Transcript

College Football

Mark Schlabach and Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 19, 2005; 11:00 AM

Washington Post staff writers Mark Schlabach and Dan Steinberg were online Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the latest news in college football.

The Post's Coverage: Colleges

The transcript follows.

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Dan Steinberg: Hey all, thanks for checking us out today. I'm getting myself ready for tomorrow's Virginia-Tech Maryland game; the latest traffic forecast recommends that I leave sometime around 3 o'clock this afternoon. I think current plans have Schlabach in Tuscaloosa on Saturday to see whether the Vols can take us from seven to six unbeatens. At the same time, Texas Tech and Texas will eliminate another of the undefeateds. And then on Saturday night comes the game you're all surely most curious about: Buffalo at Toledo (go Bulls). So fire away.

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Suitland, Md.: Do voters kiss the ground Notre Dame walks on or what? Loses at home but remains at #9? Why did Penn State drop 4 spots? They played on the road and lost in an almost identical manner. And how in the heck did Virginia get back in the Top 25?

Dan Steinberg: I don't know, but don't try kissing the ground the University of Delaware Blue Hens walk on. Their game last week had to be moved because the home field was unplayable. Sigh, alma mater.

As for your other questions, pretty valid I think. Sure, it's hard to punish Notre Dame for losing such a heartbreaker to the No. 1 team in the country, but on the other hand they've got two losses, both at home, and they're ahead of an undefeated Texas Tech team. The one that's puzzling to me is LSU at No. 7; the Tigers haven't looked like anything special and have gotten a bit of luck along the way. Again, Washington Post writers don't vote in these polls.

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Virginia: Can I just say how thrilled I am with UVA? Not just for winning - I mean, that was fantastic - but they looked GOOD. Hagans, I think, is actually more accurate when he's on the run (guess when he has to break out, he can actually see down the field), and the team just got it together. There were a few bad plays, and a few stupid mistakes, and Virginia always struggles during the second half, but...man. It was great.

So, if they keep up the improvements and the players stay healthy, what kind of chances do you give them for the rest of the season?

Mark Schlabach: I was surprised as anyone. I must say when that line opened up at FSU minus-seven points, I thought the Cavs might win because, as the guys in Vegas say, that's a sucker bet. Hagans played incredibly well. The makeshift offensive line did a pretty good job of protecting him. The receivers made some plays. the linebackers and dl got after weatherford. Virginia's postseason hopes will still be decided this weekend at North Carolina. They can't go to Chapel Hill and lay an egg. Win that one and beat Temple, and you're bowl eligible. Beat Georgia Tech at home and you're no worse than the Champs Sports Bowl (if Casteen lets you go to Orlando this year). Beat somebody you're not expected to beat, say Miami or Virginia Tech, and you might end up in Atlanta for the Peach Bowl. This might actually be a pretty good team that is just now putting it together with Brooks, Ferguson, et. al back.

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Bethesda, Md.: Why doesn't WVU get anymore respect? They played Tech harder than anyone else and had a huge comeback against Louisville and are suppose to be in a rebuilding year. I think people need to get use to the fact that WVU will be in the top 10 or 20 for a long time. Am I the only one whos sees a rematch of VT vs WVU in a BCS bowl this year? On a side note if WVU wins out that has to help VT's chances of the getting to the title game.

Mark Schlabach: Certainly helps the Hokies' chances of getting to Rose Bowl because they beat WVU in Morgantown. As many jokes as I made about the Mountaineers earlier in the season -- it was because of their laughable early schedule more than anything -- Rich Rodriguez has done a great job with that program. Beating Louisville in its first season in the Big East certainly sends a statement. A lot of people expected the Cardinals to just run through the league and claim the BCS spot. Heck, even the New York Times had Louisville in the Rose Bowl. But it certainly looks like the Mountaineers are headed toward the BCS.

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Silver Spring, Md.: So since Virginia Tech fans alway come on here and whines about coverage in the paper, do you think they are happy with the number of stories in there the last few days while Maryland has received little coverage. And on that note, since Philadelphia and New York City are closer to D.C. then Blacksburg, I was wondering when the Post was going to start covering Delaware, Penn State, West Virginia, Pitt, Temple, Towson, St. Joe's, Rutgers and St. Johns as hometown schools, too.

