WHO SHOULDN'T BE NO. 1
The Houston-TCU shoot-out lasted about as long as the Battle of the Alamo, or so it seemed. When the smoke cleared, after four hours and four minutes, the Cougars had a 56-35 victory, but they were also left to wonder: Who was that masked man who shot our defense full of holes? His name is Matt Vogler; he's a junior quarterback who transferred from Auburn, and all he did in his second start was set NCAA Division I-A records for yards passing (690), attempts (79) and total offense (696 yards). Filling in for Leon Clay, who was sidelined with a fractured thumb, Vogler completed 44 of those throws, five of them for touchdowns.
But Houston, the Southwest Conference's original Gunslinger U, was not about to be beaten at its own game. Cougar quarterback David Klingler, who had set the previous NCAA record for-attempts (76) and the still-standing one for completions (48) in a 44-17 win over SMU only two weeks earlier, countered with 563 yards through the air, and for the second game in a row threw seven TD passes. The teams combined for an NCAA-record 1,563 yards of offense—827 by Houston and 736 by TCU. "It was hell for the defenses out there," said Cougar senior tackle Tray Hooper.
This week the eyes of Texas will be on Austin, where Texas, which improved its record to 6-1 with a 41-22 defeat of Texas Tech, will pose the last serious obstacle in 8-0 Houston's path to an unbeaten season, and—dare we say it?—the No. 1 ranking. "We should be voted Number 1 [this week]," says Houston coach John Jenkins. "Don't give me that crap about [Notre Dame's tough] schedule. The Irish have a blemish on their record. The Cougars are perfect."
Only on the field, Coach. Because of NCAA sanctions, Houston can't play in a bowl game, which raises the question: Should a team that's banned from postseason play be eligible for the final No. 1 ranking? In our opinion, the answer is no. Any team that has been caught cheating doesn't deserve to win the national title while still serving its sentence.
Unbeaten Wyoming's visit to Fort Collins brought out the mischief in Colorado State fans, who spent much of the game hurling snowballs at Cowboy players. That may come under the heading of innocent fun, but after the Rams had put the finishing touches on their 17-8 defensive gem, the home fans tore down the goalposts, even though the goalposts had been greased to discourage vandalism. Taking in the giddy—but dangerous-scene, Colorado State defensive tackle Paul Hanks said, "I didn't think our students would get that excited."
The Rams, who improved to 6-3 overall and 5-1 in Western Athletic Conference play, will need a miracle to win the conference. They have already lost to Brigham Young, and they play one fewer conference game than both BYU, which is 5-0 in league play, and Wyoming, which is 5-1. The Cougars and Cowboys meet this Saturday in Laramie. Colorado State is, however, very much in the running for a bowl bid. Under second-year coach Earle Bruce, who was fired at Ohio State despite putting together one of the best records in the Big Ten in the 1980s, the Rams are 11-8-1 after going 2-21 in the two seasons before he arrived. In Saturday's game, the Rams held the Cowboys to only 29 yards rushing and forced four turnovers, including a fumble in the end zone that cost Wyoming a touchdown.
Because Colorado State doesn't have any extra goalposts, the athletic department will have to shell out about $7,000 if it is to have new ones in place in time for this weekend's game against Tulsa. Still, the Ram players weren't about to criticize their fans' reaction to Saturday's victory. "Back in the days when we were 1-10 and 1-11, we were lucky to get out of the stadium alive," said defensive tackle Robert Chirico. "Now people are running all over, jumping up and down."
Central Michigan's offensive linemen average a whopping 6'4" and 276 pounds, but they were just so much dogmeat for Ball State defensive end Toby Beegle, who sniffed out Chippewa quarterback Jeff Bender for five sacks in a 13-3 upset. Although Beegle packs only 207 pounds on his 6'3" frame, he used his speed and quickness effectively. "I stabbed with my right hand and did the 'swim' technique with my left," Beegle said. "I got their big tackles off-balance."
Beegle, who grew up in Worthington, Ohio, near Ohio State, would have loved to have played for the Buckeyes, but, he says, "I wasn't going there with my size." However, you know what they say about the size of the fight in the dog being more important than the size of the dog in the fight. Ball State coach Paul Schudel was perfectly happy to get Beegle, who has become an integral part of the best defense in the Mid-American Conference.
Before facing Ball State, Central Michigan had built a 7-1-1 record around a big-play offense led by Bender and wideout Ken Ealy. But after completing only eight of 24 passes for 60 yards against Ball State, Bender said, "I think I got a little gun-shy." All told, the Cardinals sacked him seven times. Moreover, their pass coverage was so sticky that Ealy made only two catches for 25 yards.
"The best pass defense is a good rush," said Beegle. "[Bender] was frustrated. You could see it in his eyes. He didn't have the answers." No, but Bender and his mates still can get the MAC title—and the berth in the California Bowl against the Big West champ that goes with it—by beating 1-7-1 Ohio this Saturday.
Jeff and Jonathan Fortkamp are fraternal twins who were born 18 minutes apart on Feb. 24, 1970. Last Saturday they found themselves only about 18 inches apart in Granville, Ohio, where they lined up nose to nose in a Division III game between Denison and visiting Wittenberg. Jeff is the Wittenberg center, Jonathan the Denison noseguard. Thanks largely to holes opened by Jeff and his fellow linemen, Wittenberg backs rushed for 319 yards, while Jonathan made seven tackles, including two for losses.
The twins' parents, John and Ruthie, spent the first half on the home side of the field and the second on the visitors' side. After Wittenberg's 24-21 victory, the two players joined their parents and 21 other family members to eat chili at a tailgate party in the parking lot. "We talked about the plays where one or the other got in a cheap shot," said Jeff.
The brothers started out playing next to each other on the offensive line at Bishop Watterson High in Columbus, Ohio. When they went to college in 1988, they never dreamed that they would someday face each other. However, Wittenberg joined Denison's league, the North Coast Athletic Conference, after the twins' freshman year. Last season Denison won the first meeting of the Fortkamps, 21-14.
"It's something we'll always remember," Jonathan said. "Years from now, we'll be at a family reunion and we'll still be talking about who got the best of whom."
The rubber match of the series will come next season, when both players are seniors. "Hopefully, it won't end up in a tie," says Jonathan.
Penn State quarterback Tom Bill, who left the team last January after campus police cited him for public drunkenness, came off the bench to lead the Nittany Lions to a 31-19 win over West Virginia. "I'll be a cheerleader, if that's what they want," said Bill, who rejoined the Lions this season after going through an alcoholism-treatment program. "So many of my teammates have helped me with my problem, I owe them something."...Returning from a one-game suspension for missing class, USC quarterback Todd Marinovich completed 19 of 29 passes for 291 yards and two TDs in a 31-31 tie with Cal. He didn't play USC's second series—a punishment, said a source, for being late for a team meeting that morning.... Arkansas's 19-11 loss to Rice made it five straight weeks that the Hogs had been beaten by a Texas school.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Cornell junior Scott Oliaro set an Ivy League single-game rushing record of 288 yards (on 35 attempts) in a 41-31 win over Yale. The old mark of 281 yards was set by Ed Marinaro, also of Cornell, in 1969.
State free safety, intercepted two passes, returning one 26 yards and the other 95 yards for a touchdown, as the Sun Devils defeated Oregon State 34-9.
Derrick Price, a senior tailback for Division II West Chester (Pa.), carried 31 times for 279 yards and had touchdown runs of 40, 45 and three yards to lead the Golden Rams to a 35-14 victory over Cheyney.