Tony Dorsett performs miracles against Notre Dame, he outdoes Heisman Trophy winners and he will almost certainly break Archie Griffin's career rushing record. This Tony Dorsett is some kind of runner.
In three meetings with the Irish, Pitt's superstar has averaged 191 yards per game, including a 303-yard romp in last year's 34-20 Panther victory. What's more, Dorsett carried the football farther in 1973 and again in 1975 than the players judged to be the finest in the land those seasons, out-rushing 1973 Heisman recipient John Cappelletti 1,586 yards to 1,522 as a freshman and last year, as a junior, surpassing Heisman winner Griffin 1,544 yards to 1,357. Now a senior, with 4,134 yards in the bank, Dorsett could slack off some and still overtake Archie, whose career rushing total is 5,177.
Additional alarming news for opponents is that Dorsett is but one of 18 returning starters from last year's 8-4 team. Their presence should make Coach Johnny Majors' fourth season at Pitt his most successful. Clearly, what Majors has in mind for the Panthers is more than just winning Eastern football's Lambert Trophy. He wants them to be kings of the whole jungle.
The Pitt offense, which proved explosive on consecutive weekends against Temple (55-6) and Army (52-20), remains virtually intact. Majors hopes the additional year of experience will help avoid such letdowns as the 17-0 defeat by Navy that followed the 107-point fortnight.
Alongside Dorsett in the backfield is Elliott Walker, a 903-yard man who might easily have run for 903 more if his principal job in life were not to block for Dorsett. Running the veer offense again will be Quarterback Bob Haygood, who matched the 100-yard efforts of Dorsett and Walker in the Panthers' 33-19 Sun Bowl triumph over Kansas. Haygood may throw more often to take advantage of a pair of superb receivers—sophomore speedster Gordon Jones, who ranked sixth nationally in punt returns, and Tight End Jim Corbett, who helps clear the way for Dorsett.
Pitt's defensive players are not as big as those on its offensive line, but they can motor and they love to gang-tackle. Linebacker Arnie Weatherington was the leader of the pack with 143 take-downs, and Majors says Middle Guard Al Romano is the best to play that position for him.
With all this in mind, ABC-TV and the NCAA rearranged Pitt's schedule so the Dorsett-Notre Dame rematch on Sept. 11 could be the first Saturday afternoon telecast. That means a lot is being expected of the gold and blue's No. 33. But should he again run roughshod over the Fighting Irish and go on to surpass Griffin's record, Tony might not have to worry about being upstaged by the 1976 Heisman Trophy winner. His name could be Dorsett.
11 PENN STATE
Joe Paterno ought to write a book and call it How to Finish 9-3 When the Other Guys Run More Plays and Make More First Downs Than You Do. That actually happened to Penn State last year when the Nittany Lions did things like taking a precautionary safety in the last few seconds to hold on to a 26-25 victory over Temple. And although they clobbered Stanford, Iowa, West Virginia and Army, they lived and died by the field goal against their other opponents. Paterno's big problem was that his No. 1 offensive player, all-purpose back Jimmy Cefalo, was hurt and never a factor.
In Cefalo's absence, the always ferocious Penn State defense shared most of the credit with Placekicker Chris Bahr, who booted three 55-yarders and scored more than twice as many points (73) as anyone else on the team. Unfortunately for Penn State, Bahr has graduated and left his brother, sophomore Matt, with some large-sized shoes to fill. Also missing are seven of those fine defensive starters and four offensive regulars.