Thursday, Sept. 14, 2 p.m. ET

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Eric Prisbell and Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 14, 2006; 2:00 PM

Eric Prisbell and Marc Carig cover college sports for the Washington Post were online Thursday, Sept. 14, at 2 p.m. ET to take your questions about college football.

A transcript of the chat follows.

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Eric Prisbell: Hello and welcome to the chat. Interesting matchup tonight and an incredible weekend of games on tap. The weekend needs no buildup, so let's start. Mr. Carig should be joining us soon live from Morgantown. I think he is being chased by Mountaineer fans.

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Birmingham, Ala.: LSU or Auburn?

Eric Prisbell: I'm looking forward to seeing some strong defenses. I will be there and I'm actually staying over in Birmingham, Birmingham. Any recommendations for good places to eat? The home team has dominated the series in recent years. Plus, with Irons, I'll go with Auburn.

Marc Carig: Sticking with my earlier season thought... Auburn.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Which school has the best mascot in your opinion?

Eric Prisbell: For some odd reason, I've always loved the Stanford Tree.

I also like the Zip from Akron.

The dude with the coonskin cap at West Virginia is pretty cool. It fits the scene up there.

Marc Carig: Does the mascot of the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs count?

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Chevy Chase, Md.: How much of a intimidating factor is the crowd up there in the hills of W.V.?

Marc Carig: The crowd factor is always going to be huge in an environment like this. The Terps will be helped by the fact that most of them have been exposed to this environment before.

Eric Prisbell: I was in Morgantown two weeks ago and was impressed with the crowd. At night, it's even more of a factor. I can't see the Terps hanging in this one much beyond halftime. This game is a national stage for a WV team that needs to impress voters.

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Herndon, Va: I accept Mr. Prisbell's "geographic swatdown" and his expertise -- even though the phrase "most of Ohio and the Dakotas share similar characteristics" could only have come from someone born and raised on the East Coast. That aside, do "my" Huskers have a chance of even looking respectable against USC? I'm afraid it will resemble what would have happened, in reverse, if NU and USC had played in '95 or '96.

Eric Prisbell: I was born in Jersey but I worked for three years in Fresno, Calif. I've also driven cross-country four times and have been to every state except Maine and Alaska. I've gone to a minor league game in Fargo just to eat dipping dots in 2002, and it reminded me a lot of Ohio on a bad day. The Great Midwest includes both.

The Huskers should make it respectable, but Andre Jones is talking way too much. I see Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith having big games.

I know you'd love to turn back the clock to 1995, but I don't see it.

Marc Carig: I have made one cross-country drive. It all looked like the Midwest to me. ... Trojans are too much.

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For Marc: Have some buckwheat cakes for breakfast before you enjoy that turtle soup for lunch!

Marc Carig: What the heck is a buckwheat cake?

Eric Prisbell: That can't be as bad as it sounds.

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Bethesda, Md.: Why did Carig take over for Prisbell in covering the Terps?

Eric Prisbell: I haven't covered Terps football in two years. Dan Steinberg covered it last season before he headed for the blog world. I'm reportedly still covering Maryland basketball, but that's according to anonymous sources.

Marc Carig: Steinberg was traded to the blogging world for one Ruby Tuesday coupon and a scribe to be named later (that was me).

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Newfoundland, Canada: I have to say, that just like in the other pages of the Washington Post, there seems to an MSM bias here too. In this case against the Horned Frogs of TCU! I've posted a number of potential questions and never made the final cut. Obvious, obvious, obvious case of bias!

Anyway, a very big game in Fort Worth this weekend. Frogs are trying to establish a foothold at the next level. 3,000 standing room only tickets sold. Could have implications both ways for final bowls. Any thoughts?

Eric Prisbell: I'm a big follower of the TCU program. On Sept. 2, we designated a whole page in the Post to the question of whether it was possible for the Frogs to win the national title.

Even with the BCS tweaks, the answer is "No."

But this game should determine whether TCU is BCS worthy. I like TCU in a high-scoring game.

Boise State has a much easier path to an undefeated season, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out as well.

Marc Carig: Yeah, the mid-majors catch the short end again, even with the change in rules.

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WVU Alum: Two observations -

1. The "dude with the coonskin cap" at WVU is the Mountaineer. A few years ago the Mountaineer (who is selected from the WVU student body) was a woman. Progressive fans celebrated this ground-breaking achievement by placing a brassiere on the Mountaineer statue outside the student union.

