Two weeks ago Illinois engineered a 33-0 upset over Iowa by returning to its mix-it-up passing attack. Last week against Wisconsin, the mix-it-up got mixed up. The Badgers led 9-3 at the half, and, said Illinois Coach Mike White, "They had us totally befuddled. Wisconsin was giving our quarterback [Jack Trudeau] a look he hadn't seen before." The Illini came out running in the second half and won 27-16. "We were hoping they wouldn't realize they could run on us," said Wisconsin Coach Dave McClain. "Unfortunately they did." In an earlier game, a 20-10 victory over Michigan State, Illinois had been accused of dirty play, a charge that led one Detroit columnist to dub the team "The Biting Illini." Against Wisconsin, Illinois was assessed 151 yards in penalties. "Those guys are known for their cheap shots," said Badger Tight End Bret Pearson, "but at least they got caught today." Defensive Tackle Scott Bergold agreed: "They were definitely taking some cheap shots. They were throwing punches, and when I went up to block field-goal attempts, I kept getting hit below the belt."
After Ohio State's 33-22 victory over Purdue, Buckeye Coach Earle Bruce described his feelings in near-Stengelese: "I don't think you ought to say anything negative about a win, because a win is a win. But I don't like fumbles, penalties, interceptions and lack of concentration." In a game that should have been a cakewalk, Ohio State threw three interceptions and was penalized on six crucial occasions, while Purdue, which had averaged six turnovers a game, played almost error-free. The difference turned out to be two punt returns—one for 63 yards, the other for 71—for touchdowns by Buckeye Garcia Lane.
"I felt a little embarrassed about that score," said Iowa Coach Hayden Fry after his team's 61-21 defeat of Northwestern. "But I can't tell guys to go out there and play dead. They're fighting for jobs and want a chance to show their stuff." Fry had planned to rely primarily on his running attack against the porous Mildcat defense. But, he said, "We had a lot of ailing running backs, and I could see that we could pass, so why not?" Why not indeed? The Hawkeyes piled up a Big Ten-record 713 yards in total offense. Said Iowa Quarterback Chuck Long, who completed 23 of 33 throws for 420 yards, "I kind of got in the groove passing and decided to stay there."
During practice Oregon Coach Rich Brooks had noticed his third-string tight end, Dave Christensen, passing balls 70 yards and more. "I don't throw for distance," says Christensen, "I just play catch." Nonetheless, last week Brooks installed a tight-end-around pass play, and on the Ducks' first possession against Cal, Christensen fired from near midfield to Lew Barnes, who made the grab at the 15 and ran into the end zone untouched. On its next possession Oregon got even trickier. Without huddling, nine Ducks, including the center, lined up on the left side of the ball. Before the Bears knew a play was being run, Quarterback Mike Jorgensen snapped the ball to himself and pitched it to Barnes, who went 41 yards to the Cal seven behind the wedge of blockers. Said Brooks, "I double-checked the rules and I alerted the referee before the game that we might use that play. It's legal as long as you have seven men on the line and everybody is within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage." After the Ducks prevailed 24-17, Cal Coach Joe Kapp said, "I give full credit to Oregon. Everything they did was outstanding."
One could almost see the vultures gathering around Stanford Stadium. The feast would be the losing coach—either Terry Donahue of 0-3-1 UCLA or Paul Wiggin of 0-4 Stanford. Fortunately for Donahue, Bruin Don Rogers produced one TD on an interception and set up two field goals as UCLA won 39-21. Wiggin, on the other hand, almost certainly will lose his job. Among those rumored to be in line to replace him are Jack Elway of San Jose State, Dennis Green of Northwestern, Jim Sochor of UC-Davis, Jack Bicknell of Boston College and even Bill Walsh of the 49ers.
Another coach feeling heat is Ted Tollner of Southern Cal, which has lost to Kansas and South Carolina. One Los Angeles Times reader asked, "When did USC de-emphasize football? The Trojans are playing like a bunch of walk-ons." Another wondered, "Does anybody think [former coaches John] McKay or [John] Robinson would be 1-2-1 with the 1983 Trojans?" USC Quarterback Sean Salisbury said, "I'd be a blatant liar if I said the criticism didn't bother me. But I can't go around wearing earmuffs and sunglasses so I don't hear or see those things." Last week he was fortunate to hear and see Washington State, as he hit on 19 of 25 passes for 256 yards, and the Trojans won 37-17. Said Tollner following the game, "We're ready to become a football team now."
SMU rose to its first real challenge of the season, beating Baylor 42-26 to extend the nation's longest unbeaten streak to 21 games. For the second week in a row both Mustang tailbacks, sophomore Reggie Dupard and freshman Jeff Atkins, rushed for more than 100 yards apiece. Quarterback Lance McIlhenny threw four touchdown passes, three of them to Split End Marquis Pleasant. "I think this was an indication of how good we can be," said Coach Bobby Collins, who has a week off before facing Texas.
Kevin Murray of Texas A&M, a freshman quarterback, was allowed to play college football only after a federal judge in Houston ruled last summer that he had fulfilled his pro baseball contractual obligations with the Milwaukee Brewers, in whose minor league system he played in 1982. In his first start, in place of John Mazur, Murray connected on 18 of 31 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns to beat Houston 30-7. He also rushed for 67 yards. "He's going to make it tough for other teams to prepare for us," said Aggie Coach Jackie Sherrill.