No. 2 Nebraska was poised to stomp visiting Missouri and thereby lure No. 1 Penn State to the Orange Bowl and a one-on-one clash for national supremacy. And the Huskers seemed on their way to achieving that aim, with Rick Berns rumbling 82 yards for a score on the game's first play from scrimmage. Like the pivotal Nebraska victory over Oklahoma in 1971, this contest wound up 35-31. But this time the Huskers were on the short end of the score and will be in the Orange Bowl for a replay with the Sooners instead of in a battle for No. 1 against the Nittany Lions. Missouri went ahead 28-24 late in the third quarter on a four-yard run by James Wilder, but Nebraska reclaimed the lead 31-28 on Tim Hager's four-yard burst. Then back came the Tigers, only to fumble the ball away at the Nebraska four. But again they came, driving 74 yards for the final touchdown on Wilder's seven-yard run with 3:42 left. Berns set Nebraska records with 36 carries and 255 yards rushing. In all, the two teams gained 993 yards in total offense, 517 by Nebraska. The Tigers' victory also gets them to a bowl—the Liberty, in which they will face LSU.
A Cotton Bowl representative had called a press conference to announce that Oklahoma would play in Dallas, but at the last minute the Sooners decided they wanted to try to avenge the previous week's loss to Nebraska by meeting the Huskers in the first-ever all-Big Eight Orange Bowl. Oklahoma amassed 692 yards in total offense while trampling Oklahoma State 62-7 as Billy Sims ran for 209 yards and scored on runs of one, 35, two and nine yards. That gave Sims 20 touchdowns and a Big Eight single-season rushing record of 1,762 yards, 82 more than Terry Miller had for Oklahoma State a year ago.
For the first time since 1963, Iowa State beat Colorado, winning 20-16 at Boulder, where Walter Grant rushed for 78 yards and passed for 159. Kansas State drubbed archrival Kansas 36-20 in Manhattan.
November 27, 1978
Purdue needed a win or tie at Michigan to all but secure its first Rose Bowl bid in 12 seasons. Coach Jim Young worked hours making individual 8"x10" posters to encourage each of his players. For Mark Herrmann, Young's poster showed a photo of an eye-popping blonde whispering to Clark Gable. "You can have anything you want. Just beat Michigan." The sophomore quarterback lost his chance to find out what anything was 10 minutes into the game when he suffered a neck injury. Without Herrmann, Michigan limited the Boilermakers to 123 yards. Rick Leach of the Wolverines rushed for 131 yards and hit on five of 11 passes, two for touchdowns, as Michigan won 24-6 to knock Purdue out of the Rose Bowl and into the Peach against Georgia Tech. Michigan's triumph set up this week's showdown with Ohio State for the Big Ten title and the trip to Pasadena.
Ohio State had to struggle for a 21-18 win at Indiana. Quick kicks of 52, 76 and 66 yards by Mike Friede kept the Buckeyes bottled up much of the day. So did the work of Hoosier linebackers Joe Norman (he was in on 26 tackles) and Doug Sybert (he was in on 24). After trailing 10-7 at halftime, the Buckeyes went on top 14-10 when Art Schlichter scored from three yards out, dragging two tacklers into the end zone. Ohio State got breathing room when Ricky Johnson, who gained 109 yards, went around end for 46 on a scoring gallop early in the fourth quarter.
In other Big Ten games, Iowa beat Wisconsin 38-24, Michigan State defeated Northwestern 52-3 and Minnesota downed Illinois 24-6 as sophomore Marion Barber rushed for 233 yards and a pair of TDs.
Ball State, which led the country in total defense (yielding only 194.3 yards a game), gave up 387 yards against five-time loser Northern Illinois. Nevertheless the Cardinals were 31-13 victors as they clinched the MidAmerican Conference championship.
