win over Michigan last season and loss to LSU last week

By the numbers

5-1 Pac-10's record this season in nonconference games, including three wins over BCS conference opponents.

580 Miles Texas travels today for an in-state game against Texas-El Paso.

$121-million Cost of renovations to Illinois' Memorial Stadium, which will be unveiled today with alum Dick Butkus on hand.

FSU academic scandal: at a glance

Florida State will be without 10 players for its first three games because of fallout from an NCAA investigation.

What happened: FSU investigated a report in March 2007 that an athletic academic support assistant, Brenda Monk, might have helped an athlete take an online quiz. The investigation revealed a student tutor also helped athletes in an online music class over two semesters.

The fallout: Monk resigned. The NCAA started an investigation. In September, FSU released a preliminary report to the NCAA indicating 23 athletes in nine sports were involved. Based on the Music City Bowl media guide in December, 36 football players were left off the travel roster, some for reasons other than the scandal. In February, FSU revised its report to the NCAA, saying "approximately 60 student-athletes" were involved. It imposed probation and scholarship reductions.

What's next: FSU is scheduled for a hearing before the NCAA on Oct. 18 to discuss the notice of allegations it has received.

For all the marbles

By the end of the season, Ohio State senior tight end Rory Nicol will lose all of his marbles.

"And hopefully we'll play for all of them," he said.

Shortly before the start of the season, coach Jim Tressel gave each of the Buckeyes' seniors a case containing 12 marbles — one for each game. Some were scarlet while some were gray (representing the school colors). And one was blue for Michigan.

Before Saturday's 43-0 victory over Youngstown State, each of the seniors gave Tressel one marble. It's something they'll do again today before they play Ohio.

"Every time you play a game, you take one out. You see it getting smaller and smaller," said James Laurinaitis, the Buckeyes' Butkus Award-winning linebacker. "You have that mental picture: Your time's running out."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Clemson coach Tommy Bowden says he's glad he did it, and he would do it again. And as it happens, he has. Numerous times. Among the things Bowden took criticism for after last week's 34-10 loss to Alabama was allowing freshman Jamie Harper, left, to get Clemson's first carry ahead of James Davis or C.J. Spiller. Harper fumbled to set up a field goal. Letting Harper get the season's first rush was a promise he made during recruiting, Bowden said, adding he made similar promises to Davis and Spiller. Bowden figures if Harper stays for three seasons, he could be involved in about 3,000 offensive plays. Trading one or two snaps early on for several seasons of a potential star player is worth it. "As I told C.J. and James, 'This is it. You all know the story. You were all recruited under the same pretense. You all cheer for him for two plays and go play the game,' " Bowden said. "That's pretty much what happened." Clemson finished Saturday with zero net yards rushing. Davis had 13, Spiller 7.

Careful what you promise 09/05/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 5, 2008 10:33pm]

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