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Volume 70, Issue 41, Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Sports

Southern Cal responds to critics after Va. Tech

FSU fans hope to keep Rix's replacement; 
Wisconsin defeats Purdue in close game

College Football

Roy Ilkenhans

This weekend featured a match-up of three top 15 teams, five of which were previously unbeaten heading into Saturday. The top-ranked USC Trojans have had to answer questions from critics after close losses to Virginia Tech, Stanford and California; and they answered them with a resounding 45-7 victory over Arizona State. Matt Leinart looked like he did in last year's championship run, as he threw for four touchdowns and ran for another. Running back/wide receiver hybrid Reggie Bush continued to be an all-around threat combining for 128 total yards. What was unconventional about his performance was that 53 of his yards came from throwing a touchdown pass. The defense, led by senior defensive end Shaun Cody, held the Sun Devils to 227 total yards, which just happens to be less than the Trojans' passing total of 301, not to mention the additional 145 they racked up on the ground. In a game that was supposed to be a real test for the Trojans, it seemed like more of a laughing matter.

Wyatt Sexton performed surgery on the unbeaten Virginia defense, as the Seminoles karate-chopped the Cavaliers 36-3. Sexton was 20 of 26 passing for 275 yards and a score with no interceptions, something Rix was criticized for. Lorenzo Booker dashed for a career-high 123 yards on just 15 carries with two touchdowns, as he and Sexton spearheaded an offense that amassed 470 yards. In Rix's defense he did play well, completing one pass on one attempt in garbage time, managing not to throw an interception, but it's doubtful that we'll see him anytime soon. Virginia's offense had been averaging over 400 yards and 40 points a game, but in their visit to Tallahassee they were limited to the amount of Rix's passing yards in points.

This weekend's premier match-up was The Associated Press's No. 5 Purdue vs. No. 10 Wisconsin, in a Big Ten showdown.

Kyle Orton, an emerging Heisman candidate heading into the contest, had the game in his hands with a three-point lead and a chance to ice the game. Enter cornerback Scott Starks and safety Robert Brooks, who achieved what football fanatics call a high-low: Starks hit Orton low while Brooks hit him high causing a fumble. Starks scored the 40-yard touchdown giving the Badgers a game-winning 20-17 lead with 2:36 left. Orton, who was 26 of 45 with 235 yards, led the Boilermakers down the field but kicker Ben Jones missed the kick with 24 seconds left.

Purdue held a 17-7 lead with eight minutes left, but Badgers quarterback John Stocco calmly led a 73-yard drive and hit Booker Stanley for a touchdown to make it 17-14. From there it was the game-changing play already mentioned that left Wisconsin the only unbeaten team in the Big Ten and suddenly cast Wisconsin as the dark horse in the national championship race as the unbeaten are falling.
 

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