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Looking Back Before Moving Forward: Week 7

   by Larry Ness - 10/17/2005

Wolfpack Woes: After a stirring last second defensive stand over Georgia Tech, NC State went belly-up again in a 31-10 home loss as a favorite to Clemson. This team was No. 1 in the nation in total defense last season, yet was sloppy and undisciplined with a losing record. This year, they are 2-3 SU, 1-3 ATS and Wolfpack fans appear to be running out of patience. Too many penalties and sloppy play still abound. Boos echoed through the stadium as NC State lost its sixth straight ACC home game. QB Jay Davis got replaced by Marcus Stone in the fourth quarter, drawing the biggest cheer of the night. One local writer had this to say: "The Wolfpack has a backup defensive tackle named Renaldo Moses, and at times this season it has seemed like he has been instructed simply to line up offsides."

Let Down Spots?: Emotion can be a key factor in football. There were some incredible finishes to some college football games Saturday. Both Michigan and USC scored TDs on the final plays in two thrillers, and both play again Saturday. QB Chad Henne threw a TD to Mario Manningham from 10 yards out with no time left to lift Michigan to a wild 27-25 victory over No. 8 Penn State. "That's as wild a game as I've ever been in, just unbelievable," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. They have to get ready for Iowa this Saturday, on the road. After holding Penn State to 3 points through the first three quarters, the Wolverine defense imploded allowing 22 fourth quarter points.

The Return of King Ralph? Perhaps all Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen needed was a competent quarterback. Heading into the weekend, former fourth-string QB Sam Hollenbach led the ACC in total offense at 264.3 yards per game and has led Maryland to three straight victories.
Here comes Virginia Tech on Thursday night.

Texas-sized Showdown: Texas Tech and its pass-happy attack travels to No. 2 Texas this weekend. The underdog is 8-4 against the spread the last 12 meetings. That's the good news for the Red Raiders. The bad news is Texas won last year's meeting in Lubbock 51-21 with 351 rushing yards. Texas has the better defense and running game, of course, but this is what Texas Tech QB Cody Hodges put up Saturday: 44-of-65, 643 yards, 5TDs! That will get anybody's attention, even Mack Brown's. Don't be surprised to see the Longhorns mixing in some 3-4 alignments. Nebraska used the 3-4 in the second half of their 34-31 loss to Tech. The Red Raiders were limited to just over 180-yards and 13 points (1 TD & 2 FGs) over the final two quarters.

Spittin' Mad Sparty!: Keep close tabs on news out of Michigan State's football team this week. Coach John L. Smith was furious at this coaching staff for messing up a field goal late in the first half, and couldn't have been any happier when Ohio State came from 17-7 back to beat the Spartans 35-24. Michigan State's coaches hustled the field-goal unit onto the field in the waning seconds of the first half. In the chaos, offensive players were scrambling to the sideline while the kick unit was rushing to set up for a 35-yard attempt. The Spartans snapped the ball with only 10 players on the field, and no one blocking on the left side because they thought QB Stanton was going to spike the ball. Ohio State's Nate Salley broke through that side to block the kick, which was picked up by Ashton Youboty and returned for a score as time expired to cut the lead to 17-14. "It was a mess, a total mess," Smith said. "That's a coaching blunder." He also added, "We had the opportunities. It's a shame we gave it back." Michigan State hosts Northwestern this Saturday.

Back to the Trojans: After a thrilling 34-31 win at Notre Dame Saturday, USC might be in a letdown spot this week against pitiful Washington. On the other hand, the Trojans are 9-3 against the spread the last 12 with the Huskies. Speaking of which, can anybody find a way to beat USC? QB Matt Leinart threw 2 interceptions with zero TDs against Notre Dame, and the Trojans STILL won! Early numbers back east currently have USC a 6-point fave over Texas if they should meet in the BCS Championship. The total sits at 65.

Texas Two Step: Texas has won 13 in a row dating to the middle of last season, the second-longest winning streak in the nation behind USC's 28. The second-ranked Longhorns are off to its best start since an 11-0 regular season in 1983. History buffs may recall that was a big year for the old Big 8 and SWC , with Nebraska ending the regular season No. 1 and the Longhorns No. 2. Alas, the football Gods played havoc New Year's week, with both getting upset as upstart Miami, ranked No. 4 coming in – ended up winning the national title.

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