September 15, 1997 in Sports

Nebraska Defense Gets Wake-Up Call

Associated Press
 

Nebraska’s defense wasn’t performing as it should and defensive coordinator Charlie McBride let his players know it at halftime.

The unit, which returns only three starters, let Central Florida quarterback Daunte Culpepper complete 12 of 17 passes for 186 yards in the first half Saturday - giving the unranked Golden Knights a 17-14 lead at the intermission.

It wasn’t what McBride wanted to see the week before the Cornhuskers travel to Seattle to face Washington, which jumped to No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press poll. Nebraska dropped one spot to No. 7.

“I think it was the most fired up I have ever seen Coach McBride,” rush end Grant Wistrom said of the halftime speech. “He made us know in no uncertain terms that to get what we want for this year, we need to pick it up.”

They held Central Florida to one fourth-quarter touchdown and pulled away with two touchdown runs by freshman Correll Buckhalter to win 38-24.

But McBride was right to worry. Washington, which also faced an unranked opponent at home Saturday, had no trouble with San Diego State, winning 36-3 on four touchdown passes by quarterback Brock Huard.

“I’m kind of glad we had a close game this week rather than a blowout going into the Washington game,” Wistrom said. “It was kind of a reality check. Maybe we’re not as good as we thought we were on defense.”

Irish struggle to cope

Losing to Michigan was acceptable. Lowly Northwestern turned out to be the surprise team of the year. Ohio State was already one of the best teams in the nation.

But Purdue? Not even Notre Dame’s faithful, whose egos are often as grand as the school’s storied history, can justify Saturday’s 28-17 loss to the Boilermakers.

This was Purdue, the Big Ten’s doormat of the 1990s. The team that hadn’t beaten Notre Dame (1-1) since 1985. The same team that was run over by Toledo - a Mid-American Conference team - a week ago.

The team that thoroughly outplayed the more experienced and more talented Notre Dame.

“We’re the ones who’ve created our own problems… . It’s no one’s fault but our own for the position we’re in,” coach Bob Davie said Sunday. “We are not overly talented, but let’s face it, we’re talented enough to be 2-0.”

Davie, the former defensive coordinator who was hired as head coach after Lou Holtz resigned, was supposed to bring new life to the faltering Irish. Instead, Notre Dame is out of the national championship race before the end of September for the fourth consecutive year.

The loss to Purdue (1-1) was so bad the Irish dropped out of The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since the end of the dismal 1994 season.

“I do think we have enough ability to be a Top 20 football team,” Davie said. “But talk’s cheap. It’s not what I think, it’s what we do. And right now, we are not playing at the level of a Top 20 football team.”

Rout 66

Texas players didn’t want to leave the locker room to face their families. Coach John Mackovic didn’t know what to say.

What could he say? His team had just suffered through an experience that thousands of earlier Longhorns players and 17 previous coaches had never allowed - a 63-point loss, 66-3, the worst in 93 years.

On Sunday, Texas (1-1) dropped from No. 11 out of the Top 25, while UCLA (1-2) climbed to No. 24.

“My family’s out there waiting,” said Texas senior center Ryan Fiebiger after the game. “I know it sounds horrible, but I don’t want to look them in the eye.”

The Top 25

The Top Twenty Five teams in The Associated Press college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Sept. 13, total points based on 25 points for a first place vote through one point for a 25th place vote and previous ranking:

Record Pts Pv

1. Penn St. (25) 2-0 1,641 1

2. Washington (19) 2-0 1,615 3

3. Florida (14) 2-0 1,598 2

4. Tennessee (6) 2-0 1,543 4

5. Florida St. (3) 2-0 1,483 5

6. North Carolina (1) 2-0 1,379 7

7. Nebraska (2) 2-0 1,364 6

8. Michigan 1-0 1,253 14

9. Ohio St. 2-0 1,235 9

10. LSU 2-0 1,165 10

11. Alabama 2-0 1,007 15

12. Auburn 2-0 878 16

13. Iowa 2-0 850 18

14. Arizona St. 2-0 698 24

15. Colorado 1-1 696 8

16. Clemson 2-0 669 19

17. Michigan St. 2-0 660 21

18. Virginia Tech 2-0 603 22

19. Washington St. 2-0 490 -

20. Kansas St. 2-0 431 20

21. Stanford 1-1 323 17

22. Miami 1-1 244 13

23. Colorado St. 2-1 172 25

24. UCLA 1-2 131 -

25. Georgia 2-0 127 -

Others receiving votes: Texas A&M; 113, Notre Dame 104, Texas 52, Brigham Young 43, Southern Miss. 40, N. Carolina St. 37, Kansas 23, Wyoming 13, Air Force 9, Purdue 8, Oregon 7, Oklahoma St. 6, Virginia 6, Wisconsin 6, Texas Tech 5, West Virginia 5, Arkansas 4, Northwestern 4, California 3, Southern Cal 3, Toledo 3, Cent. Florida 1.

USA Today/ESPN Top 25

The Top Twenty Five teams in the USA Today/ESPN college football poll, with first place votes in parentheses, records through Sept. 14, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and previous ranking:

Record Pts Pv

1. Florida (25) 2-0 1,451 1

2. Penn St. (14) 2-0 1,440 2

3. Washington (12) 2-0 1,430 3

4. Tennessee (6) 2-0 1,352 4

5. Florida St. (2) 2-0 1,316 6

6. Nebraska (1) 2-0 1,195 5

7. North Carolina (1) 2-0 1,177 8

8. Ohio St. (1) 2-0 1,125 9

9. Michigan 1-0 1,069 13

10. Louisiana St. 2-0 1,035 11

11. Alabama 2-0 898 14

12. Auburn 2-0 782 16

13. Iowa 2-0 777 17

14. Virginia Tech 2-0 705 19

15. Clemson 2-0 543 21

16. Colorado 1-1 524 7

17. Arizona State 2-0 514 NR

18. Michigan State 2-0 490 23

19. Kansas State 2-0 458 20

20. Washington St. 2-0 398 NR

21. Miami 1-1 256 12

22. Texas A&M; 1-0 206 NR

23. Stanford 1-1 175 18

24. Texas 1-1 120 10

25. Georgia 2-0 118 NR

Others receiving votes: Notre Dame 117, Colorado State 83, Brigham Young 65, UCLA 56, North Carolina State 42, Southern Mississippi 38, Air Force 26, Kansas 26, Oklahoma State 22, Southern California 20, Wyoming 18, Northwestern 17, Virginia 13, West Virginia 13, Oregon 7, California 5, Oklahoma 5, Texas Tech 5, Georgia Tech 3, Mississippi State 3, Purdue 3, East Carolina 2, Wisconsin 2, Marshall 1, Navy 1, New Mexico 1, Pittsburgh 1, Wake Forest 1.

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - College football notebook

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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