- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Baylor, a loser by two, four and six points this season, led Houston 18-14 with 6:11 to go. But then the Bears fumbled the ball away at the Cougar 33. Houston's Danny Davis uncorked a 38-yard pass to Eric Herring and then concluded the drive with a two-yard run that gave the Cougars a 20-18 SWC win and Baylor another two-point miss.
It was a sobering week for the Big Ten, which emerged from eight games against outsiders with a 2-5-1 record. Most shocking of all was not the losses, but Southern Methodist's 35-35 tie with Ohio State in Columbus. Buckeye Quarterback Art Schlichter continued to be a more proficient runner (77 yards in 19 carries, including scoring runs of 23 and five yards) than passer (three for 16 for 50 yards and four interceptions). Outdoing him was Mustang signal-caller Mike Ford, a 6'3", 238-pound sophomore. Ford, who was intercepted seven times during last season's 35-7 loss to Ohio State, engineered a dazzling 107-play attack that netted 501 yards. And it was Ford who scored SMU's last three TDs on sneaks, two in the fourth period after the Buckeyes had gone ahead 35-21. SMU achieved its tie when Ford followed up his final six-pointer with a two-point conversion run.
Two not-so-big Big Ten squads were walloped, Illinois losing to Missouri 45-3 and Northwestern absorbing a 56-14 pounding from Arizona State, whose Mark Malone passed for three touchdowns and ran for two. Three other conference schools were not so easily dispatched, Minnesota losing to Oregon State 17-14, Iowa being victimized by Utah 13-9 and Michigan State dropping a 29-25 tussle to Notre Dame. The Spartans lost despite the passing of Ed Smith, who connected for three touchdowns and 306 yards as he completed 27 of 41. The Irish got 140 yards rushing from Vagas Ferguson and a 45-yard scoring run from Safety Jim Browner, who snatched the ball out of Spartan Receiver Andy Schramm's hands.
In both out-of-conference victories, the Big Ten representatives had close calls. Purdue overcame Wake Forest's 7-6 fourth-period advantage with a late touchdown by Russell Pope on a two-yard run for a 14-7 Boilermaker triumph. Arizona, a 20-point underdog, led Michigan 17-7 in the second quarter, then the Wolverines began grinding out yardage and the game came down to a fourth-and-inches play at the Wildcat goal line with 5:25 remaining. On that play, the ball went to Russell Davis ("They were saying no, and I was saying yes," he said later), who scored for a 21-17 Wolverine win.
Exactly a year after Wisconsin had been described as "the worst 4-0 team in the country," the Badgers were 3-0 and once again scorned. Last season the Badgers proved their detractors right by losing their final six games. This time they may have converted the skeptics with a 34-7 drubbing of favored Indiana in the week's only conference game. Leading the onslaught was Tailback Ira Matthews, who scored on a 71-yard punt return and on runs of six and 26 yards.
As early as Wednesday morning, Iowa State fans began lining up for seats for Saturday's Big Eight showdown against Nebraska, nestling down in sleeping bags and tents. Some Cyclone students, though, scalped their tickets for as much as $75 apiece. Among the record SRO crowd of 51,450 at Iowa State Stadium were some nervous as well as poorer Husker enthusiasts. The Nebraskans were concerned that a car that had broken down earlier in the week might hamper their chances. That breakdown had caused starting backs I.M. Hipp and Andra Franklin to be late for practice, and as a result, Coach Tom Osborne announced that neither would start at Ames. "I appreciate that their car broke down, but they should have telephoned," Osborne explained. Taking over at tailback for Franklin was 5'7", 170-pound Tim Wurth, who scored once and broke loose for 102 yards in 18 carries as the Huskers won 23-0. " Nebraska's defensive line manhandled our offensive line," said Coach Earle Bruce, whose Cyclones were held to a total offense of 82 yards, their lowest in nine years.
Booming punts by Mike Hubach of Kansas (a 48.7-yard average) and Lance Olander of Colorado (a 45.6-yard average) meant both offenses had their work cut out. The Buffaloes responded by piling up 498 yards in total offense while the defense allowed only one TD for the fifth game in a row as Colorado came out on top 17-7. After the Buffaloes had held on a Kansas first-and-goal from the two in the second period, James Mayberry, who rushed for 106 yards, capped Colorado's subsequent 96-yard drive with a four-yard scoring burst.