Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Football Fanatics Show: 11

The Football Fanatics Show is a podcast for college and pro football fans featuring hard-hitting commentary with a tell-it-like-it-is attitude. Hell, we may even offend some people. The show features myself, Rich 'Richie' Hagan and Damon Freed chatting about pro and college football.

Each week will preview the upcoming games and look back at the week before. We'll also be giving away some prizes and freebie stuff in future shows. So stop on in and check us out. The show will be on every Thursday during the football season and twice a month during the offseason.

This week the Fanatics talk about the Michael Vick finger gestures, the firing of Larry Coker, Michael Irvin's comments and a preview of this weeks games.

You can listen to the show in streaming media here.

Or you can download the podcast to your hard drive here. This is a big file so please be patient.

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NFL Week 13 Injury Report

By The Associated Press

BALTIMORE RAVENS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS - Ravens: OUT: DT Justin Bannan (Toe); LB Dan Cody (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: TE Todd Heap (Back); RB Jamal Lewis (Foot); LB Adalius Thomas (Ankle); G Keydrick Vincent (Hip); TE Daniel Wilcox (Thigh). Bengals: OUT: T Levi Jones (Knee); G Bobbie Williams (Appendix). DOUBTFUL: DT John Thornton (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: C Rich Braham (Knee); CB Deltha O'Neal (Shoulder); TE Tony Stewart (Hip); WR Kelley Washington (Hamstring). PROBABLE: DT Sam Adams (Knee); LB Brian Simmons (Neck).

MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT CHICAGO BEARS - Vikings: QUESTIONABLE: G Steve Hutchinson (Knee); CB Cedric Griffin (Neck); G Artis Hicks (Ankle); T Marcus Johnson (Foot); TE Jermaine Wiggins (Knee); RB Chester Taylor (Wrist); DT Pat Williams (Knee). PROBABLE: S Dwight Smith (Shoulder); LB Napoleon Harris (Wrist); WR Marcus Robinson (Ankle). Bears: DOUBTFUL: LB Leon Joe (Hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: S Todd Johnson (Ankle). PROBABLE: RB Thomas Jones (Groin).

NEW YORK JETS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS - Jets: QUESTIONABLE: RB B.J. Askew (Foot); CB David Barrett (Hip); WR Tim Dwight (Thigh); RB Cedric Houston (Knee); DT Rashad Moore (Hand); S Eric Smith (Foot); DE Bryan Thomas (Shoulder). PROBABLE: RB Kevan Barlow (Calf); LB Matt Chatham (Foot); WR Jerricho Cotchery (Chest); CB Andre Dyson (Neck); G Pete Kendall (Knee); WR Justin McCareins (Foot); QB Chad Pennington (Calf); DT Dewayne Robertson (Foot). Packers: DOUBTFUL: T Mark Tauscher (Groin); LB Ben Taylor (Hamstring); S Nick Collins (Hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: TE David Martin (Ribs); RB P.J. Pope (Hamstring); LB Nick Barnett (Hand). PROBABLE: QB Brett Favre (Right Elbow); DT Cullen Jenkins (Illness); CB Charles Woodson (Shoulder); T Chad Clifton (Hamstring); RB Ahman Green (Knee).

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS - 49ers: QUESTIONABLE: T Jonas Jennings (Ankle); CB Shawntae Spencer (Ankle); RB Frank Gore (Shin). PROBABLE: LB Jeff Ulbrich (Thumb). Saints: OUT: TE Ernie Conwell (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: WR Marques Colston (Ankle); LB Mark Simoneau (Hand); WR Joe Horn (Groin); DE Will Smith (Knee); RB Aaron Stecker (Ankle). PROBABLE: CB Fred Thomas (Thumb); S Bryan Scott (Foot).

ARIZONA CARDINALS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS - Cardinals: DOUBTFUL: DT Kendrick Clancy (Ankle). Rams: OUT: DE Victor Adeyanju (Forearm); LB Isaiah Kacyvenski (Concussion). QUESTIONABLE: RB Paul Smith (Hamstring); G Adam Timmerman (Ribs). PROBABLE: QB Marc Bulger (Ribs); CB Tye Hill (Thigh); G Richie Incognito (Foot); DT Claude Wroten (Hamstring).

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT TENNESSEE TITANS - Colts: OUT: TE Dallas Clark (Knee); DT Montae Reagor (Head). QUESTIONABLE: DT Raheem Brock (Chest); T Ryan Diem (Abdomen); LB Gilbert Gardner (Rib); S Bob Sanders (Knee); WR Brandon Stokley (Knee); CB Nicholas Harper (Groin); LB Keith O'Neil (Ankle); CB Antoine Bethea (Shoulder); TE Ben Utecht (Knee). Titans: OUT: DE Antwan Odom (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: RB LenDale White (Hip); DE Travis LaBoy (Concussion); DE Josh Savage (Hamstring); TE Bo Scaife (Quadricep); DT Robaire Smith (Hamstring).

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AT BUFFALO BILLS - Chargers: QUESTIONABLE: DE Derreck Robinson (Foot); RB Michael Turner (Hamstring); LB Shaun Phillips (Calf); S Marlon McCree (Calf); WR Keenan McCardell (Calf); LB Randall Godfrey (Hamstring); DE Luis Castillo (Ankle); G Kris Dielman (Ankle). PROBABLE: WR Malcom Floyd (Ankle); DT Jamal Williams (Ankle); S Bhawoh Jue (Knee). Bills: QUESTIONABLE: LB Keith Ellison (Knee); WR Josh Reed (Kidney).

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS - Chiefs: OUT: DT James Reed (Groin); T Kevin Sampson (Back). PROBABLE: TE Tony Gonzalez (Shoulder); LB Derrick Johnson (Ankle). Browns: DOUBTFUL: DE Orpheus Roye (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: CB Leigh Bodden (Ankle); DE Nick Eason (Ankle); RB Reuben Droughns (Foot); LB Mason Unck (Groin); TE Kellen Winslow (Knee); LB Willie McGinest (Pectoral); S Justin Hamilton (Back); S Brian Russell (Elbow).

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS - Jaguars: OUT: QB Byron Leftwich (Ankle). DOUBTFUL: CB Terry Cousin (Groin). QUESTIONABLE: RB Montell Owens (Shoulder); S Nick Sorensen (Hamstring); CB Brian Williams (Hamstring). PROBABLE: LB Jorge Cordova (Hamstring); P Chris Hanson (Left Hamstring); LB Clint Ingram (Shoulder); LB Kenneth Pettway (Groin); LB Daryl Smith (Shoulder); DT Marcus Stroud (Ankle); RB Derrick Wimbush (Ankle); TE George Wrighster (Head); CB Ahmad Carroll (Groin); G Vincent Manuwai (Wrist); WR Cortez Hankton (Hamstring). Dolphins: OUT: RB Ronnie Brown (Hand); QB Daunte Culpepper (Knee); G Jeno James (Knee). DOUBTFUL: CB Michael Lehan (Nose). QUESTIONABLE: LB Keith Newman (Shoulder); S Travares Tillman (Hand); CB Will Allen (Groin). PROBABLE: CB Eddie Jackson (Hamstring); DT Keith Traylor (Knee).

DETROIT LIONS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - Lions: QUESTIONABLE: DT Shaun Rogers (Knee); WR Devale Ellis (Shoulder); T Rex Tucker (Knee). PROBABLE: WR Corey Bradford (Illness); DT Tyoka Jackson (Foot). Patriots: OUT: S Rodney Harrison (Shoulder). QUESTIONABLE: TE Daniel Graham (Ankle); CB Ellis Hobbs (Wrist); LB Corey Mays (Hamstring); CB Chad Scott (Groin); S Eugene Wilson (Hamstring); T Ryan O'Callaghan (Neck). PROBABLE: QB Tom Brady (Right Shoulder); DE Richard Seymour (Elbow).

ATLANTA FALCONS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS - Falcons: OUT: CB Jason Webster (Groin). QUESTIONABLE: CB Jimmy Williams (Ankle). PROBABLE: DE John Abraham (Groin); DT Grady Jackson (Knee). Redskins: QUESTIONABLE: LB Khary Campbell (Hamstring); S Troy Vincent (Hamstring); WR David Patten (Hamstring); T Jon Jansen (Calf). PROBABLE: RB Mike Sellers (Shoulder).

HOUSTON TEXANS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS - Texans: DOUBTFUL: DT Thomas Johnson (Hamstring). PROBABLE: DE Antwan Peek (Knee); DE Anthony Weaver (Knee); DE Mario Williams (Foot); RB Jameel Cook (Knee). Raiders: OUT: T Robert Gallery (Elbow); RB LaMont Jordan (Knee). DOUBTFUL: WR Jerry Porter (Hip). QUESTIONABLE: LB Isaiah Ekejiuba (Foot); K Sebastian Janikowski (Back); G Barry Sims (Abdomen). PROBABLE: LB Robert Thomas (Heel).

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS - Buccaneers: QUESTIONABLE: S Will Allen (Ankle); CB Juran Bolden (Shin); RB Michael Pittman (Hamstring); LB Shelton Quarles (Knee); TE Alex Smith (Ankle); DT Ellis Wyms (Ankle). Steelers: OUT: S Troy Polamalu (Knee); WR Hines Ward (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: WR Willie Reid (Foot). PROBABLE: LB James Harrison (Ankle); C Jeff Hartings (Knee); WR Sean Morey (Toe); LB Joey Porter (Elbow); QB Ben Roethlisberger (Chest); CB Ivan Taylor (Concussion); LB Clark Haggans (Hip).

DALLAS COWBOYS AT NEW YORK GIANTS - Cowboys: None. Giants: OUT: T Luke Petitgout (Fibula). DOUBTFUL: DE Michael Strahan (Foot). QUESTIONABLE: LB Carlos Emmons (Groin); CB Sam Madison (Hamstring); WR Sinorice Moss (Quadricep); LB Brandon Short (Quadricep); DE Osi Umenyiora (Hip Flexor); CB Corey Webster (Toe); S Gibril Wilson (Shoulder). PROBABLE: LB Antonio Pierce (Knee).

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT DENVER BRONCOS - Seahawks: OUT: C Robbie Tobeck (Hip). DOUBTFUL: LB D.D. Lewis (Toe). QUESTIONABLE: T Sean Locklear (Ankle); TE Itula Mili (Concussion); DT Rocky Bernard (Foot). PROBABLE: WR Darrell Jackson (Knee); QB Matt Hasselbeck (Left Hand); WR Bobby Engram (Illness). Broncos: QUESTIONABLE: T Adam Meadows (Hamstring); TE Chad Mustard (Shoulder). PROBABLE: S Hamza Abdullah (Hip); RB Tatum Bell (Toe); CB Darrent Williams (Shoulder); WR Javon Walker (Foot); LB Al Wilson (Thumb).


CAROLINA PANTHERS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES - Panthers: QUESTIONABLE: RB DeShaun Foster (Elbow); G Mike Wahle (Shoulder); LB Na'il Diggs (Chest). Eagles: QUESTIONABLE: LB Shawn Barber (Knee). PROBABLE: QB Jeff Garcia (Right Forearm); G Todd Herremans (Finger); CB William James (Knee); T Jon Runyan (Hamstring); LB Matt McCoy (Shoulder); LB Jason Short (Ankle); WR Donte' Stallworth (Hamstring); RB Brian Westbrook (Knee).

