Maryland and Tennessee wrapped up conference titles, with inspiration from surprising sources. The Terrapins earned their third straight ACC championship by beating Virginia 33-21. It was Maryland's 14th victory in a row over the Cavaliers. Opening holes for Terrapin runners Alvin Blount, who rushed for 186 yards on 28 carries, and Rick Badanjek, 76 on 14, was senior tackle J.D. Maarleveld, whose scholarship at Notre Dame was given to someone else three years ago when he learned he had Hodgkins disease. "After doctors allowed me to play, I set very low goals for myself," said Maarleveld, who transferred to Maryland in '83 after undergoing radiation treatments and chemotherapy. "I just wanted to contribute to the team and help win a few games." Earlier in the week, Maarleveld had been named a Kodak All-America. The Terrapins, who lost only to No. 1-ranked Penn State, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Miami, won eight games for the fourth year in a row.
In Tennessee's 30-0, SEC-clinching victory over Vanderbilt, senior Daryl Dickey completed 22 of 32 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. The 32 tosses exceeded by one the number of passes he had thrown in his collegiate career before this season. Since taking over for the injured Tony Robinson, Dickey has set a school mark for passes without an interception (106) while guiding the Vols to a 5-0-1 record and their first Sugar Bowl bid in 15 years.
"It was exactly the kind of game I expected it to be," said Auburn coach Pat Dye of his annual battle with Alabama, "except I didn't expect us to lose." He surely felt confident of victory with 37 seconds left and the Crimson Tide mired on its own 12, trailing 23-22. But Mike Shula completed a 14-yard pass to running back Gene Jelks, wideout Al Bell gained 20 on a reverse and Shula connected with receiver Greg Richardson for 19 yards. Then, with six seconds left, placekicker Van Tiffin dashed onto the field. "You don't expect something like this to happen," Tiffin said later. His 52-yard field goal gave the Crimson a 25-23 win in the intrastate Iron Bowl.
Considerably less tense—on the field, at least—was Miami's 58-7 embarrassment of Notre Dame. But in the CBS-TV booth, Brent Musberger blasted Miami coach Jimmy Johnson for "humiliating" the Irish. "Why go for a blocked punt?" asked Musberger after the Hurricanes had recovered one in the end zone for their final TD. Actually, the block was more a part of Notre Dame's game plan than Miami's: The Irish have had five kicks stuffed in the last three weeks, and Miami had a return set up, not a block.
Earlier, when the score stood at 44-7, color man Ara Parseghian had said, "I think it's time for Jimmy Johnson to show some compassion and run the ball." Right, Ara. Your empathy quotient can be measured by the scores you ran up when coaching the Irish, such as 69-13 over Pitt in '65, 64-0 over Duke in '66, 56-6 over Iowa in '67 and 63-3 over Army in '73. Fact is, the shellacking was inevitable: Despite clearing its bench, Miami apparently wanted to prove its power to the pollsters—which was regrettable—and the Irish were inept.
"Football shouldn't be played in this state at this time of year at this time of night," said Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer after the Sooners had slipped past Oklahoma State 13-0. Kickoff was delayed five hours to 6:45 p.m. to accommodate ESPN. By that time Stillwater was blanketed by snow and the temperature was 27�. "We're a sideways offense and we couldn't pitch the ball," moaned Switzer, whose wishbone rushed for just 189 yards. The Oklahoma defense allowed Cowboy quarterback Ronnie Williams just six completions in 25 attempts, but Thurman Thomas rushed for 100 yards to become the first back to reach that mark against the Sooners this season.
Florida routed Florida State 38-14 for its fifth win over a Top 20 team. Gator quarterback Kerwin Bell completed 14 of 22 passes for 343 yards as Florida joined Nebraska and BYU as the only Division I teams to win at least nine games in each of the past three seasons. "They're too dang good," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden. The Seminoles, who had been averaging 230 yards per game on the ground, were held to 62.
With strained ligaments in his right foot, Georgia Tech linebacker Ted Roof wasn't even supposed to play against Georgia. But Roof started and made all three tackles on the Bulldogs' first series. Later in the first quarter, however, Roof reinjured his foot and Georgia's O began to roll. Trailing 16-10, Tech regained the lead in the third quarter on Gary Lee's 95-yard kickoff return and then got a big boost when Roof reentered the game. The 6'1", 222-pound senior hobbled onto the field in the fourth quarter, made a few standard bonecrushers and sufficiently inspired the swarming Yellow Jackets to keep Georgia at bay. Tech prevailed 20-16 to gain its winningest season—8-2-1—since 1970 and its second consecutive win over the Dawgs.
Another Peach State school on an impressive roll is Georgia Southern, which, after 41 years without a team, resumed football in 1982. Under former Georgia defensive coordinator Erk Russell, the Eagles are 31-13-1 since then. On Saturday they got their first Division I-AA playoff victory ever by defeating Jackson State 27-0. Grambling is out of the I-AA playoff picture, thanks to Arkansas State's Ray Brown. The same day the 235-pound senior was named All-Southland Conference as an offensive tackle and second-team all-conference as a tight end (he splits time at the two spots), he lined up as a guard and ran a guard-around 25 yards to set up the Indians' lone TD in a 10-7 win.