Top-ranked Michigan won its opener over Washington State, but just barely. Playing without Quarterback Steve Smith, who bruised his right shoulder in practice two weeks ago, the Wolverines trailed 17-14 in the fourth quarter when Tailback Rick Rogers went 52 yards down the left sideline to the Cougar 10-yard line. Three plays later, second-string Quarterback David Hall swept four yards around left end for the score. The point-after attempt failed, and Michigan led 20-17. Washington State went for the tie with 2:16 remaining, but John Traut's 38-yard field-goal attempt was wide.
Before facing Oregon, Ohio State practiced running against the Ducks' eight-man front. Oregon, however, came out in a four-man defensive line, which befuddled the Buckeye blockers and shut down their rushing attack. The result? Mike Tomczak completed 21 of 25 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns to give Ohio State a 31-6 victory. Buckeye Coach Earle Bruce had just one word for his six tailbacks, who combined for a mere 89 yards in 27 carries: "Lousy."
Tailback problems didn't plague Nebraska, Iowa and Notre Dame, each of which got four touchdowns from a running back. The Corn-huskers won their 12th game in a row, defeating Wyoming 56-20, as Mike Rozier scored four TDs and had 191 yards rushing. Rozier could have stayed in the game past the third quarter and run for even more yardage, explained Coach Tom Osborne, "but I want to keep him sharp. We weren't trying to pump up his stats."
Anticipating scorching heat in Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium—the temperature at kick-off was 102�—Notre Dame Coach Gerry Faust decided early last week to alternate defensive lines and entire offensive units. The Boilermakers threw four interceptions and lost three fumbles to the fresh Irish, and Notre Dame Tailback Greg Bell got three touchdowns on short runs and one on a nine-yard pass reception. The final: N.D. 52, Purdue 6. In Iowa's 51-10 rout of Iowa State, Tailback Owen Gill scored four times on rushes ranging from one to 38 yards.
Trailing Duke 10-8 with 7:42 to play, Indiana Coach Sam Wyche shelved his 49er-style passing offense and went to the quarterback option. Starting from their own 16-yard line, the Hoosiers ran eight times in nine plays and scored when Tailback Bobby Howard went eight yards with a pitch. Northwestern Linebacker Mike Guendling assessed the Wildcats' 34-0 loss to Washington as follows: "Our legs weren't moving as fast as theirs."
Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden prepared his team for its game at Louisiana State in part by playing tapes of screams and yells one day during practice. They came in handy as 79,665 vociferous LSU fans showed up at Tiger Stadium. The first quarter belonged to the Tigers, especially to sophomore Tailback Dalton Hilliard, who ran for 89 yards and scored twice in those 15 minutes. The Seminoles, led by Quarterback Kelly Lowrey, then ran off 33 unanswered points. Tailback Greg Allen, who finished with 201 yards, scored once. LSU got three TDs in the final six minutes, but the Seminoles prevailed 40-35. The teams piled up 1,026 yards of offense—536 by Florida State, 490 by Louisiana State.
In Auburn's 24-3 win over Southern Mississippi, senior Lionel James of the Tigers rushed for 172 yards and one touchdown behind blocks from Bo Jackson, who had 73 yards and two TDs himself. "I want Lionel drafted as high as possible," said Jackson, a sophomore. "I plan to do that by blocking my butt off this season. I did that tonight."
North Carolina beat surprisingly tough Memphis State 24-10, and Maryland defeated Vanderbilt 21-14. With the score tied 14-14 and the Commodores threatening with 3:24 left in the fourth quarter, Terp Corner-back Lendell Jones picked off a short sideline pass at the Maryland six-yard line. "He does that to me all the time in practice," said Terp Quarterback Boomer Esiason, who connected with Tight End Bill Rogers on a 43-yard pass-run play for the winning touchdown with 2� minutes left. South Carolina Punter Chris Norman set an NCAA single-game record in the Gamecocks' 24-3 victory over Miami of Ohio. Norman kicked six times for a 58.3 average to surpass the mark of 57.6 set by Joe Sartiano of Army in 1981.