Kentucky's week began with a truck crash that killed one player, severely injured another and also killed the best friend of star quarterback Tim Couch. It ends with a game today at No. 1 Tennessee (3:30 p.m., Ch. 4), the Wildcats' traditional rival.
Instead of the buildup to the contest between the bowl-bound Wildcats and the undefeated Volunteers, Kentucky's players and coaches became the focus of an extraordinary drama that unfolded daily.
There was Couch choking up, then breaking down in tears as he talked about the death of his friend Scott Brock.
There was the team's first meeting after Sunday's crash, when players sat in silence, then joined hands, prayed and wept.
"I've never been in there with 100 other guys, especially football players, and had it be that quiet," safety Jeff Zurcher said.
"It was a precious time for the team," said punter Jimmy Carter.
And there was the funeral for Arthur Steinmetz, the transfer player killed in the crash. Steinmetz's parents asked the parents of Jason Watts to sit with them, even though Watts -- the driver and only survivor of the crash -- is being charged with drunken driving and manslaughter.
Kentucky coach Hal Mumme called the gesture "one of the great acts of forgiveness . . . one of the most touching things I've ever seen."
Watts remained hospitalized in good condition Friday at Lexington's University of Kentucky Medical Center. He underwent three operations during the week on a 12-inch gash in his right forearm that he sustained during the crash.
Watts is due in court Dec. 17 to answer the charges of manslaughter and drunken driving. According to a prosecutor, Watts' blood-alcohol content was 1 1/2 times the legal limit when he crashed.
In other televised games today, No. 11 Michigan is at No. 7 Ohio State (noon, Ch. 7), Boston College at West Virginia (noon, ESPN), James Madison at Delaware (noon, Empire), LSU at No. 10 Notre Dame (1:30 p.m., Ch. 2), BYU at Utah (1:30 p.m., ESPN 2), Rice at No. 20 Air Force (2 p.m., Ch. 58), No. 16 Penn State at No. 13 Wisconsin (3 p.m., ESPN), No. 4 Florida at No. 5 Florida State (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7), No. 24 Syracuse at Temple (4 p.m., Empire), South Carolina at Clemson (6:30 p.m., ESPN 2), No. 15 Oregon at Oregon State (6:30 p.m., MSG), and Auburn at Alabama (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
Top 25: Tough way to start out for Wildcats
Second-ranked Kansas State's weekend didn't get off to a very good start on Friday.
The team arrived hours behind schedule Friday night for its game against No. 19 Missouri after one of the team buses collided with the team plane as it sat at Manhattan Regional Airport.
No one was hurt in the airport accident. The plane had minor damage, and the flight was delayed for about 4 1/2 hours as repairs were made.
The team arrived at Columbia Regional Airport at 8:15 p.m. Players boarded buses and left for their hotel without comment. The team bus was arriving for a flight scheduled to leave Manhattan Regional Airport at 2:55 p.m. when it collided with the plane.
Kansas State (10-0) plays Texas A&M a week from today in the Big 12 Conference championship game in St. Louis.
In other games today involving teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, USC is at No. 3 UCLA, No. 9 Arkansas at Mississippi State, Houston at No. 12 Tulane, Mississippi at No. 14 Georgia, Wake Forest at No. 21 Georgia Tech, and Rutgers at No. 23 Virginia Tech.
Big East: Syracuse knows its task
Different season, same scenario for Syracuse: The Orangemen have to win their final two games to capture the Big East championship, and Temple and Miami stand in the way.
Two years ago, Syracuse was out of sync against the Owls but still won, 36-15. Visions of Miami apparently had clouded their heads, and the Hurricanes ended up as champs after a 38-31 victory in the Carrier Dome. The No. 24 Orangemen (6-3 overall, 4-1 Big East) need a new line of thinking this time around against Temple (2-8, 2-4) today.
"We were looking at it honestly, hey, it's just Temple," Syracuse linebacker Stan Gibbs said. "We can't do that this year. You can't go out there with that kind of mentality."
Heisman hype: Texas back leading the way
Texas' Ricky Williams appears to be running away from the field in the Heisman Trophy race, but three quarterbacks were in position to impress voters with big-time efforts this weekend.
Kansas State's Michael Bishop, finally getting a Heisman push from his coach Bill Snyder, can enhance his chances with another big game, against Missouri. In last week's 40-30 win over Nebraska, Bishop dominated the game, throwing for 306 yards and two TDs and running for 140 yards and two more TDs. Bishop enters the weekend with 2,346 yards passing and 20 touchdowns.
UCLA's Cade McNown, his numbers and efficiency rating down from a year ago, still brings an undefeated bunch of Bruins -- with a 19-game winning streak -- to the Rose Bowl against Southern California. McNown enters the game with 2,471 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Texas, off this weekend, plays Texas A&M Friday. Williams, who leads the nation in rushing with 1,865 yards and 27 TDs, needs 63 yards against the Aggies to become Division I-A career rushing leader.