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

College Football News

No. 8 Oklahoma will be without tailback Adrian Peterson when it faces No. 19 Nebraska in the Big 12 Conference championship game Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.

Peterson, the 2004 Heisman runner-up, has sat out six weeks after breaking his collarbone Oct. 14 on a touchdown run against Iowa State.

"Adrian is not going to play," Sooners Coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday. "Without being too technical, he's close. He could be cleared to play, but each week that passes the likelihood of it reoccurring is less and less."

Tulane fired coach Chris Scelfo after eight years and only two winning seasons.

Tulane, which went 4-8 this season, returned to the Louisiana Superdome but played in front of sparse crowds during its home schedule.

The 2005 season was perhaps Scelfo's most difficult. Hurricane Katrina forced the team to travel throughout the season, playing 11 games in 11 different cities while compiling a 2-9 record.

Scelfo's overall record was 37-57.

Postseason plans are being firmed up for several teams.

UCLA accepted a bid to play Florida State in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco on December 27.

Northern Illinois accepted a bid to play Texas Christian in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 19 in San Diego.

No. 21 California accepted an invitation to play in the Holiday Bowl. The Golden Bears will play a Big 12 team, probably No. 22 Texas A&M, on Dec. 28 in San Diego.

Oregon State agreed to play in the Sun Bowl. The Beavers will face Missouri or the second-place team from the Big East on Dec. 29 in El Paso.

Dirk Koetter, fired Sunday by Arizona State, will coach his team against Hawaii in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24.

Oregon will play Brigham Young in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21.

Western Michigan will play in the inaugural International Bowl in Toronto on Jan. 6 against an undetermined team from the Big East.

Central Michigan will play in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26 against a team to be determined.

Tulsa will play Utah in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23 in Fort Worth.

Rice will make its first bowl appearance since 1961 when the Owls play in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 22. The likely opponent is Troy, which needs a win over winless Florida International this weekend to earn the berth.

East Carolina accepted a bid to play in the first Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 23. The Pirates will play a team from the Big East, probably Cincinnati or South Florida.

Southern Mississippi and Houston will play Friday for the Conference USA championship — the winner goes to the Liberty Bowl and the loser heads to the GMAC Bowl.

Also, San Jose State will play New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 23 and Nevada was expected to be formally invited today to play in the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

NFL News and Notes

The Dallas Cowboys cut inconsistent kicker Mike Vanderjagt on Monday and signed Martin Gramatica to replace him.

Hailed as the answer to the Cowboys' kicking woes when signed in March, Vanderjagt hasn't lived up to his credentials as the most accurate kicker in league history. He has made only 13 of 18 field-goal attempts, a 72.2% success rate that was the lowest of his nine-year career.

Gramatica, once so accurate that he was nicknamed "Automatica," was out of the NFL last season and was cut by New England in the preseason. He played three games this season for Indianapolis while Adam Vinatieri was injured, making his only attempt, a 20-yarder.

The New England Patriots put linebacker Junior Seau on injured reserve Monday after he seriously injured his right arm during Sunday's victory over Chicago.

The 12-time Pro Bowl selection will sit out the rest of the season after coming out of a brief retirement to join the Patriots this summer.

Seau was hurt with less than nine minutes left in the second quarter, apparently when his right arm hit the back of Cedric Benson's foot as he tackled the Chicago running back for no gain at the Bears' 25-yard line. Seau's arm bent at an awkward angle, and he went to the ground in obvious pain.

Coach Bill Belichick did not say Monday whether Seau's arm was broken, and the team gave no details of the injury.

Ricky Proehl's agent said the veteran receiver signed with Indianapolis, which has been without Brandon Stokley for most of the season. The 38-year-old Proehl agreed to a one-year deal that would be prorated on a $1.2-million base salary, his agent Alan Herman said

Denver Coach Mike Shanahan ended speculation by elevating rookie Jay Cutler to starting quarterback for the rest of the year, sending Jake Plummer to the bench.

The NFL announced that the kickoff for the New Orleans Saints' game at Dallas on Dec. 10 has been moved to 5:15 p.m. PST so that it can be televised by NBC. Also, the Buffalo Bills' game against the host New York Jets that day will now start at 1:15 p.m. PST and will be CBS' featured game.

Seattle 34, Green Bay 24
Shaun Alexander ran for 201 yards and Matt Hasselbeck threw three second half touchdown passes to lead the Seahawks (7-4) to the Monday night victory over the Packers (4-7). Hasselbeck, returning from a sprained right knee, completed 17 of 36 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns to offset his three interceptions. Brett Favre, who fell to 41-9 when the temperature is 34 degrees or less, was making his 252nd consecutive start — and possibly his final appearance on the Monday night stage he has starred on over his great career.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

NFL Roundup: Week 12

Some observations, comments and opinions about last weeks NFL games.

Baltimore 27, Pittsburgh 0
The Ravens yielded only 36 yards in the decisive first half Sunday and coasted to their fifth straight victory that left the Steelers (4-7) with only a mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs. Baltimore (9-2) recorded nine sacks and forced Ben Roethlisberger to throw two interceptions. It was Pittsburgh's most lopsided defeat since a 37-7 loss to Dallas in the 1997 opener.

Buffalo 27, Jacksonville 24
Bills quarterback J.P. Losman connected with Roscoe Parrish for a 30-yard completion to set up Rian Lindell's 42-yard field goal as time ran out to give Buffalo the victory. The Bills (5-6), who never trailed, scored 28 seconds after the Jaguars tied the score when David Garrard connected with Matt Jones for a three-yard touchdown. Jacksonville fell to 6-5.

Cincinnati 30, Cleveland 0
Picking off Cleveland quarterback Charlie Frye four times, Cincinnati got its first shutout since 1989 and Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes as the Bengals embarrassed the Browns at Cleveland. Palmer completed 25 of 32 passes for 275 yards and connected with Chris Henry for two touchdown passes as the Bengals (6-5) stayed in the AFC playoff race by beating Cleveland (3-8) for the fifth consecutive time.

New York Jets 26, Houston 11
Chad Pennington threw for 286 yards and a TD to lead the Jets (6-5) to the win on Sunday. Laveranues Coles caught nine passes for 111 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and Jerricho Cotchery had seven catches for 110 yards. Houston, who rushed for only 25 yards, fell to 3-8 on the season.

New Orleans 31, Atlanta 13
Drew Brees completed 21 of 30 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns — his fifth straight game eclipsing 300 yards - to lead the Saints (7-4) over the struggling Falcons (5-6), who have lost four straight. Not even 166 yards rushing by Michael Vick could bail out Atlanta, who dropped at least five passes. As he walked off the field, getting booed, Vick made an obscene gesture.

Minnesota 31, Arizona 26
Brad Johnson threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns, Chester Taylor rushed for 136 yards and a score and the Vikings (5-6) ended a four-game losing streak with a victory over the Cardinals (2-9) in Arizona Coach Dennis Green's return to Minneapolis. Cardinals rookie Matt Leinart threw for a career-high 405 yards and two interceptions, but managed only one touchdown. Larry Fitzgerald had 11 catches for 172 yards and Boldin had nine catches for 140 yards for the Cardinals.

St. Louis 20, San Francisco 17
The Rams (5-6) broke another team's heart for a change on Marc Bulger's five-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Curtis with 27 seconds to go for a victory over the 49ers (5-6) at St. Louis to end a five-game losing streak. Twice during the skid they lost in the final minute. San Francisco, which had a three-game winning streak ended, lost Frank Gore to an ankle injury in the fourth after he had gained 134 yards in 21 carries.

Washington 17, Carolina 13
Jason Campbell hit Chris Cooley for a 66-yard touchdown strike with 4:26 left in the game to lift the Redskins over the Panthers. The victory broke a two-game losing streak for Washington (4-7) and gave Campbell his first win in his second start. Campbell had only 52 yards passing when he hit Cooley on a third and eight. Carolina fell to 6-5.

San Diego 21, Oakland 14
LaDainian Tomlinson can beat you running the ball, catching the ball and yes, even throwing the ball. Tomlinson rushed for two touchdowns and broke out a favorite San Diego trick by throwing for another to give the Chargers (9-2) the victory over the Raiders(2-9) and their fifth straight win.

Tennessee 24, New York Giants 21
Rob Bironas kicked a 49-yard field goal with six seconds to play at Nashville to cap a rally in which rookie quarterback Vince Young ran for a touchdown and passed for two in the last 9 minutes 35 seconds to overcome a 21-point deficit. Young finished with a season-high 249 yards passing as the Titans improved to 4-7 on the season. The Giants (6-5) lost their third game in a row and fell a game behind the Dallas Cowboys (7-4) in the NFC East.

New England 17, Chicago 13
Tom Brady hit Ben Watson with a three-yard touchdown pass with 8:22 to go to give the Patriots (8-3), who persevered despite five turnovers against the Bears (9-2), who had allowed the fewest points in the NFL going into the game with 120. New England was the second stingiest with 131. Chicago played just as bad during the mistake filled game with four turnovers of their own.

Indianapolis 45, Philadelphia 21
Joseph Addai tied a franchise record with four touchdowns to lead the Colts (10-1) to the victory over the Eagles (5-6) on Sunday night. Addai finished with 171 yards and tied an NFL rookie record for rushing scores with a late four-yard run. He also broke a franchise record for points scored by a rookie in a game — the previous high was 18. Addai joined Lenny Moore, Lydell Mitchell and Eric Dickerson as the only Colts with four touchdowns in a game. Peyton Manning finished 14 for 20 for 183 yards with one interception, and reached 3,000 completions in his 139th game, the fastest in NFL history. Philadelphia has now lost five of its last six games.

This is fast becoming a very dismal season for fans of the NFC. The conference is teetering on the edge of mediocrity with only three teams - Chicago, Dallas and New Orleans - more than two games above .500. Seattle has a chance to join them if it beats Green Bay. The NFC has six teams over the .500 mark

Compare that to the AFC that has six teams more than two games above .500 - New England, Baltimore, Indianapolis, San Diego, Kansas City and Denver. The AFC also has nine teams over .500.

The Bears are the only 9-2 team in the NFC, the Cowboys and Saints are 7-4. The Colts (10-1), Ravens (9-2), Chargers (9-2) are equal or better in record than Chicago, who just lost to the 8-3 Patriots. Even more convincing, the AFC owns a 32-20 record over the NFC in head-to-head play. Dallas (3-1) and Carolina (2-1) are the only NFC clubs that hold a winning record over the AFC this season.

The AFC is clearly the better conference this year and the favorites to hold on to the Lombardi Trophy for the fourth year in a row and the sixth time in seven years. Sad but true for NFC fans.

The Seattle Seahawks hope to have Matt Hasselbeck back for the Monday night game with Green Bay (4-6). Favre is banged up but will play, as always. The Seahawks (6-4) have a chance to take a two-game lead over the Rams and 49ers in the NFC West with a victory.

Shawn Alexander will make his second start back from a broken foot that kept him out for most of the season.

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USC Jumps to No. 2 in BCS; Coaches Fired

Southern California is a win away from returning to the national title game.

The Trojans moved into second place in the Bowl Championship Series standings Sunday, passing idle Michigan on the strength of a 44-24 victory over Notre Dame and closing in on a matchup with undefeated Ohio State in the title game.

