When the going gets tough, the tough get, well, let's admit it, desperate. Having exhausted almost all its X's and O's and a lot of its muscle, Oklahoma still trailed 17-13 with 3:30 left in its Big Eight finale at Nebraska. So, with a 30-mph wind at their back and the ball on their own 15-yard line, the Sooners abandoned the running game they take so much pride in and resorted to a couple of sandlot plays. Passes is what they were. Oklahoma had thrown only two of them in its previous two games and had not completed a pass in nearly a month.
The razzle-dazzle began when sophomore reserve Halfback Woodie Shepard took a pitchout and heaved the first pass of his college career far downfield to Split End Steve Rhodes for a 47-yard gain. With a third-and-20 at the Cornhuskers' 34-yard line and 44 seconds remaining, the Sooners again went to the air, substitute Quarterback Dean Blevins winging a 10-yarder to Rhodes. That, though, was not the end of the play, for Rhodes lateraled the ball to Halfback Elvis Peacock, who ran it 22 yards downfield. That put the ball on the Nebraska two-yard stripe. Six seconds later Peacock, who had earlier scored on runs of one and 50 yards, dashed across for the decisive touchdown. After the 20-17 win, Rhodes said of his two catches, "We put those plays in two weeks ago and I didn't think we'd ever use them. When the plays were called it just made my heart jump out of my shirt." By defeating Nebraska for the fifth straight year, the Sooners knocked the Huskers out of an Orange Bowl berth and into the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl, where they will face Texas Tech. Oklahoma, which wound up in a three-way tie with Oklahoma State and Colorado for the Big Eight title, will meet Wyoming in the Fiesta Bowl. The Cowboys will go to the Tangerine Bowl, where they will face Brigham Young. Representing the Big Eight Conference in the Orange Bowl against Ohio State will be Colorado, which had wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
"It was an emotional scene," said Cincinnati Coach Tony Mason who, after being hospitalized four days with a stomach infection, showed up for a team meeting before his squad took on Louisville. "When the players saw me, they applauded and grabbed me." Throughout the first half, Mason shakily walked the sidelines. Then, with his Bearcats holding a solid 17-6 halftime advantage, he spent the rest of the game in the locker room, resting and listening to the play-by-play on radio. Senior Quarterback Henry Miller ran for one touchdown and teamed up with Split End Harold Lee on a 54-yard pass play that was good for another six points. Cincinnati won 20-6 to finish the season with a 9-2 record.
December 6, 1976
Another senior who concluded his collegiate career with a flourish was Fullback Art Best of Kent State. Best carried the ball 18 times for 168 yards and had touchdown runs of 14, 32,45 and 44 yards as the Golden Flashes drubbed Northern Illinois 42-0 in a MidAmerican game. During his first three seasons, Best did his running for Notre Dame, using his 9.7 speed and 200 pounds to average 5.9 yards a carry. Best became known as a big-play man for the Irish but also earned a reputation as a blithe spirit and, after having his share of troubles, was asked to leave Notre Dame in the summer of 1975. It was not until this fall that Best suited up again, after sitting out last year at Kent State.
Akron advanced to the Division II championship with a 27-6 victory over Nevada-Las Vegas. St. John's of Minnesota took a Division III playoff by demolishing Buena Vista 61-0.
1. MICHIGAN (10-1)
2. OHIO ST. (8-2-1)
3. OKLA. (8-2-1)
Pittsburgh (page 36) and Rutgers remained unbeaten, Navy and Boston College powered their way to victories in traditional season-ending contests and Northern Michigan prevailed by resorting to an effective aerial attack and a neat bit of deception.
Twenty-one years after Halfback Joe Gattuso was named the most valuable player of the 1955 Sugar Bowl, his son Joe earned a similar honor in this year's Army-Navy game. Young Joe, a junior tailback, scored three touchdowns and ran for 128 yards in 29 carries as the Midshipmen won 38-10. Directing the Middies, who piled up 428 yards, was sophomore Quarterback Bob Leszczynski, who hit on 10 of 14 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Army's Leamon Hall completed only 13 of 31, and threw three interceptions. By winning, Navy cut Army's edge in the series to 36-35, with six games having ended in ties.
In a showdown between Jesuit schools, Boston College walloped Holy Cross 59-6. The Eagles picked up 609 yards in the latest meeting in this 80-year-old series, with 220-pound senior Tailback Glen Capriola leading the ground attack by grinding out 179 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Eagle Quarterback Ken Smith completed 12 of 18 passes for 215 yards and two more touchdowns, one a 49-yard pass to sophomore Flanker Paul McCarty. Said McCarty, "I was so open I got nervous waiting to catch the ball."
