WILD AND CRAZY BO
Michigan coach Bo Schembechler proved once again that he has had a change of heart in the wake of last season's coronary surgery. Only two weeks after the Wolverines scored a touchdown on a fake-punt play to beat Michigan State. Mr. Razzle Dazzle did it again. This time he shucked his grind-it-out reputation with a flanker-reverse pass in the third quarter that broke open a close game with Indiana and led to a 31-6 Wolverine triumph.
The pass, thrown by split end Greg McMurtry, soared toward the end zone with so much hang time that Michigan flanker Chris Calloway said, "It was like catching a punt—it took forever to come down."
"Crazy, aren't we?" Schembechler would say later of the play that, with the extra point, gave his Wolverines a 17-6 lead. Well, yes. After all, McMurtry claims that, although he practiced the play for two weeks, he had never before thrown a pass in a game—not for Dunnington drug stores in the sandlot league near his home in Brockton, Mass., not for his high school team and definitely not at Michigan.
For the Hoosiers, who entered the game unbeaten (they had tied Missouri) and were hoping for their first Rose Bowl trip since 1967, the loss was a jolt. Indiana gave up too many big plays—besides McMurtry's pass, there were a pair of 54-yard TD runs by fullback Leroy Hoard—while failing to get any of their own, and tailback Anthony Thompson, who was averaging 161 yards per game on the ground, was held to 68 in 20 carries.
The victory over Indiana, coupled with Michigan State's 28-21 defeat of Illinois, puts Michigan atop the Big Ten. A trip to the Rose Bowl would be a nice reward for a team that began the season by losing to Notre Dame and Miami, both in the final seconds. If Michigan makes it to Pasadena, the Pac-10 champion had better beware, now that Bo has gone flashy.
TURN OF THE CATS
Unlucky Kentucky finally winning a big one—and improving its record to 3-4—was the best news to hit Lexington in months. With the Wildcat basketball team embroiled in an NCAA investigation, the football team had compounded the general misery by finding new and creative ways to blow games. The Cats had gone into the final minutes against Auburn, Alabama and LSU with chances to win, only to come up empty.
The litany of frustration actually began last season at Georgia, where Kentucky led until the final 1:08, only to have the Bulldogs claw out a 17-14 win. But on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium, Kentucky defeated Georgia 16-10, for coach Jerry Claiborne's first victory over a nationally ranked opponent since 1984. "We didn't screw it up," he said.
The winning TD came on a 48-yard gallop by Alfred Rawls, a Georgia native who had signed with the Bulldogs but was denied admission under Georgia's policy of not accepting Proposition 48 athletes right out of high school. After being farmed out to Northeastern Oklahoma A & M in Miami, Okla., Rawls decided to attend Kentucky after Georgia lost interest in him. On Saturday he rushed for 128 yards.
Releasing a season's worth of frustration, some Kentucky fans chanted "Goodbye Sugar Bowl" at the Georgia players as the teams left the field. But by no means are the Bulldogs out of the running for the SEC's automatic bowl bid; despite its first conference loss, Georgia, now 4-1 in the SEC, is still first, half a game ahead of Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Florida. This week the Dawgs venture out of their league, in more ways than one, to play William and Mary.
AT THE HEAD OF THE PACK
The success of North Carolina State's football team recently moved athletic director Jim Valvano, who coaches a little basketball on the side, to muse aloud about how it's too bad football doesn't have a playoff system akin to the NCAA basketball tournament. Were such a system in place this season, coach Dick Sheridan's 6-1 Wolfpack would be the front-runner for the ACC berth after Saturday's 10-3 upset of Clemson.
Upset? Maybe not, no matter what the oddsmakers said. This was the third straight year that N.C. State has prevailed over the Tigers, the first time any team has accomplished that against a Danny Ford-coached club.
Clemson is the school everyone in the ACC loves to beat, and the No. 1 target of both the N.C. State players and their fans was Tigers quarterback Rodney Williams. With the fans mocking him with a singsong chant of "Raaaahd-NEE, Raaaahd-NEE," Williams completed only four passes in 23 attempts while throwing three interceptions. Williams got off to an 0-for-6 start and was so wild that he later nailed the line judge in the head with a pass over the middle.
"We read in the paper where Williams said we had a 'high school' defense," said Wolfpack cornerback Fernandus Vinson, who had two interceptions. "Well, we made him look like a high-school quarterback."
Still, the score was tied 3-3 in the fourth quarter before a wild snap on a punt gave State possession at the Clemson 21, setting up a five-yard TD sweep by Pack tailback Chris Williams. From there on, the N.C. State defense, which is tops in the nation, was in control.
As far as a national playoff is concerned, Valvano should be advised that the coaches and bowls have combined to effectively block the idea for the foreseeable future.
NOT A ROSY AFTERNOON
Washington State quarterback Timm Rosenbach is the first to admit that he has a big mouth—in fact, he got a flag just before halftime of Saturday's game with Arizona State for something he said to an official. But Rosenbach was uncharacteristically subdued after the Cougars' 31-28 home loss to the Sun Devils. With 1:06 remaining to play, Washington State had a first-and-10 at the Arizona State 11, only to have Rosenbach force a pass into heavy end-zone traffic. The resulting interception showed that even the nation's leader in passing efficiency is capable of a lapse in judgment.