USC plays crosstown-rival UCLA on Saturday and a victory would likely lock up the Trojans' third consecutive appearance in the BCS title game. The Trojans have already locked up the Pac-10's automatic BCS bid, but playing in the Rose Bowl would be a letdown for USC this season.

First-place Ohio State has already sealed up its trip to Glendale, Ariz., for the Jan. 8 championship game. The final BCS standings and bowl pairings will be announced next Sunday.

Michigan managed to hold onto second place after losing 42-39 at Ohio State, but the Wolverines' lead over USC was razor thin.

USC's convincing victory over the Fighting Irish helped the Trojans increase their cushion over Michigan in the coaches' poll and Harris poll, and boosted USC's computer rating ahead of the Wolverines'.

USC's BCS average was .946. Michigan's was .922.

The polls make up two-thirds of a BCS average and the computer ratings account for the other third.

Florida, which plays in the Southeastern Conference title game against Arkansas on Saturday, is in fourth place with an average of .890. The Gators need a win and USC to stumble against UCLA, but even then it will be a close call between them and Michigan for the second spot in the title game.

LSU is fifth, followed by Louisville and Wisconsin.

Unbeaten Boise State moved up to eighth place and will become the second team from outside the original BCS conferences to play in one of the four big-dollar bowl games. The Broncos will likely receive a bid to the Fiesta Bowl.

Arkansas is ninth and can earn the SEC's automatic bid by beating Florida.

Notre Dame dropped five spots to 10th place, which means the Fighting Irish are no longer in position to earn an automatic BCS bid. They needed to be in the top eight for that to happen. However, Notre Dame remains eligible to receive an at-large bid by finishing in the top 12. And if the Irish are eligible, they're a great bet to get picked by either the Rose, Sugar or Orange.

USC lost last year's championship game 41-38 to Texas at the Rose Bowl and won the 2004 national championship with a 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.
Three years ago, the Trojans missed out on the BCS championship game, but won the AP's part of the national title by beating Michigan 28-14 in the Rose Bowl.

That three-year run, during which the Trojans lost only two games, was powered by quarterback Matt Leinart and tailbacks Reggie Bush and LenDale White. Those guys, and a host of other Trojans from last season's team, are in the NFL now.

John David Booty has stepped in at quarterback, receiver Dwayne Jarrett has developed into the offense's biggest star and USC's defense has been one of the best in the country.

And if the Trojans can make it eight consecutive wins against UCLA, it's USC vs. Ohio State for the national title.

North Carolina State fired football coach Chuck Amato on Sunday, a day after he completed his seventh season at his alma mater.

The former Wolfpack linebacker had a 49-37 record at the school and led the team to five bowl games. But his squads were 25-31 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and never finished higher than fourth.

This season, North Carolina State (3-9) lost seven straight games to finish with a losing record for the second time in three seasons since quarterback Philip Rivers went to the NFL. On Saturday, the Wolfpack finished the season with a 21-16 home loss to East Carolina.

Arizona State fired football coach Dirk Koetter on Sunday after he led his team to a bowl the last three seasons but rarely beat the best in the Pac-10.

Koetter went 40-33 in six seasons at ASU. Love said Koetter agreed to stay on and coach the team in a bowl game. She said the search for a successor would start immediately, but she provided few specifics about possible candidates.

The Sun Devils completed a 7-5 regular season with a 28-14 victory over rival Arizona in Tucson on Saturday, clinching their third consecutive postseason berth.

Athletics director Mal Moore says Alabama coach Mike Shula has been fired. Shula was let go fter a 6-6 season that ended with three straight losses, including a defeat by intrastate rival Auburn.

Shula told his assistant coaches late Sunday night that Alabama Moore had dismissed him, The Tuscaloosa News reported on its Web site.

Shula, a former Alabama quarterback, led the Crimson Tide to a 10-2 season last year and a Cotton Bowl victory. But his teams were winless in four tries against Auburn. The Tigers beat the Crimson Tide 22-15 on Nov. 18, leaving Shula to answer questions about his job security.

The 41-year-old Shula has a 26-23 record in four seasons with the Crimson Tide.

Shula's firing would mean Alabama is looking for a head coach for the fourth time since 2000. The Tide has had seven coaches in the 24 years since Paul "Bear" Bryant's last season in 1982. Bryant had directed the Alabama program for 25 years.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Trojans Move to No. 2 in AP Poll

By The Associated Press

Southern California is the new No. 2. The Trojans advanced one spot to overtake Michigan in The Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday, a day after their 44-24 victory over Notre Dame. USC, the sixth team to be ranked No. 2 this season behind No. 1 Ohio State, leads the Wolverines by 36 points in the poll.

Michigan, which completed its season with a 42-39 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 18, fell to No. 3. The Wolverines (11-1) are 63 points ahead of No. 4 Florida, which beat Florida State 21-14 to improve to 11-1.

Ohio State (12-0) was a unanimous No. 1 for the second consecutive week and third time this year. The Buckeyes received 65 first-place votes from the media panel.

While the Buckeyes have been top-ranked since the preseason, No. 2 has changed frequently. Notre Dame, Texas, Auburn and Florida have also held the second spot. Michigan's six-week run there was the longest of any team this season.

The rest of the Top 25 took a major reshuffling after a week with several upsets.

LSU moved up four spot to No. 5, a season-high for the Tigers, after a 31-26 victory over Arkansas on Friday.

No. 6 Louisville moved up two spots and No. 7 Wisconsin jumped three places. The Badgers have their highest rankings since November 2004, when they were No. 4.

No. 8 Arkansas dropped three spots after its first loss since the opening week of the season. Oklahoma is tied with the Razorbacks after moving up five spots.

Boise State (12-0), which beat Nevada 38-7 to complete an unbeaten regular season, cracked the top 10 for the second time in school history at No. 10. The Broncos were also 10th late in the 2004 season.

Auburn is No. 11, followed by Notre Dame, which dropped six spots after losing to USC.

Rutgers is 13th, Virginia Tech is 14th and West Virginia dropped eight spots to 15th after being upset 24-19 at home by South Florida.

Wake Forest, heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game to face Georgia Tech, moved up four spots to No. 16.

Texas, which lost its second consecutive game on Friday to Texas A&M, and Tennessee are tied at No. 17. The last time the Longhorns were ranked this low was October 2003, when they were 19th.

No. 19 Nebraska plays Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game. Mountain West Conference champion BYU was No. 20.

California was No. 21 and Texas A&M was back in the ranking at No. 22 after a 12-7 victory against the Longhorns.

No. 23 Georgia Tech dropped seven spots after losing 15-12 to Georgia. No. 24 was Hawaii and No. 25 Boston College slipped seven spots after losing 17-14 at Miami on Thanksgiving night.

Clemson fell out of the rankings after losing to South Carolina.

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College Football Notes: Week 13

USC strengthened its position as BCS front-runner to meet Ohio State on January 8th after manhandling No. 6 Notre Dame, 44-24.

The Trojans (10-1) should move up to second in the BCS poll because Michigan, the current No. 2, is done with its regular season and can't pick up any points. USC is in great shape thanks to losses over the Thanksgiving weekend by Arkansas and West Virginia.

That pretty much leaves us with the Wolverines, Trojans and Florida Gators battling for the all-important second slot and a date with Buckeyes.

Dwayne Jarrett was the difference maker on Saturday for USC. The Trojan wide receiver caught seven passes for 132 yards and three touchdowns. Brady Quinn ends his career with the Irish (10-2) without ever beating USC. Even more impressive is the fact that the Trojans have now won 33 straight at home and have scored at least 20 points in an NCAA-record 63 straight games.

No. 4 Florida (11-1) kept its national championship hopes alive with a 21-14 win over Florida State (6-6). Chris Leak was 21-of-34 for 282 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Gators, who face Arkansas next week for the SEC Championship.

The fifth-ranked Razorbacks (10-2) saw their national championship dreams go up in smoke after losing to No. 9 LSU (10-2) by a 31-26 score. Despite the loss, Arkansas RB Darren McFadden showed why he's a Heisman candidate, rushing for 182 yards and two scores. The Razorbacks can still earn a BCS bowl berth by beating the Gators next week.

The Mountaineers (9-2) saw their hopes for a BCS bowl dashed after being stunned by South Florida, 24-19. The Bulls defense was the big difference maker in this game, holding RB Steve Slaton to 43 yards on 17 carries and the Mountaineers to just 132 yards rushing in the game. South Florida (8-4) held No. 7 West Virginia scoreless in the first quarter, only the second time that's happened to the Mountaineers all season.

No. 8 Louisville (10-1) kept it's BCS hopes alive with a 48-24 pounding of Pittsburgh (6-6), who have now lost five straight, its longest losing streak since 1998. Cardinals QB Brian Brohm completed 21 of 29 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns. Lousiville has to win against Connecticut and hope for a Rutgers loss at West Virginia to claim the Big East title.

Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights improved to 10-1 with a 38-7 thrashing of Syracuse. A win over the Mountaineers would give Rutgers the Big East title and a spot in a BCS bowl. Brian Leonard ran for 106 yards and two scores, becoming the all-time scoring leader in school history with 266 points. Ray Rice added 107 yards and a touchdown as the No. 15 Scarlet Knights won 10 games for the first time since 1976.

No. 13 Boise State capped an unbeaten regular season (12-0) and earned a berth in a BCS bowl game with a 38-7 stomping of Nevada (8-4). Ian Johnson rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Broncos. He also set the school single-season record with 1,613 yards rushing. Boise State is 39-1 in the WAC since 2002 and has won at least a share of the league title five years in a row.

No. 13 Oklahoma (10-2) clinched a berth in the Big 12 championship game with a 27-21 win over Oklahoma State (6-6). The Sooners, who were led by Allen Patrick's 163 yards rushing, will face Nebraska for the Big 12 title on Saturday.

Kenneth Moore ran for 165 yards and a touchdown as No. 20 Wake Forest (10-2) defeated Maryland, 38-24. The Demon Deacons picked up their first win vs. Maryland in eight tries since '98 and will going for its first ACC title since 1970 when they face Georgia Tech this Saturday.

Other scores from the top 25: Texas A&M 12, No. 11 Texas 7; Georgia 15, No. 16 Georgia Tech 12; No. 17 Virginia Tech 17, Virginia 0; Miami 17, No. 18 Boston College 14; No. 19 Tennessee 17, Kentucky 12; No. 21 BYU 33, Utah 31; No. 23 Nebraska 37, Colorado 14; South Carolina 31, No. 24 Clemson 28; and No. 25 Hawaii 42, Purdue 35.

Highlight games for the final week of the regular season include: Conference USA Championship: Southern Miss (8-4) at Houston (9-3); Rutgers (10-1) at West Virginia (9-2); ACC Championship: Wake Forest (10-2) at Georgia Tech (9-3); Army (3-8) at Navy (8-3); USC (10-1) at UCLA (6-5); SEC Championship: Arkansas (10-2) at Florida (11-1); Big 12 Championship: Nebraska (9-3) at Oklahoma (10-2); MAC Championship: Central Michigan (8-4) at Ohio (9-3); and Oregon State (8-4) at Hawaii (10-2).

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bears Getting Closer to Home Field

The Chicago Bears have been the lone bright spot dotting the NFC horizon. While the rest of the conference flounders at .500 football, Da Bears have done nothing of the sort.

