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Watch out, Uga - here comes Ralphie

By TIMES WIRES
Published September 23, 2006


QUOTABLE

N.C. State coach Chuck Amato dismissed questions about the Wolfpack going 23-20 and not finishing a season ranked in the AP top 25 since the 2003 season: "Liars figure and figures lie."

NOT SO GOOD

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, above, spent this week criticizing his players for everything from lack of effort to missed blocks to not being able to throw and catch. Spurrier also didn't spare today's opponent, Florida Atlantic, which is 0-3 and has been outscored 147-14. "They're not a very good team," Spurrier said. "If they hear that, they can hear it. They know they're not a very good team." FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger did not bite. "They look like they can block pretty good to me," he said.

THANKS FOR THE CONFIDENCE, SON

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis has been working on his players' psyches after the Irish were routed by Michigan last week. He recalled a similar situation in 2004 when he was a Patriots assistant and New England got pounded at Pittsburgh. "The first thing we did was address the team," Weis said. "Say, 'Look, fellas, this is not a funeral we're going to, okay; this is a football game we just lost. We have another opportunity to go out and play.' The next week, I remember we went into St. Louis, who was supposed to be pretty good. We stomped them. I'm not saying anything like that is going to happen at Michigan State (Notre Dame's opponent tonight), but that's what the follow-up of that game was. Everyone had written us off." Everyone including his family. On the ride home from the Pittsburgh game, Weis spoke to his son, Charlie, who told him it was a "sorry" performance. "When your own family turns against you, you know you got some problems," Weis said.

TALIAFERRO BACK IN COLUMBUS FOR A DAY

Former Penn State cornerback Adam Taliaferro will be in Columbus, Ohio, today when the Nittany Lions face Ohio State, six years to the day after he sustained a severe neck injury while making a tackle against the Buckeyes. Taliaferro shattered a bone in his neck and severely bruised his spinal cord late in the game. After an initial prognosis that he had little chance of walking again, Taliaferro walked five months later. Taliaferro and Ohio State player Tyson Gentry, who sustained a serious neck injury in the spring, will participate in a presentation for the Ohio State University Medical Center's Dodd Hall Rehabilitation Program.

CATCHING UP TO RICE

New Hampshire's David Ball needs three touchdowns to tie Jerry Rice's Division I-AA career TD receiving record of 50. New Hampshire, the No. 1-ranked team in I-AA, plays at Dartmouth today.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Sizing up Colorado's Ralphie IV and Georgia's Uga VI, the two mascots whose teams go head to head today in Athens:

Uga Category Ralphie

Boy Sex Girl

1999 Born 1997

Savannah Birthplace Ted Turner's Montana ranch

55 pounds Weight 900 pounds

Hills Prescription Diet Grass, alfalfa, hay

The scouting report on the University of Georgia's opponent today starts with one big buffalo.

Ralphie IV, all 900 pounds of her, will stampede with the Colorado team into Sanford Stadium in Athens.

She is one of the most beloved mascots in the country, as is Uga VI, the 55-pound bulldog whose mug covers the UGA campus. The mascot throwdown between the hedges might be more memorable than the apparent mismatch of the undefeated Bulldogs of the SEC and winless Buffs of the Big 12.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, unaware the buffalo is female, said Tuesday: "Surely they are not going to let him stomp all over the field. I would imagine he is going to do a little damage."

Not so, say Ralphie IV's keepers.

Buffalo don't hurt turf because their split hooves don't dig into the ground. And Ralphie IV runs so fast she rarely leaves anything to scoop. Her two stadium jaunts - three minutes before the game and at halftime - each last 30 seconds, from her entrance to her exit.

Cornerback Paul Oliver said Richt doesn't need to worry.

"We ain't playing against a buffalo," Oliver said. "We're playing against a team."

Ralphie IV made the trip to Orlando for Colorado's appearance in the Champs Sports Bowl last season, but it's unusual for the buffalo to be invited to an out-of-state regular-season game. Georgia officials extended the invitation during the summer as a way for two of the nation's most popular live animals to promote this game. A Ralphie has been a fixture at Colorado games for 40 years. An Uga has been at Georgia for 50.