Arkansas stared fast and Texas came on strong, but both were SWC upset victims. The Hogs, despite the absence of several injured players, led Rice 16-0 in the fourth period. But then the Owls, who, Coach Ray Alborn said, "had just gotten a bellyful of losing," put on a memorable rally behind the passing of Randy Hertel. Kenneth Sam wrapped it up with a 31-yard field goal 17 seconds from the end, giving Rice a 17-16 victory. Playing before a home crowd in Lubbock, Tech scored 17 first-quarter points in slightly more than four minutes and went in front 24-0. Texas finally got going and cut the deficit to 24-20 by halftime, but that's the way the score wound up as the Red Raiders dealt the Longhorns their second straight loss.
Lending some sanity to the conference were Southern Methodist, a 27-0 winner over Texas A&M, and Houston, which defeated Texas Christian 37-5. SMU, which assured itself of a winning season for the first time since 1974, scored its first two touchdowns on long runs—59 yards by Byron Hunt after he blocked an Aggie punt and 66 yards by John Simmons on a punt return. Houston runners tore through TCU's Kleenex defense for 507 yards, a not-to-be-sneezed-at 143 of them by Brent Chinn, the most ever by a Cougar quarterback.
John Elway's fancy passing was no passing fancy. The Stanford quarterback kept firing away against Oregon State and when he was through he had set Pac-10 records for the most touchdown passes in a game (six) and in a season (25). Four of the scoring passes were caught by Ken Margerum for another Pac-10 mark. Elway, who has thrown 11 TD passes in two weeks, connected on 26 of 33 throws for 314 yards as the Cardinals prevailed 54-13.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE TROJANS? asked a headline in a Los Angeles newspaper. Another read: AT USC, FANS WANT MORE THAN YOUR BASIC OFFENSE. Trojan fans, so accustomed to pile-up-the-points-and-yardage victories, were apparently far from happy with their team. Not that being 5-0-1 was bad, but USC simply wasn't crunching opponents this year. The Trojans presumably got the headlines and fans off their backs with one of those old-fashioned wipeouts—60-7 over California. Marcus Allen scored twice and gained 133 of Southern Cal's 311 yards on the ground. Gordon Adams passed for 154 yards and, like his backup, Scott Tinsley, unfurled two touchdown throws. USC's defense put Rich Campbell, the Golden Bears' fine quarterback, out of commission in the first quarter. Campbell had surgery the next day for torn ligaments in his left knee and was through for the season.
Washington Coach Don James, annoyed by the previous week's 24-10 loss to Navy, devised a simpler game plan for Arizona State by chucking out some of his more sophisticated offensive patterns. James also stressed the basics to his defensive unit. It all worked. Washington won 25-0. Tom Flick of the Huskies passed for 162 yards, Washington runners gained 163 yards, Chuck Nelson booted three field goals, and the defense pounced on five fumbles and intercepted a pass.
Brigham Young doesn't have the only gifted passer in the WAC. Steve Fairchild of first-place Colorado State continued to prove this, raising his season's passing yardage to 2,098. After Wyoming had taken a 25-21 lead with 48 seconds to go, Fairchild rallied the Rams for a third and final time. It took him just 44 seconds and five straight completions to pull out a 28-25 victory, the finishing touch coming on a 19-yard pass to Mike Camp. The first three passes during that drive were to Split End Tony Goolsby, who gained 189 yards on a school-record 11 receptions.