Except for a turnover plagued loss to the Dolphins, Chicago has defeated all comers with a brand of hard-nosed defense, characteristic of great Bears teams in the past, and a big-play offense that's capable of scoring in bunches, provided Rex Grossman is on his game.

The Bears face a key contest this week when they travel to New England to take on the Patriots. Chicago has faced a tough slate of late with road games against the Giants, Jets and now the Patriots. Despite that, here Chicago sets at 9-1 with a chance to move to 10-1 and a full three game lead over the suddenly surging Dallas Cowboys in the NFC race.

Home field is what the Bears want and believe you me, no team wants to go to Soldier Field in January for a playoff game. In order to do that the Patriots stand in the way.

Bill Belichick had a sit-down session with his troops after dropping two straight for the first time in 57 straight games. Whatever he said worked because New England came out like gangbusters last week and pitched a shutout over the Packers.

It's a big game for both teams and should be the highlight contest of week 12. As in all games between two decent teams, turnovers and penalties will play a key role.

There are plenty of excellent games on tap for any football connoisseur, so set back, grab your chips and dip, get your fantasy football sheets out and enjoy the games.

Here's the Corners predictions for week 12 in the NFL:

San Francisco at St. Louis
The 49ers have won three straight over the Rams and are on a roll that has seen San Fran move to 5-5 on the year. The Rams are in the mire, thanks to a five-game losing streak, the longest in the NFL. St. Louis needs this game real bad to stay alive in the playoff race and being at home should be the tonic they need against a hated rival. Winner: Rams.

Arizona at Minnesota
This game has all the makings of something nobody wants to watch. Give it to Minnesota at home. Winner: Vikings.

New Orleans at Atlanta
Two teams that have slid recently after hot starts. The Falcons are riding a three-game losing streak and have tons of inner turmoil as players take sides on the Michael Vick-Jim Mora fiasco. On the bright side, Vick is 5-1 lifetime against New Orleans, including 3-0 at home. On the down side, this team is fast coming apart at the seams. Winner: Saints.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore
The Steelers are on a late season surge just like last season, only this time they need to win to stay alive in the playoff picture. The Ravens defense will try and make sure the win streak stops in Baltimore. Winner: Ravens.

Jacksonville at Buffalo
J.P. Losman threw for over 300 yards last week in leading the Bills to victory. Neither of those things will happen against the Jacksonville defense. Winner: Jaguars.

Cincinnati at Cleveland
The all-time series is tied 33-33, but Cincy has won the last four games. Excuse me, make that five. Winner: Bengals.

Houston at New York Jets
The Texans have lost 16 straight road games and only average around 15-16 points a game. J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets! - Winner: Jets.

New York Giants at Tennessee
The rash of injuries and the lackluster play of Eli Manning have brought the Giants crashing back to reality, but New York still has enough left to handle the Titans. Winner: Giants.

Carolina at Washington
Carolina's front four going against Jason Campbell. Can you say train wreck? Winner: Panthers.

Oakland at San Diego
See L.T. Run. See L.T. score touchdowns. See L.T. break records. See L.T. crush the Raiders. Winner: Chargers.

Chicago at New England
The Bears are definitely the class of the NFC. The problem is - the NFC sucks. The Patriots are tough as nails at home and don't expect them to lose three out of four in Belichick's lifetime. Winner: Patriots.

Philadelphia at Indianapolis (Sunday night)
The Eagles have to go on the road without Donovan McNabb and play a Indy team that's coming off its first loss of the season and highly pissed off. Who do you think is going to win? Winner: Colts.

Green Bay at Seattle (Monday night)
Brett Favre is banged up but will play. Yeah, so what else is new. Seattle welcomes Matt Hasselbeck back into the starting lineup and with a jacked up crowd on Monday night, that should be more than enough for Holmgren and company to get the job done. Winner: Seahawks.

The Corner Lowdown
Last week: 8-8
Overall: 94-50

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Coker Fired by Miami is reporting that embattled Miami Hurricanes head coach Larry Coker has been fired by the university.

Coker was informed of the decision by athletic director Paul Dee early Friday. Coker has three years remaining on a contract that pays him nearly $2 million annually, and the school will owe him between $2.4 million and $3 million in a buyout.

Miami became bowl eligible last night when the Hurricanes upset No. 18 Boston College, 17-14, to improve to 6-6 on the season. Coker will coach the team if Miami goes to a bowl game.

Coker, 58, won more games in his first six seasons than any other Hurricanes coach except Dennis Erickson, and he has won more games since 2001 than all but five Division I-A coaches.

Coker had a 59-15 record, a winning percentage of nearly 80 percent, and won a national championship in 2001 and played for another title the following season.

Coker's teams were 4-2 against rival Florida State, 3-0 against Florida and won two BCS bowl games, including a 37-14 victory over Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl, which gave the Hurricanes their fifth national title.

He went undefeated and won the national championship in his first season, then ran his winning streak to 24 the next year and got the Hurricanes back into the national-title game -- where they lost in double overtime to Ohio State, 31-24.

It was the final time Coker would play for the national crown with the Hurricanes. Miami went to the Orange Bowl and beat Florida State to end the 2003 season, then settled for consecutive Peach Bowl trips that capped 9-3 seasons in 2004 and 2005.

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Irish, Trojans Meet in Key BCS Battle

The Notre Dame versus USC game is always one of the main attractions of the college football season.

Two college football powers with gobs of tradition square off each year in a rivalry that's grown even more intense since Charlie Weis landed in South Bend.

Last season, the Trojans defeated the Irish in a last second win when Matt Leinart scored from a yard out - or as Notre Dame fans argue - he was pushed in by teammates after forward progress was stopped. And of course don't forget the fumble out of bounds that still has Touchdown Jesus angry.

Now the scene shifts to sunny SoCal, where the stakes are even higher and the pressure more intense. When the Irish and Trojans hit the Colosseum Saturday night a potential national championship game will be on the line.

USC is 9-1 and ranked third in the nation, while Notre Dame is 10-1 and rated sixth. Even more important - the Trojans are third in the BCS and the Irish are fifth. With Michigan No. 2 in the BCS Standings and its season complete, a victory from either team could have huge implications in the national title picture.

The only other game this week involving ranked teams is an SEC battle between fifth-ranked Arkansas (10-1) hosting No.9 LSU (9-2).

In Thursday night action, the Miami Hurricanes (6-6) snapped a four-game losing streak and became bowl eligible with a 17-14 upset of No. 18 Boston College.

Embattled head coach Larry Coker got 181 yards passing and a touchdown from Kirby Freeman and Javarris James scored from two-yards out for the winning touchdown. The Eagles (9-3) saw their hopes of playing for the ACC title go out the window. Boston College has now lost 15 straight to Miami.

Here's the Corners predictions for this weeks Top 25 battles:

Notre Dame (6) and USC (3)
The Trojans have won 32 straight games at home and the Irish have never lost a regular-season road game (9) with Charlie Weis as head coach. Something has got to give. Winner: USC.

Florida (4) at Florida State
Urban Meyer is 5-0 against FSU, Georgia and Tennessee. The Seminoles are looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak to the Gators since 1984-86. Winner: Florida.

LSU (9) at Arkansas (5)
This one is for the Golden Boot trophy. The Tigers have kicked the Hogs around four of the last five meetings, but Arkansas is also playing for its first-ever perfect SEC season (8-0). Winner: LSU.

South Florida at West Virginia (7)
The Mountaineers still have BCS hopes but they need Louisville to lose another game to avoid losing the tiebreaker. Winner: West Virginia.

Louisville (8) at Pittsburgh
The Cardinals are in the same situation as the Mountaineers. Louisville still has BCS hopes but need Rutgers to drop another game to to avoid losing in the tiebreaker. Winner: Lousiville.

Texas A&M at Texas (11)
The Longhorns haven't lost consecutive games since 1999. In fact, Texas has won its last 10 games following a loss. Winner: Texas.

Boise State (12) at Nevada
The Broncos look to complete a perfect regular season, secure their fifth straight WAC title and clinch a BCS berth in the process. Standing in the way is a Wolf Pack team that's 5-0 in Reno. Winner: Boise State.

Oklahoma (13) at Oklahoma State
The Sooners head into Stillwater for the annual Bedlam matchup with an outside shot at the Big 12 South title still in play. Winner: Oklahoma.

Syracuse at Rutgers (15)
The perfect season and BCS championship game talk have vaporized for the Knights. But they could still finish perfect at home for the first time since 1984 and they still control their own destiny for the Big East title. Winner: Rutgers.

Georgia Tech (16) at Georgia
Georgia has won all five meetings in the Governor's Cup series under Mark Richt after dropping the previous three. That streak ends on Saturday. Winner: Georgia Tech.

Virginia at Virginia Tech (17)
The Cavaliers need a win to become bowl eligible, but they will be trying to do so in a place that hasn't seen a Virginia win since 1998. After losing at BC in early October, the Hokies have reeled off five straight wins by a 127-29 score. Winner: Virginia Tech.

Kentucky at Tennessee (19)
The Vols have won 21 straight meetings against their neighbors to the north. Only Notre Dame's 43-game run against Navy represents a longer current Division I-A run. Winner: Tennessee.

Wake Forest (20) at Maryland
The good news is that a Wake win means the Demon Deacons earn a spot in the ACC Championship. The bad news is that Jim Grobe has never beaten the Terps (0-5). Winner: Wake Forest.

BYU (21) at Utah
The Cougars are 7-0 in Mountain West play and looking for their first unbeaten conference season since 2001. But the Utes have won the last four meetings and nine of the last 13 in this rivalry. Winner: BYU.

Colorado at Nebraska (23)
The Huskers are 5-1 at home this fall and the Buffaloes have lost 13 straight games to ranked teams. Good news for the Cornhuskers. Winner: Nebraska.

South Carolina at Clemson (24)
The Tigers have won four straight and eight of the last nine meetings in this rivalry. Winner: Clemson.

Purdue at Hawaii (25)
Hawaii QB Colt Brennan has thrown 48 TD passes in 11 games this season. The single season NCAA mark of 54 was set by Houston's David Klingler in 1990. Winner: Purdue.

The Corner Lowdown:
Last week: 14-3
Overall: 150-35

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Football Fanatics Show: 10

The Football Fanatics Show is a podcast for college and pro football fans featuring hard-hitting commentary with a tell-it-like-it-is attitude. Hell, we may even offend some people. The show features myself, Rich 'Richie' Hagan and Damon Freed chatting about pro and college football.

Each week will preview the upcoming games and look back at the week before. We'll also be giving away some prizes and freebie stuff in future shows. So stop on in and check us out. The show will be on every Thursday during the football season and twice a month during the offseason.

This week the Fanatics talk about Tiki Barber, Michael Vick and the rebirth of Joey Harrington as well as a preview of this weeks games.

You can listen to the show in streaming media here.

Or you can download the podcast to your hard drive here. This is a big file so please be patient.

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NFL Week 12 Injury Report

By The Associated Press

ARIZONA CARDINALS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS - Arizona Cardinals: OUT: DE Bert Berry (Triceps). PROBABLE: TE Fred Wakefield (Groin); P Scott Player (Groin). Minnesota Vikings: QUESTIONABLE: CB Cedric Griffin (Neck); G Artis Hicks (Ankle); T Marcus Johnson (Ankle). PROBABLE: RB Chester Taylor (Neck); DT Pat Williams (Knee); LB Dontarrious Thomas (Hamstring); CB Antoine Winfield (Concussion); DE Jayme Mitchell (Shoulder); LB Napoleon Harris (Wrist); WR Marcus Robinson (Back).