Dan Steinberg: The Rutgers-UConn tilt will likely lead the sports section on Sunday.

No, actually, we've answered this before but are happy to answer it again. We cover Tech not because of their proximity to D.C. but because of the large and rabid fan base that lives in our readership area, which we judge in part by our readership surveys. For further evidence, check out the stands in Byrd on Thursday night. It's unfortunate that people in Maryland might have to read Tech stories that don't interest them, but it's the challenge of putting out a paper in this market, and we try to be as diverse as possible based on reader interest. Tomorrow's game preview story will be about the quarterbacks Ralph Friedgen and Charlie Taaffe have produced over the years.

Also, I think you forgot to demand more Delaware State coverage.

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Alexandria, Va.: VA Tech is a football factory. It has no reputation in academia for producing outstanding scholars. UVA does, and that's why its alumni consider themselves superior.

Mark Schlabach: Virginia has had its share of academic issues, too. Phillip Brown is gone, Ottawa Anderson was gone last year. The Cavs just took a freshman with very questionable academic credentials and he's starting on the offensive line. Don't know if that argument holds as much water anymore.. ....

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Silver Spring, Md.: What can the Terps do to upset VT on Thursday night? Would bringing in the Blair High JV Cheerleading squad help?

Dan Steinberg: Well, I guess the Blair JVs couldn't hurt. What's wrong with the varsity, anyhow?

The one thing the Terps MUST do is protect the ball. If they start turning it over early, they have absolutely no chance.

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Baltimore, Md.: Now, I know you all don't like Maryland, but for some reason I have a good feeling about the game tomorrow. Am I crazy?

Dan Steinberg: The refreshments should be top notch.

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George Mason University: Any word from the NCAA, ESPN and ABC on the games in Florida this weekend? Wilma looks like its heading there and West Virginia-South Florida, Tulane-Central Florida and Georgia Tech-Miami are all Saturday games.

Mark Schlabach: They're talking about postponing the Georgia Tech-Miami game to Nov. 19, or even moving it up to Friday night to beat the hurricane. I'm sure W. Va.-S. Fla. and Tulane-C. Fla. officials are talking about doing the same things. Myself, I'm more worried about that Georgia-Florida game next Saturday.

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Ontario, Canada: I Can't Figure Out How U.S.C. College Football Quarterback Matt Leinhart Can Play In These Ranks Of Universities Taking A Strange Course Like Dancing As His Only Course? I,m Wondering Why He Doesn,t Play NFL Football? Playing With My Buddies Again Just Don,t Cut It. Or Do You Think He Likes To Play Big Fish In Smaller Pond? I Love U.S. Football, But This Baffles Me. This Smacks Of Lower State Football Practices Investigated Already, Truly ...

Dan Steinberg: Canada, home of the Caps Lock key.

Frankly this doesn't really bother me. If I had graduated early from Delaware but wanted to take a class or two as a senior and also participate in, say, the marching band or the bass fishing club, would anybody mind? And if my scholarship was paying for me to hang around a college campus for another semester or two, would I be in that much of a hurry to depart for the land of answering college football questions on the Internet? Tough call.

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Potomac, Md.: If 2 of the following 3 teams go undefeated - USC, TX, VT and then AL and GA are undefeated going into the SEC Championship game. Is there any way that the winner of the SEC Championship game could overtake either of the teams ahead of them in the BCS polls? Or would the winner of the SEC Championship game just be the Auburn of this year?

Mark Schlabach: Georgia or Alabama, if both stay undefeated, would move ahead of Va. Tech in the BCS standings, in my opinion. Georgia would have beaten Boise State, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and Alabama. Bama would have beaten Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia. Three of the top six teams are in the BCS. I don't see how you can shut out an undefeated SEC team from the BCS title game two years in a row. But I never thought it would happen last year, either. Let's wait and see how this thing turns out. But if USC and Texas don't lose, it's going to be hard for anyone else to move into the No. 2 spot.

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Durham, N.C.: Hey Guys,

After barely losing to West Virginia and beating Virginia, to me that makes Maryland seem a little more formidable than a few weeks ago. Do they have a chance against VT?

