The Fall of the Spartans
Because he didn't want his Central Michigan players to be intimidated by Michigan State's 76,000-seat Spartan Stadium (Central Michigan's Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant seats only 20,086), Chippewa coach Herb Deromedi didn't let his team work out on the field the day before the game. He waited until last Saturday morning before putting his 60-man traveling squad on the bus for the 70-mile trip to East Lansing. Perhaps that psychological ploy had something to do with Central Michigan's stunning 20-3 victory over the 18th-ranked Spartans. More likely, though, the Chippewas were simply making the most of their long-awaited chance to show the world that not all the state's good football is played in East Lansing and Ann Arbor.
For years Central Michigan and its two Mid-American Conference brethren from Michigan—Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan—have been trying to get a game with Michigan State and Michigan. Former Wolverine coach Bo Schembechler steadfastly refused, apparently fearing what happened to the Spartans. Indeed, Schembechler's initial reaction to the upset, in his new role as a studio analyst for ABC, was to blurt out that Michigan State should never have scheduled the Chippewas.
Bad show, Bo. To the contrary, Spartan coach George Perles should be commended for giving Deromedi and his players the chance of a lifetime. "It took somebody big to do that," said Deromedi, a 1960 Michigan graduate who has a 96-42-7 record since taking over at Central Michigan in 1978.
September 22, 1991
Not that Perles didn't have second thoughts after the game. "We lost, we're embarrassed, and we'll have to live with it," said Perles, whose team next season again opens at home against Central Michigan, completing a deal made seven years ago.
When asked how the Chippewas' football budget stacked up against those of the state's two major powers, Deromedi laughed and said, "There's no comparison. We spent less than $30,000 recruiting last year, and I imagine Michigan State spent many times that."
Still, the Spartans gained only 228 yards against the Chippewa defense, which forced three turnovers, and Michigan State's defense couldn't stop Central tailback Billy Smith, who ground out 162 yards on 40 carries, including a 15-yard touchdown run at the end of the first half. As the game wore on, most of the crowd of 71,629 fell silent, but Central Michigan supporters apparently had a ball. "There was hardly anybody in town when we got back," said Deromedi. "I think most of the town went to the game, and a lot of people stayed down there to celebrate."
Deromedi celebrated by watching the Penn State-USC game on TV at home with his family. Then he went to his office at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, so he could get his work done before the congratulatory phone calls began pouring in.
Some Like It Hot
The sunshine boys from UCLA were unprepared for the 112° heat on the artificial turf in Tennessee's Neyland Stadium. "The heat got to our heads," said Bruin free safety Othello Henderson following the Volunteers' 30-16 victory.
After wide receiver Carl Pickens had given the Volunteers a 7-0 lead by catching a 34-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Kelly, Tennessee linebacker Darryl Hardy blocked a punt. Linebacker Reggie Ingram recovered at the UCLA three-yard line, which set up the touchdown that put the Vols ahead 14-3. Later, after the Bruins had cut the score to 17-9, Tennessee defensive back Tracy Smith, a converted tailback, intercepted a Tommy Maddox pass on the first play of the fourth quarter and returned it 38 yards for the clinching touchdown.
"It was like pulling wisdom teeth for our offense," said UCLA coach Terry Donahue, noting that the Bruins generated only 285 yards, that Maddox was sacked four times and that UCLA runners were thrown for losses on four other plays. Tennessee got a solid game from Kelly, whose 25 completions for 275 yards included six throws to Pickens, who thought the heat gave the Vols their winning edge.
"Early on, we saw them gasping and leaning over," Pickens said. "The coaches told us that the heat would affect them more than it would us."
On Saturday it's expected to be sizzling again in Knoxville, even if the weather cools off. That's because the next visitor for the 2-0 Vols is Mississippi State, which is 3-0 under new coach Jackie Sherrill, who once was an assistant to Tennessee coach Johnny Majors. The Bulldogs are averaging 36 points a game and haven't surrendered a touchdown. Now that's hot.
Buffaloed by the Bears
Colorado quarterback Darian Hagan was so upset over his team's 16-14 loss to Baylor in Boulder that he rushed from the locker room before talking with reporters and had to be contacted at home for his comments on the game. "It's the most frustrated I've been," said Hagan. That was an understandable sentiment in light of the fact that Hagan had lost a fumble at the Baylor six and had thrown two interceptions. Still, he needn't have felt so bad. The Buffaloes, who had their 11-game winning streak ended, will struggle until they find capable replacements for the 13 starters lost from last season's co-national championship team, especially for tailback Eric Bieniemy. Baylor just might be good enough to challenge for the Southwest Conference title.
Though Hagan was having an off day, the Buffaloes held a 14-13 lead with 3:14 to play. To put the game out of reach, Colorado placekicker Jim Harper needed to make a 24-yard field goal. But Bears tackle Santana Dotson knifed in and blocked the kick. The ball bounced backward for 43 yards before Baylor linebacker Brian Hand scooped it up and moved it to the Colorado 30. "It's one thing to block a kick," said Colorado coach Bill McCartney, "and another to have it end up on the other end of the field."
Five plays later the Bears' Jeff Ireland, who earlier had booted field goals of 41 and 40 yards, made a 35-yarder, which gave Baylor its first win over a Top 15 foe since 1986.
In North Carolina's 51-16 win over Cincinnati, senior place-kicker Clint Gwaltney set a school record with his 56th straight conversion. His next try was blocked, the first miss of his career....
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, whose team is in a tight race with the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League West (page 22), took a helicopter from Atlanta to Athens to address the Georgia Bulldogs before a practice. As the chopper prepared to land, some of the Dawg players made the tomahawk motion that has become popular with Braves fans. "I'm a Braves fan," said Georgia coach Ray Goff. "There's no doubt who I'm going to root for." But, hey, Tommy, thanks anyway....
Pittsburg State's 56-game regular-season winning streak ended with a 20-13 loss to East Texas State. The defeat was the first regular-season loss for the Gorillas since Sept. 28, 1985. The Gorillas died hard, though. In the final minute they were stopped three times inside the East Texas six-yard line....
Kentucky coach Bill Curry, describing his team: "We're like a cross-eyed discus thrower. We don't win many medals, but we keep the crowd loose."...Nebraska's victories over Utah State (59-28) and Colorado State (71-14) were so lopsided that kicker Mike Stigge still hasn't punted. "If this keeps up," said Cornhusker tackle Erik Wiegert, "he's not going to letter." Not to worry. Powerful Washington visits Lincoln on Saturday.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Freshman running back Marshall Faulk of San Diego State, subbing for an injured teammate, set an NCAA single-game rushing record of 386 yards on 37 carries and scored seven TDs in a 55-34 rout of Pacific.
Jason Oliver, a sophomore cornerback for USC, intercepted three passes as the Trojans upset fifth-ranked Penn State 21-10, snapping the Nittany Lions' 11-game regular season winning streak.
Eric Lynch, a senior fullback for Grand Valley State in Allendale, Mich., carried 26 times for 151 yards as the Lakers, ranked No. 6 in Division II, beat top-ranked North Dakota State 21-17.