With home teams finding it tough to win and upsets coming in clusters, Big Eight teams were fit to be tied. And that's just what five of them were—Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State sharing first place with 2-1 records.
Early in the week, Charlie Weatherbie of Oklahoma State got the word: because of disappointing performances he was not going to be the starting quarterback against the Sooners. With the game barely a minute old, Weatherbie watched from the sidelines as Cowboy Halfback Terry Miller zipped 72 yards for a touchdown. (Miller finished with 159 yards.) And Weatherbie was watching minutes later while Abby Daigle made it 10-0 with a 25-yard field goal. Still watching, he saw the Sooners bounce back to take a 21-13 halftime lead.
Because one of the Cowboy coaches had argued too strenuously that time had not run out at the end of the half, his team was assessed a 15-yard penalty on the second-half kickoff. The Sooners recovered their own on-side kick, giving them the ball on State's 28. But from there on the Cowboy defense became obstinate and allowed just 68 yards and one first down. The best the Sooners could do on that first series of plays in the third period was to get a field goal.
November 1, 1976
Then, with 8:13 left in the period, State fell on an Oklahoma bobble on the Sooner 37. That's when Charlie Weatherbie stopped watching and got into the action. In six plays—one a 16-yard pass—he guided the Cowboys to a score, Skip Taylor going over from six yards out. A Weatherbie-to-Taylor pass was good for a two-point conversion that sliced Oklahoma's margin to 24-21.
Minutes later, the Cowboys punted from deep in their own territory. There followed a remarkable display of ineptitude by the Sooners, one having the punt bounce off his chest, another kicking the ball and a third picking it up and dropping it. Cowboy Steve Stephens finally came up with the ball on the State 29. Oklahoma State failed to capitalize on this break, but later the Cowboys took advantage of a 26-yard Sooner punt, Weatherbie climaxing a 43-yard scoring drive with a five-yard pass to Ricky Taylor to take a 28-24 lead with 6:46 left. Daigle booted his third field goal, a 46-yarder after another not-so-booming Sooner punt that went 11 yards.
Following the 31-24 upset victory by the Cowboys, Weatherbie said he had not been bothered by his benching. "I was there if needed," he said. "The Lord was on my side. Psalms 37, verses 23 and 24 tell you, 'All good men who walk with the Lord will,' uh ah, I can't remember it now. But it helped in that last half."
Colorado put together five quick scoring drives ranging from 51 to 82 yards to down Iowa State 33-14. Thus the Buffaloes became only the third Big Eight team in 12 conference games to win one at home. Kansas won at Kansas State 24-14.
Visitors also dominated the Big Ten: Michigan State slugged Illinois 31-23, Wisconsin beat Northwestern 28-25, Iowa rocked Minnesota 22-12 and Michigan drubbed Indiana 35-0. It was a particularly bad week for Minnesota (3-1 in the Big Ten), which was placed on indefinite probation by the NCAA. The Gophers, who spurted to a 12-0 lead, lost to the Hawkeyes as Bill Schultz scored on 70-and 28-yard pass plays. Rob Lytle of Michigan rambled for 175 yards in 25 carries. The only home team to win in the Big Ten was Ohio State, which beat Purdue 24-3. But the Buckeyes lost Quarterback Rod Gerald for the season when he suffered three fractured vertebrae. Keeping the Buckeye offense going was Tailback Jeff Logan, who picked up 175 yards.
Bowling Green (4-1) absorbed its first MidAmerican setback, a 9-7 loss to Miami of Ohio. First-place Ball State (2-0) took a non-conference game from Appalachian State 20-7. And Ohio U. (4-1) lost to outsider William and Mary 20-0.