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS - San Francisco 49ers: QUESTIONABLE: T Jonas Jennings (Ankle); CB Shawntae Spencer (Ankle). PROBABLE: WR Arnaz Battle (Hand); LB Jeff Ulbrich (Thumb). St. Louis Rams: QUESTIONABLE: G Adam Timmerman (Ribs); RB Paul Smith (Hamstring).

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT ATLANTA FALCONS - New Orleans Saints: QUESTIONABLE: WR Marques Colston (Ankle); TE Ernie Conwell (Knee); RB Aaron Stecker (Ankle); CB Fred Thomas (Thumb); S Bryan Scott (Foot); WR Terrance Copper (Knee). Atlanta Falcons: OUT: CB Jason Webster (Groin). QUESTIONABLE: DT Grady Jackson (Knee); T Todd Weiner (Knee); CB Jimmy Williams (Ankle); DT Jonathan Babineaux (Foot); DE John Abraham (Groin).

PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS - Pittsburgh Steelers: DOUBTFUL: WR Willie Reid (Foot). QUESTIONABLE: RB Najeh Davenport (Groin); WR Hines Ward (Knee). PROBABLE: LB Clark Haggans (Quadricep); LB James Harrison (Ankle); C Jeff Hartings (Knee); CB Deshea Townsend (Ankle). Baltimore Ravens: QUESTIONABLE: LB Ray Lewis (Back); G Keydrick Vincent (Thigh); TE Daniel Wilcox (Thigh); LB Adalius Thomas (Ankle). PROBABLE: S Ed Reed (Knee).

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT BUFFALO BILLS - Jacksonville Jaguars: OUT: S Donovin Darius (Ankle (on IR)); QB Byron Leftwich (Ankle). DOUBTFUL: CB Terry Cousin (Groin). QUESTIONABLE: WR Cortez Hankton (Hamstring); WR Ernest Wilford (Ankle); CB Brian Williams (Hamstring). PROBABLE: LB Jorge Cordova (Hamstring); P Chris Hanson (Left Hamstring); TE George Wrighster (Shoulder); DT John Henderson (Hamstring); LB Clint Ingram (Shoulder); CB Rashean Mathis (Ankle); LB Kenneth Pettway (Groin); S Nick Sorensen (Calf); DT Marcus Stroud (Ankle); RB Fred Taylor (Groin); RB Derrick Wimbush (Ankle). Buffalo Bills: DOUBTFUL: LB Keith Ellison (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: RB Willis McGahee (Ribs); WR Josh Reed (Kidney).

CINCINNATI BENGALS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS: Cincinnati Bengals: OUT: C Rich Braham (Knee); G Bobbie Williams (Appendix). DOUBTFUL: WR Kelley Washington (Hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: CB Deltha O'Neal (Shoulder); CB Keiwan Ratliff (Ribs); LB Brian Simmons (Neck); T Levi Jones (Knee); S Dexter Jackson (Achilles). PROBABLE: WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Ribs); RB Jeremi Johnson (Toe); DT Sam Adams (Knee); T Willie Anderson (Shoulder); DT John Thornton (Knee). Cleveland Browns: QUESTIONABLE: TE Kellen Winslow (Knee); LB Leon Williams (Ankle); DT Ted Washington (Elbow); S Brian Russell (Elbow); LB Willie McGinest (Ankle); S Justin Hamilton (Back); WR Braylon Edwards (Forearm); CB Leigh Bodden (Ankle); G Cosey Coleman (Foot); RB Reuben Droughns (Foot).

HOUSTON TEXANS AT NEW YORK JETS - Houston Texans: DOUBTFUL: DE Antwan Peek (Knee). PROBABLE: QB David Carr (Right Shoulder); RB Jameel Cook (Knee); WR Andre Johnson (Thigh); LB DaShon Polk (Knee); T Ephraim Salaam (Ankle); DE Anthony Weaver (Knee); DE Mario Williams (Foot). New York Jets: QUESTIONABLE: RB B.J. Askew (Foot); CB David Barrett (Hip); CB Andre Dyson (Neck); RB Cedric Houston (Knee). PROBABLE: RB Kevan Barlow (Calf); LB Matt Chatham (Foot); WR Tim Dwight (Thigh); G Pete Kendall (Knee); WR Justin McCareins (Foot); DT Rashad Moore (Hand); QB Chad Pennington (Calf).

CAROLINA PANTHERS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS - Carolina Panthers: OUT: C Justin Hartwig (Groin). QUESTIONABLE: CB Ken Lucas (Thigh); RB DeShaun Foster (Elbow); G Mike Wahle (Shoulder). Washington Redskins: DOUBTFUL: WR David Patten (Hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: S Troy Vincent (Hamstring); WR Santana Moss (Hamstring). PROBABLE: DE Phillip Daniels (Wrist); T Jon Jansen (Calf); T Chris Samuels (Knee); C Casey Rabach (Shoulder).

OAKLAND RAIDERS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Oakland Raiders: OUT: T Robert Gallery (Elbow); RB LaMont Jordan (Knee). DOUBTFUL: LB Isaiah Ekejiuba (Foot); WR Jerry Porter (Hip). QUESTIONABLE: G Barry Sims (Abdomen). PROBABLE: DE Derrick Burgess (Back); LB Robert Thomas (Heel). San Diego Chargers: QUESTIONABLE: DE Luis Castillo (Ankle); DY Jacques Cesaire (Ankle); G Kirk Dielman (Ankle); WR Malcolm Floyd (Calf); WR Keenan McCardell (Calf); WR Eric Parker (Neck); LB Shaun Phillips (Calf). PROBABLE: CB Antonio Cromartie (Shoulder); S Bhawoh Jue (Knee); LB Carlos Polk (Neck); DE Derrick Robinson (Foot); DT Jamal Williams (Ankle).

NEW YORK GIANTS AT TENNESSEE TITANS - New York Giants: OUT: T Luke Petitgout (Fibula). DOUBTFUL: CB Sam Madison (Hamstring); DE Michael Strahan (Foot). QUESTIONABLE: DT Barry Cofield (Groin); WR Sinorice Moss (Quadricep); LB Brandon Short (Quadricep); DE Osi Umenyiora (Hip Flexor). Tennessee Titans: OUT: DE Antwan Odom (Knee); TE Ben Troupe (Foot). QUESTIONABLE: CB Reynaldo Hill (Ankle); DE Travis LaBoy (Concussion); DE Josh Savage (Hamstring); CB Andre Woolfolk (Ankle); TE Ben Hartsock (Hamstring).

CHICAGO BEARS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - Chicago Bears: QUESTIONABLE: CB Dante Wesley (Knee). PROBABLE: TE Desmond Clark (Foot); RB Thomas Jones (Groin). New England Patriots: OUT: S Rodney Harrison (Shoulder). QUESTIONABLE: TE Daniel Graham (Ankle); CB Ellis Hobbs (Wrist); LB Corey Mays (Hamstring); P Josh Miller (Shoulder); CB Asante Samuel (Knee); CB Chad Scott (Groin); TE David Thomas (Groin); S Eugene Wilson (Hamstring). PROBABLE: DE Richard Seymour (Elbow); QB Tom Brady (Right Shoulder).

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS - Philadelphia Eagles: DOUBTFUL: LB Shawn Barber (Knee). QUESTIONABLE: CB William James (Knee); LB Jason Short (Ankle). PROBABLE: RB Brian Westbrook (Knee); LB Matt McCoy (Shoulder). Indianapolis Colts: OUT: DT Montae Reagor (Head). QUESTIONABLE: S Bob Sanders (Knee); WR Brandon Stokley (Knee); LB Rocky Boiman (Upper Arm); LB Gary Brackett (Hamstring); G Dylan Gandy (Low Back); LB Gilbert Gardner (Rib); CB Matt Giordano (Calf); CB Nicholas Harper (Hip); LB Freddy Keiaho (Shoulder); G Ryan Lilja (Knee); LB Keith O'Neil (Ankle).


GREEN BAY PACKERS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS - Green Bay Packers: DOUBTFUL: CB Will Blackmon (Rib); LB Nick Barnett (Hand); T Mark Tauscher (Groin); LB Ben Taylor (Hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: CB Charles Woodson (Shoulder); RB Brandon Miree (Elbow); LB Tracy White (Knee); DT Cullen Jenkins (Ankle); TE David Martin (Ribs); RB Vernand Morency (Back); QB Brett Favre (Right Elbow). PROBABLE: RB Ahman Green (Knee). Seattle Seahawks: OUT: LB D.D. Lewis (Toe). DOUBTFUL: RB Josh Parry (Foot). QUESTIONABLE: DT Rocky Bernard (Foot); T Sean Locklear (Ankle); C Robbie Tobeck (Hip). PROBABLE: WR Bobby Engram (Illness); QB Matt Hasselbeck (Knee).

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Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving - it brings back so many childhood memories for me. It's definitely one of my highlight days of the year.

This is a special day...a day for giving thanks.

Thanks for your family, good health, friends, good food and all that football! You gotta love Thanksgiving.

Seriously, you work hard all year and sometimes we get so focused on jobs, career, bills and all that jazz that we forget about what's important. But today is a day to take it easy. Forget about your problems, stresses and all that stuff and focus on the true essentials of life - spending time with loved ones and giving thanks for all that you have.

In the end, all that's really important is the love you shared along the way and how you lived your life. Everything else is just details.

In closing, I wish all of you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NFL Thanksgiving Day Injury Report

The National Football League injury report for Thursday's games.

MIAMI DOLPHINS AT DETROIT LIONS - Miami Dolphins: OUT: QB Daunte Culpepper (Knee); G Jeno James (Knee); S Travares Tillman (Hand). QUESTIONABLE: CB Will Allen (Groin). PROBABLE: RB Ronnie Brown (Groin); DT Keith Traylor (Knee); WR Wes Welker (Ankle); CB Michael Lehan (Nose); LB Channing Crowder (Hip); DE David Bowens (Ankle); TE Randy McMichael (Shoulder). Detroit Lions: DOUBTFUL: DT Shaun Cody (Toe). QUESTIONABLE: G Blaine Saipaia (Chest); RB Kevin Jones (Ankle); WR Eddie Drummond (Concussion); WR Devale Ellis (Shoulder).

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT DALLAS COWBOYS - Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DOUBTFUL: DE Simeon Rice (Shoulder). QUESTIONABLE: CB Juran Bolden (Shin); T Anthony Davis (Ankle); TE Dave Moore (Illness); RB Michael Pittman (Shoulder); LB Shelton Quarles (Knee); TE Alex Smith (Ankle); DT Ellis Wyms (Ankle). Dallas Cowboys: No injuries reported.

DENVER BRONCOS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS - Denver Broncos: OUT: S Nick Ferguson (Knee). QUESTIONABLE RB Mike Bell (Thigh); RB Tatum Bell (Toe); G Cooper Carlisle (Back); DE Kenard Lang (Knee); WR Brandon Marshall (Ankle); WR Rod Smith (Ankle); CB Darrent Williams (Shoulder). PROBABLE: DE Patrick Chukwurah (Hamstring); RB Kyle Johnson (Ankle); RB Cedric Cobbs (Ankle); LB Al Wilson (Thumb). Kansas City Chiefs: OUT: T Kevin Sampson (Foot). QUESTIONABLE: TE Tony Gonzalez (Shoulder); LB Derrick Johnson (Ankle). PROBABLE: DE Tamba Hali (Hip); G Brian Waters (Knee).

