Worst yet to come for Miami


The dynasty is over, the mystique gone. These days, the Miami Hurricanes are little more than a tropical depression blowing wind across college football's radar screen.

An era that produced four national championships since 1983 wound down last weekend, when the Hurricanes lost to Virginia Tech, 13-7, and one day later were banished from the polls. This was a Virginia Tech team that was beaten by Cincinnati one week earlier, 16-0.

How low have the 'Canes sunk?

It was the first time they fell out of the rankings since the first poll of 1985. It was the first time they lost to an unranked team since 1984, a streak of 71 games. It was the first time since 1978 they started the season 1-2 (their only victory is over Florida A&M;).

Miami's decline actually began under the watch of former coach Dennis Erickson, now with the Seattle Seahawks. His strong points were neither in recruiting nor discipline, so it is left to first-year coach Butch Davis, late of the Dallas Cowboys, to pick up the pieces. And there are many pieces.

Against Virginia Tech, the 'Canes were flagged for five illegal-procedure penalties in the first quarter. They gave up 300 rushing yards and surrendered six sacks. Their starting quarterback, Ryan Collins, separated his right shoulder in the first half and will miss at least four weeks. Depleted by injury and defections to the NFL, the Hurricanes are playing with only five seniors -- two of them kickers.

"The upside of that is, we're getting an awful lot of [underclassmen] experience," Davis said during this week's Big East conference call. "The downside is, we're playing with guys who truly have no business playing this time of their career."

It figures to get worse before it gets better. After a week off, the 'Canes will give quarterback Ryan Clement his first start against No. 1 Florida State in Tallahassee on Oct. 7.

Beyond that, the specter of NCAA sanctions hangs over the university.

Expletive not deleted

Penn State coach Joe Paterno raised eyebrows -- and singed ears -- when he traded profanities with Rutgers coach Doug Graber as ESPN cameras rolled Saturday after the Nittany Lions' 59-34 victory at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The point of debate was a 42-yard touchdown pass thrown by Penn State reserve quarterback Mike McQueary with 58 seconds left. The charge, by an irate Graber, was running it up.

Paterno later apologized for the profanity, but not for the pass, which started as a drag pattern to the tight end, then became a touchdown when flanker Chris Campbell popped open.

"I apologized to the squad for losing my poise," Paterno said. "I told them I expect a lot from them, and, in turn, they should expect the same from me. The four-letter word I used . . . I really apologize to everybody who had to hear it while they were watching television, especially the children. I really have no excuses. I was dead wrong about it, and I feel very bad about it."

Two-minute drill

* Southern California wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson tied an NCAA record with his 11th consecutive 100-yard receiving game (nine catches, 112 yards) in a 31-10 rout of Arizona. Johnson can top the record set by Aaron Turner of Pacific in 1991 tomorrow against Arizona State.

* Iowa State tailback Troy Davis, the nation's leading rusher with 912 yards, can become the first sophomore in major-college history to gain 1,000 yards in five games, on Oct. 7 against Oklahoma. Davis ran for 302 yards in a 57-30 win over UNLV, and came out in the third quarter.

* Counting Texas A&M;'s loss to Colorado and Texas' loss at Notre Dame, Southwest Conference schools are 0-for-their-past-12 against ranked opponents outside their dying conference.

* Should Division I-AA Appalachian State get a crack at the I-A Alliance? Here's the Mountaineers' argument: They beat Wake Forest, which beat Navy, which beat SMU, which beat Arkansas, which beat Alabama.

* Kevin Jordan of Beltsville passed J. J. Stokes to become the most prolific pass-catcher in UCLA history with 159 receptions.

* No. 1 Florida State is averaging 59.5 points and 634.5 yards of offense per game. No. 2 Nebraska averages 60 and 507.

Game to watch

No. 15 Notre Dame (3-1) vs. No. 7 Ohio State (3-0)

Where: Ohio Stadium, 3:30 p.m.

TV: Chs. 2, 7

Last time: These two schools last played in 1936, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in the White House. Notre Dame, then known as the Ramblers, won, 7-2, in South Bend, Ind. In the only other meeting a year earlier, the Irish upset the Buckeyes, 18-13, in what was billed the Game of the Century.

Lou's in the box: Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, recovering from major spinal surgery, will be in the press box calling plays. It's his first trip to Ohio Stadium since he was an assistant under Woody Hayes on the Buckeyes' national champions in 1968.

By the numbers: Ohio State TB Eddie George is averaging 144.3 rushing yards a game -- and he hasn't played in the fourth quarter yet. The Buckeyes are averaging 525 yards and 40.7 points on offense. Irish QB Ron Powlus has thrown for 900 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions.

Bottom line: Asked if he agreed with Buckeyes coach John Cooper that this is a game the players will remember the rest of their lives, Holtz quipped, "Depends on the memory."

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