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Miami could be walking into Nittany Lions' den

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2001

An unwritten rule in college football these past few decades goes something like this: Give Joe Paterno more than a few weeks to prepare for an opponent and ... fill in the score in Penn State's favor.

Since ending a rare losing season, Paterno and his Nittany Lions have had 286 days to get ready for their 2001 opener -- against No. 2 Miami.

That's a long time for Paterno to think about one game, and history says the mighty Hurricanes will have their hands full when they visit Penn State on Saturday night.

Under Paterno, Penn State is 29-6 in season openers. OK you say, many of the games were against the likes of Rutgers, Navy and Temple, but more recently they've been against more dangerous teams such as Arizona, Minnesota, Southern Cal and Southern Miss.

And then there's the bowl record -- 20-9-1 overall and 14-5 in New Year's Day games.

Yes, Miami may have the most talented team in the nation, led by quarterback Ken Dorsey, and may be favored by nearly two touchdowns. But Penn State has beaten Miami -- and similar odds -- before.

In the '87 Fiesta Bowl for the 1986 national title, Miami nearly tripled Penn State's yardage but the Nittany Lions intercepted five of Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde's passes and won 14-10.

In '99, Kevin Thompson hit Chafie Fields with a 79-yard TD pass with 1:41 left to lift Penn State to a 27-23 win over the stunned Hurricanes.

The picks:

Marshall (plus 30) at No. 1 Florida

Thundering Herd put out to pasture by Gators ... FLORIDA, 49-17.

No. 2 Miami (minus 12 1/2) at Penn State

'Canes have talent, Lions have JoePa ... PENN STATE, 28-27.

No. 3 Oklahoma (minus 20) at Air Force

Sooners defense shuts down Falcons flight plan ... OKLAHOMA, 45-21.

Troy State (plus 53) at No. 4 Nebraska

Troy happy to take beating and hefty payday in I-A debut ... NEBRASKA, 56-0.

New Mexico State (plus 35) at No. 5 Texas

'Horns QB Simms opens his Heisman campaign ... TEXAS, 52-21.

No. 6 Florida State (minus 32) at Duke

Confidence-builder for Seminoles' new QB Rix ... FLORIDA STATE, 54-14.

No. 22 Wisconsin (plus 9) at No. 7 Oregon

Ducks riding 20-game win streak at Autzen ... OREGON, 34-20.

Syracuse (plus 13) at No. 8 Tennessee

Color this one Volunteer orange. ... TENNESSEE, 31-13.

Connecticut (plus 47) at No. 9 Virginia Tech

Who will score more, Tech offense or defense ... VIRGINIA TECH, 49-7.

No. 10 Oregon State (minus 3) at Fresno State (Sunday)

First the Buffs, now the Beavers? Why not ... FRESNO STATE, 31-30.

The Citadel (no line) at No. 11 Georgia Tech

Tech offense finds end zone early and often ... GEORGIA TECH, 48-0.

Miami (Ohio) (plus 24 1/2) at No. 12 Michigan

John Navarre era begins against other Miami ... MICHIGAN, 34-7.

Tulane (plus 21) at No. 14 LSU

Oft-injured Tigers QB Davey hopes to last all season ... LSU, 34-17.

No. 17 UCLA (plus 3) at No. 25 Alabama

Bruins in 'Bama for first time ... ALABAMA, 28-20.

Central Florida (plus 18 1/2) at No. 19 Clemson

Tigers QB Dantzler needs strong game for big win ... CLEMSON, 38-21.

Memphis (plus 16 1/2) at No. 20 Mississippi State (Monday).

Bulldogs 16-1 in last 17 games at Scott Field ... MISSISSIPPI STATE, 28-14.

Boise State (plus 19 1/2) at No. 21 South Carolina

Holtz says Broncos scare him. C'mon, Lou ... SOUTH CAROLINA, 35-17.

No. 24 Colorado State (plus 4) vs. Colorado (at Denver)

Rams go for three in a row over Buffs ... COLORADO STATE, 31-28.

------

Last week: 5-2 (straight); 2-5 (vs. points).



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