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UB catches break, faces tough test

Fast food for thought . . .

* The Mid-American Conference East looks like it's evolving into a three-team race among the University at Buffalo, Bowling Green and Akron.

UB and Akron caught a major break over the weekend when visiting Eastern Michigan rebounded from four straight blowout defeats to stun Bowling Green, 24-21, on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds remaining. The Falcons, the preseason favorites in the Mid-American Conference East, have lost three of four since knocking off then-No. 25 Pitt in their season opener. This Saturday they travel to Akron, which co-leads the East Division with UB at 1-1. BG is 0-1.

Meanwhile, Western Michigan, which visits UB Stadium at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, rolled up 30 second-half points in a 41-20 conquest of Ohio. Broncos quarterback Tim Hiller threw for 347 yards while Western amassed another 156 on the ground. It was eye-opening stuff. Remember, Ohio held a third-quarter lead over Ohio State in early September.

UB coach Turner Gill spoke before the season of the need to take care of business at home. He's right. Saturday's game against Western could have season-long implications, especially with the Bulls still to play Bowling Green and Akron on the road. It won't be an easy task. The Broncos have won five straight since dropping their season-opener at Nebraska, 47-24. They put up 29 points in a win over Northern Illinois, which held Tennessee to nine first downs Saturday in a 13-9 loss in Knoxville.

* I'm not a big fan of rotating the captaincy, but this year's Sabres seem to lend themselves to the practice. There are at least half a dozen comparable candidates. Coach Lindy Ruff says he's leaning toward working the rotation, and in this case I think it has its psychological advantages. I wonder if giving Maxim Afinogenov a turn would improve his sense of accountability. Like I said, I'm just wondering.

* The Terrelle Pryor era officially commenced at Ohio State with Saturday's fourth-quarter drive to the winning touchdown at Wisconsin. Rarely does a true freshman quarterback show such poise under duress. The Buckeyes have two seasons after this to take another shot at a national title. Then Pryor submits his name for the NFL draft.

* The Cubs can't hang this implosion on Steve Bartman, can they? Six runs scored and six errors committed in a three-game sweep by the Dodgers? Has the team with a league-best record ever fallen more meekly? And I still think Tampa Bay is going to be the toughest out in the postseason. Its bullpen is a killer.

* Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel was his efficient self Saturday, completing 18 of 23 passes for three touchdowns and utilizing seven receivers in a 52-17 conquest of Nebraska. That makes for a 76.8 percent completion percentage on the season with 15 TD throws and one interception. But does he warrant the Heisman over Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, who's completing 72.6 percent with 18 TDs and three interceptions? Too bad they don't meet until the Big 12 title game, if at all. has Daniel and Bradford 1-2 in its QB power rankings.

* Indianapolis is 2-2 with mirrors. The Colts victimized Houston backup QB Sage Rosenfels in the crunch Sunday to steal away with a victory they didn't deserve. But with All-Pro safety Bob Sanders out of the lineup, can Peyton Manning keep transforming defeat into victory? Not against top teams.

* Thomas Vanek is the key to the Sabres avoiding another slow start. Four goals in his first 19 games isn't going to cut it unless he's making opponents pay for the attention he receives by piling up the assists.


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