Go Hokies!!!!

Mark Schlabach: I think Maryland could give the Hokies some trouble Thursday night, but I'd be surprised if Va. Tech didn't win. Ralph Friedgen has his team playing pretty good football right now. But Hollenbach and that young offensive line haven't faced a defense as athletic or fast as the Hokies'. Home field advantage is huge. Revenging a blowout loss last year is great motivation. But that doesn't make up for Va. Tech's superior talent and experience.

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Burtonsville, Md.: Ralph said that he's seen a lot more intensity in practice this week and at times this season Maryland has looked really efficient. I see Maryland as ready for tomorrow. Do you think this game will be a dogfight?

Dan Steinberg: Well, I can tell you one person who was intense at practice yesterday: Ralph Friedgen. Blew his top a few times. He is extremely, extremely anxious for this game.

He was asked yesterday whether he worries at all about his team being too excited or too pumped up for this game, and he said absolutely not, that "they better get as pumped up as they've ever been in their lives." I know I plan on slamming my head into my wall a few times before I get ready to write my game story tomorrow night.

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Washington, D.C.: I know VA Tech is a great team , but why is it that people act like Miami wont even give them a challenge when they play . Do you really think Tech is that much better than Miami?

PS Reggie Bush is the best thing i have ever seen in college football. Of cousre im only 28.

Mark Schlabach: No, Va. Tech is far from out of the woods. I think they'll be tested by Maryland, B.C., Miami and Virginia. That's four tough games. Hurricanes are getting better each week, especially QB Kyle Wright. But Hokies have done well against Miami the past few years, and get them in Blacksburg to boot. ... Bush is as good as any player I've seen since ... Herschel Walker???

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Silver Spring, Md.: Virginia Tech is a great team, don't get me wrong. But I look at them and see a very beatable team. NC State, which has not lived up to expectations this season, played them down to the wire and gave them a dog fight. I see MD and VA both superior to Amato's bunch, so I see a strong possibility of both of those games coming down to the wire. Thoughts?

Mark Schlabach: Think they'll both be close because they're both on the road and they're both rivalry games. Va. Tech is a better team than the one that beat N.C. State, though, because Marcus Vick is a better QB than he was in week one.

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Very Sad in Happy Valley: Not only was the last second of the game a heartbreaker for Nittany fans but we lost #2 D. Williams. What does your crystal ball say for the rest of the season?

Dan Steinberg: No crystal ball, but we got a few questions about local product Derrick Williams so I figured I'd throw this out there. I talked to Derrick's mom the other day, and she was extremely at peace and said there's no sense worrying about things they can't control. She said Derrick is also taking the injury very well. If you look at his statistics this year, they've hardly been overwhelming, although his touchdowns have obviously come at opportune moments. Still, from a distance, I would say the impact he and some of the other freshman have made is partly in the team's attitude, and I don't see why that would necessarily change with him out of the game. Derrick's mom also said he plans to get back on the football field as soon as humanly possible.

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Washington, D.C.: How do you see Navy doing for the rest of the year?

Mark Schlabach: Beat Rice on Saturday, and the Mids are probably going to a third consecutive bowl game because they won't lose to Army or Temple, and those games will give them six wins. Rutgers and Tulane are probably tossups; they should beat the Green Wave but could have a tough time beating the Scarlet Knights. Don't think they'll beat Notre Dame...

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Reston, Va.: History says that most of the undefeated teams left (USC, Texas, Va Tech, etc...) will lose a game. Which teams do you see losing, and to who?

Mark Schlabach: Don't see Southern Cal losing, unless they play particularly poorly against Cal or UCLA. Texas Tech has the only shot at beating Texas the rest of the way and the Red Raiders probably don't have enough defense (and the 'Horns are actually playing good defense this season). Va. Tech has four tough games left -- Md., B.C., Va., Miami), plus the ACC champ. game. Georgia has Florida, Auburn, Georgia Tech and SEC champ. game. Bama still has Tennessee, LSU and Auburn plus SEC champ. game. I'll predict USC and Texas stay unbeaten and Georgia, 'Bama and Va. Tech all lose one game. BCS committee takes another deep breath.

