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Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Internal affairs: News from around the non-BCS and Independents


Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Tulsa in the top 25: Tulsa coach Todd Graham isn't going to lie -- he'd like to see his team ranked in the top 25, but he knows the Golden Hurricane haven't played the schedule to do it. That's why this weekend's game against Rice is so important. Although Rice is 3-2 with no wins over a BCS team, it's still considered a quality opponent, or at least the most quality opponent the Golden Hurricane have to date.

"I really kinda like flying low right now" Graham said. "We've played one quality opponent -- New Mexico's a lot better than people think... It's going to get a lot tougher now and Rice is a good team... But to this point, we've done what we should have done."

Reading the press clippings: Some coaches steer clear of the newspapers and Web sites and some embrace them. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo read an entry of mine that said the Midshipmen wouldn't win enough games to make a bowl this season, and he turned around and used it as motivation for his team prior to the win against Wake Forest. I told Niumatalolo how impressed I was with his team's win and he told me that while my confidence in the Midshipmen might have been shaken after a 1-3 start, his team never wavered and he knew things would come around.

"All those things are fuel for us," he said of the negative articles. "People don't think we can do it. They think things in the past are a fluke or we can't keep it going. And all of those things have been good for our team."

Changing history: After Rice's Chase Clement and Jarett Dillard connected for their 40th career touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter of the Owls' 77-20 win over North Texas, both players knew exactly what happened. That touchdown pass set an NCAA record for career scoring passes involving the same duo.

So who got the ball?

Well, neither. The infamous touchdown ball was tucked away and shipped to the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. Clement and Dillard scored three touchdowns that night and each kept a ball from one of the other two scores.

FIU staying calm: After Saturday's 35-16 upset win over Toledo, Florida International quarterback Paul McCall cautioned against getting too excited about matching the win total from the last two seasons combined (1-23).

"Just because you win a game doesn't mean you can get a big head," said McCall. "But it is great to come into conference play with a win and to gain some confidence."

That confidence should increase slightly for this weekend's game against North Texas. Prior to Saturday's game, the Mean Green were the only team the Golden Panthers had beaten since 2005. That win came at the end of last season. The Mean Green are 0-4 and have lost by an average of 41 points, including a 77-20 beating at the hands of Rice last weekend.

Is UCF QB situation an either/or? Central Florida coach George O'Leary said his quarterbacks would be listed as an either/or and would likely be a game-time decision for Saturday's game against SMU. Rob Calabrese started for the injured Michael Greco in last week's loss to UTEP and threw for 167 yards and a touchdown for the Miners.

Although O'Leary was non-committal on a quarterback choice, he did remark that Calabrese was the lone bright spot during last week's 58-13 loss.

"Michael was not 100 percent, and he makes a living with his feet," O'Leary said. "Calabrese got the start and had three or four passes dropped that were big plays. I think he plays fast, and I like quarterbacks who play fast."