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"I told the kids a" week that there's just that much difference between the No. 1 team and, say, the No. 56 team," said Arizona Coach Larry Smith as he held his thumb and forefinger an inch apart following the Wildcats' stunning 13-10 Pac-10 victory at Southern Cal. The gap seemed to be wider than that when the Trojans took a 10-0 lead after less than eight minutes. Marcus Allen broke off right tackle for 74 yards for the first score, Steve Jordan kicked a 21-yard field goal and USC appeared to be on its way.
However, a 47-yard field goal by Brett Weber 30 seconds before intermission and his 25-yarder in the third quarter cut USC's lead to 10-6. Then, two seconds before the end of that period, sophomore Tom Tunnicliffe, who wound up completing 21 of 37 passes for 293 yards, hit freshman Tailback Vance Johnson with a 13-yard pass that put Arizona ahead for keeps.
Allen ripped off 211 yards in 26 carries and extended his NCAA record of consecutive 200-yard efforts to five. Allen has 1,136 yards for the season, 46 more than the NCAA record for the first five games set two years ago by former Trojan Charles White. But the rest of the USC running corps gained a meager 26 yards and the Trojans got only 60 through the air. Arizona outgained USC 405 yards to 297 in total offense and its defense clamped down with such vigor that USC got off just nine plays in the third period, 15 in the fourth, and crossed midfield only once in the second half—and promptly fumbled.
Stanford and Washington also rallied, both getting their winning points from players named Nelson. Field goals of 30, 22, 47 and 22 yards by sophomore Mark Harmon, who's 10 for 10 this season, kept the Cardinals in contention against visiting UCLA. Nonetheless, the Bruins led 23-19 until Darrin Nelson plunged two yards for a TD in the last 46 seconds. That enabled Stanford, which had been 0-4, to upset UCLA 26-23. For Washington it was Chuck Nelson who settled matters at California, where the Huskies had trailed 21-0 early in the third quarter. Nelson's 21-yard field goal with 11 seconds left put the Huskies on top 27-26.
So much for Pac-10 suspense. Arizona State defeated Oregon 24-0 and Washington State breezed 23-0 at Oregon State. A three-touchdown splurge in the second half carried the Sun Devils to their victory. The Cougars finished strong, too, scoring 17 points in the fourth period. Kevin Morris kicked field goals of 50, 52 and 33 yards for Washington State.
It was bombs away as Nevada-Las Vegas jolted Brigham Young 45-41 at Provo and San Diego State beat Iowa State 52-31. Rebel Coach Tony Knap decided to give BYU a dose of its own medicine by having Sam King test its defenses with a fusillade of passes. When the test was over, King had indeed passed, connecting on 31 of 57 attempts for 473 yards and two touchdowns. BYU, which gained 269 yards as Steve Young hit on 21 of 40 throws, led 41-24 with six minutes left in the third period. But King kept firing away and his 20-yard pass to Jim Sandusky, with 19 seconds to go, ended a 17-game Cougar win streak. UNLV forced eight turnovers and outgained BYU 628 yards to 511 in the non-conference battle. For San Diego State, it was Matt Kofler at the trigger. Kofler passed for 444 yards and directed the Aztecs to 28 points in the third period to go on top 45-17.
Sophomore Tom Thenell of Colorado State was another on-target passer. In his first start, Thenell completed 24 of 47 for 308 yards and four touchdowns. That didn't deter Mississippi State, though. The Bulldogs won 37-27 as they rumbled for 490 yards on the ground, 181 of them by Michael Haddix.
Southern Mississippi, which was 6-0 and thirsting for national recognition when it lost to Alabama 42-7 a year ago, got a measure of revenge by holding the Crimson Tide to a 13-13 standoff last week. The Golden Eagles did it the hard way, Steve Clark kicking a 40-yard field goal with only eight seconds left. Reggie Collier made it possible by completing four passes for 51 yards and by scrambling for eight more yards during the final drive. For the day, Collier passed for 202 yards and ran for 43.