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In Case You Live in a Cave: This Is the Week in Football

Column by Bo Light
Sports Columnist

Welcome to "The Week in Football," hopefully a weekly column that will appear on Tuesdays throughout the football season, and Fridays if I feel like it. This week's edition is subtitled "In Case You Live in a Cave" because there hasn't been any football since Monday and you must have been in a coma, out of the country, or studying for your first 5.60 test not to know the results by now. But here are some of them anyway.

College football

In NCAA Division I, it was a week for blowouts, as many of the top teams in the nation decided to spend their first game blowing out any school willing to act as cannon fodder. The ugliest of games might have been Miami's 560 yawner over Georgia Southern, which sounds suspiciously like a I-AA school. In winning, Miami set the NCAA record for consecutive home victories, with 58, which incidentally is higher than the number of yards Georgia Southern's offense was able to produce (54). They must be so proud.

Nebraska bumped Florida from the No. 1 spot in the AP poll on the strength of a 310 victory over West Virginia Aug. 28, that apparently was more impressive to the sportswriters than the Gators' 7021 rout of New Mexico State. Then again, New Mexico State does seem like a team that the Cornhuskers, notorious for their padded schedules, would normally play.

On the local front, Boston College jumped out to a 120 lead against Michigan before the Wolverines realized that the game had actually started. It was all downhill from there as Dan Henning's debut as head coach turned into a 3426 loss. Michigan played without star tailback and Heisman candidate Tyrone Wheatley but didn't seem to miss him much, as the longest name in Div. I Tim Biakabutuka, ran for 122 yards on 12 carries.

Oklahoma narrowly avoided a stunning upset at the hands of Syracuse on a last-second field goal after giving up a 240 lead. The Orangemen, having scored with a minute to play to take a 2927 lead, were so appallingly arrogant as to actually celebrate the fact that they had just come back from a 24-point deficit, and of course were slapped with a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff, allowing Oklahoma excellent field position and an easy drive to the game-winning field goal. A big round of applause, please, for the officials of the No Fun League ... I mean the NCAA.

In smalller conferences, MAC favorite Western Michigan scored late in the fourth quarter to narrowly beat perennial basement-dweller Miami, Ohio 2825. Also, Fresno State began its annual run to the California Bowl or the Raisin Bowl or the Sun Bowl or whatever it's called by beating archrival San Jose State 4513.

If MIT played last week, nobody knew about it. But seriously, folks, the team is prepared for their official season opener tomorrow at Salve Regina University. Kickoff is at 6:00 p.m.

No Fun League

Let me try something here:

Ladies and Gentlemen, your New England Patriots!

(silence)

I thought so. Bledsoe and the gang were victimized by Dan Marino and his array of talented receivers, who ripped the Pats for five touchdowns and just over a zillion yards in a 3935 Dolphin victory.

New England's home opener is next week against the Buffalo Bills, who were crushed 233 by the New York Jets (yes, you read that right, the Jets). Maybe Buffalo won't get the opportunity to lose their fifth Super Bowl this year. Then again, they do get to play the Patriots twice.

If you were watching the games on Sunday and saw the score 110 pop up on your screen, be assured that it was not an error by the rookie technicians at Fox, and there weren't two safeties by a team or any missed extra points. The Cleveland Browns scored the first two-point conversion in NFL history after a first-quarter touchdown in a 2825 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Time will tell if the new rule allowing the two-point conversion will be helpful to the league, which has been looking for ways to add scoring and excitement to games. Don't look for teams to try this play a lot, though, even in late-game comeback situations. Why? The extra point kick, basically a 17-yard field goal attempt, is all but automatic, and unless absolutely necessary, few coaches will risk getting no extra points (and the two-pointer is less than a 50/50 proposition against most teams) when they can get one with no fuss.

Detroit needed overtime to beat the Atlanta Falcons 3128 on a Jason Hanson field goal. The game was an excellent showcase for the talents of transplanted quarterbacks Scott Mitchell for the Lions (15 completions in 30 attempts, 173 yards, 1 INT, 3TD's) and Jeff George of the Falcons (2937, 281 yards, 2 TD's), especially because the secondaries for both teams have been decimated by free agency and the salary cap, and looked less than polished on Sunday.

