Michigan, Ohio State in another key showdown
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- It is Rivalry Weekend in college football, and nowhere are the stakes higher than in the annual showdown between Ohio State and Michigan.
Second-ranked Ohio State likely can lock up a berth in the Fiesta Bowl and will play for its first national title since 1968 if it can get by the ninth-ranked Wolverines.
The noon Eastern time contest will kick off a big Saturday filled with traditional matchups, including UCLA-USC, Alabama-Auburn, and Stanford-California.
Ohio State (12-0) is undefeated entering its final regular season game with visions of a national championship, just as it was in 1993, '95, and 1996.
Each time, Ohio State lost, setbacks that went a long way toward costing former coach John Cooper his job. Now the task falls to Jim Tressel, who arrived in Columbus knowing that one of his goals was to beat Michigan.
Tressel delivered in his first try when the Buckeyes won at Ann Arbor, 26-20, last season. The job will be even tougher this time around.
"When you coach at Ohio State, when you coach at Michigan, when you coach at USC or UCLA, you know (the rivalry game) is pending and you're excited about it," Tressel said. "Why do people decided to go to Ohio State or Michigan? It's to play in this game."
Ohio State has stayed in the national title chase with close wins over Purdue and Illinois the last two weeks. Star tailback Maurice Clarett continues to be bothered by a shoulder injury that kept him on the sidelines last week. The Youngstown, Ohio freshman hope to play on Saturday.
A loss not only will knock Ohio State out of the Fiesta Bowl, but the Rose Bowl and possibly the entire Bowl Championship Series as well. No. 4 Iowa (11-1) finished its season undefeated in Big Ten play and would earn at least a Rose Bowl berth should the Buckeyes fall.
Michigan (9-2) has won three straight games, and Wolverines Coach Lloyd Carr is 11-2 against top-10 teams.
Top-ranked Miami and Ohio State, who occupy the top two spots in the latest BCS standings, are the only teams that control their postseason destiny.
The Big East kicked off the long weekend Wednesday night when West Virginia stunned No. 12 Virginia Tech (8-3), 21-18. The Hokies, once a national title contender, have lost three in a row for the first time since 1992.
Another team still entertaining national title hopes is No. 3 Washington State (9-1), which hosts arch-rival Washington in the annual battle for the Apple Cup.
The Cougars, also third in the BCS standings, can clinch the Pac-10 title and at least a Rose Bowl berth with a win over the Huskies.
Washington State will be well rested after a bye week, but will be facing an opponent that seems to have found its way with back-to-back wins over Oregon State and Oregon.
"I thought they really looked good," said Washington State Coach Mike Price. "It gives them a lot of momentum going into this game."
Price has a record of only 3-10 in the rivalry. The last win for the Cougars in the series was a 41-35 decision in 1997 that sent them to the Rose Bowl.
Another big rivalry game takes place at Pasadena, where No. 24 UCLA (7-3) hosts No. 7 Southern California (8-2).
USC seeks its fourth straight win over the Bruins, and tries to stay alive in the Pac-10 race. The Trojans must win this week and hope Washington State loses its last two games to advance to the Rose Bowl.
UCLA also has an outside chance of playing on its home field on New Year's Day. The Bruins will play in the Rose Bowl if they win their last two games and Washington State loses twice. The Bruins and Cougars meet on Dec. 7.
The Trojans have won five straight games behind the right arm of Carson Palmer, who has emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
In his last four games, Palmer has thrown for 1,327 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has a touchdown pass in every game this season, and at least two on seven occasions.
In the Big 12, fifth-ranked Oklahoma (9-1) hosts No. 23 Texas Tech (8-4) with the winner clinching the South Division title and a date against Colorado in the league title game on Dec. 7.
The Red Raiders moved into the national polls with an impressive 42-38 win over Texas last week.
Another title is at stake in the ACC, where 14th-ranked Florida State (8-3) can clinch the outright league crown and a BCS berth with a win over struggling North Carolina State.
Last season, the Wolfpack became the first ACC team to win at Florida State, a defeat that helped end the Seminoles' nine-year reign as league champions.
No. 18 Maryland (9-2), last year's champion, can clinch a tie for the title if it beats Virginia and Florida State loses.
The 2002 version of the Iron Bowl takes place in Tuscaloosa when Alabama meets Auburn. The Crimson Tide have never beaten the Tigers in Tuscaloosa, and have been shut out in all three games.
Alabama (9-2), routed LSU, 31-0, last week, but is ineligible for the SEC West Division title because of NCAA probation.
No. 20 LSU (7-3) still controls its own fate, and will win the division crown if it wins its last two games, including Saturday against Mississippi.
On Monday, California (6-5) lost its chance to play in a bowl game when the NCAA refused to lift its one-year postseason ban for rules violations. The Golden Bears will conclude their season Saturday against Stanford, almost 20 years to the day after they won "The Big Game" on a miraculous five-lateral kickoff return.