Here's a preview with predictions on the Thanksgiving Day games in the NFL on Thursday.

Miami at Detroit
The Lions are beat up, DT Shawn Rogers won't play and RB Kevin Jones may not either, and just plain awful. Witness last weeks loss to Arizona as proof. The Dolphins are on an opposite track - winning three straight after a 1-6 start. Detroit has history and a solid record of winning on Thanksgiving day games, but Miami has what's most important, a better defense and a better team. Winner: Dolphins.

Tampa Bay at Dallas
The Cowboys and their fans are riding high on the Tony Romo bandwagon after last weeks win over the Colts. Look for the love affair to continue on Thanksgiving. Winner: Cowboys.

Denver at Kansas City
The NFL Network will broadcast its first ever regular season on Thursday night and this has all the makings of an extra Thanksgiving day dessert. The Broncos (7-3) are second in the rugged AFC West and the Chiefs (6-4) are breathing down their necks. Denver is struggling offensively and the calls for Jay Cutler are growing. The Bell backs, Mike and Tatum, are banged up and S Jason Ferguson is lost for the year. Kansas City has Trent Green back and Larry Johnson is in a nice groove after struggling early. Look for Arrowhead to be rockin' and rowdy. Winner: Chiefs.

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College Football News

The Big Ten bowl picture is all but set. Five teams accepted postseason bids Tuesday, led by No. 10 Wisconsin's return to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando Fla., to take on a Southeastern Conference team on Jan. 1

Top-ranked Ohio State already is headed to the Bowl Championship Series title game, in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8, and No. 2 Michigan still awaits its BCS matchup.

Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota and Purdue joined Wisconsin (11-1) in learning their postseason destinations.

Penn State is in the Outback Bowl, making back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since the 1998 and '99 seasons. The Nittany Lions (8-4) and an SEC team will play Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla.

Purdue (8-4) is going to the Champs Sports Bowl, making a return to the postseason after missing last year for the only time in Joe Tiller's 10 seasons as coach. The Boilermakers will take on an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Minnesota's appearance in the Insight Bowl will be its fifth consecutive bowl game and seventh in the past eight seasons. The Gophers (6-6) will meet a Big 12 team Dec. 29 in Tempe, Ariz.

Iowa (6-6) is headed for the Dec. 30 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio for a matchup against a Big 12 school. In 2001, Iowa's win against Texas Tech drew the second-largest crowd in Alamo Bowl history.

BYU, Navy and No. 25 Hawaii are the only other schools who have accepted bowl bids.

Navy is going to the Meineke Bowl on Dec. 30 in Charlotte, N.C., and BYU has accepted a spot in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21. The Warriors are playing in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24.

Some post-season award finalists:

West Virginia center Dan Mozes, Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas and Texas offensive lineman Justin Blalock are the finalists for the Outland Trophy, given to the best interior lineman.

Michigan's Leon Hall, Florida's Reggie Nelson and Texas' Aaron Ross were selected as finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the top defensive back.

Mike Hart of Michigan, Darren McFadden of Arkansas and Steve Slaton of West Virginia were named finalists for the Doak Walker Award, which honors the nation's top running back.

Colt Brennan of Hawaii, Brady Quinn of Notre Dame and Troy Smith of Ohio State were named finalists for the Davey O'Brien Award, presented to the nation's top quarterback.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NFL News and Notes

Andre Waters, a defensive back who spent most of his 12 seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound early Monday. He was 44.

His body was found at about 1:30 a.m. at his Tampa home, the medical examiner's office said. He had shot himself in the head. Toxicology reports were ordered, and results will be available in four to six weeks, the office said.

Waters, an assistant football coach at Fort Valley State in Georgia, joined the Eagles out of Cheyney State in 1984 and played with them at cornerback and safety through 1993. He was known as one of the NFL's hardest hitters and often was fined for some of his tackles. He spent his last two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

New Orleans Saints star rookie receiver Marques Colston was listed as day-to-day Monday with a sprained left ankle sustained in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. X-rays and an MRI exam were negative.

Colston, a seventh-round draft choice from Hofstra, had 54 catches for a league-leading 869 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns through the Saints' first nine games.

The NFL moved the Dec. 3 game between the Seahawks and Broncos in Denver to Sunday night as part of its flexible scheduling for the last half of the season.

The game will begin at 8:15 p.m. EST on NBC.

Arizona Cardinals defensive end Bertrand Berry will miss the rest of the season after tearing triceps muscles in Sunday's victory over Detroit.

An MRI exam Monday revealed the seriousness of the injury, coach Dennis Green said. Berry will undergo surgery to repair the tear, probably this week.

It is the second year in a row Berry had his season end prematurely. Last year, he missed the final eight games with a torn pectoral muscle. Berry leads the team in sacks with six.

Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers broke his foot on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season. Rodgers came into the game against New England when Brett Favre injured his elbow.

Rodgers' injury requires surgery, which he said will likely include placing a screw in his foot. Favre's injury is not serious and he will play on Sunday.

Jacksonville 26, New York Giants 10
The Jaguars defense forced three turnovers, pressured Eli Manning into several poor throws and held Tiki Barber to a season-low 27 yards rushing in the victory over the injury-riddled Giants. David Garrard threw for 249 yards, Josh Scobee kicked four field goals and Fred Taylor and Maurice Drew combined for 124 yards rushing and two touchdowns as Jacksonville improved to 6-4 on the season. The Giants, who have lost two in a row, fell to 6-4 and in a first-place tie in the NFC East with Dallas.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

NFL Roundup: Week 11

Some observations, comments and opinions about last weeks NFL games.

Dallas 21, Indianapolis 14
The Indianapolis Colts are perfect no more. A week after becoming the first team to start 9-0 in consecutive seasons, Indianapolis fell shy in its bid to match last year's 13-0 run, much less the perfect season by the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Marion Barber scored two touchdowns as the Cowboys took over first-place in the NFC East at 6-4.

San Francisco 20, Seattle 14
Frank Gore rushed for a franchise-record 212 yards and the 49ers (5-5) defense stopped the Seahawks repeatedly in the final minutes of the game to win their third straight game and move within a game of Seattle (6-4).

Arizona 17, Detroit 10
Matt Leinart won his first game as a NFL starter, passing for 239 yards and a touchdown and rushing for another. Edgerrin James gained 96 yards in 22 carries, his best day since coming to the Cardinals (2-8) this season. The Lions (2-8) lost RB Kevin Jones to an ankle injury.

Tennessee 31, Philadelphia 13
The Eagles lost Donovan McNabb for the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament in the loss to the Titans (3-7), who got 143 yards rushing and a touchdown from Travis Henry. Jeff Garcia was 26-for-48 for 189 yards and one TD filling in for McNabb. Philadelphia fell to 5-5 on the season.

New England 35, Green Bay 0
The Patriots forced Brett Favre out of the game, then snapped its first losing streak in nearly four years. New England (7-3) had lost two straight games at home - its first losing streak since the end of the 2002 season - but is 5-0 on the road this year. Tom Brady threw for 244 yards and four touchdowns. The Packers dropped to 4-6 on the year.

Kansas City 17, Oakland 13
Larry Johnson ran for 159 yards and two touchdowns, and QB Trent Green made his first start after missing nine games to lead the Chiefs (6-4) to the win over the division rival Raiders (2-8). Oakland's NFL-worst offense suffered two key injuries, losing starting running back Lamont Jordan to a knee injury in the first quarter and left tackle Robert Gallery to a dislocated elbow in the third.

Cincinnati 31, New Orleans 16
Carson Palmer threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns, all to Chad Johnson, who finished with six catches for 190 yards. The Bengals (5-5) also received 111 yards rushing from Rudi Johnson. Drew Brees threw for a franchise record 510 yards in a losing effort for the Saints (6-4).

Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 20
Ben Roethlisberger shoveled a 4-yard touchdown pass to Willie Parker with 32 seconds left, rallying the Steelers (4-6) over the Browns (3-7), who were minutes away from kicking the defending Super Bowl champions into the AFC North basement.

Baltimore 24, Atlanta 10
B.J. Sams returned six kicks for 212 yards, Jamal Lewis scored three touchdowns and the Ravens wore down the Falcons in the second half. It was the fourth straight victory for the Ravens (8-2), while the Falcons (5-5) have lost three straight.

Chicago 10, New York Jets 0
Mark Bradley turned a short completion into a 57-yard touchdown 10 seconds into the final quarter, and the Bears never looked back. Chicago (9-1) notched its second shutout this season -- the Bears blanked the Packers at Green Bay on Sept. 10. The Bears, coming off a 38-20 victory over the New York Giants, also became the first road team since the 1999 Washington Redskins to win two straight games at the Meadowlands. With the loss, the Jets dropped to 5-5.

Miami 24, Minnesota 20
Renaldo Hill and Jason Taylor returned turnovers for touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and the Dolphins overcame another sputtering offensive performance to beat the Vikings, who lost despite setting a team record by limiting the Dolphins to minus-3 yards rushing in 14 carries. The Dolphins (4-6), who had the NFL's worst record less than a month ago, won their third consecutive game. The Vikings (4-6) lost their fourth in a row.

Buffalo 24, Houston 21
Lee Evans caught six passes for 205 yards and two TDs in the first quarter and J.P. Losman threw for over 300 yards to lead the Bills (4-6) to victory. Evans' performance was a Buffalo record for a period and just shy of the NFL record for yards receiving in a quarter of 210. David Carr tied the NFL record for consecutive completions with 22 in the loss for the Texans (3-7).

Tampa Bay 20, Washington 17
Cadillac Williams ran for 122 yards Bruce Gradkwoski threw two touchdown passes to spoil the debut of Washington QB Jason Campbell. The Buccaneers (3-7) ended a three-game losing streak, while the Redskins fell to 3-7.

Carolina 15, St. Louis 0
The Panthers defense sacked Marc Bulger a franchise-record eight times and held the Rams offense to 111 total yards to come away with the victory. Rookie DeAngelo Williams ran for 114 yards as Carolina (6-4) collected 244 yards rushing in the game. The Rams (4-6), who were shutout for the first time since 1998, have lost five straight.

San Diego 35, Denver 27
LaDainian Tomlinson scored four times and reached 100 touchdowns faster than any player in NFL history Sunday night. Tomlinson, who has scored an NFL-record 19 touchdowns in his last six games, reached 100 TDs in his 89th game, four fewer than it took Hall of Famer Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith. He now has 102 TDs and also topped 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth straight season. It was his first win in six trips to Invesco Field and vaulted the Chargers, who rallied from a 24-7 deficit, into first place in the AFC West at 8-2, a game ahead of Denver.

What have we learned after 11 weeks of the NFL season?

For one, the Bears are the only legitimate Super Bowl team in a very weak NFC this season. That doesn't mean they can't get upset in the playoffs. It just looks highly unlikely.

