Showing Southern hospitality, Mississippi took advantage of only one Notre Dame mistake when the two teams met for the first time in Jackson. The Irish, who went into the game a 14-point favorite, should be grateful. Had the Rebs utilized Yankee opportunism, they would have come away with a rout rather than the 20-13 upset victory that made Rebel yells reverberate from Tupelo to Biloxi. Ole Miss, however, got only one field goal from Notre Dame's five turnovers, one blocked punt and penalties for an ineligible receiver, intentional grounding and too many men on the field.
Mississippi earned both its touchdowns on dazzling drives, while Notre Dame, which was able to convert on only one of 13 third downs, scored all its points as the result of Ole Miss errors—the Rebels matched the Irish in lost fumbles (3) and interceptions (2). With an attack that unleashed such razzle-dazzle as a tailback reverse pitchout, the Rebels struck for their first TD two minutes after Notre Dame had taken a 7-3 lead. Left-handed Quarterback Bobby Garner ignited the 74-yard march with a pass to Roy Coleman good for 52 yards and finished it with a nine-yard scoring toss to Fullback James Storey.
But Garner gave way to the 86° heat and 65% humidity late in the fourth quarter after Dave Reeve's 28-yard field goal had given the Irish a 13-10 lead with 4:53 left to play. Coach Ken Cooper called on Tim Ellis, a senior third-stringer. In an 80-yard drive that ended with another touchdown throw to Storey, Ellis completed three of four passes for 68 yards; the most notable reception was by Tight End L. Q. Smith, who caught the ball coming across the middle and squirmed, twisted, wriggled and wormed his way to the Notre Dame 23 for a 48-yard gain. "That last drive went like it was drawn on the blackboard," said Ellis. Said Cooper, "I went into the game thinking we were going to win it. I guess our players believed it, too."
September 25, 1977
Ole Miss salvaged what was otherwise a dismal week for teams in the Southeast Conference, whose defending champion, Georgia, was upset by Clemson 7-6. To his credit, Bulldog Coach Vince Dooley sacrificed what probably would have been a tie by passing unsuccessfully for a two-point conversion with six seconds left in the game. It was a long-odds gamble after a delay-of-game penalty had put the ball back to the eight-yard line, but Dooley said, "I thought that since we had an opportunity to win, we would go ahead and try. I didn't think we deserved to win in the first place, so I thought I'd stretch our luck to see if we could do it." Les Brown scored the Clemson touchdown on a three-yard run after Jeff Soowal recovered a fumble on the Georgia 48-yard line.
Maryland was also upset, falling to West Virginia 24-16. The Mountaineers' big-play offense included a pair of 54-yard touchdown runs by Dave Riley and Cedric Thomas, which, combined with Maryland errors, gave West Virginia a 24-0 halftime lead. The Terps threatened in the second half but were stopped at the five- and 13-yard lines. "We had the opportunity but we didn't come up with the big plays once we got in close," said Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne.
Tennessee's 24-18 victory over Boston College at Knoxville gave Johnny Majors his first win as the Vols' head coach and the game ball, which was one occasion when the thing wasn't dropped. The error-plagued contest produced a dozen turnovers and a Gertrude Steinish remark from Majors, who said, "A win is a win is a win. You should never get too proud to enjoy one."
Virginia Tech held Texas A&M's 270-pound fullback, George Woodard, to 82 yards on 22 carries and twice stopped the Aggies inside the one-yard line. But Tech had no answers for Quarterback David Walker's deft passing and option pitches and the Aggies won 27-6. A&M gained 449 yards as Walker completed eight of 11 passes, including seven straight, for 97 yards. Tech found some solace in Roscoe Coles, who rushed for 117 yards, and thus became the first player to top 100 yards against A&M since 1974.
Georgia Tech beat Miami (Fla.) 10-6; South Carolina walloped Miami (Ohio) 42-19; Stanford topped Tulane 21-17; and Vanderbilt booted Wake Forest 3-0.
1. MISSISSIPPI STATE (2-0)
2. ALABAMA (1-1)
3. SOUTH CAROLINA (3-0)
The home field advantage took effect a bit late in Lubbock, where New Mexico led eighth-ranked Texas Tech 14-7 with little more than five minutes left in the first half. From that point on, however, the Red Raiders held the Lobos to five first downs and 95 yards total offense en route to a 49-14 victory. Tech made up for its slow start with a third-quarter explosion in which it scored three touchdowns in eight minutes and 46 seconds. Quarterback Rodney Allison iced the game with a 49-yard touchdown bomb to Wide Receiver Sammy Williams.
Things were equally hot in Waco, where the temperature on the field reached 108°, and the resident Baylor Bears scored a 21-6 triumph over a Kentucky fried football team. Coach Fran Curci, however, refused to blame the heat for his team's loss. "It was that swarming Baylor defense that did it," he said. Three Wildcat turnovers accounted for the three Baylor touchdowns.
