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National college news and notes

Florida-Tennessee: Ho-hum?

It's Florida-Tennessee week, and there was a time not so long ago when this game would be getting all kinds of national hype. (See: Peyton Manning/Danny Wuerffel or Steve Spurrier/Phil Fulmer).

The annual showdown generally gives the winner a leg up in the SEC East race because it's the first conference game for the archrivals.

But with the Vols unranked and the No. 4 Gators coming off a bye week, there seems to be a little less hoopla and a lot more ho-hum than usual.

And if you ask ESPN's Ivan Maisel, that's exactly the way it should be.

In his latest book, The Maisel Report, the veteran sports writer says the Florida-Tennessee game is the third-most overrated rivalry in college football — behind USC-UCLA and Notre Dame-Michigan.

Maisel points out that the genesis of the rivalry is that since the SEC went to divisional play in 1992, Florida and Tennessee have won at least a share of the Eastern Division title 13 out of 16 seasons, which "made it pretty easy for the schools' fans to learn how to loathe the other guys' shade of orange," Maisel writes.

And that's the big problem, he reasons.

"There's a difference between a rivalry based on hatred and a rivalry based on results," Maisel writes. "In the former, it doesn't matter what the teams' records are. … In the latter, the goal is to win a championship, not to win the rivalry. If Tennessee and Florida fell to the bottom of the SEC East, would anyone at either school care who won the game? No." (Maisel cites the Nebraska-Colorado rivalry from 1990-97 as evidence to support his claim.)

Several Florida players insisted the rivalry is as strong as ever.

"I hope so. I think so," QB Tim Tebow said. "Some of the buzz may be taken away as far as national media and overall excitement. But I think between the fans, I think there's still that rivalry. I know between the players and the coaches, there's still that rivalry. And I think it's a huge game."

Antonya English, Times staff writer

Quotable

"I really can't stand Florida State, personally."

Wake Forest S Chip Vaughn, who ripped off his jersey after the Deacons' win last year to reveal an FSU shirt with the motto "Unconquered" and the "Un" crossed out

Five things

1. Georgia has gone from first to third in the polls despite being 3-0. The last time that happened was 1985, to Oklahoma. The Sooners, who lost in Game 4 of their season (27-14 at home to Miami), finished 11-1 and got a ring by taking out top-ranked and unbeaten Penn State in the Orange Bowl 25-10.

2. UCLA's 59-point margin of defeat against Brigham Young last week equals USC's combined margin of defeat in 14 losses under Pete Carroll.

3. Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski is more than a bit concerned with UCF mobile QB Michael Greco, who is rushing for 54 yards a game. "Most of those (yards) are scrambles," Jagodzinski said. "We have to do a good job containing Greco. We have to do a great job of that and we haven't done that in the past two weeks, containing the quarterbacks when there's a broken down play."

4. Clemson's Michael Hamlin gets a rare chance to go against his brother Markee, who like his brother is a starting safety at South Carolina State. Both were named their team's defensive MVP last year. Another brother, Marquais, is a backup DB for S.C. State.

5. Penn State's Kevin Kelly is just 12 shy of breaking the Big Ten record for career field goals set by Ohio State's Mike Nugent, who had 72 from 2001-04.

An Irish drought

Ninety-one teams have won a bowl game since Notre Dame last won one (Jan. 1, 1994, 24-21 over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl). The Irish are 0-9. And strange as it seems, the defining moment of the Charlie Weis era was his sixth game, a 34-31 home loss to Southern Cal. That was 33 games ago. But they are 2-0, which puts them way ahead of last year's pace.

By the way, the only teams from one of the six BCS conferences that are not among the 91: Northwestern, Baylor, Duke, Vanderbilt and Indiana.

Times staff writer Brian Landman contributed to this report, which used information from the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times and Philadelphia Daily News.

Yes, those plastic toys you had as a kid — or your kids have now — that you held up like binoculars to see images of dinosaurs or cartoon characters, pulling a lever to advance to the next image. Missouri football is hoping the nostalgia can help senior QB Chase Daniel to a Heisman Trophy. Missouri ordered 2,500 black custom View-Masters with the words "Mizzou Football" on the front from a company called Image3D. All members of the Football Writers Association of America got one in the mail this week, with a reel of images touting Daniel as a Heisman candidate and teasing to his promotional Web site, chasetheheisman.com. Daniel, fourth in last year's balloting, is an early Heisman frontrunner, with 10 touchdowns and one interception while passing for 973 yards in Missouri's first three games. Chad Moller, Missouri's assistant athletic director for media relations, said the idea was offered up — initially in jest — at a brainstorming session for unique promotional campaigns. "We all kind of chuckled, but then the more we thought about it, the more we liked it," said Moller, who estimated his promotional budget for the Heisman campaign at $50,000. "It's a throwback item, it's unique, but it's practical, too." If Missouri wants to send out an update, the Tigers only need send out a new "reel" of Daniel images to people who already have the viewer. Missouri can also send out a reel for sophomore WR Jeremy Maclin, who had three touchdown catches in last week's win against Nevada.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

National college news and notes 09/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 19, 2008 9:20pm]

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