Except for two games - Arizona and Miami - when Chicago might have been looking elsewhere, the Bears have dominated the competition with an aggressive defense and a ball-control offense. Dallas, New Orleans and Carolina (tied in the NFC South) and Seattle are division leaders who have mediocre 6-4 records. Unless someone steps up late, Chicago is clearly the favorite for Super Bowl XLI.

Over in the AFC, it's a different story.

While the Colts are still the favorite in the conference, the Chargers and Ravens have emerged as solid challengers. Throw in the Patriots and Broncos and you have the makings of a very fun AFC post-season.

The sad fact for NFC fans is that all five of the above mentioned teams could beat any NFC squad, with the exception of Chicago.

The battered New York Giants (6-3) look to stay atop the NFC East with a victory over Jacksonville (5-4) on Monday Night Football.

Easier said then done. The Giants have at least seven players who are out with injuries and a trip to Florida to meet a talented Jaguars defense won't be easy. Jacksonville will be without the services of QB Byron Leftwich again so David Garrard will make his third start.

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Michigan Remains Second in BCS

Michigan-Ohio State II could get canceled by Southern California.

Michigan was impressive enough in a 42-39 loss to the Buckeyes to retain second place in the Bowl Championship Series standings released Sunday. But the Wolverines' margin is so slim that it'll be tough for them to get another shot at Ohio State in the national title game if the Trojans keep winning.

Michigan's BCS average was .926. The Trojans, who have two games left, were at .919.

"I'm not surprised," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said of Michigan retaining second place. "The pollsters had to be impressed with the way [Michigan] has played. It'll be interesting to see how it comes out," he told Fox television.

The No. 1 Buckeyes locked up a spot in the BCS title game Jan. 8 in Arizona with their victory over the Wolverines on Saturday, their 19th straight overall. They also became the first team to have a perfect score (1.000) under the BCS formula introduced in 2004. Ohio State is a unanimous No. 1 in the polls and the best team in the country according to the BCS computer ratings.

Florida was in fourth place in the BCS standings with an average of .884, followed by Notre Dame (.820), which plays at USC on Saturday. Arkansas (.807) was sixth. The Razorbacks and Gators meet in the Southeastern Conference title game on Dec. 2.
Florida coach Urban Meyer said Sunday a rematch between Michigan and Ohio State would be cause for immediate change to the BCS.

"If that does happen, all the [university] presidents need to get together immediately and put together a playoff system," he said. "I mean like now, January or whenever to get that done."

Michigan's regular season is complete, so the Wolverines can do nothing but watch what happens to USC and the other contenders over the next two weeks.

The Trojans, who beat Cal 23-9 on Saturday to lock up the Pac-10's automatic BCS bid, passed Michigan and moved up to No. 2 in both the coaches' poll and the Harris poll. The polls count for two-thirds of a team's BCS average. Michigan remained second in the computer ratings that account for the other third of the BCS average.

USC is third in the computers, a mark that should get a boost if the Trojans can knock off a highly rated Notre Dame team and crosstown rival UCLA the following week.

A USC loss would help Michigan, but it could also give the SEC champion a chance to pass Michigan if either the Gators or Razorbacks win their final two games.

If Michigan doesn't get into the championship game, the Wolverines are a lock to at least get into the BCS as an at-large team. The Rose Bowl would seem to be the Wolverines likely fallback, but there's no guarantee.

Unbeaten Boise State moved up to 11th place. With one more victory in their season finale at WAC rival Nevada, the Broncos will become the second team from a conference without an automatic bid to reach the BCS. Boise State would likely be headed for the Fiesta Bowl to play the Big 12 champ.

Notre Dame can also lock up an automatic bid by finishing in the top eight. A win at USC would do the trick, but even with a loss the Irish should be eligible for selection.

If the Rose Bowl loses both its Pac-10 champ (USC) and Big Ten champ (Ohio State) to the championship game, it will have the first two selections among the remaining BCS at-large pool.

A Michigan-Notre Dame rematch in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1 would then be possible. The Wolverines beat the Fighting Irish 47-21 in September at South Bend, Ind.

With Boise State, Michigan and Notre Dame all with bids in their sights, it looks like only one of the four at-large bids is still in play.

The SEC champion plays in the Sugar Bowl if it doesn't qualify for the BCS championship.

The Atlantic Coast Conference champ will play in the Orange Bowl, and the Big East champ also gets an automatic bid.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ohio State, Michigan 1-2 in AP Poll

By The Associated Press

The game of the year didn't change the top of The Associated Press poll. Ohio State was No. 1 and Michigan was No. 2 in the Top 25 on Sunday.

The Big Ten rivals have held the top two spots in the media poll since Oct. 15. After the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines 42-39 in Columbus on Saturday in their regular-season finale, the voters decided to keep them there.

The last 1 vs. 2 regular-season game that didn't change the top of the poll was the 1966 classic between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan State, which ended in a 10-10 tie.

The last time No. 2 lost to No. 1 in the regular season and didn't drop was 1945, when Army beat No. 2 Navy 32-13.

Ohio State (12-0) moves on to play in the BCS national title game on Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz. The Buckeyes have been No. 1 all season, and for the second time it was unanimous.

Michigan could still end up in the championship game, too, but that will depend on how the other contenders fare over the next two weeks.

Southern California moved up a spot to No. 3 with a 23-9 victory over California that gave the Trojans the Pac-10's BCS bid and kept them in the national title hunt. USC (9-1) is only nine points behind Michigan.

Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express News covered Michigan-Ohio State, then watched USC pull away from Cal in the second half. He had Michigan at No. 2 on his ballot this week and USC third, but it was a close call.

"It's still really fluid," he said. "For Michigan to play as well as they did in a hostile environment really impressed me."

But he said USC could win back his support by playing a big game against Notre Dame on Saturday.

"It's that close," he said.

In the USA Today coaches' poll, Ohio State was No. 1 with USC second and Michigan third.

Florida (10-1) slipped a spot to No. 4 and Arkansas (10-1) remained No. 5. The Gators and Razorbacks meet in the Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 2.

Notre Dame (10-1), which finishes its regular season at USC on Saturday, was No. 6.

West Virginia, Louisville, LSU and Wisconsin round out the top 10.

The only new team in the rankings was No. 25 Hawaii (9-2), in the Top 25 for the first time since the final poll of the 1992 season.

Texas led the second 10 at No. 11, followed by unbeaten Boise State, Oklahoma, Auburn and Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights fell eight spots after losing their first game, 30-11 at Cincinnati on Saturday.

No. 16 Georgia Tech was followed by Atlantic Coast Conference rivals Virginia Tech and Boston College. Tennessee was No. 19 and another ACC team, Wake Forest was 20th.

No. 21 was BYU, followed by Cal, Nebraska, Clemson and Hawaii.

Maryland fell out of the rankings after losing 38-16 to Boston College.

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College Football Notes: Week 12

The Ohio State Buckeyes remained unbeaten and top-ranked after a thrilling 42-39 victory over Big Ten rival Michigan (11-1) on Saturday.

The win left the Buckeyes at 12-0 in the regular season and Big Ten champions. Next up, a berth in the BCS National Championship Game on January 8th in Arizona. The only question remaining - who the hell are they going to play?

With Cincinnati (6-5) recording the upset of the day by knocking off previously unbeaten Rutgers (9-1) by a convincing 30-11 score, as many as six teams have a shot at facing Ohio State for the title.

Despite the loss, the second-ranked Wolverines are still in the hunt after playing the Buckeyes tougher and closer than any team has this season. Mike Hart ran for 142 yards and three scores and Chad Henne threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns. The problem for Michigan was containing the high-octane offense that is Ohio State.

The Buckeyes rolled up 503 total yards on Michigan - a unit that was allowing just 231 yards entering the game. Troy Smith clinched the Heisman race with his 316 yards passing and four touchdown performance. Antonio Pittman had 139 yards rushing with a touchdown and Ted Ginn Jr. had eight grabs for 104 yards and a score.

Next on the list of potential suitors for the Buckeyes is No. 3 Florida (10-1), a 62-0 winner over Western Carolina. The problem here is playing the Catamounts won't score high on the BCS computers and the Gators still have games remaining with Florida State and Arkansas for the SEC championship.

No. 4 USC won its 32nd straight game at home with an impressive 23-9 victory over No. 17 California (8-3). With the victory, the Trojans (9-1) clinched the Pac-10 championship and at least a berth in the Rose Bowl. As far as the title game, USC still has Notre Dame and UCLA on the docket.

The fifth-ranked Razorbacks struggled against Mississippi State yesterday but had enough to pull out the 28-14 victory and clinch a berth in the SEC title game. Arkansas (10-1) is another contender to meet Ohio State, but has an even tougher time with remaining games against LSU and Florida in the SEC championship.

No. 6 Notre Dame routed Army 41-9 and put themselves in position for the BCS title game. The Irish (10-1) still have to face USC out in LA, but a win there and some other teams faltering, could seal the deal for them. The only thing that doesn't look good on the Irish resume is the 47-21 demolishing they took at the hands of Michigan.

Boise State (11-0), West Virginia (9-1), Louisville (9-1) and Wisconsin (11-1) are too far down in the BCS standings to make a significant impact right now.

One thing is certain, the Buckeyes can relax and study all the potential teams they may face. The pressure is off and the advantage is definitely in their favor. Ohio State did what it was supposed to do and now the real fun begins - watching who emerges from the pack to challenge the Buckeyes for the biggest prize in college football.

Other scores from the top 25: No. 8 West Virginia 45, Pittsburgh 27; No. 9 LSU 23, Mississippi 20 OT; No. 10 Louisville 31, South Florida 8; No. 12 Wisconsin 35, Buffalo 3; No. 13 Boise State 49, Utah State 10; No. 19 Virginia Tech 27, No. 14 Wake Forest 6; No. 15 Auburn 22, Alabama 15; No. 16 Oklahoma 36, Baylor 10; No. 18 Georgia Tech 49, Duke 21; No. 20 Boston College 38, No. 21 Maryland 16; No. 22 Tennessee 39, Vanderbilt 10; and No. 23 BYU 42, New Mexico 17.

Highlight games for week 13 include: Texas A&M (8-3) at Texas (9-2); LSU (9-2) at Arkansas (10-1); Florida (10-1) at Florida State (6-5); South Carolina (6-5) at Clemson (8-3); Georgia Tech (9-2) at Georgia (7-4); Boise State (11-0) at Nevada (8-3); BYU (9-2) at Utah (7-4); Arizona State (6-5) at Arizona (6-5); Wake Forest (9-2) at Maryland (8-3); and Notre Dame (10-1) at USC (9-1).

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

First Place in AFC West at Stake

Week 11 of the NFL season finds a nice little Sunday night game to whet our pro football appetites with.

The 7-2 San Diego Chargers travel to Mile High to face the 7-2 Denver Broncos in a battle for first place in the AFC West.

It's the high-powered offense of San Diego against the powerful defense of Denver and something will have to give because the Chargers lead the league in scoring at 33 points a game and the Broncos are No. 1 in scoring defense at 12.3.

LaDainian Tomlinson has been on a monster-sized roll of late - rushing for over 300 yards and eight touchdowns in the last two games. If Denver hopes to win this game, they must contain Tomlinson and force Philip Rivers to beat them. If L.T. is on his game, he opens up all of San Diego's offense, including Antonio Gates.