In other games, No. 8 Notre Dame (9-1) hosts Rutgers, No. 10 Kansas State (9-2) visits Missouri, No. 15 Colorado State (9-2) hosts New Mexico, No. 16 Penn State (8-3) entertains Michigan State, No. 21 Boise State (10-1) is at Nevada, No. 22 TCU (8-1) is at East Carolina, and No. 25 Hawaii (8-2), playing its first game as a ranked team since 1992, hosts Cincinnati.
No. 6 Georgia (10-1), No. 11 Texas (9-2), and No. 17 Colorado (8-3) are idle.
Thursday night, a late rally by Pittsburgh came up short, and Miami escaped with a 28-21 victory as the Hurricanes ran their winning streak to 32 games, the sixth-longest in college football history.
Miami loses two for year in Pitt game
MIAMI, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Top-ranked Miami, which has to hold on Thursday night to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 32 games, lost two key players for the balance of the season.
Kevin Beard, the team's second-leading receiver, and defensive end Cornelius Green, suffered major knee injuries. Both sustained torn knee ligaments in the 28-21 victory over the 19th-ranked Panthers.
Beard tore his right ACL when he was tackled by Pitt cornerback Shawntae Spencer after making a catch in the second quarter.
Green also was diagnosed with a torn right ACL, suffering his injury trying to tackle quarterback Rod Rutherford on a 15-yard run in the second quarter.
Beard had 23 receptions for 262 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games. Green played in nine games and had 31 tackles, four sacks, 10 hurries, and two pass deflections.
Miami (10-0) survived Pittsburgh's spirited upset bid, holding off the Panthers in the final minute.
Pitt, a three-touchdown underdog, came close to throwing the Bowl Championship Series into chaos, but the Hurricanes escaped when Rutherford's pass on 4th-and-5 from the Miami 20 barely eluded a diving Yogi Roth in the end zone.
Woods farther back in Japan
MIYAZAKI, Japan, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- In a tournament loaded with some of the world's top players, a relative unknown named Kaname Yokoo, a 30-year-old from Tokyo, who has just finished his second year on the American PGA Tour, is the leader at The Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Miyazaki, Japan.
Mooko fired a 5-under-par 66 Thursday, and followed with a 65 on Friday to take a four-stroke lead after the second round.
The Dunlop Phoenix field contains many marquee names, including Tiger Woods, but the golfer has stolen their thunder.
Yokoo, whose best finish in the United States was his joint second at the Phoenix Open this year, reeled off three consecutive birdies, starting from the 11th hole.
Garcia had the strongest finish of anyone in the tournament with four birdies in his last six holes.
Woods, the No. 1 player in the world who is back in Japan for the first time since last November's World Cup of Golf, bounced back from an error-ridden round of 71 on Thursday to shoot a 3-under 68, but is eight strokes off the pace. He started the day seven strokes behind first-round leader Darren Clarke.
Woods eagled the fourth, but was unable to build any momentum and only added a birdie at 16.
Clarke was unable to reproduce his opening 64, and followed Friday with a 1-over 72. He is one of five players five shots behind Yokoo.
Defending champion David Duval is seven shots off the pace.
England's Lee Westwood is level with Woods after shooting a 68 on Friday.
Seahawks claim Terry
SEATTLE, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- One day after he was cut by the Carolina Panthers, the Seattle Seahawks late Thursday claimed troubled offensive tackle Chris Terry off waivers.
The 6-5, 295-pounder turned himself in Tuesday on a charge of domestic assault after hitting his wife in a fight and failing to show up in court to answer the charge.
The same day he failed to go to court, he was let loose by the Panthers, for whom he was the starting right tackle on offense.
He was chosen by Carolina in the second round of the 1999 draft out of Georgia. In his three seasons with the Panthers, he started every game but one.
Seattle will have to pay the balance of his contract for 2002, which will cost the team about $200,000, according to the Seattle Times.
Also, veteran wide receiver Darrell Jackson likely will return after being unavailable the last three games. He suffered a concussion and seizure at Dallas four weeks ago in the wake of a vicious hit by Cowboys defensive back Darren Woodson. The seizure occurred in the locker room after the game.
"He has passed all the (medical) tests," said Coach Mike Holmgren. "I think he passed most of those the second week. The extra two weeks was because they had never seen anything quite like this before. It could have been three or five, but they settled on four to give him some extra time. But as far as the tests go, I think he passed all of them after the second week. We're just keeping our fingers crossed that he feels good on Sunday, and hopefully he plays."
The return of Jackson led to the release of wide receiver Kevin Kasper, who had been claimed off waivers from Denver on Oct. 30. He was used primarily to return kickoffs. Ironically, he returned all five against the Broncos last week for a 20.8-yard average.
Cardinals lose Frederickson
PHOENIX, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The struggling Arizona Cardinals will be without veteran linebacker Rob Frederickson for at least the next two games.
He suffered a stinger in the game on Nov. 10 against Seattle, but played in last week's loss at Philadelphia.