2. It is the " Fighting Banana Slugs" of UC Santa Cruz.

Eric Prisbell: Thanks. I have two coonskin caps, but one is a replica, the other is real.

Marc Carig: GO FIGHTING BANANA SLUGS!

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WVU crowd: I'd say the crowd is more intimidating for a fan than a player. It really is dangerous to be a fan in Morgantown. Even if you keep to yourself there is no guarantee that you'll be safe.

I'm good friends with a former Terp player. ... He's a big guy, tall, strong, over 250 pounds -- even he is nervous about attending tonight's game as a fan.

Eric Prisbell: Well, if he is nervous, then everyone should be very, very afraid. You've scared me.

Marc Carig: Prisbell scared? I'm the one in Morgantown...

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Riding in Cars with Bogs: How was the drive up w/Steinberg and Wise?

Marc Carig: I was treated to the best duet rendition of "Country Roads" this side of the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Eric Prisbell: That must have been a LONG ride.

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Birmigham, Ala.: Re: Places to eat: Hot Hot Fish House (pricey but you have an expense account), Prairie Fire Grill (very good) and Bottega Cafe (not the restaurant side)

Eric Prisbell: I'll be at one of these places Friday night. Thanks.

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Chicago: Will all of those idiot SEC fans quit their whining about ESPN doing GameDay in L.A. this week? Why should ESPN promote a game on CBS? What does promoting an SEC game get them?

Eric Prisbell: I guess. I think LSU-Auburn is a better game, but it makes sense from a television standpoint. And TV does rule the world. Just look at the new made-for-TV clock rules that everyone hates.

Marc Carig: The SEC gets plenty of love as it is.

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Rudy, Md: Prisbell, this one's for you. I know you know the Terps as well as anyone and on top of that you don't consider yourself a fan of the team. So you are the perfect unbiased source for my Terps predictions. Who will cover tonight, Terps +17 or West Virginia -17?

Eric Prisbell: 31-13 WV wins.

Slaton goes for 180 yards.

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20th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., NW: I'm the MapQuest dude from a couple of weeks ago, still working on those WAC and PAC-10 distances.

Seriously though -- how bad will Maryland vs. West Virginia be tonight? The Mounties are averaging 538 yds./game and 47 points (Marshall isn't that bad and is an in-state rival, admittedly E. Wash. was there for the payday). Terps have faced a mediocre I-AA team (down year for the Tribe) and weak I-A team and not looked that impressive. WVU has all the incentive to blow them out; national TV with no competition means all those poll voters will be watching. I don't think it's going to be pretty or MD has the horses to prevent a blowout.

Thanks Guys, have a great weekend watching games, some great ones will be on.

I really wish I could get some coverage of that Towson game against Liberty.

Eric Prisbell: Thanks for the question, but who cares about stats? All I care about is mileage. Once you complete the national mileage charts for D-I and NAIA schools, please e-mail me them at prisbelle@washpost.com.

Not too much coverage of Towson should be expected. Did you see how far away they are from the office?

Marc Carig: Out of curiosity ... what does MapQuest say the distance between Morgantown and College Park is? And if you add up WV's offensive yards for the start of the year, does it come close to matching that mileage?

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Chicago: Eric -- for Birmingham (not to go all "Ask Tom" on you) I recommend Copper Grill if you have a large expense account, and Tavern on the Summit if you don't.

Meanwhile, I'm going south as well this weekend -- Georgia-UAB -- can you give a quick summary of what I should look for at the game (I don't know much about either team), and any Athens suggestions?

Eric Prisbell: Thank you. I'd watch Matt Stafford, the young Georgia QB who will be starting. And remember UAB hung in there with Oklahoma in Week One. Unfortunately, I have never been to Athens, but I've heard it is fantastic on many levels.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Did Wise watch Maryland's first two games this year? To say Maryland has any shot tonight is like saying the Redskins are a Super Bowl lock right now.

Maryland's defense is pathetic, and had more missed tackles over the past two weeks than offensive yards. The DL, despite being BIG, couldn't get to a Division I-AA QB playing behind a blocking sled. The linebackers are decent, but are often out of position, usually leaving the middle of the field wide open. Then there's the secondary. Josh Wilson, the best CB the Terps have, NEVER looks for the ball and is going to get called for pass interference when pathetic ACC officiating is not part of the equation. The rest of the secondary is slow and small with safeties that bite HARD on play action. With the emphasis of stopping the run, WVU will have no problem going over the top.

