Windpipe-Closure Index: Penn State won three games—against Maryland, Notre Dame and Cincinnati—that were decided in the waning moments. Miami didn't have a game that came down to the wire all season. Penn State plus two.
Next Best Thing To The Boz: Dan Sileo, Miami defensive tackle, can both knock and talk you Sileo. "I never liked Penn State in high school and still don't," he says. "They're condescending.... I was all-everything out of high school. They came and looked at me; they wanted me to play linebacker. I wanted to play noseguard. I had a 2.4 [grade point average), and they had all these 3.9 guys. They said, 'Son, I think you'd have enough trouble getting into a junior college.' I said, 'What?' I go, 'O.K., I wasn't interested in Penn State anyway.' " And.... "If we get ahead and they have to start throwing, it could be a long game. I'm saying 10-point win, 14-point win if Vinny comes out and throws the way he did against Oklahoma." Miami plus one for quotability, minus two for inciting to riot.
Best Body: Highsmith's should be illegal. Miami plus one.
Intermission: This isn't worth any points, but do you realize that this will be the third national-championship game ('82 and '85 were the others) for Penn State's 16 fifth-year seniors. It's the second ('83 was the other) for 22 Miami players, and you almost have to count '85 as well. Six national-title games in the last five years is remarkable to think about, no?
First Place Somebody Will Get In Trouble in Phoenix
: Zazoo, the ultrachic disco with neon palm trees. Until last May a jaguar guarded the door. The cat was removed after greeting a female patron too enthusiastically. Miami's dorms are wilder than this. Miami plus .5.
Best Running Backs: Penn State's outpoint Highsmith and Melvin Bratton, but just barely. The Lions ran for 184 yards against Pitt, the nation's ninth-ranked defense. Dozier is twice the back on grass, which is what he'll run on in Tempe. "Dozier and Manoa just run over you like a truck or beat you to the sideline," says Pitt linebacker Jerry Wall. " Highsmith and Bratton leave you with your pants down." Trucks over pants by one.
The Shoes Theory: Asks Penn State defensive tackle Bob White, "Why is it so hard for people to believe that we can win this game?" You know why, Bob. Because of the Lions' black shoes, which make them look like William & Mary, circa 1889, people underestimate Penn State. That only helps the Lions. These guys are 22-1 over the last two years, and they never took their black shoes off once. " Penn State is better equipped than people think they are," says Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer. Penn State plus two.
Best Dark Horse MVP Candidates: For Miami, 6'4" junior defensive end Daniel Stubbs. Voted the team's hardest hitter, he is becoming another Mad Stork a la Ted Hendricks, who played the same position for the Hurricanes in the late '60s. For Penn State try senior linebacker Trey Bauer, of whom Miami line coach Art Kehoe says, "I don't know his name, but his number is 35, and the guy shows up in every play." Give Miami one point.
Fat Boys: Linemen, that is. Too fat was the reason Penn State spurned Rakoczy as a schoolboy, and that rejection helped turn him into a great player. "It made me think, Maybe I can't get by with just size," says Rakoczy. Miami may not get by with two tackles who wouldn't have started this season had the first stringers not gone down with injuries. They're light, and Penn State's defensive tackles are especially strong. Not only that, Testaverde was sacked 29 times this season. Could be mucho Fiesta trouble. Penn State plus two.
Best Bar Bet: Lay $5 that the Nittany Lions will win by exactly 13 points. Then pull out the box score of last month's Penn State-Miami basketball game: Lions 74, Hurricanes 61. Collect and then run.