The Gospel according to St. Pete: Now that fourth-ranked Florida State has such a lively-looking future, some are invoking its equally wonderful past. Last week, before the Seminoles played and beat Auburn, Atlanta Journal columnist Dave Kindred was recalling the motivational techniques of former coach Bill Peterson.
Among them: "Just remember the words of Henry Patrick--'Kill me or let me live.' "
Better yet, the time Peterson reminded his team of David and Goliath, David getting up for that big rivalry game. "You gotta practice," he said. "David just went out there and practiced and practiced--slingin' those rocks at tin cans and old beer bottles for days and days."
The Game of the Century, Part II, lost a little when Oklahoma's option quarterback, Jamelle Holieway, was knocked out for the season last week. That means top-ranked Oklahoma will throw in a freshman for next week's game with second-ranked Nebraska, a match that fans had been comparing to the 1971 showdown, when the teams were ranked 1-2 and played for what was eventually the national championship.
It could still be the game of the decade, or at least year--month?--with Charles Thompson running the Sooner offense. After all, he's not entirely inexperienced. A red-shirt freshman, Thompson has rushed for 514 yards--with an average of 8.3 yards a carry--and scored 9 touchdowns in mop-up duties. That's more touchdowns than all but three players in the Big Eight.
Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer, nevertheless, has his doubts.
"There's a difference when the score is 0-0 and when it's 35-0," he said. "That's the unknown. I know Jamelle, the first time he had to play as a freshman, he was very apprehensive. He didn't turn it loose. There was a lot of indecision in his first game."
Thompson has not been known to lack confidence, however. They still remember how he took the news that he was to be a red-shirt in his freshman year.
"He couldn't believe it," offensive coordinator Jim Donnan said. "He thought he could beat out Jamelle."
Heisman Update: The trophy might as well be in the mail, if you believe some of the press box polls that have been published. According to the Gannett News Service, which got early votes last weekend, Notre Dame's Tim Brown will win in a landslide, by a 4-1 margin possibly.
That, even though Brown is not among the nation's leaders in any of the important offensive categories. He's an exciting punt returner but still ranks just 10th there.
How to figure this, then? Well, it's not simply the Notre Dame mystique, else some Fighting Irish would have won it since 1964, when John Huarte last represented the university.
Rather it's a combination of widely seen failures among the other candidates--Florida quarterback Kerwin Bell falling down in an early TV game with Miami, UCLA's Gaston Green getting bottled up by Nebraska in an early TV game, Oklahoma State's Thurman Thomas gaining just seven yards in his game with the Huskers--and Brown's own constant exposure.
Brown was on network TV four times in the first eight games and will be on network TV in Notre Dame's remaining games with Alabama, Penn State and Miami. The in-between games, for that matter, were all televised on cable.
Bowl Talk: The Cotton Bowl will cut no deal before its time.
Jim Brock's bunch has turned down a deal with the Orange Bowl, which would have allowed them Miami if it lost its Nov. 28 game with Notre Dame. The Cotton Bowl is afraid of an Arkansas-Miami rematch, since the Hurricanes beat the Razorbacks earlier this season, 51-7. Once is enough.
The only certainty is that third-ranked Miami, assuming it beats Notre Dame, will remain in the Orange Bowl for a national championship game with the Oklahoma-Nebraska winner.
It is widely thought that the Fiesta Bowl will get the loser of that Nov. 21 game at Lincoln, Neb., and will match it with once-beaten Florida State or undefeated Syracuse. The Orange Bowl has those two teams on standby, depending on how Miami handles Notre Dame, and is anxious to assure them of a New Year's Day bowl alternative, either in Phoenix or at the Sugar Bowl.
The Irish, unless they beat Miami, could land in the Cotton Bowl. But there has been some talk, weird talk, that the Fiesta could land Notre Dame-Florida State. There is a thought that Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne won't play in the Fiesta Bowl. The Huskers, see, have done well in the Sugar Bowl. Dr. Tom likes it there.
The Big Ten and the Pacific 10 can now match up in bowls other than the Rose. What happens to UCLA if it loses to USC? Anybody want a pretty good 9-2 (or 8-3) team? Isn't bowl talk fun?