As if it weren't painful enough to lose to its hated intrastate rival, Brigham Young also took a beating in the record book. In Utah's 57-28 whipping of BYU, the Utes' sophomore quarterback, Scott Mitchell, set two single-season national records—passing attempts (533) and yards passing per game (392.9)—formerly held by Robbie Bosco and Jim McMahon, respectively, both of whom did their pitching for the Cougars.
Meanwhile, some other Cougars triumphed in another intrastate donnybrook, as Washington State defeated Washington 32-31. The Huskies allowed State's Timm Rosenbach to end his season with 2,791 yards passing, breaking former Cougar Jack Thompson's school record, and 3,155 yards in total offense, a Pac-10 record, formerly held by Stanford's John Elway.
The Cougars' victory earned them the Apple Cup and bragging rights in the Evergreen State, as evidenced by the scoreboard at Washington State's Clarence D. Martin Stadium, which will remain lighted for most of this week—in case any passing Husky fans care to check the final tally.
Texas A & M whipped TCU 18-0 in College Station, but Atonement & Morality took another beating in a bizarre incident that heaped more shame on the Southwest Conference. First came a Dallas Morning News story in which George Smith, a former Aggie fullback who lettered in 1982 and '83, said coach Jackie Sherrill had made cash payments to him. One $500 payment arrived in an air-freight envelope on Sept. 13 of this year, only four days after A & M had been put on NCAA probation. The story said this was "hush money" to guarantee Smith's silence about rules violations that he had known about.
While the university announced an in-house investigation—isn't this where we came in?—Sherrill skipped the game against TCU, purportedly so that his presence would not be a distraction to his players, and turned the Aggies over to assistant head coach R.C. Slocum. Both Sherrill and the school issued denials that he was on the way out. But then, doggone if Smith didn't hold a press conference at which he claimed that he had lied to the Morning News to enhance his chances of earning money from a book deal he had arranged with Morning News reporter Doug Bedell, author of the newspaper's story.
The money was just "a loan," said Smith, who then went on to describe Sherrill as being "like a father." He then signed a statement asserting that his press-conference version was true. Of course, he previously had signed a statement attesting to the veracity of the Morning News article.
After the game—the one on the field—A & M linebacker John Roper said, "We dedicated this game to Coach Sherrill." How touching. And how ironic that while all this was going on, TCU coach Jim Wacker was kicking three seniors off his team for missing a study hall, refusing to complete a disciplinary running drill and general insubordination. "We have some old-fashioned values," said Wacker, putting his finger on exactly what's so obviously missing these days in College Station.
Nothing against Notre Dame or the upstart Fiesta Bowl, understand, but the four so-called major bowls will be deliriously happy if the top-ranked Irish lose to Southern Cal on Saturday. That would mean that the Fiesta's Notre Dame-West Virginia matchup won't be this season's game-of-the-century between two unbeatens, and the Orange, Sugar, Cotton and Rose Bowls will be back in the thick of the national championship melee.
If USC beats the Irish, the Trojans could win the championship by beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl, no sure thing considering the way the unlucky Wolverines have played this season. If Michigan pulls a surprise in Pasadena, that will open the way for the winner of the Orange Bowl (Miami vs. Nebraska) or the Sugar Bowl (Auburn, probably, vs. Florida State), or for West Virginia. Even the Arkansas Razorbacks could do a lot of squealing if they beat UCLA in the Cotton Bowl, provided they first beat Miami on Saturday.
Speaking of the bowls, will somebody please explain why there shouldn't be a limit placed on the number of teams from one conference that receive bids?
This season the Pac-10 is the nation's best conference, so how do you explain that it has only three teams in bowls (Washington State is going to the Aloha) while the SEC and the Big Ten each have five? And what about the fact that Illinois (6-4-1), Iowa (6-3-3) and Florida (6-4, soon to be 6-5 after playing Florida State this Saturday) are in bowls, while the missing include Duke (7-3-1), Louisville (8-3), and the winner of this week's game between Arizona (6-4) and Arizona State (6-4)?
Come on, bowl representatives. Do something to make the postseason menu more appetizing.
THE IRISH ADVANTAGE
Army will arrive at this week's game against Navy by way of Dublin, Ireland, where the Cadets were beaten by Boston College 38-24 in the Emerald Isle Classic, the first major NCAA football game played in Europe. The Cadets owned an 8-1 record and the Eagles were 2-7, but Army found that it couldn't overcome the, er, home-field advantage.
Yes, that's right. The crowd of 42,525 included 10,000 Americans, most of whom came from Boston's large Irish-Catholic community. It wasn't fair, really. While Senator Edward Kennedy was there to lead the Boston delegation, Army couldn't even get its mule mascot into the country and had to hope for a boost from the Notre Dame leprechaun.
The Irish government said it hopes to make the game an annual event. No wonder. The American visitors were expected to pump more than $20 million into the economy, a windfall for a nation with nearly 20% unemployment.
ERIC LABS BAKKE
Eddie Johnson (32) rushed for 112 yards against BYU.
RICK HUNTER/WEST POINT
Army borrowed a Notre Dame leprechaun, but the Eagles had the real luck of the Irish.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
THE SANDERS FILE
Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders ran for 293 yards and four TDs in a 49-28 win over Iowa State. Sanders's 35 TDs and 2,897 all-purpose yards are NCAA single-season records, and his 2,296 rushing yards are 46 shy of Marcus Allen's mark.
Junior Bob Paschall, a middle guard at Columbia, had a school-record 14 solo tackles, was in on two sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered one as the Lions beat Brown 31-13 and won two games in a season for the first time since 1978.
Lehigh quarterback Jim Harris, a senior, completed 28 of 46 passes—including 17 of his first 18—for 430 yards and two TDs in a wild 52-45 loss to Lafayette. Harris's 372 yards in the first half were a yard short of a Division I record.
Michigan State's John Langeloh, a sophomore, kicked field goals of 47, 31, 27, 49 and 30 yards and accounted for half of the Gator Bowl-bound Spartans' 36 points in a shutout of Wisconsin. The five field goals established a school record.