THESE TIGERS WERE AU-SOME
This is an article from the Nov. 21, 1988 issue
The electronic scoreboard in Jordan-Hare Stadium flashed AU-SOME, and that summed up Auburn's 20-10 victory over Georgia in the most important SEC game so far this season. On this day, before the biggest crowd—85,214—ever to see a football game in Alabama, the Tigers' erratic offense finally caught up with their murderous defense. Beyond that, they proved what their coach, Pat Dye, has suspected all season long: that this is the best team he has had in his eight years at Auburn.
The Tigers' only loss of 1988 came in Baton Rouge on Oct. 8. After having let LSU cross midfield only once in the game, Auburn allowed Louisiana State quarterback Tom Hodson to engineer a late drive that culminated in an 11-yard TD pass and a 7-6 LSU victory. That play put Louisiana State in position to claim at least a share of the conference title, which it did on Saturday by beating Mississippi State 20-3. Now, to gain a tie for the championship, Auburn must defeat Alabama on Nov. 25 at Legion Field in Birmingham.
The Tigers should have no difficulty with the Crimson Tide if they play the way they did against Georgia. The game was widely expected to be a battle between the Bulldogs' clock-eating ground game, led by SEC rushing leader Tim Worley, and Auburn's fearsome defense, spearheaded by defensive tackle Tracy Rocker and linebacker Brian Smith, which had given up fewer points (6.6 per game) and yards (210.4 per game) than any other team in the nation. In other words, it was to be old-fashioned Southern-style football. None of that sissy passing stuff.
But Georgia, with coach Vince Dooley going for his 200th victory since taking over in Athens in 1964, surprised everyone when quarterback Wayne Johnson threw back-to-back passes early in the first quarter for a total of 56 yards. More important, the second pass produced the first touchdown scored against Auburn in the first half this season. That was the Dawgs' only surprise of the day, however. Between that touchdown and the final seven minutes of the game, Johnson completed zero passes in six attempts, and Georgia got only two first downs.
The only things that kept the Bulldogs in the game were some silly Auburn penalties and a 59-yard kickoff return by Worley at the start of the second half. That put the Dawgs on the Tigers' 41, and six plays later they booted a 47-yard field goal to make the score 10-10. In 15 rushing attempts, Worley gained only 69 yards, which was all but one of Georgia's total on the ground. By the final quarter, said Auburn linebacker Craig Ogletree, "we kind of owned him."
Tiger quarterback Reggie Slack, who has often been criticized for disappearing in big games, orchestrated a balanced attack that amassed 263 yards in the air and 207 on the ground and kept the Bulldogs' defense on the field for more than 37 minutes. Auburn tailback Stacy Danley, who accounted for 172 of those rushing yards, carried 38 times to tie Bo Jackson's school record for most attempts in a game, set in 1985 against Ole Miss.
Slack connected with star receiver Lawyer Tillman for a seven-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and thereafter relied on short passes to his tight end and running backs. On the play that produced the game-winning touchdown, in the third quarter, Slack rolled left and feathered a six-yard toss to tight end Walter Reeves, who was alone in the end zone. Win Lyle's second field goal of the game provided three insurance points.
Afterward, in arguing that his Tigers deserve to be ranked much higher (going into the game they were ninth in the AP poll and seventh in SI's), Dye said his defense had proved that it measures up to those of recent national champions Miami and Penn State. "The score isn't going to impress many people," he said, "but the way the game was played should. To hold Georgia to 70 yards rushing when it's averaging 285.... I don't know what they want around the country, but that's pretty stout."
Maybe even Au-some.
The next time Wyoming visits the Astrodome, the Cowboys should try to remember to take their offensive line with them. It would be a nice trip for the big guys. Maybe they could even throw a block or two.
In a 34-10 drubbing by Houston, Wyoming allowed 16 sacks, including six by tackle Glenn Montgomery, who was in on 14 tackles all told, and three each by Alfred Oglesby, Keith Jenkins and Reggie Burnette. The loss was the first of the year for the Cowboys after 10 straight galloping, eat-our-dust wins. "Our pride is hurt," said Wyoming quarterback Randy Welniak, who was dropped five times in the first quarter and four times in the second.
The Cowboys, who were leading the nation in total offense with 536.3 yards per game going into the contest with the Cougars, lost yardage on 12 of their first 28 plays, and by the end their rushers had run in reverse for minus 37 yards. "We had a difficult time blocking," said Wyoming coach Paul Roach, who with that earns the understatement-of-the-weekend award.
