What a fitting comeuppance for Florida coach Steve Spurrier that his Gators lost in overtime to Alabama last Saturday by the margin of Jeff Chandler's shanked extra point. During the Danny Wuerffel era, when the Heisman Trophy-winning Florida quarterback threw touchdown passes as regularly as some teams punt, Spurrier made his offensive philosophy clear. When a reporter asked him about the Gators' ability to kick field goals, Spurrier said, "We don't kick too many of those things down here. We like to kick extra points."
But Wuerffel graduated, and the Florida offense hasn't operated with quite the same efficiency since. Margins of victory have narrowed and kickers have meant more to the Gators' success. A year ago Spurrier learned that lesson the hard way when Collins Cooper missed a 32-yard field goal in overtime at Tennessee, allowing the Volunteers to escape with a 20-17 victory. After that game Spurrier benched Cooper in favor of Chandler. When the latter nailed three field goals against Tennessee last month and the Gators won 23-21, Florida seemed to have raised its kicking game to national championship caliber. Then last Saturday, Chandler yanked that extra point, the sixth he has missed (out of 63) in his career, and the Gators suffered mightily for it. "I let a lot of guys down," Chandler said. "I tried to make them forget about what happened last year. Turns out this is worse than last year."
Texas A&M's Downfall
Morris Burns Aggies Again
Three years ago Texas Tech fullback Sammy Morris caught a game-winning, 81-yard touchdown pass against Texas A&M. On Saturday, in only his second game since that victory, Moms torched the Aggies again, rushing for 170 yards in a 21-19 upset of a team that going into last weekend featured the nation's top-ranked rushing defense (22.7 yards per game). "My teammates have started calling me Aggie Killer," says Morris, a 6-foot, 212-pound senior who, despite his limited playing time, is rated by one pundit as the No. 1 fullback prospect in next spring's NFL draft. "I'm just happy to get back out on the field again."
Morris missed the Red Raiders' final four games in 1996 and all of the '97 and '98 seasons because he was academically ineligible, partly because of an administrative error. He had 32 career carries entering Saturday's game, but with Tech star running back Ricky Williams out for the season with a torn ACL, Morris was pressed into action and carried the ball 33 times to help knock A&M from No. 5 to No. 13 in the rankings.
Baylor Takes a Knee and a Bow
Three weeks after Baylor lost to UNLV because the Bears had a fumble of a handoff returned for a touchdown when they should have taken a knee to run out the clock, quarterback Jermaine Alfred kneeled on each of the last two plays of a 23-10 victory at home over North Texas. After each snap the crowd of 28,743 at Floyd Casey Stadium responded with a standing ovation.
Titleholder in Trouble
No Waltz for Tennessee
In the wake of a national championship, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer insisted that the Volunteers would not fall prey to self-adoration. "Pleased, but not satisfied" is the way Fulmer described his Vols over the summer. "Our players have a quiet confidence about how they've gone about their business."
After losing 23-21 at Florida on Sept. 18 and after struggling the following week to beat Memphis 17-16, Fulmer knew Tennessee's players weren't as hungry as he'd thought. "You can't assume just because you're good one year you'll be good the next," he said last week.
The Volunteers found the perfect opponent for getting back on track—an SEC West team. Tennessee's 15th straight victory against the West, 24-0 over Auburn, nonetheless showed that the Vols remain vulnerable on offense. Until the bruised clavicle that quarterback Tee Martin suffered against Florida, which has hindered his passing, is healed, defenses are going to load up to stop tailback Jamal Lewis. The junior is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, compared with 6.1 in his two previous seasons. Tennessee's offense made seven trips inside Auburn's 25-yard line and came away with only 10 points.