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RICHARDS: 'Noles are contenders again

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Darryl Richards

 
   
 

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RB , Michigan: Perry leads the nation in rushing with 208 yards a game and he has a golden opportunity to make a huge impression when the Wolverines play . A big performance against goes a long way toward earning a Heisman. Just ask . RB , : Davis only trails Perry in the nation with 207 rushing yards a game. He should be able to pile on the stats with games against and North Carolina coming up. QB , Miami: Miami quarterbacks seeking greatness must go through a rite of passage. Berlin had his in the second half of the Florida game by leading the Hurricanes back from a 23-point deficit for a 38-33 victory. Berlin threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns and validated his position at Miami's offensive leader. RB , : Jones, who has 147 yards rushing in his first two games, is the most intimidating back in the ACC and perhaps the country. Safeties beware when Jones gets in the open field.

Keep those letters coming:

QB , : Rivers got off to a shaky start but had very good numbers in a 38-24 loss to . He passed for 433 yards and two touchdowns but also threw two interceptions. The loss can be forgotten if Rivers and N.C. State can upset in Columbus. QB Ell Roberson, : The good news is Roberson threw his fifth touchdown pass of the season. The bad news is he injured his left, non-throwing wrist and didn't return. That might mean Roberson won't get a chance to boost his stats against UMass this week. QB , Mississippi: Coaches often say the Heisman is a team award and you only have to look at Manning to understand why. When you throw four touchdown passes in a game, you've done your job at quarterback. Manning may need to play some free safety to improve his Heisman chances. RB , : Sproles rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown in his return from an injured leg. He may have to carry the team this week if Roberson is unable to play. CB/WR , : The most versatile player in the Heisman race, Gamble had one tackle and 45 total return yards. He still has a chance to steal it by being spectacular in the big games. RB , : He shouldn't fall too far back after rushing for 57 yards in the first two quarters before a cheap shot from a James Madison player forced him off the field. Jones will have a week to recover and get ready for . QB , Washington: Pickett put up the type of numbers we should see often this season when he threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns against . However, it will be midseason before we learn if Washington is any good. QB , : Smith had 229 yards total offense in the first half against before leaving the game with a concussion. Smith has a chance to build up his numbers over the next three weeks with games against Eastern , and Kansas.

Open up a box:

QB , : OK, Symons plays in a system that will allow him to put up big numbers like he did Saturday when he threw for 418 yards and five touchdowns. But give him a shot if the Red Raiders put up some big wins against a tough schedule. Symons always will be penalized for being a product of the system instead of possibly being the best player in the land. QB , : The Spartans have been criticized for being classic underachievers but Smoker is putting up good numbers under John L. Smith. If Smoker can have big games against , Michigan, and , he will have to be considered. Smoker also has a great story filled with travails and possible triumphs.

Seal up the box:

RB Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, : It was going to be difficult for Williams to win it anyway because wanted to spread the wealth in the backfield. Who knew the Tigers were operating a counterfeit ring?

Call a moving van

It was just two years ago when John Bunting gave legions of North Carolina fans hope after the Tar Heels stomped at Kenan Stadium. What the heck happened to that home-field advantage? beat the Tar Heels 49-47 in triple overtime Saturday to hand UNC its eighth straight home loss. When alumni and donors have put together the type of facilities that North Carolina has, they expect better.

Give this guy a contract extension

Somebody is going to come after 's Jim Grobe hard in the off-season considering what he has done in just three years. Grobe does a great job mixing up his offenses and making the Demon Deacons a hard team to simulate in practice. Suddenly, is one of two undefeated teams in the ACC. What makes the start more impressive is Wake has put together solid wins against and a team expected to contend for an ACC title this season.

In and out

Comebacks

RB , : Jones, who missed last season because he was academically ineligible, rushed for 72 yards on 11 carries and had a 19-yard touchdown run against .

Injuries

, : James Madison's administration should suspend defensive tackle Demetrius Shambley for at least one game after his senseless hit on Jones in the second quarter. Jones injured both hands and did not return. Fortunately for Jones, X-rays showed he did not break any bones. James Madison may come away from the deal with a broken contract.

Road to New Orleans

Shortcuts

Oklahoma: The Sooners passed their toughest road test of the season in Tuscaloosa as Bob Stoops shows why he is the coach you want by your side when you go to Las Vegas. Miami: The Hurricanes haven't won 23 consecutive games at home on just talent alone. Miami has a lot of heart and an unbelievable will to win. : Scrap all that talk about the Seminoles being so vulnerable in the ACC. Suddenly this team looks like a national championship contender. Miami, Colorado and all have to visit Doak Campbell this season. Colorado: The Buffs are probably throwing the ball more than Gary Barnett wants but guess who is 2-0 for the first time in Boulder?

