NATIONAL GAMEDAY

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NATIONAL GAMEDAY

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: MINNESOTA’S DONOVAHN JONES

Minnesota Gophers freshman Donovahn Jones was a quarterback at Dutchtown High.

He passed up five SEC scholarship offers and ventured to Minnesota largely because of the chance to play quarterback. Now that he’s a wide receiver, he still thinks he made the right decision.

Jones had offers from Missouri, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Kentucky. They all wanted him to play wide receiver. He committed to Missouri, then switched the day before signing day.

The Gophers promised him a shot at quarterback, and it wasn’t bait-and-switch ploy. Jones knew they might quickly make him a receiver, too. “They were honest the whole time,” he said.

Jones played quarterback for a few weeks during preseason camp before switching. Though he has a strong throwing arm, Jones quickly realized how refined the other Gophers quarterbacks — Philip Nelson, Mitch Leidner and Chris Streveler — were as passers.

So Jones said the coaches didn’t need to convince him.

Through eight games, Jones has played a limited role in the passing attack, with only one catch. But the Gophers got him more involved against Nebraska, giving him four rushes on the jet sweep. “That’s my favorite play in the whole playbook,” Jones said. Jones lines up at receiver and goes in motion toward the quarterback, who either hands it to him, gives it to the running back or looks to pass.

“We want to get Donovahn involved because he’s a guy who can turn a 20-yard play into an 80-yard touchdown,” Nelson said.

Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover acknowledges he and the other coaches might have expected too much too soon. “I think sometimes when you have a really good athlete, we as coaches try to speed that process up,” he said.

Jones doesn’t view his switch to wide receiver as temporary. “I wouldn’t go back to change anything,” he said. “I’m proud of where I am now.”

— Minneapolis Star-Tribune

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: BAYLOR

On a weekend when it seems most of the best teams are either off or playing down in competition, it doesn’t hurt to take a look ahead to Thursday when Baylor and Oklahoma meet in one of the biggest midweek games in some time.

Baylor was the laughingstock of the Big 12, stuck at the bottom of the league, when coach Art Briles arrived six years ago.

They had just finished their 12th consecutive losing season since the league’s inception. There were four different coaches in that span, along with a 29-game conference losing streak that still is the longest in the Big 12.

“I’ve never really looked at what had happened prior to that,” Briles said. “I didn’t feel like it was relevant. And it’s really not.”

Especially with what the No. 6 Bears (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) are doing now in quite a reversal.

With their fast-paced offense that leads the nation at 64 points and 718 total yards per game, the Bears are outscoring opponents by an average margin of 48 — like so many of the lopsided losses they used to routinely endure themselves. They scored 69 in their season opener and have reached 70 points four times since.

Baylor is the Big 12’s only undefeated team and, with its highest ranking in 60 years, the only one in the top 10.

“I certainly think that people view us as a legitimate threat,” Briles said. “But I do think now that we’ve earned enough respect where when people look at us, they’re thinking that’s a tough out.”

While the Bears have a school-record 11-game winning streak, they still have a long way to go for a possible Big 12 title and BCS shot. They still have to play the rest of the teams in the top half of the league standings, and go to rival TCU.

Next is the most-anticipated game ever at the world’s largest Baptist university, Thursday night at home against No. 10 Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1). The Bears also still have to play No. 15 Texas Tech, No. 18 Oklahoma State and co-Big 12 leader Texas. That regular-season finale against the Longhorns will be their last game at Floyd Casey Stadium before moving into a new $260 million on-campus stadium being built along Interstate 35 on the banks of the Brazos River.

WORDS FROM AND ABOUT … OHIO STATE’S CARLOS HYDE

After being suspended for the first three games of the season, the running back rebounded with rushing games of 168, 149 and 147 in the past three weeks.

Q: What does it feel like as the blocker in front of Hyde?

Guard Andrew Norwell: We’re just mauling people.

Q: How did Hyde react to the suspension?

Running backs coach Stan Drayton: Mentally, it was an unbelievable advantage for him. Having to play a service role to this football team on the scout team made him hungry, made him extremely hungry. It also made him not take for granted the opportunities that he has in front of him.