1. OKLAHOMA (10-1)
2. NEBRASKA (9-2)
3. MICHIGAN (9-1)
"When I got the ball, for a second I didn't know what to do," said Pittsburgh Safety Jeff Delaney. That moment's hesitation after an Army fumble had plopped right into Delaney's arms at the Panther one was followed by his decision to head for the far end zone. Delaney made it all the way to tie the score at 7-7 and set off a Panther rampage. Defensive End Hugh Green sacked the Cadet quarterback seven times as Pitt went on to win 35-17. That done, the Panthers, who still must play Penn State on Nov. 24, accepted an offer to meet North Carolina State in the Tangerine Bowl.
Rutgers will be the host at the first Garden State Bowl at Giants Stadium in New Jersey's Meadowlands. The Scarlet Knights won 31-21 at Holy Cross as Bob Hering hit on 15 of 28 passes. Rutgers moved the ball on the ground, too, Ted Blackwell running for 141 yards and Glen Kehler for 137.
Syracuse attempted only one pass (it was incomplete) at Boston College. Nonetheless, the Orangemen came out on top 37-23 as they gained 364 yards rushing.
Dartmouth's Buddy Teevens-to-Dave Shula passing combination carried the Big Green to a 28-21 win at Princeton that sewed up the Ivy League title. In addition to running for two touchdowns, Teevens hit on 16 of 26 passes for 244 yards. Shula pulled in eight of those throws for a team-record 191 yards.
Finishing in a tie for second place were Brown and Yale. The Bears, with Mark Whipple passing for 247 yards, including scoring strikes of 27, 21 and 80 yards, won 24-12 at Columbia. Yale led 35-14 in the third period at Harvard, then hung on to take The Game 35-28, the highest-scoring affair in the 103-year-old series. Some Yalies almost added to the festivities, but early in the week Harvard groundkeepers uncovered several fire extinguishers buried at midfield that were to have been set off to spray the turf with a yellow "Y." Cornell was the only Ivy home winner, knocking off Pennsylvania 35-17 behind Joe Holland, who ran for four touchdowns and 263 yards. Holland became the second player to rush for 1,000 yards in an Ivy season (Ed Marinaro was the other), winding up with 1,213.
In the most-played rivalry in college football, Lehigh beat Lafayette, winning their 114th matchup 23-15.
East Stroudsburg State took the Pennsylvania Conference title by beating Clarion 49-4 as Barry Kennedy passed for four touchdowns and ran for another.
Even though John Marzo was on target with 31 of 51 passes for 482 yards and four TDs, Colgate lost 38-29 at Delaware.
1. PENN STATE (10-0)
2. PITTSBURGH (8-2)
3. NAVY (7-3)
Lots of folks felt that after the previous week's 58-0 loss to Southern Methodist, Rice's Owls might not give a hoot. "People expected us to die, but we told our kids to do the unexpected," said Coach Ray Al-born. The Owls did precisely that, shocking Baylor 24-10 as Randy Hertel completed 21 of 36 passes for 212 yards, Doug Cunningham made eight catches and Earl Cooper rushed for 104 yards.
Nothing quite that unexpected happened in the three other Southwest Conference tussles. Texas A & M zipped to a 7-0 lead over Arkansas with only 1:50 gone in the game at Little Rock, but the Aggies' upset hopes were soon crushed. Curtis Dickey rushed for 104 yards, but he lost two fumbles to the rugged Razorback defenders. Tackles Jimmy Walker and Dan Hampton hounded Aggie Quarterback Mike Mosley, sacking him eight times for minus 61 yards as Arkansas won 26-7. Ron Calcagni scored on runs of eight, three and two yards for the Razorbacks and Ben Cowins broke Dickey Morton's Arkansas rushing record, his 74 yards upping his career total to 3,361. Arkansas then accepted an invitation to face UCLA in the Fiesta Bowl.
Another bowl-bound team was Texas, which will take on Maryland in the Sun Bowl, unless Houston fumbles away the SWC lead by dropping both its remaining games, against Texas Tech and Rice. Should the Cougars stumble, the Longhorns will replace them in the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame. Texas held Texas Christian to minus 33 yards rushing during a 41-0 rout, Russell Erxleben kicking field goals of 41, 24, 48 and 30 yards.
