Notre Dame and Southern California have met in many memorable games; last week's matchup was not one of them. Each team fumbled six times and USC was penalized eight times for 110 yards. The Trojans, who had won nine straight since dropping their season opener to Missouri and who had been averaging 290.6 yards a game on the ground, were limited to only one first down in the first 28 minutes of play.
It was at this juncture that Quarterback Vince Evans was replaced by Rob Hertel, who is best known at USC as an outstanding in-fielder in baseball. In the final two minutes of the first half, however, Hertel proved he was also a pitcher of sorts, completing six of seven passes for 61 yards. He climaxed a 67-yard, 10-play drive with a six-yard scoring pass to Flanker Shelton Diggs for the first points of the afternoon. Nonetheless, Hertel started off the second half on the sidelines, watching as Evans connected with Split End Randy Simmrin on a 12-yard pass and then on a 63-yard scoring bomb. That put Southern Cal in front 14-0. In all, Simmrin caught six passes for 121 yards.
A change in quarterbacks also brought Notre Dame to life, Rusty Lisch taking over from Rick Slager at the start of the fourth quarter and teaming up with Running Back Vagas Ferguson on a 17-yard touchdown pass. A 46-yard field goal by Glen Walker of the Trojans and a one-yard plunge by Lisch with four seconds remaining rounded out the scoring, USC coming out on top 17-13. Southern Cal gained only 106 yards on the ground, 75 of them by Ricky Bell, who alternated at tailback and fullback. Irish Halfback Al Hunter rambled for 115 yards, but five turnovers kept stalling Notre Dame's attack. Notre Dame drove inside the Southern Cal 33-yard line on six different occasions without scoring a point.
Bell, who spent only about 10 minutes in practice last week working out at fullback, played almost half the game at that position. That was because the Trojans' three fullbacks were all injured, Mosi Tatupu in the previous week's Pac-8 showdown against UCLA and both Mike Farmer and Vic Jackson against the Irish. As a fullback, Bell's primary assignment on most plays was to throw blocks. Said USC Coach John Robinson, "In many ways this was Bell's finest hour as a Trojan. Just put yourself in his place. This was his last game as a Trojan in the Coliseum. He was playing before a national TV audience and he's a Heisman candidate. This was his last chance to go out in a blaze of glory. Yet, he switched and played fullback, and played with enthusiasm."
Said Bell, "I didn't always know who I was supposed to block, especially in passing situations. I'd just pick out a white jersey and go at him."
San Diego State wound up its season with a 10-1 record by knocking off New Mexico 17-14 as Tailback David Turner carried the ball 38 times for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Fullback Mike Williams was almost as busy for the Lobos; he lugged the ball 35 times for 167 yards. Williams, a sophomore, finished the season with a total of 1,240 yards rushing.
A Division II quarterfinal contest was won by Montana State, which hung on for a 17-16 decision over New Hampshire. The Bobcats earned a rematch with North Central Conference champion North Dakota State, which they had defeated by a 34-7 margin earlier in the season.
Perhaps no one savors victory more than those accustomed to losing. A year ago. Northern Arizona won its opening game, then lost its next nine. This year, the Lumberjacks, with just four senior starters on hand, seemed destined for more hard times. But last week they wrapped up an 8-3 season by defeating Cal State-Fullerton 20-17 with the aid of a short punt and two long scoring efforts. The punt from the end zone landed on Fuller-ton's 30-yard line and then bounced all the way back to the 12, where Defensive Back Ray Smith fielded it and then ran in for the Lumberjacks' first score. Wide Receiver Tyrone Peterson took care of the other two Lumberjack touchdowns, the first on an 84-yard pass play initiated by Quarterback Herb Daniel, the second by running 28 yards with 6:47 left. It was Northern Arizona's first winning season since 1969. The Lumberjacks also finished the season in third place in the Big Sky Conference by compiling a 4-2 record after having won a mere five league contests in the previous six years.
Also enjoying a rare victory was Oregon State, which clobbered Hawaii 59-0 for its second win in a dozen games.