Predictably, Michigan State didn't get much sympathy from Michigan coach Bo Schembechler after the Wolverines' 10-7 win. "Closeness is for horseshoes," said Mr. Compassion, but coach George Perles has good reason to be proud of his Spartans. While many teams pad their records with lopsided wins over nobodies before beginning their conference schedules, Michigan State had back-to-back appointments with Notre Dame and Miami. Then, the Spartans had to get past Towa before welcoming the Wolverines to East Lansing.
With one of the toughest early-season schedules in the nation, Michigan State, which is 2-3, has acquitted itself admirably. In fact, if the Spartans win the rest of their games—Illinois is the darkest cloud on the horizon—surely a bowl invitation will be the reward for a team that lost to Notre Dame, Miami and Michigan by a total of 17 points.
Michigan State could easily have won Saturday's game. With the Wolverines leading 10-0, the Spartans had a fourth down on the Michigan one-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter. But tailback Blake Ezor was stopped for no gain by strong safety Tripp Welborne. Ten minutes later, when the Spartans finally scored a touchdown, on Dan Enos's fourth-down, four-yard pass to Courtney Hawkins, their fans could only wonder how the momentum might have shifted had Ezor been able to cross the goal line.
While the Michigan defense, led by linebacker J.J. Grant, who had 14 tackles and an interception, held State to 77 yards on the ground, the Wolverines' runners picked up 169 yards. Tailback Tony Boles gained 100, the first time this season a Michigan back has reached that plateau, and Leroy Hoard scored the Wolverines' only TD on a one-yard plunge in the first quarter. The winning margin was provided by J.D. Carlson's 35-yard field goal, his eighth three-pointer of the season without a miss.
Michigan State's outstanding linebacker Percy Snow was in on 14 tackles but saved his best shot for after the game. Asked to compare the Spartans' highly ranked foes, Snow said, "I'd go with Miami, Notre Dame and then Michigan."
Bowl scouts are hereby advised to forget UCLA, which has been to one postseason game or another in each of the last eight seasons. The Bruins' 42-7 loss to Arizona left them with a 3-3 record and no apparent hope for a quick turnaround. Said coach Terry Donahue, "This was the worst whipping we've had in a long time."
To be exact, the last time UCLA was beaten that badly was in a 38-3 loss to Oklahoma in 1986. No Pac-10 opponent had defeated the Bruins so soundly since Southern Cal drubbed them 49-14 in 1979. Want to hear more? The Arizona debacle was also UCLA's first double-digit loss in conference play in this decade. The Bruins' 15 other Pac-10 defeats in the 1980s have been by a total of 66 points.
What happened Saturday? For one thing, Donahue was caught off guard by Arizona's switch from the wishbone to the option I. Two weeks before the UCLA game, two Wildcat assistants visited Colorado coach Bill McCartney, whose team may be running the best option I in the country. Soon after, coach Dick Tomey installed the new offense. The result was 480 yards rushing—the most ever against UCLA—and six touchdowns on the ground. The Wildcats' David Eldridge gained 205 yards, the most a back has gotten against the Bruins since USC's Marcus Allen ran for 219 in 1981.
"We didn't stop them from the first play of the game to the last play of the game," said Donahue. "They could have run anything they wanted to, and it would not have made much of a difference."
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE
The hottest topics of discussion these days at Florida are whether or not the Gators will get the NCAA's so-called death penalty (page 29) and who will replace coach Galen Hall, who resigned under fire last week. Duke's Steve Spurrier is said to be the front-runner. But folks in Gainesville are also wondering whether tailback Emmitt Smith will become the school's first Heisman Trophy winner since Spurrier won the award as a Gator quarterback in 1966.
Smith galloped into Heisman contention two years ago as a freshman—he finished ninth in the voting—but faded last season, when he missed nearly three games with a knee injury and Florida staggered to a 6-5 record. This fall, Smith, who briefly had his jersey number, 22, shaved into his coiffure, is back with a vengeance, averaging 135.3 yards a game for the 5-1 Gators. In their 34-11 rout of Vanderbilt, he ran for 202 yards and a touchdown, and with his 48-yard dash late in the first half, Smith became only the second Florida back—and the 12th in SEC history—to reach the 3,000-yard mark. He needs only 94 yards against New Mexico on Saturday to surpass Neal Anderson, now with the Chicago Bears, as the school's alltime leading ground gainer.
