Fans in Tucson hadn't a clue as to what was coming; the game drew the Wildcats' second-smallest home crowd in five years, 42,876. UCLA led 17-14 at the half, and soon it became known that Alabama had lost. Because victory in Tucson would surely have made the Bruins No. 1, they had every incentive to wallop the 'Cats. Trouble was, UCLA neglected to score any more points. It also failed to do much of anything else, getting just 83 yards in total offense in the second half—minus-five for the fourth quarter.
By contrast, you would have thought Arizona had been given a shot of adrenaline. On the second play of the second half, freshman Quarterback Tom Tunnicliffe—who grew up in Burbank, 20 minutes from the UCLA campus, but wasn't recruited by the Bruins—passed six yards to freshman Tailback Brian Holland, and Holland ran for another 35 to the UCLA 39. On the next play Tunnicliffe hit senior Tight End Bill Nettling for the remaining 39 yards and a touchdown.
A share of the glory went to Mexican-born Punter Sergio Vega, who nearly lost his job earlier this season when he punted three times against Cal for a 28-yard average. Observers attributed this to the fact that he seemed to be kicking with his shin instead of his foot. On Saturday his average was 54.9 yards for seven kicks—undeniably with his foot—including one for 80 yards that got Arizona out of a fix at its own five.
UCLA Coach Terry Donahue was upset about two calls. On the first, one official signaled that Split End Michael Brant had caught a pass for a UCLA touchdown in bounds, and another said no. The final verdict was no. In the fourth quarter one official said UCLA had recovered a fumble, another said it hadn't. The verdict again went against the Bruins. Said a glum Donahue, "Do you know how many times you have a chance to be No. 1 in this business? An opportunity slipped through our fingers. We lost a chance for a great season. Maybe we can win the national championship at 10-1." Not likely.
For their part, North Carolinians had been thinking that maybe, just maybe, the Tar Heels could win a national title. Those dreams were dashed in Norman. OU led by only 14-7 at halftime, but some straight talk by Coach Barry Switzer during the intermission cranked up the Sooners. A 51-yard carry by Fullback Weldon Ledbetter set up a seven-yard touchdown run by Quarterback J.C. Watts, and an interception one minute later by Strong Safety Gary Lowell led to another score, this one a one-yard run, also by Watts. Now the rout was on. In all, Watts scored three times.
Tailback Famous Amos Lawrence didn't have his hoped-for big day for Carolina, although he did race 62 yards on the second play of the game. After that he gained but 44 yards on 19 carries. The Tar Heel defense had given up only 538 yards rushing in seven games, but OU's wishbone pummeled it for 495. Carolina Coach Dick Crum wasn't happy about losing by such a huge margin, but he accepted defeat fatalistically. "I thought it could happen," he said.
In Waco, the Baylor team had been briefed last Thursday by Coach Grant Teaff on the Saturday opposition, San Jose State. "I'm not going to tell you San Jose is a great football team," said Teaff, "but they're capable of beating us and that's all we need to know, because we're not a great football team." Teaff was dead right.
His Bears played lethargically, behaving as if they could win the game anytime they decided to. But come winning time, they couldn't. The Bears clearly hadn't taken San Jose—San Josie, they called it—seriously, what with Arkansas and Texas on the horizon. Baylor had a 15-0 first half lead, but squandered it. Much of the blame must be assigned to the secondary, which was riddled by the strong right arm of Spartan Quarterback Steve Clarkson. Clarkson was playing for the first time since suffering a greenstick fracture of his left clavicle five weeks ago. "Iowa State ended our undefeated year," said Clarkson. "What's the difference with us ending Baylor's?"
Truth be told, San Jose is a very average football team that was very lucky. On a third-quarter scoring drive, Clarkson got things started when he threw a pass that was tipped by Baylor Tackle Tommy Tabor but caught by San Jose Wide Receiver Tim Kearse for 11 yards. The drive ended in triumph when Clarkson drilled a ball to Rick Parma that hit him in the shoulder pads, bounced high and wild and into the hands of Tailback Gerald Willhite, who happened to be passing through the neighborhood. That was good for 52 yards. "I saw it tipped and I went right after it," said Willhite. "I'm a football player. I knew if I caught it, they wouldn't catch me." Said Teaff, "When the other team makes a touchdown by having the ball bounce from one receiver to another, you know it's not your day."
Baylor still had plenty of chances to win, but the Bears got a roughing the kicker penalty, and San Jose, with renewed vigor, scored when Willhite went over from the two for the second of his three touchdowns in the game. Winning Coach Jack Elway called the victory "my biggest thrill in 28 years of coaching, but I don't want to go into detail or it will sound like an obituary. I'll tell you one thing, I like luck and I do believe in luck."