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Takoma Park, Md.: You guys seem like a smart bunch of writers who are utterly rudderless. Does anyone edit or direct your coverage?

Mark Schlabach: Who's being rude? Steinberg? I'll call his teacher.

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Albany, N.Y.: It makes no sense to drop Notre Dame in the polls after losing on the last play to the best team in the country. That performance was certainly more impressive than say Miami rolling over a far inferior opponent. If anything common sense would dictate that since if notre dame had won they would have gone way up and only a fluke fumble cost them the game that they should go up in the polls

Dan Steinberg: I understand the logic, but again, they're 4-2. They should have won that game except for that fluky play, but still, they're 4-2. At some point sports are about the bottom line. If the rankings were merely idle speculation on the best teams in the country, then sure, Notre Dame shouldn't have gone down and probably should have gone up, while Boston College should have plummeted. However, since the polls are used to determine little things like national championships, I think losses--however fluky--need to be reflected in the rankings. Just my opinion.

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Buffalo, N.Y.: Thanks for the love, but why are you a Bulls fan?

Dan Steinberg: Native of Fredonia. Not really a Bulls fan, but it would be nice if they wouldn't continually besmirch the honor of Western New York.

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Hype Hype Hype Hype Hype Hype Hype: Okay, USC-Notre Dame was an incredible game, but the fourth quarter of Penn State-Michigan was the wildest 15 minutes of football I've ever seen. Did its significance get lost because of what was flat-out the best weekend of college football games in recent memory?

Mark Schlabach: Definitely. Matt Rennie, our college editor, hasn't come off cloud nine yet in terms of the wolverines. He's just waiting for Ohio State to send him into another nine-month depression. I still can't get over how the Notre Dame-USC game ended -- I'm still ticked at Eric Prisbell for taking the trip to South Bend, where I was born and raised -- and the U. Va.-FSU, Cal-Oregon St., Wake-B.C., Ole Miss-Alabama, Wash. St.-UCLA games also were outstanding. Great day to sit on the sofa.

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Washington, D.C.: Is anyone concerned about the length of college football games? Saturday, the USC-ND and VA-FSU games both went over 4 hours. It's not just TV.

Dan Steinberg: The Maryland-Temple game, which was not televised, lasted 2 hours and 50 minutes. It was sublime. You're right, it's not just TV, but that plays a pretty large role. I don't have official numbers on instant replay, and we were assured at the ACC kickoff that the addition to game times would be negligible, but at a few of Maryland's games (Wake Forest especially) the delays for replay were very, very noticeable.

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Washington, D.C.: Big day in bama, as the tide takes on much hated TN after a less than impressive performance at ole miss, and auburn travels to take on LSU and seems to be under everyone's radar after a dumb loss to Ga Tech with a newbie QB. What are your predictions?

Mark Schlabach: I'll actually be in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Tennessee is in shambles. Fulmer flipping QBs again, it seems. I wouldn't be too concerned about Tide's close win at Ole Miss. Typical SEC sandwich game -- after big Florida win and before rival game vs. Tenn. I think Tide rolls over Vols, who might lose four or five games. Tommy Tuberville has really done a great job with this Auburn team. They obviously have played an easy schedule (didn't go on road until last week) and they might be spoilers for Georgia or Alabama at the end of the year. Still don't think LSU totally has it together under Les Miles. Like the Tigers in a close upset.

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Hokie Alum in D.C.: I'm going to act like a player and say I don't care where the BCS standings have VT currently. What's your take on tomorrow night's game? Also, where are the best spots to tailgate? I hear the Comcast lot is the best tailgate spot?

Dan Steinberg: Hokie Alum, just take it one game at a time and don't overlook any opponents and the BCS standings will take of themselves. It is what it is, to use one of the most rapidly spreading sports cliches.

The Comcast lot is indeed the center of the festivities, I believe, although you'll probably be a bit out of place there. The heavy hitters park in Lot 1, right outside Byrd.

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Washington, D.C.: How two-faced are Virginia fans. They wanted to ride Groh out on a rail last week and grovel at his feet this week. I guess beating FSU erases all the pain from being inferior to Maryland and Boston College.

