Thursday, November 29, 2001

College football notebook


2nd-hand Buffaloes make good

Enquirer wire services

        A few months ago, Northwestern thought it might have something to say about the national title. And it did, despite losing its last six games.

        In a roundabout way, the Wildcats have played a role in turning the Rose Bowl race upside down.

        It's a twisted tale, and it requires a road atlas.

        The story starts with former Northwestern coach Gary Barnett, who left for Boulder, Colo., after the 1998 season. Despite the coaching change, tailback Chris Brown signed with the Wildcats shortly after Barnett departed.

        Brown redshirted his freshman year and, after the season, coach Randy Walker's staff asked him to move to wide receiver.

        “I went to (spring) camp and tried it,” Brown said Tuesday. “But then I was like, "No way.'”

        Brown contacted Barnett to see if he still was interested in him. Barnett was, so Brown headed west, making a stop at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College last year before transferring to Colorado.

        This season, his first with the Buffaloes, Brown has backed up starter Cortlen Johnson. But when ohnson sprained his ankle Friday against Nebraska, Brown came in and romped for six touchdowns as the Buffaloes won 62-36.

        Brown is not the only Buffalo with a Walker connection.

        Colorado quarterback Bobby Pesavento, signed with Walker's Miami University RedHawks in 1997. He was set to start in 1998, but he pulled a back muscle and missed the first three games.

        After Pesavento was cleared to play, he was relegated to second string. When Walker left for Evanston the following winter, Pesavento tried to win back the starting job under new coach Terry Hoeppner.

        “I stayed there for the spring to see how things would work out,” Pesavento said. “Then I just decided to leave.”

        There was talk of Pesavento following Walker to Evanston, but it never panned out.

        Instead, Pesavento followed Brown's route to Boulder, stopping at Fort Scott for a year on the way.

        Pesavento, a senior, lost a preseason battle with Craig Ochs for the starting quarterback job. But when Ochs hurt his foot Oct.27 at Oklahoma State, Pesavento rallied the Buffaloes to a 22-19 victory.

        Since then, Pesavento has guided the Buffs to three straight victories, including the upset of Nebraska that shook the Bowl Championship Series rankings.

        If Pesavento beats the Longhorns in a rematch Saturday in the Big 12 championship game, he'll have led his team to a BCS berth.

        Not bad for a kid who couldn't break into the lineup at Miami.

        “Sometimes things just work out,” Pesavento said.

        OHIO STATE:

        Quarterback Steve Bellisari pleaded no contest to a drunken driving charge and was sentenced to three days in jail, which he will serve after the Buckeyes play in the Outback Bowl Jan.1.

        Judge H. William Pollitt Jr. also sentenced Bellisari to three days in an alcohol diversion program. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss a second, less severe, drunken driving charge and two traffic misdemeanors.

        Bellisari, 21, was arrested Nov.16 by Ohio State campus police. They said he failed three roadside sobriety tests and then took a breath test in which he tested 0.22 percent on the blood-alcohol scale, more than twice Ohio's 0.10 legal limit.

        Coach Jim Tressel suspended him for one game, against Illinois, which Ohio State lost 34-22. Bellisari was reinstated in time for the game Saturday against archrival Michigan but did not play. Ohio State won 26-20.

        BOWL UPDATE:

        Georgia Tech will play in the inaugural Seattle Bowl, and Boston College is headed to the Music City Bowl.

        The Yellow Jackets (7-4), who opened the season with hopes of qualifying for the Bowl Championship Series, will play No.12 Stanford (8-2) at Safeco Field on Dec.27.

        Boston College (7-4) accepted an invitation to face a team from the Southeastern Conference in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec.28. The Eagles finished fourth in the Big East.

        Also Wednesday, Colorado State accepted an invitation to the first New Orleans Bowl. The Rams will play Sun Belt champion North Texas in the Dec.18 game at the Louisiana Superdome.

        The Seattle Bowl will be the first sports event other than baseball at Safeco Field, home of the Mariners. The game, formerly the Oahu Bowl, was moved from Honolulu because of poor attendance.

        Georgia Tech will be making its fifth straight bowl appearance, its longest streak since a six-game run from 1951-56. The Yellow Jackets have met Stanford only once before, winning 18-17 in the 1991 Aloha Bowl. Georgia Tech began the season ranked 10th.

        BOSTON COLLEGE:

        The Eagles accepted an invitation to play in the Music City Bowl Dec.28 in Nashville, Tenn., against a Southeastern Conference team. It's the first time that BC (7-4, 4-3 Big East) has gone to a bowl game in three consecutive years since Doug Flutie led it to bowls after the 1982-84 seasons.

        “It's another chance to get an eight-win season, and it's going to help us in the long run in terms of recruiting and visibility,” coach Tom O'Brien said.

        The BC program was in shambles when O'Brien arrived in 1997. A gambling scandal led to the suspension of 13 players and the departures of coach Dan Henning and athletics director Chet Gladchuk.

        O'Brien led the Eagles to a pair of 4-7 seasons before going 8-3 in 1999 and earning a trip to the Insight.com Bowl, where they lost to Colorado 62-28. Last year, BC went 7-5, including a 31-17 win over Arizona State in the Aloha Bowl.

        MAC HONORS:

        Marshall's Byron Leftwich and Max Yates have been selected Mid-American Conference offensive and defensive players of the year.

        Leftwich, a junior, from Washington, D.C., has completed 283 - of - 418 passes for 3,711 yards and needs 89 yards to break the MAC single-season passing record of 3,799 yards held by former Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington. Leftwich ranks second nationally with 34 touchdown passes and has thrown six interceptions.

        Leftwich is the third Marshall player to win the offensive honor since 1997. Randy Moss and Pennington also won it.

        Yates, a senior, from Newport News, Va., is the first Marshall player to win the defensive honor. He leads the league with 145 tackles. an average of 13.2 per game. , and has six sacks.

       



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