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College football roundup

©Associated Press

September 16, 2002

Irish proud of big win

Irish proud of big win

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Tyrone Willingham doesn't show a lot of emotion when things are going well, or poorly, for Notre Dame.

When Willingham walked to the podium after Notre Dame's 25-23 victory against Michigan -- a win that vaulted the Irish from 20th to 12th in the rankings -- he looked calm, serious and determined. But he couldn't maintain the stoic appearance for long.

As he talked about what it meant to beat a team that had been ranked No. 7 before Saturday's game, a team he was 0-8 against while at Michigan State as a student, graduate and assistant coach, Willingham finally, reluctantly, allowed a smile to emerge.

"This win was a lot of fun," Willingham said as reporters laughed at his display of lightheartedness.

The game was fun for the Irish players, most of whom never had beaten a Top 10 team. Fun for the Irish alumni, who are enjoying Notre Dame's first 3-0 start in six years. Fun for the hundreds of students wearing "Return to Glory" T-shirts who mobbed Willingham and the Irish players on the field Saturday.

Perhaps most importantly for Willingham, though, this run has been fun for the former Irish players, including members of the 1977 national championship team who were at the game for a reunion.

Willingham has stressed to the players the importance of playing hard to represent Notre Dame.

"The thing that we talk to them about, and will continue to talk to them about, is: When they walk off the field, that the guys who have worn this uniform before them are proud of the way they have played," Willingham said. "The tradition and history of this place, we have to represent that well."

* * *

PENN STATE: Joe Paterno looked stunned after his team routed Nebraska 40-7.

"I thought we had a good chance to win this game," Paterno said. "I didn't think it would be like this."

Not many people did.

After back-to-back losing seasons -- the first in Paterno's 52-year tenure with the Nittany Lions -- Penn State dismantled the Cornhuskers on Saturday, picking off three passes from Jammal Lord and moving the ball almost at will in the second half.

The win moved Penn State back into the AP Top 25 at No. 15. Nebraska dropped from No. 8 to No. 18.

It was quite a turnaround from the past two seasons for the Nittany Lions, who went 10-13 in that span. Penn State hadn't had consecutive losing seasons since 1930-32.

"People were saying we couldn't do this, we couldn't do that," running back Larry Johnson said. "Now we are back. We have that swagger back. We like to prove people wrong."

Late Saturday

ARIZ. STATE 39, S.D. STATE 28: Backup Andrew Walter threw four touchdowns to Shaun McDonald and the visiting Sun Devils erased a 22-point deficit.

ARIZONA 23, UTAH 17: Jason Johnson threw for a career-high 416 yards, including touchdowns of 47 and 44 yards, and the host Wildcats barely held off the Utes.

Utah moved from its 28 to the Arizona 3 in the final minutes and appeared to have scored when Josh Lyman made a diving catch of Lance Rice's 12-yard pass in the back of the end zone, but his knee came down out of bounds.

STANFORD 63, SAN JOSE STATE 26: Teyo Johnson caught two touchdown passes and J.R. Lemon ran for three scores as the Cardinal dominated in coach Buddy Teevens' home debut.

COLORADO ST. 36, LOUISVILLE 33: Cecil Sapp ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns, and the then-No. 24 Rams withstood a late scare. Colorado State led 36-14 with five minutes left, but the visiting Cardinals scored 19 points in a span of 1:41 to make it close. The Rams fell from the rankings in the new poll.

HOUSTON 36, LA.-LAFAYETTE 17: Barrick Nealy threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and Joffrey Reynolds rushed for 114 yards as the Cougars broke a nine-game home losing streak.

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