The Broncos have struggled mightily on offense with Jake Plummer turning the ball over at least 2-3 times a game and the Bell boys, Mike and Tatum, stuck in the mire on the ground. You can only win with defense for so long until there comes a time when you must score. Denver is facing that this week.

It should be a great game and with another meeting coming December 10, the situation in the AFC West will be far from decided.

There are plenty of excellent games on tap for any football connoisseur, so set back, grab your chips and dip, get your fantasy football sheets out and enjoy the games. There will be no Sunday night game because of the World Series.

Here's the Corners predictions for week 11 in the NFL:

Atlanta at Baltimore
Steve McNair has led three comeback victories for the Ravens, who were 2-7 at this point last season. The Falcons have lost two in a row after a 5-2 start and look lost. Baltimore's defense should do the job even with Ray Ray out. Winner: Ravens.

St. Louis at Carolina
The Rams are facing injuries, a four-game losing streak and Steve Smith. Things aren't looking to pretty, but St. Louis needs this game even more than the Panthers do, so look for the upset. Winner: Rams.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland
Pittsburgh ended a three-game slide last week, but its defense has given up 123 points in its last four games. The Browns have won two of their last three and the victory over Atlanta last week was their first in two years against a team with a winning record. Winner: Steelers.

New England at Green Bay
Two teams heading in different directions lately. The Patriots lost back-to-back games for the first time in 57 games and the Packers have gotten themselves back into the playoff race by winning three of their last four. I just can't see a Bill Belichick team losing three in a row. Winner: Patriots.

Buffalo at Houston
Don't expect much offense in this one. The Bills are 30th in the league with a 15.6-point scoring average and will again play without injured running back Willis McGahee. Houston, coming off a victory over Jacksonville, averages only 16 points a game and hasn't won consecutive games since 2004 - until now. Winner: Houston.

Oakland at Kansas City
Chiefs quarterback Trent Green will start for the first time since suffering a concussion 10 weeks ago, but he may be without injured tight end Tony Gonzalez. It doesn't matter though. Larry Johnson should have a field day with the Raiders defense. Winner: Chiefs.

Minnesota at Miami
The Vikings have committed nine turnovers during this three-game losing streak. Miami, winners of two consecutive games, has the league's No. 2 defense, giving up only 277 yards a game. Winner: Dolphins.

Cincinnati at New Orleans
Cincinnati's suspect defense was exposed last week when the Bengals gave up 42 points in the second half against San Diego. Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who leads the league with 2,604 yards passing, has emerged as an MVP candidate. Winner: Saints.

Chicago at New York Jets
The Jets have won three of their last four, including a road win last week over the Patriots to move into the playoff hunt. The Bears re-established themselves as the team to beat in the NFC after last weeks win over the Giants. Winner: Bears.

Tennessee at Philadelphia
The Eagles defense has given up only one offensive touchdown in three games. The Philly offense ended its mini-slump last week against the Redskins with Brian Westbrook topping 100 yards for the first time this season. Winner: Eagles.

Washington at Tampa Bay
Former Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell will make his NFL debut for the Redskins, who will be without injured running back Clinton Portis. Tampa Bay is averaging only 12.4 points and has scored only 27 during their current three-game losing streak. But the Bucs defense should be able to stop an inexperienced quarterback at home. Winner: Buccaneers.

Detroit at Arizona
Despite its lopsided record, Detroit has lost by more than a touchdown only twice and quarterback Jon Kitna is fifth in the NFL with 2,376 yards passing. Arizona, on an eight-game losing streak, has rushed for a league-low 71.1 yards per game. Winner: Lions.

Seattle at San Francisco
Shawn Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck return to the Seahawks lineup. Bad news for the 49ers. Winner: Seahawks.

Indianapolis at Dallas
The Colts had a scare last week with Buffalo and should be ready for this game. Indy lives by the close game - seven of its victories have been by seven points or fewer, including two one-point victories. Tony Romo makes his first start in Dallas. Winner: Colts.

San Diego at Denver (Sunday night)
The Chargers are probably the better team right now, but it's just so damn hard to win in Mile High. Winner: Broncos.

New York Giants at Jacksonville (Monday night)
Tiki Barber, the NFL's leading rusher with 971 yards, will play despite a sprained thumb, but the Giants have seven other injured starters who probably won't. The injury bug has bitten New York harder than anyone. Winner: Jaguars.

The Corner Lowdown
Last week: 9-7
Overall: 86-42

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Bo Schembechler Dies

Bo Schembechler, who became one of college football's great coaches in two decades at Michigan, died Friday after taping a TV show on the eve of the Wolverines' No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown with perennial rival Ohio State. He was 77.

Schembechler collapsed at the studios at WXYZ-TV in the Detroit suburb of Southfield and was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. His death at 11:42 a.m. was confirmed by Mike Dowd, chief investigator for the medical examiner's office in Oakland County.

Police were sent to the station around 9:25 a.m. along with the city's fire department and escorted an ambulance to Providence Hospital, Southfield police spokesman John Harris said.

Schembechler had a heart attack on the eve of his first Rose Bowl in 1970 and another one in 1987. He had two quadruple heart-bypass operations, and doctors implanted a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat after he became ill during a taping at WXYZ on Oct. 20.

During a news conference earlier this week to discuss Saturday's big game, Schembechler said the device covered about half his chest and that doctors still were adjusting it.

Schembechler said he did not plan to attend the game in Columbus, Ohio, and that he didn't travel to road games anymore.

The seven-time Big Ten coach of the year compiled a 194-48-5 record at Michigan from 1969-89. Schembechler's record in 26 years of coaching was 234-65-8.

Schembechler's Wolverines were 11-9-1 against the Buckeyes. But fans in both states generally agree that the rivalry's prime years were 1969-78, when Schembechler opposed his friend and coaching guru, Woody Hayes. Michigan prevailed in those meetings, going 5-4-1.

Thirteen of Schembechler's Michigan teams either won or shared the Big Ten championship. Fifteen of them finished in The Associated Press Top 10, with the 1985 team finishing No. 2.

Seventeen of Schembechler's 21 Michigan teams earned bowl berths. Despite a .796 regular-season winning percentage, his record in bowls was a disappointing 5-12, including 2-8 in Rose Bowls.

His last game as Wolverines coach was a 17-10 loss to Southern California in the 1990 Rose Bowl.

Schembechler was born April 1, 1929 in Barberton, Ohio. He graduated in 1951 from Miami of Ohio and earned a master's degree in 1952 at Ohio State, where he served until 1953 as a graduate assistant under Hayes.

After serving in the Army, Schembechler held assistant coaching jobs at Presbyterian College in 1954 and Bowling Green in 1955, then joined Ara Parseghian's staff at Northwestern in 1958 before returning to Ohio State as an assistant to Hayes.

Schembechler was named head coach at Miami in 1963, winning two Mid-American Conference titles in six seasons. In 1969, he took over a Michigan program that had posted six losing seasons over the previous 11 years. He did not have a losing season at either school.

Schembechler worked as an ABC Sports football broadcaster and analyst in 1991-92 and was a popular motivational speaker for many years.

Schembechler was inducted into the Miami University Hall of Fame in 1972, the State of Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in 1992, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1993 and the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1993.

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Judgement Day is Upon Us

It's Judgement Day.

That's the slogan the media have adopted for the highly anticipated matchup between No. 1 Ohio State (11-0) and No. 2 Michigan (11-0).

Why the hype?

Besides No. 1 against No. 2, this game decides the Big Ten title and earns the winner a trip to the BCS Championship Game on January 8. You can't get any bigger than that.

All that needs to be said has been said. Now it's time for action. I know I'll be glued to the TV for three-plus hours.

Three other games on tap this Saturday feature ranked teams squaring off. No. 4 USC (8-1) against No. 17 California (8-2); No. 14 Wake Forest (9-1) hosts No. 19 Virginia Tech (8-2); and No. 20 Boston College (8-2) hosts No. 21 Maryland (8-2).

In Thursday night action, Steve Slaton became the first player in school history to have more than 100 yards rushing (215) and receiving (130) in a game, as No. 8 West Virginia improved to 9-1 on the season with a 45-27 victory over Pitt (6-5). The Panthers have lost three straight games.

Here's the Corners predictions for this weeks Top 25 battles:

Michigan (2) at Ohio State (1)
All season long I was picking Michigan in this game and now I've changed my mind. The Buckeyes are at home and Troy Smith is playing at an incredibly high level. Look for Ohio State to pull it out and head to Arizona. Winner: Ohio State.

Western Carolina at Florida (3)
Why, why, why, oh why are the Gators scheduling the Catamounts? Winner: Florida.

California (17) at USC (4)
The winner is guaranteed at least a share of the Pac-10 title. And a Bears win would put them in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1958. Look for the Trojans 31-game home winning streak to end. Winner: California.

Arkansas (5) at Mississippi State
The Hogs are the only unbeaten SEC team at 6-0. An Arkansas win would give the Hogs their first outright SEC West title since 1995 and put them in the SEC championship game against Florida. Winner: Arkansas.

Army at Notre Dame (6)
With a win, the Irish would improve to 10-1 for the first time since 2002 and only the fifth time in school history. Winner: Notre Dame.

Rutgers (7) at Cincinnati
The Scarlet Knights are one of only four unbeaten teams left in Division I-A, but they can't afford to look ahead to West Virginia in this game. Winner: Rutgers.

Mississippi at LSU (9)
The Tigers have won 20 straight home games vs. unranked teams. Winner: LSU.

South Florida at Louisville (10)
The Cardinals hope to rebound from a tough loss to Rutgers last week. The Bulls are 7-3 and no pushovers. South Florida beat Louisville 45-14 last year and Bobby Petrino hasn't forgotten. Winner: Louisville

Buffalo at Wisconsin (12)
The Badgers are looking to tie a school record for wins, set by the 1998 team. They'll do it pretty easily. Winner: Wisconsin.

Utah State at Boise State (13)
The Broncos should cruise even with Ian Johnson. Boise State Boise has won every league home game (23) since joining the WAC in 2001. Winner: Boise State.

Virginia Tech (19) at Wake Forest (14)
The Demon Deacons had never won more than eight games until this season. This week they face the Hokies, who are 10-1 in ACC road games since joining the conference in 2004. Winner: Wake Forest.

Auburn (15) at Alabama
One of the most intense rivalries in college football. The Tigers have won four straight over the Tide and are a surprising 5-0 all-time in Tuscaloosa. Winner: Auburn.

Oklahoma (16) at Baylor
The Sooners are 15-0 all-time against Baylor and they have never lost a game in Waco (6-0). Winner: Oklahoma.

Duke at Georgia Tech (18)
The Blue Devils own the nation's longest current losing streak at 18 games. Enough said. Winner: Georgia Tech.

Maryland (21) at Boston College (20)
The Terps are one game ahead of BC in the ACC Atlantic. The Eagles are a perfect 6-0 at home this season. Winner: Boston College.

Tennessee (22) at Vanderbilt
Vandy beat the Vols 28-24 in Knoxville last year. A win in Nashville would mark the first back-to-back victories over Tennessee since 1925-26. Too bad it's not going to happen. Winner: Tennessee.

New Mexico at BYU (23)
The Cougars can clinch the Mountain West title - their first since 2000 - with a win over the Lobos. It would also give BYU its first nine-win season since 2001. Winner: BYU.

The Corner Lowdown:
Last week: 13-7 (my worst week ever)
Overall: 136-32

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