College Football

Stanford isn’t the only major turbulence to rock USC’s world

We used to think that John Madden was a big dope for spending hours driving all across the nation in a bus instead of hopping on a plane and skipping from city to city. We used to think that Tony Kornheiser was a complete wuss because he basically injects himself with horse tranquilizers before boarding. Then we hear another horrifying in-air turbulence story and we realize that those two morons might be onto something.

The USC football team was headed to South Bend for their game against the Fighting Irish when the weather turned nasty and the plane went for a wild and unexpected detour. If USC football thought Vince Young was a bad dream come true, they were about to find out what real nightmares are all about.

There was a moment there when I was thinking, ‘This is it,’ ” Dennis Slutak, USC’s director of football operations, told The Los Angeles Times.

USC sports information director Tim Tessalone told The Associated Press on Friday that some passengers were thrown from their seats by turbulence as lightning cracked around the storm-tossed aircraft about 9 p.m. Thursday.

“It was a little bit of a roller coaster drop there for a minute,” he said. “We had some people fly out of some seats. Everybody is fine, but it was a frightening little dip there.”

The pilot aborted the approach and circled around the storm before landing without incident about 20 minutes later to the relief of the shaken team and the spouses of some staff members also on the flight, Tessalone said.

Safety Taylor Mays said he was screaming.

At their hotel, senior defensive end Lawrence Jackson said he was going to see the team trainer because a Popsicle stick had pierced the inside of his mouth during the drop.

“That was terrifying,” fullback Stanley Havili said. “I thought I was going to die.”

Quarterback John David Booty said, “It wasn’t the worst flight I’ve ever been on, but it was definitely the biggest drop.

Lighting cracking, safeties bellowing, Popsicle stick puncture wounds, contemplations of mortality: it’s all real my-life-is-flashing-before-my-eyes type stuff. Granted, the doors didn’t come flying off the hinges, but it is still gripping narrative. But we gotta wonder, was this just a case of `wrong place, wrong time’ for the Trojans or is there really something to this whole “Touchdown Jesus” thing Notre Dame’s got going?


[MSNBC]: USC rattled by turbulent flight to South Bend

College Football

Early season Heisman watch

McFadden could really be big pimpin’
after this season: how does Heisman
winner and No. 1 overall pick in the NFL
Draft sound?

We’re only entering the third week of the college football season, but it’s never too early to start getting worked up over the best players in the nation. And there are a lot of talented guys this year who could be taking home the hardware in December. Here’s how the college gridiron studs stack up going into, or in Steve Slaton’s case, coming out of, week 3:

1. Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas

Arkansas didn’t play last week, which means Darren McFadden hasn’t been able to add to his 181 rushing/receiving yards, 19 return yards, 42 passing yards or two touchdowns yet. But McFadden will have a great opportunity to make a serious Heisman statement when the Razorbacks head to Tuscaloosa for their SEC opener against Alabama. McFadden will be facing a solid run-stopping defense in a hostile stadium, but after an extra week’s rest he should be ready for the challenge. However, if history is any indication then he’ll end up with about 100 yards on the ground and a touchdown.

2. John David Booty, QB, USC

John David Booty looked good in the Trojans season opener as he went 21-of-32 for 206 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-10 victory over Idaho. Now, after an early season bye week, USC will have a much more difficult opponent when they travel to Lincoln, NE., for a match-up with the No. 14 Cornhuskers. Last year, Booty passed for 257 yards (25-of-36) and three touchdowns as USC won 28-10 in the City of Angels. But it probably won’t be quite so easy this year considering that the Blackshirts have held opposing quarterbacks to just 124 yards per game (41.2 completion percentage) while picking off three passes.

3. Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia

Steve Slaton did it again last night as he carried the load for the No. 4 Mountaineers of West Virginia with 137 yards rushing (147 total) and three touchdowns in a 31-14 win against the Terrapins, who ironically looked like they were moving in slow motion at times against Slaton. Now just one touchdown away from tying a the school record of 42, Slaton has already racked up 465 rush/receiving yards and nine TDs on the year. Not too shabby for just three games. Pat White, who many figure could be Heisman finalist as well, stayed fairly quiet on the evening (8-of-13 for 95 yards passing with 22 yards and a TD rushing), allowing the consistent criticism of how the two will split votes to be quelled for at least a week.

4. Colt Brennan, QB, Hawaii

Hawaii needed overtime to get past Louisiana Tech, 45-44, which allowed Colt Brennan to set a school record for completions in a game (43) and his 548 yards were the second most in school history. Brennan has now thrown for at least 400 yards in eight consecutive games and has already accumulated 964 yards (77-for-101) and 10 touchdowns in only two games. Brennan looked mortal last year when UNLV crossed the ocean to the Big Island where they limited him to 296 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Since then Brennan has thrown for 59 scores and only nine picks.

5. Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville

Brian Brohm threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns on a mere eight completions in the first quarter of a 58-42 shootout against Middle Tennessee State. By the time the game ended, Brohm had a career high 401 yards and five touchdowns to bring his season totals up to 776 yards and 9 TDs. Brohm could be commanding another air assault when the Cardinals travel to Lexington for a game against rival Kentucky. And if the Heisman trophy isn’t motivation enough, he should have some added incentive to put a hurting on the Wildcats after the Kentucky athletic department erected billboards of their well-known players throughout Louisville.