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East Carolina, which is leaving the Southern Conference to become an independent, wrapped up the league championship by rattling Appalachian State 35-7. Halfback Eddie Hicks and Fullback Tom Daub both scored two touchdowns for the Pirates, who ended the season with a 9-2 record. Hicks, a sophomore, carried the ball a dozen times and gained 106 of East Carolina's 317 rushing yards.
"All dreams are possible," said Houston Coach Bill Yeoman, who suffered through a nightmarish 2-8 record last season. His wide-awake Cougars put Rice to sleep 42-20, scoring 19 points in a seven-minute onslaught in the first period. That gave Houston an 8-2 record, at least a share of the Southwest Conference championship and the host role in the Cotton Bowl against undefeated Maryland. Alois Blackwell rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns as the Cougars amassed 501 yards in total offense, 417 of them on the ground. Although losers, the Owls gained even more yards—554. Senior Quarterback Tommy Kramer had his biggest day of the year, passing for 409 yards and three touchdowns as he connected on 27 of 51 throws. That left Kramer, the national passing titlist, with a total of 269 completions in 501 attempts good for 21 touchdowns and 3,319 yards.
Texas Tech, which can tie Houston for first place by defeating Baylor this weekend, also breezed to victory. The Red Raiders rumbled past Arkansas 30-7 as Quarterback Rodney Allison did some bull's-eye passing: 10 of 12 for 163 yards. Split End Godfrey Turner latched on to scoring passes of eight and 17 yards as Tech handed the Razorbacks their fourth consecutive loss.
Texas and Texas A&M squared off on Thanksgiving Day, with the Aggies gobbling up the Longhorns 27-3. For the first time since 1939, Texas failed to score a touchdown against A&M. It was a dismal day all around for the Longhorns, who lost four of their five fumbles, were socked with 11 penalties for 88 yards and had three passes picked off by Defensive Back Lester Hayes. A&M's sophomore fullback, George Woodard, churned out 109 yards in 29 carries and scored twice. Barefooted Kicker Tony Franklin of the Aggies established two records as he booted field goals of 21 and 57 yards. That gave Franklin a conference career mark of 17 field goals and upped his NCAA record for the most field goals of 50 or more yards to 10. "When the locusts move in, they don't leave anything green," was Texas Coach Darrell Royal's cryptic allusion to the fact that 14 of his 22 original starters this year had missed at least two games because of injuries.
"We knew we'd face a fanatical effort by TCU and we did," said Baylor Coach Grant Teaff after the Bears hung on for a 24-19 triumph. The TCU players desperately wanted a victory so they could avoid a winless season and give Coach Jim Shofner, who announced his resignation several weeks ago, a going-away present. They almost did it, building a 9-0 lead in the first period, leading 16-7 at the half and then, after falling behind, putting on one last drive. Sophomore Quarterback Steve Bayuk completed 17 of 30 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns for the Horned Frogs. Eight of those tosses went to Split End Mike Renfro for 161 yards. Baylor finally took the lead with 3:36 remaining when Tailback Gary Blair barged into the end zone from one yard out. Still, the Horned Frogs had not croaked, driving to the Bears' 11-yard line in the closing moments before Linebacker Tim Black sacked Bayuk on a fourth-down play.
"You've got to be pretty hungry to try an onside kick that late in the game," said Texas-El Paso Coach Gil Bartosh after Oklahoma State had done precisely that while leading 42-13 with five minutes left. That was the final score as the Cowboys came up with three interceptions and three UTEP fumbles. Running Back Terry Miller scored three touchdowns and gained 110 yards for the Cowboys. And Quarterback Charlie Weatherbie picked up 180 yards in 12 carries.
Tulsa, which will face McNeese (La.) State in the first Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., rejoiced over a tie. With sophomore Robert Mayberry rushing for 221 yards, West Texas State built a 17-0 lead over Tulsa in the second quarter. Golden Hurricane Quarterback Dave Rader ran six yards for a score shortly before halftime to cut the margin to 17-7. It remained that way until late in the final period, when Tulsa came up with 10 points in the final 2:44 to earn a 17-17 standoff and a share of the Missouri Valley Conference title with New Mexico State. Tulsa scored those 10 points on a 17-yard pass from Rader to Flanker David Powell and a 46-yard field goal by Steve Cox in the last second.