I LOVE the Terps, but I also know what I've seen over the past two weeks at BYRD STADIUM (that is still the official name of the stadium, right?), and against immensely inferior competition the Terps allowed opponents to move the ball at will. I don't buy the "we've been holding plays back" argument, because I don't think the offense will have too much of a problem as long as they don't give up on the run. It's the Terps defense that will cause their defeat tonight 42-24.

washingtonpost.com: Tables Turned, Couches Burned (Post, Sept. 14)

Marc Carig: Let me see if I can get Wise to answer that question... he and Steinberg are at the salad bar open-hand slapping each other for the last cruton...

As far as the Terps go, it's kind of weird situation. After watching the first two games, I can't decide whether they're just plain bad or if they were playing down to their competition. I don't think it's a case of "holding plays back" as it is having the (I hate this term) killer instinct of putting a team away, or having the aggressiveness to go for the big play. If they can do a better job on third down, then the Terps could make a game of it despite (as you said) a sketchy defense.

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Lexington Park, Md.: Who do you pick to be the champions of the only college football that really maters, the Ivy League?

Eric Prisbell: Rutgers.

Marc Carig: GO FIGHTING BANANA SLUGS!

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Washington D.C.: Boys, can you tell "Chicago" the SEC is college football. ESPN is going to show plenty of CBS and NBC highlights, why not add credibility to your network and take GameDay to a non-ABC game.

Eric Prisbell: I think the West Coast, even with USC, gets left out a lot, so I'm not against going all the way out there.

Marc Carig: Credibility in television... I'll take oxymoron for $400, Alex.

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Arlington, Va.: How long does it take for Big Ralph to start hanging his players out to dry in the media if the Terps get smoked tonight? It seems most coaches try to avoid saying their players stunk, but not Ralph. How much does Ralph's personality hurt him in recruiting?

Marc Carig: I don't know if his personality necessarily hurts him in recruiting. He can be pretty blunt about his players, but he's often blunt about himself as well, as he was with the Steve Slaton stuff.

Eric Prisbell: Interesting topic. Might be worth us taking a look at how many coaches criticize their players for a future Saturday page Game Day page. Thanks.

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Reston, Va.: How much longer will Lloyd Carr be around? I've seen some folks here and there saying that Michigan may possibly be interested in local coach Paul Johnson as a replacement ... think that may happen?

Eric Prisbell: I think he'll probably be back next season, but here is a statement just issued by Matt Rennie on this weekend's Michigan-ND game:

1) The Michigan defensive line is pretty good and will pressure Quinn, which will result in big plays for both Michigan and Notre Dame, though it's hard to say which in greater number.

2) Hart is a stud who needs to stay healthy all year

3) I've been a big defender of Henne and still think he took way too much of the blame for last season, but ... it seems like he can make a lot of the tough throws (though they haven't asked him to make many this year), but he struggles with the easy ones. It seems to me that offense would work a lot better if he could put all those screens/swing passes/short outs on the numbers instead of over the receiver's head or two yards behind him. And when he does put the ball where it's supposed to be, the receivers need to hang on to it (there's a reason no one is wearing No. 1 on this season's roster).

(To interview Mr. Rennie, please send him emails with quotes from his favorite movie, "Rudy.")

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WV native: Just a comment....Carig, for the postgame celebrations be sure to hit up Kegler's after tonight's game! It's the best sports bar in Mo'town right by the stadium.

Marc Carig: So noted. Thanks for the insider info. ... Two questions for you: Do they have Schlitz on tap? 2. What's a buckwheat cake?

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WVU Alum: Marc,

The crowd is rough, yes. But you should be fine, so long as you avoid theatrical displays like one I saw in the mid-'80s, when a guy came into the student section dressed as "Captain Maryland," complete with a red mask, tights and a Maryland state flag as a cape. Things got ugly in a hurry.

Eric Prisbell: I know two people who regularly wear capes, and both are bad news.

Marc Carig: Mental note: Remind Mike Wise to take that damned cape off.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey, don't go ripping on Rutgers. Only school in history to DECLINE membership in the Ivy League.

