More often than not, UCLA's Frank Cephous (right) wasn't running the football during 1982, but watching his teammate, Quarterback Tom Ramsey, throw it. Ramsey, the nation's most efficient passer, led the Bruins to a 24-14 Rose Bowl triumph over Michigan. For a while, in fact, it seemed that the pass had made everything else passé. Guys like Boomer Esiason and Doug Flutie, Ben Bennett and John Elway, Kelly Lowrey and Wayne Peace, Tom Tunnicliffe and Danny Marino, Alan Risher and "Champaign" Tony Eason became the ringmasters in an aerial circus. But by New Year's Day the more down-to-earth facets of football reasserted themselves. No. 2 SMU ran relay with backs Craig James and Eric Dickerson, then ground its way past Pitt 7-3 in the Cotton Bowl. Nebraska did the same with Mike Rozier and Roger Craig and edged LSU 21-20 in the Orange Bowl. Arizona State, with a defense that set up 122 points in 12 games, lost just twice and thumped Oklahoma 32-21 in the Fiesta Bowl. And Penn State, the only team to stop Georgia, starring Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, did it with a little bit of everything in the Sugar Bowl: the passing of Todd Blackledge, the running of Curt Warner and Jon Williams and the prowess of a corps of gifted receivers and kick returners. The Nittany Lions' 27-23 win gave Coach Joe Paterno his first national title in 17 years as Penn State head coach.
The most satisfied three-win team in the land: Dennis Green's Northwestern Wildcats, who ended their alltime losing streak at 34 games with a defeat of Northern Illinois. The most dissatisfied two-win team in the land: Kansas, which appeared in several preseason Top 20s but folded at the (Kerwin) Bell. Fast-starting Florida also disappointed. Upbeat surprises included Boston College, which found itself in a bowl for the first time in 40 years, Vanderbilt and Penn. Grambling's Eddie Robinson won his 300th, and the late Bear Bryant made the Liberty Bowl his 323rd, and final, victory. In Palo Alto and Berkeley they're still talking about the tiptoe-through-the-tubas, last-second, five-lateral kickoff return that enabled Cal to upset Stanford 25-20 in Joe Kapp's first season. (The Stanford band director has promised that the ensemble will add a flex defense to its repertoire next season.) Indeed, trick plays were almost as popular as passing: SMU used a shovel pass on a kickoff return to avoid an upset by Texas Tech, and Wisconsin used a bounce-pass lateral to score a TD. The NCAA chastened Clemson, the defending national champ, with a Draconian probation for recruiting violations. And a federal judge annulled the NCAA's cozy $281 million in TV contracts with the networks, creating the prospect of individual schools selling rights to their own games if the ruling withstands the NCAA's appeal.
The eyes of Texas—20 of 'em—are upon SMU's Craig James, but occasionally the Longhorns, 30-17 losers in Austin that day...
...took the hooking stuff too far, as 'Horn John Teltschik discovers.
February 16, 1983
In the Sugar Bowl, Penn State's Blackledge had Georgia's Jeff Sanchez (31), the nation's second-leading interceptor, leaning the wrong way.
Treating the football as a bauble, Oklahoma bobbled early. But when Marcus Dupree (22) got a handle on things, OU won seven straight.
As Pitt's Marino cocks, Panther Guard Ron Sams seems to clock Defensive Tackle Mike Gann of Notre Dame during a 31-16 Irish victory. Marino passed for 2,251 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Blackledge threw for four TDs thrice in 1982.
Quarterback Blair Kiel was more even than this in Notre Dame's 23-17 defeat of Michigan, completing 15 of 22 passes for 141 yards.
Buttressed by his Boston College line, the 5'10" Flutie hit 162 of 347 passes for 2,749 yards.
It took two 'Stangs to sting Arkansas' tough Billy Ray Smith, as the Hogs tied SMU 17-17.
Next to "Paterno," please enter: 17 seasons, 162 victories and a national title. With "Bryant," close the books: 38 seasons, 323 victories, six national titles and a 21-15 defeat of Illinois in his final game.
The Ponies' Dickerson galloped 60 yards on his run against the 'Horns.
Northwestern lost 34 straight before romping past Northern Illinois on Ricky Edwards' 177 yards and four TDs.
The feet of Clay Parker, LSU's punter, were moving in the Orange.
Colorado Halfback Richard Johnson notwithleaping, UCLA buffed its Rosey record with an easy 34-6 victory.
Backs like Arizona's Brian Holland had a devil of a time of it against the Arizona State defense.
The Lions' Warner started the season slow but finished fast, with 117 yards against Georgia.
In LSU's 20-10 upset of 'Bama, the Tigers' Garry James pawed at a pass.
Jamie Williams of Nebraska couldn't gather this in, but the Huskers harvested a 28-24 win over Oklahoma en route to the Orange Bowl.
When not rescuing women trapped in burning cars, walker went uptown to wreck Georgia Tech, and downtown to accept the Heisman.
With 265 yards passing, Stanford's Elway haunted, then taunted, Washington 43-31.
BYU's Gordon Hudson (95) teamed with BY's descendant, Steve Young.