The Florida Citrus Bowl has visions of staging a national championship game - if a few teams will cooperate and lose so that the seventh-ranked Virginia Cavaliers can climb to No. 1 in the UPI coaches' poll.
Under an intriguing agreement between the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Citrus Bowl, the bowl gets the ACC champion unless the champion is ranked second, third or fourth in the UPI poll and has a chance to play for the national championship in the Sugar, Cotton or Orange bowls, spokesman Thad Foret said. If the ACC champion is not in the Citrus Bowl then the bowl becomes an open bowl.The Fiesta Bowl, which has not had good relations with the Florida Citrus Bowl, is not included in the agreement nor are any of the other bowls, like the Sea World Holiday Bowl, which is making national championship plans of its own should BYU remain undefeated.
The Citrus Bowl and Holiday Bowl have another thing in common - payout. They're not up with the big boys - Orange, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta - which pay out about $3 million per team, but in the second tier at $1.2 million to 1.3 million. If Virginia remains undefeated and winds up in the Citrus Bowl, bowl officials will try to increase the payout to attract a top-ranked team.
TAILBACK U.?: USC, which in addition to Marion Morrison (a substitute lineman who gained some fame later in Hollywood under the name John Wayne) has given the football world a who's who list of tailbacks - O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen, Charles White, Anthony Davis, Ricky Bell, Mike Garrett etc. - is struggling on the ground.
As a result, the Trojans are struggling all over. Todd Marinovich is a gifted quarterback but without a ground attack USC is like a pizza without cheese. The Trojans netted just 28 yards rushing in their 31-0 loss to Washington last week with tailback Ricky Ervins, 10th on the school's all time rushing list getting just 5 yards in nine tries.
Look for USC to get back to the basics and get over 200 yards rushing today against Ohio State. If not, Marinovich will be in for another afternoon nightmare.
HALL CALL: This, courtesy of AP fooball writer Rick Warner:
Clemson fullback Howard Hall has a loyal following - at Notre Dame.
Some female students at Notre Dame who live in a dorm called Howard Hall formed a fan club for the Clemson sophomore after watching him play against Virginia on television.
The students got a Notre Dame athletic official to call Clemson and ask for Hall's autograph. He obliged with an autographed picture "for all my fans at Howard Hall."
LOCAL FORECASTS: Will the BYU express to the Land of Perfection be derailed in the Land of Quackers? Can the Utes bounce back against Wyoming? Will Weber State pick up another Big Sky Conference win today? No, Yes, but not enough, and Yes.
BYU 37, Oregon 27
Here's the logic for this: BYU has shown it does well facing adversity. There's a whole lot of adversity plus quarterback Bill Musgrave this afternoon in Eugene. BYU was not supposed to be able to stay with Miami. We know what happened. Then the Cougs were expected to have two breathers against Washington State and San Diego State. If being in labor is easy breathing then those were breathers. Now, a number of national writers such as AP's Rick Warner are picking Oregon to beat BYU. Which means BYU is due to come up with another stellar effort. It's up to the defense. If the defense rests, the verdict will be in favor of Oregon. If it plays emotionally like it did against Miami, then the Cougs stay unbeaten. The feeling, here, obviously, is the defense will be offensive to Oregon.
Wyoming 27, Utah 17
Utah will move the ball better against the Cowboys than it did the last two weeks against Fresno State and Hawaii. And the defense will play another fairly solid game. But, it won't be enough. The Cowboys have shown a lot of talent and versatility as they've stopped offenses ranging from Washington State's wide open attack to Air Force's wishbone. They may be headed to a Top 15 ranking.
Weber State 38, Montana State 31
Another typical Big Sky game. Lots of scoring with the advantage going to the team that happens to be at home. This week that's the Wildcats.