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WHO SHOULDN'T BE NO. 1
The Houston-TCU shoot-out lasted about as long as the Battle of the Alamo, or so it seemed. When the smoke cleared, after four hours and four minutes, the Cougars had a 56-35 victory, but they were also left to wonder: Who was that masked man who shot our defense full of holes? His name is Matt Vogler; he's a junior quarterback who transferred from Auburn, and all he did in his second start was set NCAA Division I-A records for yards passing (690), attempts (79) and total offense (696 yards). Filling in for Leon Clay, who was sidelined with a fractured thumb, Vogler completed 44 of those throws, five of them for touchdowns.
But Houston, the Southwest Conference's original Gunslinger U, was not about to be beaten at its own game. Cougar quarterback David Klingler, who had set the previous NCAA record for-attempts (76) and the still-standing one for completions (48) in a 44-17 win over SMU only two weeks earlier, countered with 563 yards through the air, and for the second game in a row threw seven TD passes. The teams combined for an NCAA-record 1,563 yards of offense—827 by Houston and 736 by TCU. "It was hell for the defenses out there," said Cougar senior tackle Tray Hooper.
This week the eyes of Texas will be on Austin, where Texas, which improved its record to 6-1 with a 41-22 defeat of Texas Tech, will pose the last serious obstacle in 8-0 Houston's path to an unbeaten season, and—dare we say it?—the No. 1 ranking. "We should be voted Number 1 [this week]," says Houston coach John Jenkins. "Don't give me that crap about [Notre Dame's tough] schedule. The Irish have a blemish on their record. The Cougars are perfect."
Only on the field, Coach. Because of NCAA sanctions, Houston can't play in a bowl game, which raises the question: Should a team that's banned from postseason play be eligible for the final No. 1 ranking? In our opinion, the answer is no. Any team that has been caught cheating doesn't deserve to win the national title while still serving its sentence.
Unbeaten Wyoming's visit to Fort Collins brought out the mischief in Colorado State fans, who spent much of the game hurling snowballs at Cowboy players. That may come under the heading of innocent fun, but after the Rams had put the finishing touches on their 17-8 defensive gem, the home fans tore down the goalposts, even though the goalposts had been greased to discourage vandalism. Taking in the giddy—but dangerous-scene, Colorado State defensive tackle Paul Hanks said, "I didn't think our students would get that excited."
The Rams, who improved to 6-3 overall and 5-1 in Western Athletic Conference play, will need a miracle to win the conference. They have already lost to Brigham Young, and they play one fewer conference game than both BYU, which is 5-0 in league play, and Wyoming, which is 5-1. The Cougars and Cowboys meet this Saturday in Laramie. Colorado State is, however, very much in the running for a bowl bid. Under second-year coach Earle Bruce, who was fired at Ohio State despite putting together one of the best records in the Big Ten in the 1980s, the Rams are 11-8-1 after going 2-21 in the two seasons before he arrived. In Saturday's game, the Rams held the Cowboys to only 29 yards rushing and forced four turnovers, including a fumble in the end zone that cost Wyoming a touchdown.
Because Colorado State doesn't have any extra goalposts, the athletic department will have to shell out about $7,000 if it is to have new ones in place in time for this weekend's game against Tulsa. Still, the Ram players weren't about to criticize their fans' reaction to Saturday's victory. "Back in the days when we were 1-10 and 1-11, we were lucky to get out of the stadium alive," said defensive tackle Robert Chirico. "Now people are running all over, jumping up and down."