THE TERRIBLE TEN
They began conference play in the Big Ten last Saturday, and, fittingly for a league that had put together an 11-19-1 record over the past four weeks, two of the favorites for the conference title couldn't even beat each other. On a wet, miserable day in East Lansing, Mich., Iowa and Michigan State played to a 10-10 tie in a game notable only for the number of times the teams punted—seven apiece. Things did get exciting in the final seconds, when each school had a chance to steal a victory. First, John Langeloh of the Spartans missed a 45-yard field goal with 22 seconds left. Then, with seven seconds remaining, the Hawkeyes' Jeff Skillett narrowly missed a 51-yarder. The misses were the third of the day for each kicker.
Michigan State's touchdown came when wideout Andre Rison turned a short pass from Bobby McAllister into an improbable 48-yard romp through the arms of Iowa's defense. "Rison made a great run," said Hawkeye coach Hay-den Fry, "but that was the sorriest tackling I've ever seen in the secondary."
Iowa countered with a five-yard touchdown on a halfback option pass from Tony Stewart to Jon Filloon that floated like a wounded duck. "I thought the ball was never going to get there," said Filloon. "That was the longest moment of my life."
For Iowa, now 2-2-1, and Michigan State, 0-3-1, it will be a long season.
DROP THAT NAME
Alabama's roster of coaches includes a Bear (Bryant) and a Wimp (Sanderson), but it won't contain a Chicken (Curry). Curry, first name Bill, couldn't convince anyone three weeks ago that he had canceled the Crimson Tide's game with Texas A & M because of Hurricane Gilbert. So in last Saturday's game at Kentucky he went out and cleared his name with a gutsy decision. Trailing Kentucky 27-24, with eight seconds left, and facing a fourth-and-goal from the Wildcat three-yard line, Curry went for the touchdown instead of a field goal that would have tied the score. Tide quarterback Vince Sutton rolled right and found Gene Newberry all alone in the right corner of the end zone. Alabama, now 3-0, had a stirring 31-27 comeback victory, and Curry was redeemed.
"I couldn't have faced my players if we had settled for a tie," he said.
O.K., we're convinced. After establishing a new standard for I-AA bashing by unloading on Montana State and Indiana State (combined '87 records: 6-16), and after cravenly avoiding its traditional early-season confrontation with Miami, Florida proved its mettle by trouncing LSU 19-6 in Gainesville.
Perhaps a recent poem from the. Miami Herald got Florida riled: "We don't play Miami's Hurricanes/ We'd rather seek fame far away./Won"t it be a gasser/When we defeat Vassar." The chief victim of the Gators' wrath was Tiger quarterback Tommy Hodson, who completed just seven of 19 passes for 72 yards and threw his first three interceptions of the season. Florida cornerback Richard Fain picked off two of Hodson's passes in the opening period, taking the second 32 yards for a touchdown. So relentless was the Gator rush that in the second quarter Hodson was spelled briefly by Mickey Guidry while he threw on the sidelines in an attempt to regain his rhythm and his composure.
Meanwhile, Florida's Emmitt Smith rushed for 132 yards in 27 carries, giving him his eighth consecutive 100-yard game and 2,003 career rushing yards. Only Georgia's Herschel Walker reached the 2,000-yard plateau sooner. (Tony Dorsett of Pitt also reached 2,000 yards in the fifth game of his second year.) Florida is 5-0 for the first time since 1969, and the defense has allowed only 21 points.
For its homecoming game. South Carolina was host to Appalachian State Saturday. The Gamecocks won their fifth in a row. 35-9, and I-AA Appalachian State took more than $100,000 home to Boone, N.C. for the privilege of knocking heads with the big guys in front of 71,380 people. Nothing new in all of this, of course; scheduling a lower-division school to insure a homecoming victory makes good business sense for all concerned. Happy alumni tend to make more generous contributions, and the losers cry all the way to the bank.
But of all the interdivisional mismatches this season, there was a certain poignancy about this one. The Mountaineers entered the game 3-0, were ranked No. 2 in Div. I-AA (behind North Texas) and had a decent shot at an undefeated regular season had they not played South Carolina.
Appalachian State coach Sparky Woods, for one, doubts that the money and the heady experience were worth the risk of injury to the health and confidence of his team. "I wish that we hadn't had to play them this year," says Woods. "Scheduling these games are administrative decisions. The bottom line is, we take the game for the money. That's just a reality of small college sports." The 1 in the Mountaineers' loss column doesn't come with an asterisk.
HOW 'BOUT DAT?
Reggie Ho had his first subpar day for Notre Dame in the team's 42-14 rout of Stanford, botching a conversion and missing a 21-yard field goal. But another walk-on placekicker, Dat Ly, had a wonderful afternoon for New Mexico State. Ly, 5'7" and 149 pounds, established a school record with five field goals in as many attempts—all in the first half—as the Aggies beat Kansas 42-29 for their first victory since last Oct. 24. Ly also tied an NCAA record for most three-pointers in a half.
Ly is from Vietnam, and he escaped from Saigon with most of his family in April 1975 as the city was being overrun by the North Vietnamese. "I looked at the sky, and it looked like balloons were coming down, but they were bombs," he remembers. "When we took off, the plane behind us got knocked down."
After escaping, the Ly family settled in Morris. Minn., then moved to Wichita, Kans., where Ly played four years of soccer and one season of football at Wichita East High. After graduating he scrimmaged a few times with the Wichita Wings of the MISL before deciding to walk on at Wichita State, then migrated to Las Cruces when the Shockers dropped football.
Ly almost lost his starting job for the Aggies after missing a 19-yard attempt two weeks ago against Utah State. But the Thursday before the game he defeated last year's starter, Ruben Rubio, in a crucial best-of-five kick-off; Ly sent four through the uprights, Rubio only three.
Close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and. it appears, television. By holding UCLA to a 10-10 tie in the first half, Washington earned itself at least $115,000. The Huskies' strong showing moved ABC to call athletic director Mike Lude at halftime with an offer to telecast Washington's game against Arizona State this Saturday to at least half the country. If the game goes national, the payment will be $213,000. Washington kept it close against the Bruins but lost 24-17.... Alcorn State nearly hit for the cycle in its 21-19 victory over Middle Tennessee State. The Braves scored two touchdowns, two PATs. one field goal, a safety and, under a rule instituted this year, a two-point return of a botched Blue Raiders' conversion attempt. The only mode of scoring that Alcorn failed to use was the two-point conversion.
Joe Mott of Iowa failed to block a Josh Butland punt.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Oklahoma State tailback Barry Sanders (left) set school rushing records with 304 yards and 33 carries and tied another with Jive touchdowns—he nearly had a sixth, but he fumbled as he crossed the goal line—in a 56-35 win over Tulsa.
DEFENSE: In Holy Cross's 35-20 victory over Harvard, Dave Murphy, a cornerback, had 16 tackles, 10 of them unassisted; broke up four passes; and had two interceptions. In three career games against the Crimson, Murphy has seven interceptions.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The only bright moments for UNLV in its 48-6 loss at Nebraska were provided by kicker Jim Cook, who tied his own school record for distance with a 53-yard field goal, then broke it with a 54-yarder less than seven minutes later.