The Alabama-Auburn game will not be a Southern-fried replay of Ohio State vs. Michigan after all. Florida saw to that by upsetting the unbeaten, fifth-ranked Tigers 25-14 before a record home crowd of 64,912.
Auburn's loss was every bit a team effort. When the offense fumbled for the first time this year inside the 50, the defense reciprocated by promptly allowing its first scoring pass, a seven-yarder from Don Gaffney to Lee McGriff. Fittingly, that touchdown put the Tigers behind—for the first time all season. " Florida," said Tiger Linebacker Ken Bernich, "just out-physicaled us." This was especially apparent in the Gators' running attack, which picked up 363 yards. Jimmy DuBose made 143 in 25 carries, and James Richards and Robert Morgan ran for two short touchdowns. David Posey, meanwhile, kicked field goals of 47 and 40 yards. The defense held Auburn scoreless in the second half. "My greatest win ever as the Florida coach," Doug Dickey exulted afterward. The Gators, beaten only by Vanderbilt, would like to face Alabama in a bowl game.
The Tide remained a leading candidate for a major invitation by thrashing the best Mississippi State team in years 35-0. Another record crowd, this one 59,069, cheered every minute of Alabama's 33rd consecutive victory at Denny Stadium. The game also marked the return to action of Quarterback Richard Todd, who had missed the previous three wins. Todd completed four of nine passes for 92 yards and ran two yards for a touchdown.
Charlie McClendon notched his 100th coaching victory as LSU pounded Mississippi 24-0. It was the fifth straight loss for the Rebels, who have not suffered this kind of embarrassment since 1944. All three Tiger touchdowns, including two by Halfback Brad Davis, came within 10 minutes of the third and fourth quarters.
Kentucky's defense stunned Tulane with three interception returns for touchdowns in a 30-7 victory. Greg Woods, Tony Gray and Mike Siganos were the culprits. The offensive punch came from Sonny Collins, who scored the game's first touchdown on a 66-yard blast around left end. Kentucky managed only two first downs in the second half, prompting Tulane's Bennie Ellender to say, "I thought our defense played the best game in some respects that it had all year." Unfortunately, the offense was playing its worst, in all respects.
Houston and Georgia, a couple of teams on the upswing, collided in Athens and the Cougars swung even higher, 31-24. It was Houston's fifth straight win and the Bulldogs' first loss in four games, even though they outgained the visitors 413 yards to 362. "The game was critical for both teams," said Houston Coach Bill Yeoman, with an eye on his team's bowl chances. "That makes me know we did a good job." The Cougars jumped to a two-touchdown lead in the first six minutes, fell into a 14-14 tie, then went ahead to stay after recovering a fumble at the Georgia seven.
Florida State's losing streak reached 20 games with a 42-14 loss to Memphis State. The Seminoles fell out of contention just before the half when Steve Cacciola blocked a field goal and rumbled 78 yards for a TD.
In an Atlantic Coast Conference game North Carolina trimmed Virginia 24-10. The Tar Heels' shuffling tailbacks, Mike Voight and Boom Boom Betterson, accounted for 239 yards, but the big play was a 44-yard touchdown pass from Chris Kupec to Jimmy Jerome. "Chris called that one at the line of scrimmage," Coach Bill Dooley said afterward. "We don't throw long much, but we'll do it anytime the defense tries to stack up against our tailbacks."
Duke and North Carolina State posted wins against independent opponents. The Blue Devils handed Georgia Tech its first shutout in 108 games, 9-0, and the Wolfpack defeated South Carolina 42-27. A key to Duke's victory was the booming punting of Bob Grupp, who averaged 44 yards on nine attempts. Stan Fritts gained 165 yards for N.C. State and scored two touchdowns. The Pack had lost its last two after six previous wins, while the Gamecocks had won two after five losses.