FOR THE MEMORIES
Part IV: 1988 College Football Tournament
By Glenn Guzzo
For the love of board games, nostalgia, and a real college-football playoff … Here is the third round in the tournament using the 48 teams from Strat-O-Matic’s 1988 college football cards.
With the field now trimmed to 12, the top seven seeds (Notre Dame,
In these six third-round games, two were decided on late two-point conversion attempts and a third game was tied until nearly midway into the fourth quarter.
The two top-seeded winners will draw byes, while the other four Round 3 winners fight for the other two spots in the Final Four.
Remember (see Strat-O-Sphere for Parts I, II and III), this was played solitaire, mostly with basic-game rules. Remember, too, that the Strat-O-Matic college game differs from the pro version in several ways, including many more “Receiver” readings on quarterback cards and interception-return ratings for each team.
The third round match-ups and results:
No. 1 Notre Dame 28 No. 24 LSU 10
The impressive Irish defense intercepted three passes in the middle quarters and then marched to touchdowns alter each of them. In the process, Notre Dame humbled hot passer Tommy Hodson, who had led the Tigers to 68 points in their first two games.
Here’s how impressive the Notre Dame defense was: After a fumble at the Notre Dame 28 on the Irish’s first play, LSU settled for a field goal. The Tigers did not score again until Notre Dame led 28-3 late in the third quarter. Hodson hit only 21 of 56 passes with three interceptions and six sacks. LSU managed just 23 rushing yards in 26 attempts (including 38 yards in losses on six sacks).
The one-dimensional Notre Dame offense did not complete a pass, and had a mediocre 225 yards rushing, led by QB Tony Rice’s 63 yards and two touchdowns. But the Irish had to march only 15 and 38 yards to two of their scores following interceptions.
Notre Dame is assured of a bye and place in the Final Four.
Undefeated before their bowl loss to Notre Dame in the real 1988 season, the Mountaineers’ sometimes-spectacular, often-frustrating offense finally did them in. Meanwhile,
Eric Bienemy (110 yards rushing on 25 carries) raced for TDs on runs of 15 and 7 yards in the middle quarters. The rest of the story was
The final series went like this:
First down: Harris throws an interception chance 2-7, but the pass falls incomplete.
Second down: Harris is sacked for an eight-yard loss, putting the ball on the 33 with 15 seconds to play. By the margin of one yard, that sack moved
Third down: So Harris tried for all of it on a bomb. Rembert caught it – for 28 yards, down at the 5 – as time ran out.
A great match-up, supposedly: Nebraska, the only team to win both of its early games by shutout against Michigan, a team with quality passing and running – and 65 points against decent foes Iowa and Syracuse.
And Michigan scored first, late in the first quarter, but settling for Mike Gillette’s 35-yard field goal after driving 74 yards in 14 plays. It looked like it would stay that way at halftime, since
The score was still 7-3 until very late in the third quarter, when
Things quickly got out of hand for
Cinderella had a curfew for this mismatch, which pitted Army’s all-run offense vs. a strong run defense and
The mighty Hurricanes draw
Barry Sanders had rushed for more than 600 yards in two games, but not against a run defense like
It was good Barry (188 yards on 36 carries and three touchdowns) and bad Barry (two fumbles leading to
The turning point came early in the fourth quarter.
No. 6 Florida State 21 No. 7 USC 19
This one was billed as a potenial classic between teams with superior defenses and solid offenses. The game lived up to expectations as it came down to USC’s failed two-point conversion with to play.
The defenses were the stars of the game as their were more punts (21) than first downs (19) and as many turnovers (six) as scores. Each team managed just one long touchdown drive.
In the second quarter, USC FB Leroy Holt dove the final yard on a fourth-down play to cap a 14-play, 66-yard drive, but Florida State took the kickoff and answered with a 70-yard drive that required only seven plays, including Chip Ferguson’s 35-yard pass to WR Terry Anthony and Dexter Carter’s 16-yard sweep. USC had to drive only 29 yards before Quin Rodriguez’ 37-yard field goal on the final play of the first half that cut the FSU lead to 14-10.
USC’s defense was ferocious in the second half, forcing five turnovers and nearly coming up with four more. It was a heroic effort that lacked only a victory to be legendary. The fact was,
Neither team could move the ball in the third quarter. But Deion Sanders returned a punt 25 yards to set
But when USC intercepted
USC got its big break with to play, when it forced Sammie Smith (held to 20 yards in 14 carries) to fumble at the Florida State 16. Three plays later, Aaron Emanuel got outside for an 11-yard touchdown with remaining. That made it 21-19. But Emanuel’s run off tackle was stopped a yard short.
After a failed onside kick gave Florida State the ball at midfield, Smith fumbled again (USC forces automatic fumbles on defensive rolls of 5 and split-chance fumbles on rolls of 9), but the Seminoles recovered and killed the clock.
So it’s Miami-Colorado and
Next time: The six games that decide the championship
Here’s a recap of the first round:
1 Notre Dame (11-0) vs. 48
5 Auburn (10-1) vs 44 Navy (3-8) …
7 USC (10-1) vs 42 Penn State (5-6) … USC, 21-14
13 Clemson (9-2) vs 36
14 UCLA (9-2) vs 35 Wake
17 UTEP (10-2) vs 32
18 Army (9-2) vs 31
24 LSU (8-3) vs 25 S. Carolina (8-3) … LSU, 44-7
And, second-round results:
1 Notre Dame 40 Baylor … Notre Dame, 34-14
5 Auburn 33
7 USC 26
14 UCLA 20
17 UTEP 18 Army … Army, 34-23