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DIFFERENT COUGARS ARE MAKING NCAA PASSING HISTORY

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A different bunch of Cougars are now the kings of the hill in passing offense.

The Houston Cougars are on the verge of breaking several records set by the BYU quarterbacks of the early 1980s.The Cougars from Texas are putting up some amazing numbers with their run-and-shoot offense as they steamroll past beleaguered opponents such as Baylor, which went into last week's game with the top passing defense in the country and came out with 514 passing yards against them and a 66-10 loss.

At its current pace, Houston and junior quarterback Andre Ware will rewrite the NCAA record book in passing, which means it will eliminate many of the records set by Jim McMahon, Steve Young and Robbie Bosco. Even if these Cougars slack off a bit, they'll still smash a lot of records.

The Cougars are averaging 647 yards per game, including 559 yards passing. In comparison, BYU holds both the season record for offense with 584.2 yards in 1983 and in passing with 409.8 in 1980.

Houston likely will break records for most passes completed and attempted per game and for most yards in a season, although Ware may not get the individual records because he hasn't played much in the fourth quarter so far this year.

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MAYBE HALF A TITLE: A clarification of last week's statement that Houston can't compete for the national championship this year because they're on probation:

The Cougars aren't eligible to be rated in the UPI poll, which doesn't allow any teams on probation. However, the AP poll does rate them, currently putting them at No. 8. So the Cougars could conceiveably gain a share of the mythical national championship, if they end up No. 1 in AP. They just can't be a consensus No. 1.

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TRIVIA QUIZ: What was the last team to finish No. 1 in the AP poll while on probation?

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HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH: The Heisman Trophy looks like a three-man battle at this point in the season.

All three are quarterbacks, and all three play for undefeated teams.

One is Ware, who is putting up all the big numbers for Houston. Another is Dee Dowis of Air Force, who was leading the nation in rushing for awhile from his QB spot.

The top contender may be Notre Dame's Tony Rice, since he has some good numbers, plays for a No. 1 team and, after all, plays for Notre Dame. More players out of Notre Dame have won the Heisman (seven) than any other school.

Other Heisman candidates include West Virginia quarterback Major Harris, Florida running back Emmitt Smith, Michigan running back Tony Boles, LSU quarterback Tommy Hodson, Penn State running back Blair Thomas and Indiana running back Anthony Thompson.

Smith has good totals but could be hurt by his team's off-the-field problems. Harris, Hodson, and Thomas could be hurt by their team's average performances this year. Boles and Thompson haven't done anything outstanding yet.

Dowis' chances could be greatly enhanced with a good performance and a victory against the Irish Saturday.

Ware, no matter how big his numbers are, may be hurt by the fact that his team is on probation, which means he's not seen on TV and his team can't receive a posteseson bowl bid.

As for locals Scott Mitchell and Ty Detmer, it's wait 'til next year.

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OH, WE FORGOT: Take a gander at the Fresno State media guide and you'll notice that Kevin Sweeney is listed as No. 1 in NCAA career passing yardage. The Bulldogs have included the NCAA list through 1986, when Sweeney passed up Doug Flutie. However, they have conveniently left out the updated list from 1987, which puts San Diego State's Todd Santos No. 1 by more than 800 yards.

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TRIVIA ANSWER: Oklahoma went 11-0 in 1974 and was ranked No. 1 by AP. USC was ranked No. 1 in the UPI, Football Writers and National Football Foundation polls.

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PICKS: Everything's coming up twos this week. Two of the four locals are in town, two are on TV and only two should come out winners.

Weber State 28, SUSC 24 - The Wildcats finally get a victory for Dave Arslanian, although the T-Birds keep it close.

BYU 31, Colorado State 16 - LaVell Edwards gets win No. 1 against old nemesis Earle Bruce.

Wyoming 43, Utah 34 - Same old story: The Utes can score on anyone, but their defense can't stop anyone, either.

Fresno State 33, Utah State 19 - Most folks are expecting a blowout, but the Bulldogs aren't as good on the road and the Aggies aren't that bad, period.