Predictably, Michigan State didn't get much sympathy from Michigan coach Bo Schembechler after the Wolverines' 10-7 win. "Closeness is for horseshoes," said Mr. Compassion, but coach George Perles has good reason to be proud of his Spartans. While many teams pad their records with lopsided wins over nobodies before beginning their conference schedules, Michigan State had back-to-back appointments with Notre Dame and Miami. Then, the Spartans had to get past Towa before welcoming the Wolverines to East Lansing.
With one of the toughest early-season schedules in the nation, Michigan State, which is 2-3, has acquitted itself admirably. In fact, if the Spartans win the rest of their games—Illinois is the darkest cloud on the horizon—surely a bowl invitation will be the reward for a team that lost to Notre Dame, Miami and Michigan by a total of 17 points.
Michigan State could easily have won Saturday's game. With the Wolverines leading 10-0, the Spartans had a fourth down on the Michigan one-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter. But tailback Blake Ezor was stopped for no gain by strong safety Tripp Welborne. Ten minutes later, when the Spartans finally scored a touchdown, on Dan Enos's fourth-down, four-yard pass to Courtney Hawkins, their fans could only wonder how the momentum might have shifted had Ezor been able to cross the goal line.
While the Michigan defense, led by linebacker J.J. Grant, who had 14 tackles and an interception, held State to 77 yards on the ground, the Wolverines' runners picked up 169 yards. Tailback Tony Boles gained 100, the first time this season a Michigan back has reached that plateau, and Leroy Hoard scored the Wolverines' only TD on a one-yard plunge in the first quarter. The winning margin was provided by J.D. Carlson's 35-yard field goal, his eighth three-pointer of the season without a miss.
Michigan State's outstanding linebacker Percy Snow was in on 14 tackles but saved his best shot for after the game. Asked to compare the Spartans' highly ranked foes, Snow said, "I'd go with Miami, Notre Dame and then Michigan."
Bowl scouts are hereby advised to forget UCLA, which has been to one postseason game or another in each of the last eight seasons. The Bruins' 42-7 loss to Arizona left them with a 3-3 record and no apparent hope for a quick turnaround. Said coach Terry Donahue, "This was the worst whipping we've had in a long time."
To be exact, the last time UCLA was beaten that badly was in a 38-3 loss to Oklahoma in 1986. No Pac-10 opponent had defeated the Bruins so soundly since Southern Cal drubbed them 49-14 in 1979. Want to hear more? The Arizona debacle was also UCLA's first double-digit loss in conference play in this decade. The Bruins' 15 other Pac-10 defeats in the 1980s have been by a total of 66 points.
What happened Saturday? For one thing, Donahue was caught off guard by Arizona's switch from the wishbone to the option I. Two weeks before the UCLA game, two Wildcat assistants visited Colorado coach Bill McCartney, whose team may be running the best option I in the country. Soon after, coach Dick Tomey installed the new offense. The result was 480 yards rushing—the most ever against UCLA—and six touchdowns on the ground. The Wildcats' David Eldridge gained 205 yards, the most a back has gotten against the Bruins since USC's Marcus Allen ran for 219 in 1981.