In a contest apparently scheduled by the Marquis de Sade, Texas outclassed Virginia 68-0. Earl Campbell scored two touchdowns and slashed for 156 yards in 19 carries, while playing little more than a quarter, to become the second leading rusher in Longhorn history with 2,942 yards.
At Little Rock, Lou Holtz experienced the sort of postgame jubilation he rarely knew last season when he coached the New York Jets, as his Arkansas Razorbacks cut up Oklahoma State 28-6. The game matched Heisman candidates Terry Miller, who gained 132 yards on 24 carries for Oklahoma State, and Arkansas' Ben Cowins, who rushed for 203 on 21 carries. Cowins also scored two touchdowns, one of them on a 72-yard run.
Florida ripped Rice 48-3 and Oregon beat TCU 29-24.
1. TEXAS TECH (2-0)
2. TEXAS A&M (2-0)
3. TEXAS (2-0)
At Lincoln, where Nebraska had been knocked out of the rankings a week earlier, Star Wars fell on Alabama. The Cornhuskers saw the film on Friday night and were inspired by it on Saturday afternoon, when The Force seemed to be with Nebraska in a 31-24 victory over the Crimson Tide.
Junking its conservative offense, Nebraska pulled off a fake field goal for one touchdown, a slot reverse for another and further enlivened the contest with a play in which the ball went from Quarterback Tom Sorley to I-Back Rick Berns to Wide Receiver Tim Smith back to Sorley, who then threw an 11-yard pass to Tight End Ken Spaeth. The last time anyone scored more than 30 points against Alabama was in the 1972 Orange Bowl game. The opponent was Nebraska. The score was 38-6.
Alabama had tied the game at 24 with 12:34 left before Nebraska launched an 80-yard drive ending in Berns' decisive touchdown. The key play in the march was a 33-yard third-down pass from Sorley to Smith. Nebraska also profited from five interceptions, two by Monster Back Jim Pillen in the fourth quarter. "Give Nebraska credit for the turnovers," said Bear Bryant. "I think we lost to a good team. I'd like to think that time ran out on us, but I guess that's being optimistic."
Washington State, which had upset Nebraska two weeks ago, socked it to Michigan State 23-21. In an aerial war that produced the combined totals of 37 completions in 60 attempts for 556 yards and four touchdowns, WSU's Jack Thompson had the edge over the Spartans' Big Ten passing champion, Ed Smith. Indeed, Thompson seemed to thrive under adverse conditions, connecting on 12 of 14 passes in the second half despite a sudden rainstorm. All told, Thompson completed 21 of 30 for 364 yards and two touchdowns, both to Flanker Brian Kelly.
Like many of the teams in the Top Ten, No. 1-ranked Michigan looked sluggish in a 21-9 defeat of Duke—a game that ended when time ran out for the Blue Devils on the Wolverine one-yard line. "If you're looking for super powers in college football," said Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler, "you're not going to find them, because of the [limit of] 95 scholarships. We have an equalization of talent. It's probably good for football but bad for Michigan people who expect to win by four or five touchdowns all the time."
Ohio people were not disappointed, however, as the Buckeyes routed Minnesota 38-7. Ohio State also threw eight (count 'em, eight) passes—two for touchdowns. "We passed the ball too much," Woody Hayes said, winking. "We're getting frivolous, and that's not good." Woody was pleased with Quarterback Rod Gerald, who connected on five of seven for 95 yards and a touchdown and added 63 yards on 12 option runs.
Meeting LSU for the second time in 53 years, Indiana scored an unexpected 24-21 victory when Tailback Ric Enis ran 11 yards with a pitchout for the winning touchdown with 2:33 left.
Linebacker Marty Murray scored on a 100-yard pass interception to give Indiana State a 14-9 win over Southern Illinois; Oklahoma poured it on Utah 62-24; Illinois edged Missouri 11-7; and Florida State defeated Kansas State 18-10.
1. OKLAHOMA (2-0)
2. MICHIGAN (2-0)
3. OHIO STATE (2-0)
Houston's two games in six days were evidently too much for the Cougars. Fresh from its Monday night conquest of UCLA, Houston was savaged 31-14 as well-rested Penn State racked up 521 yards total offense, 245 through the air. The defeat was doubly dismal for Houston Coach Bill Yeoman, who also lost Quarterback Danny Davis, prime mover of the Cougars' veer attack. Davis will be out six or seven weeks with a shoulder separation. Asked if his team had suffered any other injuries, Yeoman replied, "That's like asking Mrs. Lincoln if anyone else was hurt."
Junior Quarterback Chuck Fusina led the Lions by completing 15 of 23 passes for 245 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown toss to Split End Scott Fitzkee and four receptions by Tight End Mickey Shuler good for 100 yards.
