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Arizona, which had only 22 turnovers this season, coughed up the ball eight times during a 42-10 loss at San Diego State in which Tony Allen of the Aztecs rumbled for 151 yards. Brigham Young led 24-6 at the half at Long Beach State, and won 31-17 as Marc Wilson passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns with a 24-for-39 performance.
1. USC (9-0-1)
It was a game that might have been labeled Saturday Night Not So Live. Despite running for 252 yards and converting 10 of 18 third-down situations against a patched-together Louisiana State defense, Alabama bogged down when near the goal line. The Tide, which had been averaging 37.6 points a game, pulled out a 3-0 SEC victory when Alan McElroy booted a 27-yard field goal midway through the third period. It was Coach Bear Bryant's 100th win in the past 10 seasons, a modern record.
It took three years, but Tennessee Fullback Hubert Simpson may finally have regained the starting job he had in 1976. Simpson, the Vols' strongest inside runner but an indifferent performer during practice, tore through Notre Dame for 117 yards and four touchdowns during a 40-18 upset. Tennessee stuck to the ground for 352 yards, while the Irish gained 321 yards through the air.
Auburn's vulnerable defense, which had given up an average of 28 points a game, plugged its leaks in a 14-3 victory over Mississippi State. The leading plumber was Linebacker Freddie Smith, who was in on 22 tackles and blocked a field-goal attempt. A 66-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter by James Brooks sealed the win.
"I started Wally to nickel-and-dime 'em to death," Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden explained. Wally Woodham did precisely that, flicking five-yard passes here, 10-yard passes there and hitting on 15 of 29 tries for 145 yards as the Seminoles beat South Carolina 27-7. Also cashing in for State was Dave Cappelen, who kicked four field goals, one a 50-yarder. Most of the Gamecock offense was generated by George Rogers, who rushed for 186 yards, 80 on a TD run.
Field goals settled three games involving ACC teams. North Carolina State appeared to have pulled out a 7-6 victory over Penn State in an out-of-conference encounter. Scott Smith scoring from two yards out with 1:18 left. Smith had kept that drive going with a 31-yard pass on fourth-and-nine. But the Nittany Lions retaliated swiftly, Dayle Tate passing 36 yards to Terry Rakowsky on fourth-and-24 from the Penn State 27 with 20 seconds to go. Herb Menhardt, who earlier had kicked field goals of 38 and 37 yards, then boomed a 54-yarder off the right upright and across the bar as time ran out. That 9-7 triumph assured Penn State of its 41st straight non-losing season, an NCAA mark.
Wake Forest tied its record for most wins in a season, stopping Duke 17-14 for its eighth victory. James McDougald rushed for 213 yards and two touchdowns, but it took a 22-yard field goal by Frank Harnisch with 17 seconds left for Wake to win. Four three-pointers by Obed Ariri helped earn Clemson a 19-10 decision over North Carolina.