- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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While Auburn was marching through Georgia, Alabama shrugged off Miami 31-3. With Halfbacks Johnny Musso and Joe LaBue both out with injuries, the Crimson Tide's Wishbone was more wish than bone. They fumbled the ball away three times and threw two interceptions. But that was all right, albeit a mite disturbing to Coach Bear Bryant because Alabama's defense bent the Hurricanes like so many limp palm trees. Alabama spotted Miami a field goal after losing a fumble, but after that the visitors spent most of the time playing deep in their own territory. So dominant was Alabama's defense that even Musso, watching from the sidelines, was forced to shudder a bit. "I'd hate to play against our defense myself," he said.
On offense Alabama was not completely hapless. Quarterback Terry Davis scored twice. Bill Davis kicked two field goals and Wilbur Jackson—Musso's replacement—got off a 67-yard TD run. Asked if he thought at the beginning of the season that both Alabama and Auburn would come to their finale undefeated, Bryant had a not-so-subtle editorial comment on schedules: "Looking at the schedules, I could see more teams on our schedule capable of beating us than I could see on theirs capable of beating them."
Jackson, Miss. is one of LSU Coach Charlie McClendon's least favorite places. Going into the Tigers' game with Mississippi State, he had not won there since 1962, and as recently as a few weeks ago LSU was upset by Ole Miss in Jackson. But Mississippi State is not Ole Miss, so this time Charlie left Jackson with a 28-3 win. After LSU's defense forced State to give up the ball on downs at the LSU 44 early in the second quarter, Quarterback Bert Jones moved the Tigers to a touchdown and a 14-3 lead. The offense also ran smoothly behind Paul Lyons, who ran for two TDs. Most heartening to McClendon, however, was the return to form of Tommy Casanova, his ill-starred defensive halfback. Casanova warmed up for his duel with Notre Dame Receiver Tom Gatewood by playing the entire game, batting down two passes and making tackles all over the field.
The situation has deteriorated so badly at Florida that now the Gators get emotional over a 35-24 win over somebody as hapless as Kentucky. Quarterback John Reaves (remember him?) completed 18 of 25 passes for three touchdowns and 248 yards, while ace Receiver Carlos Alvarez caught five for 117 yards and one TD. Thus Reaves became the second leading career passer in NCAA history (behind Jim Plunkett), and Alvarez became the SEC's all-time top receiver. Afterward there was a lot of crying and hugging in the Florida dressing room, even between Reaves and Coach Doug Dickey, who have had their differences. In Atlanta, Coach Bud Carson of Georgia Tech was happy, too, because the Jackets' 12-6 victory over Florida State insured them their second straight winning season. The heroes were the members of Tech's defense, who held Florida State without a touchdown for the first time in 38 games. They also allowed State Quarterback Gary Huff only 12 of 41 passes, intercepted him once and sacked him six times for losses totaling 45 yards.
In the Atlantic Coast Conference, Wake Forest ripped Duke 23-7, and North Carolina found out that Don McCauley did not graduate after all. This year his name is Lewis Jolley, and against Virginia he ran 32 times for 167 yards and caught a touchdown pass as the Tar Heels won 32-20 to cinch at least a tie for the league title.
In Memphis they are having a grand old time playing politics with football. Or is it football with politics? First there was the state legislator who said last week he would introduce a resolution asking that Memphis State Coach Billy Murphy be relieved of his coaching duties. Which raised a question: Doesn't the Tennessee legislature have something more important to worry about? Mayor Henry Loeb got into the act, too, by declaring Saturday, the day of State's game with North Texas State, "Support Memphis State Football Day." So, naturally, a paltry 13,788 showed up. Some support, but then the Tigers have some team. They beat North Texas 47-8 and won a trip to the Pasadena Bowl, although their overall record is only 4-5. If you do not understand all this, welcome to the club.
After Houston demolished Virginia Tech 56-29, Coach Bill Yeoman immediately began to lobby for a bowl bid. "This is the most dangerous schedule we've ever played," he said. "I think we've played well enough to go to a bowl." They certainly played well enough against Tech, containing Quarterback Don Strock, the nation's leading passer, and stuffing the Gobblers with plenty of Veer T. Gary Mullins threw three touchdown passes, and Robert Newhouse gained more than 100 yards—201 to be exact—for the 13th time in 14 games.