A BUCKEYE BLACK EYE
Holy Toledo! What in the name of Woody Hayes has happened to football in Ohio? Of the eight Division I-A teams in the state, only one, Toledo, has a winning record. The Rockets finished their season at 6-5 by beating Central Michigan 20-13 on Saturday. Akron and Kent State both wound up with 5-6 records, and Bowling Green completed its schedule with a 2-8-1 mark. Among schools with a game left to go, Ohio State and Ohio U are 4-5-1, Cincinnati stands at 3-7, and Miami is 0-9-1. In games against teams from outside the state, Ohioans are 15-40-2.
The root of this dismal record seems to lie in the fact that out-of-state schools are outrecruiting the home teams in talent-rich Ohio. In particular, Michigan's Bo Schembechler and Indiana's Bill Mallory have exploited their Ohio backgrounds.
In needling proud Ohio State, which refuses to play other colleges in the state, an Akron Beacon Journal editorial suggested that it was time for the Buckeyes to schedule Akron "now that both schools' football programs have reached the same level of excellence."
CRACKS IN THE BIG 2
Far from looking like heavyweights who are peaking at just the right time, Oklahoma and Nebraska are staggering into their annual showdown, which will take place on Saturday in Norman, Okla.
Against the Sooners, Missouri had such a bad case of the jitters that it lost a fumble, threw two interceptions and had a punt blocked, all of which helped Oklahoma quarterback Charles Thompson guide his team to a 16-0 lead in the second quarter. The Tigers scored a touchdown in the third quarter, on a 12-yard pass from Brad Fitzmaurice to Craig Lammers, but the Sooner defense preserved a 16-7 win, which was Oklahoma's 31st straight in conference play.
Two fumbles by Colorado helped the Cornhuskers, who were averaging 46 points per game, escape with a 7-0 victory over the Buffaloes. One of the fumbles occurred when Colorado halfback J.J. Flannigan, who was in the open field and on his way to a certain touchdown, decided to switch the ball from one hand to the other. He dropped it at the Nebraska 19-yard line.
The defeat was so bitter for the Buffaloes, who on Oct. 22 had thrown a scare into Oklahoma before falling 17-14, that Colorado defensive tackle Cole Hayes couldn't help but let a little frustration seep out. "Oklahoma knows how to kick their butts," Hayes said of the Huskers. "I think Oklahoma has the ability to run it up on them."
Give that student-athlete an F in diplomacy but an A in history. Under Barry Switzer, the Sooners have won 12 of 16 games against Nebraska, including the last four in a row. In those 12 wins, Oklahoma's average margin of victory has been 12.5 points.
Of the five high schools in Tijuana, Mexico, that play American-style football, only the private Centro de Ense‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¬±anza Tècnica y Superior sends its team across the border to play in the U.S. At a recent game against Coronado (Calif.) High, which is 20 miles away from San Diego, the Tijuana players had to endure chants of "B-E-A-T B-U-R-R-I-T-O-S" by the Coronado cheerleading squad.
San Diego was also the site of a game on Nov. 5 in which Brigham Young players assailed black San Diego State opponents with racial invectives. That episode prompted BYU officials to conduct an inquiry, after which the players, whose names were not revealed, were scolded—though not otherwise punished. The university has not issued San Diego State a formal apology.
The West hardly has a monopoly on this sort of ugliness. On Saturday, Indiana University officials installed extra security behind the Michigan State bench after being informed that several Iowa players had been subjected to racist remarks by Hoosier fans during an Oct. 29 game in Bloomington. "Unfortunately it's not against the law to be a prejudiced idiot," said Jim Kennedy, the university's police chief. "But we can stop them from throwing projectiles—that is against the law."
It's sad to think that, 96 years after William H. Lewis of Harvard became the first black to be named a consensus All-America, such attitudes still exist, especially at some of our most distinguished educational institutions.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF
Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders (left) ran for five TDs and 312 yards to set NCAA single-season marks for TDs (31) and points (188) and become the third player to gain 2,000 yards in a season as Oklahoma State beat Kansas 63-24.
USC quarterback Rodney Peete completed 23 of 33 passes for 361 yards, threw for three touchdowns for the third straight week and set a school single-game record for total offense of 377 yards in the Trojans' 50-0 rout of Arizona State.
Rob Hinckley, a junior outside linebacker for Stanford, made 20 tackles and caused a fumble in a 27-17 loss to UCLA. Eleven of the tackles were unassisted, and seven, including his five sacks, were behind the line of scrimmage.
In Arkansas's 25-20 victory over Texas A & M, Razorback kicker Kendall Trainor converted five of five field-goal attempts, from 29, 49, 41, 29 and 18 yards, to set a Southwest Conference record for three-pointers in a season with 23.
West Virginia now faces Syracuse in its first Top 20 challenge of the year
NOTRE DAME (9-0)
FLORIDA ST. (9-1)
W. VIRGINIA (10-0)
OKLAHOMA ST. (7-2)
WASHINGTON ST. (7-3)