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Extra points

Compiled by Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 18, 2000


Player spotlight: Dave Ragone

The Louisville Cardinals didn't figure to have much of a chance this season in Conference USA. Not with record-setting quarterback Chris Redman gone along with a couple of other key contributors.

But the Cardinals are doing just fine, thank you. They can clinch their first C-USA title today with a win at Houston. And much of the credit goes to Redman's replacement, Dave Ragone.

Ragone has been voted the league's player of the week three times. He has thrown 25 touchdown passes, third in the nation, and is 11th in passing efficiency and 14th in total offense with 264 yards per game.

"Everybody kind of thought this would be a down year, a rebuilding year," said Ragone, whose team is 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the league. "It would mean a lot for the 60 players in that locker room to come out and get a league championship -- something that's never been done here. No one expected that from us, except the coaching staff and the players."

The Cardinals lead Conference USA in scoring offense, averaging better than 35 points per game. And the defense has been a big help, improving from second-to-last in the league in total defense to fourth, allowing 317 yards per game.

"If I make a mistake, I have complete confidence that our defense can go out there and make a play," Ragone said. "We lacked that the first few years I was here."

TRASH OR TREASURE: Ohio State will sell items torn from Ohio Stadium in an effort to offset some of the $189-million renovation of the old Horseshoe. A brochure went out this week to OSU season ticket-holders and athletic boosters offering them a spot for $20 apiece at a sale of "many historic items, of which there are only one or limited quantities."

Twenty dollars just to show up? That's right. The April 28 sale will include "lockers, signs, coaches' chalkboards, urinals, tables and benches."

That's not all. Souvenirs made from discarded stadium concrete, wooden bleachers and folding chairs also are for sale. A piece of concrete encased by a 2-by-3-inch lucite case sells for $52. A 46-inch wooden bench goes for $390. A chair formerly used as a box seat goes for $115. For info, check out www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

NOT LOUD ENOUGH: Texas A&M not only lost to No. 1 Oklahoma last Saturday, the Aggies failed in a bid to set a world record for crowd noise. A sound meter was set up in an attempt to break the Guinness record for crowd noise at an outdoor sports stadium. The record, 128.7 dBA, was set at Mile High Stadium on Oct. 1. A&M's meter peaked in the second quarter when Robert Ferguson caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Mark Farris. The reading of 113.6 dBA fell well below the Guinness record.

DRIVING FOR A BOWL: Five major conference teams carry a 5-5 record into their final game today, and with such a huge bowl lineup, each might still have a chance at post-season play with a victory.

Maryland: The Terps need a victory at home over Georgia Tech, no easy task.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels need only a victory at winless Duke.

Minnesota: The Gophers at one time were thinking Rose Bowl. Now they're just hoping for any bowl. They need a win at home against Iowa.

Illinois: The Illini saw quarterback Kurt Kittner injured last week, making a victory at Northwestern more difficult.

Michigan State: The Spartans have defeated Notre Dame and Northwestern, but a win at Penn State is no gimme.

GAMES THAT MATTER: With strength of schedule such a key factor in the Bowl Championship Series standings, the teams in the national championship hunt are keeping a keen eye on their former opponents and who they are playing. Here's a look at the key games for foes on the schedules of Miami, Florida State and Florida. The Hurricanes, Seminoles and Gators will be rooting for their opponents to win. (The team each school played is listed first.)

Miami

Washington at Washington St.

West Virginia vs. East Carolina

Rutgers vs. Notre Dame

Louisiana Tech at Hawaii

Florida State

BYU vs. New Mexico

Louisville at Houston

Clemson vs. South Carolina

Wake Forest at Navy

Florida

Ball State vs. Connecticut

Middle Tennessee vs. Louisiana Lafayette

Mississippi State vs. Arkansas

Auburn at Alabama

Georgia vs. Mississippi

South Carolina at Clemson

Games of the Week

NO. 4 FLORIDA AT NO. 3 FLORIDA STATE: For the fifth straight year, the game has a direct bearing on the national championship race. 8 p.m. Channel 28.

NO. 2 MIAMI AT SYRACUSE: The Carrier Dome is no easy place for the Hurricanes, who could be just two victories away from playing for the national title. 6:30 p.m. ESPN.

NO. 5 OREGON AT N0. 8 OREGON STATE: The Ducks and Beavers with the Rose Bowl on the line. Unbelievable. 3:30 p.m. Pay-Per-View.

NO. 25 SOUTH CAROLINA AT NO. 16 CLEMSON: Each team is trying to avoid a three-game losing streak. 3:30 p.m. Channel 28.

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