"If the ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas," said Allen Trammell, an assistant coach for Florida, another victim of the underdog bite. Doing the biting in the Southeastern Conference clash were Georgia's Bulldogs, 10-7 winners.
A couple of hours before game time, Georgia Coach Vince Dooley minimized his team's chances by saying, "We're small, but that's O.K. because we're also slow."
Florida Coach Doug Dickey tried to pep up his Gators by saying, "Just keep piling the chips on the table and tell 'em to deal. Now go out there and get ugly."
November 17, 1975
Getting ugly, and just plain dirty, was easy, because a thunderstorm had gunked up the Gator Bowl. Florida repeatedly turned scoring chances into "ifs" and "buts," and led only 7-3 with less than four minutes left. Then Georgia got the ball on its own 20 and Offensive Coordinator Bill Pace sent in a play, one he changed because of a TV timeout. His second thought was the wide-counter-pass, which Quarterback Matt Robinson got in motion by handing off to Tight End Richard Appleby, who is eminently strong of arm but horribly lacking in form. Appleby wafted a pass more than 50 yards to the Florida 30, a pathetic, struggling-for-life toss that served its purpose when Flanker Gene Washington caught up with it and took it into the end zone. There was still time for the ugly Gators; they had possession on the Georgia 21 with 1:09 to play. Then came more "buts" and an "if." Florida tried three passes. Zero. So the Gators went for a field goal and a tie. They might have achieved that if the ball had been centered properly. It was not, and the Gators were through.
Alabama struggled to a 23-10 win over LSU. The victory was the 250th for Bear Bryant and assured the Crimson Tide of at least a lie for the SEC title. Alabama, which forced seven LSU turnovers, got all of its second-half points on field goals of 50, 42 and 25 yards by Bucky Berrey.
Auburn salvaged a 21-21 SEC tie with Mississippi State, thanks to four field goals by Neil O'Donoghue, one from 54 yards out.
Richmond beat The Citadel 7-0 to wrap up the Southern Conference championship. East Carolina set league records for rushing (633 yards) and total offense (690 yards) in demolishing Virginia 61-10.
Air Force came from 12 points back to down Tulane 13-12. Navy also rallied, falling behind 16-3 to Miami before revving up for a 17-16 win. But Fairleigh Dickinson did not come from behind. It got there fast, stayed there and lost to Bowie State 83-0.
1. Alabama (8-1)
2. Georgia (7-2)
3. Florida (7-2)
Kicker Tom Skladany was so happy about Ohio State's 40-3 thrashing of Illinois that he talked backwards, and Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler was so ecstatic about his 28-0 defeat of Purdue that he resorted to mild theatrics. Skladany, who set Big Ten records with a 56.5-yard punting average on four kicks and a 59-yard field goal, likes to pronounce words in reverse and after the game gave renditions of two of his favorites: Esor Lwob. Buckeye Safety Tim Fox, who ran 20 yards with an intercepted pass for a touchdown and then did a somersault in the end zone, explained his antics by saying, "I get tired of people doing all those dances." Fox' act stole the show from a hot-air balloon painted to look like a giant tomato that floated over the stadium advertising a pizza parlor. Other happy Buckeyes were Archie Griffin, whose 127 yards gave him a career total of 5,007, and Pete Johnson, whose two touchdowns set a Big Ten season record of 21. As for Schembechler, it was Rick Leach, a left-handed freshman quarterback, who put him in high spirits by passing for 218 yards. "On only nine passes," marveled Bo as he exuberantly cranked up his left arm and feigned horror about throwing so often. Six of Leach's tosses were caught, five by Jim Smith, one for an 83-yard touchdown that was the longest pass play in Wolverine history.
Minnesota's Tony Dungy hit on 17 of 25 passes for 193 yards in a 33-9 bombing of Northwestern. Michigan State survived six turnovers to down Indiana 14-6. Iowa, with its highest point total in 72 games, won its second game in a row for the first time since 1969 by defeating Wisconsin 45-28.