Northern Michigan Coach Gil Krueger, whose team met Delaware in a Division II quarterfinal, was also a bit nervous. Krueger was anxious about his pet play, one he explained to the officials the night before the game to ensure they wouldn't call it an illegal maneuver. Putting Krueger further on edge was the fact that his Wildcats trailed 17-7 in the last period. Fullback Randy Awrey plunged one yard for a touchdown to make it 17-14. Then, with 4:40 left and the ball on the Delaware 35-yard line, Krueger decided it was time to use the play, a sideline sleeper. Flanker Greg Grigsby, who had come into the game for one down, appeared to leave the field for a substitute. To further disguise the move, Krueger made a substitution at this moment so that it looked as if two players were leaving the field together. Grigsby, who had stopped just inside the sideline marker, sped downfield as the Wildcats snapped the ball on the first count. Quarterback Steve Mariucci, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 240 yards, fired the ball to Grigsby, who did not have a defender within 20 yards of him as he cruised to an easy score. Northern Michigan added another touchdown as it went on to win 28-17.
1. PITTSBURGH (11-0)
2. RUTGERS (11-0)
3. PENN STATE (7-4)
"He's in another world. I think when he was a kid he stuck his finger in an electrical socket." That was Dewey Mitchell's assessment of his fellow Alabama linebacker, sophomore Barry Krauss, after the Tide drubbed Auburn 38-7 in a Southeastern Conference game. Krauss, who is called Space Cadet by his teammates, said, "I guess I've been kind of a wild man. I mean, I love to hit. Love it. What a super time!" What made it so super for Krauss was that he came through with 18 tackles. Also enjoying the romp were sophomore Running Back Tony Nathan, who ran for 142 yards, and junior Cornerback Mike Tucker, who intercepted two passes. Nathan was at his best during a four-play, 80-yard scoring march, breaking loose for a 20-yard run, catching a 42-yard pass and then wrapping things up by bolting over from 14 yards out for the touchdown.
Some 70,000 fans attended the Georgia Tech-Georgia game in Athens, 60,000 of them jamming Sanford Stadium and another 10,000 watching as standees from the railroad tracks which run along an embankment behind one end zone. What they all saw was a three-yard scoring run by Quarterback Ray Goff and a 23-yard field goal by Allan Leavitt that gave the Bulldogs a 10-0 lead going into the last quarter. Then they watched the Yellow Jackets surge back to tie the score on an 18-yard field goal by Dan Smith and a 26-yard end run by Halfback Eddie Lee Ivery. Georgia seemed to be on its way to regaining the lead as it marched downfield. But the Bulldogs coughed up the ball on a fumble on the Tech 29-yard line with 3:09 left. That seemed to assure the Yellow Jackets of no worse than a tie, but on first down they fumbled, the Bulldogs recovering on the Tech 34. On a fourth-and-one play, Goff kept the Bulldog hopes for a victory alive by gaining two yards on a keeper. Meanwhile, Leavitt readied himself for a possible field-goal attempt. "It was like a graveyard on the sidelines," he said later. "Not a soul would say a word to me." His teammates, though, had plenty to say to Leavitt after he booted a field goal from 33 yards out in the last five seconds to give Georgia a 13-10 victory.
Also deadlocked at 10-all late in the fourth period were Florida and Miami. With four minutes left to go, Gator Quarterback Jimmy Fisher raced 48 yards for a touchdown and Florida went on to win 19-10. Fisher kept the Hurricanes off balance throughout the game, running 15 times for 103 yards and completing 14 of 21 passes for a total of 263 yards.
Tennessee overcame a 10-7 halftime deficit and went on to defeat SEC opponent Vanderbilt 13-10. For Bill Battle it was his last game as coach of the Volunteers, whose 6-5 record was their worst in 12 years. Battle, who has endured the wrath of disgruntled fans in recent weeks—For Sale signs appeared on his front lawn and exterminators were sent to his office—announced his resignation early last week.
The largest crowd ever to attend a sports event at the Superdome in New Orleans—76,188—saw Grambling down Southern University 10-2 in the Bayou Classic. Quarterback Doug Williams accounted for the game's only touchdown when he passed 35 yards to Wide Receiver Carlos Pennywell in the first period, the 12th time this season the two had combined on a touchdown pass. For Williams it was his 20th touchdown toss of the year and the 55th of his three-year career with the Tigers.
North Dakota State held off Eastern Kentucky 10-7 in a Division II playoff. In a Division III semifinal, Towson (Md.) State outlasted St. Lawrence 38-36. Senior Quarterback Dan Dullea kept the Tigers rolling by completing 15 of 31 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns. That left Dullea with career totals of 473 completions in 864 attempts for 6,400 yards and 53 touchdowns.
