COLORADO IN MIAMI?
Colorado's third straight impressive win, a 38-7 rout of 11th-ranked Illinois, gives rise to the startling possibility that some school other than Nebraska or Oklahoma might represent the Big Eight in the Orange Bowl this season. The last time that happened was in 1977, when Ohio State beat the Buffaloes 27-10.
Oklahoma can't go to a bowl this season because it's on NCAA probation, but the Sooners didn't look much like bowl contenders anyway in their 6-3 loss at Arizona last week. They had 222 yards rushing and zero passing before losing the game on a 40-yard field goal by Doug Pfaff with two seconds remaining in the game.
Nebraska fans may want to wait a while before booking hotel rooms in Miami. In grinding out a 42-30 win over visiting Utah, the Cornhuskers didn't exactly shut down Ute quarterback Scott Mitchell, who completed 26 of 44 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns. "I think my arm would fall off if I threw that many times," said Husker quarterback Gerry Gdowski, who connected on three of six passes for 27 yards. Gdowski did run for 98 yards and three TDs when he wasn't handing off to tailback Ken Clark, who rushed for 130 yards.
While Nebraska was plodding, Colorado was exploding against the Illini, who had opened their season with a 14-13 upset of Southern Cal. The Buffaloes grabbed a 21-7 lead in the first quarter with the help of three big plays: a 74-yard pass from quarterback Darian Hagan to wideout Jeff Campbell, a 48-yard TD pass on an option play from tailback Eric Bieniemy to wideout M.J. Nelson and a 45-yard scoring run by Bieniemy's backup, J.J. Flannigan. Said Illinois linebacker Steve Glasson afterward, "They threw everything in the book at us, and unfortunately, most of it worked."
One thing Colorado threw at Illini quarterback Jeff George was a fierce rush led by Arthur Walker, Kanavis McGhee and Alfred Williams, who are known around Boulder as the H-Boys because all three of them come from Houston. The trio sacked George four times and also pressured him into throwing two interceptions, both of which helped set up Buffalo touchdowns.
ALL THE FIELD IS A STAGE
Speaking of Mitchell, the Utah coaches should have known better than to ask an economics major to switch to drama, but that's what they did against Nebraska. In the second quarter, with the Utes trailing the Cornhuskers 21-16, Mitchell, the nation's third-leading passer going into last weekend, was sacked and left the game with an apparent injury to his left—or passing—arm.
He returned to action after one play, but while getting ready to take the snap from center, he straightened up and began walking off the field, clutching his arm as if he were still in pain. Up in the stands, Mitchell's mother, Delia, had a typical motherly reaction—"She almost had a heart attack," said her husband, Bill—but the Cornhusker defense wasn't moved. With Mitchell still heading toward the sideline, the ball was snapped directly to tailback Clifton Smith, whom the Huskers tackled for a two-yard loss.
Afterward, Mitchell admitted that he wasn't really hurt. "It was part of the game plan," he said. "It was kind of a cutesy thing."
(NOT SO) BIG TEN
This week Ohio State and Michigan go to Los Angeles to play USC and UCLA, respectively. At stake in these mini-Rose Bowls—at least that's how they looked when they were scheduled—will be the honor of the Big Ten. True, Illinois knocked off Southern Cal on Sept. 4, but in light of the Illini's performance last Saturday against Colorado, that result appears to have been more a matter of Trojan ineptitude than Illini power.
In two Big Ten-Pac-10 matchups last week, Oregon rolled over Iowa 44-6 in Iowa City, and Washington walloped Purdue 38-9 in Seattle. The Hawkeyes fell even though they had an extra incentive to win: The night before the game, an Iowa TV station broadcast an interview with Ducks fullback Latin Berry, who blithely said, "I guess we'll just have to go out there and clobber Iowa."
Which is exactly what Oregon did. While quarterback Bill Musgrave was leading the Ducks by completing 20 of 27 passses for 263 yards and three touchdowns, his Iowa counterpart, Tom Poholsky, was so off-target that he was booed by the sellout crowd of 67,700. "I just couldn't get any zip on the ball," said Poholsky, who completed eight of 19 passes for 70 yards. The Hawkeye ground game was equally inept; it gained 26 yards on 28 attempts.
In its loss to Washington, Purdue gave up a 78-yard run by Greg Lewis and a 76-yard pass from Cary Conklin to Andre Riley. The win was the Huskies' ninth straight over Big Ten teams.
So now it's up to Michigan and Ohio State. Last Saturday the Wolverines lost 24-19 to Notre Dame (page 32), and the Buckeyes beat Oklahoma State 37-13. Ohio State quarterback Greg Frey threw for a career-high 285 yards against the Cowboys behind an offensive line that is so big—it averages 295 pounds—that center Dan Beatty, who's a mere 6'4" and 278 pounds, is known as Pee Wee.
