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    Downs & Distance

    Miami-Florida State means something again

    Jim McBride’s four items of interest on this week’s college football landscape:

    Pay attention, now

    Dadgummit, we have ourselves a game in Tallahassee! For the first time in way too long, the Miami-Florida State matchup is must-see. One of college football’s classic rivalries (who could forget Wide Right 1, 2, 3, and 4?) has seemingly been on hiatus since the Miami Muff game in 2005 when the 14th-ranked Seminoles beat the ninth-ranked Hurricanes thanks to a botched field goal attempt late in the game. This rivalry between schools that played as Top 10 foes a dozen times between 1987-2004 has been in the doldrums for the better part of 10 years. Sure they still play every season, but who outside of Bobby Bowden’s extended family noticed? This season, the No. 3 Seminoles and No. 7 Hurricanes are both 7-0, and the game features a legitimate Heisman candidate in ’Noles QB Famous Jameis Winston. Disregard the 22-point spread; this will be a good one. And don’t forget to watch “College GameDay” because these kids are sure to come up with some clever, if not edgy, signs.

    Lazy days?

    There is no doubt that Jadeveon Clowney can be one of the most exciting and powerful players in the country. The South Carolina senior entered the season as a Heisman candidate, boosted by his helmet-popping, football-loosening hit made famous by ESPN. But he has been dogged by allegations of laziness and irked coach Steve Spurrier by missing a game with a mysterious rib injury. (“It still bothers me a lot,” Clowney said. “But I keep that to myself.” Um, no you didn’t). The Old Ball Coach backed off his critical comments, but controversy keeps following the 6-foot-6-inch, 249-pound defensive end. He told the New York Times this week, “My practice habits have picked up way more . . . Last year, I really didn’t practice real hard.” Can’t you just see the pained expression on Spurrier’s contorted face? Clowney may ultimately be costing himself millions as NFL teams must now look at a player once considered the top pick in the draft in a whole new light.

    Punching out


    Starring in the latest episode of “Parents Behaving Badly” is Nathan Creer, the father of Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who was banned from campus for a year after being arrested following an altercation at last week’s game against Michigan State. Creer, according to university police, got in a physical altercation with about a half-dozen fans. Creer, who pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest, was intoxicated and started the fight, according to witnesses cited in the police report. Although it’s unclear what precipitated the fight, it’s a safe bet Creer may have been defending Scheelhaase (13 of 21, 103 yards) and his mates, who were absorbing a 42-3 shellacking from the Spartans on homecoming day. Certainly it’s a natural reaction to stick up for your child, but this wasn’t a pee-wee hockey game. This is major college football. Better to bite your tongue and let the fans yap. At least this way, you’re allowed back on campus to watch your son’s next game.

    The unreal McKoy

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    Division 3 football players often get overlooked on their own campuses, never mind the national landscape. But there’s one New Englander who has made himself such a standout that it’s getting nearly impossible not to take notice. Western Connecticut’s Octavias McKoy last week rushed 43 times for an NCAA all-division record 455 yards in a win over Worcester State. The previous mark of 441 had stood for 17 years. The 5-foot-10-inch, 191-pound senior scored five touchdowns in the victory, giving him 23 for the season. In seven games, the Stratford, Conn., native has rushed 180 times for 1,556 yards. That’s a whopping 8.6-yard per carry average and 222.3 yards per game. Check out the school’s website for some cool links to McKoy’s exploits. The 5-2 Colonials (who after a quick check of the roster must lead the nation in players named Jean-Baptiste) are back in action Saturday at UMass-Dartmouth. Perhaps a Joe Dudek-like Heisman campaign is in order for McKoy.

    Jim McBride can be reached at