1. MICHIGAN (7-0)
2. MISSOURI (5-2)
3. NEBRASKA (5-1-1)
Texas A&M and Texas won by putting their best feet forward, but Arkansas prevailed by utilizing its hands. Tony Franklin set an SWC record by booting field goals of 38, 39, 32, 29 and 35 yards for the Aggies against Rice. And teammate George Woodard, a 248-pound fullback, ran for 188 yards and four touchdowns. But the Aggies still had trouble finishing off the Owls. Tommy Kramer of Rice, the nation's leader in total offense and pass completions, tossed three TD passes and hit on 24 of 59 attempts for 376 yards. Ten of those throws were caught by Doug Cunningham, giving him 47 receptions. The two teams combined for 1,092 yards in total offense, the Aggies setting school marks by rushing for 526 yards and gaining 622 overall as they won 57-34. A&M's points were the most in an SWC game since 1960.
Texas nudged SMU 13-12 behind the booming kicks of Russell Erxleben, who had field goals of 57 and 52 yards. Erxleben entered the game as the nation's best punter with a 48.6-yard average and kicked five times for an average of 54.2 yards. His final punt left the Mustangs with the ball on their own 15 and trailing 13-6 late in the fourth quarter. Minutes earlier, Johnny (Lam) Jones had scored Texas' lone touchdown on a dazzling 63-yard sprint. SMU Quarterback Ricky Wesson, who did not start because of a bum elbow, then oiled up his arm and completed three passes for 48 yards. With 51 seconds left. Wesson lobbed a two-yard scoring pass to Tight End Robert Fisher, cutting the Longhorn margin to 13-12. Texas held on when, after a five-yard illegal-motion penalty, Wesson's pass for a two-point conversion was batted away.
Arkansas, too, had to come through with some late defensive efforts to preserve a 14-7 victory over Houston. The Razorbacks grabbed four Cougar fumbles, and Linebacker Larry Jackson ended Houston's last-ditch drive by picking off a pass at his own 17. Ben Cowins of the Razorbacks gained a total of 186 yards, picking up almost half of that on an 89-yard touchdown gallop.
In a non-conference game, Texas Tech rambled past Arizona 52-27. Tech tailbacks excelled, Billy Taylor lugging the ball for 173 yards and Larry Isaac for 102.
1. TEXAS TECH (5-0)
2. TEXAS (3-1-1)
3. ARKANSAS (4-1)
"I'm hoping I can push that record up so far that no one can ever dream of beating it. I want that record to be mine as long as I'm on this earth." So said Tony Dorsett of Pittsburgh after cracking Archie Griffin's year-old major-college career mark for rushing, doing it on a 32-yard scoring jaunt as Pitt crushed Navy 45-0. With four games to go, Dorsett has 5,206 yards and is a sure bet to surpass the absolute record of 5,297 held by Howard Stevens, who played two seasons for Randolph-Macon, a small college, and two for Louisville. Dorsett established two other NCAA records, becoming the first to pick up 1,000 yards in four straight seasons (he has 1,072 so far this year) and erasing Ed Marinaro's mark for carries with 931.
Army, Syracuse and Penn State took to the air. Leamon Hall (page 40) set a Cadet season record for completions (119) as he hit on 16 of 24 passes, but in vain as Army lost to Boston College 27-10. The Eagles powered their way past the Cadets by grinding out 390 yards on the ground. Sophomore passers excelled as Syracuse stopped Temple 24-16. Bill Hurley of the Orangemen, who had passed for only 110 yards in his first six games this season, completed 11 of 20 attempts for 193 yards and rushed for another 53 yards. And Syracuse Safety Tim Moresco came through with several last-man tackles to thwart Temple's scoring chances. For the Nittany Lions, who dealt West Virginia its first home shutout in 13 years, 33-0, the passing was done by Chuck Fusina, who hit on 15 of 24 throws for 261 yards and two touchdowns.
Visiting teams came out on top in all three Ivy League battles. Harvard built a 14-0 first-period lead at Princeton and then hung on for a 20-14 decision. That left Harvard with a 3-1 Ivy record and tied for first place with Brown and Yale. The Elis, who controlled the ball for nearly 45 minutes, whipped Penn 21-7. Yale Running Back John Pagliaro, whose father is a mailman, also did a lot of carrying. He tied the Yale record for rushing attempts (33) as he gained 187 yards and scored three times. Thirty of Yale's 32 first downs (one short of the Ivy mark) came on the ground as the Bulldogs rushed 84 times for 429 yards. Dartmouth (2-2 in the league) swept to a 35-0 victory at Cornell.