Nebraska took advantage of Oklahoma's loss and moved to the top of the Big Eight with a 12-0 decision over Kansas State. Tailback Monte Anthony picked up 107 yards for the Cornhuskers, and Tony Davis added 74. Missouri wiped out Iowa State 44-14. Colorado got 196 yards from Fullbacks Terry Kunz and Jim Kelleher in a 17-7 defeat of Oklahoma State.
Georgia Tech came to Notre Dame with the best rushing average in the country—376.4 yards a game—and looked like it would live up to its stats when Pat Moriarity dashed 38 yards on the first play. From there on, though, the Yellow Jackets' running game was pinched off and Notre Dame's went into high gear. Irish Halfback Jerome Heavens scored on runs of 16 and 73 yards and had 148 yards all told, five more than Tech, which lost 24-3. The Yellow Jackets were also frustrated when they passed, all four attempts failing.
Third-straight league titles were sewed up by Tulsa, which walloped Missouri Valley foe Drake 70-7, and by Miami of Ohio, whose Sherman Smith scored four times in a 44-21 romp over Mid-American opponent Western Michigan. A month after being demoted to third string because he kept fumbling, Tailback Jamie Franklin scored three touchdowns as Maryland beat Cincinnati 21-19.
1. Ohio State (9-0)
2. Nebraska (9-0)
3. Oklahoma (8-1)
"I think Johnny Evans' quick kick was the nicest thing I've seen since I met my wife," said North Carolina State Coach Lou Holtz after upsetting Penn State 15-14. Evans got one off his boot on a third-and-21 play in the fourth period, an 81-yarder that finally stopped rolling on Penn State's 10. The Wolfpack had battled back from a 14-0 deficit, taking the lead on Jay Sherrill's 24-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. North Carolina State's touchdowns both came on one-yard plunges by Ted Brown, and its victory was sealed when Chris Bahr missed a last-ditch 46-yard field goal.
A counterpoint to that miss was a hit on a 38-yarder by Bill McKenzie with four seconds to go that enabled West Virginia to jolt Pittsburgh 17-14. McKenzie, a sophomore walk-on, had kicked only one field goal in high school and but two all season. Pitt's Tony Dorsett, who ran for 107 yards, had made it 14-14 on a nine-yard pass play in the fourth period and it seemed that Coach Bobby Bowden of West Virginia would have to settle for his first tie in 22 years of coaching. But his Mountaineers got the ball for one last time with 10 seconds to go, and Quarterback Dan Kendra set up the field goal with a 26-yard pass to Randy Swinson. McKenzie's boot put the icing on a couple of birthday cakes—Mountaineer Field's 50th and Bowden's 46th.
With Bob Bateman and Paul Michalko completing 25 of 42 passes for 363 yards, Brown crumpled Cornell 45-23. That win, coupled with Harvard's loss to Princeton, moved the Bruins (4-0-1) to the top of the Ivy League. Early in the fourth quarter, with the Crimson trailing 24-0, hundreds of Harvard fans began leaving the stadium to beat the traffic. As soon as they did the Crimson got under way, too. Sophomore Quarterback Tim Davenport, who had played just three minutes all season, rallied Harvard for 20 points in 7½ minutes before running out of magic. Yale (4-1) tied Harvard for second place, stopping Penn 24-14 as Don Gesicki gained 164 yards rushing. Dartmouth, which had knocked off Columbia for its 300th victory in 1937 and for its 400th in 1960, kept the sequence going with a 22-17 come-from-behind win for its 500th.
Four touchdowns each by Glen Capriola of Boston College and Curt Edwards of Rutgers spurred their teams to romps, 31-0 over Army and 48-6 over Lafayette. Massachusetts, getting three touchdowns from Rich Jessamy, beat Holy Cross 45-13 to post its eighth win.
1. Penn State (8-2)
2. West Virginia (7-2)
3. Pittsburgh (6-3)
A foot, an arm and lots of strong legs earned Pacific Eight wins for Stanford, California and UCLA. As the clock atop the Los Angeles Coliseum peristyle ticked off the final minute Stanford's Mike Langford jogged in place, did deep knee bends, "anything to keep warm and build my concentration," he said. Langford, who had already kicked a 55-yard field goal, knew he would soon be called upon because USC and Stanford were deadlocked at 10-all. With five seconds left, the Cardinals called a time-out. Langford, whose 33-yarder in the final nine seconds had tied Michigan two months ago, hit this time from 37 yards out for a 13-10 victory that enhanced Stanford's chances for a Rose Bowl trip and virtually eliminated USC's.
