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John Underwood
December 19, 1977
Somehow the bowl selections turned out fine—dandy, in fact—despite PSP and the poker politics that forced a few hands
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December 19, 1977

Setting Up A Showdown In Dallas

Somehow the bowl selections turned out fine—dandy, in fact—despite PSP and the poker politics that forced a few hands

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Texas A&M's biggest problem is catching up when it falls behind. The Aggie wishbone is not well suited for passing. Quarterback David Walker threw 107 times for only 749 yards. With more balance, A&M might have lived up to expectations. Certainly, with giant Fullback George Woodard and flashy Halfback Curtis Dickey, its running game was potent. The two backs rushed for 1,107 and 978 yards, respectively. A&M's 3,304 yards left the Aggies only 5.9 yards a game behind Texas as the SWC's top rushing team.

When the Aggies lost, however, they lost big: 41-3 to Michigan and 57-28 to Texas. And after the Texas game the Aggies were lackluster in a 27-7 victory over Houston. As for USC, the Trojans closed out their season with an uplifting last-minute 29-27 win over UCLA, which was playing for a Rose Bowl bid. Both teams have momentum, but USC is the more likely to keep it.

Dec. 31
North Carolina St. (7-4) vs. Iowa St. (8-3)

It's a war between the States, in technicolor: Iowa State, wearing cardinal and gold, features Green. North Carolina State, in red and white, stars Brown. Green is Dexter Green, a breakaway halfback who rushed for 1,240 yards, caught a team-high 20 passes and scored a team-high 15 touchdowns to lead the Cyclones to second place in the Big Eight. Brown is Ted Brown, a breakaway halfback who rushed for 1,251 yards, caught a team-high 24 passes and scored 14 touchdowns to lead the Wolfpack to a 7-4 record and third place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. As Brown and Green go, so go their States.

Green and Brown both should go well because the Cyclone and Wolfpack defenses couldn't handle the 1,000-yard backs they faced. North Carolina's Amos Lawrence ripped the Wolfpack for 216 yards; Nebraska's I. M. Hipp and Oklahoma State's Terry Miller netted 165 and 155 vs. the Cyclones.

Normally a Big Eight runner-up would be heavily favored over an ACC also-ran, but Iowa State's offense sputtered badly on occasion, notably in losses to Iowa and Colorado, and the Cyclones have lost their only two bowl games. North Carolina State has had its troubles in big games, too, losing 27-14 to ACC champ North Carolina and then to runner-up Clemson 7-3, but the last time it met a Big Eight team it whipped Kansas in the 1973 Liberty Bowl.

Despite different offenses—Iowa State uses an I, the Wolfpack a veer—these teams attack in much the same fashion. Both call upon their halfbacks often and have reliable fullbacks—North Carolina's Billy Ray Vickers rushed for 726 yards and Iowa State's Cal Cummins, despite injuries, carried for 518.

The Wolfpack defense shut out Syracuse and Virginia but yielded 32 and 28 points to Duke and East Carolina. Iowa State was more consistent. Cornerback Kevin Hart and Tackles Tom Randall and Mike Stensrud form the heart of the Big Eight's toughest defense to score upon. That edge should be what leaves the red and white feeling blue.

Dec. 31
Stanford (8-3) vs. LSU (8-3)

Forget for the moment that the Sun Bowl has a pairing of unranked teams with three defeats each. This could easily turn out to be the wildest postseason game of all.

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