East Carolina, which is leaving the Southern Conference to become an independent, wrapped up the league championship by rattling Appalachian State 35-7. Halfback Eddie Hicks and Fullback Tom Daub both scored two touchdowns for the Pirates, who ended the season with a 9-2 record. Hicks, a sophomore, carried the ball a dozen times and gained 106 of East Carolina's 317 rushing yards.
1. MARYLAND (11-0)
2. GEORGIA (10-1)
3. MISS. ST. (9-2)
"All dreams are possible," said Houston Coach Bill Yeoman, who suffered through a nightmarish 2-8 record last season. His wide-awake Cougars put Rice to sleep 42-20, scoring 19 points in a seven-minute onslaught in the first period. That gave Houston an 8-2 record, at least a share of the Southwest Conference championship and the host role in the Cotton Bowl against undefeated Maryland. Alois Blackwell rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns as the Cougars amassed 501 yards in total offense, 417 of them on the ground. Although losers, the Owls gained even more yards—554. Senior Quarterback Tommy Kramer had his biggest day of the year, passing for 409 yards and three touchdowns as he connected on 27 of 51 throws. That left Kramer, the national passing titlist, with a total of 269 completions in 501 attempts good for 21 touchdowns and 3,319 yards.
Texas Tech, which can tie Houston for first place by defeating Baylor this weekend, also breezed to victory. The Red Raiders rumbled past Arkansas 30-7 as Quarterback Rodney Allison did some bull's-eye passing: 10 of 12 for 163 yards. Split End Godfrey Turner latched on to scoring passes of eight and 17 yards as Tech handed the Razorbacks their fourth consecutive loss.
Texas and Texas A&M squared off on Thanksgiving Day, with the Aggies gobbling up the Longhorns 27-3. For the first time since 1939, Texas failed to score a touchdown against A&M. It was a dismal day all around for the Longhorns, who lost four of their five fumbles, were socked with 11 penalties for 88 yards and had three passes picked off by Defensive Back Lester Hayes. A&M's sophomore fullback, George Woodard, churned out 109 yards in 29 carries and scored twice. Barefooted Kicker Tony Franklin of the Aggies established two records as he booted field goals of 21 and 57 yards. That gave Franklin a conference career mark of 17 field goals and upped his NCAA record for the most field goals of 50 or more yards to 10. "When the locusts move in, they don't leave anything green," was Texas Coach Darrell Royal's cryptic allusion to the fact that 14 of his 22 original starters this year had missed at least two games because of injuries.
"We knew we'd face a fanatical effort by TCU and we did," said Baylor Coach Grant Teaff after the Bears hung on for a 24-19 triumph. The TCU players desperately wanted a victory so they could avoid a winless season and give Coach Jim Shofner, who announced his resignation several weeks ago, a going-away present. They almost did it, building a 9-0 lead in the first period, leading 16-7 at the half and then, after falling behind, putting on one last drive. Sophomore Quarterback Steve Bayuk completed 17 of 30 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns for the Horned Frogs. Eight of those tosses went to Split End Mike Renfro for 161 yards. Baylor finally took the lead with 3:36 remaining when Tailback Gary Blair barged into the end zone from one yard out. Still, the Horned Frogs had not croaked, driving to the Bears' 11-yard line in the closing moments before Linebacker Tim Black sacked Bayuk on a fourth-down play.
"You've got to be pretty hungry to try an onside kick that late in the game," said Texas-El Paso Coach Gil Bartosh after Oklahoma State had done precisely that while leading 42-13 with five minutes left. That was the final score as the Cowboys came up with three interceptions and three UTEP fumbles. Running Back Terry Miller scored three touchdowns and gained 110 yards for the Cowboys. And Quarterback Charlie Weatherbie picked up 180 yards in 12 carries.
Tulsa, which will face McNeese (La.) State in the first Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., rejoiced over a tie. With sophomore Robert Mayberry rushing for 221 yards, West Texas State built a 17-0 lead over Tulsa in the second quarter. Golden Hurricane Quarterback Dave Rader ran six yards for a score shortly before halftime to cut the margin to 17-7. It remained that way until late in the final period, when Tulsa came up with 10 points in the final 2:44 to earn a 17-17 standoff and a share of the Missouri Valley Conference title with New Mexico State. Tulsa scored those 10 points on a 17-yard pass from Rader to Flanker David Powell and a 46-yard field goal by Steve Cox in the last second.
