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Light Apologizes for Poor Weekend Game Predictions

Column by Bo Light
Sports Columnist

My sincere apologies to anyone who bet on my predictions this weekend. I knew something was wrong when every area betting service called Sunday afternoon to personally thank me for my picks. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, go find a copy of last Friday's edition and read the predictions so you, too, can laugh as you see the results.

Colleges

First and foremost, in one of the few games I picked correctly, MIT won its first game of the season, a 226 pounding of Western New England College. Alix Sgouros '95 threw scoring passes of 24 and 26 yards to Troy Gayeski '97, and Saul DeLeon '98 had a 2-yard touchdown run. On the other side of the ball, the MIT defense applied intense pressure to WNEC's quarterback, and came up with 11 sacks, an ECFC conference record.

Boston College also improved to 12 with a 219 victory over a rather pathetic Pittsburgh team. True freshman Scott Mutryn was less than impressive in his first collegiate start (920, 90 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT's). Fortunately for the Eagles, Pitt was even less impressive, with a lackluster defense and a turnover-and-penalty-prone offense that converted two of 12 third down opportunities.

Just down the road, Boston University extended its regular-season win streak to 16 games with a 3015 laugher over Villanova. The Terriers were able to outperform 'Nova on both sides of the ball, despite a subpar (by the standards of the spoiled BU fans) performance by star quarterback Robert Dougherty, who was intercepted twice. The Wildcats did not score their first touchdown until just over two minutes remained in the third quarter. By then it was too late, as BU came up with a key interception and a long touchdown play to put the game away.

Nebraska began the padded portion of their schedule in almost disappointing fashion. Not disappointing because they lost; disappointing because they failed to cover the 51-point spread they had been given against Pacific. The Huskers scored on their first seven possessions and went on to win, 7021, in a game played mostly by third- and fourth- string players. Nebraska's NCAA-leading ground attack continued its dominance, as the Cornhusker backs ran for 510 yards, compared to 84 for Pacific. Quarterback Tommie Frazier, nursing a leg injury sustained against UCLA, played for only two series, but is expected to play against Wyoming this weekend.

Florida State is well on its way to another ACC title after a 3118 victory over North Carolina. The Tar Heels started four drives in Seminole territory in the first half, and threatened in the fourth quarter, but fumbles (three of them) kept Carolina from ever climbing back into the game. Ironically, this was the closest ACC conference game Florida State has had in two years.

Three weeks ago, Miami set the record for the longest home winning streak in college football at 58 when they beat Georgia Southern. Saturday, Washington brought the streak to an abrupt and shocking halt. The Huskies, who came into the game as 15-point underdogs, scored three touchdowns in a seven-minute span during the third quarter to upset the Hurricanes, 3820. Turnovers (4) and penalties (10) were the story for the 'Canes, who saw a 143 lead turn into a 2817 deficit following an interception return by Russell Hairston and a fumble recovery in the end zone by Robert Sapp.

As hard as it is to believe, Washington's incredible victory was overshadowed Saturday by the ending of the Michigan-Colorado game. As the Huskies and the Hurricanes played on, ABC continued to update the happenings in Ann Arbor, and viewers saw a 149 Colorado lead suddenly turn into a 2614 Michigan lead at the end of the third quarter. The Wolverines seemed to be headed for victory, even when the Buffaloes scored to close to 2621 with 2 minutes 15 seconds left in the game. Then disaster struck. Michigan was unable to get a first down and was forced to punt, giving Colorado the ball on its own 15-yard line with 15 seconds left. The Buffaloes took nine seconds to advance the ball to their own 36, and with six seconds left, quarterback Kordell Stewart dropped back, looked, dropped back some more, and let go with a Hail Mary pass that traveled over 70 yards in the air, bounced off a helmet and into the arms of Michael Holbrook for the game-winning touchdown that left Michigan fans just as stunned as Miami fans.

