- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"You don't have to be too smart to look at our backs last year and our backs this year and see a difference," Auburn Coach Pat Dye said after the Tigers had beaten Wake Forest 28-10 with 508 yards rushing. This year's backs are Bo Jackson, the 6'1", 224-pound locomotive, and the 5'7", 176-pound HO model, Lionel (Little Train) James. Against Wake each highballed past the local stops, averaging more than 11 yards a carry. Jackson scored twice, once on a 44-yard run, and James once, from 67 yards out.
Ankles played a big part in Miami's 31-12 defeat of Houston. One sprain kept the Cougars' starting quarterback, Lionel Wilson, on the sidelines, and another had Miami Linebacker Jay Brophy on crutches all week. But Brophy was sent in during the second quarter and promptly forced a fumble by Audrey McMillian, Wilson's stand-in, that led to a Hurricane field goal. Miami's Jim Kelly completed 16 of 27 passes for 208 yards and a TD, Tailback Mark Rush scored three TDs and Defensive Tackle Fred Robinson had two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Quarterback Kent Austin threw for two TDs and ran for another as Mississippi upset No. 14 Southern Mississippi 28-19. Ole Miss only scored in the first half and held on despite Golden Eagle Quarterback Reggie Collier's 344 yards of total offense.
"Our tackling was sloppy," said Coach Joe Paterno after Penn State's 39-31 win over Maryland, "and I'm being charitable by saying sloppy." But for the second straight week Paterno's quarterback, Todd Blackledge, tied the school record for TD passes in a game with four. And, again, the Lions didn't score on the ground. Even Tailback Curt Warner, who had complained about the aerial orientation in Penn State's earlier 31-14 defeat of Temple, caught four passes. "I overreacted and let my emotions go," he said last Saturday. "I have no beefs about the new offense." The Terps went ahead 24-23 early in the third quarter after Quarterback Boomer Esiason (18 of 36 for 276 yards) hit Split End Russell Davis (a school-record 188 yards on seven catches) for 50- and 60-yard TDs. But Blackledge then took the Lions 78 yards, throwing to Gregg Garrity from the 22 for the game-winner. Freshman Massimo Manca added four field goals for Penn State.
"The kids won it despite myself," Temple Coach Wayne Hardin said after his Owls beat Syracuse 23-18. "I made two terrible calls." One was for an onsides kick after Temple had gone up 10-0—it resulted in a field goal for the Orangemen; the other was for a pass with 1½ minutes to play. It fell incomplete, stopping the clock and thereby giving Syracuse more time on its last possession. But the Owl offense, called the Smorgasbord by Hardin, stuffed the Orangemen. Junior Quarterback Tim Riordan completed 16 of 23 passes for 220 yards. His two scoring strikes included a 44-yard quick fly to Tight End Scott Andrien with 9:52 left.
"I would never have thought we'd play a game in which we didn't lose a fumble and wind up losing," an exasperated Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer said after the Sooners, who averaged 4.33 fumbles a game last season, lost 41-27 to visiting West Virginia, a 15-point underdog. The Mountaineers triumphed largely because Quarterback Jeff Hostetler threw for four touchdowns and 321 yards in his first start. "I don't have the right words to describe his performance," gushed Hostetler's coach, Don Nehlen. "Jeff just has to go down in history." Down 14-0 midway through the second quarter, Hostetler led one drive that concluded in a TD and two others that ended in Paul Woodside field goals. With :13 left in the half, the Mountaineers recovered a squib kick and scored on Hostetler's 33-yard strike to Darrell Miller. Tailback Curlin Beck ran 43 yards on a draw with less than three minutes left to play for his second TD to close out the scoring for West Virginia, whose 41 points were the most by any visitor to Norman since 1928.
"The players are more optimistic than I am," Arkansas Coach Lou Holtz said early last week. "Heck, the people on the Titanic were optimistic." But on Friday he felt so good about the Razorbacks' chances in their opener with Tulsa that he played golf—and shot his best round ever, a 71. In the Hogs' 38-0 thumping of the Golden Hurricane, Flanker Derek Holloway took a 67-yard pass from Brad Taylor midway through the second quarter for one score and set up another TD and a field goal with a 24-yard punt return and a diving catch, respectively.
So, Coach, will you use your two terrific tailbacks, Eric Dickerson and Craig James, at the same time? "Yes," SMU's Bobby Collins says. Will you tell us when? "No," Collins says. "We're going to let the opponent figure that out each week." Trailing the Mustangs 24-0 at halftime, Tulane had an answer of sorts. New Coach Collins had alternated Dickerson (183 yards on 19 carries and two TDs) and James (110 yards on 16 carries and one TD) in the back of the I, and the 51-7 rout of the Green Wave was on. The Mustangs' 519 yards rushing were a school record.