The other Ivies played independents, Brown stopping Holy Cross 28-18 and Columbia being smeared 47-0 by Rutgers. Although the latter game was played in New Jersey—it was the first collegiate contest at the new Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands—Columbia was the home team. That was because the game originally had been scheduled for the Lions' Baker Field. As was anticipated, however, it was the Scarlet Knights who made themselves at home. In extending their winning streak to 14 games, longest in the country, they recovered seven of Columbia's nine fumbles and gained 537 yards, getting three touchdowns from Halfback Mark Lassiter.
A 17-point fourth-quarter splurge enabled Colgate to down Lafayette 24-14 and remain unbeaten. Sophomore Bruce Malverty of the Red Raiders broke loose for an 88-yard scoring run during the uprising and wound up with 179 yards. C. W. Post had its 10-game victory string snapped by Ithaca 28-7.
Powerful ground attacks led Connecticut and Lehigh to wins. The Huskies ran for 281 yards as they handed Massachusetts its first Yankee Conference loss, 28-6. And the Engineers rushed for 360 yards—174 of them by Rod Gardner and 114 by Dave Aprill—as they sank Maine 24-0.
1. PITTSBURGH (7-0)
2. RUTGERS (7-0)
3. BOSTON COLLEGE (5-1)
Injuries plagued Pac 8 teams. California had to take on UCLA without No. 1 Quarterback Joe Roth and his ace receiver, Wesley Walker, both of whom were hurt. Things evened up slightly when Bruin Quarterback Jeff Dankworth, who had led UCLA to a quick 14-0 lead, went to the bench with a hip injury. Roth's sub, Fred Besana, sneaked over for a touchdown and the Bears made it 14-13 on a pair of 41-yard field goals by Jim Breech. Also aiding Cal's cause was Defensive Back Anthony Green, who recovered four UCLA fumbles. But then the Bruins stiffened, and Dankworth came back to direct them to three touchdowns and a 35-19 win.
Oregon State lost five players to injuries while playing Southern Cal: two middle linebackers, both defensive ends and starting Quarterback Scott Richardson. Richardson is the fourth Oregon State quarterback to be injured this season. USC also had a major casualty, Ricky Bell being sidelined with a hip injury after gaining 68 yards in six tries in the first period. State was unable to find the replacements it needed, but the Trojans inserted freshman Charles White in Bell's runningback spot and he came through with 107 yards and four TDs in 18 carries as USC breezed 56-0. USC, which amassed 526 yards, supplanted Michigan as the national leader in total offense, 491.7 yards a game to 487.7.
Washington got 157 yards rushing from freshman Tailback Joe Steele and 130 more from Fullback Robin Earl to trim Oregon 14-7. The Huskies got the game-winning score on a 72-yard run by Steele in the third period. Stanford Tailback Gary Lynn plunged the final yard with 29 seconds left to give the Cardinals a 22-16 victory over Washington State.
With sophomore Quarterback Marc Cousins scoring four times and gaining 104 of Wyoming's 465 rushing yards, the Cowboys stopped Utah 45-22 and stayed atop the WAC with a 4-0 record.
Although hampered by injuries, San Diego State downed Cal State-Fullerton 27-14. Doing the job for the Aztecs were a couple of third-stringers, Quarterback Tom Craft completing 16 of 20 passes for 116 yards and Tailback Charlie Crews running for 71 yards.
The Citadel beat Air Force 26-7.
1. UCLA (6-0-1)
2. USC (5-1)
3. WYOMING (6-1)
Taking advantage of Kentucky mistakes, Georgia marched to a 31-7 victory. A fumbled punt and a dropped pitchout by the Wildcats set up two Georgia scores. Later, Kentucky botched up a pair of long drives by incurring 15-yard penalties deep in Bulldog territory. And a 37-yard field goal try by Kentucky glanced off the goalpost and bounced away. Still, the Wildcats were down only 17-7 in the third period, and their hopes rose when they punted the ball to the Bulldog one-yard line. But Georgia went 99 yards to score, Ray Goff passing to Gene Washington for the final 87. Kentucky finished with more first downs and more total yards, but could not keep the opportunistic Bulldogs from improving their Southeastern Conference record to 3-1.