The Arizona Republic reported Friday that he has not regained full strength in his arm and underwent an MRI after Thursday's practice.
Before the MRI, the 6-4, 239-pounder had been listed as questionable for the Oakland contest on Sunday.
The eight-year veteran out of Michigan State has 47 tackles this season, including 10 solo. For his career, he has 738 tackles, 16 sacks, five fumble recoveries, and five interceptions.
Devil Rays part with Rupe
TAMPA, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays Friday released righthander Ryan Rupe, and added three players, including highly-touted outfielder Josh Hamilton, to their 40-man roster.
Rupe showed promise as a rookie with the Devil Rays in 1999, when he went 8-9 with a 4.55 ERA in 24 starts, but did not match that production in the last three seasons. This past season, he was just 5-10 with a 5.60 ERA in 15 starts before right patella tendinitis ended his campaign in July.
Rupe, 27, was the first Devils Rays draft pick to reach the major leagues. He was 23-37 in 83 starts.
Hamilton, 21, was the top pick in the 1999 draft, but has been hampered by injuries the last two seasons. He batted .303 with nine home runs, 10 stolen bases, and 44 RBI in 56 games for Single-A Bakersfield. He had injuries to his left (throwing) shoulder, lower back, and rib cage after being bothered by a lower back strain and strained left quadriceps in 2001.
Gatti, Ward set for rematch
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The sequel between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward will be held Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
On May 18, Ward recorded a ninth-round knockdown and came away with a majority decision over Gatti in one of the best fights in the past few years.
Before the first meeting in Uncasville, Conn., Gatti (34-6, 28 KOs) spoke about becoming more of a boxer as he was being trained by former world champion Buddy McGirt.
Shortly into that bout, that game plan was revised and Gatti, 30, reverted to his brawling style, which is similar to that of the fictional Rocky Balboa.
"Micky Ward is a warrior," said Gatti in a September press conference in Boston. "I'm fighting a guy like me. He's a great fighter. I want to thank Ward's camp for giving me this opportunity. I felt our first fight I could have won. I am going to win on Nov. 23."
Ward, 37, (38-11, 27 KOs), like Gatti, is used to trading punches at a furious pace. He has a lot of losses, but has been stopped only once in a career that began in 1985.
"It's going to be a great fight again," he said. "Styles make fights. We have the same styles and neither of us wants to go backwards. Win or lose, we'll fight like men. I'm going to get in the best condition. Arturo thinks he's going to win, and I'm confident that I'm going to win. When it's over, I'm not going to lose."
The Lowell, Mass., native will not have the crowd support he had in the first meeting. Gatti originally is from Montreal, but moved to Jersey City, a 2 1/2-hour drive from Atlantic City, in 1991.
Ward is used to fighting in hostile territory, though, losing a five-round TKO to "Jesse" James Leija in San Antonio on Jan. 5.
Leija, who will meet undisputed super lightweight champion Kostya Tsyzu in the first big bout of 2003, won after the referee ruled that a cut above his eye resulted from a head butt. Replays showed Leija's cut actually was the result of a punch.
Gatti is fighting in Atlantic City for the first time since 1998, when he lost consecutive bouts to Ivan Robinson. In the first, Robinson won a controversial split decision in what many considered the best fight of 1998.
The Gatti-Ward rematch is a sellout.
Watson dead at 79
TORONTO, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Hockey Hall of Famer Harry Watson, a member of five Stanley Cup-winning teams, has died. When he passed Tuesday, he was 79.
Watson had been in poor health over the past year with an undisclosed illness.
At 6-1, 207 pounds, he was among the league's most powerful left wings in a playing career that spanned from 1941-57. He had 236 goals and 207 assists in 809 games.
Watson is best known for playing on the Toronto Maple Leafs teams which won four Stanley Cup titles in a five-year period from 1946-47 to 1950-51. He previously played on a Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings in 1942-43.
Watson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the Veterans Category in 1994.
A memorial service will be held Monday in Markham, Ontario.
Stegall named tops in CFL
TORONTO, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver Milt Stegall, who set a single-season record with 23 touchdown receptions, has been named the Most Outstanding Player in the Canadian Football League.
Stegall, 32, led the league with 106 receptions and 1,896 receiving yards. He also paced the CFL in total touchdowns and total yards from scrimmage (1,896), and easily outdistanced Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo in the voting.
Edmonton linebacker Elfrid Payton, whose team plays Montreal on Sunday in the Grey Cup title game, was named Outstanding Defensive Player. Payton, acquired in the offseason, led the league with 16 sacks and was second with four forced fumbles.
He was runnerup for the award in 1993.
Alouettes center Bryan Chiu was named Outstanding Lineman, and B.C. Lions receiver Jason Clermont was tabbed as Outstanding Rookie after leading all CFL first-year players with 46 receptions and six touchdowns.
Corey Holmes of the Saskatchewan Roughriders was the winner of the inaugural Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. He led the league in punt returns with 1,023 yards, and was second in kickoff returns with 1,035 yards.