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Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden could see exactly how it would happen: He'd alternate quarterbacks against top-ranked Pitt, using strong-armed Blair Williams for long passes and option specialist Kelly Lowrey to wear the Panthers down. On a humid night in Tallahassee, Pitt's big, but slow, defense would wilt. "We had it working perfectly," Bowden mused after his Seminoles had lost 37-17 despite jumping to a 10-0 advantage and being tied 17-17 at the half. "Then that rain washed it all away. It was cold after the rain came." So was the FSU offense. Après le deluge Lowrey, who doubles as the Seminole punter, mishandled the snap and kicked the ball straight up in the air. Whereupon another Lowery, Pitt's Art, took it and went five yards for a TD. Panther Quarterback Danny Marino completed 13 of 22 passes for 133 yards and two TDs, one to Flanker Julius Dawkins for 16 yards, and another for three yards to Tight End John Brown.
"In the third quarter you're supposed to make things happen," said Clemson Coach Danny Ford, echoing Bowden's sentiments after the Tigers' 17-17 tie with Boston College in which Clemson squandered a 14-0 halftime lead. "Well, Boston College did and Clemson didn't." Specifically, BC Quarterback Doug Flutie got warmed up on his way to an 18-for-35, 242-yard performance. The nation's top passer going into the game, Flutie shook off two first-half interceptions to lead a pair of Eagle TD drives, throwing 15 yards to Split End Jon Schoen for the second BC score. The Eagles eventually went up 17-14 on Kevin Snow's 37-yard field goal. Clemson kicker Donald Igwebuike, who tied the game from 43 yards with 5:40 to go, missed from the same distance at :08.
"We needed some momentum, that's why we went for it," said North Carolina Coach Dick Crum of his decision to try for a first down on fourth-and-one at his own 43 despite trailing Vanderbilt 10-3 in the second quarter. Tailback Ethan Horton, filling in for Kelvin Bryant, who had sprained an ankle earlier, picked up eight of his 201 yards rushing on the play. The Tar Heels went on to convert two more fourth-down situations in the 90-yard, 22-play drive, which ended with Horton going over from the one, again on fourth down. Carolina held Vandy to 31 yards rushing in winning 34-10.
Alabama limited Mississippi to just 12 yards on the ground and picked off four passes in its 42-14 win. "This is as close to the best Alabama team I've ever seen," said Ole Miss Coach Steve Sloan, a former quarterback under Crimson Tide Coach Bear Bryant. "They have no weaknesses." The Tide began rolling after Mississippi pulled to within 20-14. Sloan called for an onsides kick that 'Bama recovered, and two plays later Tide Quarterback Walter Lewis ran 16 yards for a touchdown. Alabama Fullback Craig Turner scored three TDs as Bryant won his 317th game and 30th straight from a former player or coaching protégé. The Bear now has a 40-5 record against his erstwhile pupils.
Grambling State's Eddie Robinson, who is right behind Bryant among winningest active coaches, won game No. 299 with a 31-14 defeat of Alcorn State.
Miami and Auburn won in Pyrrhic fashion, each losing preseason All-Americas to injuries for the year. Hurricane Quarterback Jim Kelly became his school's career-completions leader, completing 17 of 24 for 207 yards and a TD in Miami's 14-8 defeat of Virginia Tech. But after picking up 20 yards on a scramble in the fourth quarter, he took a pop from the Hokies' David Marvel that separated his right shoulder. Auburn Defensive Tackle Donnie Humphrey injured his left knee just before halftime of the War Eagles' 21-19 defeat of Southern Mississippi. The Auburn defense, given a 21-6 lead on Randy Campbell's TD passes of 47 and 51 yards to Split End Mike Edwards, needed Linebacker Gregg Carr's 21 tackles to stave off the Golden Eagles.
Oklahoma intercepted Kentucky Quarterback Randy Jenkins four times in its 29-8 defeat of the Wildcats; North Carolina State ripped Wake Forest 30-0 as freshman Mike Cofer kicked three field goals and Tol Avery, a senior quarterback, completed 14 of 22 passes for 202 yards; Duke's Ben Bennett hit Chris Castor with touchdown passes of 36 and 10 yards in the Blue Devils' 30-17 win over South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. before the largest crowd—66,928—ever to watch a football game in that state. Elsewhere, LSU routed Oregon State 45-7; Mississippi State rolled past Memphis State 41-17; and James Madison denied George Welsh his first victory as Virginia's coach by winning 21-17.
Georgia Tech snapped its 11-game losing streak with a vengeance, trouncing The Citadel 36-7. Quarterback Jim Bob Taylor completed 14 of 18 passes for 216 yards, Tailback Robert Lavette ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns, and Ron Rice set one Yellow Jacket record and tied another with a 55-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The boot was equal to the longest in Tech history and gave Rice a school-record five field goals in one game.