"I've seen fewer passes made in some basketball games," said one incredulous observer after Notre Dame and Purdue had staged a three-hour, 20-minute show that featured a total of 93 pass attempts, 49 completions, 666 yards, six touchdowns and the same number of interceptions. In the end, the Irish escaped with a 31-24 victory as third-string Quarterback Joe Montana, who hadn't played since 1975, led them to 17 fourth-quarter points that wiped out a 24-14 Boilermaker lead.
Purdue Quarterback Mark Herrmann, a freshman from Carmel, Ind., grew up hoping that someday he would play for Notre Dame. Instead, he stung the Irish with 24 completions for 351 yards and three touchdowns as he fired a Purdue-record 51 passes.
In the first half, Herrmann befuddled the Notre Dame pass rushers by taking only a five-yard drop and running his backs on flare patterns.
But in the second half, Defensive End Ross Browner and company chased Herrmann deeper into the pocket and sacked him seven times. Heisman Trophy candidate Browner twice tackled Herrmann for losses. Asked if he had said anything to the 18-year-old quarterback. Browner replied, "I never talk to the guys I tackle, I just drop 'em and leave 'em."
The hero of the Irish comeback was Montana, who sat out all of last season with a shoulder separation and was a bench warmer in Notre Dame's first two games and the first 43:23 last Saturday. On his first play. Montana handed off to Dave Mitchell who fumbled over to Purdue, but on the next series Montana took the Irish to a 24-yard field goal by Dave Reeve. Moments later he drew the Irish even when he hit Tight End Ken MacAfee with a 13-yard touchdown pass. Montana next moved the Irish 58 yards in five plays to the Purdue five-yard line, and with only 1:39 to play, Mitchell ran for the winning touchdown. All told, Montana completed nine of 14 passes for 154 yards.
Taking a cue from Mary Poppins, the Minnesota cheerleaders left two small pieces of candy at each player's locker, along with the message: SAVE YOUR SWEETNESS FOR TONIGHT, GET NASTY NOW. The Gophers responded with a 27-13 upset of 18th-ranked UCLA. Minnesota Fullback Jeff Thompson scored two touchdowns, and the Gopher defense forced six fumbles and got two interceptions.
The Michigan-Navy game in Ann Arbor was supposed to be like taking candy from a baby, but the No. 1-ranked Wolverines stumbled to a 14-7 win over the Midshipmen, who were a 29-point underdog. Michigan got two first-half touchdowns—and a first-quarter fumble at the Navy one-yard line—from Harlan Huckleby and then hung on as the out-manned Middies gamely fought to preserve their five-game win streak. "We're not playing very well at either end of the field—offensively or defensively," said Wolverine Coach Bo Schembechler. "We'll find out something when we play Texas A&M."
At East Lansing, Michigan State trailed Wyoming 16-0 after a first half that Spartan Coach Darryl Rogers called "the worst performance I've ever been associated with." Whatever words Rogers had for his players at halftime obviously were compelling. Taking advantage of the kind of gifts they had presented to Wyoming in the first half, the Spartans recovered three Wyoming fumbles inside the Cowboy 20-yard line and turned two of them into touchdowns en route to a 34-16 victory. Michigan State Quarterback Ed Smith completed 16 of 39 passes for 296 yards and one touchdown.
Washington State, which had upset Nebraska and Michigan State on the passing arm of Jack Thompson, lost to Kansas 14-12 as Thompson was 24 of 47 for 293 yards but was intercepted three times. Jayhawk Safety Tom Fitch made two of them, taking one 75 yards for a touchdown. His other steal set up a 31-yard touchdown drive. WSU had a chance to win on the game's final play, but Paul Watson, who accounted for all the WSU points with four field goals, barely missed on a 32-yard attempt.
California rallied to beat Missouri 28-21 behind walk-on Quarterback Gary Graumann, a JC transfer playing in his first game for the Bears. Graumann directed two drives for Cal, one in each half. The first was a 10-play, 79-yard march that ended in Paul Jones' 20-yard touchdown run; the second was a 12-play, 80-yard drive that Graumann capped by throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Split End Jesse Thompson, wiping out Missouri's 21-20 lead with 2:50 left in the game. Jones became the fifth runner in Cal history to gain 200 yards in a game, rushing for exactly that number on a school-record 35 carries. The win made it three straight for Cal, the first time it has opened in that fashion since 1968. Missouri has lost its first three for the first time since 1956.