At Berkeley's Memorial Stadium, a sign read NEXT HOME GAME, ROSE BOWL. With Joe Roth finding his receivers on 24 of 37 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns, the Golden Bears won 27-24 over Washington, which had previously yielded only 70.5 yards passing per game. Steve Rivera had 10 receptions for 183 yards and two TDs. That gave Rivera 29 catches in the last three games and 44 for the season. The Huskies, however, were not easily subdued, especially Fullback Robin Earl, who hammered out 130 yards in 30 carries. Washington Coach Don James refused to settle for a tie with a late field-goal attempt, saying, "It was all or nothing. We wanted the bowl, too." On fourth down from the Bear 29, the Huskies passed. Incomplete. But wait! California had 12 men on the field. Penalty. Another chance. From the 24, Washington tried a second pass but this too fell incomplete.
A third team with a rosy outlook was UCLA, which legged its way past Oregon 50-17. The Bruins outrushed the Ducks 162 yards to one as they built up a 20-0 first-period lead. Every one of UCLA's 479 yards came on the ground, with Quarterback John Sciarra scampering for 109 yards. Sciarra broke loose for scoring runs of 10, 22 and seven yards as he brought his touchdown total to 13.
All of which means that if UCLA (4-1) takes its final two games from Oregon State and USC it will go to the Rose Bowl because it has beaten both California (5-1) and Stanford (4-1), who will face each other in a season-ender on Nov. 22.
Undefeated Arizona State figured to have an easy time in a Western AC tussle against Wyoming, a loser in seven of eight games. And certainly the Sun Devils would not have to worry about Cowboy runners, for State had not given up a touchdown on the ground all year. Whereupon Wyoming ripped for 275 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. After a fourth-quarter Cowboy touchdown made the score 21-20 State, Wyoming Coach Fred Akers decided to go for the two-point conversion, but Safety John Harris stacked up the run. Freddie Williams, who boosted his running yardage to 1,108 with 174 yards and scored twice, was the Sun Devils' prime mover.
Sixty-four passes filled the air as Arizona rallied to defeat previously unbeaten San Diego State 31-24. Wildcat Bruce Hill completed 14 of 20 for three touchdowns and 169 yards, while Craig Penrose of the Aztecs was 25 for 43 for 258 yards and two touchdowns. But three of Penrose's tosses were picked off, the final one with 35 seconds remaining to preserve Arizona's win.
1. Arizona State (9-0)
2. UCLA (6-2-1)
3. USC (7-2)
Two brothers and a barefoot freshman were instrumental in Southwest Conference wins by Texas and Texas A&M. Sophomore Fullback Earl Campbell rumbled past the 1,000-yard mark with 133 yards and scored twice to bring his touchdown total to 12 as the Longhorns whipped Baylor 37-21. One of his TDs was set up by his freshman brother Tim, a defensive end, with the first of his two fumble recoveries.
Shoeless Tony Franklin kicked field goals of 50, 35 and 27 yards as the Aggies toppled SMU 36-3. Linebacker Ed Simonini contributed a 48-yard scoring jaunt after picking off a fumble in midair. Texas Tech crunched TCU 34-0, and Arkansas overcame Rice 26-16 as Steve Little kicked four field goals.
Virginia Tech and Houston amassed 49 points in the second half, the Gobblers winning 34-28 when Linebacker Doug Thacker returned an interception 34 yards for a TD.
1. Texas A&M (8-0)
2. Texas (8-1)
3. Arkansas (6-2)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Bob Farnham, a 5'10" end from Brown, set an Ivy League single-game record with 14 pass receptions, scored one touchdown and accounted for 186 yards as the Bruins tore into Cornell for a convincing 45-23 victory.
DEFENSE: Although hampered by a dislocated kneecap, Tackle Mike Butler was a big factor in Kansas' 23-3 upset of Oklahoma, making six tackles, forcing a Sooner fumble and perking up the surprisingly resolute Jayhawk defense.