Mark Schlabach: Groh answered a lot of critics, including myself, by getting a signature win he didn't have. Now he has to keep this team focused. They might be one of the better teams in the ACC the second half of the season after getting some star players back from injury. They've got a brutal schedule facing them, though. 7 or 8 wins would be a pretty good year.

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Washington, D.C.: I only tuned in to Saturday's games to watch 'Bama and Ole Miss (let me tell you, as a Bama fan, that was an ordeal). But afterwards, I was switching around and saw all these incredible games. Truly, it was one of the best TV days in college football I can recall. Comment rather than a question is that with the possible exception of USC, there is such parity in college ball these days that figuring out who is number one seems exceedingly difficult if not impossible. I have never seen such talented, well-coached teams, ever. As a Tide fan, I can only hope that we meet USC in some new year bowl and beat them like we beat Miami back in 93 for the title.

Dan Steinberg: Comment, not a question, so it doesn't demand an answer. I would only add that when you toss in a couple of League Championship baseball games on top of the college football madness, it wasn't a bad day to be a sports fan.

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Raleigh, N.C.: Saturday's USC/ND game was one of the greatest I've seen in a while. In the long run, does a close loss to the number one team help the Irish? Specifically, can they make a BCS bowl still?

Secondly, is there any chance my Terps can beat Tech tomorrow?

Mark Schlabach: Apparently not if you look at the BCS standings. How Notre Dame can be 16th in the BCS standings is mind boggling. They lost two close games to a pretty good Mich. State team and the best team in college football the past three years. They've got to finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings and have nine wins to claim a BCS berth. That means they've got to go 5-0 down the stretch and all of their remaining games -- BYU, Tennessee, Navy, Syracuse, at Stanford -- are all very much winnable.

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Washington, D.C.: Thanks for having the chat, I always try to check it out every week.

I've been a subscriber to the Post for more than 14 years, and for some time I've had the feeling that there is an institutional bias against the Nebraska Cornhuskers - always trumpting losses (the '96 loss to ASU was over the masthead at the front of the paper), and either ignoring (no box scores, etc) or downplaying wins.

Tony Kornheiser apologized a few years ago to Nebraska fans for his behavior, will you guys do the same?

Dan Steinberg: Thanks for reading. I can assure you that there is no institutional bias against Nebraska. Many of the people who work in the department now were nowhere near the Post in 1996.

For box scores, our priorities go like this: local teams, then top 25 teams, then ACC teams (because that league is more closely followed here than any other). After that, some of it is up to individual discretion, but there's usually not much room, if any, left by that point. The Huskers were the top "Also Receiving Votes" team in the AP poll this week, so you might be in for a box score bonanza in the near future.

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Washington, D.C.: RE: LSU ranked #7 -- I know that it might seem strange to see the Bayou Bengals ranked so high, especially given the number of turonovers/penalties. Nevertheless, the defense is playing lights out -- the Tigers I believe rank 14th nationally in defense, and are 3rd in rushing defense. The fact that they are 14th nationally is phenominal given how poorly we looked on pass defense in the first 2 games (Arizona St. and Tennessee). Winning against Florida despite 5 turnovers and 11 penalties was amazing.

I think the Tigers still deserve some slack due to the 2 hurricans that hit Louisiana. Games have been postponed, rescheduled, moved, etc., and it's only now the last couple of weeks that the team is in a "normal" routine. I think they've shown a lot of character given these circumstances.

GEAUX TIGERS!

Mark Schlabach: Les Miles has done a great job of keeping this team focused despite the circumstances. JaMarcus Russell really needs to become a better passer to take advantage of all those great receivers. Penalties and turnovers are a concern, especially since Miles kept Jimbo Fisher and most of offense under Saban. Still can't get over that meltdown against Tennessee.

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Washington, D.C.: As a Hampden-Sydney College alum, I am angry that there has been more coverage for Maryland, Va Tech, UVa, and anybody else. We have a very above average football team in Division III! We probably make up at least .00001 percent of the DC area and we are not getting any coverage!

This is very upsetting.

Go Tigers beat Catholic.

Dan Steinberg: Now that's pretty funny. Thanks Washington, D.C.

Actually, we've got our eye on this week's Hampden-Sydney-Catholic game, since it features two Ricca brothers going against each other at quarterback.

