While Texas, Southern Cal, Oklahoma and Penn State came through with wins worth remembering (page 20), Texas Tech wound up with a loss it would like to forget. The Red Raiders' first oversight in their 17-14 Southwest Conference setback by Arkansas came when several Tech players overlooked the possibility of a runback after Bill Adams came up short on a 55-yard field-goal attempt. Vaughn Lusby of the Razorbacks gathered in Adams' kick in the end zone and, while several Red Raiders headed off the field, streaked along the right sideline. Adams injured a knee when he frantically tried to bring down Lusby, who galloped all the way to the Tech 45 before he was stopped. When the Hogs stalled, Steve Little cashed in on the run-back by booting a 50-yard field goal, putting Arkansas in front 3-0.
For the rest of the first half, however, the Red Raiders gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about. Fullback Billy Taylor, who finished up with 104 yards in 34 carries, topped off his fourth 100-yard effort of the season with a pair of one-yard scoring plunges that gave Tech a surprising 14-3 halftime advantage. At that stage, the Red Raiders had out-gained the Razorbacks on the ground 202 yards to 62.
In the second half, though, the Hogs got their offense in high gear, rushed for 134 yards, capitalized on Tech mistakes and scored two touchdowns. Early in the third period, the Red Raiders drove from the Arkansas 40 to the 14. There, on third and two, Quarterback Rodney Allison inexplicably dropped back to pass. Worse yet, his throw was incomplete, and then Mike Mock, filling in for the injured Adams, had a 31-yard field-goal try blocked by Cornerback Patrick Martin. Of his third-down pass, Allison later confessed, "I called an audible. I thought it was third and seven instead of third and two. I called the wrong play."
Arkansas Quarterback Ron Calcagni then took the Razorbacks 70 yards for a touchdown, which came on his 11-yard pass to Flanker Donny Bobo. In the fourth quarter, following a 26-yard punt by Mock, Calcagni was told by Arkansas Coach Lou Holtz, "This should be six." It was, as Calcagni's first play was a pass to Split End Bobby Duckworth, who zipped down the left sideline on a fly pattern, hauled in the bomb for the go-ahead touchdown on a go-for-broke play covering 59 yards.
With Quarterback Delrick Brown passing for three touchdowns and running for a fourth, Houston steamed Rice 51-21. Also contributing mightily to the Cougar offense was Running Back Alois Blackwell, who ran for two touchdowns and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season as he gained 142 yards in 20 carries. For Rice the defeat was its 10th in a row, the longest losing streak ever for the Owls.
Doing the job for Baylor was Tailback Gary Blair, who rambled for 127 yards and two touchdowns during a 48-9 rubout of Texas Christian. He was at his best during the first half, gaining 112 yards in just eight carries.
1. TEXAS (11-0)
2. ARKANSAS (10-1)
3. TEXAS A&M (7-3)
Arizona State earned the right to play at home on Christmas Day, beating Arizona 23-7 to advance to the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe against Penn State. Giving the Wildcats more than they could handle were John and Mike Harris and John Jefferson. John Harris, a safety, scored on a 55-yard punt return, intercepted two passes and pounced on a fumble; Mark Harris, a fullback, crunched out 109 yards and scored one touchdown; and Jefferson latched onto six passes for 88 yards. For both the Sun Devils and the Wildcats it was their last game in the WAC; next season they join the Pac-8.
Colorado State, which would have gone to the Fiesta Bowl if the Sun Devils had lost, squeezed past independent Utah State 13-10. The Rams' freshman halfback, Larry Jones, rushed for 177 yards and set a school record with 41 carries.
Brigham Young tied Arizona State for first place in the WAC by drubbing Texas-El Paso 68-19. That was more points than the Miners' basketball team allowed in its season-opening 78-64 victory over Abilene Christian. Marc Wilson of the Cougars was on target with 13 of 29 passes for 187 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The injury-riddled Miners committed nine turnovers, with the Cougars returning three interceptions for touchdowns and Marc Swenson scoring after recovering a fumble and running it back 92 yards. Nevertheless, the Miners had something to celebrate: 202 yards rushing by Robert (Ducky) Elliott, who became the first State player in 29 years to go over the 1,000-yard mark for a season.
Three of the four NCAA Division II playoff games took place in the West. Top-ranked North Dakota State (9-1-1) defeated Northern Michigan 20-6 as Linebacker Don Hut-son recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass; No. 3 Cal-Davis (11-0) eliminated Bethune-Cookman 34-16; and Jacksonville State (10-2) was a 35-0 victor over Northern Arizona, which fumbled eight times.