Bill Adams of Texas Tech also had four field goals, including a 53-yarder, as the Red Raiders held off visiting SMU 19-16. Tech's James Hadnot picked up 160 yards, giving him 949 in the last five games. In the end, however, it was Safety Ted Watts who made the victory possible with two big plays in the final four minutes. On a fourth-and-one from the Red Raider one, the Mustangs sent Dar-old Turner into the line, where he was stopped by Watts. Then, with 34 seconds to go, Watts intercepted a pass at his own 32, the fifth time Tech had picked off a Mike Ford throw.
North Texas State toppled Memphis State 41-24 as Sophomore Bernard Jackson ran for 158 yards to finish the season with 1,453.
1. HOUSTON (8-1)
2. TEXAS (7-2)
3. ARKANSAS (7-2)
"They were blitzing, so we thought we'd screw 'em up with runs to the outside by Darrin," said the nation's leading passer, Steve Dils of Stanford. And Darrin Nelson's rushing did indeed befuddle California in the 30-10 Stanford win. When Nelson, a sophomore, wasn't rushing for 177 yards and scoring once, he was pulling in four passes, one good for another touchdown. A model of consistency, Nelson wound up the regular season with 1,061 yards rushing (last season he had 1,069) and matched his 1977 total of 50 receptions. Dils hit on 19 of 33 attempts for 297 yards, thus ending the season with 2,943 yards on 247 completions in 391 attempts. He will complete his career with the Cardinals on Dec. 31 in the Blue-bonnet Bowl against either Georgia, Alabama or Auburn.
Arizona State's blitz was more effective than Cal's and was instrumental in a 44-22 triumph at Oregon State paying off with 11 quarterback sacks and 15 tackles behind the line. Mark Malone of the Sun Devils had 133 yards passing and 99 rushing, while freshman Gerald Riggs gained 157 yards on the ground and, like Malone, ran for three TDs.
Washington State's Jack Thompson connected on 17 of 28 passes for 290 yards to surpass Florida's John Reaves as the NCAA's alltime leader in career passing yardage with 7,571. Despite the Throwin' Samoan's efforts, Arizona hung on for a 31-24 win.
"Intensity" has replaced "second effort" in the lexicon of today's coaches. When Utah Coach Wayne Howard talked to his players at halftime, he told them that despite trailing visiting Brigham Young 16-0, their 4-3 defense was lacking only one ingredient: intensity. The Utes got the message. The defense allowed the Cougars only 84 yards in the third period and four in the fourth: the offense redoubled its efforts and Utah pulled off a 23-22 upset. It was the first conference loss this season for WAC-champion BYU, which will face Navy in the Holiday Bowl. Keeping the Utes on the move was Randy Gomez, who passed for three touchdowns as he hit on 20 of 31 for 265 yards. It was the running game that paid off for New Mexico as the Lobos walloped Pacific University 44-6. A WAC rushing mark was set by Mike Williams of the Lobos, whose 81 yards gave him a career total of 3,812. His freshman teammate Mike Carter gained 147 yards in only nine carries.
1. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (9-1)
2. UCLA (8-3)
3. STANFORD (7-4)
Five times the lead had changed hands and now, with 5:18 left, would come the biggest play of a frenetic game. Georgia, having just scored on Willie McClendon's one-yard plunge, trailed 22-21 at Auburn. Obviously, the Bulldogs had little choice but to try for a two-point conversion run or pass. After all, a kick would merely tie things up and, if the game ended that way, the deadlock would grievously wound Georgia's hopes for a Sugar Bowl berth. But instead of going for two points, Coach Vince Dooley sent in Rex Robinson, who kicked the PAT that made it 22-22, which is how the contest ended.
"It was the wrong decision and I apologized to the team for it," Dooley said later. "I felt the tie would put pressure on Auburn, that our defense could hold and that Robinson would get a shot at another field goal." The opportunity never came for Robinson, who had kicked field goals of 35, 40 and 47 yards earlier in the game. All of which means that if Alabama beats Auburn on Dec. 2, it will be the Southeastern Conference champion with a 6-0 record, and Georgia will be second at 5-0-1. In short, the Tide would go to the Sugar Bowl to face Penn State, with the No. 1 ranking in the final polls at stake.
