Kicker Tom Skladany was so happy about Ohio State's 40-3 thrashing of Illinois that he talked backwards, and Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler was so ecstatic about his 28-0 defeat of Purdue that he resorted to mild theatrics. Skladany, who set Big Ten records with a 56.5-yard punting average on four kicks and a 59-yard field goal, likes to pronounce words in reverse and after the game gave renditions of two of his favorites: Esor Lwob. Buckeye Safety Tim Fox, who ran 20 yards with an intercepted pass for a touchdown and then did a somersault in the end zone, explained his antics by saying, "I get tired of people doing all those dances." Fox' act stole the show from a hot-air balloon painted to look like a giant tomato that floated over the stadium advertising a pizza parlor. Other happy Buckeyes were Archie Griffin, whose 127 yards gave him a career total of 5,007, and Pete Johnson, whose two touchdowns set a Big Ten season record of 21. As for Schembechler, it was Rick Leach, a left-handed freshman quarterback, who put him in high spirits by passing for 218 yards. "On only nine passes," marveled Bo as he exuberantly cranked up his left arm and feigned horror about throwing so often. Six of Leach's tosses were caught, five by Jim Smith, one for an 83-yard touchdown that was the longest pass play in Wolverine history.
Minnesota's Tony Dungy hit on 17 of 25 passes for 193 yards in a 33-9 bombing of Northwestern. Michigan State survived six turnovers to down Indiana 14-6. Iowa, with its highest point total in 72 games, won its second game in a row for the first time since 1969 by defeating Wisconsin 45-28.
Nebraska took advantage of Oklahoma's loss and moved to the top of the Big Eight with a 12-0 decision over Kansas State. Tailback Monte Anthony picked up 107 yards for the Cornhuskers, and Tony Davis added 74. Missouri wiped out Iowa State 44-14. Colorado got 196 yards from Fullbacks Terry Kunz and Jim Kelleher in a 17-7 defeat of Oklahoma State.
Georgia Tech came to Notre Dame with the best rushing average in the country—376.4 yards a game—and looked like it would live up to its stats when Pat Moriarity dashed 38 yards on the first play. From there on, though, the Yellow Jackets' running game was pinched off and Notre Dame's went into high gear. Irish Halfback Jerome Heavens scored on runs of 16 and 73 yards and had 148 yards all told, five more than Tech, which lost 24-3. The Yellow Jackets were also frustrated when they passed, all four attempts failing.
Third-straight league titles were sewed up by Tulsa, which walloped Missouri Valley foe Drake 70-7, and by Miami of Ohio, whose Sherman Smith scored four times in a 44-21 romp over Mid-American opponent Western Michigan. A month after being demoted to third string because he kept fumbling, Tailback Jamie Franklin scored three touchdowns as Maryland beat Cincinnati 21-19.
1. Ohio State (9-0)
2. Nebraska (9-0)
3. Oklahoma (8-1)
"I think Johnny Evans' quick kick was the nicest thing I've seen since I met my wife," said North Carolina State Coach Lou Holtz after upsetting Penn State 15-14. Evans got one off his boot on a third-and-21 play in the fourth period, an 81-yarder that finally stopped rolling on Penn State's 10. The Wolfpack had battled back from a 14-0 deficit, taking the lead on Jay Sherrill's 24-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. North Carolina State's touchdowns both came on one-yard plunges by Ted Brown, and its victory was sealed when Chris Bahr missed a last-ditch 46-yard field goal.
A counterpoint to that miss was a hit on a 38-yarder by Bill McKenzie with four seconds to go that enabled West Virginia to jolt Pittsburgh 17-14. McKenzie, a sophomore walk-on, had kicked only one field goal in high school and but two all season. Pitt's Tony Dorsett, who ran for 107 yards, had made it 14-14 on a nine-yard pass play in the fourth period and it seemed that Coach Bobby Bowden of West Virginia would have to settle for his first tie in 22 years of coaching. But his Mountaineers got the ball for one last time with 10 seconds to go, and Quarterback Dan Kendra set up the field goal with a 26-yard pass to Randy Swinson. McKenzie's boot put the icing on a couple of birthday cakes—Mountaineer Field's 50th and Bowden's 46th.