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Olympian has immediate impact

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 1, 2002

DENVER -- Despite having seen Jeremy Bloom in only a few practices early last fall, Colorado coach Gary Barnett raved about the freshman wide receiver.

On Saturday, fans could see why the coach was so enthusiastic about the skier-turned-football player.

Bloom, who skipped the 2001 football season to qualify for the Olympics in freestyle skiing, decided to give up the endorsements he receives as a skier so he could play football this year.

It appears to have been a sound decision. On the first play of the fourth quarter against Colorado State on Saturday, Bloom swung the momentum in Colorado's favor with a 75-yard punt return.

The Buffaloes scored on their next possession, too, to take a 14-13 lead, but Colorado State scored the winning touchdown on Bradlee Van Pelt's 23-yard run with 6:20 left, and the Rams prevailed 19-14.

"That punt return -- I was fretting they'd get a huge play and get themselves back in the game," Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick said.

Bloom didn't expect much action since he entered the game as a third-teamer at wide receiver and a third-teamer on punt returns. But when returner Donald Strickland was sidelined with cramps, the Buffs inserted Bloom.

"They called my name and I felt compelled to take on the opportunity," Bloom said. "Really, what it came down to was the 10 guys in front of me. Everyone had their blocks and made my job easy."

Nebraska RB suspended

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska running back Thunder Collins was suspended for the No. 9 Cornhuskers' game against Troy State for undisclosed reasons.

Coach Frank Solich announced the suspension in a one-sentence written statement shortly before the game. Collins wore his jersey and shorts as he watched the Huskers warm up.

Collins, the top backup to Dahrran Diedrick, had 10 carries for 22 yards in the opener last week. He was third on the team last year with 647 yards on 94 carries.

AIR FORCE: Nate Allen blocked a punt by Brian Huffman of Northwestern and recovered it in the end zone. The Falcons have blocked a nation-leading 76 kicks since 1990 and have at least one block in 13 consecutive seasons.

COLORADO STATE: In the Rams' upset against Colorado, tackle Aaron Green had a stress fracture in his left fibula, and defensive back Miles Kochevar tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee and will have surgery within a few days.

INDIANA: In the Hoosiers' victory against William & Mary, coach Gerry DiNardo became the first Indiana coach to win in his debut since Sam Wyche in 1983.

MICHIGAN STATE: Jeff Smoker passed for 232 yards against Eastern Michigan to become the seventh Spartan quarterback with 4,000 yards in his career. Dave Yarema (1982-86) has 5,809 to head the list that also includes NFL quarterbacks Jim Miller (5,037) and Tony Banks (4,129). Smoker, a junior, has 4,176.

MINNESOTA: Kicker Dan Nystrom, who struggled last year after a fine sophomore season, surpassed Chip Lohmiller as the school's all-time leading scorer (271 points) by hitting all six extra points.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Backup quarterback Bennett Swygert had successful surgery to reconstruct his left knee.

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