Florida must feel a little awkward about playing in the Aloha Bowl against UCLA on Christmas Day. In losing three of their last four games the Gators didn't exactly finish the regular season in a blaze of glory. These defeats were at the hands of other bowl-bound teams (Auburn, Georgia, and Florida State), but somehow a 6-5 record doesn't seem to merit playing a 12th game. Florida isn't the only school that crawled into a bowl berth. Other 6-5 teams preparing for post-season trips are Texas, Tulane, and West Virginia. Meanwhile, Colorado, Wake Forest, and Texas-El Paso, all of which were 7-4, must be wondering why they are staying home.
Partly, at least, the answer lies in the urgency felt by less-prominent bowls, which scramble to find the best-available opponents, even if it means courting and making early commitments to borderline teams. Then, too, certain teams and players hold the potential to produce greater numbers of spectators or TV viewers.
Florida is an alluring team because of Emmitt Smith, the sensational running back, who once led the nation with 144.43 yards a game. Smith gained his first 1,000 yards in seven games, faster than any other player, including Herschel Walker, Tony Dorsett, and Bo Jackson, ever did, and at one point even appeared to be a Heisman Trophy candidate. That was before Auburn and Georgia held him to 72 and 46 yards in back-to-back games. Still, he is something special, a fact that could heighten interest in an Aloha Bowl in which people can compare the precocious freshman with UCLA's accomplished senior tailback, Gaston Green. Briefly speaking