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The best team in the Pac-10 at the moment may well be Washington State. After a 2-4 start, the Cougars have won five straight, including last week's 17-6 upset of Washington in the wind and rain in Seattle. Thus, for the second year in a row, Washington State is responsible for keeping the Huskies out of the Rose Bowl. "The Cougars prepared for us as well as they ever did," said Washington Coach Don James, whose team is once again headed for the Aloha Bowl. The mainstay for State was Kerry Porter, a sophomore tailback who ran for 169 yards on the soggy turf.
And once again, the beneficiary of the Huskies' slip was UCLA. The Bruins played a lackluster first half against USC and trailed 10-6. They then heard the halftime score from Seattle—Washington State 10, Washington 3—and came to life. "It was the motivator that turned our team loose in the third quarter," said Coach Terry Donahue. UCLA scored three TDs in a six-minute span in the third quarter—on a seven-yard pass to Karl Dorrell, a 12-yard run by Kevin Nelson and a 17-yard dash by Bryan Wiley.
Oregon and Oregon State, long symbols of ineptitude in the Pac-10, battled to a 0-0 draw in the wind and rain of Eugene. Between them they fumbled 11 times, threw five interceptions and missed four field goal attempts. BYU defeated Utah 55-7 as Steve Young ended the regular season by completing 22 of 25 passes for 268 yards and six TDs. Among the gaggle of NCAA records now held by Young are those for total offense for a season (395.1 yards per game) and season pass-completion average (71.3%).
The trouble with trick plays is that they don't always work. Trailing Michigan 17-14 with 12:08 to play, Ohio State tried the old fake-fumble play. Buckeye Center Joe Dooley faked the snap to Mike Tomczak and then placed the ball down in the backfield. While the rest of the line moved to the left, Left Guard Kirk Lowdermilk was supposed to pull back, pick up the ball and run untouched around the right side. The trouble was the alertness of Michigan's defensive line, notably Tackle Mike Hammerstein, who surged across the line and fell on the ball. Ten plays later Wolverine Quarterback Steve Smith hit Tight End Eric Kattus for the eight-yard touchdown pass that made the score 24-14. The final: Michigan 24, Ohio State 21.
With a 23-22 loss to Air Force, Notre Dame ended the season with a 6-5 record. The Irish, under Coach Gerry Faust, lost their last two games of 1981 and their last three of '82 and '83. The Falcons' special weapon was the hand of Defensive Tackle Chris Funk, who blocked two Mike Johnston field-goal attempts, the second a 31-yarder with four seconds remaining. "We felt Johnston was a low kicker," said Falcon Coach Ken Hatfield. "Normally we would go low and try to put pressure on the center. But this time we told our kids to stand straight up and go high."
After North Carolina defeated Duke 34-27, Tar Heels Coach Dick Crum knocked lightly on the door of the losers' dressing room. When he entered, Blue Devil Coach Steve Sloan called for quiet, and Crum walked up to Quarterback Ben Bennett and handed him the game ball. "Our kids wanted to give you the game ball," said Crum. "You had four great football seasons." Bennett had completed 27 of 35 passes for 323 yards, giving him 9,614 yards passing in his career and the top spot in the record books, ahead of the 9,536 amassed by Brigham Young's Jim McMahon from 1977 to '81. Said Bennett, "When a class organization like the Carolina football program sends its coach to give you the game ball, it makes you feel good."