Bowl win boosts Fresno State; freshman led Sooners in rushing
Despite being the only bowl match-up featuring two undefeated teams, the California Bowl pitting Fresno State against Bowling Green was not the cause of much fanfare in Fresno last weekend. Only in its fifth year, the California Bowl comes long before the big New Year's Day games and brings together the champions of the country's two least prominent major college conferences -- the Mid-American and the Pacific Coast. A spot in the season's final Top 20 rankings appeared to hang in the balance, however, and considering that neither school had ever achieved such status before, the game obviously meant a great deal to the participants and their followers.
Both teams have been given rather short shrift in the polls all season, Bowling Green (tied for No. 20 with Maryland) appearing only in the Associated Press writers' rankings, and Fresno State (No. 18) only in the United Press International coaches' tabulations.
After its convincing 51-7 victory, however, Fresno State, with an 11-0-1 record, should at least hold its position when the final UPI poll is announced Jan. 2, and it could possibly crash the AP Top 20 list as well.
Fresno State, after all, managed to totally disrupt a team that entered the game as the only major college eleven besides top-ranked Penn State to boast a perfect 11-0 record. The Bulldog defenders intercepted three Bowling Green passes and recovered five Falcon fumbles to set up the scoring avalanche by the nation's most point-productive team.
If Emory Bellard, father of the wishbone formation, had only practied what he once preached, then maybe he would not have been dismissed as Mississippi State's coach. In a year in which wishbone teams were generally quite successful, and Colorado, with its newly installed wishbone attack, made the biggest turnaround in the nation (from 1-10 to 7-4), Mississippi State struggled with a multiple offense that only hinted at a pure wishbone, in which four backs line up in a Y configuration.
Probably Bellard's biggest mistake, though, wasn't his selection of an offense, but his preseason prediction that the Bulldogs would win the Southeastern Conference title. They were 0-6 in conference play.
A potpourri of notable, if perhaps overlooked, occurrences from the 1985 season:
Jamelle Holieway, the flashy wishbone operative at Oklahoma, became the fourth straight freshman to lead the team in rushing. What is even more unusual is that he gained his 681 yards at quarterback, where he became the starter only after Troy Aikman was injured in the fourth game of the season. The other first-year players to spearhead the Oklahoma charge were Lydell Carter a year ago, Spencer Tillman in '83, and Marcus Dupree, an eventual dropout, the year before that.
Augustana College, a small liberal arts school tucked away in Rock Island, Ill., extended the nation's longest winning streak to 37 games by winning an unprecedented third consecutive Division III championship. The Vikings, who knocked off Ithaca College 20-7 in the title game, own the fourth-longest winning streak of all time at any NCAA level. Oklahoma's 47 straight in the 1950s is the record.
Montclair State tailback Leroy Horn enjoyed possibly the best game a reserve ever had when he rushed for 310 yards on 21 carries against Jersey City State -- all in the second half! The previous recorded best for one half was 268 yards by California's Jerry Drew in 1954.
Ohio State, once the nation's paragon of rushing virtue, gained only 48 yards on the ground in a victory over Pittsburgh.
Minnesota showed that the old ``three yards and a cloud of dust'' method can still work, however. The Gophers didn't complete a single pass against Indiana in eight attempts, yet won, 22-7.
The Wisconsin-Northern Illinois game produced back-to-back kickoff returns for touchdowns, a 94-yarder followed by a 95-yarder.