- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
A University of Miami sign bore the slogan, THE CUBAN COMET WILL BE HIJACKED TONIGHT, but it was the Comet, Carlos Alvarez, who ended up in the pilot's seat. The Cuban refugee, who has yet to become an American citizen, caught 15 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns as the Florida Gators sharpened up for the Gator Bowl by rocking Miami 35-16 before 70,934—including a large Alvarez cheering section—in the Orange Bowl. "I knew they were selling a lot of tickets to Cubans and I didn't want to disappoint them," said Carlos, whose performance gave him at least a tie for five Southeastern Conference records.
His sophomore batterymate, Quarterback John Reaves, also picked up a few more SEC records, including most TD passes in a season (24) and most total offense (2,892). His 30 completions (out of 40) made him the national passing leader, with 227 completions to 222 for SMU's Chuck Hixson. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel great to set records," said Reaves, "but I've said all year that any other quarterback could have done the same. We have great receivers and coaches—and that Carlos makes any quarterback's job easy."
For all their achievements, however, it was neither Alvarez nor Reaves who put the fix on Miami. It was sophomore Tommy Durrance, whose 62-yard run—that's right, Florida does run sometimes—turned a 22-16 game into an easy win, the Gators' eighth against a loss and a tie. Durrance scored three TDs to become the SEC's leading scorer with 110 points for the year. Said Miami Coach Charlie Tate, "It was a hell of a run and it broke our backs."
While Florida was looking good, like a bowl team should, Alabama and Georgia were bowled over. The Crimson Tide, which will meet Colorado in the Liberty Bowl, Dec. 13, was trounced by archrival Auburn 49-26, winding up a 6-4 season. 'Bama Quarterback Scott Hunter hit 30 of 55 passes for 484 yards, wiping J. W. Namath's name out of the school record book, but the Tide's defense was so bad that Auburn's punter, Connie Frederick, scored on an 84-yard run with only 42 seconds left because the Tide had rolled back to set up a return. "I wouldn't be surprised if Auburn is not one of the top teams in the Deep South," said winning Coach Shug Jordan, while Bear Bryant rumbled: "I suppose we should be embarrassed with a bowl game coming up, but I'm not. I'm thankful for it. I think our players want a chance to redeem themselves."
So, surely, do Georgia's Bulldogs, who were upset by in-and-out Georgia Tech 6-0 on Grant Field in Atlanta. The Bulldogs, who will play Nebraska in the Sun Bowl, had as much luck denting the Tech defense as they did in stopping Quarterback Jack Williams, who made up for a miserable effort against Notre Dame two weeks earlier by directing the only touchdown drive of the game. Told that he was starting only two minutes before the kickoff, Williams moved the Yellow Jackets 80 yards in 13 plays in the second quarter. He hit four passes to move Tech to the Georgia goal, then scored himself. Linebacker Bubba Hoats preserved the win with three interceptions off Georgia Quarterbacks Mike Cavan and Paul Gilbert. Georgia's final record is 5-4-1, Tech's 4-6 for the third straight year under Coach Bud Carson.
Florida's opponent in the Gator Bowl-Tennessee, cut up Vanderbilt 40-27 to win the SEC championship with a 5-1 league record to LSU's 4-1. Leading 14-7 in the second quarter, Tennessee used defense to break it open, scoring on Bill Young's 25-yard interception, followed by End James Woody's safety. " Tennessee is the best team we've played, including Michigan," said Vandy Coach Bill Pace. With 21 minutes left, Mississippi State and Ole Miss were tied 14-14, but Rebel Quarterback Archie Manning threw TD passes of 58 and 15 yards, then scored on a two-yard keeper to start the Rebels to a 48-22 win, giving them a 7-3 record to take into the Sugar Bowl.
The Heisman Trophy winner, Steve Owens, played his last game for Oklahoma like he has played all the others, plowing up and down the field; but the Sooners still found themselves in deep trouble with only 1:15 to play against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had just scored on Quarterback Bob Cutburth's pass to Split End Hermann Eben, reducing Oklahoma's lead to 28-27, and now they were lined up to go for a two-point conversion. Oops, delay of game against State, move it back to the eight. Even so, State gamely went for the win. Cutburth, finding no receivers open, was hit by Sooner End Albert Qualls and fumbled away his team's last chance.