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Douglas S. Looney
December 05, 1977
In rousing regular-season finales, Texas came away the big winner, but Oklahoma, Penn State and USC did themselves proud
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December 05, 1977

What A Way To Wind It Up

In rousing regular-season finales, Texas came away the big winner, but Oklahoma, Penn State and USC did themselves proud

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"But I didn't score," said Walker.

Millen nodded. Then he reached down, hauled Walker to his feet and hugged him.

And out in Tempe. Ariz. the Fiesta Bowl people hugged each other. They had just landed their first 10-1 top-ranked major college team. The way this season has gone, somebody had to get lucky.

USC 29, UCLA 27

It was the best game of the weekend, certainly. Probably the best game of the season. The drawback was that USC and UCLA had six losses between them, unusual for two teams which often have met and fought not only for the Pac-8 title and a trip to the Rose Bowl but also for the national championship. This time a victory would put UCLA in the Rose Bowl. USC was the spoiler, acting on behalf of Washington, which would make the trip south if the Trojans won.

UCLA led 10-0 after the first quarter, having scored on a field goal by Frank Corral and a one-yard bash by Theotis Brown after recovering a Charles White fumble on the USC three-yard line. When UCLA picked off a Rob Hertel pass early in the second quarter, it seemed as if the Bruins might run off by themselves, but USC-UCLA games rarely go that way. Seconds later USC intercepted Rick Bashore, and the tide began to flow the other way.

The Trojans marched 63 yards, and Frank Jordan—a name to remember—kicked a 25-yard field goal. Six minutes later the Trojans were back, scoring when Hertel flipped a short pass to William Gay at the 20, and the tight end made it to the end zone. When Jordan missed the extra point, UCLA led 10-9.

A short UCLA punt gave the Trojans the ball at the USC 48. In four plays they advanced to the Bruin 40. Then Hertel threw a scoring pass to Kevin Williams. A two-point conversion made it 17-10 with little more than a minute remaining in the first half.

USC seemed to have put the game away early in the second half when Hertel threw his third touchdown pass, the second caught by Williams. Jordan missed another conversion but atoned for it shortly after with a 36-yard field goal that made it 26-10. The rout was on.

But this was USC-UCLA, glamour football, wide open. The Bruins took the kickoff and, realizing that they could not power their way through the Trojan defense, took to the air. Edging into USC territory, Bashore dropped back and hit Halfback James Owens for a touchdown. Now it was 26-17 USC.

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