While 11th-ranked Notre Dame pulled off its mini-upset over No. 9-ranked Purdue (page 22), and No. 10 Texas did likewise to No. 6 Arkansas, 23-17 on Labor Day, all six of the other nationally ranked teams that played last week met unranked opponents and won. And except for No. 16-ranked Georgia, which edged Tennessee 16-15, they won big. Most impressive was defending national champion Alabama, a 26-3 victor over Georgia Tech. So overwhelming was the Tide defense that perhaps the week's biggest upset was that the Yellow Jackets scored at all. To wit: Georgia Tech had a first down on the Tide three-yard line but lost seven yards in the three ensuing plays, and then missed a field goal. To wit: the Yellow Jackets faced a second-and-one on Alabama's 38, but three downs later were still there as 'Bama took over. Ron Rice finally kicked a 36-yard field goal for Tech in the fourth quarter, but that came only after the Yellow Jackets had a first down on the Tide two. In all, Alabama yielded a total of 84 yards on 41 Tech running plays.
Offensively, the Tide was more restrained. Its top back, Major Oglivie, carried the ball just once. Only five plays were passes. Midway through the first half Bear Bryant was calling on his bench. By then, Billy Jackson had already run for touchdowns of 15 and five yards on his only two carries. But even Bryant couldn't hide Split End James Mallard, a 6'2", 185-pound world-class sprinter who was playing his first game of organized football. An erstwhile Olympic aspirant, Mallard has run the 200-meter dash in 20:02 and had the fastest time in this event in 1979. In 1978 he tried out for the Alabama football squad but was injured and dropped out. This summer, his Olympic hopes dashed, he worked out at home in Tampa with a reserve Tide quarterback, and this fall he made Bryant's team. With :32 left in the first half on Saturday, Mallard blew past the Tech secondary and caught a 39-yard scoring pass. "That's the first pass we threw to James," the Bear said afterward. "It won't be the last."
Fifteenth-ranked Stanford got three touchdowns in an eight-minute span of the second quarter for a 21-0 lead en route to defeating Oregon 35-25. During that spurt. Quarterback John Elway scored from the one, hit Flanker Ken Margerum with a 41-yard TD pass and connected with Margerum for a 35-yard gain that set up a five-yard scoring burst by Darrin Nelson. Elway later threw an 11-yard touchdown strike to Andre Tyler and finished the day with 17 completions in 26 tries for 250 yards. Still, Stanford led only 21-17 in the last quarter. Then Nelson took a swing pass from Elway and scampered 52 yards to the Oregon 12; four plays later Rob Moore plunged over from a yard out to clinch the win.
Thirteenth-ranked Florida State converted three LSU fumbles and one interception into scores for a 16-0 win in Tiger Stadium. Bill Capece booted field goals of 34, 34 and 45 yards. No. 18-ranked Penn State used 55 players in the first half and manhandled Colgate 54-10, and No. 14-ranked North Carolina crushed Furman 35-13.
Georgia scored its victory before 95,288 fans at Tennessee's enlarged Neyland Stadium. It was the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in the South. With 4:04 to play, and the Vols having first-and-goal on the Bulldog five, Tailback Glenn Ford took a handoff and ran smack into Linebacker Nate Taylor, who jarred the ball loose. Pat McShea recovered for the Bulldogs to cinch the one-point win. Georgia had trailed 15-0 late in the third quarter, when Tennessee's Bill Bates bobbled a punt on his 25-yard line, the ball bounding off several players before squirting through the Tennessee end zone for a safety. Georgia took the ensuing free kick and marched 50 yards in five plays to cut Tennessee's lead to 15-9. Freshman Herschel Walker scored the touchdown on a slashing 16-yard burst, in which he ran through three would-be tacklers. The tying TD was set up when Jeff Hipp recovered a fumble on the Tennessee 37. Eight plays later, Walker scored from the nine.
Brigham Young, the WAC champion or co-champion the past four seasons, wasn't so fortunate, losing 25-21 at New Mexico. Lobo Quarterback Brad Wright picked apart the Cougar defense, passing for 217 yards, including a 58-yard scoring bomb to Ricky Martin, and Pete Parks drilled field goals of 22, 43, 45 and 35 yards. Kentucky, a 16-point favorite, squeaked by Utah State 17-10, but Southern Mississippi upset Tulane 17-14 on Winston Walker's last-minute 36-yard field goal. Underdog Virginia Tech took away Wake Forest's air game in a 16-7 triumph, while Air Force's debut as a member of the WAC, marking the first time a service academy has joined a conference, was a 21-9 defeat at Colorado State. The Falcons couldn't handle Rams' Quarterback Steve Fairchild, who passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns. Fairchild's heroics were matched by Cal State-Fullerton's Bob Reynolds and Appalachian State Quarterback Steve Brown. Reynolds, a freshman, ran back one kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and another for 88 yards in Fullerton's 39-25 victory over Fresno State. Brown, No. 3 in the nation in total offense in 1979, hit Rick Beasley on eight passes for 211 yards and one touchdown. Overall he completed 15 of 28 while playing a bit more than a half in the Mountaineers' 34-6 defeat of James Madison. George Rogers, South Carolina's Heisman candidate, excelled, too, ripping off TD runs of 44 and 72 yards in a 37-0 defeat of Pacific.
Tiny Macalester College of St. Paul ended its NCAA-record 50-game losing streak by beating Mount Senario (Wis.) 17-14 on a last-minute field goal by freshman Bob Kaye. The Scots had not won since Oct. 11, 1974.