The Ivy League championship may have been determined on the first Saturday of the conference season. That was the conjecture at New Haven after Yale edged Brown 10-9, with a goal-line stand Eli Coach Carmen Cozza called "the greatest I've ever seen." Trailing 10-7 with less than two minutes to play, Brown had a first-and-goal at the Yale two-yard line, but the Elis' veteran defensive unit—third best in the nation against the rush last year—held on four successive downs, stopping Brown inches from the end zone. With 30 seconds remaining, Yale could either punt or try to eat up the clock with a running play, thereby risking a safety it could afford. Eli Quarterback Bob Rizzo tried to sneak the ball out of the end zone and was tackled for the two points, but the gamble succeeded as Brown was unable to score after the free kick. Yale took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on John Pagliaro's 23-yard run and improved to 10-0 when David Schwartz, who had played a soccer game against Brown Saturday morning, booted a 34-yard field goal in his first varsity attempt. Brown's touchdown came in the fourth quarter on a 52-yard pass from Quarterback Mark Whipple to soph Receiver Mark Farnham. Last year, Brown defeated Yale in the opener but later in the season lost to Penn and ended up tied with the Elis for the Ivy title.
In other Ivy League games, Harvard beat Columbia 21-7; Dartmouth edged Princeton 14-11 and Penn defeated Cornell 17-7.
At Yankee Stadium, Grambling ripped Morgan State 35-19 as Tiger Quarterback Doug Williams, a Heisman Trophy hopeful, completed 21 of 36 passes for 370 yards and four touchdowns.
Pitt rebounded from its opening game loss to Notre Dame to beat William and Mary 28-6; North Carolina State blanked Syracuse 38-0; Army defeated VMI 27-14 and Navy routed Connecticut 38-0.
1. PENN STATE (2-0)
2. ARMY (2-0)
3. PITTSBURGH (1-1)
In yet another instance of a quality team failing to meet the high and unbending standard set for it by the nation's oddsmakers, USC barely survived its mistakes to beat Oregon State at Corvallis, 17-10. A four-touchdown favorite, the Trojans had a 275-53 advantage in rushing yardage but lost four fumbles. One of them, at the USC 10-yard line, enabled the Beavers to tie the score at 10 with a field goal early in the fourth quarter.
In keeping with its No. 2 ranking, however, Southern Cal tried harder after the kick and zoomed 71 yards to the winning touchdown in four plays. The drive was culminated by a 50-yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Rob Hertel to Wide Receiver Randy Simmrin. A play-action pass, it caught both OSU deep backs coming up to play the run. Their concern figured. USC Tailback Charles White carried 38 times for 188 yards, and his running mate, Mosi Tatupu, picked up 95 yards on 10 carries. "We're like everyone else," said USC Coach John Robinson. "There are no super teams in the country."
After seven scoreless quarters, Air Force finally took off against California, but couldn't get high enough to avert defeat 24-14. Trailing 21-14 late in the game, the Falcons intercepted a pass at the Cal 33, but gave the ball back on the next play when Quarterback Dave Ziebart (20 for 41 for 206 yards) was sacked by Tackle Craig Watkins and fumbled. The turnover ultimately gave Cal a field goal and Ziebart a headache that put him on the bench for the final two minutes. Cal Quarterback Charlie Young completed 17 of 29 for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
Washington had enough firepower to out-punch San Jose State 24-3, thanks largely to two first-half touchdowns by Tailback Joe Steele. Steele scored on a 63-yard run and caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Warren Moon.
When Steele had to sit out the second half with a swollen knee, Coach Don James unleashed a pair of freshmen, Fullback Toussaint Tyler and Tailback Kyle Stevens, who combined for 125 yards. The Huskies' Steve Robbins kicked a field goal and three extra points to raise his career total to 152 points, thereby becoming the top placement kicker in Washington history.
UCLA knocked off Kansas 17-7 as Peter Boermeester filled in for injured Frank Corral. A junior-college transfer not listed in the Bruin press brochure, Boermeester came into the game in the second quarter and kicked a 45-yard field goal. "I hardly know him," UCLA Coach Terry Donahue said of his left-footed, soccer-style booter, "and he doesn't know me. I called him over just before we sent him in and asked if he could kick 'em that far. He assured me he could and I was delighted with the result." The Bruins also rushed for 314 yards, Olympic hurdler James Owens picking up an even 100, and a touchdown, on 19 carries.
San Diego State beat Arizona 21-14 in the last 24 seconds when Quarterback Joe Davis connected on a 28-yard touchdown pass to Split End Ronnie Smith.
Arizona State trounced Northwestern 35-3 before a stadium record crowd of 57,149 at Tempe, Ariz.; Northern Arizona inaugurated its new domed stadium with a 25-24 win over Montana and Wyoming beat Texas El Paso, 27-17.
1. USC (2-0)
2. UCLA (1-1)
3. CALIFORNIA (2-0)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Nebraska Tailback Rick Berns, a 6'2", 205-pound junior, ran for 128 yards on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns, including the game winner with 7:12 left, in the Cornhuskers 31-24 defeat of Alabama.
DEFENSE: Mississippi Linebacker Brian Moreland, a 6'2", 226-pound sophomore, recovered two fumbles, intercepted a pass and was credited with 14 tackles, nine unassisted, in the Rebels' 20-13 upset of Notre Dame.