The Colts (from Indy, not Baltimore, there will be no CFL updates here) came into the season knowing that they needed rookie running back Marshall Faulk to produce. Their worries are over. Faulk rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns in 4521 romp over the surprisingly punchless Houston Oilers. Indianapolis set a team record for most points in a season opener and look ready to take on a wide-open AFC East.

Last but certainly not least, Jerry Rice took over the NFL career record for touchdowns (127) with three TD receptions as San Francisco rolled over the L.A. Raiders 4414. Speaking of being rolled over, Raider running back Napoleon McCallum had his season (and likely his career) ended in the third quarter when he was brought down by a pile of 49'er defenders, and his leg didn't follow his body. The slow-motion replay (which was shown at least three times by ABC and will now be used as stock footage in a Steven Seagal movie) clearly showed McCallum's knee twisting and bending in a direction that knees do not normally bend, ranking McCallum right up there with Joe Thiesmann and Tim Krumrie in the Disgusting Injury Hall of Fame.

Trivia question

(Yeah, I stole this from "Let's Argue." So what?)

We'll start off the year with an easy one since the answer will be out on Tuesday. Jerry Rice's 127th touchdown catch surpassed the record held by Jim Brown. Who is currently third on the all-time touchdown list? Send answers to sports@the-tech.mit.edu.

This weekend

Tomorrow the Fightin' Engineers of MIT kick off their season against Salve Regina. I already told you that, though, didn't I? On the tube, Notre Dame starts its home schedule (and thus its NBC schedule) with the annual Irish-Michigan game. Look for the Wolverines to be sharper this week than they were against BC, which has this weekend off. Boston University starts its I-AA season tomorrow against Colgate, though. Miami continues its run of fluff games against Arizona State (yawn). Nebraska played Texas Tech yesterday, but since I have to write these articles by Wednesday night the result is not available.

In the NFL, Buffalo comes to Foxboro to rain on the Patsies' parade. Joe Montana is starting in the Niners-Chiefs game, but not for Frisco. For you New Yorkers, the Giants play in Arizona, and the J-E-T-S host the Broncos. Houston goes to Dallas to see who's the best team in Texas (take a wild guess). The Indomitable Lions - oops, the Detroit Lions, will be in Minnesota, while the Super Eagles - sorry, the Philadelphia Eagles host Chicago in a Monday night game. Indianapolis plays at Tampa Bay (that should be a good one). For the Left Coast fans, the Rams play the Falcons, while the Raiders host Rick Mirer and the Seahawks. Also, Pittsburgh plays Cleveland in The World's Most Boring Football Game (held twice annually), Miami visits Green Bay, and the league's second crappiest team (hint: it rhymes with "deadskins") plays the Saints.

Predictions for some of the games:

College:

Michigan 14, Notre Dame 10. You think coach Gary Moeller is going to let his team get beaten by a freshman? Think again. Ron Powlus has three more years to beat the Wolverines.

Miami 41, Arizona State 7. The Sun Devils score their only touchdown when the entire Hurricane defense, bored by the ease of their victory, falls asleep.

BU 17, Colgate 14. A 45-yard field goal with no time left wins the opener for the visiting Terriers. Angry fans pelt the home team with toothbrushes.

MIT 23, Salve Regina 7. A no-brainer, really.

Citadel 25, Wofford 24. Shannon Faulkner scores the winning touchdown for the Citadel, prompting women across the country to shave their heads out of respect.

NFL:

Buffalo 31, Patsies 30. New England scores five touchdowns again, but Parcells goes for two and fails each time. Patriots will become the first team in history to have a losing record despite averaging over 30 points a game.

Lions 28, Vikings 24. The purple-headed warriors are favored by 41/2, but the oddsmakers seem to have forgotten that the Lions never lose indoors. Maybe if the roof on the Metrodome collapses ...

Niners 22, Chiefs 21. San Francisco goes for two on their final touchdown just to spite my theory that they wouldn't do something like that. Montana injures his left big toe in the middle of fourth-quarter drive and is lost for the season. Say it ain't so, Joe.