Notre Dame's ranking might actually go up this week, if only because two higher-ranked teams lost. The Irish had no trouble racking up a 3921 victory over Purdue, despite having lost starting tailback Lee Becton to a groin injury. Backups Randy Kinder and Ray Zellars combined for 299 yards and three touchdowns to pace Notre Dame on the ground, while Ron Powl's passed for 111 yards and no interceptions to lead the air assault. Purdue played themselves out of the game in the third quarter, when the Boilermakers gave up an interception and two fumbles on three straight drives, and the Irish converted all three turnovers into scores.

Note to Sports Illustrated: Don't hand Steve McNair the Heisman just yet; he may not be able to hold it up. McNair, the stellar quarterback from Division I-AA Alcorn State, suffered a first-degree shoulder separation in his throwing arm during a 4823 loss to Sam Houston State. McNair had passed for 395 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game, and is listed as probable for next week, but this injury may affect his throwing or his confidence. Stay tuned.

Not on strike for now league

Don't look now, but the Patriots are playing .500 ball. Yes, it's only four games into the season, but Bledsoe and the gang actually looked good this week, as they beat Detroit 2317 in the Silverdome. Lions coach Wayne Fontes warned his team to beware of a letdown following their overtime win in Dallas Monday night, but the warning wasn't enough. Bledsoe had arguably the best game of his short career, completing 21 of 33 attempts for 251 yards and a touchdown. The Lions got their touchdowns on runs of 39 and 35 yards by Barry Sanders, who finished the day with 131 yards rushing, but couldn't lead his team past New England.

Well, the Jets had fun while it lasted. After a 20 start that included a big win over Buffalo, New York came back to earth with back-to-back losses. This week, Da Bears rolled over the hapless Jets, 197. Despite outgaining Chicago in every conceivable form of offense, the Jets were simply unable to put points on the board, a result of more or less complete incompetence. New York lost two of its five fumbles; the Bears, in comparison, never fumbled the ball, and relied on competent defense to stop the Jets and a steady offense to put the ball in the end zone.

Minnesota had a field day in the first half of their game against Miami. Warren Moon, who shredded the Dolphins' defense for 326 passing yards, threw for three touchdowns and led the Vikings to a 280 lead midway through the second quarter. However, that's when Dan Marino decided it was time to play ball, and Miami exploded to tie the game at 28 in the fourth quarter. In the end, though, Moon came through, leading the purple-headed warriors on a 70-yard touchdown thrust, and Marino threw his third interception of the day to kill the comeback, as the Vikings held on for a 3835 victory.

In what might be termed an upset if this weren't the NFL (can you say parity?), the Los Angeles Rams dismantled Kansas City to the tune of 160. The Rams got 132 yards rushing out of Jerome Bettis and 207 yards passing from backup quarterback Chris Chandler. Joe Montana, fighting a flu bug, was intercepted three times, and failed to take his team on a touchdown drive for the first time - ever - in his professional career.

Are the San Diego Chargers really 40? You bet they are. They got there by beating the luckless Raiders 2624. Los Angeles/ Oakland/ Inglewood led 2423, after Lionel Washington returned an interception for a touchdown with seven minutes left in the game, but Stan Humphries guided the Chargers back down the field for the winning score. Humphries was limping after taking a massive hit, but still managed to take his team 65 yards to set up a John Carney field goal with two seconds left.

In case anyone missed it, Deion Sanders signed with San Francisco. In case anyone missed it, Deion took an interception 74 yards for the game-clinching touchdown in a 2413 victory over the Saints. In an otherwise fairly even game, Sanders was the difference as New Orleans saw its hopes of coming back from a 1713 deficit erased with just 32 seconds left in the game.

In other games, Seattle beat Pittsburgh, 3013; Atlanta downed Washington, 2720; Cleveland held on to beat Indianapolis, 2114; Houston got its first win of the season, 2013 over Cincinnati; and Green Bay crushed Tampa Bay, 303.

Trivia Question

Before Washington's victory on Saturday, who was the last team to beat Miami in the Orange Bowl? Send answers to sports@the-tech.

Answer to last week's question: The Akron Pros (or Akron Indians, depending on your source) won the first official NFL championship in 1920. There was one correct answer, but it was accidentally deleted during a wild office party. If you send in your answer again, I promise to mention you in the Friday column.