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It wasn't a season to wake up the echoes cheering her name, to shake down the thunder or even to help the book sales of Gerry Faust: Notre Dame's Man in Motion. When the University of Miami mortified Notre Dame 37-15 in the Orange Bowl last Friday, the Fighting Irish were left with a 5-6 record, their first losing season since going 2-7 in 1963. "I sure don't want to go down in history that way," said Faust, his first year at Notre Dame now mercifully over. "It doesn't bother me, to be honest with you. I hurt for the kids, that's the thing."
The kids were hurt physically as well as spiritually, which is one reason the Irish faltered. In the fifth game of the season, against Florida State, seven starters were out with injuries. Bad knees claimed two split ends and a tight end, and limited the effectiveness of the two best defensive linemen, Tim Marshall and Kevin Griffith.
Another excuse was that the luck of the Irish was mostly bad. Four of their losses came by a total of 17 points, but Faust was at fault as well. For most of the season, his offense was too confused and his defense too predictable. Faust had installed the complex multiple-formation offense he used at Moeller High School in Cincinnati, but after a loss to Florida State made him 2-3, he got rid of nine of his 14 formations and half of his 50 pass patterns.
What was left didn't baffle Miami; the defense posed no problem, either. "We had a pretty good idea of what they'd be in, by down and distance," said Miami Coach Howard Schnellenberger. According to Miami Flanker Larry Brodsky, "They just played basically a three-deep zone coverage. That's easy. That's sweet candy." And Miami has a sweet tooth. The victory, only the second in 15 meetings with Notre Dame, gave Miami a 9-2 record, its best since 1950.
How the mighty are fallen. Like Notre Dame, Oklahoma was seeking only to dodge ignominy. The Sooners were more successful, beating Oklahoma State 27-3 to avoid their first non-winning season since 1965. A halfback named Sims (Freddie, no kin to Billy) scored three TDs in his first Sooner start.
For only the third time since 1948, Tulane beat LSU—and how—48-7 on Mike McKay's four touchdown passes. Louisiana State's 3-7-1 record is its worst since 1956. Florida, losers to Florida State the last four years, tried to get even in one game by beating the Seminoles 35-3. Wayne Peace completed 20 of 33 passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns. The Peach Bowl had invited the winner of the game, but there was more at stake than a bowl bid. "For four years they've been talking a lot of trash about us," said Florida's All-SEC Defensive Tackle, David Galloway. "But this game gives me a hot knife that I can stick those guys with—and twist."
Texas established its Cotton Bowl credentials with a 21-13 triumph over Texas A&M. John Walker, playing for the injured Jam Jones, rushed for 178 yards on 36 carries—the best day for a Longhorn back since Earl Campbell played. Houston, bound for the Sun Bowl, used six interceptions to beat Rice 40-3.
Rain turned the surface of Sun Devil Stadium from natural turf to Teflon, and the result was five turnovers and 24 points for Arizona State and seven turnovers and 13 points for Arizona. ASU's Mike Pagel threw three touchdown passes in between his four interceptions; his 29 TD passes this season set a Pac-10 record. In other archrivalries, Virginia Tech defeated Virginia 20-3; Tennessee won a 38-34 shoot-out with Vanderbilt; and Boston College held off Holy Cross, 28-24.
Southern Mississippi tuned up for the Tangerine Bowl with a 45-14 victory over Lamar as Quarterback Reggie Collier rushed for 184 yards and passed for 104 to become the first player since the NCAA began keeping such statistics in 1966 to go over the 1,000-yard mark in both rushing and passing. San Jose State beat North Texas State 28-16 amid reports that its coach. Jack Elway, would replace Roger Theder, fired last week by California.
The bowl season, by the way, is already here. Ricks College of Rexburg, Idaho defeated previously unbeaten Arizona Western 28-21 in the inaugural Valley of the Sun Bowl in Phoenix. In the Mirage Bowl in Tokyo, Air Force overcame a 16-0 deficit to down San Diego State 21-16. And in the first Penguin Bowl, played on Williams Field in the Antarctic, 250 fans braved 12-below temperatures to watch the Navy VXE-6 Squadron beat the U.S. Antarctic Research Program 19-7.