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Big Ten: While I am delighted that my Wildcats are 1/2 game behind Penn State (and would be atop the league if they could have held their lead against them), what does this say about the strength of the Big 10 this year?

Mark Schlabach: Still a pretty good league, even though Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin haven't lived up to lofty expectations. Penn State is a major surprise; Purdue a big, big disappointment. Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota are all solid. I think the league is deeper than it was in the past. Northwestern and and even Indiana, to a small degree, are capable of beating anybody. I'd rank it the third-best league in the country, behind SEC and ACC. Much better than Big 12 and slightly better than Pac-10.

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Silver Spring, Md.: So what are the odds MD can move the ball on VT this Thursday? I think if the offense plays well and they keep the turnover margin to -1 or better MD could win this game...

Dan Steinberg: I'll respectfully disagree with the -1 comment. I think the only way Maryland wins this game is if they WIN the turnover battle. Virginia Tech has scored five touchdowns on special teams or defense this year, and is an astounding +12 in turnover margin (second in the country). Here's Fridge on the issue:

"If you turn the ball over, it's just death against these guys."

Death=not fun.

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College Park, Md.: Before you direct any more Hokies on where to tailgate, only those with permits are allowed on campus tomorrow - NO pay lots. All Hokies are being directed to the Metro parking garage where NO hot tailgating is allowed.

Dan Steinberg: College Park is correct, and I apologize if I was directing anyone incorrectly. There is a long link on parking advice on the UMTerps.com Web site. An excerpt:

Parking lots will be open for entrance at 4:00 p.m. AFTER LOTS OPEN, NO ONE WILL BE ALLOWED ON CAMPUS WITHOUT A CAMPUS OR FOOTBALL PERMIT. THERE WILL BE NO GAME-DAY CASH PARKING ANYWHERE ON CAMPUS.

And I'm sure this won't make anybody happy, but:

Fans without permits hanging from their rear-view mirror will be directed toward the College Park Metro station for parking, where they can board a free ShuttleUM Quick Bus toward the stadium.

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College Park, Md.: IF the Terps lose to the Hokies, what happens to their bowl chances?

Dan Steinberg: Not too much, really. I don't think many bowl predictions for Maryland included this game in the win column. If you really want to dream big, note that if Maryland loses tomorrow night but wins out, the Terps would win the ACC's Atlantic Division and play in the title game in Jacksonville. Florida State and BC already have one ACC loss, and both have Maryland on their schedule still. If the Terps lose to Virginia Tech and Florida State, they would need two wins in their last three games to be bowl eligible; the last three games are at North Carolina, vs. Boston College and at N.C. State. A little tricky, but certainly doable.

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Re: Undefeated teams: I agree with your projections for the undefeated teams (USC & Texas stay undefeated, others lose). However, can you imagine if we switched just one game and had Tx Tech beating Texas this w/e? Would the BCS really pair Tx Tech against USC as the only unbeatens? Also, what are your thoughts on the Harris poll so far?

Mark Schlabach: No way. Any team that opens its season against Fla. Intl, Sam Houston St. and Indiana State won't play in the BCS title game. A one-loss Georgia, Alabama, Va. Tech, Texas or Penn State would play ahead of undefeated Texas Tech because of schedule strength and computer rankings.

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S. Rockville, Md.: Call me a one-faced Virginia fan. Groh needs to show he can coach a team that can get a good win away from Charlottesville. Also, if 7 or 8 wins would be a good year (and I agree it would be, although it would be right on Groh's average), then we've got the most overpaid coach in college football.

Mark Schlabach: Agreed. Still needs to win a solid game on the road. This team has had quite a bit of adversity; didn't have that excuse last year, though.

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Richmond, Va.: Can't believe you said you "thought the Cavs might win" against Florida State! Here's what you said last week: Mark Schlabach: Too young at key positions, Brooks hasn't played, Ferguson has been hurt, Lundy is limping. Won't beat FSU. North Carolina game might decide whether Hoos go back to Boise or don't go postseason bowling at all." Now, hardly anyone thought UVA would beat FSU (me included), but don't try to pretend you really had an inkling it would happen!

