In the Alabama wishbone, passing is not normally a big part of the game plan, but against a stubborn Arkansas defense, it may come into play more. And while Shealy, another academic All-America (3.56 average, physical education major) is known mostly as a runner, he has completed 45 of 81 of his passes this season for 717 yards.
Passing is no big deal for Arkansas, although Wide Receiver Robert Farrell is capable of making clutch catches of tosses from the accurate if lightly employed arm of Kevin Scanlon.
However these bowl games wind up, someone will become national champion. And, again, some folks will be dissatisfied with the final verdict of the polls. Which again points up the need for a genuine playoff for the title. Say Alabama beats Arkansas. Might not a ticket or two be sold to see 'Bama knock heads with the Rose Bowl winner? It's like Ohio State Coach Earle Bruce says, "The better the opponent, the better we seem to play. I like that. Golly, I like that." So does everyone else.
Michigan (8-3) vs. North Carolina (7-3-1)
Can Bo Schembechler finish a season with a victory? Can Amos remain famous? Can Michigan get off an unblocked punt? The game that poses these momentous questions is the Gator Bowl, and the opponents, Michigan, No. 14 in the AP poll, and unranked North Carolina, are the least likely pairing on the postseason schedule.
Under normal circumstances. Bo would not take his team as far south as Ypsilanti for a game against the fifth-place finisher in the ACC, but as the Wolverines and bowl committees have proved, things ain't what they used to be. For instance, while North Carolina and two other ACC teams (Wake Forest and Clemson) got bowl bids, North Carolina State got nothing for winning the conference championship.
This season also has been the most unsuccessful in Schembechler's 11 years at Ann Arbor, even though a total of eight points accounted for all three Michigan losses. Had he been given his druthers, Bo probably would have elected to stay home and brood about his kicking game. That aspect of the Wolverines' offense yielded only 45 points—36 PATs and three field goals—while allowing four blocked punts and generating 100,000-plus catcalls every time the Wolverine kicking unit took the field at Michigan Stadium.
Nonetheless, Schembechler should be pleased that his players voted to go to Jacksonville, because the 1978 Gator Bowl will probably snap his 10-year string of season-ending losses. Under Schembechler, Michigan's record in final games is 0-9-1. More galling still is the fact that six of those losses have come in bowls.
The Wolverines have a running attack led by Butch Woolfolk and the defense to break that streak. Michigan's offense rolled up 403.7 yards per game and racked up 40 touchdowns. Against the rush, the Wolverines allowed only 99.3 yards a game and eight TDs, which bodes ill for Famous Amos Lawrence, the Tar Heel tailback who ran for 1,019 yards though he missed four starts. Quarterback Matt Kupec, who hit 54% of his passes for 1,587 yards and 18 touchdowns, should test Michigan's secondary. Still, this is one final the Wolverines should pass.
HALL OF FAME CLASSIC
Missouri (6-5) vs. South Carolina (8-3)