For only the second time since 1956, Louisiana State will have a losing record. Mississippi State made sure of that by beating the Tigers 17-9 in Baton Rouge. LSU's Alan Risher, whose completion percentage (65.6) was the highest in the land, hit half of his 24 attempts but was sacked 10 times for a total of 90 yards in losses. As a result, the Tigers wound up with minus eight yards on the ground. John Bond passed for both Mississippi State touchdowns—36 yards to Wingback Lamar Windham and six yards to O.W. Richardson. In other SEC games, Florida knocked off Kentucky 33-12 and Tennessee defeated Mississippi 28-20.
In a battle for the championship of the Southern Conference, Furman beat VMI 33-21. Freshman Fullback Dennis Williams ran for 134 yards and sophomore Tailback Stanford Jennings contributed 89 yards and three TDs to the Paladins' attack.
Freshman Tailback Robert Lavette zipped three and 83 yards for first-period scores as Georgia Tech took a 14-3 lead over Navy. Lavette finished with an impressive 197 yards rushing, the Yellow Jackets with an unimpressive ninth straight loss, 20-14, since jolting Alabama in their opener.
A rain-soaked field. Winds up to 60 mph. All in all, perfect weather for Washington Coach Don James to have his Huskies gang up along the line of scrimmage. After all, reasoned James, visiting Southern Cal would have trouble passing and the Huskies might, be able to blitz Marcus Alien (page 38) before he could kick up a rooster tail on the soggy Seattle field. USC had trouble passing, all right, and lost 13-3, but Allen finished with 155 yards to become the first collegian to rush for 2,000 yards in a season Early in the second period Steve Jordan put USC ahead with a 45-yard field goal, but Chuck Nelson tied the game with a 21-yarder eight minutes later. The score remained 3-3 until there was only 2:19 to play in the game. After Washington's Steve Pelluer completed two passes and USC was hit by a pass-interference call, Nelson kicked a 46-yard field goal in a swirling wind for a 6-3 lead. The Huskies scored a TD on the ensuing kickoff when freshman Fred Small recovered the high-hopping boot in the end zone after it had struck a Trojan. With Outside Linebacker Tony Caldwell making 12 tackles, five for losses totaling 25 yards, USC was held to 182 yards in total offense. The Huskies themselves gained a paltry 120 yards.
Two hundred and seventy miles to the east in Spokane, a thunderous roar went up when Washington State fans learned that Washington had gone ahead of USC. The reason: A USC setback coupled with a Washington State defeat of California would tie the Cougars with UCLA for the Pac-10 lead. Washington State's defense got the job done, limiting the Golden Bears to 178 yards in total offense as State won 19-0. The Cougar offense, which lost three of six fumbles, accounted for only 264 yards, but Quarterback Clete Casper scored TDs on a one-yard sneak and a five-yard run. If Washington State wins at Washington this week, it will go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1931.
A 17-point fourth period against Arizona State gave UCLA a 34-24 win and kept its Rose Bowl hopes alive. The Bruins slowed the nation's No. 1 offense by recovering three Sun Devil fumbles and stealing four passes. Arizona State, which came into the game averaging 522 yards, gained 406-90 more than UCLA. But the Bruins, who trailed 14-0 after 15 minutes, converted turnovers into points, broke the game open and were in a 17-17 tie as the fourth quarter began. Kevin Nelson began the comeback when he zipped 28 yards for one UCLA touchdown. Quarterback Tom Ramsey then teamed up with Flanker Jojo Townsell on a 57-yard scoring play, and Norm Johnson booted a 44-yard field goal.
It was a dreary day for fans in the Beaver state: Oregon State lost to Arizona 40-7, and Oregon was beaten 42-3 at Stanford. Speedster Darrin Nelson, the Cardinals' 5'8", 185-pound halfback, picked up a total of 197 yards as a runner, pass catcher and punt returner. That gave Nelson 6,735 all-purpose yards for his career, 120 more than the previous record set by Pitt's Tony Dorsett in 1973-76.
Hawaii gave Brigham Young a good battle in Honolulu, but its unbeaten season came to a 13-3 end. The Rainbow Warriors ran for 203 yards and trailed only 6-3 in the third period. But the Cougars settled the outcome by scoring the only touchdown of the game when Wide Receiver Neil Balholm pounced on a fumble by teammate Waymon Hamilton that had bounced into the end zone. The Rainbow Warriors, however, did hold Quarterback Jim McMahon of BYU to a subpar performance: 22 completions on 33 tries for 269 yards.
BYU's victory set up a showdown for the WAC championship this Saturday in Provo against Utah, which held off Wyoming 30-27. The Utes were down 14-9 in the second quarter when freshman walk-on Quarterback Ken Vierra came in and took command. Vierra hit eight of 14 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown.