Headlinin’: Washington rolls the dice on Montana

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

Making the morning rounds.

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Out of the shadows, into Corvallis. As expected, Nick "Yes That Montana" Montana will make his first career start for Washington Saturday when the Huskies visit Oregon State, replacing gimpy starter Keith Price. Montana, youngest spawn of Joe, played the entire fourth quarter last week after Price was knocked out of a 40-17 loss at USC, connecting on his first touchdown pass with 13 seconds to play in the blowout.

"It just felt right. I loved how Nick had looked the last couple of days [in practice]," said coach Steve Sarkisian. "For our team it's the right thing to do. For Keith it was the right thing to do. Nicky's earned it, he's done a nice job." [Seattle Times]

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This is what happens when you put the cart before the horse. Southern Miss blew a 14-0 lead, its longest winning streak in 60 years and a realistic shot at a BCS bowl Thursday at lowly UAB, dropping a 34-31 decision that will haunt the Golden Eagles even more than their only other loss, a six-turnover debacle at Marshall back in September. UAB — that would be 24-point underdog UAB — converted 12 of 17 third downs, held the ball for nearly 37 minutes and kept USM off the board entirely on four different trips into Blazer territory.

At least the horse is still alive: The choke in Birmingham doesn't end Southern Miss' chances at a Conference USA title (the Eagles can clinch the East Division next week against even lowlier Memphis) or its first 10-win season since 1988. But it does end any chance of moving into the top 16 of the BCS standings with a win over unbeaten Houston in the C-USA title game, likely triggering an automatic big-money bid as the highest-ranked non-"Big Six" conference champion. [Clarion-Ledger, Rivals]

On the Sandusky beat... An attorney for "Victim Four" said Thursday that his client is "more adamant" about testifying against former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky after watching Sandusky tell a national television audience earlier this week that he has never sexually abused underage males. The alleged victim — one of eight Sandusky has been charged with abusing over a span of more than a decade — says Sandusky began testing boundaries the day they met, when Victim Four was 12 or 13, and came to play two roles during the boy's teenage years: Surrogate father and molester. Now 27, Victim Four says he was "a fixture" in the Sandusky household, worked out with Sandusky, accompanied Sandusky to charity events and on road trips, and shared hotel rooms and showers with Sandusky, who plied him with cash and gifts as the abuse continued.{YSP:MORE}

"My client now has become even more adamant that he intends to testify and not waver from his grand jury presentment testimony," attorney Ben Andreozzi told the Harrisburg Patriot-News. "At this point, his anger is directed at Mr. Sandusky. That does not mean that he excuses the actions of the others. It's fair to say that he knew the Sandusky family quite well." [Harrisburg Patriot-News]

We may or may not be hearing something at an undefined point in the future. Among proposals for overhauling the BCS discussed earlier this week is one that would effectively dismantle the BCS structure outside of a championship game matching the No. 1 and No. 2 teams. At meetings in San Francisco earlier this week, there was reportedly strong sentiment toward eliminating "automatic qualifier" status for certain conferences — one of the prime drivers in conference realignment — as well as the two-teams-per-conference limit. The most radical proposal would sever ties with the traditional bowls (the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar) and limit the BCS strictly to organizing the title match.

"There's a lot of stuff being thrown at the wall," an official who attended the meetings told ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski. "I think the people in the room really want to get it right. They're tired of getting beat up." Per another official: "I'd be amazed if that's where we ended up." And another: "I think it really has a chance. It really does." [ESPN, Sports Illustrated]

Free as a Bull. South Florida offensive lineman Tony Kibler was released from jail Thursday on $27,250 bond, 17 days after he was arrested on two felony counts for burglary and improper exhibition of a weapon on school grounds. At the time, police said Kibler was involved in a dispute stemming from a "dissolved relationship" with a female student who lived across the hall in his dorm. The girl complained to police that Kibler had attempted to use a knife to break into her room and "exhibit[ed] the knife in an angry manner." He remains suspended from the team. [Tampa Tribune]

Wink wink nudge nudge. On the same day USC released a Maroon 5-backed video touting receiver Robert Woods for the Biletnikoff Award, coach Lane Kiffin said Woods' status against Oregon is going to be a game-time decision after he watches his go-to playmaker in warmups. "I'm going to have to see speed, that he can go, that he can get in and out of breaks and be able to play at a high level for us," Kiffin said.

For his part, Woods said his ailing ankle is "50-50" and his shoulder is "aggravated," but he still fully expects to play in Eugene. "[Kiffin]'s the one calling the personnel," Woods said, "but I'm definitely in his ear trying to get on the field." [Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register]

Quickly… Penn State hires a law firm. … Geno Smith is formally reprimanded for criticizing Big East officials. … Profiling Brad Wing, the nation's best punter. … And LaMichael James explains in graphic detail why he'll never do the 'O' sign again.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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