"He's leading us in rushing and receiving, and he's been hurt all year," said Florida offensive coordinator Whitey Jordan. "He hurt a knee in the first game, and he had a bruised thigh against Mississippi State. He was limping as late as Wednesday."
If the NCAA does bar the Gators from fielding a team in 1990, Smith will never get a chance at a host of records he might have set in his fourth season. For fans in Gainesville, a Heisman in '89 would be little consolation.
At 6'8", San Diego State's Dan McGwire is the tallest quarterback in college football history, but most people know him as the "little" brother of Mark McGwire, the first baseman of the Oakland A's. If this bothers Dan, he doesn't show it. On the contrary, he likes to wear a BASH BROTHERS T-shirt in tribute to Mark and his heavy-hitting World Series colleagues, Dave Parker and Jose Canseco.
After last Saturday's 30-26 win over Long Beach State, Dan, a junior who transferred from Iowa after failing to hold on to the starting job there, had the unusual distinction of ranking third in the nation in total offense—averaging 332 yards per game—without leading his conference, the WAC, in running, passing or total offense. Air Force's Dee Dowis has many more yards rushing, both Utah's Scott Mitchell and Brigham Young's Ty Detmer have more yards passing, and Detmer is second in the nation in total offense.
In the defeat of Long Beach, McGwire had what he regarded as an "off" night, completing 24 of 42 passes for 299 yards. He had only 74 yards in the first half, though Long Beach's success in stopping the Aztecs' short passing game opened the way for tailback Ron Slack to gain 110 yards on 21 carries before intermission. But in the second half McGwire threw two touchdown passes to Monty Gilbreath to break a 10-10 tie and get the Aztecs rolling. By the way, McGwire's backup, freshman Cree Morris, stands 6'7", which surely has to be an alltime record for total inches, quarterback, one team.
Leading lowly SMU 42-3 in the third quarter, Baylor faked a punt and threw a 39-yard touchdown pass, drawing boos from the SMU home crowd of 21,434. Said Mustang wideout Mitch Glieber, "I don't know if we were as mad about it as they were embarrassed." ...Southern Mississippi beat Louisville 16-10 on the last play of the game, a 79-yard Hail Mary pass from quarterback Brett Favre to Michael Jackson to Darryl Tillman. Yes, that's right. At about the Louisville 30, Jackson tipped the ball, which Tillman grabbed and took the rest of the way.... Penn State's 34-12 win over Syracuse was the Nittany Lions' fifth straight since a 14-6 opening upset by Virginia, and the recovery can be attributed mainly to a vastly improved defense. The Lions have yet to surrender a rushing touchdown, and a meaningless Syracuse scoring pass with 2:58 left to play was the first second-half touchdown against the Penn State defense this season.... Columbia, which beat Princeton 16-13 last season to end its record losing streak at 44 games, wasn't as fortunate against the Tigers on Saturday. Getting 163 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Judd Garrett, Princeton won 24-8 to drop the Lions to 0-5.
Brent White (88) was a big reason Enos & Co. got only a late TD.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Maine sophomore Carl Smith ran for 245 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries in a 47-21 win over Rhode Island. He has a team-record 16 touchdowns this season for the Black Bears and leads Divisions I-A and I-A A with 1,152 rushing yards.
DEFENSE: Sophomore Ken Swilling, a Georgia Tech free safety, intercepted a pass that led to a first-quarter field goal, deflected another pass, forced a fumble and made 10 unassisted tackles in the Yellow Jackets' stunning 30-14 upset of Clemson.
Scott Scesney, a senior at Division III St. John's of New York, completed 16 of 32 passes for 378 yards and six touchdowns in a 65-45 win over Merchant Marine. For his career, Scesney has 6,097 passing yards and 61 touchdown throws.