The Cotton Club
When the Southwest Conference became a lame-duck outfit last February—the league will disband in 1996—it appeared that the conference abbreviation would come to stand for So Who Cares? Well, as it turns out, lots of people.
With Texas Tech's upset of Texas and Texas Christian's upset of Rice (that's right, Rice was favored) last Saturday, the eight-team SWC finds itself with a five-way tie in the battle for its berth in the Cotton Bowl. Texas Tech, Texas, TCU, Rice and Baylor each have two conference losses. "I think it's kind of neat," says Baylor coach Chuck Reedy. "Here the league is about to fold, and we're putting on our wildest conference finish ever."
In 1996, four SWC teams are off to join the Big Eight, three others are bound for the WAC, and Houston is headed for a new conference with five other teams that are now independents. So who will be the league's penultimate representative in the Cotton Bowl? Rice and Tech, which have already met (the Owls won 24-21), are the current favorites; but as lowly SMU proved by tying seventh-ranked and bowl-ineligible Texas A&M 21-21 on Saturday, just about anything can happen.
Rice has not played in the Cotton Bowl since 1958, and a reappearance would be sweet for coach Ken Hatfield, who was-fired by Clemson last year. Texas Tech, on the other hand, has never been to the Cotton Bowl. Of the race to the finish, Tech coach Spike Dykes says, "It's gonna be a dustup. We're playing a bunch of little ol' pups on offense, but they're really starting to come along."
Led by redshirt freshman Zebbie Lethridge at quarterback, Spike's tykes are averaging 29 points per game in the SWC. And for those in need of a portent of the final standings, Lethridge grew up in Lubbock on a street named First Place. "It's a real flat mesa we live on up here," says Dykes of Lubbock's topography. "There's nothing beautiful about dirt, but it's rich farmland. Too rich for growing vegetables. Perfect for growing cotton."
And dreams of Cotton.
Who has rushed for more yards in a game than any other back in North America this fall? Chris Lewis of the University of Calgary, which plays Canadian-rules football. Last Friday night the sophomore tailback carried 31 times for 395 yards in the Dinosaurs' 36-36 tie with British Columbia.
Pride of Lions