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A passing mark for Fresno's Sweeney?

Coach Jim Sweeney of Fresno State has put his team's success before his son's individual glory. But the real test could come Saturday, when Kevin Sweeney, the Fresno quarterback, is down to his last chance to break Doug Flutie's all-time major college passing record of 10,579 yards. He needs just 172 yards, a cinch earlier this season, but maybe not now. Sweeney averaged 318 the first four games, but in his last outing, he threw for only 131 yards in a loss to Hawaii. The Bulldogs' coach never expected his son's quest would come down to this - a now-or-never chance against Utah State in Kevin's final college game. ``At the beginning of the season, I told Kevin to forget about the record, to consider it an accomplished fact and go on from there,'' the elder Sweeney said. That the record still hasn't been broken means a lot of people will be watching to see just how often Fresno goes to the air Saturday. Long wait for a long-running rivalry

Fans of the Army-Navy game need to be patient, since these traditional rivals don't play until Dec. 6, three weeks after they last took the field. That's an inordinately long time between games, making the 87th annual Army-Navy contest an isolated addendum to the regular season. The game will almost fall into the bowl period, only without the same significance, since neither team has been of bowl caliber.

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Army (5-5) has enjoyed the better campaign, and could secure a winning season with a victory, while Navy, which has lost its last six games and is 3-7, will be trying to salvage a disappointing year.

The game will be played at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, a facility that once prompted a sportswriter to object, ``For all the atmosphere there is there, it might as well be played in a Pentagon hallway.'' Briefly speaking

At this stage, every field goal is a big one for Washington's Jeff Jaeger, who could equal or even surpass the major-college career field goal mark of 79. He has one game left, against Washington State on Saturday, and needs two more field goals to tie the year-old record set by UCLA's John Lee. UCLA almost kept Jaeger from closing the gap last week, but the Bruins couldn't shut him down. He kicked a game-winning 27-yarder as time expired.

Good college players don't all carry the label ``Born in the USA.'' This season confirms that. Some examples: Sergio Hebra, a native of Cuba, is completing an outstanding career as a wide receiver at Maine; Canadian Pete Giftopoulous has starred at linebacker for Penn State; Zaire native Kubi Kalombo, the son of a Washington diplomat, plays defensive tackle for North Carolina; and quarterback Todd Payton, a Vietnamese-American, has led Appalachian State to a good season. One of the best success stories of all, however, belongs to Christian Okoye, a Nigerian who plays tailback at tiny Azusa Pacific University in California. Okoye, a world-class track and field athlete, saw his first football game just five years ago. By gaining 1,432 yards for the Cougars, though, he attracted a flock of pro scouts.

What a season it's been for Pennsylvania football. Second-ranked Penn State, which faces Pittsburgh Saturday, is on the verge of going 11-0 in back-to-back seasons; Penn could wrap up its own perfect record and fifth consecutive Ivy League crown with a victory over Cornell; and at the small-college level, Susquehanna just completed a 10-0 campaign.

New England football may still be an afterthought nationally, but no region can match its recent record of producing larger-than-life heroes. During each of the last three seasons, one area player has managed to emerge as a full-blown media darling. First came Doug Flutie at Boston College, then Joe Dudek at Plymouth State, and now Gordie Lockbaum at Holy Cross. Flutie won the 1984 Heisman Trophy, Dudek finished his career last year with more touchdowns (79) than any player in college history, and Lockbaum has been a throwback, two-way star for a team that's 10-0, but must spring a major upset of Boston College Saturday to conclude a perfect season.

If coach Bo Schembechler loses any assistants from his present Michigan staff, maybe he'd consider hiring Jack Harbaugh, the father of Jim, the Wolverines' outstanding quarterback. The senior Harbaugh was fired Monday as the head coach at Western Michigan University, just two days after Minnesota handed Michigan its first loss of the season. The irony here is that the dad's job might have been more secure with his son on the team. In 1982, Harbaugh's first year at Western, the Broncos were 7-2-2, but they haven't had a winning season since. The Wolverines, by contrast, have seldom lost with Jim at the helm.

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Why pass if you don't have to? For most teams, that's a hypothetical question, but not for Oklahoma, which doesn't need to throw. The Sooners beat Colorado last week, 28-0, without attempting a single pass, the first no-aerial effort in NCAA play since 1977. Oklahoma does go to the air occasionally, and with excellent results (a nation-leading 19.1 yards per completion), but a strong running game and defense have allowed OU to outscore its last five opponents 226-3. Things should get more interesting this weekend, however, when Nebraska and Oklahoma square off for the Big Eight title.

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