List of unbeatens cut in half
SOUTH BEND, Ind., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The number of unbeaten Division I-A teams was cut in half Saturday, ripping some of the magic from the college football season.
Notre Dame fumbled away its chance for a national title, putting a major dent in what had been the best story in the college football ranks. Virginia Tech, Georgia and North Carolina State all suffered their first loss of the season as well.
And while Bowling Green remained one of the four undefeated teams remaining in major college football, the Falcons have virtually no hope of being a factor in the race for the top two positions in the Bowl Championship Series.
The two teams at the top of the BCS heap will play for the national crown and as of Saturday night, the three teams battling for those two spots were Oklahoma, Miami and Ohio State. If all three should suffer a loss, the BCS will be in a mess.
Oklahoma improved its record to 8-0 Saturday by taking advantage of Colorado's mistakes for a 27-11 victory. Miami (8-0) found itself trailing going into the fourth quarter before turning it on to beat Rutgers, 42-17. And Ohio State (10-0) whipped Minnesota, 34-3.
The losses, however, were the big news of the day and the biggest of them all was suffered by Notre Dame.
For the second time in less than a decade, Boston College ended Notre Dame's hopes for an unbeaten season. The Fighting Irish fumbled eight times and lost three of them in falling to the Eagles, 14-7.
Notre Dame had earned the brightest spotlight of the season by winning its first eight games, doing so with a strudy defense and a very suspect offense.
That offense could do virtually nothing against Boston College. Eagles linebacker Josh Ott recovered Ryan Grant's fumble that led to Derrick McKnight's three-yard touchdown run with 2:39 remaining in the first quarter, then returned an interception 71 yards for a score with 4:03 left in the first half.
Notre Dame wore green jerseys for the first time in 19 years, but the Irish came up empty on its first five trips inside the red zone. They gave up the ball on downs twice, botched a field goal, fumbled and threw an interception.
The Irish went into the game ranked sixth in the coaches poll, but were third in the BCS standings. Also falling from the ranks of the unbeatens were third-ranked Virginia Tech, a 28-21 loser at home to Pittsburgh; No. 5 Georgia, which suffered a 20-13 setback at Florida; and No. 8 North Carolina State, which lost to Georgia Tech, 24-17.
With the carnage within the top 10, the possibility arose that two teams from the same conference might wind up playing for the national title. Texas went into the weekend ranked seventh and ended Nebraska's 26-game home winning streak with a 27-24 victory.
The Longhorns could easily move up to fourth and if both Miami and Ohio State should lose a game, Texas could conceivably move up to second behind Oklahoma in the BCS rankings.
New York to bid for Olympics
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The United States Olympic Committee Saturday named New York as its candidate to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.
New York and San Francisco were selected as finalists in August, when the USOC narrowed the list from a field that included Houston and Washington, D.C.
New York garnered 132 of 223 points from the 123-member USOC board. USOC President Marty Mankamyer made the announcement following the committee's annual meeting.
As soon as Mankamyer made the announcement, Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" blared from speakers.
New York joins a strong international field that could include Toronto, Rome and Paris. The International Olympic Committee will pick the host in 2005.
Kings remain undefeated
MEMPHIS, Tenn., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Vlade Divac led six players in double figures with 24 points Saturday night as the Sacramento Kings once again showcased their superior depth and improved to 3-0 with a 116-99 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Chris Webber missed his second straight game with strained lower abdominal muscles and Scot Pollard was sidelined by a strained lower back. Christie, who had sat out the Kings' first two games while serving a league suspension for fighting the Los Angeles Lakers' Rick Fox in the preseason, had just seven points in 32 minutes.
Jackson scored nine points in the third quarter as Sacramento extended its lead to 88-69 entering the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies got no closer than 15 thereafter.
Other NBA results: Atlanta 98, Chicago 92; Indiana 87, Minnesota 80; New Jersey 87, Washington 79; Boston 117, New York 107; Utah 101, Golden State 92; New Orleans 100; Miami 95; Dallas 97, Phoenix 83; Houston 88, Toronto 76; Orlando 100, Milwaukee 90; -------
Blues win seventh straight
UNIONDALE, N.Y., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Scott Mellanby, Dallas Drake and newcomer Martin Rucinsky scored second-period goals Saturday night as the surprising St. Louis Blues matched the best start in team history with their seventh straight win, a 6-1 rout of the struggling New York Islanders.
Coming off shoulder and reconstructive knee surgery, Michael Peca was not expected back before early next month. But he drew a roaring ovation at Nassau Coliseum when he stepped on the ice, then took the opening faceoff.
It started the only shift of the night for Peca and the Islanders continued to miss their captain as they were handed a fourth straight loss.
The Blues also are missing their captain, defenseman Chris Pronger (wrist surgery), along with star left wing Keith Tkachuk (fractured foot) and No. 1 goaltender Brent Johnson (ankle sprain). But they have flourished at 7-1-1 to duplicate the start of the 1997-98 team.
Other NHL results: New Jersey 5, Chicago 1; Boston 3, New York Rangers 2; Ottawa 5, Detroit 1; Philadelphia 2, Washington 1; Montreal 5, Toronto 2; Atlanta 3, Florida 1; Pittsburgh 5, Tampa Bay 3; Vancouver 4, Minnesota 2; ---------------
Patriots-Bills highlight NFL schedule
Bledsoe and the Buffalo Bills (5-3) host the Patriots (3-4) Sunday in what is probably the most anticipated showdown between a quarterback and his former team since Joe Montana beat San Francisco in September 1994.
Rice and the Oakland Raiders (4-3) would like to beat the 49ers (5-2) in the first "Battle of the Bay" game staged in Oakland since 1979.