Eric Prisbell: Not ripping them. That's where I went to school. Many people believe they belong in the Ivy League based on the academics, so I dropped their name in there.

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Durham, N.C.: I'm glad Carig survived being chased by WV fans. I was worried he was being burned on a couch. Do you think a WV-Ohio State game would be visible from space because of all the burning couches? I am now rooting for a WV-OSU matchup in the BCS.

Eric Prisbell: Uh, that's a great idea I didn't think of. I'm rooting for just that, as well.

(Even if WV goes undefeated, I think they have a 15 percent chance to wind up in Glendale.)

Marc Carig: West Virginia vs. Ohio State... dude, I'd burn our Post rental car to see that game! (Just kidding about the car, boss)

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Culpeper, Va.: A game that a lot of people are sleeping on is the Oklahoma -- Oregon game. I love the Ducks in this game. What's your take?

Eric Prisbell: It's a good one. But there are seven matchups of ranked teams, so it gets a little lost under the radar. I like the Oregon Swoosh in a tight game. Oregon faked a field goal late last week to beat Fresno. This game is home and that's a tough place to play. Great atmosphere, too.

Marc Carig: I have a feeling the Ducks will be overlooked a lot ... again. 'Tis a shame.

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Reston, Va.: How many Miami fans does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Eric Prisbell: What's the right answer? A joke about the Peach Bowl? I need the punch line.

Marc Carig: to get to the other side!

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Notre Dame Pay for Play: In June, Jeff Samardzija signed a 5 year, $7.25 million (!) contract with the Cubs and was paid to play minor league baseball this summer. Tom Zbikowski made his pro boxing debut at MSG and was reported to have received $25,000 for the fight. Considering the ticky tack NCAA rules, this seems like a giant loophole. If I were a rich booster, I would happily pay a top player to play minor league baseball or do some other thing to shovel money his way. Any sense of why these players were allowed to make a not insignificant amount of money while retaining their eligibility?

Eric Prisbell: Good question. It could theoretically take place, but I don't see the incentive for, say, a minor league baseball team to sign a player who can't play, just so boosters can funnel money to him. That said, I'm sure there is a loophole somewhere. There is a loophole for almost every NCAA rule, it seems. I don't think there is anything wrong with Jeff or Mr. Mohawk's situation, but it's an interesting thought.

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To Rudy, Md.: Not only is Prisbell not a fan of the Terps, he's consistently anti-Terp. I wouldn't call him unbiased.

Terps will lose, but it will be closer than you think.

Eric Prisbell: Really? Sorry you feel that way. Any specific examples? I pride myself on being unbiased and will try harder in the future.

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Best WVU-MD memory: In the Gator Bowl there were seven obnoxious WVU fans in the upper deck MD section, flipping off the crowd and cussing them out behind them. After Maryland goes up 31-0 in the third quarter the fans flipped off the whole section. All of a sudden, very spontaneously, the entire MD section (hundreds of people) starts singing "Take me home country roads" to the guys. They left two minutes later. It is still one of my favorite moments in sports ever, even though it didn't happen on the field.

Eric Prisbell: I remember that game, but it's a bit foggy. I covered it along with Barry Svrluga. The WV fans were so out of control that whole week, we just headed toward the beach area. I don't see tonight's game playing out quite the same way.

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Best mascot: The Penn State Nittany Lion. You'll NEVER find another mascot that can command the intense school spirit and pride as the Nittany Lion can on a football Saturday.

Eric Prisbell: Is the Penn State mascot banned from talking to the media just like the players?

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Gainesville, Fla.: Huge SEC fan here. Who do you see making it out on top this weekend between UT/UF and Aub/LSU? As an alum, I also have to ask...Starkville is a house divided this season. Should Mississippi State fire Sylvester Croom?

SEC football, the finest in the land.

Eric Prisbell: I can't get a feel this week for Gators-Tennessee. Really, I can't get a feel on this Vols team.

I don't think you fire Croom even though he has no offense. He has had a lot to deal with since he has come to Starkville, not the least of which has been sanctions.

Marc Carig: Hey, has anyone checked to see if Fulmer's put his house up for sale?

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Washington, D.C.: SEC fanboys: If ESPN were going to feature a non-ESPN game on College GameDay this week, it would be Michigan-Notre Dame anyway.

