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UNSUNG AND UNSEEN HERO
The Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game was played in Norman before a crowd of 74,610, which, for a change, did not include a posse of NCAA investigators. Both teams are already in the NCAA's jailhouse—Oklahoma for three years and State for four—for a variety of rules violations. The 37-15 Sooner victory served mainly to remind everyone what a shame it is that Oklahoma's Mike Gaddis doesn't have a chance to follow State's Barry Sanders as this year's Heisman Trophy winner. The Heisman has never been won by a player whose team was on probation, even though there's no rule against it.
Showing why his teammates call him the Franchise, Gaddis, a 6'2", 210-pound sophomore, rushed 29 times for 274 yards and three touchdowns. His performance was the third-best ever by a Sooner back, surpassed only by Greg Pruitt's 294 yards against Kansas State in 1971 and Billy Sims's 282 against Missouri in '79. It was also the best ever by a Sooner against the Cowboys, topping the 261 yards Steve Owens got on a Big Eight-record 55 carries in 1969. Sims and Owens both won the Heisman, and Pruitt was the 1972 runner-up to Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska.
Gaddis's most important carry came in the third quarter, soon after the Cowboys had cut Oklahoma's lead to 23-15. Taking the handoff on a counter play, Gaddis took off up the middle and went 80 yards for a touchdown. For the season Gaddis has 699 yards on 96 carries, for a 7.3-yard average.
"Gaddis broke our backs," said Cowboy coach Pat Jones, who lost his sixth straight game to Oklahoma. Going into the game, the Cowboys, who are now 1-4, had gotten at least 100 yards from a runner in 22 straight games. Oklahoma allowed State only 60 yards on the ground and 233 all told. In fact, the Cowboys' offense never scored. Their only touchdown came on Mike Clark's 82-yard punt return.
Even though West Virginia had gone 16 regular-season games without a loss, Virginia Tech's 12-10 win over the Mountaineers wasn't that big an upset. The Hokies of coach Frank Beamer entered the game with the nation's third-ranked defense, while West Virginia was coming off two listless performances. Three weeks ago the Mountaineers had to score two touchdowns with less than three minutes left to overtake Louisville 30-21. After that they blew a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter of a 31-31 tie with Pittsburgh. Said West Virginia coach Don Nehlen after the Virginia Tech defeat, "Any time a team thinks it can win by just throwing its helmets on the field, it's in trouble."
Nehlen may deserve part of the blame for relying too heavily on quarterback Major Harris. No other Top 20 team depends on one player as much as the Mountaineers do on Harris, and no player in the nation, Harris included, is good enough to be at his best every game. Against the Hokies, Harris passed for only 101 yards—West Virginia had just 185 yards of total offense—and his two interceptions led to Tech scores. "I honestly think we did a better job of containing him than anyone has done," said Beamer, who was a starting defensive back on the 1967 Hokie team, the last one to defeat the Mountaineers in Morgantown.
When Mickey Thomas got the Hokies their final points with a 24-yard field goal, 8:28 remained on the clock, but Harris couldn't get the Mountaineers past midfield the rest of the way. The win, Tech's first against a Top 10 team since 1964, gave the Hokies a 3-1-1 record and will make other toughies on their schedule, especially Florida State and N.C. State, view them with more respect than they got from West Virginia.