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An upsetting time for the Top Ten
Herman Weiskopf
October 23, 1978
Highly ranked USC, Michigan, Texas A&M and Pitt fizzled instead of fizzed
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October 23, 1978

An Upsetting Time For The Top Ten

Highly ranked USC, Michigan, Texas A&M and Pitt fizzled instead of fizzed

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With the whole neighborhood watching, the twerps slugged the bullies 24-15. Like USC, Michigan had been a 14-point favorite, and also like the Trojans, the Wolverines fell behind and never recovered. Michigan State zipped in front, leading 17-0 at halftime, Morten Andersen having booted a 38-yard field goal and Alonzo Middleton having scored twice, first on a 10-yard pass from Ed Smith and then on a one-yard run.

But being behind was nothing new for Michigan, which in previous weeks had trailed Notre Dame 14-7 and Arizona 17-14 before winning. If anything, the Wolverines were a second-half squad, having outscored the opposition 77-0 in the final two quarters in the past four weeks. This time, though, Michigan's scoring was limited to a pair of three-yard runs, Rick Leach going over in the third quarter and Russell Davis in the fourth. But in between had come an 11-yard Michigan State scoring pass from Smith to Mark Brammer.

Michigan State's dominance was more conclusive than its nine-point victory indicated; it gained 496 yards (248 each on the ground and through the air), the most any team has amassed against the Wolverines since 1961. While Smith was on target with 20 of 36 passes, Leach made good on only five of 15 and had three picked off.

Asked to assess the consequences of Michigan's defeat and Ohio State's 27-16 loss to Purdue, Schembechler said, "What this means is that college football is getting more balanced."

"Is that so bad?" a reporter asked.

"It's very, very bad," Bo replied.

The Houston Cougars would disagree. The Cougars were an eight-point underdog against sixth-ranked Texas A&M for their Southwest Conference game in the Astrodome. The unbeaten Aggies were third in the nation in rushing defense (allowing 79.7 yards a game), eighth-best against the pass (80.5 yards), second in overall defense and third in points allowed (21 in four games); on offense they were second in rushing (397 yards), third in total yardage per game (485.7) and second in scoring with 170 points.

The two teams had one common opponent, Memphis State, which lost 58-0 to the Aggies but beat the Cougars 17-3. On top of that, Houston, though 3-1, had barely scraped past Baylor the week before and had outscored its opponents only 92-81.

But the two teams were playing football, not comparing statistics. Houston scored on five of its first seven possessions. Two of its touchdowns came on passes by Danny Davis, one a 43-yarder to Eric Herring, the other a 10-yarder to Willis Adams. Randy Love tallied twice on runs of one and 16 yards, and Emmett King scored on a 12-yard jaunt. At the half, the Cougars led 33-0. And that's where the score stayed.

Texas A&M gained but 187 yards, as opposed to 331 by Houston, and lost three fumbles, including one at the Houston one-yard line. Curtis Dickey, whose 148.5-yard rushing average was the third best in the land, was limited to 25 yards in 14 cracks.

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