- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
As expected, Penn State saw a different Wishbone from the one the Lions supposedly solved last year in the Cotton Bowl against Texas. The Sooners ran and passed for more than 450 yards and seemed always to be headed for a touchdown that would end any suspense about the outcome. Oklahoma's defense, led by Lucious Selmon and Ray Hamilton, rarely gave the Easterners anything worthwhile, even a first down. Against the Sooners' quickness and size, Penn State's celebrated quarterback, John Hufnagel, was not quite the operator he was against all the Armys and Marylands who made him an All-America.
And for that matter, Greg Pruitt did not look much better. Pruitt fumbled almost every chance he got, and the Oklahoma offensive star turned out to be 17-year-old Tinker Owens, a freshman pass receiver who looks as if he could fit in the hip pocket of his older brother, Steve Owens of the Detroit Lions. Tinker caught a 27-yard touchdown pass and made a diving scoop of another ball that set up the second OU touchdown.
But even without the Pruitt of better days, Oklahoma was an overwhelmingly superior team and it was the Sooners' own raggedness that made the game interesting—and the score deceptively close. As Joe Paterno said afterward, "They were the best team we've played since Michigan State in 1966."
It was a good holiday for Wishbones all around. Texas, staying with the offense that Alabama deserted at times, summoned up an inspired effort to upset the Crimson Tide in Dallas. Trailing by 10-0 in the first quarter, Darrell Royal's Longhorns, a team that kept improving all year, took charge of the scrimmage line in the second half and proved to be a better ball club in the best-played bowl game of all.
Much of the way the teams appeared to be remarkably even, with Alabama's Terry Davis giving Bear Bryant a slight edge in quarterbacking over Texas' Alan Lowry. Lowry threw the two early interceptions that put Alabama in front by what seemed like a safe margin. But then it was Lowry, with a little help from his slamming fullback, Roosevelt Leaks, and a lot of help from Royal's fine offensive line, that won the game.
With some pure Wishboning, Lowry constantly took Texas into Alabama territory but the Longhorns kept coming away with no points. Finally, however, when it was 13-10 Alabama with about 7� minutes left to play, Lowry calmly passed and ran Texas 80 yards to the winning touchdown.
Lowry, who had been a defensive halfback for two seasons (but before that a high school quarterback), hit two crucial passes under pressure and then skittered 34 yards for the touchdown that gave Royal his third victory over Bryant—against no defeats and one tie—when in each case Royal's team has been the underdog. On the run, Lowry faked beautifully to Leaks and then went to his left. He turned the corner. And then he just danced down the sideline and scored. He may or may not have stepped out-of-bounds on the way, but if he did and the officials blew it, then perhaps it was retribution for Texas being denied a first down that Leaks obviously made on an earlier drive that failed. The breaks were even all around, and what the contest probably proved was that Alabama was never quite as good as advertised, and Texas, having finished with a 10-1 record, never quite as bad.
As it turned out, the best of all possible arrangements would have been Nebraska against USC, since the Cornhuskers, playing it for the retiring Bob Devaney, went out and resembled the great team they were on most Saturdays. They made Notre Dame look like displaced persons masquerading in uniforms of the Fighting Irish, and that is not an easy thing to do. In fact, Nebraska handled Notre Dame more easily (40-6) than USC did when Anthony (or A.D. or Tony) Davis scored six times and wore out the knees of his pants. It was 40-0 halfway through the third quarter, the most embarrassed a Notre Dame team under Ara Parseghian had ever been. At this point Johnny Rodgers had very nearly equaled Anthony Davis' marvels. Closing out a superb career, Rodgers had scored three times from scrimmage and whirled himself 50 yards for another touchdown with a sideline pass, thus setting an Orange Bowl scoring record. All this and the touchdown pass he threw, which caught Notre Dame looking like New Year's Eve celebrants when the balloons started popping.