Bledsoe enjoyed a Most Valuable Player-type first half of the season for the Bills, who already have two more wins than all of last year. The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback leads the NFL with over 2,500 passing yards after eight games and is on pace to break Dan Marino's NFL record of 5,084 yards in 1984 for Miami.
Meanwhile, the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots stagger into Buffalo with a four-game losing streak after opening the season with three wins. In those four losses, New England has averaged just over 13 points per game.
New England will get little sympathy from Bledsoe, who wants to beat Patriots coach Bill Belichick after not being given a chance to get his job back from Tom Brady following his injury in Week 2 last season. Brady went on to lead the Patriots to their first NFL championship and was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.
Rice spent 16 glorious seasons with the 49ers, setting all-time records for receptions, receiving yards and TDs and helping them win three Super Bowl titles. On Sunday, he has a chance to victimize his former team with another milestone since he is one touchdown shy of 200.
A two-time NFL Most Valuable Player, Rice requested to be released after the 2000 season and signed with the Raiders, who were considered a Super Bowl contender.
Although Rice caught 83 passes for 1,139 yards and nine touchdowns and helped the Raiders win the AFC West title, they were beaten in the divisional playoffs by New England last season.
Rice turned 40 earlier this month but continues to defy his age. He leads the team with 45 catches for 604 yards and three TDs, but the Raiders have dropped three straight to fall into third place in the AFC West behind San Diego (6-1) and Denver (6-2).
San Francisco is in sole possession of first place in the NFC West and appears to be more of a Super Bowl contender than Oakland.
Brett Favre is expected to extend his record streak while Cris Carter returns to the NFL on the Monday night stage. Favre is expected to make his 165th consecutive start as his Green Bay Packers host the Miami Dolphins, who will have the NFL's second all-time leading receiver in their lineup.
Regarded as the NFL's toughest quarterback, Favre went down with a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his right knee against Washington two weeks ago. But the Packers had a bye last week, giving Favre extra time to heal so he could extend the NFL's longest active streak of consecutive starts that dates to Sept. 20, 1992.
The Dolphins will have an unfamiliar face in the lineup in Carter, who came out of retirement to sign with them on Oct. 21. Carter, who turns 37 in November, retired last May after a brilliant 15-year career, including the last 12 with the Minnesota Vikings, and had been working on HBO's "Inside The NFL" with former Dolphins great Marino, Cris Collinsworth and Bob Costas.
Singh leads Tour Championship
ATLANTA, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- For the third time in as many Tour Championships held at East Lake Golf Club, Vijay Singh took the 54-hole lead Saturday, sinking an 80-foot eagle putt en route to a 5-under-par 65 and a three-stroke cushion over Charles Howell III.
Singh began the day a stroke behind Howell but offset his only bogey with four birdies and the eagle, reaching 9-under 201.
There have been three Tour Championships at East Lake and Singh has been the only 54-hole leader. He lost a playoff to Hal Sutton in 1998 and tied for third in 2000.
Safin meets Hewitt in final
PARIS, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Second-seeded Russian Marat Safin advanced to the final of the BNP Masters on Saturday with a 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) triumph over No. 10 Carlos Moya of Spain in the semifinals of the $2.95 million event.
Top seed Lleyton Hewitt of Australia overcame streaking Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, in the second semifinal to reach his fifth final of the year.
Showing a hard-hitting, aggressive style that netted him the 2000 U.S. Open crown, Safin fired 14 aces with just one double fault and recorded the only break of the match in the 12th game of the first set. He controlled the tiebreaker, hitting a forehand down the line on match point.
The 22-year-old Safin clinched his place in the eight-man field for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai on Wednesday and now has a chance to win his first title in more than a year. He came up short at the Australian Open and at the Tennis Masters Series event in Hamburg this year.
Slovakia, Spain deadlocked in Fed Cup
MASPALOMAS, Spain, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario missed her chance at history Saturday and Spain missed an opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in its Federation Cup final against Slovakia.
Daniela Hantuchova routed Sanchez-Vicario's replacement, Magui Serna, 6-2, 6-1, in 59 minutes to level the tie at one win apiece in the best-of-five match final at the Palacio de Congresos de Maspalomas Gran Canaria.
In the first match, Conchita Martinez beat Janette Husarova, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), to give Spain the early advantage.
Sanchez-Vicario was forced to withdraw with a muscle strain in her right leg. She still is eligible to play Sunday.
If the 30-year-old sees action, it would be her 58th Fed Cup tie, breaking the record she shares with Britain's Virginia Wade, and the Spaniard's 100th match in the multi-nation competition.
New York Marathon to be run Sunday
NEW YORK, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Ethiopia's Tesfaye Jifar and Kenya's Margaret Okayo return Sunday to defend their New York marathon titles, but current world record-holders will missing from the race's 33rd edition.
Last year, when the race was held under the pall of Sept. 11, Jifar won the men's marathon in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 43 seconds, setting a course record. Okayo also produced a course record when she claimed the women's race in 2:24:21.
Jifar, who was making his New York marathon debut, bested the 2:08:01 run of 1989 winner Juma Ikangaa of Tanzania. Okayo beat the mark of Australian Lisa Ondieki, who completed the 1992 race in 2:24:40.
Skipping the event are world record-holders Khalid Khannouchi of the United States and Paula Radcliffe of Britain. Khannouchi ran in Chicago three weeks ago, as did Radcliffe, who broke the world's best by more than a minute, winning in 2:17:18.
The 26.2-mile course through New York's five boroughs is considered too difficult to elicit world marks. More than 24,000 runners traverse five bridges in front of 2.5 million spectators, usually under seasonably chilly conditions.
Blinded in his right eye at age 12 by a bull's horn, Jifar will be trying to become the race's seventh repeat winner, but has not had the best preparation. He has not raced at any distance in six months after overtraining for the London marathon.