Coach Urban Meyer: Every Thursday is called player-development day, and we go through every player on the team. Our strength coach and academic people and our training staff rate them for me. (Carlos) has been very high on each one’s list, which usually means a fairly mature guy. I like where he’s at.

Q: How would you describe your running style and what would you tell NFL teams?

Hyde: I’d probably keep it simple and tell them I’m a violent runner that can break away. I’m doing a good job right now, showing scouts that come to our games that I could be a good back for the next level.

PICK SIX

No. 4 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) at Purdue (1-6, 0-3), Noon, Big Ten Network: Urban Meyer is 20-0, soon to be 21-0, for the Buckeyes, who seemed last week to take their No. 4 BCS ranking to heart and ran up the score. Look for that to happen again. Meyer’s start at Ohio State is the best in college football since Larry Coker opened his career at Miami with 24 consecutive victories, a streak that came to an end in the BCS title game against Ohio State.

No. 8 Clemson (7-1, 5-1 ACC) at Virginia (2-6, 0-4), 3:30 p.m., ESPN: Tajh Boyd has 10,296 career passing yards, but not one against the Cavaliers. That will change with three key injuries to Virginia’s defense. Sammy Watkins, coming off a 14-reception game, should feast against the Cavaliers. The unbalanced schedule in the ACC means that these teams won’t meet again until 2020.

No. 21 Michigan (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) at No. 22 Michigan State (7-1, 4-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC: The winner stays in line for a Big Ten title game and a possible shot at a Rose Bowl, the loser starts looking toward a postseason trip to a bowl game in Florida. The Spartans are a five-point favorite. The Wolverines haven’t won in East Lansing since 2007, when former running back Mike Hart infamously referred to Michigan State as a “little brother” in the postgame news conference.

No. 18 Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) at No. 15 Texas Tech (7-1, 4-1), 7 p.m., Fox: A win would make the Cowboys the first team to win three consecutive versus Texas Tech in Lubbock since Nebraska (1994, 1996 and 2000). The Red Raiders have lost the past two games to Oklahoma State by a combined margin of 98 points, 59-21 last season and 66-6 in 2011.

Colorado (3-4, 0-4 Pac-12) at No. 20 UCLA (5-2, 2-2), 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1: The only Rose Bowl game for UCLA is now home games after consecutive losses to Stanford and Oregon, but Jim Mora’s team has a lot to play for because they are 5-5 in their past 10 and need to prove they are making the improvement necessary to compete. The Bruins played 18 freshmen last week, starting seven.

No. 7 Miami (7-0, 3-0 ACC) at No. 3 Florida State (7-0, 5-0), 8 p.m., ABC: For a battle of unbeaten rivals, the 21 1/2-point spread in favor of the Seminoles is virtually unheard of against a top-10 opponent. The Hurricanes have to establish the run to have a chance against the No. 4 scoring defense in the FBS. Boston College ran for 200 yards on 45 carries against Florida State. The result and the spread may come down to whether Miami can control the clock. See story page CX

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: FIGHTING IRISH’S COREY ROBINSON

Who: A 6-foot-4, 205-pound receiver for Notre Dame

How you may know him: He’s the son of NBA Hall of Fame center David Robinson, aka the Admiral.

How he got to Notre Dame: He intended to go the U.S. Naval Academy, as his father did, until February 2012 when the Irish offered. “And then I had to say, sorry Pops, going in a different direction,” Corey said. “He was actually happy when I told him I wanted to go somewhere else.”

What Corey’s strength is: “Corey is one of those kids who always asks, ‘Hey, Dad, what do I need to do, or how do I need to do it?’” —David Robinson

Little-known facts: He can play the piano, ukulele, guitar, a little flute and a little alto saxophone, some of it self-taught. He attempted to learn French to converse with Spurs guard Tony Parker, but ran out of time.

Rising star: Last weekend he caught passes totaling 101 yards and his first career TD reception.

What teammates say: “He’s a very easygoing guy. It seems like he never really gets riled up. But he’s extremely competitive, and you can tell the way he grew up, there’s a lot of structure — this is how you work, this is what’s expected of you.” — quarterback Tommy Rees

Compiled by Ray Cox

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