This was Tom Harper's first season as head coach at Wake Forest, and it will be his last. When the team learned he had been fired after one win and seven losses, it rose up to beat Duke 9-7. Said Harper, a former assistant who took over only 10 months ago, "Winning one like this makes it all worthwhile. I knew it was coming. I love these kids. I wish I could come back and play with them." Duke's Steve Jones gained 201 yards in 37 rushes, but Wake Forest won on a late touchdown by Ken Garrett after numerous earlier opportunities had been wasted.
The Blue Devils' loss gave the Atlantic Coast Conference championship to North Carolina, which defeated Virginia 23-3. The Tar Heels, 7-1 and unbeaten in 14 consecutive league games, overcame five fumbles to win. Quarterback Nick Vidnovic completed only four of his 10 passes, but two went for touchdowns, and he scored a third himself. Maryland was assured of its first non-losing season in eight years by beating Clemson 31-6. The Terrapins led only 10-6 entering the fourth quarter, but two turnovers and a punt return let them break the game open.
Offensive errors also plagued Florida in a 10-7 loss to Georgia. The Bulldogs came from behind in the fourth quarter on a 44-yard pass from Andy Johnson to Rex Putnal and a 37-yard field goal by Kim Bras-well with 50 seconds left. An interception by Buz Rosenberg set up the first score and a fumble recovery at Florida's 30 led to the second. Kentucky freshman Sonny Collins was the whole show in a fourth-quarter drive that beat Vanderbilt 14-13. He ran for 42 of the 83 yards, scored the touchdown and added the decisive two-point conversion.
Florida State, with more hurts and bruises than Our Lady of Mercy, held on to defeat Tulsa 23-21. Gary Huff passed for all three Seminole touchdowns, but it was the running of Mike Davison, who gained 155 yards in 23 carries, that maintained the ball control attack. Tulsa took advantage of its infrequent possessions in the second half to score on two long pass plays. Virginia Tech shelled South Carolina 45-20 as Don Strock completed 29 of 44 attempts for 349 yards. The Gamecocks had shown good pass defense during the season, but Strock was quick to remind that "They hadn't played anybody who throws like we do. There was no point humiliating them, even though we could have poured it on."
East Carolina won its first outright Southern Conference championship with a 21-15 victory over William and Mary. Carlester Crumpler scored three touchdowns for the Pirates, who are 8-1. Georgia Tech crushed Boston College 42-10 to continue its inconsistent form and Mike Waller tossed three scoring passes in Tulsa's 44-6 victory over Ohio. Morris LaGrand provided the game's only touchdown with an 18-yard scamper as Tampa defeated Miami 7-0. The Hurricanes fumbled twice inside Tampa's 10.
1. USC (9-0)
2. WASHINGTON (8-2)
3. UCLA (8-2)
UCLA's Pacific Eight showdown with Southern California lost some luster as Sonny Sixkiller returned to the Washington attack and sparked a 30-21 victory over the Bruins. UCLA seemed to have overcome a 14-year-old Seattle famine with touchdowns in its first two possessions, but Sixkiller was in excellent form despite a three-week injury absence. He threw a 72-yard pass to Tom Scott in the Huskies' first series and set up four other scores by Fullback Pete Taggares. For the day, Sixkiller hit nine of 22 for 212 yards. Washington State also notched a surprising victory that assured the Cougars their first winning season in seven years, tripping Stanford 27-13 as Ken Grandberry gained 149 yards. Oregon's two Pacific Eight teams won their games, also. Oregon State turned back California 26-23 to end a five-game slide and Oregon came alive after a scoreless first half to club San Jose State 27-2. Duck Quarterback Dan Fonts passed for two touchdowns.
Notre Dame's 21-7 defeat of Air Force was its 15th straight against a service academy team. Ara Parseghian thought the referees' whistles kept the game close, noting that four long Irish pass plays were nullified by penalties. "It was almost as if the officials were the important people, and the two teams were unnoticed," said Ara. Arizona State, which already was leading the nation in total offense with 493 yards per game, amassed an impressive 574 in a 60-7 romp over New Mexico. Woody Green did most of the legwork with 116 yards and two touchdowns. Utah State won its fourth without a loss against Western Athletic Conference competition, and the victim this week was league leader Utah. Aggie Quarterback Tony Adams was the whole show in the 44-16 victory, completing 30 of 43 passes for 561 yards and five touchdowns. Craig Clark caught eight for 224 yards and three scores. "They ran so many different patterns and Adams was so on target, we were dizzy," said Utah Defensive Back John Frech.