A GATHERING STORM
After all the hostilities that accompanied Notre Dame's one-point victory over Miami last year in South Bend, anticipation of the Nov. 25 rematch in the Orange Bowl is running high. The Hurricanes' defense appears to be ready after last Saturday's 24-3 win over Pitt, but the usually powerful offense hasn't quite put it together. On a bleak, wintry afternoon in Pitt Stadium, Miami quarterback Craig Erickson made his first start since breaking a knuckle on his passing hand against Michigan State on Sept. 30. He led scoring drives of 81 and 84 yards but completed only 18 of 39 passes. "It was a cool day, guys," said Erickson. "You're going to have dropped balls and misthrown balls."
Surprisingly, considering Miami's well-deserved reputation as the premier passing team of the '80s, the running game was the Hurricanes' most effective weapon against the Panthers. Freshman fullback Steve McGuire, who was filling in for the injured Leonard Conley, gained 114 yards on 25 carries, the most rushes by a Miami back since Lorenzo Roan ran a school-record 33 times in 1980.
Pitt, on the other hand, had little about which to feel pleased. After getting off to a 5-0-1 start, the Panthers hoped to make a national impact in back-to-back games against Notre Dame and Miami that were sandwiched around an open date. Instead, they were outscored 45-7 by the Irish, and against a Hurricane defense led by tackle Cortez Kennedy (eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery) and end Greg Mark (three sacks), the Panthers had only 28 yards on the ground and converted just one of 14 third downs.
Naturally, no one at Miami would look past San Diego State, this week's foe, when asked to talk about either the Irish or the bowl picture. All coach Dennis Erickson would say was, "We just want to play the best team we can." Right now that figures to be either Alabama or Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, not counting, of course, Notre Dame, which could bring a 23-game winning streak to that Nov. 25 grudge match.
AIR FORCE GROUNDED
Ever since 1983, when the college rule makers began allowing the team that won the pregame coin toss to put off the decision to kick or receive until the second half, Brigham Young coach La Veil Edwards has always deferred when he could. However, before last Saturday's crucial WAC game against Air Force, he changed his tactics. "I decided at the last minute to take the ball and hope for a quick score," he said.
He elected to receive even though Tony Crutchfield, one of his regular returners, couldn't run back kicks because of a sprained ankle. Edwards substituted Stacey Corley, and all Corley did was take the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Then in the second quarter he returned another one 85 yards for a touchdown as the Cougars went on to win 44-35. "I hope my parents were watching on TV," said Corley.
Corley's missile strikes stole the thunder from the ballyhooed summit meeting between the nation's best running quarterback, Dee Dowis of Air Force, and one of the best passers, Ty Detmer of BYU. Dowis had only 86 yards rushing on 22 carries. Detmer had another terrific day, completing 16 of 27 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns. Now it looks as if Detmer, not Dowis, will get to showcase his talents in the Holiday Bowl, where the WAC champion is host. The Cougars, who are 5-1 in the conference to the Falcons' 4-1, need only to beat Utah and San Diego State to lock up the title. Air Force has already earned a trip to the Liberty Bowl, to which a service academy is guaranteed a bid, by having a better record than Army and Navy.
BOWLED-OVER BLUE DEVILS