THE QUALITY OF MERCY
Yes, we noticed the way Houston rebounded from its loss to Texas A & M, and frankly, the Cougars' 95-21 rout of defenseless (and offenseless) Southern Methodist disgusts us. Never mind that the Mustangs, beginning the long haul back from the NCAA's death penalty, had no business being on Houston's schedule. They deserved compassion, not humiliation. And please spare us coach Jack Pardee's lame excuse that his Cougars had to "stay in tune" for this week's game against Arkansas.
It's one thing to stay in tune, another to keep sending receivers on deep routes long after the outcome has been determined. Sure, Houston set NCAA records for total offense (1,021 yards) and yards passing (771) and tied the mark for most TD throws in a game (10), but so what? Those numbers are so meaningless that the Cougars should be embarrassed to have them entered in the record books. Said an obviously angry Forrest Gregg, the SMU coach, "For someone to try to build up their stats and their reputation against a bunch of freshmen.... I hope they feel proud."
Houston quarterback Andre Ware had the audacity to blame the score on the Mustangs' defense. "They took the short ball away," he said, "and forced us to go deep." Come on, Andre. Give us a break. There is such a thing as sportsmanship, which seems to be sadly missing from the run-and-shoot playbook.
Obviously, nobody at SMU will be unhappy if Arkansas knocks off Houston in Little Rock, but that prospect looked unlikely in the wake of the Razorbacks' 24-20 loss to Texas. The Razorbacks made too many mistakes and couldn't stop Peter Gardere, the freshman quarterback who had guided the Longhorns to wins over Rice and Oklahoma the two previous weeks. Gardere's biggest play against Arkansas was a 61-yard touchdown pass to 5'7" wideout Tony Jones, who thus became the Longhorns' alltime leading pass catcher.
THE THOMPSON TWINS
Indiana's Anthony Thompson and Minnesota's Darrell Thompson went at it for the fourth and final time in Blooming-ton, Ind., where the Hoosiers beat the Golden Gophers 28-18. But the tailbacks, who are not related, fought to a draw of sorts. Said Minnesota defensive tackle Bob Coughlin, "DT and Anthony probably will be taken one-two in the draft, and I don't know in which order."
First, there's the business of the Heisman Trophy. Anthony's prospects are brighter, mainly because he has played on better teams at Indiana, but Darrell will get some votes. In his career, Anthony has gained 4,471 yards on 985 carries; Darrell has 3,922 on 811. In their four games against each other, AT has outgained DT 522 yards to 455 and out-scored him six touchdowns to three, but he has carried 24 more times.
In last Saturday's game, the Hoosiers' third win over the Gophers in as many years, Anthony scored three TDs, giving him 58 for his career and leaving him only one short of the NCAA record held jointly by Glenn Davis of Army and Tony Dorsett of Pitt. He also gained a career-high 216 yards on 43 carries. For the benefit of any Heisman voters who might not have been paying attention, Hoosier coach Bill Mallory got on his soapbox and said, "Anthony Thompson is the best player I've ever been around. A 42nd, 43rd carry, and the great ones are still running."
Even at that, Anthony was no more gritty than Darrell, who was coming back after having missed a game because of a sprained right knee. DT rushed for 117 yards on 28 attempts.
AT has a chance to boost his Heisman stock this Saturday against Michigan, in Ann Arbor, on national TV. What better stage to break the touchdown record and maybe even lead the Hoosiers (4-2 overall, 2-1 in the Big Ten) back into the thick of the Rose Bowl race? "Michigan is beatable," says Anthony. "There's no question in my mind."
THE WOLFPACK IS SACKED
Although North Carolina State had won its last three games against Clemson, the Tigers have won the last three ACC championships, leading Wolfpack coach Dick Sheridan to say, "We've been winning the battle, but losing the war." This year the reverse could happen. N.C. State lost the battle 30-10 but still has a share of the ACC lead. It can win the title by beating Virginia at home on Nov. 4 and Duke on the road on Nov. 11. "This game did not put us out of the driver's seat," said Wolfpack quarterback Shane Montgomery.
No, but it did ruin N.C. State's hope for an unbeaten season and, in all likelihood, its chances of receiving a major bowl bid. The game also should squelch claims by the Wolfpack faithful that Sheridan's program has surpassed the Tigers'. Said Sheridan, "They hit another gear in intensity. The game was important to them, and they got it."
That might be as good an explanation as any for why the Tigers are 6-2 instead of 8-0. Clemson's motivation might have slipped in losses to Duke and Georgia Tech. Against N.C. State, though, the Tigers were their old nasty selves, converting five turnovers into four scores. As Clemson coach Danny Ford saw it, the difference could have been that all the pressure was on N.C. State for a change. Said Ford, somewhat forlornly, "We didn't have much to lose today besides a football game."
THE CATS' MEOW
Arizona improved its chances for making a first-ever trip to the Rose Bowl, with a 23-21 victory over Washington State. The Wildcats, who with a 4-1 Pac-10 record are second in the conference to USC (3-0), had all sorts of heroes. Several of them were members of the blitzing defense that intercepted Cougar quarterback Aaron Garcia four times and sacked him six times. All told, the Arizona defenders stopped ballcarriers behind the line on 14 plays.
That was the way Washington State's defense, ranked sixth nationally against the rush going into the game, was supposed to handle Arizona's attack. Instead, the Wildcats, who were inspired by the Cougars' boasts earlier in the week that nobody could run against them, rushed for 261 yards.
"They had pretty much challenged us by saying we couldn't run the ball," said Arizona coach Dick Tomey. "We needed to check that out. We're a running team, and we weren't going to let them talk us out of it."
The winning points came in the fourth quarter on Doug Pfaff's 28-yard field goal, his third three-pointer of the game. But the outcome still was in doubt with less than two minutes to go, Washington State trailing only 23-19 and driving for a first down at the Arizona 27. The Wildcats' defense rallied one last time as Darryl Lewis made his second interception of the day to seal the victory for Arizona, which will be hard-pressed to keep from looking ahead to its Nov. 11 showdown with Southern Cal in Tucson.
Florida started an all-Smith backfield against New Mexico last Saturday—quarterback Lex, fullback Cedric and tailback Emmitt.... LSU's 27-21 loss to Kentucky left the Tigers 1-5, their worst start since 1956.... Only four days after the Oct. 17 earthquake both Stanford and California played home games. Cal lost 29-16 to Washington in a game in which the Huskies scored two points by blocking an extra-point attempt and returning the ball to their end zone. At Stanford, where the Cardinal lost 27-24 to Utah, the press box was rocked by a quake aftershock in the third quarter.
While DT was gaining 117 yards, AT (below) was soaring over the Gophers for 216.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Florida tailback Emmitt Smith, a junior who leads the nation in rushing, gained 316 yards—the second-highest total ever for an SEC runner—on 31 carries, and ran for three touchdowns, one a 72-yarder, in a 27-21 win over New Mexico.
DEFENSE: Ron Cox, a junior linebacker at Fresno State, set a school record with seven sacks in a 33-19 win over Cal State-Fullerton. Cox had 12 other solo tackles, caused two fumbles and broke up a pass as the Bulldogs won their 14th straight game.
SMALL SCHOOL: Ryan Kolpin, a junior tailback for Division III Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, caught 14 passes for 215 yards and scored five touchdowns, four of them on short runs, in the Kohawks' 50-20 victory over Monmouth (Ill.) College.