1. WASHINGTON (7-4)
2. UCLA (7-4)
3. ARIZONA STATE (9-2)
It did not matter that Doc Blanchard, Glenn Davis and Joe Bellino were not carrying the ball. All that counted for the 81,091 shivering fans at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia was that Army and Navy were squaring off in another season ender. A Navy triumph would have evened the series, which began in 1890, at 36-36-6. Victory was all that Navy Coach George Welsh was interested in, and his pursuit of that objective cost him an almost-certain tie.
The first half belonged to the Cadets, who led 17-7 at intermission. Army's scores came on one-yard runs by Quarterback Leamon Hall and Halfback Greg King, and a 21-yard field goal by Mike Castelli. Navy's touchdown came on an 18-yard pass from Bob Leszczynski to John Kurowski. A third-period two-yard scoring run by Joe Gattuso was set up by Kurowski's 18-yard dash and brought the Middies to within three points.
As the game wound down, the Middies put on a final drive and had a fourth-and-two on the Cadet nine. A field goal was within easy reach. But, as Welsh said, "You can't kick a field goal there." He had Gattuso try for the first down. The tailback took a pitchout, was hemmed in and threw a pass that fell harmlessly in the end zone. Welsh was praised for his decision to gamble. As Hall said, "You just don't tie an Academy game." Army's triumph ended Navy's string of four straight wins in the series.
Worthy of praise, too, was Holy Cross. The Crusaders, who had lost nine of 10 and were five-touchdown underdogs against Boston College, twice came from behind, scored 14 points in the fourth period and won 35-20. The game evoked memories of 1942, when Holy Cross was a 28-point underdog to No. 1-ranked Boston College and beat the Eagles 55-12.
With Quarterback Mike Rieker and Split End Steve Kreider teaming up repeatedly on passes, including a 71-yard touchdown pass on the game's first play. Lehigh stormed to a 23-0 second-quarter lead at Massachusetts in an NCAA Division II playoff. By halftime Rieker had completed 18 of 26 passes for 283 yards and Kreider had six receptions for 146 yards. But shortly before the intermission the Minutemen scored their first touchdown. They added two more in the third period for a 23-23 deadlock. After a fumble recovery deep in Massachusetts' territory in the fourth period, Lehigh scored on an eight-yard Rieker-to-Kreider pass for a 30—23 win. Rieker, who has thrown 27 touchdown passes this season, wound up with 25 completions in 40 attempts for 351 yards. Kreider's nine receptions for 171 yards gave him 62 for 1,352 yards, and his four touchdowns raised his total to 17.
1. PENN STATE (10-1)
2. PITTSBURGH (8-2-1)
3. COLGATE (10-1)
Bear Bryant, who many Southerners believe is capable of walking on water, stomped all over Auburn. After his Crimson Tide clobbered the Tigers 48-21 in Birmingham, Bryant added a zinger: "Two or three plays gave them cheap touchdowns." The first of those "cheap touchdowns" came when sophomore Tailback Joe Cribbs scampered 85 yards with 3:01 left in the first quarter to put the Tigers ahead 7-0. Another came with Alabama leading 28-7 in the fourth period, the Tigers' sophomore quarterback, Charlie Trotman, passing to freshman Split End Byron Franklin for a 74-yard TD.
Alabama did not score until the second quarter, but once the Tide got rolling it was relentless, gaining 322 yards on the ground and 193 through the air. Quarterback Jeff Rutledge, who has seldom rushed for much yardage, racked up 102 yards in 15 carries as the Tigers keyed on his trailing backs and forced him to keep the ball rather than pitch it out. Rutledge also completed nine of 13 passes for 193 yards, two of them going for 30 and 42 yards and touchdowns. The latter throw was hauled in by Split End Ozzie Newsome, who latched onto four passes. Newsome established a Southeastern Conference record with a 20.29-yard average for his 102 catches in four seasons. Fullback Johnny Davis lugged the ball 104 yards on 20 carries for the Crimson Tide, and scored on a 12-yard run.
"A year ago on this Saturday we were going for the national championship," recalled Tennessee Coach Johnny Majors, whose Pitt Panthers closed out their 1976 season with a victory over Penn State. This time Majors and his Volunteers were meeting Vanderbilt in what was dubbed the "Basement Bowl," because the two teams were the only ones who had gone all season without a triumph in SEC competition.
When it was all over, Commodore Coach Fred Pancoast said of his 42-7 setback, "It was like a bad dream." Making it a nightmare was Jimmy Streater, a 165-pound sophomore quarterback. In the second quarter Streater scored touchdowns on runs of nine and one yards and passed 51 yards to Jeff Moore for another six-pointer. Streater scored once more on a three-yard run in the fourth period.