"I should have held the ball or thrown it away," Rosenbach said afterward. "I tried to get some steam on it and zip it through there, but...I didn't get enough."
The real culprit was a Cougar defense that repeatedly allowed the struggling Sun Devils' offense to keep alive long drives with third-down completions. When Arizona State quarterback Paul Justin, making his first start of the season, threw a TD pass in the third quarter, it ended a Sun Devil scoring drought that spanned 10 quarters.
Nevertheless, the fans in Pullman will remember the game mostly for Rosenbach's ill-advised pass, which resulted in his second interception on a day in which he also fumbled twice, fell down several times without being tackled and got that penalty for popping off after being sacked. "I've got a temper," Rosenbach said. "Our linemen sometimes have to say, 'Hey, Rosie, shut up.' "
And now Cougar fans will have to shut up about Rosenbach being better than either UCLA's Troy Aikman, who led the Bruins to a 24-3 victory over Arizona, or USC's Rodney Peete (the Trojans were idle), the poised leaders of unbeaten teams. The ultimate measure of a quarterback isn't the kind of stats he piles up, but the number of wins he delivers. Heading into this week's game against UCLA, Washington State is 4-3 and hoping Rosenbach, a junior, will learn from his mistakes.
To fully appreciate Bowie State's 8-0 record, it's necessary to understand how far the Bulldogs, an NCAA Division II team, have come under Dave Dolch, who is the first white head coach ever at the predominantly black Maryland college. When Dolch was hired after the 1986 season, Bowie was mired in a 21-game losing streak, and he was given an ultimatum: Buoy Bowie or the program would be disbanded.
After the losing streak climbed to 32 last season, the Bulldogs finally ended it with a win over Cheyney (Pa.) State and went on to a 4-6-1 record. Now only North Carolina Central, Winston-Salem and District of Columbia stand between Bowie and an 11-0 season.
In Saturday's 16-13 victory over American International, the Bulldogs were trailing 13-9 with 1:38 to go, at least partly because their quarterbacks were 0 for 13 passing. So Dolch dusted off the old halfback option play, which resulted in a 52-yard TD pass from Noel Harrison to Bryant Hall. Linebacker Tony Bennett's interception with less than a minute to play sealed the victory.
"Four years ago, there wasn't one person in the locker room who thought we were going to win," said cornerback Sam Muse afterward. "Now there's not one person who believes we're going to lose. I don't really know why we win. I mean, we just listen to Coach Dolch, do what he says, and at the end of the game we look at the board and we've won."
In other big news from the smalls, Division III Wittenberg's 27-17 victory over Capital assured the Tigers of their 34th winning season in a row, the current record among all colleges. (With a 48-3 victory over Kansas State, Nebraska set the Division I-A record with 27 straight winning seasons.)
Pete Dawkins, winner of the 1958 Heisman Trophy, had to be torn by Saturday's game between Army, his alma mater, and Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, where he's running for the U.S. Senate. Since Dawkins, a Republican, is the underdog in his race against incumbent Democrat Frank Lautenberg, omen-watchers can make what they will of the fact that Army, a 10-point underdog, whipped Rutgers 34-24....
Marshall fans couldn't help it if their loyalties briefly shifted when, with the Thundering Herd ahead 38-7 in the fourth quarter on Saturday, visiting Tennessee-Chattanooga sent in its third-string quarterback. He was Vince Carelli, and his father, Al, was a Marshall assistant coach who was on the team plane that crashed on Nov. 14, 1970, claiming the lives of all 75 passengers....
Delaware has won the 13 games it has played against Massachusetts since 1958, seven on big plays in the last three minutes. This season's 10-7 victory came courtesy of a 32-yard field goal with 2:30 left by Don O'Brien, the same guy who kicked a 29-yarder with 0:07 left to win last year's game.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: One week after rushing for 363 yards against Hofstra, Wagner tailback Terry Underwood, a senior, ran for 251 yards and scored four TDs, one on an 82-yard romp, as the Division III Seahawks beat the Merchant Marine Academy 34-7.
DEFENSE: Alabama's Derrick Thomas, a senior outside linebacker, had eight tackles, including three sacks and two others for losses, broke up two passes and nailed Penn State quarterback Tony Sacca for a safety as the Tide defeated the Lions 8-3.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Arkansas placekicker Kendall Trainor, a senior, kicked field goals of 29, 46, 23 and 49 yards, extending his string of successful three-point attempts to 15, as the Razorbacks defeated Houston 26-21 for their best start (7-0) since 1982.
N.C. State is howling after beating Clemson, but it now faces South Carolina
NOTRE DAME (7-0)
FLORIDA ST. (7-1)
W. VIRGINIA (7-0)
S. CAROLINA (6-1)
OKLAHOMA ST. (5-1)
NO. CAROLINA ST. (6-1)