Notre Dame might use its third starting quarterback of the season when it faces 13th-ranked Southern Cal this week.
Coach Charlie Weis said he will announce tomorrow whether he will stay with freshman Jimmy Clausen, who has started the past five games, or switch to junior Evan Sharpley, who has rallied the Irish in the second halves to pull Notre Dame close against Purdue and Boston College.
Close was not enough against the Eagles Saturday, as Notre Dame fell to 1-6 with a 27-14 home loss.
The Irish opened the season with Demetrius Jones starting in a 33-3 loss to Georgia Tech. He was replaced by Sharpley, who was replaced by Clausen as all three were ineffective. Jones left the team a week after Clausen was named the starter for the second game against Penn State.
Weis has repeatedly said Clausen has been the starter because he's been more accurate throwing. The statistics back him up: Clausen is connecting at 57.4 percent clip (81 for 141), while Sharpley has been good on 53.8 percent of his throws (43 for 80). Weis indicated the numbers aren't as close in practice, so Sharpley needs to look better in practice.
"If he wants to move past Jimmy, which I know he does, it's got to be an everyday thing, it can't just be a game-day thing," he said.
Immediately after Clausen was yanked for throwing his second interception against BC - leading to a touchdown that gave the Eagles a 20-0 lead - Sharpley led the Irish on a seven-play, 79-yard scoring drive. Part of the reason Clausen has struggled more in games may be the speed, Weis said.
"Things happen a lot faster on game day than they do in practice. They happen a lot faster," Weis said. "I think in practice, he's got everything under control. On game day, obviously, the games happen faster."
Meanwhile, Southern Cal's quarterback situation is almost as uncomfortable. Sophomore Mark Sanchez made his first start for the Trojans Saturday in their 20-13 comeback victory over visiting Arizona - which came in as a 21-point underdog.
Sanchez, playing in place of injured John David Booty, completed 19 of 31 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown. "It was ugly, it was bloody, and it was a mess there for a while," Sanchez said, mindful of two interceptions he threw late in the second quarter.
The Trojans (5-1), already going with a makeshift offensive line and without leading rusher Stafon Johnson (sprained foot) for the second straight game, lost All-America left tackle Sam Baker in the second quarter. "He's got a pretty critical hamstring pull," coach Pete Carroll said. "He stayed out there for five or six plays, he couldn't even move. How can I not [be concerned], with all the different guys down?"
When asked who would be Southern Cal's quarterback at South Bend this week, Carroll said, "We just have to see how Booty is feeling. It is a broken finger. We can see the chip in the X-rays. It's something that's supposed to last about two, three weeks."
That being the case, Carroll said Sanchez would enter the week as the starter. USC plays at No. 7 Oregon Oct. 27.
Michigan back in mix
Michigan, which opened the season by being stunned at home by Appalachian State, has bounced back well enough from losses to the Mountaineers and Oregon to get back into the AP Top 25.
The Wolverines (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten) were No. 24 in this week's poll after winning their fifth straight game, a 48-21 victory over Purdue Saturday.
Michigan plays next weekend at Illinois (5-2, 3-1), which had risen to No. 18, but fell out of the poll after losing at Iowa, 10-6.
Outrage from Orange
Still feeling the effects of another big loss, Syracuse coach Greg Robinson said that he was submitting tape of a vicious hit on Orange quarterback Andrew Robinson to Big East officials for review.
The Orange quarterback was sacked high in the final minute of the second quarter by Rutgers defensive back Joe Lefeged, and the play resulted in a lost fumble at the Rutgers 34. No penalty was signaled, but Greg Robinson thought the officials missed an obvious call.
"That was a vicious blow to the head, helmet to helmet," he said. The hit by Lefeged was one of five sacks by the Scarlet Knights in their 38-14 win.
Georgia loses RB
Georgia is still alive in the Southeastern Conference race, though Kregg Lumpkin may have taken his final handoff for the Bulldogs. The injury-plagued senior sustained a serious knee injury in Georgia's 20-17 victory over Vanderbilt, coach Mark Richt said. "He's not going to play any time soon," said Richt . . . At least 22 people were arrested in disturbances following Kentucky's 43-37 triple-overtime upset of then-No. 1 LSU Saturday. Couches were set ablaze near the heart of offcampus student housing in Lexington after the game, and parties continued until 3 a.m., with bonfires in driveways.
Boise St. wins in 4 OTs
It took four overtimes, but Boise State finally able to stop Colin Kaepernick as the Nevada quarterback was sacked on a conversion try to give the host Broncos a 69-67 victory last night.
Kaepernick was responsible for more than 400 yards of offense and five touchdowns, while the teams combined for 48 points in the extra sessions.
It was a wild game from the start, with the teams combining for 1,266 yards of total offense as the Broncos (5-1, 2-0 Western Athletic) beat the Wolfpack (2-4, 0-2) for the eighth straight time.
Kyle Brotzman's 27-yard field goal as time expired in regulation tied the score at 44 for Boise State.
Kaepernick completed 11 of 26 passes for 243 yards and three scores, and carried the ball 14 times for 177 yards and two TDs.
Teammate Luke Lippincott (31 carries, 187 yards) had scored his fourth touchdown on an 8-yard run up the middle to cut the margin to 69-67.
Boise State's Ian Johnson (28 carries, 205 yards) scored from a yard out in the fourth overtime and quarterback Taylor Tharp (26 for 35, 320 yards, 4 TDs) lofted a short pass to Jeremy Avery on the two-point conversion for a 69-61 lead.