Auburn was fired up for Georgia. For the first time since 1951, when Dooley was their quarterback, the Tigers wore orange jerseys. They outgained Georgia in total offense 502 yards to 268, Joe Cribbs setting a school record by rushing for 250 yards. Cribbs scored on runs of 60 and two yards, and caught a two-point conversion pass.
Berj Yepremian, who had kicked a 37-yard field goal in the first period and three-pointers of 33 and 37 yards in the third, booted a 38-yarder with 0:42 left as Florida won 18-16 at Kentucky. At Jackson, Miss., Mississippi State jolted Louisiana State 16-14. The Bulldogs held Charles Alexander to 57 yards rushing and scored twice on passes thrown by Dave Marler as they upset 17th-ranked LSU. Tennessee disposed of SEC opponent Mississippi 41-17, while Vanderbilt ended a seven-game losing streak by downing Air Force 41-27. Frank Mordica of the Commodores set SEC marks with 309 yards rushing and with five touchdowns on runs of 40, 30, six, 70 and 77 yards.
For the first time since 1967, Clemson finished atop the Atlantic Coast Conference, coming from behind three times at Maryland to earn a 28-24 victory. A 98-yard scoring run by Steve Atkins, the longest ever from scrimmage by a Terp, put Maryland in front 21-14 in the third period. But the passing of Steve Fuller, who had teamed with Jerry Butler on an 82-yard pass play to tie the score at 14-14, rallied Clemson. This time Fuller hit Dwight Clark on a 62-yard pass as the Tigers knotted the score at 21-21. Clemson then drove 70 yards for the decisive touchdown, Lester Brown gaining 34 of those yards, including the last five. The Tigers now go to the Gator Bowl to meet the loser of this week's Ohio State-Michigan showdown.
North Carolina State, North Carolina and South Carolina beat ACC opponents at home. It was Ted Brown Day at State, and in a 24-10 win over Duke the Wolfpack runner celebrated by gaining 96 yards and raising his career yardage to 4,471, the fifth-best total by a Division I rusher. North Carolina stopped Virginia 31-20. At South Carolina, sophomore George Rogers, who five weeks earlier had dislocated his shoulder, carried 27 times for 237 yards and two touchdowns as the Gamecocks whipped Wake Forest 37-14.
Florida State was trailing Navy 3-0 when Coach Bobby Bowden conferred with his offensive coordinator, George Haffner, on a telephone hookup to the press box. "They're covering us man-on-man, blitzing and daring us to throw long," Bowden said. "Let's bring on the Rifleman," Haffner suggested. Bowden agreed, and in came Jimmy Jordan, who mowed down the Middies, connecting on 15 of 27 passes for 280 yards. Jordan tossed four touchdown passes, three of them to Sam Piatt, of four, 36 and 51 yards as the Seminoles won 38-6. Jordan and Wally Woodham passed for 350 yards against a Navy defense that had been allowing only 98 yards a game through the air. And State gained 453 yards in total offense against the Midshipmen, who were fifth in the nation in total defense (225 yards a game). Nevertheless, Navy got a bowl bid to meet Brigham Young in the first Holiday Bowl, in San Diego. BYU and seven other other losers from last Saturday also accepted bowl offers—LSU, Texas A & M, Nebraska, UCLA, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Purdue. Florida State, which like Navy is 7-3, hasn't been invited anywhere yet.
1. ALABAMA (9-1)
2. CLEMSON (9-1)
3. GEORGIA (8-1-1)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: James Wilder, a 220-pound sophomore running back for Missouri, led the Tigers to a 35-31 upset at Nebraska by carrying 28 times for 181 yards and scoring on runs of nine, one, four and seven yards.
DEFENSE: Chris Garlich, Missouri's senior linebacker, blunted Nebraska's attack by taking part in 21 tackles, including one in which he dropped Rick Berns for a loss on the Huskers' next-to-last play, and stealing a pass.