Vandy's Mike Wright, the conference's leading passer, completed only five of 12 passes for 43 yards. Tennessee's defense, led by Linebacker Greg Jones, forced six Commodore turnovers. Jones hounded Vanderbilt throughout the afternoon, making 19 individual tackles, assisting on six others, stealing a pass and recovering a fumble.
SEC teams won two of three games against non-conference opponents. A runback of a blocked punt helped Florida knock off Miami 31-14 in a Saturday night tussle in the Orange Bowl. Blocking the kick was Nose Guard Scott Hutchinson. Scooping it up and returning it 64 yards for the touchdown was End Mike Dupree.
After Tailback Charles Alexander of Louisiana State had carried the ball eight times against Nebraska and eight more times against Texas A&M in his first two games as a freshman in 1975, he had a net gain of only one yard. "I put my arm around his shoulders after each of those games and said, 'Charlie, things are going to get better,' " said Coach Charles McClendon.
Indeed, things were much better for Alexander during a 66-7 wipeout of Wyoming in which he scored three touchdowns and gained 231 yards in 43 carries (an SEC record). That left the fleet tailback with three-year totals of 26 touchdowns and 2,863 yards. Alexander, who did not start a game until this season, concluded his junior year with 17 touchdowns and 1,686 yards. A 24-yard run on his final carry enabled him to bump Oklahoma State's Terry Miller out of second place in the national rushing derby behind Earl Campbell of Texas. Alexander also finished the season with 104 points (he had a two-point conversion in addition to his TDs) to erase Steve Van Buren's 1943 team scoring mark. Wyoming's Myron Hardeman set a Cowboy record by winding up the season with 1,149 yards as he rushed for 120 against the Tigers.
Georgia Tech bumped off Georgia 16-7. Eddie Lee Ivery of the Yellow Jackets tore through the Bulldogs' Junkyard Dog defense for a total of 112 yards and scored on a 13-yard run.
Grambling smothered Southern University 55-20 in a Southwestern AC battle. Quarterback Doug Williams of the Tigers completed 19 of 30 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns, giving him a four-year total of 91. During the season, Williams made good on 159 of 312 passes for 2,960 yards and 34 touchdowns. Jackson State, which finished in second place in the conference, downed Alcorn State 23-16.
Southland Conference champion Louisiana Tech, which will meet Louisville in the Independence Bowl, registered a convincing 20-0 victory over independent Northeastern Louisiana.
1. ALABAMA (10-1)
2. KENTUCKY (10-1)
3. NO. CAROLINA (8-2-1)
The officials of West Texas State gave serious thought last winter to disbanding the school's football program. Instead, they decided to continue playing and hired Bill Yung from the Baylor staff as the new head coach. This fall, after the Buffaloes dropped their first four games, a good many people on campus began to wonder if the wrong decision had been made.
"After those losses, we didn't have time to think negatively," Yung said last week. In the next six games the defense clamped down, the offense opened up and the Buffaloes notched five wins and a tie. And, when they played at home against Southern Illinois University, West Texas State had a shot at clinching the Missouri Valley Conference championship.
The school band did not return from Thanksgiving recess for the contest and there were fewer than 7,000 spectators on hand, but the Buffaloes didn't need any stirring background music or large cheering sections. On the first play from scrimmage, Fullback Bo Robinson rumbled 80 yards for a touchdown. Robinson also scored on a two-yard run, gained 181 yards overall and wrapped up the season with 1,399 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.
Further helping West Texas to win 28-9 and finish half a game ahead of Wichita State were Carl Birdsong and Bill Delaney. Birdsong, a freshman, got off an 83-yard punt—63 yards in the air—to bottle up the Salukis. Delaney, a quarterback who transferred from UCLA, carried only 11 times, but gained 107 yards and ensured the victory with a 55-yard scoring run.
For the eighth time this season, Miami of Ohio (10-1) came from behind to win, toppling Cincinnati 12-7. The Redskins entered the fourth quarter trailing 7-3, but Quarterback Larry Fortner completed a 10-yard pass to Paul Warth to take the lead, and then Tom Kraus booted a 43-yard field goal. Fortner finished with 17 completions in 31 attempts for 196 yards.
1. OKLAHOMA (10-1)
2. MICHIGAN (10-1)
3. OHIO STATE (9-2)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Texas remained undefeated as 6-foot, 220-pound senior Running Back Earl Campbell tore through Texas A&M for 222 yards and three TDs in 27 carries, and scored on a 60-yard pass in an easy 57-28 win.
DEFENSE: Ron Hosteller, a 6'1", 214-pound senior linebacker for Penn State, snuffed out two Pitt scoring threats with end-zone interceptions, caused a fumble and made eight tackles as the Nittany Lions prevailed 15-13.