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Thursday, October 23, 2003
West Virginia stuns unbeaten Virginia Tech


JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - Florida State's Bobby Bowden has even more to look forward to on Saturday.

Not only can Bowden become the winningest college football coach in Division I-A history, but his Seminoles are one of several schools who saw their chances of landing in the national title game improve thanks to a stunning upset in West Virginia on Wednesday night.

The Mountaineers rolled to a 28-7 upset of No. 3 Virginia Tech, which knocked the Hokies from the unbeaten ranks.

Third in the first BCS rankings released Monday, the Hokies saw their national championship dreams virtually dashed as quarterback Bryan Randall committed four turnovers, including two early in the game.

Quincy Wilson ran for 178 yards and a score for the Moutaineers, who did a favor for the one-loss teams behind the Hokies in the BCS standings.

Should top-ranked Oklahoma (7-0) or No. 2 Miami (7-0) falter along the way, there is no shortage of candidates who could grab one of the top two spots in the BCS, which guarantees an invitation to the Sugar Bowl on January 4.

Among those is Florida State (6-1), which is seventh in the coaches poll but fifth in the BCS.

Bowden coached at West Virginia before heading to Florida State, where he is in his 28th year and on the verge of a milestone.

With Florida State off to a fast start and Penn State enduring another tough season, it seemed inevitable that Bowden would pass Joe Paterno and become the all-time leader in wins among Division I-A coaches.

Bowden pulled even with Paterno last week, claiming career victory No. 338 when Florida State defeated Virginia.

Bowden has a chance to move ahead this week when the Seminoles oppose Wake Forest. Since joining the ACC in 1992, Florida State is 11-0 against the Demon Deacons and has been held below 30 points in only one of the 11 games.

Passing one of his closest friends in the coaching ranks admittedly will be awkward for Bowden, especially since Paterno has struggled of late.

"If I had my way, he would keep winning and I would, too, and in about six years, he hangs it up and then I go one more year," Bowden joked a few weeks ago.

If Paterno is to keep pace this week, Penn State will have to get past No. 16 Iowa (5-2).

Penn State (2-5) has lost three games in a row and five of six. The Nittany Lions are just 22-25 since winning their first nine games of the 1999 season, which has enabled Bowden to gain ground.

Bowden was 25 wins behind Paterno when the teams met in the 1990 Blockbuster Bowl.

Iowa could be an angry squad after coming up short at Ohio State, 19-10. The Hawkeyes had a series of special-teams miscues in the defeat, allowing a punt return for a touchdown and having a punt blocked for a score.

Oklahoma should have little trouble when it meets struggling Colorado on Saturday night. The high-flying Sooners are averaging 45.7 points per game, while the Buffaloes are allowing 40.1. Colorado has surrendered more than 40 points in five straight games.

Miami is off this week and will visit Virginia Tech on November 1.

College football's two other unbeatens are in action Saturday. No. 13 TCU (7-0) is at Houston and No. 14 Northern Illinois (7-0) is at Bowling Green in a battle for first place in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference.

TCU and Northern Illinois have virtually no chance of making it to the Sugar Biwk, but fifth-ranked Georgia (6-1) was another school helped by Virginia Tech's loss. Georgia is fourth in the BCS and hosts Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday.

Saturday's schedule also features important games in the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference races.

No. 10 Purdue (6-1) tries to win at 15th-ranked Michigan (6-2) for the first time since 1966. The Boilermakers have lost 15 straight games in Ann Arbor since a 22-21 victory 27 years ago, when Bob Griese led them to the Rose Bowl.

Purdue is one of two teams undefeated in Big Ten play, joining No. 17 Michigan State, which is idle this week before hosting Michigan on November 1.

No. 21 Auburn (5-2) tries to continue its revival when it visits No. 9 LSU (6-1). Auburn lost a pair of non-conference games to start the season but leads the SEC West with a 4-0 record.

Leading the way for Auburn is Carnell Williams, who ran for a school-record six touchdowns in a 45-13 rout over Mississippi State. Williams has run for 496 yards and eight touchdowns in his last three games.

"He got in a zone the past two weeks," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said after the Tigers' win over Mississippi State. "If I was a defensive coordinator, I'd be worried to death. He just had a great day."

However, Williams will be facing an LSU team that leads the nation in rushing defense (53.1 ypg).

In other SEC games, surprising Mississippi, which is in contention for its first league title in 40 years, hosts No. 20 Arkansas (4-2) and No. 22 Tennessee looks to snap a two-game losing streak at Alabama.

In the Pac-10, No. 4 Southern California (6-1) seeks its first win at Washington since 1993 when it plays the Huskies. The Trojans are 0-2-1 in their last three trips to Seattle.

Washington has endured an up-and-down season under first-year coach Keith Gilbertson but posted an impressive 38-17 win over Oregon State last week.

The Beavers fell from the rankings this week and try to bounce back when they host No. 6 Washington State (6-1). Running back Steven Jackson also looks to bounce back after being held to 49 yards on 22 carries against the Huskies.

In other games, No. 8 Ohio State (6-1) is at Indiana, No. 11 Nebraska (6-1) hosts Iowa State, No. 17 Wisconsin (6-2) visits Northwestern, No. 18 Texas (5-2) heads to Baylor and No. 19 Oklahoma State (6-1) plays at Texas A&M.

No. 23 Utah (6-1), which has cracked the top 25 for the first time since 1996, entertains New Mexico, and No. 24 Minnesota (6-2), which also has dropped two in a row, heads to Illinois.

No. 25 Florida (5-3) also is off this week.