1. HOUSTON (8-2)
2. TEXAS TECH (9-1)
3. TEXAS A&M (9-2)
Notre Dame and Southern California have met in many memorable games; last week's matchup was not one of them. Each team fumbled six times and USC was penalized eight times for 110 yards. The Trojans, who had won nine straight since dropping their season opener to Missouri and who had been averaging 290.6 yards a game on the ground, were limited to only one first down in the first 28 minutes of play.
It was at this juncture that Quarterback Vince Evans was replaced by Rob Hertel, who is best known at USC as an outstanding in-fielder in baseball. In the final two minutes of the first half, however, Hertel proved he was also a pitcher of sorts, completing six of seven passes for 61 yards. He climaxed a 67-yard, 10-play drive with a six-yard scoring pass to Flanker Shelton Diggs for the first points of the afternoon. Nonetheless, Hertel started off the second half on the sidelines, watching as Evans connected with Split End Randy Simmrin on a 12-yard pass and then on a 63-yard scoring bomb. That put Southern Cal in front 14-0. In all, Simmrin caught six passes for 121 yards.
A change in quarterbacks also brought Notre Dame to life, Rusty Lisch taking over from Rick Slager at the start of the fourth quarter and teaming up with Running Back Vagas Ferguson on a 17-yard touchdown pass. A 46-yard field goal by Glen Walker of the Trojans and a one-yard plunge by Lisch with four seconds remaining rounded out the scoring, USC coming out on top 17-13. Southern Cal gained only 106 yards on the ground, 75 of them by Ricky Bell, who alternated at tailback and fullback. Irish Halfback Al Hunter rambled for 115 yards, but five turnovers kept stalling Notre Dame's attack. Notre Dame drove inside the Southern Cal 33-yard line on six different occasions without scoring a point.
Bell, who spent only about 10 minutes in practice last week working out at fullback, played almost half the game at that position. That was because the Trojans' three fullbacks were all injured, Mosi Tatupu in the previous week's Pac-8 showdown against UCLA and both Mike Farmer and Vic Jackson against the Irish. As a fullback, Bell's primary assignment on most plays was to throw blocks. Said USC Coach John Robinson, "In many ways this was Bell's finest hour as a Trojan. Just put yourself in his place. This was his last game as a Trojan in the Coliseum. He was playing before a national TV audience and he's a Heisman candidate. This was his last chance to go out in a blaze of glory. Yet, he switched and played fullback, and played with enthusiasm."
Said Bell, "I didn't always know who I was supposed to block, especially in passing situations. I'd just pick out a white jersey and go at him."
San Diego State wound up its season with a 10-1 record by knocking off New Mexico 17-14 as Tailback David Turner carried the ball 38 times for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Fullback Mike Williams was almost as busy for the Lobos; he lugged the ball 35 times for 167 yards. Williams, a sophomore, finished the season with a total of 1,240 yards rushing.
A Division II quarterfinal contest was won by Montana State, which hung on for a 17-16 decision over New Hampshire. The Bobcats earned a rematch with North Central Conference champion North Dakota State, which they had defeated by a 34-7 margin earlier in the season.
Perhaps no one savors victory more than those accustomed to losing. A year ago. Northern Arizona won its opening game, then lost its next nine. This year, the Lumberjacks, with just four senior starters on hand, seemed destined for more hard times. But last week they wrapped up an 8-3 season by defeating Cal State-Fullerton 20-17 with the aid of a short punt and two long scoring efforts. The punt from the end zone landed on Fuller-ton's 30-yard line and then bounced all the way back to the 12, where Defensive Back Ray Smith fielded it and then ran in for the Lumberjacks' first score. Wide Receiver Tyrone Peterson took care of the other two Lumberjack touchdowns, the first on an 84-yard pass play initiated by Quarterback Herb Daniel, the second by running 28 yards with 6:47 left. It was Northern Arizona's first winning season since 1969. The Lumberjacks also finished the season in third place in the Big Sky Conference by compiling a 4-2 record after having won a mere five league contests in the previous six years.
Also enjoying a rare victory was Oregon State, which clobbered Hawaii 59-0 for its second win in a dozen games.
Arizona State defeated arch-rival Arizona by a score of 27-10.
1. USC (10-1)
2. UCLA (9-1-1)
3. WYOMING (8-3)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Senior Center John Peluci, whose redoubtable blocking has paved Tony Dorsett's way for several years, was popping them aside all night as No. 1 Pittsburgh took Penn State 24-7 to finish the season undefeated.
DEFENSE: Mark Mohr, a senior defensive back, helped Houston beat Rice and earn a Cotton Bowl berth by returning an interception 40 yards and blocking two punts, one resulting in a safety, the other setting up a TD.