Mark Schlabach: Didn't be the mortgage on the Seminoles, like many people obviously did. Told Matt Rennie, our college editor, on Friday that I thought Va. might win. Didn't know how. But just too many signs of an upset.

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Louisville, Ky.: I'm thinking of applying to the University of Delaware. Do you think it's a good school?

Dan Steinberg: Great school, bad football field, at least this month.

Any other admissions questions? We can also help you with your essays.

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Downtown Washington, D.C.: What's your opinion of Georgia right now? I'm hearing murmurings of a national title game in their future. Can they hold it together for Florida, and more importantly, Auburn? The home field advantage will help a lot, methinks...

Mark Schlabach: I think Georgia has a good team, but not yet a great team. Too young at WR. Too banged up at LB and on DL. They'll beat Florida, might beat Auburn. They could very well finish undefeated. But I'm still not sure they're a truly great team. Stack them up against either Texas or USC and I think they get beat soundly. Two years from now, that probably doesn't happen.

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Santa Barbara, Calif.: I'm a little late with this, but a few weeks ago Mark, I believe it was, said that USC wouldn't go undefeated if it were in the SEC. Oh, please. This is the same chuckle-headed thinking that predicts the Trojans can't play "smash-mouth" football with Auburn, Michigan, Oklahoma, Va. Tech, you name it. And then they go out and win -- big.

I know you guys are sick of hearing Left Coasters gripe about an "East-coast bias," but jeez, it's pretty obvious. Or is it just provincialism? When are you guys gonna accept that the Pac-10 plays some pretty tough football?

Mark Schlabach: Pac-10 doesn't play tough football, but the Trojans definitely do. They took some pretty big shots at Notre Dame and still won (we won't talk about Bush pushing Leinart into end zone or Leinart's fumble going out of bounds at 2 or 3 instead of the 1). Trojans are by far best team in college football. They've got enough offense to challenge any SEC team's defense; they still don't have enough defense to challenge most of the SEC's best offenses.

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Frosted Orange in Penn Quarter: As a UGA grad, I have an unhealthy obsession with the Florida Gators. It appears that the offense of Urban Crier (aka "The Ol' Bawl Coach") has been an abject failure. Did you see Chris ("Overrated") Leak vs. LSU? Here are my questions: (1) to what extent, if any, will Meyer tinker with the offense in the two weeks he has to prep for UGA, and (2) more long-term, will the offense be overhauled into something more conventional next season?

Mark Schlabach: I'd heard Urban Crier. Hadn't heard 'The Ol' Bawl Coach.' That's pretty funny. Look, Leak doesn't fit this offense. Hasn't since day 1. Question is: Does Leak stick around so Meyer has to change his offense; or, if Leak jumps to the pros, does Meyer find a QB to run the offense and stays with it. Unless Leak and his father get assurances from Meyer that the offense is indeed going to change, I'd be surprised if he stayed around. This definitely isn't a good marriage.

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Woodbridge, Va.: Polls are stupid part I. Number 22 plays number 23, fairly controls the game, gets over 500 yards and 35 minutes of possession, but blows the game on a fluke play at the very end. Now number 22 drops out of the rankings, and number 23 moves up a few spots. How does that lucky win, that fluke play, really make the winner move up and the loser drop out? Do pollsters honestly look at nothing more than the win/loss record, and/or throw darts?

Polls are stupid part II. A team that has averaged a pedestrian 390 yards and 26 points a game against unranked opponents (except one) ekes out a sixth win, barely, putting up 355 yards and one touchdown against an unranked opponent with a losing record. And that team is supposedly better than a team that beats three ranked opponents, and almost beats the number one defending champ, while putting up 400 yards and 31 points?

Here's a bowl scenario for you: An undefeated SEC champ plays an undefeated ACC champ to determine the fourth-best team in the country. Texas beats USC for the Mythical National Championship.

Any poll-based system will never result in a legitimate champion, no matter how they tweak it.

Dan Steinberg: Hard not to agree with parts of this. Would Wisconsin have won that game if not for a stone-handed Minnesota punter? Probably not. Does a punter who dropped a snap determine which team is superior? Probably not. But if you were voting, would you reward the team that lost, just because they should have won? If we actually had a national championship tournament, and Wisconsin beat Minnesota in that manner, would you argue the results should be invalidated because of "that lucky win, that fluke play?"

