Vandy nears rare return to Top 25

A 3-0 start has Vanderbilt knocking on the door of its first national ranking in 24 years.

The Commodores, undefeated through three games for only the third time since 1984, received 63 votes in this week's Associated Press poll, the most of any team outside the Top 25.

That's no small accomplishment for a program that hasn't won a bowl game since 1955 and is in the midst of a 25-year losing streak.

Should Vanderbilt win at Mississippi on Saturday, the Commodores could vault into the national rankings for the first time since being ranked No. 19 after the first four games in 1984.

"It's great that we're up there," safety Ryan Hamilton said. "I hope we end up in the Top 25 after this week."

Vanderbilt lost several key players from last year's 5-7 team. Its 3-0 start has been fueled mainly by strong performances in the second half, during which it has outscored opponents 45-10.

ECU star injured

GREENVILLE, N.C. — East Carolina linebacker Quentin Cotton is likely out for the season after injuring his right knee during the Pirates' recent victory over Tulane.

Cotton, one of East Carolina's top defensive players, was hurt in the second quarter during a goal-line stand in the Pirates' 28-24 come-from-behind win Saturday.

The senior had started 15 games over the past two seasons and all three games this year for the 15th-ranked Pirates. He has two interceptions and 1½ sacks this year.

Oregon QB out

EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon quarterback Justin Roper will be out two to four weeks because of a partially torn ligament in his left knee.

Ducks Coach Mike Bellotti said Roper injured his knee late in a 32-26 overtime victory at Purdue on Saturday.

Murray's Williams honored

MURRAY — Murray State linebacker Nathan Williams was named national defensive player of the week in the Football Championship Subdivision by the Sports Network.

Williams had 23 tackles in a loss to Illinois State. The total was the highest in the nation (all levels) last weekend. He also had a sack and a fumble recovery.