Eric Prisbell: They went to Atlanta for ND-Georgia Tech. You can only show the Irish so much love. And next week's primetime game I think is MSU-ND.

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Knoxville, Tenn.: The annual epic battle between Tennessee and Florida is this weekend, as you well know.

What no one knows is whether the loss of two UT defensemen spells doom for the Vols or not. Do the Vols fold without two big leaders? Or do the play inspired ball driven by the mentality of winning it for inured CB Inky Johnson, who is still in the hospital?

Eric Prisbell: The Vols are hard to predict this season, so I'm saying they'll hang in there with the Gators. Maybe they play to the level of the competition a little.

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Raleigh, N.C.: Is South Carolina better off now that its quarterback, Blake Mitchell, has been suspended? His decision making on the field has been questionable, he isn't very mobile and he doesn't have a strong arm. I liked how his backup looked in the Mississippi State game but he's a true freshman. Is there any chance this season for my Gamecocks?

Eric Prisbell: His decision-making off the field is in question, as well. Hang in there, going to be a long year.

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Washington, D.C.: The makeup of the National Championship game will be decided in these three rivalry games: USC-Notre Dame, Texas-Oklahoma, Ohio State-Michigan. How far off am I?

Eric Prisbell: I agree with you, for the most part. Ohio State-Iowa is another big one. And Louisville-West Virginia will determine a lot in the national title picture. And don't forget the SEC title game.

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Arlington, Va.: After Penn State's humiliating and devastating loss to Notre Dame last weekend, do you think they'll be able to rise to the occasion, learn from their mistakes, and defeat other big-name Big Ten rivals like Michigan, Ohio State, etc.? (I don't think this weekend's match against Youngstown State is going to be very telling with respect to performance -- except, of course, if we lose.)

Eric Prisbell: I expected Morelli to be shaky in South Bend, but I expected a big game from Butler and especially D. Williams. I think OSU will have more trouble with Iowa than Penn State this month.

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Columbia, Md.: Year Two of the Spurrier Era at South Carolina is not looking good at the moment. Can the Gamecocks right themselves?

Eric Prisbell: Someone keep Blake Mitchell in the library and out of trouble. And start throwing the ball to Rice, often. I'm surprised the offense has not been more in gear. More surprised by week one against Miss. State, although Georgia's defense played great.

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WVU Alum: Great Gator Bowl story somebody posted. You've discovered the kryponite to WVU fans -- secretly we are all SICK TO DEATH of "Take Me Home Country Roads".

Marc Carig: God I love John Denver...

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Sarasota, Fla.: How much longer before the 'Canes throw Coker overboard? The real problem is that Miami's line play has eroded over the past few years, and successful football begins with the offensive and defensive lines. Dumping line guru Art Kehoe was a mistake, and fixed nothing.

Eric Prisbell: There just does not seem to be as many playmakers at Miami as in years past. Saturday's game is a big one. I'm not ready to dump Coker quite yet. He has not gone all-Amato yet and started ripping the admission standards of the MAC yet, so give him a little time.

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Vienna, Va.: Surely Al Groh has to bench Olsen this week, right? This team just seems to be going nowhere. What happened to the offensive line? Losing Ron Prince couldn't have made that much of a difference, could it?

Marc Carig: I'll be out there Saturday. I think you're leaning the right way though.

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Washington, D.C.: How many touchdowns does Chris Leak throw against Tennessee? A dozen?

Eric Prisbell: A dozen minus 10 equals two. Two.

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Best Fight Songs: Michigan and Notre Dame this weekend....are Henne and Hart ready to shoot it out with Weis and Brady Quinn?

And I'm sorry, but I'm just not convinced Weis is as good of a coach as everyone thinks until he wins with someone NOT named BRADY!

Eric Prisbell: If Weis wins in 2008 with some kid named Clausen, does that count?

I want to see if ND's defense can slow Hart. Not so sure. I think ND wins, but it's close. (See Matt Rennie's news release on the game that I included to an answer for another question.)

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Cabin John, Md.: Let's say the high school star in MoCo gets convicted for armed robbery and serves, say, a 90-day or six-month prison term, so that he's available for next Sept. How many top schools would be willing to take him? Most? Apparently Notre Dame already withdrew their interest. What about U. Md?

Marc Carig: Good question... something for me to check on!

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