Cruise control

: No, the Buckeyes didn't exactly cruise against , but they beat an inferior team that won't do a lot for 's strength of schedule. When it comes to the BCS, the worst thing a team can do is lose. USC: Beating BYU was no leisurely drive down the PCH, but see above comments about . BYU is going to get its points because of its offense and the Trojans still managed to make some big plays on defense and give some more confidence at quarterback. Michigan: The Wolverines have scored 95 points in their first two games. At this rate, will reach that point in November. : The Wildcats are developing depth in their skill positions for the wrong reason. A star player comes out of the game with an injury for the second consecutive week. Georgia: Beating is nice but it starts getting serious now. Georgia's next four games are against , at , and at . : Frank Beamer saw his season flash before his eyes when careened into the stands. : We won't know how good this team is until it goes to College Station to play on Sept. 27. : Healthy and motivated, showed character in holding off a charging Herd and pulling ahead for a victory. : The Tigers gained a lot of offensive confidence by rolling over Arizona in the desert. : The Badgers should be 4-0 by the time they start conference play against . : Another week of struggling on offense. Tyrone Willingham has less than a week to figure out how to keep up with Michigan's offense. : Beating Northern Arizona was a nice start to the season, but we'll have no idea how good this team is until they make a trip to Iowa in two weeks. : The Cornhuskers are winning with defense again, but is it a mirage?

Potholes

: In a typical year, the Tigers would still have enough time to salvage the season and make a trip to the Sugar Bowl a goal. But isn't going to be playing for a national title this season, and if the Tigers don't get their act together, they aren't going to be playing for the SEC title either. : A sleeper pick to win the ACC this season, the Terps decided to press the snooze button. Sleep tight, . Virginia: Guess quarterback was that valuable to the Cavaliers. : Chuck Amato was cautiously optimistic about his team's chances in the ACC and now we know why. The next two weeks won't be easy with and on the slate. : The Boilermakers wanted to atone for losing six games by seven points or less last season. Some habits die hard. Florida: Nobody thought the Gators were going to compete for a national title this year, but watch out two years from now.

Toll road

at Georgia: Georgia has struggled with the Gamecocks over the last three seasons. The last two games have been decided by six points or less. at Oklahoma: Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops usually does a good job of getting his team mentally prepared after an emotional game. would enhance its reputation as a giant killer by knocking off the biggest giant in the land. at Michigan: It would be wise to work on offense this week if wants to walk out of the Big House with a victory. Texas at Arkansas: This has always been a big game for Arkansas because the Razorbacks need to recruit well in Texas to be successful. at : This can be a dangerous game for suddenly offensively challenged if N.C. State running back T.A. McLendon is able to return from a knee injury. You have to like the Pack's chances in a shootout.

Goal line

  • Interesting that Florida coach Ron Zook went with true freshman Chris Leak on the most critical series of the game.
  • How long a season will it be at Baylor when blows out the Bears 52-14? Losing to a Sun Belt team may be enough to stir up talk about booting Baylor out of the Big 12. The Bears play a desperation game Saturday against SMU. A loss to the Mustangs severely threatens Baylor's recruiting in the critical Dallas-Fort Worth area.
  • The only coach named Tommy who should be feeling pretty good about himself right now is ' Tommy West. Beating Mississippi in front of a bunch of recruits from the region is a big plus. The Tigers have a chance to run the table on Mississippi schools with games at and in the next five weeks. 's Tommy Tuberville and 's Tommy Bowden are walking on eggshells these days.
  • The only coach feeling worse than Tommy Tuberville right now is offensive coordinator Hugh Nall. The Tigers were supposed to have this overpowering offensive line and four talented running backs but they haven't scored a touchdown this season.
  • Arizona coach John Mackovic faces another week of crisis management this week after came into the desert and put on a show in a 59-13 whipping. This team doesn't have the greatest reputation for unity and a humiliating loss like this will test everybody's patience with the way Mackovic is running the program.
Veteran college football writer Darryl Richards is a frequent correspondent for FOXSports.com.
Tagged: Florida State, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Virginia, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana, Ball State, Arizona State, Washington, Washington State, USC, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi State, Mississippi, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, Fresno State, Middle Tennessee State, Notre Dame, Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas State, Colorado, Southern Mississippi, UNLV, San Diego State

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