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College football notebook

Spotlight on Arkansas

Razorbacks have chance to turn the tide in SEC

RYAN MALLETT QB right at home RYAN MALLETT
QB right at home
Associated Press / September 25, 2010

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When Ryan Mallett left the winningest program in college football history and decided to head home, he could only hope for the opportunity he’s about to get.

Back in his home state of Arkansas, Mallett will lead the 10th-ranked Razorbacks (3-0) in the biggest game in their home stadium in more than three decades when No. 1 Alabama (3-0) rolls into town today. It’s a chance for Mallett to launch his Heisman Trophy campaign in earnest and establish Arkansas as a true contender in the SEC for the first time since Bobby Petrino took over as coach.

The buzz is enormous for the first meeting of top-10 teams in Fayetteville since 1979, but Mallett insists he’s not wrapped up in what a victory could mean for his Heisman chances and beyond.

“I came to the University of Arkansas to win football games, and so that’s how I look at it,’’ Mallett said. “I want to win this for the state and for the rest of my team, and that’s the way the rest of the team looks at it.’’

Mallett left Michigan after one season after splitting time with Chad Henne and signed on to quarterback Petrino’s intriguing offense. After setting school records with 3,624 yards and 30 touchdowns last season, with only seven interceptions, he’s now leading the country with 360.3 yards passing per game.

Mark Ingram, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, returned after missing Alabama’s first two games with an injury and amassed 151 yards on only nine carries last week in a rout at Duke. And he knows Mallett could be in position to dethrone him if he can guide the Razorbacks to profile-raising victories this season.

“He’s a great player and he’s had great success so far this year. I’m sure people are going to be evaluating his performance against a good defense that we have,’’ Ingram said.

Horned Frogs find stride
Andy Dalton bounced back from interceptions on consecutive throws by leading three straight touchdown drives, lifting fourth-ranked TCU to a 41-24 victory over in-state rival SMU last night in Dallas.

The Horned Frogs (4-0) were in a bit of trouble when Dalton’s second interception set up a touchdown that gave the Mustangs a 17-14 lead early in the third quarter. Then Jeremy Kerley returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards and TCU was back in control.

Dalton capped that drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Bart Johnson. Waymon James had a 9-yard scoring run on TCU’s next series, then set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Luke Shivers at the start of the fourth quarter that put TCU ahead, 35-17.

The Horned Frogs have beaten the Mustangs (2-2) 10 times in 11 meetings.

High drama in NE-10
Two tense fourth quarters last night showed it’s going to be an unpredictable season in the Northeast-10 conference.

In Easton, Merrimack jumped out to a 24-10 lead over Stonehill before holding on for a 42-39 win in the Warriors’ conference opener. Anthony Smalls had touchdown runs of 4 and 6 yards in the final quarter to help Merrimack (1-2) hold off the Skyhawks (2-2, 0-2), who scored 29 points in the second half and pulled within 3 on Stephan Neville’s 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 1:31 to play.

Victor Jones rushed for two touchdowns in a wild fourth quarter in Waltham as New Haven defeated Bentley, 28-23. Jones finished with 195 yards for the Chargers (3-1, 1-1), who trailed, 10-7, entering the final 15 minutes. The Falcons (1-3, 1-1) were done in by a blocked punt recovered in the end zone by New Haven’s George Gerosa, and an interception by linebacker Akaki Ramishvili that set up Jones’s 23-yard scoring run that sealed it.

Ex-Pitt player charged
Prior to Thursday night’s 31-3 home loss to No. 19 Miami, Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt kicked freshman defensive back Jeffrey Knox Jr. off the team following an off-campus incident. Yesterday it was announced that Knox was charged with simple assault, reckless endangerment, and disorderly conduct after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend when she told him she was pregnant.

Knox cursed at the woman, slapped her, and choked her Wednesday night in front of a dormitory at Chatham University, a private school not far from the Pitt campus, according to a criminal complaint filed by Chatham campus police.

Dantonio visits Spartans
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio made a surprise visit to practice yesterday for a chat with his players and coaches. School spokesman John Lewandowski said Dantonio addressed the 25th-ranked Spartans briefly at a meeting.

It was the first time Dantonio had addressed the team since Michigan State’s 34-31 overtime win over Notre Dame last Saturday. Dantonio was hospitalized after suffering a mild heart attack later that night.