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FIVE THINGS

1. The nation's second-most penalized team, at an average of 9.25 penalties a game, is Arizona State, which hosts Southern Cal today. The Trojans average 7.25, tied for 84th among 120 I-A schools.

2. The Ohio State-Penn State matchup is the first regular-season game involving two coaches with more than 600 wins combined. Joe Paterno is 391-128-3 in 44 seasons, all at Penn State. Jim Tressel is 225-78-2 in 24 seasons, including eight-plus with the Buckeyes. That's 616 wins. When Florida State's Bobby Bowden (377 at the time) and Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (214) met last season , they had combined for 591 wins.

3. With last week's rout,Illinois has beaten Michigan in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1958.

4. Vanderbilt freshman Warren Norman has matched Willie Gault as the only SEC players with three kickoff returns for touchdowns in a season. Gault did it in 1980 for Tennessee.

5. Boise State sophomore Kellen Moore continues to lead the nation in passing. Including Friday's 45-35 win at Louisiana Tech, he has thrown 27 touchdown passes and three interceptions.

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No one wants to come out and play

One problem Boise State has in its BCS fight is finding competition. WAC commissioner Karl Benson said elite programs have no incentive to schedule the Broncos. (Ask Oregon.) The Idaho Statesman reported that at least 10 major schools declined a chance to host Boise State in 2011 with no requirement for a return game. Boise State did play at Georgia in 2005, losing 48-13.

* * *

Dungy book has Long impact

Not much fazes Louisville receiverScott Long. The senior has endured two career-threatening injuries with grace and patience that have won over his teammates. Long credits much of his demeanor to a pair of books written by former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy.

Long was so moved by one of his motivational works,Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance, that he organized weekly meetings during the summer in which he and teammates focused on a chapter and its lessons.

"Tony Dungy gave us great insight on ... how to be a better person, how to be a better man," Long said. "It gave us the opportunity as a football team to grow and trust one another. We were able to be vulnerable in front of one another and be transparent."

The meetings caught Dungy's attention. Dungy visited the Cardinals on Tuesday, giving them a motivational talk about dealing with tough times. They have plenty to go around these days. The Cardinals (3-5, 0-3 Big East) travel to West Virginia today amid speculation that coach Steve Kragthorpe's job is on the line.

"You have to dig deep and stay focused," Dungy said. "My (first Bucs) team in 1996, we lost our first game and eight of our first nine. But really, that's where the groundwork lay for that 2002 Super Bowl team. Those guys stayed determined. They stayed the course, and they stayed focused. At the end, we got it going. We won some games and developed some momentum for the following year."

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Meyer barks before Gators bite Dawgs

Shortly after his team's win over Georgia last weekend, Florida coach Urban Meyer gave a large part of the credit to his friend and colleague Billy Donovan. The Gators basketball coach had taken time two days earlier to speak to the football team, and Meyer said he believed Donovan's talk made a major impact.

But it turns out Meyer deserves much more credit for his team's rebound from a shaky road performance against Mississippi State than he's letting on. Meyer delivered an impassioned speech to his team Friday night that focused on family and sticking together through adversity.

"I've been with Urban two years, and I thought Friday night with our football team was the best job he's done talking with our team since I've been here," defensive line coach Dan McCarney said. "I had hair standing up on the back of my neck, and there were goose bumps up and down my arms. And I've been around this for a long time, and I've heard a lot of coaches talk. I've heard myself talk a lot. I thought he did an unbelievable job. I was ready to go play Friday night."

The coaches and players said Meyer's message reinforced the "us against the world" mentality the Gators have adopted over the past few weeks due to increased media and fan scrutiny. "I think it was a turning point," offensive lineman Mike Pouncey said.

Meyer said before the Mississippi State game that he had considered tactics such as fun and games to loosen up the team. But fun and games aren't his nature. Instead, he reminded the players that nothing outside can affect them if they remain unified.

" 'All of the things out there, somebody wants to drag us down, say negatives, pull us down, pull us apart, separate us,' " McCarney said, summarizing Meyer's speech. " 'This is really, truly a genuine family. And if you're really family, you take care of one another. And we're going to do that tomorrow starting at 3:30.' And the kids really followed through with that. He did a great job."

The Gators beat Georgia 41-17 with their best offensive performance in an SEC game since Sept. 26 against Kentucky.

Antonya English, Times staff writer

Information from the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times was used in this report.

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