Brigham Young's 20-14 victory at Pitt (page 30) wasn't the biggest upset of the week. With 35 seconds to play against Arizona, Fresno State, which was such a prohibitive underdog the game was off the boards, trailed 22-21. Working from his own 20-yard line, Bulldog quarterback Kevin Sweeney was forced out of the pocket. Seeing this, flanker Vince Wesson aborted his 16-yard curl and broke for the sideline, where Sweeney connected with him on an 80-yard pass-run play that gave the Bulldogs a 27-22 victory, and his father, coach Jim Sweeney, a 55th-birthday present.
Northwestern was leading Illinois 16-7 and driving for another score in the third quarter when Illinois safety African Grant picked off a Sandy Schwab pass at the two. "That was the key," said Illini coach Mike White. "Before that I'd looked at our guys along the sideline and unfortunately they were pretty dead. After that play everyone seemed to come to life." Final score: Illinois 24, Northwestern 16.
"We just needed a little thinner football," said Texas-El Paso coach Bill Yung after a Hugo Castellanos field-goal attempt with 1:39 left against Texas A & M hit the left upright and bounced away. The kick, from 36 yards, would have tied the game at 20-20. Instead, the Aggies, outplayed in almost every major statistical category, won 20-17.
In its 48-17 victory over East Carolina, Florida State showed that it had improved in several areas over 1983. Eric Thomas connected on 12 of 19 passes for 177 yards, Louis Berry punted four times for a 49.8-yard average, the defense forced three second-quarter turnovers, each of which led to a TD, and freshman kicker Derek Schmidt hit both his field-goal attempts, one from 26 yards, the other from 44.
"We put a dot underneath the 'I' and that made it an exclamation point," said coach Emory Bellard of Mississippi State. The inventor of the wishbone, Bellard shelved his brainchild in the off-season and installed the I. Its unveiling was a complete success as his Bulldogs rolled up 509 yards in a 30-3 defeat of Tulane. State's defense, meanwhile, didn't allow Tulane's Ken Karcher a single completion. He was 0-13 with three interceptions. "The problem was quarterbacking," said Karcher, a transfer from Notre Dame. "I just didn't throw well at all."
Air Force, on the other hand, has kept its Flex-bone but renamed it Fish-bone in honor of new coach Fisher DeBerry. Though the cast has changed, the formation still works. In a 34-16 win over San Diego State, the Falcons rushed for 366 yards while holding the Aztecs to 16. Quarterback Brian Knorr completed eight of 10 passes for 110 yards and two TDs in his debut.
Tennessee defeated Washington State 34-27 as Volunteer tailback Johnnie Jones gained 203 yards on 30 carries. Quarterback Tony Robinson, starting his first game for the Vols, completed 13 of 16 passes for 125 yards.
West Virginia unveiled its replacement for quarterback Jeff Hostetler, now with the New York Giants: junior Tony Reda, who completed nine of 17 passes in a 38-0 trouncing of Ohio. Boston College's Doug Flutie threw for 330 yards and four TDs in a 44-24 drubbing of Western Carolina, SI's preseason pick for No. 1 in Division I-AA. Ten of Flutie's passes went to his roommate, Gerard Phelan. "He was just getting open again and again," said Flutie.
In an 86-0 romp over Kentucky State, Mississippi Valley State's Willie Totten passed for 536 yards and nine touchdowns, both Division I-AA records. Wide receiver Jerry Rice, who caught a record 24 passes in one 1983 game, had 17 receptions for a record 294 yards.
"What are they feeding these big boys?" asked Annie Dodge Wauneka, 74. "Our Navajo boys are a lot smaller." Wauneka was referring to a game between Northern Arizona and New Mexico Highlands, which took place just outside Window Rock, Ariz., the capital of the Navajo nation. The Northern Arizona athletic department had arranged the game as part of a cultural-enrichment program initiated by athletic director Gary Walker. The game was dedicated to Wauneka's father, Henry Chee Dodge (1860-1947), the George Washington of the Navajo nation, who was instrumental in the expansion of the Navajo territories in the 1920s. The Lumberjacks' pep rally highlighted the problems of the Navajo nation, and part of the team toured the tribal council headquarters and museum, a hospital and a home for abused children on the reservation.