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Ready for Takeoff

The "dull" Air Force Academy football team and its stoic coach zoom toward a bowl landing.

Harridge says he was unable to sleep after losing to BYU last year. "Yeah, we owe them one," he said before the BYU contest. The quarterback kept a news photo from last season's debacle over his bed for a year.

Meanwhile, Palmer won the team's "Mr. Intensity" award for his work in the weight room. For a change, Air Force ball carriers have four jumbo-sized offensive linemen blocking for them this year who average 280 pounds apiece, but when the 175-pound Palmer started bench-pressing 380 pounds and squat-lifting 500, the big guys took notice. Just for grins, the 4.45 flash also returns punts and kickoffs.

For DeBerry and the Falcons, nothing will get easier this season on the road to -- dare we say it? -- their twelfth bowl game in nineteen years. On Saturday they host Tyrone Willingham's revitalized Notre Dame team, also 6-0 and ranked number seven. On October 26, it's off to Wyoming and, after just four days' rest, the Falcons face old nemesis Colorado State. And the week after that? The Zoomies have their always-important match-up with Army, at West Point.

Leave it to Fisher DeBerry, the master of Southern understatement and the nation's seventh-winningest coach, to put things in perspective. "We've got a pretty good self-concept on our football team right now...I said in the beginning of the year that we didn't have a lot of depth, so I'm proud of the way so many of the guys have stepped up. Potentially, we have a pretty good team."

Dull, maybe, but pretty good.

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