Ty comes up a winner

September 03, 2002 5:10 AM
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For one night, Notre Dame was back where it belonged among college football elite.

New coach Ty Willingham was not the first choice to rebuild the Irish program, but may be the best. Ty "willed" Notre Dame to a 22-0 victory over defending ACC champion Maryland as a 2½-point favorite, highlighting a wild opening weekend.

The Irish are now 12-0 SU lifetime in the state of New Jersey.

Bettors should also have surmised that teams traveling to parts unknown might tend to struggle. Syracuse, Mississippi State and LSU tested the waters early and drowned.

The Orangemen, a 2½-point underdog at BYU, were tied 21-21 late in the third quarter before falling victim to the heat, altitude and high-octane

Cougar offense 42-21. Mississippi State and LSU were blasted on the road at Oregon and Virginia Tech respectively.

On the flip side, Duke ended a two-year losing streak with a 23-16 upset of East Carolina as a 14-point underdog. Houston whipped Rice 24-10 as a 7½-point dog. California completed the unlikely parlay with an incredible 70-22 blowout of Baylor.

Finally, there’s Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights topped last year’s loss to Cal with a 37-19 loss to 1-AA Villanova.