Ara Parseghian established the precedent in 1966 at Notre Dame and now Bill Mallory will be answering for it at Colorado. Mallory elected to play for a tie rather than a win against Oklahoma when his team scored a late touchdown to draw within one point of the Sooners. Disdaining a two-point conversion try that if successful would have given the Buffs an upset victory (and ended Oklahoma's unbeaten streak at 32 games), Mallory sent in Tom Mackenzie, a senior soccer-style kicker, to boot the "automatic" one-pointer with 1:19 left to play. Mackenzie, who had hit 16 in succession previously, was wide to the left and Colorado had not a tie or a win but a 21-20 defeat, its first of the year. For those who believe in playing to win, it was poetic justice. For Mallory, it was sound strategy that misfired.
"The decision was mine and mine alone," Mallory said. "Why go for a tie? Right now it's early in the season. A tie could win the Big Eight championship for us. That's what I was thinking and if I had it to do over, I'd do it again."
Mackenzie, it should be known, did not have his regular holder on the field for the fateful kick. Paul Krause, the starting wingback who handles the job, left the game with a knee injury in the first half and did not return. There were no mechanical problems, however; the kick just missed. But the loss of Krause, if not the game, left Mallory fuming, mostly over the NCAA rule limiting road teams to 48 players. "This 48-man thing is really great," he said sarcastically. "We ought to send the NCAA a thank-you note."
Whatever, no legislation has been drafted to vitiate Oklahoma's Joe Washington. Rushing for 89 yards on 16 carries, Washington scored two touchdowns, one on a 74-yard punt return, and his 19-yard run set up the final Oklahoma touchdown.
The Sooners, however, were outplayed for the second week in succession. Lost fumbles enabled Colorado to tie the game at 14—all and the Buffaloes had a 208-177 advantage in total yards.
With Colorado passing up its chance at a major upset, Michigan State stepped into the breach by knocking off Notre Dame 10-3. It was the first time in 49 games that the Irish failed to score a touchdown, and up until the last four minutes it looked as though no one would. But on a play the Spartans call "Slice Right," Tyrone Wilson got loose on a 76-yard sprint to the Notre Dame four-yard line. One play later, Levi Jackson scored on a pitchout around right end. Notre Dame lost three fumbles and had two passes picked off as a hard-hitting Michigan State defense, led by Linebacker Kim Rowekamp, killed scoring opportunities and nullified good field position.
"This was the most disappointing loss of my entire career," Dan Devine said of his first at Notre Dame. "I don't know why. Maybe it's because I thought we could always win it."
While Michigan was regaining its predicted form, the rest of the Big Ten was showing little. Illinois stopped Washington State 27-21 and Minnesota blanked Ohio University 21-0, but Miami of Ohio knocked off Purdue 14-3 and Kansas eviscerated Wisconsin 41-7.
Not much more was expected of Iowa when the Hawkeyes met USC, but John McKay knew better. "If we're the No. 3 team in the nation," McKay said of his Trojans, "then this country is in trouble."