A GATHERING STORM
After all the hostilities that accompanied Notre Dame's one-point victory over Miami last year in South Bend, anticipation of the Nov. 25 rematch in the Orange Bowl is running high. The Hurricanes' defense appears to be ready after last Saturday's 24-3 win over Pitt, but the usually powerful offense hasn't quite put it together. On a bleak, wintry afternoon in Pitt Stadium, Miami quarterback Craig Erickson made his first start since breaking a knuckle on his passing hand against Michigan State on Sept. 30. He led scoring drives of 81 and 84 yards but completed only 18 of 39 passes. "It was a cool day, guys," said Erickson. "You're going to have dropped balls and misthrown balls."
Surprisingly, considering Miami's well-deserved reputation as the premier passing team of the '80s, the running game was the Hurricanes' most effective weapon against the Panthers. Freshman fullback Steve McGuire, who was filling in for the injured Leonard Conley, gained 114 yards on 25 carries, the most rushes by a Miami back since Lorenzo Roan ran a school-record 33 times in 1980.
Pitt, on the other hand, had little about which to feel pleased. After getting off to a 5-0-1 start, the Panthers hoped to make a national impact in back-to-back games against Notre Dame and Miami that were sandwiched around an open date. Instead, they were outscored 45-7 by the Irish, and against a Hurricane defense led by tackle Cortez Kennedy (eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery) and end Greg Mark (three sacks), the Panthers had only 28 yards on the ground and converted just one of 14 third downs.
Naturally, no one at Miami would look past San Diego State, this week's foe, when asked to talk about either the Irish or the bowl picture. All coach Dennis Erickson would say was, "We just want to play the best team we can." Right now that figures to be either Alabama or Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, not counting, of course, Notre Dame, which could bring a 23-game winning streak to that Nov. 25 grudge match.
AIR FORCE GROUNDED
Ever since 1983, when the college rule makers began allowing the team that won the pregame coin toss to put off the decision to kick or receive until the second half, Brigham Young coach La Veil Edwards has always deferred when he could. However, before last Saturday's crucial WAC game against Air Force, he changed his tactics. "I decided at the last minute to take the ball and hope for a quick score," he said.
He elected to receive even though Tony Crutchfield, one of his regular returners, couldn't run back kicks because of a sprained ankle. Edwards substituted Stacey Corley, and all Corley did was take the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Then in the second quarter he returned another one 85 yards for a touchdown as the Cougars went on to win 44-35. "I hope my parents were watching on TV," said Corley.
Corley's missile strikes stole the thunder from the ballyhooed summit meeting between the nation's best running quarterback, Dee Dowis of Air Force, and one of the best passers, Ty Detmer of BYU. Dowis had only 86 yards rushing on 22 carries. Detmer had another terrific day, completing 16 of 27 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns. Now it looks as if Detmer, not Dowis, will get to showcase his talents in the Holiday Bowl, where the WAC champion is host. The Cougars, who are 5-1 in the conference to the Falcons' 4-1, need only to beat Utah and San Diego State to lock up the title. Air Force has already earned a trip to the Liberty Bowl, to which a service academy is guaranteed a bid, by having a better record than Army and Navy.
BOWLED-OVER BLUE DEVILS
Duke has not been to a bowl game since 1961, and when the Blue Devils got off to a 1-3 start, it didn't look as if they were going in 1989, either. Then came a shocking win over Clemson on Sept. 30 that, says Duke coach Steve Spurrier, "made this team not afraid to win." Or, perhaps, too giddy to lose.
Last Saturday the Blue Devils withstood an NCAA-record 73 passes by North Carolina State's Shane Montgomery and held on for a 35-26 victory. Their sixth straight win gave them a 7-3 record and put them in the All-American Bowl on Dec. 28 in Birmingham, Ala., although the bid won't officially be extended until 6 p.m. on Nov. 25.
Duke can clinch at least a tie for the ACC title by beating lowly North Carolina on Saturday. The Blue Devils will share the crown with Virginia, unless the Cavaliers lose to Maryland, which tied Penn State 13-13 last week. Assuming a Virginia win over the Terps, the Cavs, who earlier beat Duke 49-28, could be headed for the Citrus Bowl.
N.C. State, the preseason cofavorite with Clemson to win the ACC, was jarred before the Duke game when the three buses carrying the Wolfpack on the 25-mile trip from Raleigh to Durham were involved in an accident on Interstate 40. Nobody was hurt, but the shakeup might explain N.C. State's sluggish start. The Wolfpack trailed 28-10 after what coach Dick Sheridan called "the worst half of football we've played since I've been here."
The Duke offense countered Montgomery's 73-pass barrage—he had 37 completions for a league-record 535 yards—with a balanced attack. Randy Cuthbert had 151 yards rushing, to become the first Blue Devil back ever to gain at least 100 yards in five straight games, and quarterback Dave Brown, starting in place of the injured Billy Ray, threw four touchdown passes. Two of Brown's TDs were to wideout Clarkston Hines, who's tied with New Mexico's Terance Mathis at the top of the NCAA's career TD reception list. Each has 35, one more than Houston's Elmo Wright got between 1968 and '70.
Nevertheless, it was the bowl and not the record book that had Hines and his teammates babbling happily after the game. "A bowl is something you wish for and strive for," said Hines. "Now that it's happened, we don't really know what we've got, because none of us has ever experienced it."
Before a couple of prominent alums from the world of baseball—Fay Vincent and George Steinbrenner—the Ephs of Williams College wrapped up their first perfect season (8-0) in 109 years of playing football by overcoming a 14-0 deficit to beat archrival Amherst 17-14. Now all we need to know is what an Eph is....
There were some stellar quarterbacking performances last Saturday: Todd Hammel of Division I-AA Stephen F. Austin threw for 571 yards and eight TDs in a 66-45 win over Northeast Louisiana; Jeremy Leach of New Mexico completed 41 of 68 throws for 622 yards and four TDs, but the Lobos lost 41-39 to Utah....
Louisville coach Howard Schnellenberger signed a new five-year contract calling for a base salary of $90,000 a year, a radio-TV deal for another $90,000 and bonuses that could bring his annual earnings to $250,000. The Cardinals are 21-31-1 under Schnellenberger....
Iowa State coach Jim Walden, upon hearing that some Iowa fans had thrown liquor bottles and other debris onto the field during the Hawkeyes' 31-7 loss to Illinois on Nov. 4: "I like Iowa's crowd. I understand all the bottles they threw were empty. You've got to like the class of Iowans, man. They don't waste."
Corley's 99-yard return was the first of two kicks he took for TDs.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
In a 45-17 win over Wisconsin, Indiana senior Anthony Thompson rushed for 377 yards on 52 carries to break the Division I record of 357 set by Rueben Mayes at Washington State in '84. Thompson's four TDs gave him a career-record 64.
Alabama linebacker Keith McCants, a junior, made 11 solo tackles—including a six-yard sack—assisted on four others and broke up a pass, as the Crimson Tide moved a step closer to the Sugar Bowl with a 32-16 win over LSU.
Tailback Scott Bailey, a junior from Buena Vista in Storm Lake, Iowa, ran for 350 yards and a Division III-record six TDs in a 59-26 win over Dubuque. Bailey is only the second Beaver to gain 1,000 yards in a season since 1898.