BACK FROM THE DEAD
After catching a TD pass with no time left to give SMU a 31-30 victory over Connecticut in Dallas, wide receiver Michael Bowen was nearly suffocated by a mob of hysterical teammates. "I had thousands of pounds of football players on me," said Bowen after he came out from under the pile. "I was down to my last breath."
The Mustangs, who had lost to Rice in their opener, were understandably excited. The defeat of Connecticut gave them their first win since 1986, when they were hit with the so-called death penalty and forced to drop football for two years because of repeated NCAA violations.
The game also marked the first appearance west of the Mississippi for Division I-AA Connecticut. Huskie coach Tom Jackson may be in no hurry to go back to Dallas, though. "The officiating was definitely stacked against us," said Jackson, who thought that the refs overlooked a number of clipping and holding infractions by SMU.
Mustang quarterback Mike Romo completed 34 of 64 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns. Romo's last two passes on the game-winning drive went to senior wide receiver Mitchell Glieber, who was an SMU freshman when the Mustangs got the death penalty in 1986, and to Bowen, who was on the team in '86, transferred to Georgia for the '87 season and returned to SMU last year.
Some of the Mustangs got carried away after the win. Safety Ron Hagan declared that Texas, this week's opponent, is "in for a fight." Coach Forrest Gregg, who realizes that his team might not win again the rest of the season, ordered that the game ball be painted with the score and put inside the school's trophy case, alongside mementos from the days when the Mustangs were led by players such as Doak Walker, Don Meredith and Eric Dickerson.
"This is the finest victory I have ever experienced," said Gregg, who played for Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packer teams in the 1960s. "We know we still have a long ways to go. One game doesn't make a season, but it certainly makes a great Saturday night."
Lehigh and Lafayette, whose 124 games against each other are the most of any rivalry in college football, both reached the 1,000-game mark last Saturday. (Harvard, Yale and Penn are the only other schools to have played that many games.) Alas, both lost: Lehigh 42-23 to Massachusetts, and Lafayette 23-21 to Holy Cross.... Saying his first game as Vince Dooley's successor was "like meeting a girl—that first impression is important," Georgia coach Ray Goff, 34, got off on the right foot with a 15-3 win over Baylor. The Dawgs were efficient (4.24 yards per snap) and clean (no turnovers and only 15 yards in penalties).... In a 24-3 win over Southern Mississippi, Auburn surrendered just 31 yards on the ground, bringing its two-game total of rushing yards allowed this season to 56. The Tigers have now gone 11 quarters—since the first quarter of a 13-7 loss to Florida State in last season's Sugar Bowl—without giving up a touchdown.... Special teams cost Boston College a game last Saturday. The Eagles were leading Rutgers 7-6 with 2:08 remaining when BC punter Brian Lowe scooped up a low snap and passed to blocker Dave Johnson, who ran 30 yards for an apparent game-icing first down. However, the play was called back—illegal receiver downfield—and Boston College once again lined up to punt. This time John Blanton blocked Lowe's boot, and Rich Humphreys of the Scarlet Knights made the recovery at the Eagle 12. Three plays later Rutgers's Doug Giesler kicked a 21-yard field goal for the win.... You would almost think that Brigham Young's Matt Bellini was antimilitary, judging by the way he abuses the service academies. Bellini, who lines up at both running back and receiver, scored all four of the Cougars' touchdowns in a 31-10 defeat of Navy. He rushed for 50 yards and two TDs on 11 carries, and had four catches for 73 yards and two scores. Last season Bellini rushed for 138 yards against Air Force.... Major Greene, the son of Pittsburgh Steeler Hall of Famer Mean Joe Greene, plays nosetackle for North Texas, his dad's alma mater. Last Saturday, Greene recovered a fumble to help the unbeaten Eagles beat Murray State 28-14.... This is what California linebacker coach Denny Creehan said upon storming into the locker room after last week's game at Miami: "There are five teams in the Pac-10 better than Miami. Print that." Whatever you say, Coach, but we also have to print this: Miami 31, Cal 3.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Alabama tailback Siran Stacy, who last year led all junior college players in scoring, rushed for 169 yards on 14 carries and scored four TDs (on runs of six, 44, one and 64 yards) as the Tide opened its season by beating Memphis State 35-7.
DEFENSE: George Barlow, a junior safety at Marshall, tied a 48-year-old school record for interceptions in a game by picking off three passes, all in the first 22 minutes, to lead the Thundering Herd to a 31-21 victory over East Tennessee State.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sophomore Raghib Ismail paced Notre Dame to its 14th consecutive victory—the longest winning streak in the nation—by returning two second-half kickoffs for TDs in a 24-19 defeat of Michigan. The first covered 88 yards, the second 92.
Syracuse and Pitt meet in the season's first big showdown match in the East.
NOTRE DAME (2-0)
N.C. STATE (3-0)
W. VIRGINIA (3-0)
OHIO STATE (1-0)
MISS. STATE (2-0)