- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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It was smoggy in Los Angeles, but what had Stanford coughing were the fumes left by UCLA's Freeman McNeil as he caught fire in the second half and burned his way to four touchdowns. Stanford built a 21-7 halftime advantage, with Darrin Nelson of the Cardinals scoring on runs of 17 and 30 yards and John Elway passing for another score on his way to a 20-for-34 performance good for 204 yards. Then McNeil took charge, scoring on the Bruins' first four possessions in the second half. After bolting 12 yards around right end for his initial score, McNeil went around left end, broke loose from three would-be tacklers and stormed 72 yards for another. In the fourth quarter, McNeil scampered six yards around the left side to put UCLA ahead and then broke off left tackle, left a slew of Cardinals empty-armed and went 42 yards for the last TD in the Bruins' 35-21 Pac-10 win.
Washington and California fueled their Rose Bowl hopes by winning handily. While drubbing Oregon State 41-6 the Huskies got two touchdowns apiece from Toussaint Tyler, who rushed for 99 yards, and Kyle Stevens, who ran for 92 yards. Rich Campbell led the Golden Bears past Oregon 31-6 by completing 27 of 34 passes for 293 yards. Campbell, who had connected on his last 15 throws against Michigan the week before, set an NCAA Division I-A record by extending his string of completions to 21 before missing.
Southern Cal built an early lead that led to victory. USC, which held a 13-0 halftime edge at Arizona, triumphed 27-10 as Marcus Allen ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns and Gordon Adams passed for 209 yards. But Arizona State squandered a 17-0 advantage against Washington State, fell behind 21-17 and then rallied for a 27-21 victory. Putting the Sun Devils back on top was a 31-yard pass from Mike Pagel to John Mistier with 3:52 left. Pagel outpassed the Cougars' Samoa Samoa 204 yards to 200.
Brigham Young's Jim McMahon outdid both those passers, gaining 408 yards through the air during a 52-17 WAC romp over Wyoming. McMahon, who was not bothered in the least by the Cowboys' eight-man line, had four TD passes, giving him 17 in five outings.
A 34-yard toss from Marty Louthan to Andy Bark in the final minute enabled Air Force to sink Navy 21-20.
With their team off to its best start (4-0) in 26 seasons, some Miami fans described a showdown at Notre Dame as "our most important game ever." The Hurricanes' defense, the staunchest in the land against the rush with a per-game yield of 15.7 yards, gave those rooters hopes. So did the unavailability of Phil Carter of the Irish, the nation's No. 2 runner, who was out with a severely bruised thigh. After Friday's practice in South Bend, Miami Coach Howard Schnellengerger ordered the bus driver to give his players a tour of the campus, perhaps to get rid of the ghosts and goblins that are part of the Notre Dame mystique. Instead of ghosts and goblins, the Irish relied on a defense that gave up only three first downs in the first three quarters. And instead of Carter, Notre Dame sent out Jim Stone, who picked up 224 of his team's 302 yards rushing as the Irish won 32-14.
"So, ol' Bo ain't so dumb after all," said Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler after a 27-23 Big Ten conquest of Michigan State. What made Bo look smart was his decision, following a roughing-the-kicker penalty called on the Spartans, to give up a field goal that had put the Wolverines ahead 16-13 and go for a touchdown. Schembechler came up smelling like a possible Rose Bowler when John Wangler flipped a four-yard scoring pass. The four extra points garnered by Bo's gamble provided the margin of victory.