Like I said, I don't vote, but I don't think putting UCLA ahead of Notre Dame means UCLA "is supposedly better," just like I don't think the last three World Series winners (all wild cards, if I'm not mistaken) were necessarily better than the division winners they finished behind. But if the polls are being used in place of a tournament, they might as well reward the winners.

On the other hand, the AP poll is now independent of such nonsense, so I guess those voters should be free to make USC and Notre Dame 1,2 if they really wanted. (Note to Texas fans, Va. Tech fans, etc....not advocating this position. Calm down.)

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Lynchburg, Va.: Good Morning,

What are the most likely scenarios that would have Virginia Tech playing in Pasadena? Even though I am a strongly biased Hokie, as I look at the remaining schedules for USC and Texas, I see them both running the table.

Mark Schlabach: USC or Texas has to lose; Georgia and Alabama might have to lose for Hokies to get to Pasadena.

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Chesapeake Beach, MD: ND-USC.

Game of the week?

Game of the year?

Game of the decade?

Game of the century?

Mark Schlabach: Game I didn't get to see? Still waiting for ESPN Classic.

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Re: Notre Dame: Who is better than ND at No. 9 right now. People are whinning b/c it is Notre Dame. Look at the facts and see thier placement is jusitified.

Notre Dame dropped to 12 in the coaches poll.

As for the AP these are the following 6 teams after them Texas Tech (they have played 2 DI-AA schools - waiting to get killed by UT), Florida State (just lost ugly to UVA), Penn State (lost to a team ND beat in the same stadium), Boston College (late comeback against Wake) Ohio State (same record, should of lost to MSU), Oregon (killed at home by same USC team)

'nuff said

Mark Schlabach: Irish better than all of the aforementioned teams, possibly better than Georgia, Alabama.

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Chesapeake Beach, Md.: I'm not sure if you guys have heard yet, but the University of Maryland will not be having any cash parking for tomorrow night's game - only ticket holders with permits or students with permits will be allowed to park. I think anywhere from 35,000 to 45,000 people will be left with very limited parking options, I for one have turned down an offer to go because of this. The town of College Park simply isn't big enough to accomodate this kind of parking need outside of the campus. This is just another example of how this school will never have a big-time football program as long as the decision makers keep pulling this crap... Does anybody agree?

Mark Schlabach: Park and Steinberg's house and walk from there.

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Washington, D.C.: Any thoughts about the upcoming PSU games? How will they do against Illinois, Purude, and Wisconsin?

Mark Schlabach: Nittany Lions will beat Illinois (Ron Zook anyone?) and disappointing Purdue. Should have enough offense to beat Wisconsin, which can't play defense.

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Arlington, Va.: I hope Virginia Tech gets left out of the BCS. How has everyone conveniently forgotten that Marcus Vick has served time for rape? Or is that overlooked because it's just one of those "chick issues" and somehow doesn't count for much?

Mark Schlabach: Correction. Didn't serve time for "rape." Put on probation for giving alcohol to a minor. Never convicted of having sexual affairs with the girl. Big, big difference. Not condoning what he did, however.

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Arlington, Va.: I know sports are ultimately about the bottom line, but still, even though Texas Tech is undefeated and ND is 4-2, do you really think Texas Tech is a better team? I mean, shouldn't playing as well or better than the #1 in the country, even if you lose on the last play, count more than putting up 65 points on Kansas or whatever crappy team Texas Tech beat last week? I have no problems with ND being where they are.

Dan Steinberg: Wow, this is getting all philosophical. Cool. We're going to have to continue this next week. I'll leave you with this: Maryland beat Navy when a running back barely avoided being tackled on a fourth down play, leading to a late touchdown. His knee was, what, a few inches from the ground? He should not have convered that first down. If Navy wins that game and everything else stays the same, the Middies are now 4-1, and the Terps are now 3-3. So if you had a vote in a poll and needed to rank both teams, would you really overlook their actual records and put Navy first?

This is a little different from your argument, but we're getting a lot of posters who are saying that records should be trumped by performance on the field, so I think it's relevant.

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Mark Schlabach: See everyone next week.

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