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Dayne vs. Brees in Heisman matchup

The Associated Press

When Wisconsin and Purdue square off Saturday, the talk won’t be about polls, computer rankings or conference tiebreakers.

Friday, November 05, 1999

When Wisconsin and Purdue square off Saturday, the talk won’t be about polls, computer rankings or conference tiebreakers.

All the attention will be on Ron Dayne and Drew Brees.

Dayne and Brees, two of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy, will be on the same field when No. 10 Wisconsin (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) travels to No. 17 Purdue (6-3, 3-3).

”From our perspective, and I’m sure it’s the same at Wisconsin, we haven’t thought about it or even addressed it,” Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller said. ”In our preparation, you’re thinking about what you have to do to contain the entire team, not a matchup of this guy vs. that guy.”

While Brees, who attempted 83 passes last year against the Badgers, will be looking to throw, Dayne will be looking to pick up a chunk of the 321 yards he needs to set the major-college rushing record.

”These guys are in the midst of the Heisman race, but they’re both team players,” Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. ”They’re not thinking about that.”

Both players’ schools also have taken low-key approaches to the Heisman race. Neither is running an overt campaign to influence votes, as has become the custom at most schools, including Georgia Tech, which mails everything from CD-ROMs to personalized mouse pads to voters to publicize quarterback Joe Hamilton.

The lack of campaigning suits Dayne and Brees just fine. Neither player enjoys talking about the Heisman.

”I guess it’s the trophy with the guy trying to stiff-arm somebody,” Brees laughed when asked about the Heisman. ”I don’t really look at it as something I have to have, or my goal in college football. I just want to play to the best of my ability.”

”I don’t think about it,” Dayne said. ”I think about the team.”

And their numbers speak for themselves.

Brees, just a junior, is already second in Purdue career completions and touchdowns and third in total offense with 7,476 yards. He’s also second in the nation this season with 340 yards per game.

”I think everything’s been said about him,” Alvarez said. ”There’s no better quarterback in the country.”

Dayne, who has 5,959 career yards, could become the third player to reach 6,000 career yards, and still has a shot to break Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams’ career record of 6,279 yards rushing set last year.

In other Top 25 games, it’s Minnesota at No. 2 Penn State; No. 3 Virginia Tech at West Virginia; No. 24 Notre Dame at No. 4 Tennessee; Vanderbilt at No. 5 Florida; Colorado at No. 6 Kansas State; No. 7 Georgia Tech at Virginia; and No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 9 Nebraska.

Also, it’s No. 11 Texas at Oklahoma State; LSU at No. 12 Alabama; No. 13 Marshall at Kent; No. 15 BYU at San Diego State; Northwestern at No. 16 Michigan; No. 18 East Carolina at Alabama-Birmingham; No. 20 Ohio State at No. 19 Michigan State; No. 22 Miami at Pittsburgh; Arkansas at No. 23 Mississippi; and No. 25 Southern Mississippi at Memphis.

No. 1 Florida State and No. 14 Georgia are off Saturday.

One of the other marquee matchups of the day features Notre Dame traveling to Tennessee. A win is a must for both teams: The Vols (6-1) need it to stay in contention for a Bowl Championship Series game; the Irish (5-3) to stay in bowl contention, period.

While the Vols are a long shot at best to get a chance to defend their SEC title, not to mention their national crown, Fulmer remains focused on winning one game at a time.

”We’ve basically taken the approach that we want to be two points from perfect at the end of the season, and we can’t do that unless we get by Notre Dame,” Fulmer said.

Conference play really heats up Saturday, with key games in the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10.

In the Big Ten, Penn State (9-0, 5-0) could be tested by Minnesota, which two years ago nearly won at Happy Valley before Penn State scored twice in the fourth quarter for a 16-15 victory.

The Big 12 has Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2) at Nebraska (7-1, 4-1), Colorado (5-3) at Kansas State (8-0, 5-0) and Texas (7-2, 4-1) at Oklahoma State (3-4, 1-3).

K-State is first in the North, with Nebraska and Colorado a game behind; Texas is first in the South, with Texas A&M one of three teams a game back.

The wacky Pac-10 is still up for grabs, with leader Washington (5-3, 4-1) playing at Arizona (6-3, 3-2).

The Huskies control their own fate and need three wins to clinch a Rose Bowl berth.