Remaining on top of the SEC was Florida (3-0), which rallied from a 10-0 deficit to cut down Tennessee 20-18. The Gators tied the score in the second quarter on Quarterback Jimmy Fisher's two-yard keeper and a 42-yard field goal by David Posey. A seven-yard touchdown scamper by Willie Wilder and Posey's 33-yard field goal put Florida in front 20-10. Tennessee made it close on a late two-yard scoring plunge by Stanley Morgan, who then added a two-point conversion after taking a pitchout. But the Vols' onside kick was recovered by the Gators, who ran out the clock. Florida will battle for first place this Saturday with Auburn, which beat independent Florida State 31-19. Mississippi stopped Vanderbilt 20-3, Alabama cruised past Louisville 24-3, and Mississippi State edged Southern Mississippi 14-6.
"This game could be the season for us," said Duke Coach Mike McGee before facing Maryland at home in a contest between two teams undefeated in Atlantic Coast Conference competition. Maryland never let Duke get inside its 20 en route to a 30-3 victory.
In other conference games, Virginia held off Wake Forest 18-17 and North Carolina State zapped Clemson 38-21. North Carolina faced East Carolina, ranked 20th in one poll, and came away with a 12-10 victory. The Tar Heels did not score a touchdown, but got field goals of 31, 24 and 17 yards from Tom Biddle and a 49-yarder from Jeff Arnold to hand the Pirates their first loss.
Notre Dame equaled a record set by its 1946 squad, running its string of quarters without giving up a touchdown to 20 in a 13-6 victory over South Carolina. To accomplish this, the Irish had to clamp down on Gamecock Quarterback Ron Bass, who went into the contest as the second most accurate passer (62.1%) in the country. Against Notre Dame he completed only four of 14, and the only scores for South Carolina came on field goals. Irish Halfback Al Hunter rambled for 181 yards in 32 trips.
Three other visitors to the South did not fare as well. Wichita State was shut out 31-0 by Memphis State, Kent State lost 42-14 to Virginia Tech and TCU was defeated 49-0 by Miami. For the seventh game in a row, Memphis State Quarterback Lloyd Patterson tossed two touchdown passes. Only 10,539 fans were on hand in the 80,010-seat Orange Bowl to see Miami end its four-game losing streak. That meant that 69,471 people did not see Quarterback E. J. Baker run for 54 yards and connect on 10 of 19 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Also playing before its smallest home crowd of the season was Georgia Tech, which came from behind to defeat Tulane 28-16 before 31,214. Tech trailed 16-14 with less than five minutes remaining when Halfback David Sims hit Split End John Steele with a 25-yard scoring pass. Coach Pepper Rodgers denied he had made derogatory comments about press coverage of his team, which is now 3-3-1. "I'd never say anything bad about the papers," Rodgers insisted. "I don't have to explain my actions. I'm not going to be like Jimmy Carter and talk about my innermost feelings. Just say Pepper Rodgers has been lusting for a win."
Tennessee Tech moved to the top of the Ohio Valley Conference with a 3-0 record, knocking off Morehead State 28-23 while Eastern Kentucky (3-1) was toppled by Western Kentucky 10-6.
1. MARYLAND (7-0)
2. GEORGIA (6-1)
3. FLORIDA (5-1)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Pittsburgh Tailback Tony Dorsett, in breaking the career record for rushing yardage, rambled for 180 yards and three touchdowns (he has 12 this season) in 27 carries as the Panthers drubbed Navy 45-0.
DEFENSE: Arkansas downed Houston 14-7. in no small part because Defensive End Dennis Winston made six solo tackles, assisted on three others and recovered three Cougar fumbles, two inside the Hogs' 15-yard line.