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Although Campbell is a super back, Notre Dame can be tough on one-back attacks. Randy McEachern, a 50.6% passer, might well have to throw more than he'd like. Starting five games (after the No. 1 and 2 Texas quarterbacks were injured), McEachern completed 45 of 89 for eight touchdowns.
To television, it's the Woody and Bear Show, Ohio State's Woody Hayes vs. Alabama's Bear Bryant, two crusty old coaching stalwarts who have a total of 65 years of experience and 503 victories. To oddsmakers, it's the bowl season's closest match, pitting once-beaten Alabama, the Southeastern Conference champion, against twice-beaten Ohio State, the Big Ten runner-up. To shoppers from the NFL, it is a showcase filled with talent.
The Buckeyes offer All-America Tackle Chris Ward, Rod Gerald, America's slipperiest quarterback, and Ron Springs and Jeff Logan, a pair of runners who gain six yards every time they get the ball. The Tide has All-America Ozzie Newsome and a wave of exciting runners, particularly Johnny Davis and Tony Nathan. No wonder both teams score more than 30 points a game.
Alabama is favored, having won 10 of 11 and pounded Miami more soundly than Ohio State did. Yet the Tide's loss was to Nebraska, which was demolished by Oklahoma, a team Ohio State had on the ropes before losing in the final seconds. That, of course, leaves Bryant moaning over his chances; nothing unusual there. But Hayes, uncharacteristically optimistic, claims his Buckeyes are the toughest twice-beaten team he's ever laid eyes on. Indeed, Ohio State's losses to Oklahoma and Michigan were both heartbreakers. Oklahoma recovered an onside kick and scored nine points in the final 90 seconds to win, 29-28. Michigan won 14-6, but the Buckeyes were more impressive on offense and were driving for a possible tying touchdown when they fumbled with two minutes left. Ohio State drubbed its other opponents 303-42, shutting four of them out.
Curiously, Alabama, which runs from the wishbone, has a far better air game than Ohio State and the Pro-I that Hayes has favored this year. The Jeff Rutledge-to-Newsome tandem might be the difference in New Orleans. But Ohio State had the Big Ten's top pass defense and 22 interceptions, a national high. One or two more in the Sugar Bowl and it's Woody's show, not Bear's.
Barry Switzer recalls being in this position before. It was in the 1976 Orange Bowl, and his Sooners rose up from No. 2 to win their last national championship. Oklahoma beat Big Ten runner-up Michigan 14-6 after No. 1-ranked Ohio State, the Big Ten champion, had folded in the Rose Bowl. This time, ranked No. 2 again, Oklahoma once more heads to Miami, where it meets Southwest runner-up Arkansas, while Southwest champion Texas is the No. 1 team in the nation. The names have changed, but Oklahoma's position is about the same. And, again, Oklahoma should win.
This is not the same Sooner team that lost to Texas early in the season when its marvelous backfield was slowed by injuries. After Tom Lott, Billy Sims, Kenny King and Elvis Peacock recovered, the Sooner wishbone ripped through five straight foes by an average winning margin of 31 points.