Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon says he loves his son Xavier. Proud of him, too. But tonight, when Xavier starts at center for Florida International against the Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl, Randy says: "No matter who it is, if it's your brother lining up across against you, your grandmother, your mom, you've got to win. That's my son, but you know what? We've got to try to find a way to win the game and those guys have to do what they have to do to beat his butt."
Xavier Shannon has been a fixture in the Miami football offices for years.
He worked out at the university while in high school and knows virtually every Miami player, both offense and defense. He was with his father when Miami won the 2001 national championship by beating Nebraska at the Rose Bowl.
His dresser is filled with Miami apparel, including an orange pair of shorts with the Hurricanes' distinctive "U" logo that he wore to a weightlifting session with FIU teammates this week.
An All-State lineman in high school, Xavier wasn't offered a scholarship by Miami because, coach Larry Coker said, his father opposed it.
"Randy didn't really want to do that. Randy really didn't want his son to play for him," Coker said. "I tell you, my brother's son played for him when he was a high school coach and boy, that's tough. You're not fair to your kid. You're usually tougher on them than you are any other kid."
Xavier says of being on the opposing team against his father for the first time: "He has to do a job. I have to do a job. If he doesn't do his job, he'll be removed. If I don't do my job, I'll be removed. So we have to go into the game like we don't know each other. We'll hug before the game and after we'll have a good time, but from beginning whistle to end whistle, it's business."
BY THE NUMBERS
Collegiate passes by Alabama's backupquarterbacks after senior Marc Guillon quit the team this week citing lack of playing time. New No. 2 Jimmy Barnes is a redshirt freshman whose only action was six snaps in mop-up duty against Louisiana-Monroe. The No. 3 passer is freshman Greg McElroy.
Passing touchdown by Colorado in its new spread offense.
Consecutive homecoming losses for Arkansas, which seems sure to end today against Southeast Missouri.
Unconventional touchdowns scored by Kansas State, four by special teams and one on a fumble return. The offense has produced 10 TDs.
Average rushing yards a game given up by Michigan, best in the nation.
Minimum points scored by Florida State in 13 of its 14 meetings with Duke.
Percentage of passes completed by Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge.
Yards given up by Auburn in its past two games, plus 41 first downs. But the Tigers rank sixth nationally in scoring defense.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno, on the anticipated electric atmosphere at tonight's game against visiting Michigan:
"People keep talking to me, 'Why do you still coach?' Well you know, those are the kind of days that you say, 'Boy am I going to miss those when I'm home cutting grass.' "
1. A little history lesson for Ohio State, which faces plummeting Michigan State today: Twice before, a top-ranked Ohio State team has been a heavy favorite against a Michigan State squad seemingly on the skids. But in 1974 and again in 1998, the Spartans pulled off stunning upsets to ruin perfect seasons for the Buckeyes. In '74, it took 46 minutes for Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke to rule that time had expired before Brian Baschnagel went into the end zone on the final play, and Ohio State lost 16-13. One official had ruled he scored, another had signaled time expired. In '98, Ohio State couldn't hold a 24-9 lead and lost 28-24 when Joe Germane threw four straight incompletions deep in Spartans territory at the end.
2. The NCAA's time-cutting changes have had a dramatic affect on Auburn. The Tigers averaged 68.3 offensive plays per game last season compared with 63 for opponents. This season, Auburn is getting just 58.8 snaps while opponents are getting only two fewer than a year ago.
3. During today's game against Mississippi, Alabama players will wear commemorative jerseys honoring the 25th anniversary of Bear Bryant's 315th win and his final SEC championship team of 1981. Bryant became college football's winningest coach with a 28-17 win over Auburn on Nov. 28, 1981, at Birmingham's Legion Field.
4. Before Wisconsin and Minnesota, who meet today in Madison, played for the Paul Bunyan Axe, the winner of the rivalry received the Slab of Bacon Trophy.
5. In the thick of Pac-10 play, UCLA and Arizona will have new starters at quarterback today. Patrick Cowan replaces Ben Olson (knee) when the Bruins visit No. 18 Oregon. Adam Austin replaces Willie Tuitama (concussion) when the Wildcats visit Stanford.
Compiled by Times staff writer John Strickhouser using information from the Associated Press and McClatchy Newspapers.